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Monday, March 30, 2009

Smiles Breaking Through Tears

Smiles Breaking Through Tears

Dying is a gradual diminishing and final vanishing over the horizon of life. When we watch a sailboat leaving port and moving toward the horizon, it becomes smaller and smaller until we can no longer see it. But we must trust that someone is standing on a faraway shore seeing that same sailboat become larger and larger until it reaches its new harbor. Death is a painful loss. When we return to our homes after a burial, our hearts are in grief. But when we think about the One standing at the other shore eagerly waiting to welcome our beloved friend into a new home, a smile can break through our tears.

This was the meditation from Henri today. It couldn't have been more appropriate. I had the incredible privilege of being able to attend the Memorial Service for a colleague in Student Venture, Shawn Basone, who at 42, went to be with Jesus after a long battle with cancer. Although, I sort of "missed" Shawn in Student Venture and never was able to meet her--her life has touched me in so many ways.

First, she began her ministry with Student Venture in my home area at a nearby school. As Jared and I were raising support we met people who knew her and now have some shared supporters of our ministries. We heard of her diagnosis with cancer, but she was in a type of remission when we first heard about her--then, about 5 years? ago it came back and had gone to her bones.

At a Fall Retreat with Student Venture we did a video call with Shawn and I cried so hard...her courage reminded me so quickly of my mom and that in her pain and the reality of a terminal disease she actually shone the brightest. She said over and over again in the last months of her life how she just wanted us all to know, "This is real. Jesus is real." I know if any of you had the chance even to witness a little bit of her pure, deep love for Jesus, a "child-like faith" as someone said today, you would be so blessed.

Needless to say, there was not a dry eye at her service...I wasn't sure if I should/would go and then just really believed it would bless me to be there and so I went. I was reminded of so precious reality, is that the tears we weep for a priceless life lost, temporarily, to us, are some of the most profound and precious in the ocean of tears. In our sadness, grief and pain (as Nouwen says above) we are simultaneously met with the reality of our faith...the promise and command that we "do not grieve as those who have no hope". That this loved one is free from all pain, sadness, tears...and face-to-face with Jesus. This is a particularly sweet reminder to me in the beginning of a season (leading to and through May) which is often emotional with the coming of Mother's Day, my birthday and the anniversary of my mother's homegoing.

Shawn's husband, Jeff, was at the service and their story and journey is so priceless it outshines any Hollywood epic, because of the glory of God amidst their love. Shawn had long prayed for her husband and God waited. In her late thirties, after finding the cancer was back and in her bones, she continued to pray for a husband and one who could walk this journey--the rest of her life--with her. God brought Jeff...who met her knowing that she would die eventually from this disease, but fell quickly for her, seeing her love for Jesus, and hearing from the Lord that she was to be his wife. They had 4 and a half years of marriage and I can't help but believe that for all of it's profound beauty, grace and a commitment that only the rare, indeed, would may as well have been 400 years for the weight of their love and what they carried. So impactful, as I drove home, I wept inside for all of the little ways I don't appreciate each day with my own beloved husband...

Most of all, however, Shawn's greatest desire is that through her story, people would come to know Jesus and that those of us who do would waste not one opportunity to share His love and extend His gospel. Jeff shared of seeing her share Jesus in airports, doctor's offices and with the hospice nurses who came to her ceaselessly out of her love for Jesus to the very end. I am so challenged and I want this life--that I know only a little more than you--to impact us all, lighting a fire within us to be about nothing if we are not about sharing Jesus...

Life is too short and eternity is too long to live any other way...dear ones who read this, I pray you are touched, encouraged and yes, challenged...

Keep the faith!

(p.s. here is a link to a guest book of many who share about Shawn's life, if you would like to read more.)

Spaghetti JJ

I don't know if anyone has seen the commercial for a credit card? where the mom is trying to pick a picture of her son for the photo on her credit card (apparently something new you can do!) and all of the "pictures" are getting the others out through a dodge ball type of game. It comes down to a karate picture and "Spaghetti Jimmy". Well, Spaghetti Jimmy wins. He has spaghetti on his head...we can't top that, but still so fun!
I love the progression...(we gave him spaghetti before, but not for a while, so it's pretty "new" and interesting as you can see!...)
"Hmmm...what's this?"
"Ok, seems good enough to try..." (love this pic because it is also of the gorgeous flowers my hubby brought home--after doing some grocery shopping!!)
now JJ is saying, "Yeah, this is a goooooood time!"
Then he is clearly done...and you can see the damage. I hadn't taken his shirt off right away, so it has a little sauce, but the shorts were covered in spaghetti sauce! Needless to say I needed some Totally Toddler spray for those and our little "spaghettied" boy went right to the bath for some extra scrubbing...
I was reminded how I haven't been doing as much tactile (as my twin, the special ed teacher, would say) activities with JJ as I should...I know friends have done pudding painting and I know there's other things...I really want to start some craft/tactile play, low key, but fun-for-him times in our week...It is sooo fun, to see him "love to get messy!"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Downtown Disney for a Speakout Reunion

We loaded up our van with three of the girls from Orlando who had gone to Hungary with us for Speakout last summer. We went to Downtown Disney to meet Jason (second from left) who was in the Orlando area on his spring break and so we had been planning for months to meet up yesterday (Friday).
Here we are outside of Rainforest Cafe. JJ called the giraffe "doddy" (for doggy--what all animals are right now!)
Pictured: Marissa, Jason, Jared, JJ, Me (with my bump!), Courtney and Breanna
While we waited for our table, JJ's favorite thing was to go up and down the steps with Daddy...
...he goes right to steps whenever we are out or at a friend's house because we don't have any in our house so they are a "novelty" still...
Courtney, Breanna and Marissa posing in front of the Toy Store. They had "played" in the store for a while earlier with the Mr. Potato Heads...I love that they are still such kids...
After dinner, close to the Rainforest Cafe, there was fun music for kids and a hoola hoop contest which Breanna and Courtney did...We thought they'd get disqualified because they were too old, but they didn't:)

Here's Breanna...I think she could have gone all night! I could NEVER hoola hoop, could you?
Courtney hoola hooping...she could have gone all night too!...
I thought they'd win, but I guess there was a point in the "finals" when you had to start hopping with the hoola hoop (What??!!) and then they couldn't keep it up!
Mr. Handsome:)
Jason had told us a "friend" would be with him when he met us...I thought one of his "buddies" only to find that it was a girlfriend, Kayla (far left). Jason had been in Jared's discipleship group this summer in Hungary. They definitely connected well and so it was such a blessing to re-connect. Jason is doing well and his relationship with Kayla is really positive so that was great to see. He is possibly considering joining Campus Crusade staff after college, which would be great. Kayla wants to become a doctor and become a medical missionary! She is going on a medical missions' trip this summer. Both Jason and Kayla have been on several missions' trips and have really strong faith which is so great to see!
All in all, it was a great evening. It had been a busy day, so I was really tired when we got home. But, it was so great to spend some time re-connecting with these kids and to just encourage them in their ministries at their high schools (all public) and challenge them to take steps of faith there and to hear what God has been doing!
Another reminder of why we love what we do and are so blessed to do what we love!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Jay Harold

Ok, so Jared and I and my Dad (others too) have felt from very early that JJ reminds us of my Dad (Jay Harold). My Dad had the roundest face and so does JJ! And then there's just his mannerisms at times. My Dad is so laid back but we would always say he has his "cantancerous" side and JJ will remind me so much of my Dad with his little rebelious moments--not temper tantrums but just stubbornness, etc. But, the best has been when recently his high chair lost a couple of key parts and reclines (it can, but I assume that's for little babies who can't sit on their own and would flop forward!) and so he "lounge eats". Puts his hands up behind his head, watches the video that's often on and "waits for food." Oh my goodness, so my Dad! He would come in (usually from VERY LONG HARD-WORKING DAYS) and "plunk" down, wait to be fed:) and later "plunk" down to relax and watch some Fox news or some religious program or Walker Texas Ranger!! (is "plunk" a word--it's how my mom and we would describe my dad collapsing into a chair with all his weight and "taking a load off")

So, we love this, because I miss my Dad terribly. I've always been Daddy's girl and we've had a "special bond" since very early. I want to very much say that my Dad is a wonderful, loving, EXTREMELY HARD-WORKING, Godly man whose prayers I am IMMENSELY blessed to have benefited from my whole life! And the fact that I can "jab" at him a little in this post and joke with him about how JJ is like him, is such a testament to him. There are still times when we reminisce about my mom and there will be a sadness and I will start poking fun at him like my Mom did (using words like "plunk"ing) and we will laugh. I think I respect this aspect of my Dad (and our family) much more as I get older because it is an example of the humor it takes to wade the tough times (we've had many) and how my Dad shows me not to take myself too seriously...

Love, love, love you Dad! Hope you read this post! And we love our little "Jay Harold" and pray he has your praying heart and so much of you!
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Shuttle Launch

Here are some pictures from another shuttle launch. We almost missed it completely...we did miss the progression (so sad!) but thankfully caught this much! I am sorry that the quality is so low...our camera does not do night and distance well. We have heard that they will not be launching from Cape Canaveral any more...I SINCERELY hope that's not true because it is such a special thing to witness!
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Our beautiful boy...

This picture was after the haircut featured below...I love, love, love it and think we must frame it! I say, "oh, he'll be a heart breaker even without trying"...I hope and pray we will guide him well when the time comes;)

p.s. For the collages especially and certain pictures when I blog right from Picasa you can click on them (maybe double click?) and you can zoom into see the pictures! I know this is good especially for the collages. (thanks Sara for this scoop!)
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The haircut...

Well, you can pretty much tell how this went...First of all, I needed Daddy to cuddle, hold and affirm while "mean mommy" came at him with the scissors! He is quite tearful (top left) and I was just spraying water on his hair!! This escalated (gee, Sara, who does that remind you of and I don't mean Owen:) into major tears (3rd one in from the left) and then through Daddy cuddles, comfort video and animal crackers he is calming down...looking quite handsome (bottom left)...still loving mommy!!! Yeah, I WAS worried! and the perfect little school boy in the bottom right!

I cried to think of how much older he would look! I saved the golden locks (with some wave!) for the second time in his life! And still cry inside a little at how much older he looks...reminding myself he was the same age (plus 20 minutes) at the end of the cut as he was at the beginning!

I so hope we have a girl next (yes, I will LOVE another boy if that's what God gives us:) so that I can let her hair grow long and beautiful! Yes, I know she will probably be bald:)
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I've popped!

Here's my first belly shot! Stay tuned for more! After a few tough days where I thought I would "never" feel better, I definitely have! PTL!!! I can fit into my loose fitting regular clothes and stretchy shirts, but I do have maternity shorts on here even though they're a little big! This is the first maternity thing I've worn!!
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God of This City

I don't know how many of you have heard this's titled "God of This City", by bluetree, but in this video it is a Chris Tomlin recording.

Last week, while my sister was still here, I was driving out to see her and I was starting to feel come out of the "nausea fog" and this song was on the radio. I'm sure I'd heard it before, but it just grabbed my heart! I was so inspired, not only by what we do, but by what so many we love, pray for, who support us--what we all do in believing in the "God of This City"--whether that's a small town (like Souderton:), or NYC, or Orlando, Budapest, etc. "Greater Things are yet to come, greater things are still to be done IN THIS CITY!!!"

I linked it above and am linking this youtube video AGAIN for "God of This City" in the hopes that you will take 5 minutes or half of that to listen and be inspired by this God--no one like Our God that we are so blessed to know!


Layna Kay...a little blonde diva!
"hey, what's up...I think people are more interesting than books, but I still want to hold it so my brother doesn't have it all to himself!" (think Judah looks like JJ here??)
It is a good thing Judah is subdued because his sister is not...(we love her for it though!)
Judah saying, "ha ha, she's at it's okay sis, cuz I'm lllaaaiiiddd back baby:)"

Yet more pics...

Rare cuddles with Mama Sara...JJ has been, for a long time, NOT going to anyone else--even my twin! if Jared or I are in sight! Precious...slightly bribed as he was going for the licorice in Sara's mouth, but a kiss for sure!
Here he is with the swimmiews and floaties...
He's finally getting tired:)

More pics from my twin's visit

Look whose a fish! JJ, as I said in the last post, just grew to love the water more and more. This day we were in the jacuzzi and he just kept leaping out of my arms and going towards the "bub-boos". Of course--adorable... We finally put some floaties, etc. on him, instead of just catching him and he kept rolling and his head would go under, but he didn't get upset!
What do you think? Is he a Florida "fun in the sun" boy or what??
He was briefly in together with cousin Owen and Sara's mother-in-law, Helen, "Mema"--a name JJ picked up quickly when he was with her!
Judah Jay--what a hunk!! (this is Sara's boy twin)

Monday, March 9, 2009

The thought occurred to me...

...that I might lose you if I don't start posting again soon! I love my blog readers! Please come back! I am doing better and will start posting regularly again!
JJ in the water with Daddy...he became more and more daring and "quite the fish" the more days he was in the pool while my twin and family were in FL!
Here's my nephew Owen (Sara's son) with his Daddy--he did really well too!Sara and her baby girl, sweet!
JJ really having fun being thrown into the air!
Sweet Daddy and Uncle with JJ and Judah Jay (the other JJ!)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Prayers for Eli

So sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I am beginning to feel better (bit by bit) and am just going to "feel better" and get back into everything--there's no other option!

I wanted to ask all of my blog friends to pray for our dear friend Eli who is in Hungary. He's been in the hospital for a week with a "serious and rare" condition that is complicated to explain, but my friend Julie has all of the details on her blog.

Would you please take a minute to pray for him--he's recovering from surgery and now will be focusing on reducing a blood clot that he has near his brain.

Thanks so much for praying...I promise to share about my twin's visit and post lots of pictures soon!

Love to you all!