From Beautiful Suites to a Rundown Resort

This past Saturday, my son and I took off on an adventurous morning of exploring a rundown resort.

TARGET: South Beach Orlando Luxury Suites.

As you can see in the photos at that link, the South Beach Orlando Luxury Suites were once a beautiful destination for tourists to come to and enjoy a vacation.  In the last 2 years of living here in Central Florida I’ve passed by the resort a few times thinking, “How can this be?”

Exploring the resort was amazing and yet sad all at the same time.  Below is a few before and after photos.  The before photos were found online, the after photos were what we took when we were there.  For a list of ALL photos Visit

To see ALL our photos, visit

Little Detroit in Orlando

These last few days have been an absolute whirlwind of craziness. On Saturday my friends, The American Secrets, came into town to perform at the Orlando Calling, a music festival featuring around 60 bands playing at the Citrus Bowl.

With a sitter for Dawson, Amy and I took Ethan with us on both Saturday and Sunday. This marked Ethan’s first concert that he’s been to outside of the local shows that we’ve taken him to over the past few years. Although he missed The Killers and Bob Seger he got to check out The American Secrets, Kid Cudi, Blake Shelton and Kid Rock.

Sunday night at the Orlando Calling was wild. We met up with other friends to go see Kid Rock and Seger. It was like being in little Detroit with mounds of fans filling the VIP room with shirts, jackets and hats that donned the Detroit Tigers old english “D”, Made in Detroit, and other Detroit themed clothing. Almost every conversation I’d hear in passing had some reference to that person living or having lived in Michigan.

Outside of the gorgeous weather, I had almost forgotten that I wasn’t in Detroit.


Meet Susan Mcclelland, A Fabric Artist

When Susan McClelland heard that we were looking to turn our son Ethan into Billy the Exterminator for Halloween, she didn’t hesitate to offer her services.

To say Susan likes to be creative is a huge understatement.  Upon entering her home my eyes widened and my own creative energy went through the roof.  Her furniture, drapery, and entire home was exploding with colorful expression, as well as tools and accessories to make and create anything that is associated with fabric.

From reupholstering furniture, customizing wedding dresses, creating Halloween costumes, making jewelry, she does it all.  She showed us Star Wars costumes that she made as well as a Sock Monkey costume she’s currently working on (below).

Walking through her home was like going through Joanne’s Fabrics.  It was amazing the amount of spools, fabrics and accessories that were ready to be crafted into something awesome.

A fairly new resident to Florida, Susan is looking to meet people who could use her services.  If there’s something you’re looking to have done, you can contact Susan at









Meet Jack Forsyth

I spend a lot of time at Axum Coffee in Winter Garden, FL working on my computer.  It’s there that I met Jack Forsyth, the Barista for the cafe.  We had connected on Facebook at some point and soon there after he started making comments on my FB posts and the blogs I had been writing whenever I came in for a coffee.  I remember one time I came in and he asked me how the cake was.  I was like, “huh?”.   He was referring to a cake that Amy made that I had posted a picture of online.  It’s funny when your digital life creates a response in real life.

One day when I had come in I overheard him talking to a customer about leaving on a mission trip.  I inquired about it, and today I sat down with him to hear his story.

Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jack was one of 10 kids living in small home in the city.  When he was 16 his family made a bold move and packed their belongings and headed to a 20 acre farm in Arkansas.  While seeing the farm for the first time he had met someone that would become very important to him – his wife, Pam.

In his teens, Jack began to work in construction, following his dad, who was an iron worker.  He traveled around for a few years working hard and living it up.  It was 6 months before his marriage to Pam that he decided to dedicate his life to Christ.

Married at age 20, Jack and Pam (18) moved 40 miles out and got plugged into Maranatha Church.  They ended having 5 children – Gabriel 29, Josiah 27, Nathan 21, Michael 18, Hannah 15.

Jack was on a journey.  He had been seeking God’s will in his life and began to explore what it was that he was meant to do.  While living in Ozark, Arkansas he connected with a small church where he served as the childrens pastor and associate pastor.  He was there from 1982 to 1990 when he reached the point of being ready to make another move.  They packed up what they needed and from 1990 to 1995 they moved their family to Guatemala.  They started a feeding program as well as organized quarterly medical mission trips.  After 5 years and not really wanting to leave, they ended up back in Arkansas at a time when their church was in need of a new pastor.  He immediately stepped up and served as Interim Pastor and held that position for 3 years.

From that point he was back on his journey.  His older kids had grown and moved out and Jack was asking God again, “Where do you want me?”

Gabriel, the oldest, was (is) living in Florida where he currently serves as the Missions Director at Mosaic Church.  Gabriel began to push for his parents to move to the panhandle, and although it wasn’t necessarily his first choice, they decided it would be good to have the family together.

Jack got connected to Axum Coffee while being a part of Mosaic.  Axum was started by the pastor of the church as a means to raise money for children in need, most notably in Axum, Ethiopia.  Falling in love immediately to the mission of the cafe, Jack, Pam, Hannah and Michael took off with Gabriel in September to Ethiopia for almost 10 days.  It was there that they made the decision to become missionaries again.

Now, Jack is raising money for he and his family to serve children in Ethiopia for 2 years.  Their mission is to oversee an Orphan Care program and provide them with ongoing support.  There are currently 100 orphans that are a part of the program with around 1200 that are still in need.  Their work will include providing food, education, health and clothing.

I asked them what they need and he said it came to $800/monthly.  It’s exactly what they’ll need to make it happen.  Support can come in many forms including really small donations to big ones.  It doesn’t matter and all are appreciated.

I have to give it up to people who are willing to leave behind the comfort levels of America.  Hearing Jack tell his story and hearing his heart (something I don’t think a blog can describe) the children in Ethiopia are going to have an amazing person looking after them.

If you have any questions about the mission or where you can make donations, you can reach his son – Gabriel – at