25 December, 2010

Merry Christmas to All

Just two days before, we'd taken 1,427 pounds of food to Urban Ministry, but with snow in the forecast, Justin, Gardner and Jonathan thought it best to start the weekend with an empty trailer just in case donations of food kept rolling in.
Justin separates cans from dried goods
We'd filled 12 big banana boxes with canned goods when the snow started falling.  Snow adds a sense of adventure to whatever you're doing, and today's was no exception. Snowflakes got bigger and fell faster.  Three year-old Grayson came outside to see the snow and what Mr. Gardner, her Dad and Peeps were up to.  Justin hoisted her up in the trailer among the cans, bags and boxes.  Our adult children have been talking with their children about sharing.  Grandchildren seem to get it; sharing food with hungry families matters and this was just one one of those moments to convey a bigger truth, that God has a real fondness for the poor.  So Grayson jumped in alongside and gave the boys a hand.
Here Mr. Gardner, I have a bag of cans for you.
It was then that Jonathan spotted a small, white paper bag, decorated unmistakably by a child, with four hearts and these words:  God loves You.
God loves You
We stopped unloading the trailer.  Each one held the bag, looked inside and passed it around.  The giver had filled the bag with warmth and hope: three boxes of raisins, two packs of Nabisco crackers, one pack of spreadable cheese & crackers, two granola bars, one bottled water, and a hand written note, folded into eights, about the size of a postage stamp, with a picture on the other side.

1 Peter 5:7

He cares for you
This was just one of many blessings we've found tucked inside the trailer.

Merry Christmas!
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19 December, 2010

John Calvin friends light up Salisbury

Lighted Christmas Ball Workshop
John Calvin Presbyterian Church
December 11, 2010
In the spirit of true fellowship, Richard Browne of Salisbury, NC, led a workshop at John Calvin Presbyterian Church to teach friends how to make and hang Lighted Christmas Balls.  Richard and Kellie, formerly of Greensboro, brightened that part of God's kingdom known as Salisbury, NC in July when they made 209 Overman Avenue their home.  Rather than tell 200 curious onlookers how he made and hung the Lighted Christmas Balls, Richard instead launched a workshop.  Click here to see the Christmas Ball equivalent of 'teach a man to fish.'

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14 December, 2010

Funds and Food Collection Update and brand new Lighted Christmas Balls

Due to the brrrr cold weather, on Monday, Gardner took another load over to Second Harvest Food Bank of NW NC.  With the temperature hitting nightly new lows, we emptied the trailer Monday and Tuesday night to keep the food from freezing and swelling the cans.

Totals so far -

  • Second Harvest: $415.00
  • Greensboro Urban Ministry: $5,272.00
Non-perishable food:
  • December 6 - Second Harvest Food Bank of NW NC: 483 lbs
  • December 13 - Second Harvest Food Bank of NW NC: 369 lbs
Thanks to all of you for doing the hard work of installing and maintaining the Lighted Christmas Balls to share the joy with Greensboro and beyond and even more to "Shine the Light on Hunger"

Ridgeway Drive got a little brighter this past Sunday when Daniel Hassell and Betty Hunt raised seven georgeous Lighted Christmas Balls high up in her oak trees.  Looks like Betty's going for record height.

Betty Hunt

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06 December, 2010

Lighted Christmas Balls go up for Glenwood Tutoring Program

A dozen friends gathered early Saturday morning on the lawn of Grace Community Church to make ready and hoist 40 Lighted Christmas Balls up high in beautiful 100 year old Oak trees.  Grace is home to Glenwood Tutoring Program, a peer tutoring/mentoring initiative for kids in Glenwood neighborhood.  Saturday's outdoor project coincided with Glenwood Tutoring's Christmas Dinner and Celebration for over 50 kids and their parents.  Here's a shot of Brad, Jeff, and  Rod Jeff, Rod, and Brad checking 50 non-working strands of mini lights for missing or broken bulbs and loose connections.  It's about 35 degrees.  Anne brought a traveler of Starbucks coffee, three dozen Biscuitville party biscuits, and a dozen home made blueberry muffins.  Yum. 
Pictured: Jeff, Rod, Brad
Walter and Daniel prepare to pull their first of 13 Lighted Christmas Balls suspended in a beautiful old Oak.  These guys had pull lines in their tree long before anyone else. 
Pictured: Walter, Daniel
About 11:45 am, light snow started falling and the temperature started falling.  By 2pm we had about 2 inches.
Pictured: Brad, Rod, Isy, Daniel, Miles, Walter, Jeff, and Gardner
Not pictured: Clay, Allison, and Scott
These four braved the cold and wisely left sister Marlee at home to recover from a bug:
Pictured: Miles, Isy, Daniel, Walter

Grace Community Church at night
Photo: Suzanne Mathis

Grace Community Church about 11:00pm Saturday night
A little hope goes a long way in this neighborhood.  Marshall Benbow sent a note this morning - he said the night was simply beautiful.  Thanks guys for making it happen.
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First load of food taken to Second Harvest

Gardner and Jonathan unloaded the trailer today for the first load out to Second Harvest.  It was 483 lbs of food delivered to Second Harvest today.  Now that is a great start and the trailer has just been out for 5 full days.  We took it early because it is colder than usual for December and we didn't want anything to freeze.  Jonathan and Gardner will check the trailer nightly for the next few nights and bring the donations into the house to protect them from the bitter cold.  This early cold weather is really hard on folks who live outside.  Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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02 December, 2010

Lighted Christmas Balls in Salisbury, NC

"The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn't put it out." John 1:5; The Message
When John Calvin Presbyterian Church called Kellie Browne to be its minister, Kellie and Richard knew in their hearts that her decision to answer "yes" and their decision to make Salisbury home had already been made.

Devoted to inclusive fellowship, these friends of God started making Lighted Christmas Balls, right then and there in the neighborhood, and hung them up in trees at their home.  Located within a stone's throw of Catawba College and Bill Hefner VA Hospital, one can only imagine how bright the glow of hope and cheer from those Lighted Christmas Balls. Don't be surprised to see Lighted Christmas Balls lighting up Salisbury. 

When I think about Kellie and Richard leaving their Greensboro home and putting down roots in Salisbury, I'm reminded, "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish." John 1:14; The Message.  And so the Browne's moved right into the neighborhood. 

You can check out Kellie's sermons on John Calvin's blog here

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01 December, 2010

Sunset Hills Lighted Christmas Balls

We have been working hard making and hanging the Lighted Christmas Balls in Sunset Hills
and beyond. About half have gone up on Ridgeway Drive, a bountiful supply on Rolling between
East Greenway and Chapman and as I looked up Woodbine a nice selection could be seen there as well.

We put out the food trailer today and already the first layer of donated non perishables has
been put in by the generous folks who live in Greensboro and beyond.

We will put the Lighted Christmas Balls up at Grace Community Church for the Glenwood
Community to enjoy. If anyone wants to join in that effort, meet us at 643 West Lee Street
9 AM this Saturday December 4 th

Photos of Grayson, Finley and Jonathan, Daniel, and Anne with Lighted Christmas Balls.

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23 November, 2010

This time last year......

Bookmark and Share....we made 5 lighted Christmas Balls with Paulette and Bill...and hung them in the trees overlooking Lake Tillery.  This year, Paulette is in Heaven and we spent this afternoon with Bill making 4 more Lighted Christmas Balls and hanging 8 total in the same yard.  It was a lovely day.  We toasted Paulette and all of our parents when the work was done.  A lovely day and a lovely tradition.  Bill is a stong and sweet man we have been privileged to know for 33 years. 

22 November, 2010

Update from the 8TH Annual Lighted Christmas Balls Party

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We had a lovely day for the ball party yesterday.  We had approximately 125 famiies there making 170 Lighted Christmas Balls. 

We had a good start on the food collection ( trailer in our carport if anyone wants to drop off any additional food)

We collected monetary donations of:
$415 for Second Harvest &
$272 for Urban Ministry

If you want to drop off any additional monetary donations you can put them in an envelope in our front door.  I will send whatever is dropped off today to the food banks tomorrow.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

21 November, 2010

Purple balls to be displayed for Alzheimer's awareness

Bookmark and SharePurple lightedChristmasballs will hang in downtown Greensboro to aid in awareness of Alzheimer's disease. Check the window next to 223 S. Elm. Pictured with the new purple lightedChristmasball is Mebane Ham.

11 November, 2010

Block party 11/21/2010

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Sunset HIlls 8th Annual Lighted Christmas Ball Block Party
Sunday - November 21st 2-5 PM
Ridgeway Drive between Madison Ave and West Market Street

We will have chicken wire for $1/per ball (RSVP to me with your name & number of LCB you want to make @

You bring:
200 mini lights any color any style for each ball you want to make
Beverage and snack to share
Your neighbors and family
Can of soup for 'stone soup'
Non Perishable food for Food Bank collection
Cash of check for Food Bank Collection

Please get the word out, we want everyone in Sunset HIlls to be included

17 March, 2010

A Very Special Lighted Heart at Lake Tillery

After we received the photo of the COOL heart from Colorado, it wasn't long until Jonathan's wheels were turning. We have left our red, pink, and clear lights up till February supposedly to celebrate Valentine's Day but we all know that we just weren't ready to turn the lighted balls off

Jonathan rustled up some red lights, cut out a pattern from newspaper and made what we call a 'puffy heart' because it is 3 dimensional. I of course wanted a BIG BIG heart to take to Paulette. So the next night we had some friends over, had dinner, and made a HUGE 3 dimensional heart but realized that it was too big to fit in the car to take to the lake. So we hung it over our front door with the hook our nice friends from MS sent to us and we tethered it down - and left town - taking the smaller heart (about 10" x 18") to Paulette.

Bill hung it carefully with the 3 remaining balls just so that it would come into perfect view from 'her chair'. I know she really loved it and knew we loved her every time she saw it for the next couple of weeks. It got a special viewing and 'toast' from Bill, Jim and Rich at the family dinner Friday night March 2nd.

Bill says he plans to take the balls and the heart down as it IS daylight saving time. Saturday is the first day of spring. We find the longer days and more sunlight help encourage our souls.

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06 February, 2010

This just in from Colorado - Happy Valentine

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Dear Jonathan & Anne,

I saw your lighted balls at Lifehacker. They are super. We made three for Christmas this year. Then I had the idea to do a lighted heart for the month of February. It stands about 5 foot tall and is just outstanding. The pictures do not do it justice. We used twinkly red, white and blue lights. It can be seen from a long ways off. And yes, cars are slowing down to take a look. A man even stuck his head out his truck window to say it was beautiful. Thank you so much!
Jane Hamilton
Corvallis, Oregon

Totals - Finally - Is it February already?

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As you have all surely noticed we have been extra busy and haven't taken down our lighted Christmas balls - we haven't even taken down or turned the 'all but Valentine's colors' maybe this week.  We have so enjoyed them in the snow/sleet/ice etc.  Here are the grand totals of food and funds collected. Thanks for your generosity, hard work, & dedication to this Sunset Hills Tradition.  This is a wonderful neighborhood indeed. 

4158 lbs of food AND $6190

09 January, 2010

More Lighted Christmas Balls Lake Jeanette

Stephanie Skordas wrote in November but I didn't receive this until yesterday or today. These are their lighted balls in Lake Jeanette. She also writes that they put some up at her Mom's house in New Irving Park (which had a very nice collection this year as a neighborhood). We never get tired of getting these photos and putting them up so if you have some of your collection, please send them on and I will put them up when I have a minute. Life is busy now with our newest granddaughter Finley Cate Smith born Thursday the 8th here in Greensboro.

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06 January, 2010

Lake Tillery LIghted Christmas Balls

These are some special effect photos by our dear friend Bill Humphrey. The show up their Lighted Christmas Balls overlooking the lake. They are the first in the Woodrun neighborhood there in Montgomery County but I bet they won't be the last. Bill and Paulette are very precious to us as we have 'raised' our kids together and now we all enjoy grandchildren abundantly. We are blessed to count them friends. We are just waiting for some snow so we can go cook some hamburgers together soon.

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