A Half Decade at CCU

On May 1, 2014, I started a new stage in my life. That morning I reported to work at a different college campus, thousands of miles from my previous one. A half decade later, that “different” college campus isn’t so different anymore – it is home.

I took this photo the morning of May 1, 2014 — my first day at Coastal Carolina University.

As I celebrate my fifth anniversary at Coastal Carolina University, I can’t help but feel fortunate that I found #TEALnation. Wanting to manage the social media program of a university at the flagship level, I graciously accepted the opportunity given to me by CCU and said goodbye to the athletic department at the University of Montana.

These are some of the kind bosses/co-workers who greeted me with such open arms when I arrived at CCU in 2014.

I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to come into. Working out of the Office of University Communication, my bosses gave me the freedom to build CCU’s social media program according to the vision I presented during the interview process. When I arrived, my main objective was to establish a social brand (#CCUSocialMedia) that told the stories of #CCU. Because of the support I received, social media at CCU flourished. #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards, earned recognition as one of the top higher education social media programs in the country, enjoyed exponential growth, and generated extensive media coverage.

Because of the freedom to take chances and because of the talented co-workers around me, #CCUSocialMedia has won over a dozen national awards in five years.

But this blog post isn’t about individual accomplishments. In fact, the accolades above were only possible because of the people I work with (more on them soon). Rather, the purpose of this post is to recognize how proud I am to be associated with this institution. In the five years I have been here, I have seen our University open up multiple academic buildings, roll out doctoral programs, produce Fulbright Scholars, set records for fundraising, undergo a complete website redesign, grow at a strategic pace, make the major athletic move to the FBS, and win a baseball national championship…just to name a few. To have a front row seat for all these defining moments has been a pleasure.

The day CCU announced plans to join the Sun Belt Conference was a lot of fun!.

These CCU triumphs over the past five years paved the way for a constant stream of excitement that rushed through this entire campus. I tried to grab hold of this energy and make my own CCU moments. During my time as a CCU staffer I have appeared in a Darius Rucker music video, attended national conferences, traveled with the men’s basketball team to the NCAA tournament, hosted my own social media segment, wrote a cover story for our alumni magazine, followed our CCU-sponsored NASCAR driver to a few races, experienced an eclipse at complete totality, covered the baseball team’s national championship parade/stadium celebration, and much more.

I have had so many memorable times while working at CCU.

Again, just like with the industry accomplishments, I would have been deprived of the memorable moments without my bosses and co-workers. If not for Bill Plate, Martha Hunn, and Matt Hogue I would not be here at Coastal. Those three comprised the hiring committee that ended up granting me the opportunity of a lifetime. If not for my incredible supervisor, Lindsi Glass, I would not have been able to grow as a professional and feel so comfortable coming to work each day. If not for Kim Harper, the best administrative assistant to ever walk the planet, many of our fun social media promotions would be derailed by red tape. And, if not for my talented and selfless co-workers, the success of our #CCUSocialMedia program would be non-existent. Because of our graphic designers (Rob, Jeanne, Regis, Ron, Scoops, Jady), photographers (Judy, Scott, Tad), video wizards (David, Geoff, Richard, Dennis, Josh), web personnel (Brentley and Marty) and writers (Caroline, Mel, Doug, Mona), we have incredible content to share each day. They take our social media presence to the next level and make me look good. Even more importantly, they are all humble people and trusted friends.

I have had the pleasure of working with so many great people in the Office of University Communication at CCU.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the final joy of working on this campus: the students. In five years, I have had many motivated and savvy students work for me and I have met countless others who have participated in many of my wacky social media campaigns/promotions. It goes without saying that I am beyond appreciative – without students, I don’t have a job.

I have been blessed to be around some amazing students. This photo is of me with Eddie and Monica, two of my former student interns.

A lot has changed in five years. My title has changed, the name of our department has changed, and our top leader has changed. But one aspect has not: Coastal Carolina University is a great place to work. I am thankful to the CCU administration and the state of South Carolina for employing me. I look forward to the next five years. Don’t Blink.

My Brother is Engaged!

Last night at 2:09 a.m., my phone rang. Caught in a deep slumber, I wasn’t coherent. As I gained more consciousness, I looked at my phone and saw that Carrie, my brother’s girlfriend, had FaceTimed me. When I saw the missed call notification, I also noticed countless text message notifications. I haphazardly looked through our family group message before calling back. Still too disoriented to make sense of the roughly 40+ new messages in the thread, I FaceTimed Carrie back.

Well, the FaceTime call wasn’t exactly necessary. It was pitch black in our bedroom and it was also dark where Carrie was at. As she answered my call, I heard my brother’s voice in the background. It didn’t take long before the good news came out…

“We’re engaged!” they exclaimed.

This photo was taken moments before Glen took Carrie to the site of the proposal!

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Carrie’s birthday was yesterday. After a day of wooing her with activities and fun, my brother led her to believe that they were capping the day off by going out to eat at a favorite restaurant. On the way to dinner, Glen made up an excuse that he needed to drop by his work. When Carrie and Glen arrived at his office, he took her into the break room area. SURPRISE!

My brother had organized a surprise 29th birthday party for Carrie. In attendance were co-workers, friends, and family. It was a joyous scene in and of itself, but things were about to get a lot more memorable.

The room of approximately 25 people sang happy birthday to Carrie. After she blew out the candles on the cake, my brother drew closer to her. Fighting back emotion, he told his girlfriend that he wanted to spend every birthday with her for the rest of his life. He then got down on one knee…

…GASP…

…she said YES!!

Carrie said YES.

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This morning in our text messaging thread, Carrie revealed that the wish she made when blowing out the candles was that Glen would ask her to marry him (how sweet is that?). Everyone in our family was wishing the same thing.

There is no debating that Carrie makes Glen extremely happy. It has been so fulfilling to see those two fall in love. As Sidney says, Carrie is an unmistakable positive force in my brother’s life. Although I felt that a proposal could be coming soon, I didn’t predict it would be last night. However, if there ever is surprise news you want to be woken up to in the wee hours of the morning, an accepted marriage proposal between two of the people you care about the most is it!

Celebrating after the successful proposal!

I wish Glen and Carrie a happy engagement. Fun and exciting days are to follow and I hope they savor each one. Welcome to the family, Carrie, we love you! Don’t Blink.

Feeding the Ducks

When I was a little kid, one of the million different things I enjoyed about visiting my grandma and grandpa was a creek located a short distance from their house. My grandpa would bring home old bread from the family restaurant and we would walk to the creek. Once there, we would look around for a few ducks who decided to make that murky body of water their home. Once spotted, we took pieces of bread out of the sack and broke it up into pieces. We then tossed the hardened chunks in the direction of the ducks, baiting them to swim up close to us.

I loved seeing real life animals of the non-dog and non-cat variety up close. The green headed male ducks always grabbed my attention and I felt like I was doing a genuine good deed by feeding them. I realized that birds beyond the ones in a residential creek in Walla Walla needed nourishment as well. So, throughout my childhood, whenever we went to a big park with ponds, we would bring bread with us to feed the ducks. It never got old.

Hobbies and entertainment options fall out of favor with children over the generations, but duck feeding has staying power. Our little girl proved it last night.

We took Sloan to our neighborhood pond to feed the ducks (and turtles…and fish) last night.

For the first time in her 25-month life, we took Sloan to one of the ponds in our neighborhood to feed the wildlife. We stood on a gazebo and Sid took out a sack of aging bread she brought from the house. Before Sloan really even knew what we were doing, she took a full piece of bread and threw it into the water…fail.

Sloan looking over the gazebo railing at the wildlife underneath her.

But it got better from there. We showed her the proper way to break up the bread and toss it into the pond. As we did this, we attracted a lot more than just ducks. The waters in our neighborhood are full of turtles and fish. As we threw the food, an army of turtles swam to us, their heads bobbing above the water as they made their trek to dinner. Sloan couldn’t contain her excitement. In much the same way as when we decorated our Christmas tree, she danced around hysterically pleading “more, more, more.” At first, we couldn’t satisfy her need for constant bread but she did calm down after several minutes.

So sad that all our bread is gone.

Once she was subdued, it was a very relaxing and nice experience on the gazebo. It was a gorgeous evening and we were the only ones feeding the aquatic animal kingdom of the Spring Lakes neighborhood. Much like myself as a child, Sloan loved the concept of feeding animals that aren’t normally found in people’s houses. We enjoyed our special time with nature and questioned what took us so long to finally do something like this with Sloan.

Fellow parents, if you need a cheap and peaceful activity for your child, take them to feed the ducks. It will keep them occupied and provide a great opportunity to educate them about the environment. Yes, they might throw a fit when the bread runs out, but you will find out that it is still worth it. I hope those ducks in our neighborhood are still hungry because they have not seen the last of the Resers. Don’t Blink.

New Era Thursday Rundown

What a beautiful week it has been! By far the best in 2019 thus far, we have enjoyed temperatures in the upper 70s and lower 80s the past several days. If you haven’t had favorable weather conditions in your neck of the woods, cheer up; the Thursday Rundown is coming your way…

The County Fair – Yesterday evening, Sidney, Sloan, and I spent a couple hours at the Horry County Fair. We ventured out to the Myrtle Beach Speedway (location of the fair) after a generous invite from Sloan’s friend, Riley, and her mom. We arrived when it was still light out and stayed until night fell. We had a nice time walking through the carnival and feeding the animals in the petting zoo. But let’s be real here – the best part was the food! We ate foot long corn dogs and devoured a delicious funnel cake. We came home pretty dirty after stomping around on the dusty grounds but it was worth it.

We sure enjoyed ourselves at the Horry County Fair last night.

New Era of Gift Cards – You used to only be able to purchase a gift card to a single place. Then you were able to purchase a gift card that would be valid at multiple restaurants under the same parent company. Now something even greater has arrived! A couple months ago while at Kroger, I noticed gift cards that are good at restaurants, stores, and entertainment centers. They are grouped according to what certain demographics would appreciate. For example, the “Happy Student” card has Burger King, Dell, Bed Bath & Beyond, American Eagle, and JCPenney on it. The “Happy Her” has Panera, Macy’s, Ulta, Bed Bath & Beyond, Sephora, Cheesecake Factory, Express, Under Armour, and more. “Happy Teen” has Panera, Dave & Buster’s, Barnes & Noble, American Eagl, Regal Cinemas, Jumba Juice, and more. The cards don’t stop there – “Happy Eats,” “Happy Dining,” “Happy Moments,” “Happy Bride,” and “Happy Guy” are all options as well. These are all really fun and you are in total control of how much money you want to put on them.

These gift cards are fun and very useful.

Now That’s a Bit of a Stretch – Mellow Mushroom is a fabulous gourmet casual pizza chain in the Southeast. It is so yummy that one time I was in Spokane, a stranger connected with me by saying her best memory while visiting the South was dining at a Mellow Mushroom. But the company is as much known for its pizza as its humor. No matter what location you are at, you will usually find something witty or clever on the marquee. The one I recently saw below takes the cake! The North Myrtle Beach Mellow Mushroom made this completely illogical inference but it sure made me laugh…well done.

This had me laughing. Nice try, but I don’t think beer can qualify as salad.

New Shades – Sidney admits to being a sunglasses brat. She doesn’t understand someone like me who is happy with a $5 pair of knockoff shades. My wife is doing her best to pass on her taste for premium sunglasses to Sloan. Last week, she purchased Sloan the exact same pair that she has! Much smaller and less expensive than Sid’s, I sure think they look cute on her (and Sloan loves them!).

Sloan loves her sunglasses that match mommy’s!

15 and Counting  I know many of my readers were wondering when I would finally break my silence on Jeopardy champion James Holtzhauer. Well, since he surpassed the $1M mark this week, I guess the time has come. As an avid Jeopardy fan, I have watched all 15 victories of his unprecedented run and I am impressed. He is something special and seems absolutely unbeatable. Do I want to see him continue to dominate? Hardly! James, much like Arthur Chu and Austin Rogers, rubs me the wrong way. Just a little too sure of himself and smug for my taste. I better get over it because he is poised to be on the show for a long time. Some brainiac will have to catch James on an off night where he incorrectly answers every Daily Double and misses Final Jeopardy just to have a chance. Stay tuned.

Jeopardy champ James Holzhauer is not my favorite contestant.

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This is the last free weekend that Sidney and I have for what seems like until August. We hope to relax and enjoy our little girl. Thanks for reading. Don’t Blink.

Respecting the Sri Lanka Victims

I recently saw a heartbreaking, yet powerful, photo. The image showed a funeral procession; but not one of a single black hearse going down Main Street of an American town. Rather, the procession was a long line of white cloth-covered caskets extending past the constraints of the picture. On either side of the caskets were crowds of people lining the skinny passageway that allowed just enough room for the individuals carrying the deceased to maneuver through. This was the scene in Sri Lanka yesterday in the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attack that took place on Sunday.

What a sad scene. This picture will stay with me.

I just wanted to briefly say a few things. First and foremost, I don’t think this tragedy has received enough coverage. Over 300 people perished solely because of their religious beliefs. On Monday, I looked at Sidney in disbelief as NBC Nightly News spent two minutes on it before abruptly transitioning to the Mueller Report. Let us not forget the magnitude and savagery of this attack.

Next, I wanted to dig a little deeper into who the victims were. The individuals who lost their lives weren’t just able-bodied adult men like myself. Instead, they were children, women, and the elderly. Boys and girls receiving their First Holy Communion were murdered in cold blood. How could anyone have the heart to viciously slay an innocent child?

Finally, these victims weren’t just “Easter worshippers.” They didn’t casually wake up and head to the church for an annual holiday service. The people who were in the pews of St. Sebastian’s and St. Anthony’s were dedicated and proud Catholics. Despite the politically correct broad generalization that some folks might give to these people, let’s not insult them any further.

It is a popular opinion these days to say that “thoughts and prayers” don’t matter. Don’t believe it. The power of prayer is real and impactful. Let us pray for those who lost their lives and recognize them for who they were. Don’t Blink.

Things in Life I Know Absolutely Nothing About

A tweet was brought to my attention that I published on this date four years ago. Without referencing my journals, I have no idea the context that surrounded my need to tweet out this statement of honesty and desperation…

Four years ago on this date, I felt the need to tweet this.

Sadly, 1,460 days since I so eloquently shared the above sentiment with my followers, I can’t say that it still doesn’t ring true today. There are some areas of knowledge and skill that I am absolutely worthless at. Surely, if my wife is reading this, she is saying to herself some?  I can get a little discouraged at my shortcomings and other times I can bring myself to write about them. I feel more like the latter tonight.

Keep in mind that a man who doesn’t want to portray himself as a complete bonehead will write a post like this with caution. I could go with a laundry list but I will keep a shred or two of dignity and opt for three embarrassing deficiencies. Not wanting to drag out this post any longer than it has to be, let’s get this over with.

Handiness – Hammers and screwdrivers are foreign instruments to me. Well, I can do remedial tasks around the house but there is no doubt that Sidney is the handy one in our marriage. If something breaks or if something needs to be assembled, Sid usually takes the first swipe at it. I have a very handy dad who showed me plenty of things, but it never stuck.

Cars – I sure am thankful for roadside assistance. I have had some unfortunate vehicle breakdowns in less than ideal places and I have escaped each one thanking God for a great insurance plan that afforded me the professional help needed to get me on my way. You won’t see me doing work under the hood or fiddling with wires. Give me credit, I can certainly drive a car and pump gas like a boss! I just won’t be passing Car Mechanics 101 any time soon.

As someone who once tried to put Everclear in my car, you could probably guess that automobiles are not my strong point.

Giving Directions – Wait, don’t you have a smart phone? That is the first thought that comes to my mind when someone asks for driving directions. Look, I thought my generation had it tough enough with Map Quest. But oral directions that require multiple turns, directional points, (north, south, etc.), and street names? Oh man, you don’t want directions from me. I am envious of people who can immediately spit out directions faster than a GPS. These are analytical and accurate individuals who will get you to your destination in no time…assuming you can follow directions. If someone asks me for help, I offer landmarks (i.e. Ummm…it is right next to the McDonalds and across the street from Food Lion).

Like I said, this is anything but an exhaustive list. However, listing just three things that “I know absolutely nothing about” is a good way to come across as humble yet not a total worthless waste of space. Thanks to Twitter memories for taking me down a peg! Don’t Blink.

Easter 2019

I say it every year: I love Easter.

The meaning, the buildup, and the time of year are all reasons why I enjoy the holiday so much. The 2019 edition for the Reser family did not disappoint. Our Easter holiday got off to a very early start and every minute we packed into it proved to be memorable and fun. Here is a quick look at what we did…

Our house was up around 4 a.m. yesterday so we could all get ready for 6 a.m. Easter Sunday mass. St. Andrew held seven different services throughout the day but we opted for the earliest one out of consideration for Sloan. We thought she would still be a little drowsy and thus more subdued at the 6 a.m. mass. Well, we definitely underestimated Sloan’s energy. Although she was very active, it was nice to enter the church in the darkness and walk out the doors with it bright and beautiful outside. Fr. Roger Morgan preached about the importance of declaring the Good News to others.

Sidney and Sloan after Easter Sunday mass at St. Andrew.

We stopped by “Gami and Dada’s” (Sid’s parents) house after mass so they could see Sloan in her Easter dress. We took some photos and then returned to our own house.

A photo we took after Easter mass at Sid’s parents’ house.

Soon after we got out of our church clothes, Sloan opened her basket from the Easter Bunny as well as other gifts from family members. She received clothes, candy, a canteen bottle, tooth brushes/tooth paste, a swim suit, a floatie device, and more. She wasted no time opening her Easter candy–but the key word is “opening.” She would rip off the foil on her eggs and just drop the chocolate.

Sloan opening up her Easter prizes.

As Sloan explored her Easter basket, we moved out into the living room and played Easter hymns and reflected for a bit. We also called my family and wished them a joyous holiday.

Sloan slipped on some bunny ears as we listened to Easter hymns.

One thing I didn’t mention that was in her Easter basket was a container of sidewalk chalk. With Sid doing some cooking for our Easter meal later that day, Sloan and I went out in the back yard and drew on the patio. We also blew bubbles, played on the jungle gym, and swung on the hammock. It was a beautiful day and we soaked in the sun.

Sloan and I played out in the back yard so Sid could cook.

We came back inside and Sloan proceeded to fall asleep. With our daughter down for her nap, Sid and I watched the second half of a movie we started watching the previous night. Have you heard of “Welcome to Marewin” with Steve Carell? Although not his biggest fan, I thought Carell did a superb job in the serious role he played and would recommend the film.

Sidney and I counted out and hid eggs for a hunt later on in the day.

When the movie ended, Sidney’s parents arrived at the house. Her sister and fiancé followed. Soon thereafter, Sid’s oldest sister and her family came through the door. We all sat down and enjoyed a delicious Easter meal. Among other things included in the spread, I filled my plate with ham, corn casserole, mac and cheese, green beans, and a roll. It was incredible!

This was my plate from yesterday’s Easter meal. Soooo good.

After we ate, everyone went outside. One of the reasons why we hosted Easter at our house was because we have an excellent lawn for an Easter egg hunt! After my in-laws arrived but prior to everyone else, Sid and I hid around 90 eggs in our back yard. With all the kids chomping at the bit, we let them loose to find the eggs, including a coveted gold one. It was fun!

The kids running around our yard to find Easter eggs.

Once the excitement of the egg hunt concluded, we returned inside for banana pudding and key lime pie. We visited for a couple hours or so before people started to go home. With it just us three again, we relaxed on the couch and counted our blessings.

Sloan and her cousin, Henry, playing in the living room.

Our evening ended in prayer. We thanked God for the ultimate sacrifice and for everyone in our lives. We went to bed happy and there wasn’t one of us who didn’t sleep well. Don’t Blink.

Waldo Thursday Rundown

Good evening to all! Easter weekend is one of my favorite times of the year for so many different reasons. But tonight we aren’t talking about different reasons – we are talking about different topics (five of them). Let’s get started with the latest installment of the Thursday Rundown…

Ice Cream Challenge Domination – Can it really be four full years since I pushed my body to the limit and ate seven scoops of ice cream, five toppings, and a waffle bowl in a mere five minutes? Yep! Back in my younger days I was known to do some pretty crazy things. On April 18, 2015, I visited the O.D. Pavilion Ice Cream Parlor in North Myrtle Beach to attempt the Waterdog Challenge. What I remember most is that the ice cream tasted really good at first…but then my mouth went numb. I had serious doubts about whether I could do it but I successfully finished the challenge with just a few seconds to spare. No one will ever be able to take this achievement (nor the t-shirt I received for completing) away from me.

I once ate seven scoops of ice cream in five minutes.

The Astrological Signs As Southern Food – Isn’t this interesting to look at? Anthony Bowser, a #CCUSocialMedia team member, posted this chart on his Instagram Story. It places Southern delicacies with astrological signs. As a Libra, my “food” is peach cobbler. Although I don’t consume it on a regular basis, I remember eating the most delicious peach cobbler when I moved to South Carolina. The day before we finally made it to Myrtle Beach, we stayed in Camden, SC. We dined at a Fatz (Southern causal dining chain restaurant) and ate it for dessert. Warm, scrumptious, and flavorful, I had never enjoyed a better fruit dessert in my life. But back to the chart itself. Sidney is gumbo (yum) and Sloan is fried pickles (yuck). What are you?

Here is the chart that associates each astrological sign with a Southern food.

Our Father – I recently listened to a brilliant podcast on the Lord’s Prayer. In addition to the great history that was given, the point was reinforced that the prayer encompasses the literal words of Jesus and that we are to pray it based on his request. I complemented the podcast by reading Sloan a book that was written by and given to her by one of my mom’s co-workers. A gentleman by the name of K.W. Gruen, who works with my mom at Mead High School in Spokane, wrote a book titled “Teaching the Message of the Lord’s Prayer.” It is intended for children and explains verse-by-verse what the prayer means. Although a little advanced for Sloan at this stage in her life, I look forward to reading it to her more frequently when she reaches the necessary level of comprehension. Thank you, Mr. Gruen, for signing it!

Teaching the Message of the Lord’s Prayer is written by K.W. Gruen. He took the time to sign the book and write a special note to Sloan.

Where’s Waldo – When we ate at the Sneaky Beagle, a “Where’s Waldo” book was on the table. Seeing it brought back a lot of good memories. I remember going over to my friend’s house when I was probably 8 and browsing his Waldo books. He had the yellow, red, and blue editions. As someone who wasn’t skilled with the Magic Eye books, I made up for that deficiency by developing an eye to spot Waldo quickly. Would you believe that Saturday night was Sidney’s first time looking through a “Where’s Waldo” book? Apparently she was given a heavy dose of beginner’s luck because she smoked me on numerous pages as we raced to see who could find Waldo first.

This is the Where’s Waldo book that was at our table when we ate at the Sneaky Beagle last weekend.

Mooooovies – It has been on our list for a long time, but we finally watched “Crazy Rich Asians” the other night. It was good, but not as good as everyone made it out to be. What really stuck out to me was the emphasis on food. There were so many beautiful shots of food throughout the whole film. In fact, it went beyond beautiful; it was artful. The way the different dishes were displayed equated to an impactful way of storytelling. We also watched “The Mule,” a movie that stars Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper. The story itself was promising but the ending was a letdown. Even more concerning was the supporting cast; there was an obvious lack of talent. Maybe even more depressing was Cooper’s role. To put it nicely, it just wasn’t up to his caliber.

We recently watched Crazy Rich Asians

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I hope the remainder of your Holy Week is meaningful. I wish all of my readers a very happy Easter. Don’t Blink.

Relating to the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

What can I say? Watching the Cathedral of Notre Dame burn yesterday was tough. But the shock and sadness isn’t the only reason why my tongue is tied. The disaster was covered extensively on all the major networks and countless people, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, described so eloquently and emotionally how important this magnificent house of worship is to them.

Seeing this yesterday was rough.

Although nothing I can say will come close to matching what has already been said, I can share the perspective that I related to when I was watching the flames billow out of Notre Dame.

Watching the flames shoot out of the cathedral was alarming to me.

For yesterday’s fire to really hit home, I thought about St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, my home parish. It is a beautiful church with an impressive altar, unique stained glass windows, a large choir loft, and an interesting seating configuration. The brick structure stands out like a sore thumb on Kings Highway, serving as a magnet that attracts the faithful.

St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach is very special to me.

St. Andrew to me is my spiritual refuge – my “happy place,” if you will. When I moved to Myrtle Beach, I attended mass at the church my first weekend here. A couple years later, I would marry Sidney inside of it. Sloan’s baptism would soon follow. When I approach the doors of St. Andrew, I am immediately at peace.

I couldn’t imagine if this sacred space was engulfed in flames.

Last night, I thought about how I would feel if the fire raging in Paris was instead terrorizing a certain Myrtle Beach church located at 3501 North Kings Highway. To see the the structure I treasure the most engulfed in an inferno would be gut-wrenching.

Sloan was baptized at St. Andrew.

But here is where the perspective shifted to a different level. St. Andrew was built in the 1960s. The Cathedral of Notre Dame was built in the 11th century. Although it took some time to build St. Andrew, it surely didn’t take almost 200 years. My parish doesn’t dominate the skyline of the city. Some of the best architects in the history of the world didn’t build it, nor have any Popes said mass in it. Lastly, while we very well might welcome 150,000 different people through the doors of the church each year (complete guess on my part), we definitely don’t welcome 15 million.

I am not downplaying the significance of my home church. Both the Cathedral of Notre Dame and St. Andrew are sacred places that house the Blessed Sacrament – a distinction that in a way makes them both equals. But there is no way you can discount the history, tradition, and appeal that the Cathedral holds over 99% of all other churches in the world.

When I compare what my feelings would be like if St. Andrew was ablaze to the heartache that millions of people are feeling right now, I can understand some of their pain. But I would be remiss if I said that I could identify fully with the loss that countless French Catholics are dealing with at the present time.

Thankfully, the fire was eventually extinguished with the cathedral still structurally sound.

Of course there is a great silver lining. The church is salvageable and unreplaceable artifacts and relics were not harmed. As one clergy member said, the prayers offered up from around the world gave the firefighters the stamina and precision they needed to extinguish the flames before catastrophic damage set in. As we are in the midst of Holy Week, we can draw on the glorious theme of the Resurrection. From the ashes, the Cathedral of Notre Dame will rise. Don’t Blink.

Eccentricity at The Sneaky Beagle

So, what do you like in your taco? Ground beef? Beans? Lettuce? Shredded cheese?

What about fettucine alfredo? Or maybe fried chicken?

I am always down for new dining experiences and fresh concepts. This past weekend, our family of three went to one of Myrtle Beach’s newest restaurants, the Sneaky Beagle. Located in the former Longbeards building on Carolina Forest Blvd., I enjoyed checking out the reincarnation of a former restaurant I once enjoyed.

The outside of The Sneaky Beagle.

The Sneaky Beagle did a great job of cleaning house. Even though I enjoyed the atmosphere of Longbeards, the new occupants gave it a makeover, one that fits the brand of the Grumpy Monk, the flagship eatery of the restaurant umbrella under which the Beagle resides.

But this post isn’t meant to evaluate the aesthetics of the Sneaky Beagle, nor is it to review the restaurant as a whole. Basically, I just want to shed light on the eccentricity of the place ¬– but even I want to compartmentalize that as well. My intention is to focus on the food, specifically the tacos. Even so, I have to quickly mention a big drawing point of the Sneaky Beagle.

This post isn’t to evaluate the aesthetics of The Sneaky Beagle, but it is nice inside.

As its name suggests, the Sneaky Beagle is a dog-friendly restaurant. There is an entire menu dedicated to canines and from what I saw on Saturday night, four-legged creatures are coming in droves. There is a large patio and deck area for the dogs to dine with their owners, but the inside is off limits to the animals – something I appreciate or otherwise I probably would not have been a customer. Remember, I am a cat person.

I promise the patio was full. The deck, where you see Sloan running on, was half full (I made her run in the area that wasn’t full).

Until a few days ago, I had never seen anything like it. As I looked over the menu that specialized in non-Mexican tacos, I smiled at the creativity and boldness of what was available. Taking the only thing that draws influence from a traditional taco, a tortilla shell, customers are able to choose from 15 different fillings. Some of these fillings are very American, some are quite funky, and some are a little shocking. But they are all original and (for the most part) intriguing.

In addition to the ones I named above, here are some of the other options: chicken waffle, tequila-lime, buffalo chicken, coconut shrimp, mushroom, and Caribbean pork.

Which ones did Sidney and I choose? None of the above! But before I tell you what we ordered, let me explain the combinations. Customers can choose to order 1 taco/1 side ($5.99), 2 tacos/1 side ($9.99), or 3 tacos/1 side ($13.99). Sides include sweet rice, fries, garlic roasted potatoes, candied cream corn, or side salad.

I am keeping the tacos I ate a secret until the next paragraph, but I will reveal my side…I had the sweet rice.

Sidney and I each ordered the 2 tacos/1 side option. I chose the Thanksgiving day taco (oven roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy) and the mac and cheese taco (pulled pork, mac and cheese, pepper jack cheese, shredded cheese) with sweet rice. Sid opted for the Sneaky taco (hand battered and lightly fried shrimp, Sneaky sauce, lettuce, cheddar, pico de gallo) and the CBR Taco (fried chicken, bacon bits, ranch, lettuce, pico de gallo) with fries.

The Thanksgiving day taco tasted just like Thanksgiving dinner inside a shell. The contents spilled out a bit but it was warm, flavorful, and comforting! The mac and cheese taco actually tasted like something I would eat in the South. The texture was more natural than the Thanksgiving day taco and it was more heavy too. I had a slight concern that I might be still hungry after eating just two tacos but that fear was unfounded. I was stuffed silly. Perhaps the rice put me over the top? It was excellent and had a very unique, but mild, taste.

I had the Thanksgiving day and mac and cheese tacos.

I can’t report on the quality of Sid’s tacos because I didn’t try them–not because my wife wouldn’t give me a bite–but because I don’t care for a couple of the ingredients in both of her tacos. But you can take her word for it when she told me that both were delicious.

A look at Sid with her tacos and fries.

If you live in Myrtle Beach and are looking to try a new restaurant that offers a menu/concept a little out of the norm, give the Sneaky Beagle a try. Woof Woof! Don’t Blink.