Six years ago this past July, the 16th to be exact, I met the man of my dreams.  Location: Ormond Beach Youth Camp, Daytona Beach.  I was the Youth Minister at FBC Pine Mountain, which, though thought by many at camp that year, is not a town that only consists of a speed bump.  They have two or three traffic lights, thank you very much.  I took my group of 22 to camp and we had a blast!  It was awesome because the youth ministers didn’t have a specific “job” once we were there, meaning we didn’t have to lead a group or anything very detailed.  We had to have the right ratio of kids to adults to come, so the ministers got to enjoy the week hanging out and loving on our kids, leaving the “discipline” and in and outs to our chaperones.  So, on Tuesday morning of camp week, I was headed to the beach (in my perfectly legal tankini, of course).  On the way out the door, I hear one of the directors’ voices, “Hey, I need your help”.  I look down at my ghostly white legs, thinking “my legs need the sun’s help”, but opted instead to see what Cindy needed.

Unbeknownst to me at that point, the resort in which we were staying was vandalized, and much of the sound/audio visual stuff was stolen.  Enter Garrett.  He was, for lack of a better way to explain it, the techy geek for the week.  (He’ll read this, and probably respond with the technical term).  He was evaluating all that was missing and needed someone to follow along behind him, making a list for the police, who were on their way to file a report.  I followed, meticulously writing every detail he as he gave it to me.  This went on for the better part of the day, and even included viewing surveillance footage to see if any faces were recognized.  That night, some of the chaperones and other adults were asked to keep watch of the meeting room to assure the vandals would not return.  Sensing a pattern, I’m sure you can tell by now where this is headed- Garrett and I were paired up for “watch”.  Suffice it to say, you learn a lot about a person while constantly chatting all night long to keep yourself awake.  For the rest of the week, where one was, the other was not far behind. 

We parted ways on Friday with plans for me to meet him at West Point Lake for his family’s annual reunion that Sunday.  Let’s just say that from then on, we’ve not been apart much.  The next year was spent back and forth at one another’s homes each and every weekend.  He would mostly make the drive to LaGrange as I was still serving in Pine Mountain and couldn’t spend as much time in Jonesboro as he could in LaGrange, coming to church with me. 

Almost a year after our first meeting, on Sunday, June 22, 2003, he proposed to me at Pyne Road Park.  It was awesome!  He had just moved to LaGrange the day before, and we had gone to Jamin and Michelle’s house for dinner and games- a pretty regular past-time, pre children.  He had my ring with him and showed it off to them before giving it to me the next day.  To say I was shocked was an understatement, but I was thrilled.  The next year brought about wedding plans, showers, etc.

On June 19, 2004, I married my soul mate in a beautiful ceremony PACKED with music.  Yes, those that were there remember that the service was almost 45 minutes long.  To my wedding party, I’m glad you wore comfy shoes.  Paul Blair took over as mostly my brother sang/wept, through the song they sang together,  Jamin sang, Cindy Skipwroth sang, the Faithful Hearts sang, the handbells played, and yes, yours truly sang.  Rewind 18 years.  My dad and I went to a concert at our church a couple of days after my brother was born, and the lady there sang a song to her husband.  I looked at my dad and told him I’d sing that song at my wedding one day.  Back to the wedding.  I looked into my groom’s eyes after we’d recited our vows and sang “Only God Could Love You More”, which still rings true today.

Then, on July 24, 2006, a little earlier that we ourselves had planned, but obviously in line with God’s plan, we welcomed our little Saralynn into the world.  The day I’d taken the test to learn she was coming, Garrett had read the stick, seen the two lines, and stormed to our bedroom.  But, as Saralynn was handed to him over the surgical sheet after my C-section, the world was a better place.  The culmination of our love was crying hysterically back at him, pleading to be put back in her safe, warm environment.  Thinking he’d have something incredibly profound to say, I suddenly heard, “I think she just peed on me”.  Leave it to my Garrett to find humor in life’s most serious situations. 

Now, to present day.  Seven years later, packed full of many a laugh and tear, a very independent two year old mini-Garrett, and memories to last a lifetime, I still think so fondly back to the days of Ormond Beach.  God ordained our union long ago.  I often joke that God can take something as awful as a $10,000 vandalism at youth camp to bring about great things, and He did just that for me.  I don’t know who those teenagers were that felt they needed video cameras and computers, but, I feel that I owe them a little- they helped me meet the one for whom I’d lifted countless prayers for so long.  Sure, we would’ve met somehow, someway, but I still wonder about how it all came to be.  What forshadowing- Garrett and his techy stuff, me and my writing.  I was told yesterday that I should be writing somehow.  I would love to, but this is my outlet for now.  Oh, how ironic it really was…

On today, day three of my “important people in my life that are teaching me to anticipate and be thankful this Advent season” campaign, I am thankful for my wonderful husband that puts up with me, no matter what.  I don’t appreciate him enough, don’t tell him enough, and often take him for granted, but underneath all that, I am truly grateful to be his wife and love our life together.  Though it’s hectic, crazy, and often too crowded for much couple time, I relish the moments we’re able to spend as husband and wife, and not just Mommy and Daddy.  The weekend of weddings a few weeks back started the notion that I need to tell him more often what he means to me, and my devotion today focused on honoring my husband, so that’s what I’m attempting to do, though I haven’t been very good at it lately.

Garrett, I love you, and am committing to do better at showing you what you mean to me.  Thank you for allowing me to be part of your life.  Yes, the road has been long and difficult at times, but the potholes make me grateful for the lines and directional arrows that direct us back to each other when life presents distractions and detours.  I’m honored to co-pilot with you as we look forward to the journey ahead.  Together, with the map of God’s word and Jesus, who’s more trustworthy than the Garmin, leading the way, we’ll journey together.

To Infinity, and Beyond,
Mary Beth


Pop Paul

As I sit and reflect on people in my life that I’m thankful for, and that I’m anticipating good things to come for, I think about “Pop Paul” as he’s known to Saralynn.  None other than our Minister of Music, Paul Blair. 

There are so many things to say about Paul, but the first is THANK YOU.  Paul is one of the purest, kindest souls I have ever known.  God blessed not only our church, but my family in particular, when He sent Paul and his family to LaGrange.  Our families have a rich history, from a cookout at our house where I watched Paul eat a hamburger that had been on the grill a total of about 15 seconds, to countless musicals, to Paul’s part in both my grandparents’ funerals, and many other precious moments in between.  Paul has always had a soft shoulder that has caught many a Carter tear, a heart bigger than his body, and a spirit that rivals any other person on this earth.  His caring spirit, gentle hand, always caring heart, and ever-upbeat words are true gifts to me, and I am forever grateful for knowing this precious man!

Our church has made many changes in the past few months, all of which I think are in the best interest of the environment of the church and its people.  Our contemporary service has exploded, and has been just what many of the people in our church and community have needed.  Garrett and I are blessed to serve in this service.  With those changes comes the difficulty of trying to keep what “was” in tact while bringing along something new.  Paul seems to have the biggest job of all in doing what he can to make sure that the Music Ministry doesn’t suffer too much.  The most important thing to note about these changes is that we are still ONE CHURCH, and should work that way.  Paul is doing all he can to keep that thought alive and well. 

This Advent season, that gives way to Christmas, I am grateful for God’s present to me in Paul Blair.  Paul, I promise you that I’m along for the ride that’s set before us.  Please pray for Paul as I know he’s stretched thin during this season.  Our entire church staff is, but none quite like Paul.  Please pray for protection for Paul as he continues to seek God’s will for our church, and for the ministries and people of each. 

Anticipating the Coming,
Mary Beth


Yesterday began the season of Advent.  I have to admit, I don’t know that much about Advent, but am looking forward to learning.  I remember as a child, I had a felt calendar that we hung out at Christmas that had 25 “pockets”- and in each, Mom always tucked a piece of candy.  At some point during the busy routine of the day, we’d go to the calendar, take out the piece of candy, eat it, of course, and then prepare for the next day.  It was our way of “counting down” to the big day!  I’m sure she shared the meaning of Advent with me, but I don’t guess it ever really “stuck”.  Our church has begun the tradtion of lighting the candles on the Advent wreath in the past couple of years, and this year is no exception.  Yesterday’s candle was the Candle of Promise.  Wow.  What a way to start it off.  The entire purpose of this crazy, hectic season is wrapped up in a promise- from God to us.  He’ll be with us, always!  He came in the form of a vulnerable baby, and I must admit, the story never resonated with me as much as it has now that I am a parent myself.  The Miracle of the Season is so real to me this year, and I’m blessed to be a witness to the Love and Protection that came through that precious Baby!

As Advent literally means “coming” or “anticipation”, what are you anticipating this Christmas?  I, for one, am waiting to watch promises unfold in the lives of those around me.  So, during this Advent season, I hope to spotlight special people in my life, and ask you to join in praying for those people.

Today, Dec. 1st, please join my family in lifting up a prayer of thanksgiving for Chad, Katie, and Charlie Cottle.  The Cottles have been a constant source of love and support since they arrived in LaGrange.  Of course, since Chad and Garrett have known each other much longer than that, the support goes way back, but we are grateful for his family.  Katie is the purest, kindest friend I have ever known.  She is a constant source of encouragement to me, even while beautifully working through struggles of her own.  Chad is a source of calm and trustworthy advice for Garrett, for which I am forever grateful.  Charlie melted Saralynn’s heart long ago, and is often times one of the few ways we can “encourage” her out the door to church- “we’ll see Charlie”.  This precious couple so selflessly gives of their time, talent, and treasure for the Kingdom and the imperfect people that go along with it.  When I find myself tired and a bit dismayed at all going on around me, I think back on conversations and read encouraging emails from both Chad and Katie, and move on past myself, doing what I can to help tell the Story. 

Please join me in continually praying for Chad and Katie’s pregnancy, that God would put His almighty Hand of Protection on their precious baby until it is time for us to meet him or her- sometime around the end of June.  Thank Him, as we are, for the beautiful miracle we’ll witness through this family and their journey.  Chad, Katie, and Charlie, we await with anticipation with you the journey that is to come for all of us, and are overwhelmed by your love for all of us.  We love you more than you know and are grateful to be part of your lives. 

Praying with anticipation, of what is to come for us all, in this season and always…
The Pelts

Dobble, dobble, dobble

Like I know you did, the Pelt clan enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  My grandparents, Memaw and Papa, or “Emaw and Papa” as Saralynn calls them, came over in time to watch some of the parade, which was lots of fun!  They came armed with a turkey Saralynn had made at school the week before.  She took it to their house to show it off and left it, but it arrived home just in time for the big day.  As she says, “a turtey says dobble, dobble, dobble”.  So cute!  If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll have to put up a video.  We made napkin rings out of her handprint made to look like turkeys and made Indian hats and necklaces.  We’re still making necklaces.

The day after Thanksgiving was a day for Garrett and I to spend some much needed time with Saralynn.  She’s been a little under the weather, so we didn’t venture out shopping.  We instead went to the Country Store at Callaway Gardens for breakfast and then enjoyed a nice, relaxing day at home.

Today has been a day of mixed emotions.  Our beloved Dawgs got stung by a pack of Yellow Jackets, but the Crimson Tide rolled over some folks that can’t decide if they want to be eagles or tigers.  Overall, a good day.  Now, we set our eyes on a elephant/gator showdown next weekend.  That’s all I’ll say.  I’m not much on the trash talk- at least not until the game is over.

Please say a little prayer for my sweet baby.  She’s been fighting this nasty cough and spiking fever since Wednesday.  All seems well for a good bit of the day, and then all of a sudden, a 102.5 fever spikes.  We’re praying for a good night’s sleep.  Updates to come…

So much to be thankful for!  I’ve become a blog junkie and am enjoying reading all the different angles of joy that are offered by and for the Cottles.  Please continue to pray for a healthy pregnancy!  God is so faithful, in His own time.  Chad and Katie are some of the best friends Garrett and I have ever had, and we are absolutely overjoyed for them!  

It’s off to prepare for Sunday School.  I’m substitute teaching in the college/singles/young adult class.  Reports on that tomorrow, too…

What a weekend!

This was one of those weekends that was a blur, but was one that I’ll remember for a long time!

Saturday morning we went to a birthday party for one of Saralynn’s very special friends, Katie Barnes, aka “KayBar”.  We had a wonderful time playing with friends and watching Katie enjoy her special day. 

Garrett and I then went to a wedding for one of the girls that was in the youth group I served.  Paige married the perfect man for her in the sight of God and many witnesses, and it was a very special moment for me.  During our DiscipleNow weekend, I had the girls write out their “list of attributes they looked for in a husband” and had the guys do the same for the wife they hoped to find.  I’m not sure if this is the list Paige held on to or not, but she and Frank both had “lists” that they wrote out long before they met each other, and it was as if they had written it about each other now.  Her mother was awed, but I reminded her that God knew the minute Paige was conceived who she would marry, so He knew all along that she wrote about Frank, and Frank about her.  It was a very special day!  Paige has always held a very special place in my heart, and I am very blessed to have been a part of her special day.  Thanks, Paige, for the invite, and for allowing me the pleasure of being in your life.

Garrett and I then travelled back to LaGrange for the wedding of some childhood friends of mine.  He was such a sport to accompany me to a wedding and not knowing the bride or the groom.  This wedding was absolutely beautiful, and was 10 years in the making.  Dean and Phil have known each other since preschool, as have many of our classmates.  We all grew up together through ballroom dancing classes, schools, functions, etc., and it took AP biology to finally bring these two together.  They began dating, and 10 years later, were married in one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever seen.  The reception proved to be a precursor to our 10 year class reunion next year, and it was great to see some faces I haven’t seen since graduation night.

It was so nice to get dressed up and have somewhere fancy to go.  Garrett looked very handsome in his suit, and I enjoyed breaking out the nice dress, makeup, and hair rollers again.  I absolutely adore my everyday, somewhat mundane life at home as Mommy, but to glam up a little surely was a welcomed detour from the everyday.  Thanks, Mimi, Pop, and Uncle Bub for babysitting!  Thanks, Dean and Phil, for a great evening!

Then, to top off the weekend, we went to an amazing church service yesterday.  The service began with Chad reading what church members are thankful for this season, and he read mine (mentioned in an earlier post).  Though I had penned the words myself, it still touched me to hear them read.  In the midst of this portion of the service, Chad also mentioned what he himself is thankful for this season, and one of the things is BABY COTTLE #2!  He and Katie have prayed so earnestly for a new addition to their family, and God in His faithfulness, provided an answer to their prayers.  If you haven’t already, check out their blogs for pictures of their cute little butterbean.  🙂  Katie and Chad, it has been a pleasure to pray to the Father on your behalf.  May this baby be blessed and annointed as Charlie is!

God is so faithful, even when we are not.  He provides little and big blessings for us every day, some in the form of makeup and rollers, and others in the form of new life.  Thank You, Jesus, for investing in us, even when we don’t deserve it!

And to think- all this, and it isn’t even Thanksgiving Day yet!!!

a wise piece of information

I ran across a little nugget today that I thought I would share.

On growing older…
It’s frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions. 

Do you have someone a little more advanced in years in your life?  If so, ask them a question-
 any question, really, and wait for their answer.  It’ll brighten your day that you found out something (hopefully) new, and brighten theirs that you took the time to ask and listen for the answer.

I’m thankful for…

Chad asked us at church last Sunday to think about things we’re thankful for.  He asked us to email them to him, as part of this week’s service.  I just emailed my thoughts, and thought I’d share them here.  What are you thankful for this season?

Like everyone else, there’s so much to be thankful for, but, this Thanksgiving season, I’m most thankful for free will.  At first glance, an odd thing to be thankful for, I know.  But, I’m thankful for free will because, yet again, it’s one of God’s ways of showing just how much He loves me.  God gives me the option to choose how I live my life.  He wants all of me, 100% of the time- all my love, my talents, my time, but He allows me to decide how I will share my love, my talents, my time, and loves me even when I fall short of giving that all back to Him.  He isn’t a puppet master that holds me by strings, manipulating my every move.  No, He lovingly sets me on the stage and watches from the audience, willingly loving and applauding my good times, and even loving and applauding the times I don’t do well- in hopes that I’ll turn to Him for help.  His gift of free will also allows me the opportunity to show His kind of love to those around me- those I know well and that know me well, and even those I don’t know and that don’t know me- and, sprinkled in along the way, those that don’t know Him.  In His infinite wisdom, surely He could’ve come up with another plan to get His word out to a hurting and dying world than using imperfect me, but instead, He chooses to tell me “I love you enough to entrust My Story and My Love to you, for you to share it with the world”.  Wow.  If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!  Thank You, Jesus, for loving me enough to let me choose, for applauding me when I choose well, and for dusting me off and letting me try again when I don’t choose well.  Your gift of free will is one I cherish and am thankful for, this season and always! 

Germs, germs, go away…

Saralynn isn’t the only one struggling with the cooties that come when the weather changes.  Mom is at home with the crud, and poor Garrett is struggling with what I believe to be the flu.  Lysol is our dearest friend these days!

Please say a prayer for precious Katie Cottle.  She re-injured her back and is in lots of pain.  We love you, Katie, and are praying for a quick recovery!

Mommy, my ears hurt

That’s one of those things you don’t want to hear first thing in the morning…

I had been doing so well on keeping the blog updated…

Tuesday morning of this week, as I woke Saralynn up for day care, she sleepily wakes up and says to me throug slanted eyes “Mommy, my ears hurt!”  She digs her knuckles in her ears and, through tear-stained eyes, says it again, for emphasis.  “Mommy, my ears hurt.”  Then, the dreaded three words “Mommy, fix it”.  By now, I’m ready to cry with her.  She’s never said anything specific hurt before, so I knew it was a real, genuine hurt.

I sent everyone else on to work, and called the doctor.  That was the most horrific thing I’ve ever been through in my life.  DISCLAIMER:  If you have a two-year old that complains of hurting ears, DON’T go to the doctor by yourself.  My mom dropped us off while she ran a few errands, and Saralynn knew where she was as soon as we drove into the parking lot.  “No, no, no”… came the muffled whines from the backseat.

Fast forward to the point at which they call our names.  We had been peacefully watching “Charlotte’s Web”, methodically pointing out each animal as it passed across the screen.  “Saralynn Pelt to the back please”.  This phrase shattered our peacefulness.  We get up to walk to the back and I hear “I want to watch TV”.  Yet another phrase I’ve never heard my child utter.  She would’ve asked for anything to get out of seeing the doctor! 

The nurse asks her symptoms and orders bloodwork.  Oh, boy, the fun…  Saralynn begins to scream, as one would expect.  The doctor then comes in and does a strep test.  Again, screaming.  Poor thing works herself up so she makes herself sick.  Then, the exam.  The doctor and the nurse come in.  The nurse holds her feet, and the doctor asks ME to restrain her arms AND hold her head still.  Thus, I get to see my two year old piece of my heart longingly look up at me through tear-filled eyes as if to say “how could you let them do this to me?  And how could you partake in this?”  My eyes began to fill at this point, as Saralynn cries “Mommy!”  Little did she know, I was crying the same thing on the inside, wanting my mommy to help me help my baby.

Diagnosis: a double ear infection.  Again.  Prescription: antibiotic.  Again.  Poor Saralynn.  The “messinine” is not her friend, and neither is the person that gives it to her.  Namely, me.  We’re three days into the medicine with seven more to go, and I’m ready for those seven days to be a memory. 

So, we survived the past three days.  We put countless diapers on countless babies, read stories over and over and over again, watched Elmo and Barney on TV (yes, I cracked.  The mommy that said she’d never willingly expose her children to Barney gave in.  She watches it at school, saw a commercial for it, and asked.  What can I say?  She’s sick.)  And, all the while, as the thoughts of stir-craziness began to creep into my mind, all I can think of is how wonderful it is to have some one-one-one time with my baby, who is growing so fast!

“Mommy, my ears hurt”.  Those words I don’t want to hear again, but that I’m grateful for hearing, because it means I got a few priceless moments with my Saralynn during the middle of the week.  A rare treat I’ll cherish, even if it means a few doses of yucky “messinine”.

Black Friday advertisements…

I have a friend at work that is receiving the advertisements from stores that show the sale items that will be available on Black Friday.  I’ll send out a few here and there, just so we’re all aware in the event that we decide to shop that day…  Here’s the ad from Walgreens.  Enjoy!

Walgreens 7 Hr Sale Black Friday Ad

Sale $9.99 Reg. $19.99

AIPTEK HD 8 MP Camcorder with 2.4″ LCD Screen (Limit 1)
Reg. $119.99
$99.99 Sale Price – $20 MIR = $79.99

B1G2 Free Foster Grand Reader Glasses (Must be of same price, Limit 3)

Sale $9.33 Reg. $27.99

Sale $3.33 Reg. $9.99

Sale $6.66 Reg. $19.99

Sale $9.99 Reg. $29.99

Sale $4.99 Reg. $14.99

Sale $14.99 Reg. $24.99

Sale $9.99 Reg. $19.99

Sale $9.99 Reg. $19.99

Reg. $29.99
$19.99 – $10 MIR = $9.99

Reg. $29.99
Sale Price $19.99 – $10 MIR = $9.99

2.4″ Screen with 3X Optical Zoom Lens & HD Picture Capture
Sale $79.99 Reg. $109.99

Touch screen with built in rechargeable battery. 1.6 million points of interest
Sale $89.99 Reg. $159.99

Sale $29.00 Reg. $57.99

PATRIOT CANDLE 20 OZ – B1G2 FREE 3/7.99 (Limit 6)
Sale $2.33 Reg. $7.99

Sale $14.99 Reg. $29.99

Sale $9.99 Reg. $19.99

Sale $9.99 Reg. $34.99

Reg. $29.99
Sale Price $19.99 – $10 MIR = $9.99

Stores Videos, Music & Pictures. Plays up to 500 songs or 6 hrs. of video
Sale $59.99 Reg. $99.99

Sale $119.99 Reg. $179.99

Sale $39.99 Reg. $69.99

Sale $19.99 Reg. $49.99

Sale $3.49 Reg. $6.99

Sale $1.99 Reg. $12.99

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