My husband and I have visited so many churches around the Tampa area. We've had the hardest time finding one that was truly a fit. Then, one Sunday we flipped over to the CTN TV Station (Channel 3 on Brighthouse at 10 a.m.) and saw FBC at the Mall in Lakeland. Whoa! The pastor there, "Pastor Jay," was so obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit that we had to go check out the church in person.
From Brandon, it's only about a 30-minute drive to FBC at the Mall. That's not too bad since it often takes that long to get to Tampa! Oh, and it's so worth it. If you're serious about wanting to grow your Christian walk, this is a great place to do it. The preaching is really inspired. The music really moves you. And, they have so many cool programs for you and your kids (regardless of your age), you won't believe it!
So, why is it called First Baptist Church at the Mall? Well, initially I thought it was because the church was attached to or inside a mall. No, actually it moved into a mall! As you might imagine it's quite large. However, they've done a really good job of making it seem not too overwhelming. A fun albeit self-effacing move was to put in street signs in the hallways. As you walk down the halls, peek into the classrooms. You'll be blown away, particularly by the children's classrooms and the "children's church" which is very well decorated by a pro of a mural artist.
The church is very friendly and warm. If you just attend the church service, you won't meet too many people; however, attending a Bible Study class (CONNECT group) is an easy way to get plugged in.
The best way to check out the church is to visit them online at www.churchatthemall.com. They have just launched a new web site. You can find service times and all the info you need before you go there.
If you live anywhere in the Tampa Bay/Lakeland/Orlando area and haven't found the right church home or simply just want to find out more about Jesus, I strongly encourage you to check out First Baptist Church at the Mall. If you can't make it to church, at least tune in to Christian Television Network (CTN) at 10 a.m. on Sundays to hear Pastor Jay.
Even if you're visiting the area or are a snowbird, you have to check this church out.
We've been to Bell Shoals Baptist Church many times to visit, and we really like it. They are a vibrant, growing church with a Bible-based elementary and secondary school attached.
Bell Shoals is a large church, and with large churches come plenty of programs and things to do. They have lots of mission programs, children's activities, adult classes, singles groups, divorce recovery meetings, christian counseling and too many more things to list. If you're interested in learning more, I'd suggest visiting their web site at http://www.bellshoalsbapt.org to see the full list of programs, etc.
Dr. Forrest Pollock is the Senior Pastor. He is consistently very good and Biblically sound in his teaching. This is a conservative, Southern Baptist Church. Dr. Pollock uses many illustrations in his sermons. I would describe his preaching style as "top down." In other words, he creates a sermon series/topic and then substantiates his sermon with Bible verses, illustrations, anecdotes, etc.
Although this church is certainly a very mainstream Southern Baptist Church, they have begun to incorporate contemporary music, drama productions and other similar elements into the worship service. (In other words, you probably won't be bored!)
Parking can be a little tough, so get there early. I believe that they are planning to move to a larger church soon. It's not a major issue, but if you're bringing an elderly person, you may want to drop them off at the door.
The slogan for the church is "Fellowship of Encouragement" and I think that's a good summary of the church. This is not a church where you'd ever be "brow-beaten," although I would say that Dr. Pollock is very direct about stating what is "right" and what is "wrong" according to the Bible (yet in a softer, loving way).
They do not practice communion at every service (typically once a month or so). They do believe in baptism by immersion into water when you are "saved" (i.e. decide to become a follower of Jesus). They do not practice infant baptism. They believe that you can only be saved by faith in Jesus Christ and the grace of God...not by any good deeds that you do.
If you're looking for a good, solid church in Brandon, I would strongly suggest giving Bell Shoals a try!
First Baptist Church of Brandon is a large church; however, it is friendly (without being overly pushy).
We visited there several times (thus I am not an expert). The worship music is a mix of contemporary and traditional. They do have a choir (robes and all). The pastor is good and Bible-based. He tends to be a bit old-school in his style (a little fiery, enthusiastic and loud) which some people like and others don't. Overall, I would say that FBC Brandon is more traditional than other churches in the area.
Of course, when you go, you'll learn about Jesus and why/how you can develop a relationship with God through him. Baptists belive in being baptized by immersion when you are "saved" (this means to decide to become a follwer of Jesus). They do practice communion but typically only once a month or so. Each Baptist church is autonomous. They believe that you are "saved" by faith in Jesus Christ and not by any works that you do.
FBC Brandon has tons of programs and activities. Their seniors group is very active from what I understand. They also have a very vibrant young singles program with tons of activities. Families: never fear. There's tons there for children and adults alike.
The church building is a bit older and parking can be scarce on big holidays but it's not too crowded.
If you're looking for a church to try, I would definitely add FBC Brandon to your list!
My husband and I went to Horizon Christian Church for a year and a half and I still keep in touch with one of the elders there. If you're looking for a warm, friendly church that truly feels like a family, you can't go wrong with Horizon. Everyone there is truly caring and compassionate. The pastor is also very involved and tries hard to get to know all of the members. The total church attendance every weekend is somewhere between 500 and 600 from what I understand (could be slightly larger). The facilities are up-to-date and clean. The children's program and youth program are strong and growing.
This is a non-denominational Christian church. The worship service is casual and you can certainly wear jeans if you'd like. The music is contemporary. They partake of communion every week. If you choose to become a Christian, they believe that you should be baptized by immersion as well. This is a Bible-based church and a good place to learn about Jesus and further your relationship with God. They are very open, accepting and supportive and specialize in helping people who are hurting or have been through tough times.
Frankly, Indulgence Day Spa isn't much to look at from the outside. It's buried in an office complex of cookie-cutter colonial-style buildings. The outside is pretty plain. But they owner(s) have done a great job making the inside look and feel like a Tuscan retreat.
Indulgence Day Spa is a small spa but very charming and heartwarming. Get ready to be pampered and spoiled. In the waiting lounge, you can enjoy refreshments and a beverage, along with an ample assortment of magazines. The decor will whisk you away to Tuscany (or at least Napa Valley!)
They offer a full range of spa services; however, I enjoyed a massage. I've had my share of massages and they did a great job. Very relaxing! And, they'll add scented essential oils if you're interested. It's just an incredibly relaxing and soothing experience.
The best part? The price. You'll get the spa experience without the sticker shock. For example, a one-hour relaxation massage is $60. A buck a minute? Not bad (compared to $100+ per hour for most local spas).
Plus, they offer a lot of other services, too, like facials, foot massages, wraps and much more. For a full list of services, go to their web site at www.indulgeforwellness.com.
PROS: Great price, great service, great decor - Relaxing!!
CONS: Boring exterior, not as "glamorous" as some spas
Anne Marie has been doing our taxes now for several years. I have a business, so our taxes are generally complicated. She is a complete whiz at taxes! She's very thorough and competent (and ethical!).
When you select Anne Marie, she'll send you a tax preparation packet to help you organize and sort all of the tax slips and receipts you may have. Then, you simply give her your stuff and she'll begin crunching the numbers for you. The end result is a highly professional computerized summary. She also is a whiz at Quicken and Quickbooks. She also does e-filing through the IRS if that's your thing!
She is not simply a tax preparer. I also know that she handles the full books for several businesses as well.
As with most tax preparation services, the cost will vary based on how complicated your taxes might be. I would imagine that her charges range from about $100 to over $1000, depending on the complexity.
I really couldn't be more pleased.
PROS: Very compentent and fast; thorough
CONS: None that I can think of
I've had to go to Care Plus Walk-in Clinic several times and have been very pleased with them.
Around back-to-school time, they're often fairly crowded (up to 2 hour wait); however, the rest of the time, they're generally only a half-hour or hour wait. If you have an emergency, go to the ER or dial 911!
There are two doctors on staff there full-time and they have other doctors come in to cover the off-hours. If you do like the clinic, you have the option to make them your primary care provider; however, you will not be able to have "walk-in" convenience without paying the "urgent care" co-pay just like everyone else.
I've found that the nursing staff is nice and friendly. I believe that this is a bi-lingual facility (English/Spanish).
The waiting room is nice. They have a TV and quite a few magazines to choose from. Again, during busy times, it can fill up quickly; however, they do have a second waiting room in case the first gets full. You cannot bring food or drinks into the facility. They have an X-ray and lab on site. They can handle lots of routine tests such as strep throat cultures, etc.
Where is it?
It's on Bloomingdale Avenue between Parsons (John Moore) and Kingsway (Bryan).
As of the writing of this review, I know that they take Cigna and United Health. Please call to confirm that they take your specific insurance before going, if you can.
Check there web site for hours of operation. At the writing of this review, they're open 7 days a week. Get there early if you can, when it's less crowded (especially on the weekend).
PROS: Dependably good service (from my experience)
CONS: Should be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Where can you find three stories of groovy memorabilia, the most spectacular desserts you've ever put in your mouth and sizzling hot entrees that are the size of your head? Treat yourself to the Bubble Room in Captiva Island. Long hailed as a spectacular restaurant among locals and nearby Floridians, the Bubble Room is a MUST-SEE experience if you visit the Captiva Island, Sanibel Island or Fort Myers area.
You'll be seated by your own personal "Bubble Scout," aptly dressed in a boy/girl scout uniform with some odd contraption on their head. Your table is an oversized curio box, filled with vintage postcards, antique toy cars and fun goodies from the 40s, 50s and 60s that you've long since forgotten.
Wish Christmas were all year round? Well, at the Bubble Room it is. With a whole floor dedicated to St. Nick and Christmas' namesake, Jesus Christ, you'll get your fill of twinkly lights and santas galore!
The menu is something to behold! You simply can't go wrong here. I like the Tiny Bubble. You'll get fresh bread (the best you'll ever have, I guarantee!), a salad (go for the Greek salad), an appetizer (yum!!!) and a whopping enormous dessert. Try the orange cake. Apparently it's an award winner and well-deserving! The red velvet is a bit much for me but red velvet lovers will really dig it.
Want to take the Bubble Room home with you? Don't we all! Outside, you can shop at the Bubble Room store, full of Florida-style novelties (high-end, of course) to fill your home and heart.
A couple of notes: Prepare for a crowd (try to eat at off-times or off-season) and get ready to search high and low for a parking place.
This is a true "don't miss." I've traveled all over the U.S., the Carribbean and Europe and I can say that I've never experienced a restaurant quite like this. It's definitely in my top 10.
I hope you love it as much as I do.
PROS: Awesome ambiance. Awesome food.
I'm sad to report that the restaurant that once was spectacular (as Greek Italia) has frankly deteriorated into a poor excuse for Italian food. I had previously rated Greek Italia as 5 stars; however, under new ownership (and a name change) the once delectable restaurant is now not worth visiting. My husband and I ate there tonight. I had the ravioli stuffed with what should have been veal and spinach (so why was there carrot in there?). My husband had a pasta dish with sausage and spinach. Terrible. The sauce for my dish should have been (as listed on the menu) a creamy marinara; however, it tasted almost exactly like brown gravy! My husband's dish tasted of clams or fish although no seafood should have been in there and the sausage tasted like "sawdust."
The salad was good as was the complementary foccacia. The entrees were truly inferior.
Hands down, this is the worst Italian restaurant I've ever been to. My suggestion is for the owners (who I believe are Italian, which is shocking) to go back to the former Greek Italia's menu and recipes. Hire back the chef!
The food is really quite good here; although, the smoke from all the hibachi grills can be quite overwhelming (watch out, asthmatics!) We tried the chicken dish and a shrimp appetizer. Both were quite good. Unfortunately it was a bit pricey--pricier than other similar restaurants in Tampa.
PROS: Good food.
CONS: High price. Too smoky.