What Can I Control?

In this season of singleness in my life, I have had many things to rejoice over. The opportunity to pursue an education in a field I am passionate about. Traveling the world. Having deep friendships.  I enjoy the freedom to watch a movie when I want to, get deeply involved in a good book all day if I so choose, go spend my money on deals at the mall without having to answer to anyone. This season also presents many obstacles. Sometimes, the array of choices can be overwhelming. I worry about messing up. I am also prone to worry and loneliness. I secretly sometimes wonder if I will ever settle down and get married and have a family of my own. And to be honest, the thought of being single forever scares me.

This is where I have to stop and remind myself that there are a lot of unknowns not only in the life of a single woman, but in the life of every woman. Instead of fretting over what I cannot control, why not take a proactive stance on what I can control? Isn’t this what God wants for me?

First of all, God loves me with an everlasting love, and he has not forgotten about me. My self-esteem must flow from what he says is true about me, not whether my needs are being met in any human relationship. Second, I cannot mess up his plan for me. The latter part of Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” What an amazing truth by which I can set my mind at ease!

I am single, and I desire a relationship, but I refuse to settle for less than what I truly desire.  Can I control the fact that what I want to happen right now isn’t happening? Not really, but I can sure make a mess of myself worrying about what the future holds. A better choice would be to focus on what I can control. I can control my attitude. I can work on myself during this season of life in a way that no other season can match, because I am not hindered by pleasing someone else. I can fulfill my dreams of traveling, learning foreign languages, and working with kids.

Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed in strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.” No matter what the future holds, I pray that by the power of Christ in me, I will learn to control the things I can, and what I cannot control, will be left in his hands.



My name is Jordan Starling and I live in Jefferson City, TN. I am studying to be a teacher and I plan to graduate in December 2013. I enjoy cooking, backpacking, reading, writing, and going on mission trips. I recently returned from a mission trip to Africa, where I had the opportunity to do church planting in remote villages.



Growing Green

With gas prices skyrocketing , I'm willing to cut back on luxuries but  I won't compromise the quality of food that comes out of my kitchen!  I love using fresh herbs  and each time I have a glass of ice tea at Shirley Ray's house, she always throws in fresh mint. So, I thought I'd ask her for a little education in regards to  planting a mobile herb garden.  Recently I showed up with a clay pot and a few herbs and my lesson began. She took me step by step through the process .

Herb gardens have few limitations. They can be planted in the ground , a clay pot or any kind of a wire basket. They can live by a kitchen window, a back yard or an apartment balcony. Shirley begins by lining the basket with her favorite landscape fabric,  WeedFree Pro. This allows water through but keeps roots inside the container.

On this particular afternoon, she put together a couple of herb gardens. I thought this aged bicycle basket was  a perfect place for a mobile garden as well as  the traditional clay pot I brought with me.

Shirley prefers inexpensive gloves, rather than a name brand.

With  numerous choices of herbs to choose from we started off with basil, rosemary and mint. She keeps several kinds of  mint in her garden like pineapple mint, chocolate mint and spearmint. She planted multiple  herbs in each garden, but left sufficient room for each to grow and spread.

Fennel has a long droopy leaf and she planted it in the bicycle basket by the outside edge, giving it room to fall over the basket. She doesn't really cook with fennel but she informed me that caterpillars are attracted to it and  by planting fennel she'll also have butterflies in her garden.

This is called the Butterfly Bush, a member of the lilac family.Its rich nectar attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.

Shirley plants lavender in her garden  just because she loves the fragrance. In fact, a small pouch of  dried lavender  tucked inside your pillowcase is supposed to help you sleep.

While she's not picky about her gloves, she is particular about the soil she uses and she pampers her plants with

Miracle Grow.

After just about an hour in Shirley's backyard, she had put together two distinct herb gardens and guess whose front porch this mobile garden calls home?

Shirley Ray: personal style-Texas casual

I'm inspired by memories of my grandmother's garden. Every time I walked into her backyard, it was wall to wall flowers.

Shirley is  also the founder of Shirley's Creative Solutions. She is a caterer, event planner, provides services as a personal assistant and whips up unique hand made gifts.

Leaving a Fingerprint-Cindy Barry

In 2006, Cindy Barry was hired as a Parent Support Specialist in Round Rock ISD. She was hired to build a bridge between home and school; locate invisible parents and educate them, empower them to get involved in their children's education.Through her work she discovered  a homeless population people weren't aware of. A boy sleeping on a bench by a local hamburger stand while another missed school for a week because he didn't have a pair of tennis shoes to wear to PE. Then there are the "couch hoppers." Kids who crash  in the living rooms of  friends because they don't have anywhere else to go.

Cindy  uncovered the reasons students missed school. Hungry and homeless students hide their secrets,ashamed for people to know their circumstances. This petite woman with a giant heart began to feed them before they headed for class and that small act of kindness proved she was trustworthy. Once the trust was established,the students began pouring out their stories and Cindy began to catch their tears; the tears that fueled an engine that has run nonstop for six years.

She started out by asking her neighbors to help her out with a little pocket change so she could keep a stash of  granola bars in her office but the more stories she heard, the more resources she needed.

Cindy has facilitated  job interviews, medical appointments, and clothing donations for hundreds of students. She and her crew of volunteers have helped students move into their own place and taught them the discipline of budgeting.

On June 1, 2011 budget cuts  ended her position with the school district.

I had built relationships with kids and their families. I couldn't let the absence of a paycheck keep me from helping them. I wasn't willing to disappear.I couldn't let them down.

For almost a year, Cindy has continued to run her program without funding. Instead of an office at the high school, her garage is now a warehouse for gently used clothing, backpacks and toiletries. This single mother of four remains prepared to meet the need when her cell phone rings and she says she receives phone calls daily about students in crisis. In turn, she calls on people  in the community  that are willing to help when they know the need.

While at the gas pump, a young man recently approached her. "You probably don't remember me but a  few years ago, you gave me a pair of shoes.You paid attention to me that day. No one thought I'd finish high school but I did  and now I'm getting my Associates degree."

Cindy is leaving her Fingerprint in the Round Rock, Texas community.  To donate money, gently used clothes, blankets,backpacks,  toiletries or to invite Cindy to speak  to your club or organization, email her @

"What's Hot about being Single anyway?

The conversation went something like this;  Me: “So you just graduated from college, congratulations!  What are going to do now?” Girl: “I’m going to Europe to work at a resort for a year.”  Me: “Wow, that’s great!  I wish I had done something like that when I was still single and could.  No worries at all, just get up and go!”  Girl: “Yeah, it’s going to be great!” Oh to be single, carefree and no ties!  That’s the life!  Single ladies, don’t humdrum around about being single thinking, “Where’s my man?”  This is one of the best times of your life if you just embrace it.  The young lady I talked to about going to Europe got it; she received her education to plan for her future but before she settled into the routine of life, she is embracing the freedom she has taking the adventure of a lifetime.

Whether it’s Europe, a trip to the beach, taking risk you’ve been afraid of taking or moving to another city for a job; the possibilities are almost endless when you are hot and single!  And just so you know, age does not appply nor does the fact you may have recently found yourself single again.  If you are single, you are hot and single!  Here are a few more hot ideas to try out while you are single.


  • Interview for a job in the city of your dreams.  It could be your dream job or just a job that pays so you can live in a city that you always wanted to visit.
  • Grab some girlfriends and take weekend getaway to a spa or anywhere else you want to go.  Don’t wait for the phone to ring to get invited; you do the inviting!  Road trips with friends are great memories.
  • Take a week off from work for a “stay-cation,” a week at home doing all the fun stuff in your city.  Hiking, biking, visiting the hot spot restaurants, dance clubs, whatever you think is cool.   Take a look back at Stacy’s blog, “Havin’ Fun in the Summer Time” to get your wheels turning even more.
  • Girl-friend time - Chick-flicks, poolside with snacks and drinks, mani-pedi, shopping….the list is endless.
  • Something I wish I did more often, go visit a friend who has moved away and spend a weekend with them laughing about old times and making some new great memories.  No need to wait on someone else to take a trip, plan your own!
  • Speed dating…I said it!  If I were single, I would hit the speed dating where you get a 5-minute date with several different guys and your done.  No computer trying to figure out the best match taking all kind of personal information, just 5 minutes of FACE-TO-FACE time….something that’s missed in our electronic world.  It’s fun, fast and safe because your not giving out any personal information, just talking in a safe environment where you actually SEE whom you are talking to.  What a novel idea! Plus, no cheesy pick-up lines!

It’s a risk to enjoy life while you are still single, are you up for it?  I think you are and I believe in you.  Be wise in the process though; don’t blow through your savings or milk off your parents or friends.  Be smart in the process because you never know who your going to meet along the way and you don’t want to be a financial burden to your future husband.  But be brave and go out and enjoy life now, while you are single!


That’s What’s HOT about being single!

Share some of your ideas about what's hot about being single.

Fostering Love through Community Service

I suspect that Mimi and Nana  were formerly two "gorgeous gals". Still physically beautiful, they  are now two energetic "grandmas"  that walk the halls of Fern Bluff Elementary in Round Rock, Texas because of a program called Foster Grandparents, a part of Texas Senior Corp. The program was founded in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This week I chased them down and they were willing to give CW a few minutes of their time as I probed them about their lives and motivation for working with children.

CW: What made you want to be a Foster Grandparent?

Mimi, aka, Maryann Hargis: I'm a former educator, have seven grandchildren and still enjoy being with little ones.So many children don't have grandparents close by and I get  to build relationships with those kids.

Nana, also known as Palley Kramer:  Education moves fast. It's changed so much since my kids were in school. This is my opportunity to "catch up." I get to see for myself what's going on in education. I want to find out for myself if children are learning or not.

CW: What do you want to accomplish?

Mimi: Some children I work with  are considered at risk students and I want to see those kids "make it."

Nana: I want children to realize the importance of an education. Nowadays, there so much fun in learning because of tools that teachers have. I want them to enjoy their education.

Mimi: I also like getting to know the teachers and making their job easier.

CW: How do you connect with children?

Mimi: I tell them stories of my own grandchildren and sometimes I'll walk in and they ask,"How's Wyatt?"

Nana: I do my best to encourage, encourage, encourage.

CW: What have you learned since you became a Foster Grandparent?

Nana: I'm also being educated mentally, socially and I'm learning new things about math. My life has been awakened. It's disappointing to see a child that is uninterested in  school but I'm learning about the children's emotional ups and downs.

Mimi: I can make a difference. I've started working with a recent immigrant from Asia. Imagine what it's like to come into a new country and culture and I'm the person she trusts and talks to here in school. I'm the one she's most connected with.

More than anything I want kids to know,"Be natural, be honest, be truthful."

Palley Kramer

Foster grandparents must meet certain requirements, including a criminal background check.To learn more about the history of national service, go to

October Monthly Wrap up

Every Year the month of October turns Pink.  Everywhere you look pink products line the shelves of stores, celebrities walk pink carpets and pink ribbons flaunt everything from t-shirts to fingernail polish.   No matter where you live, all sorts of fundraisers and benefits pop up all around the city to help find a cure for the disease that has affected every woman. October is known nationally as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Austin

In Austin, the 2nd annual Stiletto Stampede for the cure benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation dashed off on Saturday, October 16th.  Hundreds of women met at the Hill Country Galleria for the high heel dash (100 yards) with a mission to encourage young women and men to know and understand the risks of breast cancer and empower them to prevent the disease by utilizing overall Breast Self-Awareness through early detection, screening methods and education.


Celebrities showed up in droves a month early in September for the Stand Up to Cancer Telethon.  The star studded benefited raised resources for breast cancer as well as all kinds of cancer.  Christina Applegate who is a breast cancer survivor was just one of the celebrity survivors who answered phones for Stand up for Cancer this year.


But one of the biggest fundraisers happens all year round.  The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure takes place all throughout the country and it’s not too late for you to register for one.  For over 25 years, The Komen Race for the Cure Series raises significant funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease.

If you would like to register for a race near you, click here for all the races throughout the year.

Think Pink!


February 28, 2012 - UPDATED with corrected hyperlink. When my kids were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, the “bullies” stayed on the school playground or ran around the neighborhood.  You know the little bully who took great pleasure in deliberately harassing other children by such means as:   hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, hair pulling, name calling, making fun of someone’s appearance, race, or religion, etc.

Now the bully’s territory has expanded and can reach directly into the comforts of your home, the one place a child is supposed to take refuge from the outside world.   Not only has the bully’s territory expanded into your home, but it can reach to higher levels of harassment because the methods he uses are done in secret, thus freeing him from punishment for such unruly behavior.

Cyber-bullying, it is called. A name applied to bullying through the use of technology.

For example: Nine year old Sammy suddenly received a very graphic and violent text message on his cell phone.  Sammy was so emotionally distraught that he slept with his mother that night, and would not allow her to leave his side for 24 hours.

I personally know this mother, and like most mothers, she had gone to great lengths to protect her child from the obvious, such as monitoring TV programs and movies.    However, she was stunned and taken completely off guard by this invasion into her son’s life by a cell phone, something she had considered perfectly harmlessly.

The cell phone is just one means of cyber-bullying.  Other ways, depending upon the age of your child, might include: (1) writing rude blogs on the internet (2) sending nasty emails (3) talking about someone in a chat room (4)  instant messaging.

May I let you in on a little secret?

Research shows that, in most cases, it is someone your child knows, and perhaps has innocently passed his cell phone number or password on to a so-called friend.

So, what’s a parent to do, or I should say “what are the adults in a child’s life to do as a team effort to combat one of the pitfalls that exists in this hi-tech world we live in?

The best defense against cyber bulling is a strong offense, which involves 2 key steps.

1.      Education: As with most things, education is the beginning of tackling any problem.  Use the Internet to your advantage and educate yourself to what cyber-bullying consists of at different age levels, as well as the emotional damage that it can cause.  One site which has been a service to the community for years about this subject is Health Resources and Services Administration, which is a government agency dedicated to educating the public on cyber-bullying.

2.      Get Involved: How can you get involved?  The home page for the above site offers further education on bullying in general. It also offers ideas which parents, or any interested adult, can present to schools and other organizations within their community to promote bully awareness, and ways to stop it. There are many other Internet sites that are also very helpful. A quick search will list many of those.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

May Dr. King’s words be a challenge to adults to become a team working together to insure that our children are safe from the emotional scars of modern day technology.

Make Your Mark

Each generation unlocks the door for those that follow. Mrs. Louis McGregor began teaching in the 1950's when schools were still segregated. By the 1960's she was a special education teacher in Virginia. "Back then, all the kids in Special Education were labeled MR (mentally retarded)," she said casually. "Later on, they started identifying kids as learning disabled, and I got the lowest of the low to work with." Mrs. McGregor remembers when white children with special needs were bussed to her all-black school and how she was uncertain how the "white parents" would feel about having their child taught by a black teacher. She made her mark by doing what was right by each of her students.

I worked with students that made it out of Special Education and were successful in General Education. Sometimes the principal would come to my room and ask me to accompany him to another teacher's room to help out with a student that was out of control.

When I asked what was different about the way she handled students, she replied, "I handled them the McGregor way. It's a secret and I didn't share my secret."  Her daughter, Robyn McGregor, interrupted, "Mom paid attention to every student she had. That's what made the difference."

Mrs. McGregor continued, "Last Chritmas and Easter, I received cards from the graduating class of  1950 and a one hundred dollar bill in each card. One student wrote ," If it weren't for you Mrs. McGregor, I wouldn't be where I am today." They say I changed their lives. I don't really know how."

Mrs. Louise McGregor spent forty-four years teaching in the public schools. Her husband, Robert D. McGregor, Jr. participated in the Selma March and was the Tri-State President of the NAACP for eighteen years.

Thank you Mrs. McGregor for blazing the trails for those of us that have come after you.