Archive for Open Thought

Last night I attended my first event sponsored by the Sparta Chamber of Commerce.  It was an Manufacturing Industry Expo held at the US Bank in Sparta.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed the event.  I got to meet a ton of new people and discovered a lot of amazing companies right here in Sparta that I didn’t know existed.  I even got the meet Mayor Jeff Young, and County Executive Denny Robinson.  I originally found out about this because of an email invite I received as a new member to the Chamber.  When Evelyn saw me, she was quick to say hi and start introducing me to others there.  Its sometimes fun being the new guy because everyone wants to introduce you to someone else they know, so I often was in one conversation and being called to join another.  Very entertaining, and pleasurable.  I did get an invite to site to come to the Rotary Club one day, which I plan on doing next chance possible.  I love how friendly and helpful everyone is down here.  I really hope to be able to be a part of that help as things develop and grow with my own business.


group of people in a bank

Speech being make during the Chamber sponsored expo last night


I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed getting to meet the the people from the different businesses.  Here’s a list of some the businesses that I talked with:



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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

Jan 04, 2015
posted in Open Thought with 0 Comments

As many of you, my family traveled out of town to visit family for Christmas.  For us, it was our last trip to Amanda’s family in New Hampshire before we move to TN in the near future.  It also means that it was the last time we needed our EZ Pass, so we can finally turn that thing back in and be done with it.

Generally it takes us close to 9 hours to make the trip.  Going up was pretty smooth for the most part, and it was a great opportunity for some marriage building.  I had already finished reading our latest marriage book, but Amanda is still trying to creep her way thru it, so we used some of the time to read the book out loud and discuss it and lots of other things.  When things are as crazy as they sometimes can be, a long trip on the road can be the means to some much needed time of openness.  It’s hard to find time each day to just sit and talk about things, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I’m sure marriage growing is not the first thing you’d probably think of when planning a family road trip, but it’s the most productive use of the time you can do.  Sure, we also spend time listening to music, eating, napping (not the driver obviously), and playing with the kiddo a bit.  But we also really try to use the time to talk about things we hadn’t really had time to talk about.  And reading a marriage book together brings to light lots of other things worth talking about, and doing this together just makes the bonds of marriage much stronger.  If you want to read this marriage book, then check out an older post of mine called Investing In Your Marriage and you’ll see this books and others that we’ve read and recommend.

When I think about this particular book, it does have tons of good points worth remembering, but I wanted to share a few with you here.  1) Marriage is the best mirror of yourself that you’ll ever find.  You’ll never really see yourself fully till it’s reflected thru your marriage.  Almost any time I’ve complaint about Amanda, I later realize that I’m actually complaining about myself.  It’s not her selfish behavior, but my own.  2) If you truly love your spouse, then you’ll put them first.  Going into a marriage because of what they can do for you is selfish and paving the way for disaster.  But if you go into it thinking about what can you do for them because of how amazingly wonderful they are, then you have denied yourself and others so that you may serve your spouse and love them beyond all others, including yourself.  3) Marriage is a reflection of the type of relationship we’re supposed to have with our creator, God the Father.  I actually never really noticed it as much in the bible till after I read this book, then it suddenly became clear as day and hard to ignore.  One God and one spouse, and no more.  And that’s not even the beginning of it.

Regardless of your faith beliefs, a long road trip can either be a major pain, or a major opportunity to spend time with your spouse and grown your marriage.  I’m a big supporter of saving and growing marriages, so I’d rather see you grow instead of hurt.  There’s plenty more road trips ahead, so plan for them and enjoy them.



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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been asked about our move.  “Why are you moving to Tennessee?”  “Why do you want to move away from Maryland and DC?” “Do you have family in Tennessee?”  “Do you have a job out there?”  “What made you decide to move to Sparta Tennessee specifically?”  Amanda loves talking about one guy that asked us the “why” question while including a follow up statement saying “People don’t just move to Sparta, TN from Washington DC.”

That gentleman is right, people don’t just do anything.  There’s always a reason, a cause, that comes before everything.  To be outright open and honest, the #1 reason we’re moving to Sparta TN is because that’s what God is doing in our lives.  He put us in Maryland years ago despite my protest, but I understood it was God’s work, and not mine.  I then understood that if/when God is ready, He’ll also move us somewhere else.  And that’s exactly what’s been playing out before us.  And we have recognized it all along the way because we’ve seen God do other things in our lives.  People have familiar patterns about themselves, and so if we’re created in the image of God then it would only make sense that God would have familiar patterns as well, and my family is very familiar with them at this point in our lives.

I know this sounds extremely odd for some, but very familiar to others.  I’ll admit that the idea of leaving a mostly paid-for home, and a very well paying and secure job with great benefits sounds very scary and anti-commonsensical.  But if it really is God’s work as I believe, then how much more sense would it really make to go against His will?  It obviously makes more sense to go where God leads and He is leading us to Sparta, TN.  And when we get there, we will start our photography business and trust in God to provide for us while at the same time using us to bless others.

So there’s why we are moving to Sparta, TN from Maryland after 10 years of being there.  We are very excited though for many reasons.  We can’t even begin to tell you how much more we enjoy the culture in Tennessee over Maryland.  Ever since we moved to MD we’ve looked forward to leaving.  We do have some friends that we’ll greatly miss, but the overall atmosphere of the area is anything but welcoming.  I’ve never seen more accidents and rude driving in my life.  And yes I have driven in places like L.A. and NYC, as well as Japan and the Middle East.  So I know what I’m talking about.

Aside from all of that, Maryland really is a neat place full of history, amazing architecture, museums, landscapes, and much more.  But it’s also the worst on taxes and the least friendly to military and small businesses, and has the most annoying and over bearing government entities I’ve ever seen and can’t wait to get away from.

I know that no place is perfect, but I’m anxious to be away from DC.  We love our new home, which God provided for us, and already have a handful of new friends.  We can’t wait to go exploring the areas of Sparta and Crossville and other surrounding areas, getting to know so many more people.  Majority of our personal interactions have been extremely pleasant, and much more respectful than we’re used to in MD.  By the way, when I say that God is providing everything for us, I mean EVERYTHING, right down to the finances needed.  I truly can claim no credit; neither can any man give me credit, for making any great achievements that enabled us to move.  Its all Gods’ doing.  God revealed to us His plan to move us, and then He made it happen.  We’re just along for the ride while at the same time seeking His help to make us better stewards with all He’s provided.


red barn and field

View of the back of our property


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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography