New Stuff

Hey heyyyy!

So, a quick update on Joyce really quick. She FINALLY made it through the CDIF infection (thanks to so much help from Ginny...and a miracle on God's part) and started feeling better, getting stronger, and having a more normal appetite. But right before her appointment with the oncologist, she started to get sick again and couldn't keep any food down. So, they told her that chemo wasn't an option unless she got better. She DID get better after another week or so and decided on her own to go ahead and do the chemo. So she went in last Monday to have the port installed into her chest and then started her first chemo treatment last Wednesday. So far, she's had some symptoms, but it could be a lot worse, so we are hoping and praying for the best over the next six months. She will go in for chemo every other week for six months. We appreciate all of your prayers!

In other life updates, I just started a new job this week! And so far, I LOOOVE IT! Definitely a good change for me. I enjoyed the position I had at Roam before this but realized that it was not such a great fit for my personality or skills and it became a very frustrating position for me. Around the time I decided I needed to move in a different direction, Ryan and I had decided to make Perimeter Church our home church (Praise the Lord for a place to finally plug in and get connected!!), and soon after that, saw a posting on their website for a Ministry Associate position with the Global Outreach team. I had not considered it seriously until I was talking to a friend who is on staff at Perimeter and mentioned I had seen the posting and she talked about how awesome the Global Outreach team was. So, because it had been a while since I had first seen the posting, I went to see if it was still even posted and when it was, applied immediately. I interviewed two days later I believe, was offered the job the morning after my interview (on a Friday), and committed to the position the following Monday. I walked out of the interview SO excited about the opportunity because I just felt like it would be such a great fit and really loved the whole group of people that I interviewed with and especially their mission and vision for Global Outreach around the world.

I took off most of last week to have a little bit of time to myself before starting my new position. AWESOME WEEK by the way. Got to spend a day with Joyce (had not seen her in a month and a half, since her surgery since she had been so weak and contagious with the CDIF following surgery!), took a gorgeous fall drive to the mountains of Blairsville to have a baking day with Laura, her mom, sister, and niece (need to get that coconut macaroon recipe by the way, LG!), and ended up spending the night, watching New Moon to prepare ourselves for the next Twilight movie that's about to come out (YAY!), and spent a couple HGTV-style days at Matt's new fixer-upper priming walls, painting the ceilings and trim and helping him pick out counter-tops, floors, and cabinet paint so he can rent out his first house (Pride Property Group, LLC!).

And then on Monday, I started my new job at Perimeter! Walked into a CRAZY week - the team I am working with conducts clinics in partner cities around the world, but twice a year, they host a clinic at Perimeter where partners from around the U.S. and some of our international partner cities come here. Well, the clinic started on Thursday, so I pretty much came in and hit the ground running. Will get a real orientation next week, but this week I just jumped in and started on the clinic and have learned a lot fast! Enough to know I'm going to love it here. The girl that I am replacing is leaving to teach, so I'll be able to work WITH her for the next month...and although I know my position would not have even been available to me if it weren't for her leaving, I'm sad to see her leave! She's awesome and I honestly think we'd make a good team working together, but it's great that I'll have time to really learn the ins and outs of the Global Outreach department ...and the rest of Perimeter...from her. One of the things I love most is the event planning component. That is one of the things I miss most from working for the Falcons and in the Duke Athletic Department - planning the events. I LOVED both of my jobs at the Falcons and at Duke, but when we moved back to GA, I wanted something with more normal hours (less nights and weekends), and I wanted something where I felt like I was investing in people and a purpose I believed in. Which is why this seems to be such a great fit (so far!), in addition to the fact that the more I'm around the GO team, the more I love the fact that I get to be a part of such an awesome team of people and the more meetings I am a part of, the more I believe in the work they are doing and am so excited to be a part of it. There is some event planning, but not on a crazy busy weekly basis. Just periodically. Perfect! Because while I like my nights and weekends, I LOVE the creativity and hectic craziness of putting on events! So it's the best of both worlds. :)

The theme for this fall clinic is "carnival/fair", which was all pre-planned by Ashley of course, and since I just stepped in on Monday, am just helping her put it all on. But so far, yesterday and today went very well and we just have tomorrow to go! Today, for their afternoon snack break, we made caramel apples, corndogs, and had a popcorn station and a dippin' dots stand. Everyone loved it! And if my card-reader on the computer would work, I'd include some pictures, but it's not for some reason and my I.T. man (aka Ryan) isn't here to fix it for me, so sorry. :) Ashley is GREAT at her job (it's obvious everyone is going to miss her tons!) and is definitely leaving big shoes to fill, but the more I'm around her, the more I find that we are so much alike, so I hope I can do the position justice when she leaves! ;)

Ryan is still very much enjoying being at JLL - can't believe he's been there for almost a year now!

We're looking forward to a West Virginia Thanksgiving in a couple weeks with the entire Pridemore Family. That was our one holiday tradition growing up that was the same every year of my life, but Matt and TJ haven't been since they entered high school because Buford was always in the playoffs over Thanksgiving (those high school years, the WV fam came to us in GA and went to the Buford game) and then they both just had their last college season last year. So this is the first year we'll all be able to go...since '01 I think! And my married cousins that have moved away will be there too, so we're excited about Mamaw's cooking, riding four-wheelers in the mountains, card games, and being with the entire family!! :)

Hope y'all are enjoying this time of year - it's pretty out but I'm constantly FREEZING already! brrr....



Many people have been emailing, facebooking, calling, and texting to ask about my grandmother Joyce, who is trying to recover from a major surgery and infection due to the recent and sudden news that she has colon cancer.  As many emails/calls/texts as I've received, multiply that by at least ten for the amount my mom and my aunt Elaine have received.  We feel so extremely blessed to be surrounded by so many people who love us and are praying for Joyce (and our family, esp. Mom and Elaine), so thank you ALL for the ways you have been loving on our family.  And while it's much easier to post one big response to give everyone the scoop on Joyce and an update on how she is doing, I will continue to try and respond to all of your emails, facebook messages, calls, and text messages individually. 

Mom, Joyce, & Elaine

Right now, Joyce is doing a little bit better than she was mid to late last week, although her condition seems to go up and down from day to day.  She improves a little, then takes a step back.  The doctors were hopeful that she might be able to come home today (today is the 18th day that she has been in the hospital), but when I talked to my mom a little while ago, she said the doctor had not come in yet and that Joyce was feeling a little bit worse and in more pain than she has been the last few days, so I'm not sure if they will approve for her to go home or not. 

The whole fam: Mom, Dad, Me & Ryan, Matt, TJ, & Jamie to the right of Joyce.  Elaine & Steve, Andrea & husband Jimmy, kids Alicia & AJ; Tina & husband Wes; & Eric to Joyce's left.
To give the whole background...

Joyce was fine as far as we knew last month - she had less energy than normal and had not been feeling great, but had not been able to figure out exactly what it was.  Two Fridays back, she was at home, getting ready to color her hair and had plans to go to dinner and a movie with a friend later that night when her doctor called and told her she needed to go to the hospital due to the results from her blood work a few days prior.  Her hemoglobin was at a 6 (normal should be 11 or 12), so she had less than half the amount of blood pumping through her body than normal, hence the major sluggishness and lack of energy.  Because her blood level was so dangerously low, they told her not to drive herself, so my mom went to pick her up and take her.  When they got there, they admitted her, gave her two units of blood, and proceeded to run tests on her for the next four days.  A CT Scan revealed something irregular on her abdomen and then a colonoscopy a few days later revealed that the irregularity was a cancerous tumor in her colon.  They scheduled her for surgery that Friday to remove the tumor and take some lymph nodes to see if the cancer was contained or if it had begun to spread. 

Joycie with her two daughters and her two sons-in-law
They successfully removed the tumor and about a 6-inch section of her colon last Friday (as in 11 days ago, not this past Friday) along with her gallbladder (decision they made once they had her opened up) and removed 18 lymph nodes to biopsy and did not see any other visible traces of cancer.  And I'm not kidding, half the waiting room was people there for Joyce's 2-3 hour surgery :)  The surgeon came out after surgery and said "I heard there was a whole crowd out here for Joyce". Anyways, when we met with the doctor after her surgery, he said it went as well as it could go, so we were very excited and just waiting on the pathology report on the lymph nodes to come back to let us know if she was cancer free or if it had started to spread. 

Mom & Joyce at the cabin
After a couple days, Joyce was supposed to be walking around and starting to introduce solid food gradually back into her diet, but instead started feeling worse and was in a lot of pain.  Her condition deteriorated rapidly to the point that she could not get out of bed, hold her eyes open, or even talk. They finally realized that she had gotten a very contagious intestinal (of all places) infection called CDIF that is very dangerous for a person of her age and who has just had trauma to her currently not-functioning-properly colon.  It was very serious and at one point on Wednesday, my mom told me that she thought Joyce was not going to make it.  According to Mom, Joyce didn't seem to think she was going to make it through that day either and started saying her goodbyes and making final preparations - that was a rough day for all of us.

The worst part about it all is that once they found out about the infection, they put her in isolation and no one could see her other than my mom and my aunt Elaine who had already been around her every day (we had not gone to the hospital to see her the previous couple of days because she was feeling so weak that she was not up for visitors).  This has been really hard for both my mom and Elaine as they have watched Joyce deteriorate before their eyes.  It has been emotionally and physically draining for them - for my mom because before this weekend, she had been at the hospital for 14 days straight and had only been home twice (she would go to Elaine's house to sleep when she didn't stay in Joyce's room because they live much closer to the hospital than my parents do) and with Elaine working full time and being sick (elementary school teacher at the start of a school year), Mom has spent most of the last two weeks up there going through this time of uncertainty alone, writing everything the doctors were saying in a notebook just so she could keep up.  And then for Elaine, in addition to going through all of this herself, she is working full time and has been it has just been exhausting for both of them, and hard for all of the rest of us to not be able to visit Joyce or be there for Mom and Elaine. 

Last week, we also found out that of the 18 lymph nodes that they removed, 16 were clean but 2 had traces of the cancer. They brought an oncologist on, who established that she has Stage 3 Colon Cancer, and has said that chemo would be an option, but only if Joyce is well and gets her strength back, so right now there has not been much talk or thinking about that decision at all yet...she still has a long way to go to get to the point of being able to make that decision.  There are a lot of risks with chemo, so there will likely be some tough decisions ahead.

Through it all though, God has used so many of you to remind us of His goodness, His love, and that His will and His plan are for His glory and His good.  The power of prayer is so amazing, and though Joyce's situation has not improved significantly and there remains so much uncertainty yet ahead, I have so many times felt God's peace that surpasses ALL understanding that I know has been prayed over us.  It is a comfort to know that our God is not only Joyce's Creator, but also her Great Physician.  And this weekend, God blessed us beyond what we could have even thought to pray for.  Mom says He sent us an angel...and He really did. 

Mom and Elaine have been so anxious about what they will do when Joyce is released to go home.  Mom has said so many times that many times it takes two or three nurses to help Joyce do things that she has to do in order to get better and she doesn't know what they'll do when they take her home.  Well, last Wednesday night, after talking to my mom on the phone and her telling me that she didn't think Joyce was going to make it through this infection, I put a post on facebook about Joyce's situation asking for prayer.  One of my mom's best friends who lives in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is a nurse and saw my post (they had just gotten internet and it was her first time online in several weeks), and messaged me asking all the medically detailed questions about Joyce.  I got the message during the night and since I couldn't sleep, I got up and went ahead and responded with all of the details.  The next morning, Ginny messaged me back saying that she had thought and prayed about a way to help and that she had booked a (15-hr) flight (!!) to fly across the world from Dubai to Atlanta to come take care of Joyce and relieve my mom and Elaine in a way that none of the rest of us could.  Ginny wanted to surprise my mom, so my dad and I went down to the airport to pick Ginny up early Saturday morning and brought her back home (mom came home Friday night to spend the weekend while Elaine stayed with Joyce since she is no longer sick).  Saying that Mom was shocked to see Ginny is an understatement.  She burst into tears and they hugged and cried for the next half hour. 

Joycie has sat through her share of football games. TJ introduced her to "the swamp".
I think having Ginny here for the weekend, while Mom caught up (some) on rest and Ginny recovered from jet lag was good therapy for my mom - we hung around the house in comfy clothes, we got pedicures, and just sat around sipping coffee and talking.  Mom cried when she called both Joyce and Elaine to tell them.  What a relief and an incredible blessing, not only for Joyce, for Mom and Elaine, but for ALL of us in our family who have felt so helpless to do anything to help any of the three of them.  A relief to know that Joyce is being cared for properly by someone who treats her like her own family member.  And a relief to know that now when she is sent home, Ginny will be there to help during the transition (she is here for two weeks).  And such a relief to know that Ginny is there with my mom and Elaine when all the rest of us can't be.  What an act of love from an amazing friend!

At another football game - Duke @ Clemson
I'll try to give updates as I hear things.  Meanwhile, thank you so much for praying for our family - we have been so encouraged by so many of you. 


Macedonia Team Meeting & Moving

Ryan, Matt, Summer, Wes, and I all crammed into my little Honda Accord a couple of weekends ago and road-tripped our way to Durham for our second and last Macedonia team meeting.  Our entire team was there this time and we were able to Skype with Brian, the missionary from The Summit who lives in Macedonia that we will be working with.

Our meeting really got us excited about going!!  As it turns out, the football camp that had started out as an afterthought since we just happened to have three former football players on the team has turned into one of the main parts of the trip.  It's awesome to see how God has gifted Ryan, Matt and Wes with their football abilities not only to provide them with a college scholarship, their education, and a platform to be a Christian example among their teammates, but also how they are able to now use that God-given ability to minister to people in a huge way across the world! Just when they thought that football chapter of their lives had come to an end... :)

Initially we were supposed to work on a project with the Red Cross in the mornings and then do the football camp and English classes in the afternoons.  But once Brian started talking with the Red Cross Director, who has lifeguards stationed at all of the beaches in Ohrid, about us coming, the director actually recommended having the Red Cross lifeguards block off their main beach so that we could conduct the football camp all day!  Brian mentioned that one of the biggest ways mission teams can help their ministry is to do things that bring in lots of people, so we hope this will do that.  So exciting!!

It sounds like there may be a bigger turn-out for the football camp than we initially thought, so since we may be doing it all day, some of us girls may even help some and then we will probably utilize the opportunity of having so many people in one place to conduct informal mini-English sessions every couple of hours on the side, encouraging the people we meet to meet up with us later in the evening at the coffee shop for more formal English classes.

The Red Cross does have a project that we can still work on, so we may have a couple people go and work on that for a couple hours at a time.  It sounds like there will be a lot for us to do!  In addition to the football camp, English classes, and Red Cross project, we hope to be able to minister to and encourage Brian and Mandy and their family as well. They have two little kids, so maybe Summer and I can babysit one night so they can have a date night or something. :)

While our whole team was together, we were able to get a group picture!  Please continue to pray for us as we prepare to leave for Macedonia in 23 days!

On another note, we are finally moving!  We found an awesome condo in Dunwoody, right between Ryan's office in Buckhead and mine in Alpharetta (we'll both have about 15 minute commutes) and moving day is set for Saturday! woohooo!!!!  We found it a couple months ago, but it was not available until July, so we have just been waiting until we were able to move in.  We will definitely miss Buford and being close to family and close friends, but it will be nice to gain two more hours back in our day and have more time together, be able to actually cook dinner every night again... ahh, can't wait! God is good - it amazes me how He constantly provides all of our needs! :)


Going to Охрид, Македонија

   ...or in English, that's Ohrid, Macedonia.

Ryan and I will be heading there on July 22nd on a mission trip with a team of ten people from our church, The Summit Church, in Durham.  We are SO excited to be a part of this team!

While Ryan and I from early in our marriage have tried to make it a priority to constantly recognize and serve in the mission field that God has placed us in (our friends and family, our work places, our community, etc...), we have also prepared ourselves for a time when God might open the door to an opportunity for us to serve Him and share God's love and His word with others someplace away from home.  As Americans, we have been so blessed with so many freedoms and luxuries in life that we take for granted every day.  It is easy to forget that there are people groups around the world that do not have "churches on every street corner" or people who have a relationship with Christ and can share God's love and His hope and truth with them or small groups to meet with to study God's word and gain encouragement from.

So, when this opportunity came up for us to travel to the town of Ohrid, Macedonia to work with a family that lives and serves there as permanent missionaries, we spent a couple weeks praying and seeking God's direction on this opportunity and ultimately felt that He was opening the door for us to go.

We hesitated at first to go on a mission trip through the Summit, only because having just moved back to the Atlanta area, we thought maybe we should wait until we found a church here before going on a mission trip.  But we LOVED our church in Durham - it's heart for missions and taking the gospel around the country and around the world is contagious.  It seemed that every few weeks we as a congregation were praying over families who were leaving jobs and families to uproot and move their young families overseas into full-time mission work to plant churches.  The Summit has a goal to plant 1,000 churches in 40 years around the world in areas where the church is needed most.  Our church has sent many missionaries to closed countries, to U.S. cities...all over.  And while they are very focused on "sending", they are just as focused, if not more, on serving the Raleigh/Durham community.  We just felt so blessed to be a part of that church and our small group for the past two and a half years, so although we no longer live there, we are extremely excited to be going with The Summit. 

Secondly, we were hesitant because we didn't want to serve on a mission team with people we would never see or keep in touch with afterward since we just moved away from RDU.  However, my brother Matt, his roommate Wes (both attended the Summit with us), and a friend Summer (from Buford) are all a part of our team going to Macedonia, so we're also super excited about serving alongside each of them. On a side note...during our time in Durham, I had spent months praying for Matt to recognize his need for God's guidance in his life as it was his nature to always be in control and have total dependence on himself rather than be able to depend and trust God with his life. And after months and months of praying and feeling discouraged that God was not doing anything, Matt shared with Ryan and I that God had been working in his life over the past few months (those same months I had been praying!), had been humbling him and showing him his need for total dependence on the Lord to take and direct his life (exactly what I had been praying for!).  Over the past year, it has been amazing to see the way that Matt's life and heart have changed as he completely seeks after the Lord's will for his life.  Together, Matt and Wes, along with their friend and teammate Adam, pursued their walks with the Lord and spent time in Bible study with Ryan on a weekly basis until we moved.  After we moved back to Georgia, Matt is actually the one who found out about this mission opportunity to Macedonia, pursued more information on it, signed up for it, and then asked us if we would be interested in going.

Another kinda cool day right before the application deadline when Ryan and I were praying and seeking whether or not God had us going as part of this team to Macedonia or not, we were reading through Acts together and came across this passage:

"...During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them".  Acts 16:9-10 

Crazy, huh?  We didn't take this as a "sign" or base our decision off of just this passage, but it was pretty cool reading this as we were trying to make a decision.  

So now that I've given you the "how" and "why" of us going, let me give you a little background on where we're going, who we'll be working with, and what we'll be doing there...

Macedonia is a small country north of Greece, surrounded by Albania, Kosovo, and Bulgaria on it's other sides.  It's part of the former Yugoslavia and has only been independent from a 500-year Turkish rule since 1991.  Ohrid, the town we're going to is in the southwest corner of Macedonia, near Albania and is made up mostly of Macedonians, but also many Albanians.  At one point centuries ago, Ohrid was actually known for its many churches (Paul traveled through this area on two of his missionary journeys when the early church was cool is that??).  A family from The Summit has been living in Ohrid as full time missionaries through the IMB (International Mission Board) for the last several years trying to build relationships with the people there and have been preparing to plant a church there.  They have established a coffee shop where they talk with people and provide Christian reading materials in the Macedonian language.  Several have become believers in Christ and have been meeting with Brian and Mandy and their team for Bible Study and from what we understand, they are in a position to launch the church very soon.

As the Macedonian people are very interested in and curious about American culture, our team will be spending the mornings working on a project (project specifics TBD) with the Red Cross and will spend our afternoons teaching English workshops while Ryan, Matt, and Wes head up an American football camp with our team leader Doug and Brian, the missionary who is making all the arrangements and plans for our team.

I can't say enough how excited we are to be going to Macedonia!!!  As we plan, pack, and prepare for this trip, we would so appreciate your prayers!  Please be praying for Brian and Mandy and the group of believers that they have been meeting with and for the church that is soon to be planted in Ohrid.  Please pray for our team - we will be traveling to Durham and Wes will be flying in from Texas this weekend to meet with the rest of our team and talk with Brian over Skype.  Please also pray that God would prepare our hearts to be His servants during the week of July 22-31 and that God would do awesome things in Macedonia through our team.


Introducing "Duke"

We want a dog.  Like real bad.  But the timing just isn't right...we're living in a basement, we're gone all day, we're going to be in a rental living situation for the next year with no yard... 

So instead of getting a puppy, we satisfied our puppy fix by going in with TJ and Jamie to get a puppy for Matt for graduation. 

Meet "Duke".

We have all grown quite attached and Matt has become quite the proud parent.

Ryan and I found out about the puppy from a friend whose aunt and uncle had a Florida. Since we couldn't have a dog, I mentioned it to TJ since the farm was not far from Gainesville (FL).  Now isn't the best time for him to have a dog either (with a full time summer job and then another semester left of school), so we talked about maybe getting it for Matt for graduation. TJ went to see the dog, of course couldn't turn down his little puppy eyes, so with a week left of school, he took him home with him.  In that week TJ got pretty attached and wanted to keep him, but in reality, he knew Matt would have more time to spend with him, so he decided to give up the pup so we could all give him to Matt as a graduation gift.  

He brought him home that weekend, handed him off to me and Ryan, and we drove him up to Durham to Matt.

TJ saying bye to Duke. 

 That baby just laid on my lap or at my feet the entire 5 hour drive.  He is sooo sweet and has such a good personality!  We drove straight to Matt's track meet and the little guy sat through the rain and watched Matt run before getting to meet his new "dad".  

check out the cow-lick on his tail!

He cheered Matt on in his race
Matt got to meet "Duke" after he ran his prelims

On Saturday, Duke sat through another day at the track meet.  Instead of rain, we got heat...he tried staying cool by sleeping under the shade of the bleacher. 

Isn't he cute??  I want a puppy!

Matt started working with him right away on sitting, staying, fetching, going outside to pee...

I think he likes his graduation gift.  He was just lucky that we were needing a puppy fix ourselves, but couldn't have one of our own. ;)