Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's official...

Sorry ladies. The votes are in and it's official. I have THE most wonderful, thoughtful and romantic husband in the WORLD.

This week has been amazing. I had my spa day on Thursday (more on that to come), and when I got home from a day at the spa, my man didn't want me to stress out over baby and dinner and cleaning and everything that comes with normal every night activities.

He stopped by the grocery store on the way home from work, walked in the door, kissed me and Ella, and then headed to the kitchen to make dinner. After a wonderful cuisine experience, he took up the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, fed, bathed and put Ella to bed and got everything ready for Friday. I headed upstairs to my new "Me" room (more on that to come, too!) and got to indulge in something I rarely have time to really concentrate on...scrapbooking, getting new ideas for layouts, watching tutorials on digital scrapbooking, and a little dreaming.

Friday: Mom and Dad came up to take care of Ella. Brandon whisked me away to the spa again for hair, makeup and new clothes. He proceeded to set things up for us for later that night at the Westin Poinsett in downtown G'vegas.

After 3 hours of cutting, coloring, primping and getting "fluffed" as the spa people called it (my hairdresser, David, called himself the official "fluffer"), they took me to the West End Field for my big Makeover reveal at the Greenville Drive game. Brandon was there, looking extremely hot in his pinstripe suit and freshly shaven face (Hallelujah!). He took pictures and hooted and hollered louder than everyone. After the big reveal, we took a trolley to the car and headed to Sassafrass...my favorite restuarant, where we had a wonderful meal. Later, we enjoyed a childless night at the hotel.

Saturday: We woke up early and had a nice breakfast downstairs. Then we walked around downtown and enjoyed the outdoor market set up on Main Street. After an hour or so of strolling through the West End, we packed up and headed home for some rest and time with my parents.

Later that afternoon, I awoke from a nap with him telling me I needed to get ready again...he had a surprise for me. We left Ella with Mom and Dad again (he had already arranged for them to spend 2 nights here babysitting) and we drove to another wonderful restaurant: City Range. On the way, he told me that we were going out to dinner, and that this had to do with my ordination that took place a couple of weeks ago, since we hadn't had time to celebrate it yet.

We got there and one by one women who have had an impact on my life (mentors, sisters, in Christ) showed up and sat down with us at the restaurant's special chef's table. Brandon had invited these women to come and speak into my life and celebrate this new realm of ministry I was stepping into.

Then he presented me with a new Bible that he had had my name put on (I've never had my name on a Bible before) and had passed around to many women whom I look up to and asked them to share a few words on the inside cover pages. These women gave me such encouragement and inspiration that I don't think I'll ever forget how special I am to God and to them.

We had the most wonderful meal, and Brandon made sure to let each woman know that he would be personally offended if they didn't get exactly what they wanted from appetizers to dessert. We laughed and cried and spoke into each other's lives with passion and hope and excitement.

There were a couple of women who were unable to make the dinner, but Brandon even went so far as to reschedule time with some of them. For instance, today after church, instead of eating in the commons area like I had planned, Brandon told me to follow him. He led me to meet up with Apostle Hope so we could have lunch together! She is such an amazing woman of God and has always been a mentor from a distance to me as I've watched her follow God wholeheartedly, support her husband, take care of her children, shepherd the flock of Redemption, and preach the paint off the walls!!! It was awesome! This may sound a little dorky, but I've even had questions written in my journal of topics I'd like to ask her or discuss if I happened upon the opportunity, so I was well prepared to make the most of this one! We had a wonderful time together and my love and respect continues to grow towards her with each interaction.

So, my precious husband takes the cake for being such a stud muffin. He has racked up some serious points lately and I just wanted to pubicly declare that I am so thankful and honored to be his wife and the mother of his child. He is absolutely perfect for me and wonderful to me. Thank you so much, babe.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I've always wondered about baby baptism, christening, and baby dedications at churches. I figure that if Mom and Dad are truly followers of Christ then of course they are going to commit to raising their child up in a home where He is glorified and teach the child how to walk with Him. Brandon and I dedicated Ella to the Lord when we found out we were pregnant. We had many instances where we had to reaffirm that commitment (mostly to remind ourselves) during the pregnancy when we were given possible bad news. Ever since she was born we have been careful to keep in mind that she is God's and on loan to us. We have stewardship over her life for a little while and want to make the most of it.

So I have kind of come to decide that baby dedications are more an excuse to get the family together and remind everyone that it is all of our responsibility to live godly lifestyles in front of these precious ones so that they may catch it in their heads and hearts. That being said, we had Ella dedicated at Redemption this past weekend and then had everyone over to the house for a celebration afterwards. The ceremony was nice as Pastor Tim and Pastor Heindrich both prayed over Ella and us.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bye-Bye Rat-Tail. Ella's First Hair Cut!

We knew that we couldn't have mullet-baby forever. People were starting to stare. Thankfully, we heard of Jellybeans, a hair salon exclusively for kids that does baby's 1st haircut for a penny (as long as it's never been cut before, not even at home). They were pros at keeping Ella occupied enough to get a great cut. Check it out.

Revival and Healing-Part 2

Brandon and I decided to see for ourselves what this was all about. So we spent the day in prayer and fellowship with God asking Him to prepare our hearts for whatever He wanted to do, and then went to Charlotte's Morningstar Church to get a better idea of what was really going on.

Briefly, I would like to say that YES, there's no denying that God has been and is currently working in and through His people to bring revival. However, we both felt as if there was a tinge of man-made glory and a sense of trying to recreate what God had done in the days before. This left us both feeling a little disappointed and disillusioned. Without bashing or discrediting these people, because I feel like this movement was birthed out of a hunger for God, I will say that I was glad we went and experienced it for ourselves before wholeheartedly endorsing it. If you're interested, skeptical, hopeful, etc...go with an open heart and mind and ask God to start a revival in you.

Revival is not about about going after what God can do for us. It's not about seeing healings or miracles, though those are cool too. It's about seeing the fruit of the Spirit exhibited in and through the lives of the people who have been touched by the revival.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Big Win

On Friday, Brandon and I went with about 40 other people from the youth group to the Greenville Drive baseball game. I was excited because a) I'd never been to a game, and had been wanting to experience an evening at the beautiful ball park in the West End of downtown and b) I was looking forward to more fun time getting to know the kids...every minute counts with them! They were wonderful, and I have been very impressed with how well behaved they are for the most part. Of course, they are teenagers, so there has to be a dumb move every once in a while, but that's all part of the fun, right?

So, Brandon and I were strolling through the stadium, eating all the food that is not on my eating plan and stopping every so often to chat with groups of our kids wandering to and fro. We came across a table that was set up for an upscale spa called The Spa at West End. Now, before I ever met Brandon, and especially right after I graduated college and was making good money and had very little bills to pay I would treat myself pretty often to excursions to spas such as this one. I loved having a mani or pedi, reading magazines while I had my hair highlighted every 6 weeks, and could really enjoy an hour long massage. That, of course, dwindled as I got into ministry, my salary plummeted (*which was really okay with me cause I was doing something I loved to get out of bed to do!), and then of course, when I married B. After we moved to LA and a hair cut and color was almost $200, I went an entire year without a haircut, or so much as my nails being painted by anyone but me.

Back to the stadium: so at the table sat two cool gals who told us we should sign up to get in on a drawing for a mother's day prize package. Laughingly, we both filled out an entry form with my info, and told them we better not be getting a ton of spam emails this week. They said that it was for a all-day spa treatments, and that they'd be drawing a semi-finalist soon. I thanked them in advance for picking my name, and made a big deal out of wadding it up and putting it in the basket...We'd pass them again and again, and I'd be really dramatic with the wink, wink!

Well, a funny thing happened. We were sitting with the group in the stands trying to get everyone in the stadium to do the wave, when all of the sudden I heard someone on the loudspeaker call my name. I guess I got picked! That was confirmed at the table and I was told that I had to come back the next day (they'd give me free tix) for the final drawing.

So, Saturday after a day of family reunion-ing at the river property, I dragged Brandon and Ella down the mountain to get to the baseball game. My second time there and all within 24 hours! I met up with the girls at the table and the other 4 finalists. I had to write my name down on another piece of paper. I put "Nicole Berry is the winner!". We went down on the field, and some Drive representative with a cool microphone voice drew the name out...

Nicole Berry is the winner!!!!
I seriously won! And this wasn't just some hokey prize. No sir...it's the most bomb-diggity Mother's Day hook-up ever!

My prize is worth over $800 and includes:

Custom Blend Aromatherapy Breathing Ritual
Napa Valley Grape Seed Tea Bath
Signature Scrub with Vichy Shower
Warm Stone Massage
Replenishing Facial
West End Spa Pedicure
Express Mini Manicure
Complete Hairstyle revamp including cut, color, style and products
Complete Makeup revamp including makeup lesson and special occasion makeover
Luxurious robe to take home
Spa Cuisine Lunch

They said reserve the entire day to be pampered. I'm also going to be on the news, in a press release and on their website with before and after pics and a write-up! How fun is this?

I practically fell out right there on the field. I don't think I've been that excited in a loooong time. Hopefully they can give me a picture or two of my reaction cause one of the girls took a couple of shots.

Brandon got really excited, too. For Mother's Day besides the ultra cool t-shirt he got me that I've been wanting, he also wrote in my card that on the day I go to the spa, he's shipping Ella off for the night and next day, taking me out for a romantic dinner downtown and then we're staying here!

So my Mother's Day has been a homerun and I'm so excited to share with you more details of my fun day at the spa!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Revival and Healing Breaking Out All Over!

Praise God, Praise God! His Holy Spirit is coming to his people in mighty ways throughout the Southeast (and probably other places where I am not familiar).

Lakeland, FL: A revival that was supposed to last a couple of nights has gone well over a month now. Canadian Todd Bentley is the evangelist on the event, and has been used by God in powerful ways. People say they feel the heaviness of the Holy Spirit 10 miles away from where the revival is being held. The blind are seeing, the deaf are hearing, the lame are walking, the diseased are being cured, and the dead are even being raised, as it was claimed by Jesus in Luke 7:21-23.

Here is a link to video from the Lakeland, FL Healing Outpouring:

It's gone from being in a church building to a convention center to now a baseball stadium that holds 15,000!People are coming from all over the world to be a part of this amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Some are there to take back what they know to be the anointing to their cities.

That's what happened in Fort Mill, SC at Morningstar Ministries. Revival broke out there and healing has been occuring in numerous ways since the end of April.

For more information, check out this link:

There have been reports of people getting healed just by watching it via the internet, listening via a cell phone call from someone at the revival or watching it on TV. God is not going to be boxed in!

On another note: last night at a youth ministry leader's meeting we prayed for a guy who had had his vision messed up this week from what he said was a water bottle explosion (don't ask me...). Basically, his vision was perfect, the bottle exploded and tore up his eye pretty bad, and the doctors didn't know if he would ever get his vision fully restored due to the damage. He was pretty bummed, too, because his vision is a gift of God to him because he uses it as a hunter and a guide for other hunters to bring in income for his family. Before we prayed for him, he couldn't see the dry-erase board about 10 feet in front of him. He said it was completely blurry and unreadable. After he got prayed for, he could see even the smallest handwriting on that board!

Praise God! I believe that this revival is coming here soon. Bring it on!

Holy Spirit, I know you're in Greenville, SC too! Show your power to your people, and may we be brought into unity, deliverance, healing and love by your presence in our lives. Start with me, Lord. Bring revival to my life, Lord. Change me, God. Do a new work in me, God. Have your way in me, God.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mother's Day's a-comin'

It's my first official Mother's Day. I've birthed, nursed, changed and stayed up till the wee hours of the night with our sweet baby girl, and it's high time I get recognized for it, right? :) ha ha. You know that's a joke, right?

For the record, Brandon doesn't consider this to be my first Mother's Day. It is my 2nd, as last year he was sure to pamper me with a pre-natal massage at Urban Nirvana and found the cutest card, wrote in it with a kid-like handwriting and signed it "Ella Christine". That was really big because up to that point, we were still throwing out names. I had finally told him that there were a couple to choose from but he needed to make the final decision. I wanted it to be Ella Christine, but who knew naming a child would be so hard! So for him to write that was a gift in itself...no more crunching of the brain to figure out what we were going to call this child once it left my womb.

This Mother's Day, I wanted to honor a few wonderful women in my life...

First, the matriarch of my family, Mommom. Mommom (or Anita) is a firecracker of a woman. She is eighty years old, lives in Philadelphia, and has been through some craziness this year to say the least. Our preacher says that the devil usually doesn't mess with you if he's not intimidated by your potential. That being said, I believe that even at 80, Mommom still has a ton of potential in her life, as evidenced by the struggles with her health that she has battled and overcome. If you ever met my Mommom, you'd agree that she doesn't seem like she's 80...more like 40! She has so much life inside of her, and will have you laughing your head off in 5 seconds flat. Brandon, Ella, and I were able to visit her in January, and it was a wonderful time together.

Next up is my mama...although she doesn't like me to call her Mama cause she's a yankee and it reminds her of the lady on the syrup bottle. But I digress...Anyway, Cristina or Cris is the apple that didn't fall far from the Anita tree. She is a pistol, and always full of joy, hope, and wisdom. Mom has also seen her share of troubles this year, but has consistently kept a positive attitude, and has inspired the rest of us to do so, too. This year, she has taken up a new hobby: Knitting. She has become quite the knitting fool and has really enjoyed her new endeavor. The thing I'm most proud of for Mom this year is her completing her respiratory rehab program at Duke. Though the doctors say that her lungs are bad, she has reached amazing levels of fitness this year and by the end of her stint at Duke, she was walking over a mile, lifting weights, riding a stationary bike, doing an aerobics class and keeping up with Daddy (a feat in itself). Mom, you do not know what an inspiration you are to me. Thank you for teaching me so much this year about being a godly woman who doesn't lose joy based on circumstances. I love you as your daughter and your friend.

Brandon's mama, Denice (she's southern and doesn't mind "Mama") has also been a big factor in my life this year. I feel as though our relationship has taken on a new level of love and respect, especially since Ella was born. "Mama Nissi" as she will be called, has been a wonderful help for me, and I have appreciated her eagerness and availability to spend quality time with Ella (and allow me to have a few precious hours to myself, even if it's just to go to the dentist or some other appointment). She has a great relationship with her granddaughter already, and it's evident that God has graced Denice with some amazing gifts and talents that she is passing down to Ella. On top of being a great mom and grandmom, Denice has also been working hard at buying, gutting and remodeling homes this year. She has her contractor's license and has finished at least one home and is working on (I believe) 2 more, including her own! I can certainly learn a lot from this woman of God on so many levels!

Finally, I need to thank my precious daughter for giving me the privelige of being her mommy...or mama. I am overjoyed at the sheer thought of each and every day with her. Waking up and walking in her room each morning to her waiting for me is an absolute delight, no matter what time it is. I love the potential that is on her life, and I love the opportunity I have to draw it out of her even at this early age. Our relationship is completely precious to me, and I can honestly say that I am a better person because she is in my life.

So Mommom, Mom, Mama Nissi, and Ella....

I LOVE YOU & Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Ramp

Last weekend Brandon and I got to lead our first trip as the youth pastors at RWOC. Brandon was asked to take the position in February and has hit the ground running. God has been downloading so much into him concerning vision, planning, and implementation, that it has been quite the adventure just to be his wife alongside! We've truly enjoyed our time so far getting to know some of the kids and leaders, but it has been so busy in the transition period that it's been hard to go deep with anyone just yet.

That changed this weekend.

I was really looking forward to this weekend for a number of reasons:

1) I had never been to the Ramp and everyone who has been has not stopped raving about the awesome presence of God that they experienced.

2) I wanted to get some quality and quantity time with a few of the girls so I could begin developing real relationships with them. It's hard to do that on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings before, during and after services. I meet so many new people in one night that if I remember a name the next week, it's an act of God!

3) I was looking forward, though with a little trepidation, to leaving Ella with her grandparents and getting time away from Mommy responsibilities for a couple of days. This was going to be the first time I spent the night away from her in a non-emergency situation (when my mom was in ICU in Charleston, my wonderful mentor and her husband took ella for a night while we stayed at the hospital).

On all three areas, I was not disappointed.

I met with God in a way that I haven't done in a LOOOOONG time. It was so wonderful to be in His presence, wrapped up in His arms, and hungry for more of Him. I also had a chance to lead by example as the kids were able to see me and Brandon go after God right alongside them. We committed to being fully engaged with all that was going on instead of sitting in the adult section and checking out....there was too much to take away to do that! And, though I missed my baby girl terribly around Saturday afternoon (we left her on Thursday afternoon in Hendersonville), I have to say that I was successful in not being the on-the-phone-constantly-checking-in-overbearing mom, AND...her grandparents took excellent care of her in my absence. No surprise there.

This is part of the crew. The others were out and about when I took this. The kids were so fun to be around. We had the most diverse group there, I think, and it was amazing to see how mature these guys and gals were and how they all got along so well.