Sunday, October 30, 2005

Roscoe's and Dreams

Sorry it's been so long since we've been in touch. Things have been great, and busy, but getting the time to put it into words has been difficult.

I'm trying to convince Brandon that our friends and family want to hear from him some of the things going on in our lives. He agrees....just like he agrees that he needs to help me with our Thank You notes from our wedding. (sidenote: if you haven't received a Thank You note from us, we are terribly sorry, and are trying to get to all of them soon. Only 80 or so to go and I'll give you two guesses who's handwriting they'll be in...). Anyway, so look soon for a blog post from Brandon. Until then, what you see is what you get, I guess.

First, let me just thank all of the wonderful people who have heard my cry for Texas Pete and valiantly responded. Praise God...ole Petey is gracing our cabinets and fridge in full force. I've had the chance to share the Texas Pete gospel with my new California friends as well. Though they don't share the intense love for the stuff that I do, they seem to think it's alright.

Tonight we ate at a place called Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. Sounds a little sketch, but it's GREAT! And, all sorts of famous people eat there (actually, they eat at the one in Hollywood, and this branch that we were at is about a mile from our home in Pasadena, so we didn't see Will Smith except in pictures on the wall). I'm telling you something...I didn't come prepared. To begin the night, we planned on going to an Armenian restaurant because I am doing a semester long project on the Armenian culture and 'food' is one of my topics to research. However, Cesar's Grill is closed on Sundays. Duh, Nicole. So we went to Roscoe's. We'd been there once before, and I knew this was soul food that we were about to come up against. I should have had my Texas Pete! We ended up eating the fool out of collard greens, mac and cheese, chicken, cornbread, and golden waffles. Man, now that is taste of home. We dreamed of how much we were going to enjoy eating with our families during the holidays. We miss y'all.

Today church was great. Pastor Matthew Barnett did an illustrated sermon entitled Dreamer. It was very moving. I'm a visual learner, so it really spoke to those people like me. There were a lot of people at that church who have lost sight of their dreams, or even people who don't know the Dream Givers - God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Many people got saved after the service. Many people recommitted their lives to going after a dream instead of just living day to day. Brandon and I feel overwhelmed with the dreams that God has given us so far. They are so big that it will have to be Him accomplishing them because it would be impossible for us to do it on our own. What are your dreams? Are you connected to the One who can do immeasurably, abundantly more that all you could even dream yourself?

Please pray for us. This is a big church, and lately we've been burdened to get people CONNECTED. It just seems like there are a lot of lonely people who find their way to our church. They need fellowship, love, encouragement and accountability.

Speaking of that, there is some pretty exciting news that we'd like to share, but I'll let Brandon tell you...(nothing like a little suspense).

We love y'all and miss y'all. Keep praying for us as we do for you. Blessings

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Texas Pete Conspiracy

I guess it all started back when I was a server at the Charleston Crab House in Columbia, SC. (I know, Charleston Crab House in Columbia... it doesn't make sense -maybe that's why it's not in business anymore, but I'm getting sidetracked already). So...It started at CCH. During those late nights after we closed, I would feel hungry and would ever so sweetly put on that southern charm (which doesn't work as much in the south as it does outside the south) and ask the guys who worked in the kitchen if maybe they had some leftover fries or potatoes. One guy named Stephen said, 'girl, you need to learn what it's like to eat real soul food. Here is some collards. Go grab that red stuff...NOT THE TABASCO, the other stuff. Put a whole lot on these here collards, and you tell me if they ain't the best things you done ate in a long time."
I was clearly challenged. Being the competitor that I am, I took on that challenge determined to tell him that his soul food was NASTY and to give me those fries right now. I took the greens. They looked pretty sad, all wilted and laced with pork pieces. I got the red hot sauce with the name Texas Pete on the bottle. I doused a little section of these greens with the Texas Pete, took them on my fork and put them in my mouth....
Heaven, I tell ya. That guy was right! I should have known. He had a belly on him that gave away the fact that he knows what good food is. (Advice: never take restaurant advice from a skinny guy. Go ask the guy with the belly where to eat, and you won't be disappointed.)
So...Ever since, I've loved, maybe even slightly been addicted to, both collard greens and Texas Pete. Especially TP. I eat it on almost anything. Eggs. Popcorn. Vegetables. Meat. Soup. Cereal (not regularly, but I have tried it). Grits. Potatoes. Sonic breakfast burritos (except there is only one sonic in southern California, and it's about1.5 hours away). Chili. Casserole. Everything.
When we arrived in L.A. we went to the grocery store for our essentials to begin building our kitchen. Of course, one of the first things on my list was Texas Pete. We walked up to a looming hot sauce-laden shelf. Suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. It wasn't there. I asked Brandon, "do you see it?" I searched. I moved the other stuff. HOW COULD THEY NOT HAVE TEXAS PETE?!?! I said, "Brandon, we have to leave right now, and go back to South Carolina to get the Texas Pete." We asked people if they knew what it was. Blank stares. No one knows! Can you believe it?
I sent out an S.O.S. to some of my girls who know the intensity with which I love Texas Pete. I got two responses, both positive, saying "don't worry, we've got you covered". Phew. I anxiously awaited a TP-sized box to arrive in the mail any day. Finally, one came. My best friend, Claire Eckert had come through for me. I opened it up. I was like a kid at Christmas tearing into that box. Finally, I broke through the wrapping...WHAT?!?! Tabasco?! Surely this is a dream. I mean, she's my BEST FRIEND. She knows everything about me. She knows I like Texas Pete, not nasty Tabasco. The two are not even remotely in the same category of goodness. I talked to her a day later and told her that I appreciated the gesture, but was a little confused about the Tabasco. She seemed genuinely embarrassed that she forgot. I forgave her and told her that I would survive, but please don't ever tease me like that again.
A few weeks later, Claire called again.
"Did you ever get the second package I sent you," she said.
"Well, I sent you two packages. One right after the other. The next package was supposed to get to you the next day. It had Texas Pete in it!"
"What? No, I never got it."

Now some postman from the south is enjoying my Texas Pete... Good joke, Claire. Ha ha. :)

A few weeks later, my friends Jodi and Josh were coming out for a conference in L.A. Jodi called ahead of time to ask if she could bring me anything from home that I needed. Of course, all I asked for was Texas Pete. "That's all?" she said. "Yes, that's all I need." "Okay, no problem."

They arrived and we all enjoyed each other immensely. However, at one point she gasped. "OH MY GOSH! I forgot your Texas Pete! I'm SO SORRY!"

So, I've come to the conclusion that all of my friends and family back home have been playing a trick on me by not helping a sister out with her addiction. PLEASE HELP!

You can send Texas Pete to:
Nicole Berry
670 N. Hill Ave. #3
Pasadena, CA 91106

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Love" by a 4 year old

Joneil is my new little friend. She is the 2nd youngest of 7 kids. Every Saturday when I arrive, I look for Joneil and her sisters. They've started to look for me, too. That's a big deal, you know? To have project kids actually care that you're around. They find me, and usually run up to me. Joneil and two of her sisters may give me a hug. One of the girls likes to throw Cheetos at me (sometimes sand...when it's Cheetos, I tend to not mind it as much). Another one is not really sure if she wants to hang out with me yet. She'll come around.

I started this little word game with Joneil that I like to play with Brandon. I simply say, "Who loves you?" She doesn't talk much anyway (you try getting in a word edgewise with 5 older brothers and sisters), so for the first few times, she would just look at me and shrug her shoulders and smile. But one day our conversation went like this:
"Joneil, who loves you?"
"That's right I DO love you! Who loves me?"
"You love me, Joneil? Wow, that's so great! Why do you love me?"
(She thought about this for a little while)
"'Cause...I want to."

I was amazed. I mean, she could have said, "cause you bring me candy" or "cause you carry me around all day every Saturday and let me put my sticky, dirty hands in your hair and stain your clothes with popsicles". But she didn't. She just said, "Cause I want to". I like that answer. I think that is why God loves me, too. Not because of the clothes I wear, or what I do for Him. Not because I say my prayers or read my Bible or give candy to kids and let them put popsicle goop all over my clothes. He loves me because He wants to. Even when my words, actions, or attitudes reflect the fact that I don't always love Him, He still loves me. He chooses to love me without regard as to the color of my skin, my grade point average, or how well I can keep our apartment clean. Joneil doesn't care about any of that either. She's my friend. And it's good to have a friend that loves...just because.