The River City Good Time Band

July 13, 2020 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

River City Good Time Band

When my husband Jan, a professional drummer, and I, a trained singer and pianist, arrived on the Special Education scene in the late seventies, the expectations for mentally challenged performing artists were incredibly low.  If individuals could bang out a tune on an instrument or sing a song—any song—most parents and teachers were satisfied.  Music was most often incorporated into special education programs for its therapeutic value.

Unaware of existing articles and textbook theories on the subject of teaching music to mentally challenged students, we simply volunteered to start a music class. 

Our proposal was approved by the Association for Retarded Citizens whose activity director recruited the loudest and hammiest performers at camp.  The students came because it was a chance to get out of their “board and care homes” for the evening and enjoy what they thought was a really cool “jam session.”

Within a few weeks, we made our second proposal stating: “We will continue as the teachers for this music class with the understanding that the participants will prepare a program and enter an upcoming performing arts competition.”

The students said, “Okay!” not realizing the challenging six months of hard work ahead of them, and the parents agreed to continue with their support. 

During that hot Sacramento summer, in an available classroom with no air conditioning and a pathetic piano, we all pressed forward–putting together a half-hour program of pop, gospel, and patriotic songs.  Besides musical training, we gave lessons in stage presence, social graces, and grooming.  “Smile!” and “Let’s try again!” came out of my mouth hundreds of times.  I labeled our teaching style “creative repetition.” 

Our extraordinary adult students were Joe, who played my husband’s drum set, Nick, a self-taught guitarist, multi-talented Ross, who played violin and viola accompaniments on a synthesizer, and our on-pitch enthusiastic singers–Charla, Laura, Dennis, and Ken.  My husband taught himself to play the bass guitar and my piano skills improved considerably.

The anticipated October day arrived, and it was our turn to perform before the audience and judges.  Those long hours of rehearsal really paid off because our songs went like clockwork.  Amazed with the quality of our presentation, there was a huge round of applause after each musical selection.  Trying to gather our composure with all the excitement, we started our last song.   Joe accidentally hit his knee on the bottom of the snare drum, which caused it to fly off its stand and roll down the center aisle through the audience.  Dutifully, the rest of us followed our motto: “Keep going no matter what!” while Joe got up from his stool to chase the runaway drum.  Catching it right in front of the judges, he quickly carried it back, re-positioned it on its stand, sat down, and grabbed a stick just in time to hit the last beat of the song.  We won!

It was the beginning of seven of the most incredible years of our lives.  The River City Good Time Band, born that day, grew into a model program for people with disabilities that would forever raise the standard of expectations for the mentally challenged.  

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Through our performances, we generated enough funds to purchase over two thousand pounds of musical equipment, choral risers, lights, and a trailer to haul everything in.  With four terrific costume changes, makeup, and styled hair, the confidence level of the students zoomed upwards.  Our expanded group of fourteen band members consistently maintained a repertoire of twenty songs that included solos with background vocals, ensemble singing using two-part harmony, and some show-stopping dance routines.  According to the textbooks, this wasn’t supposed to be possible.

The River City Good Time Band performed on television and recorded two albums.  My six scrapbooks full of photos and newspaper clippings document our hundreds of performances in California, Nevada, Utah, Washington, DC, Denmark, and Iceland. 

Dignitaries on the steps of our nation’s capitol marveled at our performance there.  A teacher from Sweden came to the stage after one of our concerts in Denmark saying, “You have fulfilled my fondest dream.”

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Thingvellir Church, Iceland

In Iceland, we sang Amazing Grace in a small white church located on that country’s most hallowed ground–the place where Vikings converted to Christianity in 1000 AD.   Following the midnight service, our Icelandic hosts rang the steeple bell ten times, a tribute reserved for honored guests. 

 

 

RCGTB - train pic

 

Oblivion to existing educational practices was one type of bliss we experienced, and cognizance of the obvious presence and power of the Lord Jesus Christ was the other.  Before every performance, students and parents held hands with us in a prayer circle, asking for God’s blessings.  The band’s second album, titled, “Love of Music is No Handicap” reflected the heartfelt joy of every member of the group.  Thankfully, those life-changing good times are still influencing others today.   

 

 

This story was included in a book titled Kisses of Sunshine for Teachers by Carol Kent and Vicki Caruana – Copyright © 2005, Zondervan

Now My Heart is Straight Too

June 18, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment
Hi Friends!

This month, I’m blessed to share with you how I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  I sincerely hope my salvation story will bless you and give you encouragement in these turbulent and stressful times.

GOD BLESS YOU WITH AN EXTRA PORTION OF HIS PEACE & JOY!                            

      Be blessed and encouraged today!   

      In Christ always, 

      Carole   

      1 Cor. 10:31  

——————————————————————————————–

Keynote Series graphic FINAL

  PART 7  ~  NOW MY HEART IS STRAIGHT TOO! 

I was born legally blind and cross-eyed. This was before cookie-monster became Carole- baby pic - eyepopular!

At around age 3, a doctor prescribed that my good eye be patched with the hope that my weak left eye would grow stronger.  At that time, the only thing I understood was I could barely see. After months of stress and tears, the doctor and my mom gave up on that idea.

We lived in Fair Oaks where my best friends were our chickens, pigeons, and cows!  They didn’t care about my crossed eye but some of the children in my elementary school did.   They called me names and those names became my identity.

My eyes were straightened through two surgeries; first my left eye at age nine and then, my strong right eye at age 11 to go in sync with the left. Though my eyes were straightened on the outside, my heart wasn’t on the inside.  I carried those hurtful names with me into high school trying so hard, on my own, to fill my need to feel lovable and capable.

  • In PE, I was lousy playing any game using a ball!  With poor depth perception, no one wanted me on their team.
  • By best friend rallied others to run against me for a seat on our school council.  She won and that hurt!
  • Though I loved to dance, I was a barely noticed wall flower at school dances.
  • I had to wear ugly eyeglasses all through school. Can anyone relate? When not wearing them, of course, I couldn’t see as well and when tired, my left eye would still turn in. I did get a compliment once!  A guy looked at my crossed eyes and said, “Wow, psychedelic! “

Being so desperate for people to like me, I thought I’d try something easier like singing. The chickens, pigeons, and cows loved my singing!   Even with my heart-pounding, knee-knocking fear of failure, I auditioned and could not believe that I actually landed the leading role in my high school musical. After each performance, people praised and encouraged me! WOW! My self-esteem went up from a minus 10 to a minus 5. What an improvement! This was my ticket for success!   I’d go to college, get my degree, go to Broadway, become a star, and then, people would like me!   What a great plan!  I’d be lovable and capable!

HAVE YOU EVER PLANNED OUT YOUR LIFE ONLY TO GET DE-RAILED AT STEP ONE?   READ MORE…  

 

“Getting the Tangles Out” 1918 & Today!

May 20, 2020 at 4:13 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment
Hi Friends!

     As we continue to navigate through these pandemic stages of recovery, some of my perspectives about life have been changing.  How about you?  Are you viewing things differently?  My recent closet organizing experience has given me some invaluable insights for GETTING THE TANGLES OUT!     

BE BLESSED AND ENCOURAGED TODAY!

  In Christ always, 

      Carole     1 Cor. 10:31  

 

Revitalize header - CC Praise Notes

From the 4th Session of  Revitalize Women’s Retreat – Presented by Carole Brewer

My mom’s cedar chest, in my home since her passing, is full of heirlooms that I decided to completely look through during these stay-at-home days.  Clothing, accessories, old letters, lace, lots of doilies, gloves, hats, and hair.  Yes, hair!  There are several short wrapped locks from baby hair to elderly.  Then, I discovered  two long, very dark swatches from my Spanish-Californian side of the family.  I do remember my grandmother telling me that many women cut off much of their hair during the 1918 flu pandemic fearing that long hair would “sap their strength”.  Maybe the swatches were my great-grandmother’s.  For certain, the woman who relinquished those extravagant locks was my relative.  What an interesting find!

As I laid out the long swatches, I found many antique knots well-incorporated into the antique hair.  Getting the tangles out became an off and on project that lasted for several days.  The largest knots had to be cut out and discarded before a wide-tooth comb could barely get through the rest.

Next, I washed and deep-conditioned the hair letting them hang to dry.  Now more workable, I gently combed, combed, combed, and combed, and combed and combed.  This patience-testing process made me appreciate what wig masters do.

Lastly, I snipped off the fuzzy ends to make my two ancestral pony-tails once again beautiful!  They’re now wrapped in tissue ready for a some theatrical endeavor or just to pass along to the next generation.

So, where’s the spiritual application in my heirloom-refurbishing project?

  1. Being tied up in knots of fear, anger,  jealousy, self-pity, and more will render us barely usable.  These tangles need to be cut out of our lives and discarded.
  1. Without being washed and conditioned in God’s word, we can’t be a part of what Jesus is doing.    John 13:8
  1. Getting the tangles out will take longer than a day and we’ll have to diligently practice to reflect the beauty of our Lord, all with His help!

Hebrews 12:1 tells us:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.   

In doing so, we will become simply beautiful!

 TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER     

  1. Name some faith entanglers that interfere with your growth, your passion,     keep you from looking ahead, and keep you from living out God’s word.
  2. In what ways can you glorify God through your struggles?
  3. In what parts of your life do you need God’s new beginning?
  4. How do you plan to take time for resting in His presence this week?

 

Crisis Calmers from Carole

March 20, 2020 at 1:24 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Many blessings to you during these very challenging times!

It’s the first day of Spring!  We made it through Winter and we can make it through COVID 19!   Here are some thoughts from my heart to yours! Be encouraged today!   

In Christ always, 

     Carole     1 Cor. 10:31  

  • Christ is
  • Over all
  • Viruses
  • Infections and
  • Diseases

We are the Church, not the buildings where we meet.  God is in control and He is a good, good Father. 

NOT Nature Distancing

Plan to:
1. Pray daily for the virus to be defeated and for those who are sick or at risk.
2. Pray daily for your pastor and church staff as they try to lead and minister from a distance.
3. Pray daily for medical staff and first responders.
4. Pray daily for the welfare of your neighbors and for opportunities to share your faith.
5. Use this time to grow closer to God and your family.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. (3 John 1:2, NLT)

Shopping for a Bargain

March 10, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Hi Friends!

Since Spring will be official next week, it’s time to think about shopping!  Yes, I do have a keynote about shopping and I do relate it to our spiritual life through God’s word and music too!  See below and… Be blessed and encouraged today!   

In Christ always,

Carole     ( 1 Cor. 10:31 )

 

PART 5 – SHOPPING FOR A BARGAIN Keynote Series graphic FINAL

SHOPPING FOR A BARGAIN - title

There are earthly deals and then, there heavenly deals!  

Now, I do admit that when I find just the right item for a super low price, I feel simply victorious!  Don’t you?   Shopping for a bargain can be so much fun!

One day, while walking through a shopping mall, I remembered that in my pre-Christian days, I’d been looking (shopping) for something spiritual to believe in.  There are certainly multitudes of religions and philosophies to consider and I, for a sense of security, wanted to latch onto one of them.  So, in remembering my past confusion and present glorious resolve, I wrote a song based on the Bible verse, Ephesians 2:8-9.  I always have fun singing it so…

Take a listen! 

In one section of my Shopping for a Bargain keynote, I’ll ask you to consider the spiritual garments that God provides for our protection and security as we face so many earthly battles.  When you read Ephesians, Chapter Six, Verses 14-18, you’ll find the list of wardrobe pieces that we shoppers might refer to as THE CREATOR COLLECTION!

Creator CollectionBELT OF TRUTH: You’ll want to be hefty in the Word or your Belt of Truth will end up around your ankles!

BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: The emotion guard that protects your heart.

FEET FITTED FOR PEACE: Let God guide your footsteps to protect your soles and your souls!

HELMET OF SALVATION: Keep your spiritual hat on so your mind will stay focused on God’s Truth!

SWORD OF THE SPIRIT: God’s word cuts away confusion, guilt, and shame.

GARMENTS OF PRAYER: The most beautiful robe we can ever put on!

I also love this scripture from the Prophet Isaiah.  I set this one to music too!

Sing with me!

Arrayed me in a robe of righteousness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER    Bargain of a Lifetime

  1. Have you been “shopping” for something or someone to believe in?   If so, believe in Jesus, God’s only Son.  He alone has already redeemed you through His sacrifice on the cross.  His love for you is unconditional and a completely free gift.
  2. Which garments from THE CREATOR COLLECTION (Ephesians, Chapter Six) do you need to put on today and why?

 

 

 

Trusting God’s Love

February 11, 2020 at 11:57 am | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Hi Again Friends!

     As we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s remember the unchanging, eternal love that our Father God has for us!  Are you embracing this truth as your own?   

    This month, I’ve chosen to share some thoughts from Session One of my Revitalize Women’s Retreat titled “Trusting God’s Love”.  

      Be blessed and encouraged today!   

                  In Christ always, 

                   Carole     (1 Cor. 10:31) 

 

Trusting God's love 2

Keynote Series graphic FINAL

PART 4 – TRUSTING GOD’S LOVE 

Love, love, love.  Red hearts & roses!  How fun, how romantic…or maybe not!   If you’re a widow, divorced, or never married, this time of year can hurt.

When we’re in the midst of a huge disappointment, trial, or tragedy, the enemy works relentlessly to plant and nurture one destructive seed after another into our thoughts.  Especially when we’re exhausted and vulnerable, Satan moves right in to confuse us!

Our vast global system of media offers to meet our needs for love and approval through multitudes of resources.  But which ones are trustworthy?  Remember that what you see and hear over an electronic device has been programmed by another person.  In most cases, the ultimate objective is to directly or indirectly make money.   Hmmm.

Media bombardment

So, think!  God gave us a brain to consider, reason, figure out, test, and then, decide for ourselves which messages are trustworthy.  In scripture, the Apostle Paul warns us, in 2nd Timothy 4:3-5, that  “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths… But you, keep your head in all situations”   

God doesn’t need our money!  His love for us is a totally free gift offered through the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus.  In return, we just love Him back.  His love never fails.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;  don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track”   Proverbs 3:5-6  The Message

 

Jesus. I am

 

THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER   

 1. What distracts you from thinking about God, reading His word, and talking with Him through prayer?

2. How has God demonstrated His love for you in a specific situation?

  

The Spirit-Powered Woman

January 13, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Hi Friends & Happy New Year!

This month, I’ve chosen a portion from another of my carefully & prayerfully prepared topics. Since it’s resolution time, let’s resolve to put our trust in the Holy Spirit for wisdom and strength in 2020!  Read my article below for reasons why!

I hope you’re blessed and encouraged today!

In Christ always,

      Carole    (1 Cor. 10:31)


10 The SPIRIT-POWERED WOMAN - COTH (3)

I honestly don’t know of anyone who isn’t facing challenges of some kind right now. The prayer lists from the groups I’m part of are long with concerns and requests. I’m sure the same is true for you.

For those faced with disappointments, trials, or tragedies, the enemy works relentlessly to make us feel helpless and hopeless. I’ve had that feeling at times while intently staring at an overwhelming problem.  In those times, Satan makes his move to confuse and stifle our relationship with God.

Who do you depend on for advice in challenging times?  Do you solely rely on family members, pastors, teachers, financial advisors, politicians, government agencies, health care providers, and others to give you unwavering confidence?  All of these fellow human beings can be a great support and God can certainly work through them.  But, has anyone ever let you down?  After all, we are only human.

This is the point where our faith can really come alive!  Yes, alive!!  With the indwelling of God’s Spirit, we can ask for the supernatural wisdom and strength we so desperately need!  Just ask!

     Let’s consider what the dictionary says about the words rely, Holy Spirit, wisdom, and strength.

Definitions 2

Jesus sent His Holy Spirit, the third PERSON of the Christian Trinity, to live in each of us!  Praise God for the confidence we have knowing His comfort and leading are so reliable.  The Holy Spirit helps us and give us hope when tough decisions have to be made.  He convicts the truth of God’s word to our hearts providing the knowledge, insight, and good judgement we need in all situations.

The Spirit-powered woman relies on the Holy Spirit to fill her life with the strength necessary to resist Satan’s attacks and to be an effective witness for Christ.  Open your heart to these Bible passages!

The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over her, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,  The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.   — will be all her joy and delight.   Isaiah 11:2-3a MSG   

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 2:38 NIV

QUESTIONS TO PONDER 

  1. In what current situation do you need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance?
  2. Have you ever relied on the Holy Spirit for strength in a seemingly impossible situation?
  3. In what ways can you glorify God through your struggles?

 

Remembering Bethlehem

December 17, 2019 at 8:52 am | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Christmas Greetings Friends!

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s consider the significance of his birthplace, Bethlehem!  (Hebrew for House of Bread)

Be blessed and Be encouraged today!

In Christ always,  Carole

2 Cor. 10:31

Remembering Bethlehem-title slide

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Part 2 ~ Remembering Bethlehem   

It’s been two decades since I visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Israel.  Even so, I vividly remember an experience of a lifetime!

Among the many circumstances surrounding Jesus’ miracle birth, one detail that isn’t often discussed is name of the town.

Bet (house) and lehem (of bread) are also significant details to God’s perfect plan for our redemption.

So, what about bread?

Bread is the “staff of life” and a fundamental food in all cultures. It’s fills us up and sustains us with carbohydrates for energy and vitamin B for a healthy central nervous system.  Can you think of anything more satisfying than a piece of fresh baked bread right out of the oven?

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”   

During the Last Supper, (Luke 19:22), Jesus held a piece of bread saying, “This is my body, given for you.”   

While teaching around Galilee,  Jesus stated that He is the bread of life and that when we come to Him, we’ll never go hungry.  (John 6:35)

Bread of Life - FB pic

Hungry for what?  Let me ask you,

“Have you…

  • –been losing sleep?”
  • –ever felt lonely?”
  • –lost a loved one?”
  • –dealt with stress over finances?”
  • –experienced overload at your workplace?”
  • –made some poor decisions and are now facing the consequences?”

 

THOUGHTS TO PONDER:

In Matthew 5:6, Jesus encourages us saying, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 
Remembering Bethlehem - BREAD

 

Jesus relieves the “hunger” pains we all experience.  When we turn our focus to Him, His Holy Spirit fills us and satisfies us with supernatural peace, joy, and love.

God bless you as you ask Jesus, the Bread of Life, to satisfy your “hunger” this Christmas season.  Then, through your renewed faith, find ways to help fill the needs of others.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Blessings for a Spirit-filled Christmas!

December 17, 2019 at 8:06 am | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Creating a Legacy of Gratitude

November 19, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Christian Women | Leave a comment

Many Blessings to My Praise Notes Friends!

As we begin this holiday season, I’m blessed to share with you a new monthly series highlighting some key notes and graphics from my women’s events.    In the months ahead, my prayer for you is that you’ll be greatly uplifted in spirit and strengthened in your faith.  Be blessed and Be encouraged today!   

In Christ always,

Carole   (2 Cor. 10:31)

 

 


Keynote Series graphic FINAL

 

Part 1 ~ Creating a Legacy of Gratitude

Leaving a legacy is a choice and a great opportunity for all of us!  The dictionary describes  legacy as “something that is or may be inherited”.    Are you thinking money?   That could be a first thought for many of us.  But, do you remember what Peter said to the beggar in Acts 3:6?  “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”   Peter showed us how to leave an eternal legacy that brings honor to God.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, a time when we reflect on all of our blessings, consider with gratitude the “giving” we can offer back to God.

Here are some practical ways for creating a legacy that will make a lasting difference in our world: needed

  • Be extravagant with love and kindness.  Look for ways each day to share with others Christ’s love that has been lavished upon you.
  • Take time to listen to a sales clerk when she wants to share something on her heart. Your listening ear and empathy will help her get through the day.
  • On garbage day, take an older neighbor’s garbage bin out to the curb or bring it back.
  • Let a hurting person talk your ear off on the phone, just to let them know you’re there for them.
  • If you’re alone, reach out to another person who’s alone.You won’t be alone anymore.  Besides, with Jesus, you’re never alone.

My Declaration

Do the best that you can with your talents and resources. Others will be inspired to follow your example of showing gratitude to God for all He has done for us.   

 

 

THOUGHTS TO PONDER:

  • What things or attitudes are you going to leave behind you to be a follower of Jesus?
  • What will be your best defense to stand against current cultural influences?
  • Serving the Lord is a choice. Does everyone in your household honor and serve the Lord? If not, what changes need to happen?

LEGACY PROMPT:

Joshua raised a large stone as a witness of the covenant made by Israel to God. Consider putting up something that reminds you of a promise you made to God.

May God richly bless you as you create your legacy of gratitude!

 

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