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***Note to anyone who comes by here to listen to the music ...You will now have to scroll down to the player on the right side and press play yourself. This is to accommodate those who only come to read and are distracted by the music;}

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Creative Anita

My friend Anita's JJ just had his 1st birthday and she made these cupcakes and she said she has a cupcake tower she put them on for his birthday cake. I think (given the following post) this would be perfect to do for JJ's 2nd birthday cake. She really did a good job with the details! I'm not sure I could do as well, but she said that she'd help me:)
(sorry the picture is blurry...we could use a better camera, but it hasn't happened yet)
I really like the car one too...what a cute idea!!
He's getting ready for 4 months from now!!

JJ's favorite thing to watch these days... BASKETBALL!!
He's always been interested in balls..."ball" was pretty much his first word after mama and dada. And recently, as we've had some of the NBA playoffs on (with the Sixers playing the Magic!) he's really gotten "hooked" on watching it on TV. We still mostly watch Baby Einstein videos, Veggie Tales, but now, he most passionately and incessantly goes to the the TV and asks for "a bal bal" for "basketball". Sometimes we can't find it on (especially during the day unless we watch Sports Center--which Daddy says isn't a good habit for him:) and I have to tell him there's no "bal bal" on the TV, but he usually doesn't take no for an answer. We wish we didn't have to worry about the we always stay with him. But, we've decided that we need to get a basketball dvd that shows clips of games or something (like the Sixers, so it's something we'd want anyone) so that we can put it on if he asks for it. I've also thought we need to get Air Bud from the library as there's a "dodgy" and "bal bal" on there.

Last night, this was a good way to occupy him so he'd sit through his breathing treatment. Other than a week in high allergy time this spring, he's not needed them (PTL!) and we've done one a day the last 2 days as he's had runny nose/congestion I think due to teeth and allergies.
"Yeah, I'm 1 and 1/2 and I love basketball! Gotta problem with that?"

I kept trying to get a picture when he was pointing excitedly at the screen. He does this whenever he finds the ball being passed, shot or dribbled on the court, exclaiming excitedly "A bal bal"! We think it's so fun because we both love sports and they've been a part of both Jared's and my life, but we wouldn't "force" them onto our kids. It's just neat how God's given us a child that shares this interest. And we also go back to a conversation we had with our friends Tim and Jamie while I was pregnant with JJ, but we didn't know if we were going to have a boy or a girl. We said we would name a boy, "JJ" and Tim said, "oh, that's a name for a 'baller'...JJ Alleman." And our neighbors across the street, their daughter, Rachel, is a really great basketball player and she babysits JJ alot. She has a hoop in her driveway and JJ likes to watch her or us shoot the ball in the hoop, and he always wants to take the ball when Rachel is shooting it. Her Dad likes to call JJ, "JJ Reddick".
(who now plays for the Orlando Magic...but that doesn't mean we'll root for them over the Sixers!)

p.s. This sports' interest, also, is a special reminder from the Lord, that he will take care of JJ and wouldn't have given him a love for sports and not enable him to pursue this love because of the asthma that he currently struggles with.

Clothes from MiMi (aka Mum Mum)

Jared's mom, who is MiMi to JJ sent some clothes along with our Easter package. These are him in two of the outfits. You all can admire him in them, but they are really posted for her;)

Notice the Elmo stool that I got for him to go on to wash his hands or brush his teeth. Unfortunately, it still doesn't bring him high enough for either, but, I'm sure it will before too long.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Britain's Got Talent-Susan Boyle--My Reflections

There are different versions of Susan's perfomance on youtube, one has over 47 million views and another (this one) over 9 million views. Yes, I admit, I've watched it several times. I have found it so inspiring...If you haven't seen it, you really should watch it here. Why do I think so, well, when I was thinking if I would write a post about it, I thought about why it is so inspiring, here goes:

Here is this 47 year-old woman who has probably lived most of her life in the little "collection of villages" where she is from in Scotland (? I think). She sings the song from Les Miserables "I Dream a Dream" and it is like her story. She's been singing since she was 12 and always had a dream to sing in front of a large audience and didn't have the opportunity until this show. It's clear that no one really believes in her or is expecting great things...but she knows she has the gift and doesn't doubt her ability to fill the whole place with her incredible voice.

The judges and audience are stunned, then amazed, and the one, Pierce, seems on the verge of tears. Simon Cowell has this sweet, adoring face that I have never seen on him (not that I watch American Idol, maybe others have seen him with this face). The judge, Amanda, says it so well with really humbly saying that they were all "against her" in the beginning and really being "cynical" and what a huge wake-up call that is--because they all judged her on her homely appearance and quirky, country behavior--assuming nothing great, brilliant or awe-inspiring could come from one such as her.

Well, I think you get some of the analogy. I think it is so inspiring because this is such a picture of "us" as we seek to sing for all the World the song that the Savior has placed in our hearts. Often, if we really take the risk, we find ourselves surrounded by a sea of doubting faces ready to categorize us as another religious nut. And how do we respond? Often, I would say, that I retreat and what I "sing" is dim and weak and my lack of confidence in the power of the gift I've been given is what people see. Susan Boyle with her amazing, God-given gift, puts me and every other believer to shame who doesn't display the gift/song of Christ with the same confidence. After all, what is more beautiful and awe-inspiring than the love of Christ in all of it's dimensions flowing from us in amazing ways?

I think this message came to me/us at a good time. We've had a pretty discouraging week (in some key areas) in what we do (high school ministry) many ways I think we feel like that awkward, homely 47 year-old woman who walks out on this stage, fully aware of how we must look to others. (I don't think Susan is "aware" or really cares how she might be viewed from the outside.) We are called to be like her and sing this song we know we've been given with all of the confidence of the power of the eternal weight of Glory in it.

Hope you watch it and can be inspired in similar ways.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zoo trip with friends

The following few posts are of our trip to the zoo last week. We went with our friends Anita (mom) and her kids Brandon, Abby and JJ.

It was really fun, because the last time Jared and I went with JJ was in the fall (when we bought the season pass) and he was so much younger then, but it was still a good time. Before we went that morning, I put in Baby Einstein's "World Animals" video, which has alot of the zoo animals. He was really interested in it, which made me all the more excited to take him.

So far, as for animals he knows how to say "beard" (bird), "at" (cat), "dodgy" (dog) and says "baba" for sheep...because that's what the sheep says. So, he put each of the animals in one of those categories...he did really well recognizing the tigers, cougars, etc. as an "at". I would say a BIG "at." A lot of the animals were "dodgies", if they were bigger, and he didn't have a word for the elephants...all in all, it's just so fun to see him learn new things and be so interested in the world around him.

p.s. don't forget to click on any of the collages where you want to blow up the pictures.

Future Fireman and Elephants...

What do you think? Isn't he a cute little fireman??!! It's really fun that at the entrance of this zoo they have this Rescue Helicopter (which I think a fireman would be on?? or a paramedic). All of the kids had a little vehicle to be in.

In the middle, we are in front of the elephants, Maude and Mary. They are really magnificent creatures...JJ liked them, but they were definitely unlike any animal he'd seen!
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Whose the best elephant??

I definitely can't decide. All of these munchkins are really cute. In case you can't tell, JJ is the one on the far right:) The other three are Abby, (lil) JJ and Brandon (clockwise from bottom left). They were all quite cute elephants. We came here after we saw the real elephants.
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I couldn't believe it! The Central Florida Zoo has a "Zebu" pronounced "Say-boo" at least by the Veggie Tales who sing "the song of the Zebu" in "Silly Songs with Larry". Larry says that it's the "cousin of the bull", having grown up on a dairy farm with cows and seeing every kind of cow at our local 4-H show...I couldn't imagine what a zebu was like. It does look like a cow but with skinnier legs and a bigger torso. JJ LOVES this song on Veggie Tales so I was singing it outside of the Zebu's pen and JJ loved it.
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"A Ba Ba"

The animals, by far, that JJ was the most interested in were the sheep! They were in the "petting" zoo part and he kept going back to the fence and watching them and saying "baba" because that's what the sheep say! I had to tell him it was time to "move on" or I think he would have stayed there a long time!
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Splash Pad...

...what could make the Zoo better?? JJ was not sure about this amazing "ending" to the Zoo day...but Brandon and Abby (in background of picture on the right) LOVED it and ran through the water like fish!! Hopefully next time, JJ will run through it like they did!
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Snacks and after the Splash pad...

Brandon and Abby LOVE to eat from JJ's stroller tray. Whenever we stroll him over to play with his friends they run right to his trays and "feast"! Anita (their mom) says "let's put their vegetables in there!"

Top right are JJ and Abby after the Splash Pad.
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The end of the Zoo...

As you can see...their day with the animals COMPLETELY knocked them out!! This was about 5 minutes into our trip home!
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Jared on the local news

Hi friends,

I thought I'd let you all know that my husband has become famous...Well, not quite, but to me he always has been! Seriously, though, he did make the local news (there is a brief span where you can see JJ sitting next to him) as a part of a piece on the All-American Cafe. This is the cafe where we've had our Bible Studies since we began them with students at Boone HS. I moved the girls' one to Tuesday evenings, but Jared meets faithfully here with his guys on Thursday morning. This clip is of a special thing that the owner Tommy is doing. He is having a "pay what you can" Friday morning breakfast every week! Since we started to meet at the Cafe, Tommy has expressed how these economic times are weighing on him and recently he shared problems in his marriage with Jared. We continue to pray that Tommy draws closer to the Lord and places his faith in Jesus. He is just one of millions who are seeing their need for God and for community in these tougher economic times.

Use this link to view the video (sorry there's a couple of steps)

Then go down to the video section and search:

1) Through the drop-down menu on the right of the "search videos" window choose "last 7 days".

2) Then type "Cafe lets Customers Choose Price" into the "search videos" window and then click the "Search" button to the right.

3) The story is the first one of the videos that comes on, so double click on it.

Hope you can watch it...

Jared with a view at his table where you can see JJ and then his interview is at about the 1:45 mark--if you need to view it quickly, but the whole thing is good as you get to meet someone (Tommy) whose been a part of our ministry since the beginning. (Jared had his first outreach to the football team at this same place!) Hope you enjoy!

Healing Contradictions

Healing Contradictions

The many contradictions in our lives - such as being home while feeling homeless, being busy while feeling bored, being popular while feeling lonely, being believers while feeling many doubts - can frustrate, irritate, and even discourage us. They make us feel that we are never fully present. Every door that opens for us makes us see how many more doors are closed.

But there is another response. These same contradictions can bring us into touch with a deeper longing, for the fulfillment of a desire that lives beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy. Contradictions, thus understood, create the friction that can help us move toward God.

This was quite comforting as I read it in my e-mail this evening...trusting that it can touch you somewhere too...praying that you sense His presence in special ways and His peace which the world cannot understand.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Messages of Hope

Recently, I was going through some old letters and found some from Bart Campolo. He is Tony Campolo's son and I spent the summer of '94 (15 years ago!!) as a part of his inner-city ministry called Kingdomworks. We kept in touch for a while and is someone that I will always consider a inspiration. After Kingdomworks, his ministry was called Mission Year and when I recently looked him/his ministry up, I found he is now a part of a ministry called Walnut Hills Fellowship in a tough neighborhood in Philadephia. There are people who would question both Bart and his father as to their orthodox theology or evangelical bend...regardless of these things I know my life was forever changed because of that summer I spent in a really tough section of Kensington, Philadelphia and whatever else may be said of Bart, I have always respected that he has never left the most difficult urban situations--gangs, drugs...the ugliest of the urban wars-- and that courage and heart is definitely to be respected.

This story was in his last e-letter that I just received today...I was definitely in tears and reminded of the limitless potential of God's heart given to us in Christ...Think of that the next time you read or watch the news...and may God fill all of our hearts with steps to reach out with His love that will transform.

Dear Friends,

I often tell people not to ask me for statistics, because in this work all the statistics are bad. Ask me for stories instead, I say, because even in the worst of times I always have a good story. Whether it is one of my own or comes from someone else doesn’t really matter to me anymore. What matters is that it rings true. Like this one I picked up on a visit to Philadelphia last week, which was first told to psychologist Jack Kornfield by the director of a nearby rehabilitation program for violent juvenile offenders:

One fourteen-year-old boy in the program had shot and killed an innocent teenager to prove himself to his gang. At the trial, the victim’s mother sat impassively silent until the end, when the youth was convicted of the killing. After the verdict was announced, she stood up slowly and stared directly at him and stated, “I’m going to kill you.” Then the youth was taken away to serve several years in the juvenile facility.
After the first half year the mother of the slain child went to visit his killer. He had been living on the streets before the killing, and she was the only visitor (in jail) he’d had. For a time they talked, and when she left she gave him some money for cigarettes. Then she started step-by-step to visit him more regularly, bringing food and small gifts. Near the end of his three-year sentence, she asked him what he would be doing when he got out. He was confused and very uncertain, so she offered to help set him up with a job at a friend’s company. Then she inquired about where he would live, and since he had no family to return to, she offered him temporary use of the spare room in her home. For eight months he lived there, ate her food, and worked at the job. Then one evening she called him into the living room to talk. She sat down opposite him and waited. Then she started, “Do you remember in the courtroom when I said I was going to kill you?” “I sure do,” he replied. “I’ll never forget that moment.” “Well, I did it,” she went on. “I did not want the boy who could kill my son for no reason to remain alive on this earth. I wanted him to die. That’s why I started to visit you and bring you things. That’s why I got you the job and let you live here in my house. That’s how I set about changing you. And that old boy, he’s gone. So now I want to ask you, since my son is gone, and that killer is gone, if you’ll stay here. I’ve got room and I’d like to adopt you if you let me.” And she became the mother he never had.

Honestly, for a man like me, in a place like this, a story like that is more precious than any amount of money or any amount of praise.

Lately I’ve been asked how long I can relate to such badly broken people in this particular way, and the truth is that I don’t know. However long it is, I think, will be determined less by the number of healed lives I see, and more by my ability to sense the depth of the compassion and forgiveness that is trying to heal them. Today, with that good story in my heart, it feels like I may last a while longer than it felt like before I heard it. I hope the same is true of you.

Your friend,


Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt #2

If you go back two posts, you will find that at JJ's FIRST Easter Egg Hunt, I had THOUGHT I got many wonderful pictures of him picking up the eggs, BUT my camera didn't have it's memory card and so THERE WERE NO PICTURES:( Well as my friend Anita (bottom two pictures) and I were planning our Easter day/dinner, I asked if we could do an Easter Egg Hunt. (My main motivation was that I didn't get pictures at the first one, so I wanted a "re-do"! Now, is that a blogging mom or what!!??) So I filled about 40 eggs the night before Easter (yes it was a late night!) and Anita and I hid them in her back yard. Her kids, JJ and and Noah and Zoe (other neighbors kids--no pictures of them:() all hunted for the eggs!

As you can see, JJ did very well picking up the eggs and putting them in the bag with a full completion by clapping for a "job well done" with each egg!! (he does this after anything we've encouraged him to do--including finishing the food on his tray by stuffing several pieces in his mouth!! it's adorable and we like to think we are raising a very affirmed and AFFIRMING child!) But, you can also see that he got side-tracked easily (note: sandbox top right)

Also of note: in the bottom pictures, Anita was working hard to get her little JJ to pick up an egg, when his big sister (on a mission!) swooped right in and snatched it! Lil JJ wasn't too upset.

All of the kids really seemed to enjoy the Easter Egg Hunt, so that made stuffing all of the eggs WORTH IT!
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Easter dinner...playing with friends

As you can see, our son had quite a fine time playing with his best (human--see 'JJ's best buddy' post) buddies on Easter day. We had a wonderful dinner with the Farr's and John's and Jose (also neighbors). We decided to try to get some pictures of the kids dressed up for Easter...and that had to happen around the train table they were all loving at that moment:) We also got a decent family picture.

Don't you love JJ's outfit? It's the one he wore for his recent Easter pictures at the Picture People. I will have to find a way to post them!
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Easter Egg Hunt #1

The day before Easter, there was an Easter Egg Hunt at Campus Crusade Headquarters down here in Orlando. It was a really fun morning that we enjoyed with the Luke, Erin, Ella(far left--top left pic) and Kate(second from left) and Carrie, Ben and Shelby (next to JJ) who are two families from our church. This was JJ's FIRST Easter Egg Hunt and I was excited to see how he would do! As you can see the field behind was just full of eggs. However, there were many, many little kids and so we kind of had to go fast to get enough--but JJ didn't move so fast...we still got some great eggs--9 total!

I was so incredibly bummed, because I took A TON of pictures from this great morning. Then, when I came home, I found that my memory card was in the card reader of my computer! (incidentally, my digital display WOULD have told me this, BUT that has been broken for months do to a cute lil blonde spilling a drink on it:) and we haven't quite been able to get a new one yet!)
I am very thankful that my friend Carrie could share these photos though! Thanks friend!!
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Easter Baskets!!

I had a lot of fun putting together an Easter Basket for JJ and Jared (bottom right--that's his!) I think I really enjoyed making this holiday special (as a family...knowing Jesus makes it perfectly special) because I was so sick over Valentine's Day and didn't really get to love on either of my men in any special way:( I realize how I love to make these times of the year special, because my mom did for me. It's really neat too, because my mother-in-law has that same heart too (JJ got his first Easter gifts from her and PopPopA), so it's fun to be able to love special people in this way:)

p.s. Mom, I forgot to thank you for the Easter towel! I LOVE IT! My friend Julie was saying how a friend had sent her some special Easter kitchen things and I was thinking how it would be fun to have something like that too! And now I do! Thanks!!!
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

In this sacred season of rebirth, a beautiful reminder of the Great Gift of God’s Love...

God loved us, so he sent his Son, Christ Jesus, the atoning One,
to show us by the path he trod the one and only way to God.
He came as man, though Son of God, and bowed himself beneath the rod.
He died in holy innocence, a broken law to recompense.
Oh, love effulgent, love divine! What debt of gratitude is mine,
that in his offering I have part and hold a place within his heart.
Happy Easter and the fullness of joy that comes from a resurrected Lord!

Friday, April 10, 2009

A "DaDa"!!!

This is the scene whenever "a DaDa" mows the lawn. JJ just CAN'T GET ENOUGH of watching Daddy mow! The top left center picture is actually the screen cap of a video (that I haven't had the patience to get on the blog yet) where JJ ran across the back porch as "a Dada" mowed across the back of the house. And the ones of JJ on the side of the porch were him watching "a Dada" as he came in sight with the mower then eagerly waiting after he mowed out of sight and then waving and flapping all limbs (somethings he's done since very little when he's excited) when "a Dada" came back with the mower!! I know he loves watching the mower but he REALLY loves his "a Dada!!!" pushing the mower:)
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Big boy...but still little

We've been putting on some one piece outfits that are JJ's size and they are so cute on him. I like them because he still seems like "a bit of a baby" in them...however I can't get over how big he looks in the one on the right!
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The high life...

I wanted to give you a closer up of my cutie boy with his wet dirty feet, having the "time of his life" playing outside in a wet yard with his best buddy Riley!
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JJ's best buddy...

is a girl!! A "chocolate lab" named Riley. We both love her. I love her because whenever I take JJ to visit Shannon and her new baby Jake (bottom left center), I don't have to do anything with JJ, just let him run around with Riley. He lets her give him all sorts of kisses, even on his toes (top right) and is so comfortable with her he's put his finger right in her mouth! I have never especially been comfortable with dogs, unless I know their owners well and know they behave well, but Riley is definitely the dog I feel like I've been closest to. They are going to breed her, so maybe we will have to get one of her pups! We'll see.

On this day in particular, JJ ended up being outside with Riley. There is a screened in back porch and I didn't think JJ could work the door out, so I had no idea how he got out there. I was taking care of Jake so Shannon could sleep (you all remember those newborn days...I will get them again, soon enough:) and just letting JJ play with Riley. Well, he got out there 3 times and I was talking to Shannon and wondered how JJ got out? I thought, "could he have crawled through Riley's dog door?" Sure enough, Shannon and I walked out when Riley and JJ were on the porch and right after Riley went through her "door" JJ thought for a second and then got down and crawled through it! We laughed so hard! We got JJ to do it again and she got a video--I am going to get it and post it!

As you can see too, I didn't always get his shoes on when he was out there...I don't think he minded at all!!!

p.s. don't forget to click on the collage to "blow up" the pictures
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Please pray for Abbey...

I was fully intending to blog JJ stuff tonight (and will soon!) but I wanted to catch up a little on my own blog reading and I'm glad I did. I found that the little girl, Abbey, that I've been praying for, who has luekemia is in the hospital and really needs prayer. Please pray for Abbey. They have just found a blood clot from a CT scan and are still determining why she spiked such a high fever. She has been waiting to start the last 2 weeks of her most intense chemotherapy treatment before moving to a much easier phase of treatment called "maintenance".

Although I've never met this family (the connection comes as she is the niece of my twin's college roommate and friend--also my friend through her), I've been so touched to follow Abbey's story and pray for this dear family who testifies so much to God's goodness amidst this incredibly difficult season...and the playlist on their blog is what we play when we want to listen to encouraging music...

You will be touched and encouraged...I've linked the blog twice, and here it is again (it is also on my side bar as "Colbert Family...". Even if you can't visit the blog, just lift Abbey up please:) Thank you for your prayers!

I will be posting much about JJ--probably tomorrow??...I have some really fun pictures! since I've been up and around there's been more we're doing and more to write about! Can't wait to share! Love you all!