Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar Tiny Little Dresses Leveling the Playing Field Riding Big Motorcycles in Bad Places with DART MARCH 2023
Off-Road Adventure Riding
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A Spring To-Do List:
Remove the shorts out of winter storage, maybe donate the ones that “shrunk” over winter.
Take longer walks around the neighborhood. Get some exercise. If you want to exercise your mind, wave to the neighbors along the way and try to remember their names.
Clean out the attic. Go to garage sales. Replenish the attic. Consider getting a storm shelter if you don’t have one. If you have one, it's time to de-spider it.
Take that 1.4 mile loop around Hafer Park. Or maybe turn that walk into a jog and that jog into a 5k. There’s one coming up Sunday March 19th, “The Lucky Coyote” in downtown Edmond. Switch from scrolling Facebook to scrolling Pinterest - and plan that remodel, raised bed garden or new painting project. Get out of your comfort zone and try that new restaurant you’ve heard good things about. If it’s sunny, eat outside.
Clean the grill and then try out those marinades you bookmarked on your laptop.
Execute your perfect flower bed master plan again this year.
Seriously consider getting an electric bicycle, because pedaling is hard.
Time to re-measure your backyard for that pool you’ve always wanted.
Perhaps it's time to pop a yard sign in front of your house and support your candidate for Mayor or Council Person. Our city election is April 4th.
Ah, welcome to spring.
Dave Miller Publisher & Back40 Design President
20 Features 8 City Hall Complex 10 Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar 12 Resilient: Leveling the Playing Field 16 Off-Road Adventure Riding 18 Vintage Wedding Dress 20 Eagle Scout at 64 26 Marathon of Miracles 30 Jeremy & That “Jeep Thang” Business 22 Heritage Renovations 24 Raptor Jiu Jitsu Columns 7 In Other Words with Dave 26 Louise Tucker Jones ADVERTISING l 405-301-3926 l firstname.lastname@example.org MAILED MONTHLY TO OVER 50,000 HOMES IN THE EDMOND AREA Articles and advertisements in the Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Back40 Design. Back40 Design does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by the Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. The Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. PUBLISHER Dave Miller l PRODUCTION MANAGER Alison Miller l ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE / EDITOR Laura Beam l GRAPHIC DESIGN Anne Richardson PHOTOGRAPHY Marshall Hawkins sundancephotographyokc.com l DISTRIBUTION Edmond Outlook is delivered FREE by direct-mail to over 50,000 Edmond area homes. 1024 W Covell, Edmond, OK 73003 l 405-341-5599 l edmondoutlook.com l email@example.com MARCH 2023 Volume 19, Number 3 l Edmond Outlook is a publication of Back40 Design, Inc. l © 2023 Back40 Design, Inc.
Cover photography by Susan Dragoo
Edmond City Center Complex
By Taylor Bollinger
Edmond is making a $44 million investment in the heart of its city. The new Edmond City Center Complex will house City Hall, municipal court, a five-story parking garage and a gathering space to welcome locals and visitors there for business, lunch or leisure.
“We’re a growing community, and our existing spaces are no longer meeting the needs of our citizens or employees,” said Andy Conyers, Edmond Assistant City Manager. “We’ve made the best use of the three buildings we currently occupy, really maximizing their use, but now it’s time to grow.”
working, and want to stay. The happier our City employees are, the better services we can offer for our citizens.”
We’re a growing community, and our existing spaces are no longer meeting the needs of our citizens or employees.
—Andy Conyers, Edmond Assistant City Manager
Currently, some Edmond employees office in repurposed closets or basements, and City Hall meetings and court hearings frequently require overflow seating. The new complex will offer ample space for City employees, and add up to three times more seating capacity in City Hall meeting rooms and courtrooms.
In addition to addressing these issues with capacity, the Edmond City Center Complex is a major upgrade to efficiency. “Our employees will be moving from three separate buildings into one,” Andy said. “So that will be a huge improvement to collaboration and synergy.”
He also explained the benefit this consolidation offers Edmond citizens. “Rather than visiting multiple buildings, or wondering which one they even need to visit, there is one central location where their needs can be met. It will reduce the time and confusion often associated with city-related tasks.”
The City also expects this investment to aid employee retention. “We want Edmond to continue to have the best and brightest employees. This will be a quality space for long-term, quality employees – somewhere they will look forward to
The renderings for the City Center Complex depict a modern design and expansive outdoor area, for which programming will eventually be developed. The green space is considered the “front door to City Hall” and requires the closing of Littler Avenue to traffic.
Though some are displeased by this street closing, the City hopes all will experience the value this space is expected to bring to the city. Each aspect of the design was created with Edmondites in mind.
“We have surveyed citizens before to see what they want in an outdoor space,” Andy said. “Their answers – shade, comfort and space for activities – have shaped our plans. We will continue to seek feedback as the project develops.” The City hopes the green space will become a go-to for outdoor lunches, recreation, reading and family time. The complex will also contribute to Edmond’s ever-increasing walkability, a quick walk from the library, downtown shops and restaurants, and the UCO campus.
The Edmond City Center Complex is part one of a two-phase process. The second phase will include a mixed-use space in downtown Edmond intended for retail and living space.
“Once the consolidation is complete, the City will seek to redevelop the buildings and land it is vacating,” Andy said. “This will occur through public-private partnerships with the goal of bringing more living units, office, and retail space to a rapidly growing and transitioning downtown.”
The new Edmond City Hall Complex is expected to open in March 2025.
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Courthouse looking southwest
Courthouse southeast view
Courthouse looking south
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Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar
By Laura Beam
There’s no more fitting place than the historic Edmond Flour Mill to usher in a new era of regionally sourced cuisine. The downtown Edmond site, established in the early 1900s and later reopened as Farmers Grain, provided local farmers a means to market their wheat, corn, grains and poultry. As Edmond grew from a farming to an urban community, Farmers Grain expanded into a garden center and feed store. In October 2022, the storied building steeped in Edmond’s rich and rustic heritage found its new calling.
More than a restaurant, Farmers Grain Kitchen + Cellar is the epitome of owners Payne and Rachel Mills’ mission to get back to a sustainable lifestyle. Featuring regionally sourced, seasonal ingredients that are farmed and gardened responsibly, their New American style cuisine elevates dishes like steak, duck and short ribs while maintaining the warmth and goodness of a home-cooked meal.
Born and raised in Edmond, Chef Payne developed a respect for nature’s bounty at an early age. As he picked berries and greens and hunted wild game on his grandparents’ property in east Edmond, his love of cooking also evolved. After attending Francis Tuttle's Culinary Arts program, Payne trained under some of the finest chefs in Michigan and Switzerland, and as the Sous Chef, he helped open Vast in OKC.
Chef Payne and his wife Rachel, baker and owner of I’s Bakery, relish the time they get to spend on their 40-acre farm in Luther, OK. “We love caring for the land and animals,” Payne says. “Everything we do is very intentional. Our pigs are forage fed and they help clear the land. The goats trim the trees and the Nigerian dwarf goats provide milk, soaps and lotions. The proper food and habitat of the animals makes for a higher quality cuisine.”
Wine and Dine
Chef Payne’s menu rotates frequently, following the seasons and availability of local ingredients. In fall, dishes brim with root vegetables and wild mushrooms. Summer touts various greens and garlic, and winter’s lineup includes cozy dishes like Short Rib Stroganoff, Crawfish Cakes and White Bean Cassoulet with slowcooked duck. Homemade pastas also make their debut at times throughout the year. Chef Payne says, “We take common foods and make them exciting and make complicated things simpler and easy to enjoy.”
A year-round attraction is Rachel’s sprouted wheat bread and whipped herb tallow. Many people stop by just to buy loaves to go…and they go fast! “It takes two days to make it,” Rachel explains. “I make a baby sourdough starter a day ahead. After I mix in the grains, I bake, slice and grill the bread.” That extra step of grilling adds the most satisfying crunch to this hearty, billowy bread.
Wine pairings at Farmers Grain are an art form. Sommelier and co-owner Cy Mills curates a remarkable wine list from around the globe, and truly has a heart and ardor for wine and hospitality. You’ll find him throughout the restaurant, helping guests choose the perfect sip to complement their dish.
Fine, Not Fussy, Dining
The redesigned Farmers Grain building has a comfortable, French Country feel with a wood plank ceiling and leather banquettes that create a welcoming mood. An old grain scale original to the building flanks the entry, and wood shelves display Rachel’s baked goods, soaps and lotions for sale. As Chef Payne says, “Eating at Farmers Grain is like eating at a friend’s house, and the food just happened to be amazing.”
Located at 102 W. 1st St., Edmond. For reservations, call (405) 216-3524 or book online at thefarmersgrain.com. Walk-ins welcome.
Rachel and Payne Mills
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Leveling the Playing Field
By Taylor Bollinger
It’s one thing to talk about a problem. It’s another thing to build an entire business around fixing it. That’s exactly what Kevin McGuire did. Recognizing a startling shortage of female softball equipment, Kevin created Resilient SFBL. His company is now a licensed vendor for USA Softball, and multiple college teams across the U.S. “When my daughter started playing softball, I was excited to take her to purchase new equipment,” Kevin said. “The options were disappointing and surprisingly sparse. There was no selection.”
So when a friend approached Kevin about starting a business, he agreed with one stipulation.
“I agreed, but only under the condition that our products are made for girls and women in the sport.”
While he’s pleased with the business aspects of his venture, Kevin speaks most passionately about the heart behind it. To Kevin, Resilient SFBL is an extension of the family legacy left by his two grandmothers. Kevin’s Grandmother Bengs helped raise nine siblings while she was in high school. She was widowed at a young age, but she bravely raised her children and completed a teaching degree. She was a beloved teacher to countless students, and shared her wisdom with each of her grandchildren while she taught them to quilt. His Grandma McGuire was “a real life Rosie the Riveter” who helped build bombers at Douglass Airfield during WWII. “The word to describe both of these women is resilient,” Kevin said. “It was the perfect name for our business.” Kevin aims to empower young women, not only with quality gloves made for female hands, but with opportunities to build their own personal brand. Now that the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness policy allows athletes to receive compensation for partnering with brands, Kevin hopes to see female athletes reap the same benefits as their male counterparts.
One of Resilient SFBL’s many talented athlete ambassadors is Brighton Gilbert, a UCO graduate and softball alumna. She currently coaches, offering hitting and fielding lessons full-time.
“I work with 40-50 young athletes each week, and parents could never find a glove to fit their girls’ hands while also being high quality,” Brighton said. “The technology that Kevin has implemented has changed this for so many and it’s been amazing to witness. Being able to help girls find the glove of their dreams that is truly made to fit them is remarkable.”
Brighton says the ‘why’ behind the company is what caught her attention. “Resilient SFBL is solely based on enhancing female athletes’ experiences through tailored gloves,” she said. “You don’t find companies like this very often when it comes to softball, because baseball brings in more money so they tailor their gloves toward boys.”
To learn more about Resilient SFBL go to resilientsfbl.com.
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By Taylor Bollinger
Off-Road Adventure Riding
By Taylor Bollinger
Name a continent, Bill Dragoo has biked it. Name a terrain, he’s navigated it. Now, Bill is bringing adventure riding to Oklahoma through Dragoo Adventure Riding Training (DART).
An adventure journalist and decorated racer, it seems that in many ways teaching chose him. As he gained international popularity and titles, people wanted to know how he was doing it. And they wanted to experience his brand of adventure riding themselves – a brand Bill defines as “riding big motorcycles in bad places”.
“While touring in South America, people asked if I would come back and teach them to ride,” Bill said. “I eventually created my own curriculum and taught in Colombia, and 12 years ago, we started DART here in Oklahoma.”
At first, Bill questioned the potential for adventure riding interest. “Here in Oklahoma you’d think, who wants to learn adventure riding?” The answer (a whole lot!) has been proven by the steady enrollment in DART courses.
DART offers a variety of course levels, as well as private and custom classes, and they partner with others to offer immersion tours. “We’re very flexible and have enough staff on board, we can customize and tailor to each student's needs.”
Bill says DART’s mission is to provide quality off-road training at a fair price for all who wish to learn, and students come from all ages and stages of life. He notes that more women are joining the sport, and DART has welcomed students well into their eighties.
“Anyone with an adventure motorcycle owes it to themself to take a DART course,” said former DART student and Edmond resident, Murray Hamilton. “It definitely improved my riding skills and confidence. The instructors and course curriculum are top notch. I’m so glad to have crossed trails with Bill and Susan!”
“It’s looking more exciting because you can throw camping materials on the back of your bike and take it to a destination,” Bill said. “When you reach the end of the pavement, that is when the adventure begins.”
Though the sport requires a certain amount of stamina, using muscles and body positions most are unaccustomed to, it is also intensely mental. DART curriculum incorporates achievable wins to build confidence as students progress.
“Fear is one of the most significant factors in causing fatigue. If they’re really concerned about the bike or falling or being embarrassed, or comparing, all of these things lead to various forms of fear,” Bill said. “But where fear drives them down, confidence builds them up.”
Bill enjoys the opportunity to infuse a spirit of adventure into each student’s life – something he believes is missing all too often in today’s society. He and his wife, Susan, find adventure across the United States, and beyond.
Though they’ve ridden around the world, Bill says the American west is his favorite. “There are such vast expanses of magnificent terrain, resources and history. We’ve camped on beaches and ridden across deserts. We recharge out there, just the two of us, exploring.”
Bill says Oklahoma has plenty of adventure-worthy destinations, mentioning Cross Bar Ranch in Davis, Soggy Bottom Trails near Wanette and Cross Timbers at Draper Lake.
“People need to give themselves permission to seek,” Bill said. “There are tens of thousands of reasons not to pursue a dream. You just need one reason to go do it. This can be an exciting life.”
Those looking to heed this advice can find DART schedules, information and more exciting tales of adventure riding at billdragoo.com.
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Photo by Susan Dragoo
When you reach the end of the pavement, that is when the adventure begins.
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Tiny, Beautiful Gowns
By Amy Dee Stephens
Designer of dresses for little girls, Nancy Crum, found her sewing business taking an unusual turn last year. Suddenly, former brides were bringing their wedding dresses to her. She never dreamed a woman would be so eager to hand over her wedding dress, knowing fully that Nancy would cut the expensive and gorgeous fabric into pieces.
The reason? To make tiny, beautiful gowns for preemie babies who die shortly after birth.
Nancy began sewing the gowns at the request of Moreen Foster, a woman Nancy met at church. Moreen is a retired registered nurse and pastoral psychotherapist. She volunteers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. “She rocks the babies, holding them to her chest so they can hear her heartbeat," Nancy said. "She’s familiar with the challenges these families face when a preemie doesn’t survive. It’s a horrible burden for grieving parents to have to buy something to bury their child in. Moreen asked if I would make burial gowns for the hospital to have on hand. I make the gowns look like christening gowns, with decorative lace, a little slip and a bonnet-type hat. Each one is different, depending on the style of the wedding dress."
Sewing is both a business and a hobby for Nancy; it's a skill that runs in her family. Her mother “could sew anything,” and her aunt was a well-known dress designer in California. Nancy named her sewing venture Nanse Originals and specializes in designing and making doll dresses for the American Girl doll, outfits for little girls, and fashionable aprons.
She recently moved into Edmond's Touchmark retirement community and continues her craft in her house's dedicated sewing room. A few years back, when her congregation at First
idea of destroying a wedding dress, Nancy has no qualms. “No, I don’t struggle at all with cutting up these dresses," she said. "I'm focused on making things easier for the grief-stricken parents. It’s surprising that so many babies are lost during these modern times, but it still happens too often.”
Reuse with a Purpose
Once Nancy has completed several gowns, she and Moreen deliver them to the hospital for distribution. Nancy has never met the babies nor the families who receive her handmade gifts, but she doesn’t feel the need to; she’s gratified to help from a distance, as are the women who donate their dresses.
“Many of the women who donate their wedding dresses say that they had saved them for their daughters to wear, but didn't, or that storage space was a problem," Nancy said. "It’s easier for them to give up their gowns," Nancy said, "when they know they will be used to dress these babies."
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The Good Eagle Scout, Darrell
By Amy Dee Stephens
“I love scouts. All my life, I love scouts!” said Darrell White, a scout with Troop 77.
In February, the 64-yearold achieved Eagle Scout status. It was a proud moment for this man who has spent decades engaged with the scouting community. Eagle Scout is the highest rank of the Scouts BSA (formerly Boys Scouts of America), reserved for scouts who achieve various benchmarks and complete a specific community project.
“Darrell’s project was to place benches at the historic Gower Cemetery in Edmond,” said Darrin Hill, Scoutmaster. “He had to raise the money to purchase the benches, which he had made at the Oklahoma Correctional Facility. During the installation process, Darrell wanted everyone to help clean up the cemetery, so he directed the troop on what to do.”
“I had them rake leaves, and I had them get the tree limbs off the fence,” said Darrell, “and we hung up a new flag.”
Darrell’s Scouting Family
Darrell first became a cub scout in Tulsa. He lived at the state-sanctioned institution, Hissom Memorial Center in Sand Springs, which was shut down in the late 1980s. From there, Darrell moved to Enid, and then came to Edmond in 2001, working at Goodwill until he retired in 2019.
“He missed scouting. He needed us, so he found us,” Hill said.
“I love scouts,” Darrell said. He has a long list of why he loves scouts: tent camping, helping at festivals, float trips, playing ball, first aid, drawing, cooking, dancing, singing,
campfires, marshmallows, eating, and more.
Darrell views scouts as his family, remembering their names and watching them grow up. He also “adopted” the Hill family as his own. “When his mother passed away a few years ago, Darrell decided to adopt me as his younger dad, and he calls my wife Mama Hill.”
“I adopted the whole Hill family. Now I have a little brother and a little sister and a big sis and two dogs,” Darrell said.
Darrell’s Leadership Role
Because Darrell has so much scouting experience, he has carved out his own special role with Troop 77. First, he’s in charge of hydration.
“I make sure the scouts are drinking water,” Darrell said.
Second, Darrell keeps the new and younger scouts in line.
“I tell them to be careful. To stop running. I tell them to be good. Don’t mess with other people’s campsites,” said Darrell.
“He can be stern sometimes, but he’s also very nurturing,” said Hill. “If Darrell sees someone upset, he goes over and talks to them and encourages them.”
Darrell’s third role is recruiter.
“I tell everybody about scouts. I say, ‘You should come to scouts. Boys and girls, too. If you are not in a troop, you should come to my troop.’” Darrell said.
“Darrell is the ultimate example of servant leadership,” said Hill. “He will forever be registered as a scout. I’m so grateful to all of Darrell’s former Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, and leaders who have made his scouting experience possible.”
“I love to go to our Monday night scout meetings at the church,” said Darrell. “They teach me to be a good scout.”
To that, Hill said, “You already are a good scout, Darrell.”
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Eagle Scout Darrell White
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By Maria Veres
Home renovations and improvements can be challenging in a post-pandemic world. At Heritage Renovations, owners Dan and Leslie Peake are committed to making sure every project meets their high standards of excellence.
Custom Renovations for Every Need
“The housing market is tough right now, and a lot of people are choosing to stay in their homes longer,” says Leslie. “When you buy a home, you have to settle for what someone else has built, but when you renovate, you can get exactly what you want!”
Each renovation they complete is unique and fully customized for that
particular client. From sketching out the first plans to following up after the project is finished, the Peakes are closely involved with every stage of the process. “We don’t cut corners anywhere,” says Leslie. Our experienced crews use durable, high-quality materials, and cabinets are made to order in the company’s own cabinet shop.
Adding Space and Value
Adding onto a home is a solution that can create a whole new look along with more space and ultimately more value. Heritage can create a design that fits seamlessly within an existing home's structure.
Making Every Detail Count
Serving Oklahoma since 1985, Heritage Renovations is an independent, family-run business. Dan has devoted his entire career to home construction and renovations, bringing a wealth of experience to each project. Leslie and daughter Crystal assist clients with design and with the selection process, often introducing clients to new
products. Heritage Renovations has a reliable team of excellent craftsman who have been with them for many years. Many clients are often repeat customers.
Contact Heritage Renovations at 405-887-4121 or find them online at heritagerenovations.net.
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A recent completed renovation project
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Raptor Jiu Jitsu
By Maria Veres
At Raptor Jiu Jitsu, students learn much more than effective self-defense. Gym manager Derrick Adkins stresses four key values: discipline, respect, integrity, and focus. Raptor is one of the top competitive gyms in the state, but it’s also a welcoming space for families and beginners.
Expert Training in a Family Atmosphere
The teaching team at Raptor includes three black-belt instructors who have been involved with the local martial arts community for many years. There
are also several expertly trained assistant instructors.
Kids’ classes start at just three years old and go all the way up to adult levels. Many parents make it a family event, enrolling in classes alongside their children.
Jiu Jitsu offers an excellent workout for both mind and body. “It teaches you how to move your body better and control someone who’s fighting against you,” says Derrick. “It’s great for everything from tournaments to wrestling with a toddler who doesn’t want to put on his shirt.”
Classes, Open Mat Time, and More Stepping into a martial arts facility for the first time can be intimidating. A coach or experienced student shadows new students one-on-one until they feel safe and comfortable. “It’s amazing how both kids and adults can end up loving it after just one class,” says Derrick.
Memberships include unlimited open mat time and group classes. Raptor also offers a newly expanded
recovery room with an ice bath, cold plunge, sauna, and shower. Whether you’re an experienced martial arts athlete, a parent, or an adult striving for better fitness, there’s a place for you at Raptor Jiu Jitsu.
Raptor Jiu Jitsu is located at 2828 E. Danforth Road in Edmond. To learn more or schedule a free trial class, contact them at 405-916-9091 or online at raptorjj.com.
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Kids coach Justin Overton with one of Raptor's kids classes
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A Marathon of Miracles
By Taylor Bollinger
Doctors can’t explain her recovery. Words can’t capture her resilience. Rachel Foster is a walking miracle.
Following an electric scooter accident in November, the Moni’s Italian Restaurant chef and co-owner was left with a catastrophic brain injury, 17 broken bones and on life support. Doctors predicted the best-case scenario was a life where Rachel would never eat or breath on her own – and that was if she woke up.
Just before her husband John made the impossible decision to remove Rachel from life support, she woke up and –against all medical odds – was both physically and cognitively responsive.
“Her medical care was amazing, but this was 100% a miracle,” John said. Her neurosurgeon agreed, and one member of her medical team says Rachel has changed the way he will practice medicine forever.
If not for photos and footage of Rachel jogging unassisted during rehab, her progress would be unbelievable. “Rachel is like a rocket,” John said. “If everyone is going by at normal speed, Rachel is blowing by at warp speed.”
“Half of Rachel’s skull was removed during her emergency surgery in Oklahoma, in order to make room for swelling,” John explained. “Normally, the brain has negative pressure, but without that piece of her skull, the atmospheric pressure was essentially crushing her brain. This obviously made rehab impossible.” This issue caused Rachel immense pain that lasted until January, when her neurosurgeon implanted a 3D-printed cap that has restored the structure of her skull.
Rachel has big plans for April – she’s going to run the Boston Marathon.
Since then, Rachel has progressed at an unprecedented rate. She is now in outpatient therapy, practicing agility and building strength five days a week, and will continue through the middle of March. This end date is important, because Rachel has big plans for April – she’s going to run the Boston Marathon. This is a lofty goal for most runners, but Rachel is an experienced marathoner and has already qualified to run it.
If Rachel is a rocket, her team at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta is helping her launch. Through a series of events that were nothing short of providential, Rachel was accepted into the top-tier program and is now working with experts who specialize in spinal cord and brain injuries. But before Rachel could begin rehab, one crucial procedure was required.
“I’m so grateful to John and my therapy team for helping me get active again,” Rachel said. “It helps me physically, but it also helps me mentally to feel like myself again. Running and athleticism have always been a huge part of who I am.”
The Fosters look forward with full faith, not only that Rachel will run the race, but that her healing will be whole.
“After the accident, three separate family members texted me the same verse, Luke 8:50: ‘But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be
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made whole.’ We are choosing to believe it,” John said.
The Fosters say witnessing Rachel’s recovery firsthand has changed the lives of everyone involved. They are endlessly grateful for, and overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from friends, family and even strangers.
“Every prayer, every thought, every text, and every dollar donated has meant a ton to us,” John said. “So many people have reached out, it’s going to take a while to thank them all. But our goal is to eventually connect with each person individually.”
Rachel specifically thanks the staff, more like family, at Moni’s. They have kept the restaurant running with such skill that some patrons say that if they wouldn’t have known about Rachel, they wouldn’t have noticed a difference.
The mutual dedication between the Fosters and Moni’s staff is apparent. Not only have the staff stepped up in their absence, but Rachel and John gave up their health insurance during the pandemic in order to keep their staff employed. In the absence of insurance, a GoFundMe was started to help cover Rachel’s medical costs.
The miraculous, “what-are-the-odds” moments involved in their story are too numerous to list. The Fosters hope to someday write a book that will adequately capture it all. For now, Rachel wants to leave readers with this message: “No matter what happens, there is always hope.”
To learn more go to facebook.com/monisokc.
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By Louise Tucker Jones
Recently I ran onto my late motherin-law’s diary from 1965. It piqued my interest since Carl and I were not only dating but became engaged that year. Several pages were blank and most entries were about household chores, but I admit it was exciting to see my name in that little book as her son’s girlfriend.
I wished there had been a second book since Carl and I were married in March, 1966, just hours before he deployed. Being as I couldn’t go with him, I remained in college but spent several weekends with his parents. His mom and I developed a special relationship and I kept Carl updated on his mother’s health since she had severe emphysema from growing up in a coal mining town.
After college graduation in May 1967, I planned to spend the summer at a university in Mexico, improving my Spanish skills for my upcoming teaching job. But Mom Jones’ health took such a downturn that I never left and Carl was brought home on an emergency leave. The best medicine ever was when he walked into that hospital room and literally lifted his mom off the bed with his hug. Happy tears flooded the room.
And though we were allowed to take Mom out of the hospital for a short drive, she never totally recovered and in August, Carl was called home again, just days before his mom went to heaven at the age of 44 years old. She had truly become a second mother to me, even telling me she couldn’t love me more had I been her own daughter.
Had there been a diary for those fifteen months Carl was away, my name would have been written all over those pages where Mom and I baked cookies and made fudge to send overseas and watched late movies with popcorn. And oh, how she prayed for Carl and me and even the baby I told her I was carrying
Carl and his Mom
one sweet August morning just before heaven called.
Bittersweet memories, but they delight my heart on this 57th Wedding Anniversary to my handsome, heavenly husband.
“LOVE AND MISS YOU, CARL! JE T’AIME!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Tucker Jones is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker & founder of Wives With Heavenly Husbands, a support group for widows. LouiseTJ@cox.net or LouiseTuckerJones.com.
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Jeremy & That "Jeep Thang"
By Amy Dee Stephens
Jeremy Rowe’s country music career started out as a Jeep thing––make that a “Jeep Thang,” the title of the song he wrote in 2019 that put him on the national stage. Due to the song’s popularity among the Jeep crowd, he now travels to Jeep shows around the United States to perform his repertoire of country music.
“Jeep Thang” and subsequent Jeep-themed songs quickstarted his career, but Jeremy is working to break into mainstream radio, with one minor difference. “I’m getting pretty sick of whisky titles and songs about getting hammered, chasing women or doing other stupid stuff,” Jeremy said. “I love country music, but my music is more family friendly. After all, I have six kids, and my family often travels with me.”
He’s currently working on a song called, “Dad Bod,” which Jeremy wrote because, “Like millions of men, I wrestle with body image. Should I go to the gym or eat this pizza?” The song has been well received by the Jeep crowd, so “Dad Bod” is being recorded as a single, available in a few months.
This song follows on the heels of Jeremy’s first full album, Tonight I’m Feelin’ Country, which was released in October 2022. The songs represent the last six years of Jeremy’s life, as he faced heartbreak, new-found love, and even the pandemic. “I began writing songs in 2018 following a divorce, but most of the songs, at least the loveydovey ones, are inspired by my wife of two-and-a-half years, Tisha,” Jeremy said.
Finding the Words
Jeremy’s band, made up of Casey Tuter, Jon Castillo and Christian Pearson, formed in early 2022. As the songwriter,
Jeremy s learning the craft of conveying a strong message in only two or three minutes, as songs on the radio continue to get shorter.
“I have one song, “It Ain’t Enough,” that is inspired by the military personnel in my life, especially those affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Jeremy said. “I never served, but I have family members and friends who are veterans. Some of them returned home from Iraq and took their own lives. This song is my attempt to say that I wish we could do more as civilians to thank them for their sacrifices. Proceeds from the song support the veteran’s organization, Camp Southern Ground.”
Hittin’ the Road
Although Jeremy’s career is relatively new, he’s jumped into it full time.. His wife gave her permission, saying, “Don’t wait. If you do, you’ll be ten years behind.” Jeremy is now traveling the country and working on new music, but moving people, sound equipment and instruments was becoming problematic.
“Tour buses are insanely expensive. Even a used one is a quarter million dollars. So, we bought a school bus at a junkyard, fixed it up to be mechanically sound, and that’s how we travel,” Jeremy said. It’s the bus seen on the cover of his album. It still looks like a school bus, and it’s still carting school children around.
“Most of my band members have children, too. The kids think it’s fun traveling with us, and telling all their friends that I’m famous––although I’m not,” Jeremy said. “At least not outside the Jeep circuit.” Based on his rising song sales; however, and the fact that he’s been the opening musical act for Shenandoah and Clint Black, “famous” is getting closer all the time.
Visit jeremyrowe-music.com to learn more.
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