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Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Tribute...

Jared Samuel, my beloved husband, I cannot even begin to say what it means to have you in my life, let alone to experience not only the sacrificial love you show me constantly, but how that fountain flows to our son. Yet I never feel second to him. I know that your love for me is second only to the love that you have for the Lord. Our children then follow.

You have one of the most tender hearts on the planet and yet your son absolutely recognizes your strength. Not only physically as you wrestle with him, carry him on your back, but also in who he can rely upon you to be. One of his first words was "ba-ble!" and that is because he sees his Daddy opening it daily and you demonstrate with your life how important it is to you to meditate upon this Word. He also has heard his Dada's voice in prayer so often...especially after we say the 23rd Psalm together before bed and you pray for his heart and soul to be the Lord's always.

It is so hard for me to imagine how, in your difficult times, you doubt how the Lord could love you because of where you are weak or fail. It is so hard to imagine because I see how naturally the love of the Abba Father flows to our son through you. He is far from perfect and has a (his mama's) temper, yet your patience is so constant and true. This isn't only what I trust to be true of you in these days, but I knew that you would meet the demands of fatherhood naturally. Yes, it has stretched and grown you experientially, but the capacity was so foundational to you that you flourished in the midst of it. JJ (and Susie) are among the most blessed children in the world to have you as their Daddy...I pray that they never take you for granted as their mama has all-too-often done.

Amidst all of this is the life-long calling we have embraced together to "walk alongside" the next generation. While in many cases you are a mentor, we both know that the void of true parenting, especially fathering, leaves a deep void in so many young people. I praise God that our son not only experiences a Dad who so faithfully walks alongside of him, but every young person that you touch also experiences this. Every young man who sees any bit of your life is blessed to experience someone counter-cultural, who LIVES extraordinarily and so strikingly different than the callous course of modern men. You are truly an amazing man who the Lord shines in and through and every life is blessed that comes into contact with you, most of all myself and then, close to that, our children.

My dear husband, today and every day I wish you JOY AND PEACE in Christ Jesus as you embrace who He has made you to be and continue to love Him in every area of your life. My deepest prayer is that the greatest gift of His unfailing love (Lamentations 3:22-23) nestles ever deeper in your heart especially through your daily joy of being such a father.

Happy Father's Day.

All my love,

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Father's Day '09 Montage

Since our church started to meet with another one, we have been going to the 9am service. Since I left teaching and have a husband who is able to (often) start work later, I really, really like to sleep in if I can. So, Father's Day morning was a little bleary-eyed with no "bells and whistles", but Jared did receive the gifts I had made for him and the card I'd made on Shutterfly (with the indispensable help of JJ's cuteness of course!). I fine dinner was to come later...

Here's "A DaDa" and JJ cuddling and looking at the album that I continued (more pictures below) which was first given last Father's Day.

Below are the gifts that I (we) gave Daddy. The top left are 3 photos that I framed of JJ and Jared. The one next to it is a close up of a shot I did in sepia of Jared and JJ overlooking Budapest! Jared didn't even remember it. I was able to crop out most of a light that had ruined part of the picture. (remember you can click on each collage to see them closer). The next framed one is of Jared and JJ when we met our friends at Daytona Beach. Those photos turned out so great because there was no one else at the beach so it looks like it is just Jared and JJ and the ocean.

All of the others are of the album. I took a picture of the opening page and then all of the pages that I did for this Father's Day. I didn't even get through half of what I have printed and cropped to do! I think I am going to finish with those and that will fill the album. I will probably go to digital after I am through with these because it will be easier and more "streamlined".

You can see in the collage above the page that says, "Father's Day '08". Jared and JJ dressed alike with green shirts and khaki's and so this year I thought they should do the same! Then I did another photo shoot with them in their matching outfits and bare feet...I think they turned out "so sweet!"

I love you MY BEAUTIFUL MEN! Especially on this Father's Day '09 Jared Samuel, I want you to know that you are the best Daddy for our children that I could ever imagine...I can't wait to see you with a daughter...your love is so real and tangible and I am blessed beyond what I can describe to have you as my husband, life mate and the father of our children.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

"There is therefore now no condemnation...."

...for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life has set YOU free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law weakened by the flesh COULD NOT DO. By sending HIS OWN SON in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be met in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For to live according to the flesh is to set your mind on the flesh, but to live according to the Spirit is to set your mind on the Spirit. To set your mind on the flesh is DEATH, but to set your mind on the Spirit is LIFE AND PEACE." Romans 8:1-5

I think I got it all.

This is PART OF the most recent passage Jared and I have decided to memorize together. And this is as much as I have gotten in 2 days. (We are hoping to memorize ALL OF ROMANS 8!) We have memorized several passages of scripture together, but hadn't recently and he mentioned the other day that it would be good to memorize another one. After praying about different promises, etc. that would be good for both of us to meditate upon as we memorize a passage, the Lord immediately took me to Romans 8. Just in repeating this section over and over this evening, the life-changing reality of the Gospel and what God has given us in Christ became so deep and real and penetrating and victory-giving.

As a Mom of a young child with another COMING SOON!, as much as I'd love to pour through the theological books I did at other points in life, the reality of time and what my mind attaches best to as a Mom brings me more and more to Scripture. I want to remember great Promises of old (Lamentations 3:22-23; Matthew 11:28-30; Phil. 3:7-11; II Corinthians 4:16-18) that have met me in the darkest times of my life and focus myself upon "hiding in my heart" anew or more fully passages like Romans 8. Just beginning with this passage, I can already know I will be feasting in the time to come as I work through memorizing it. I will be able to recite the amazing progression of this chapter and I just need to repeat it when I think of it and add a little more each day...

I was partially inspired to memorize this passage remembering listening to a John Piper Sermon on memorizing scripture. "If My Words Abide in You" (download here) where he recites (I believe) the entire chapter of Romans 8 and it was so powerful to hear all together and then his personal testimony of how the Lord has used Scripture memorization in his life.

I hope you are a mom it's very simple and something that you can "SET YOUR MIND UPON" whether it's one simple verse for a month or a longer passage. I do want to encourage you in this...I am so blessed to have both been raised in a home where the Scriptures were brought to me at a young age and I began to memorize at church, and also I have a mind that can memorize pretty easily, but I know that the true blessing over the years in my life has been "calling to mind and therefore having hope..." (Lam. 3:21b) and this is the only foundation that I dare walk ahead in in my life. The Scriptures are our sword and in the uncertainty of what a day can bring, I don't want my heart to anchor itself on anything less.

May this meet you in a particular way in your journey...Keep the Faith!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getaway 09

June 7-12th found us travelling up to Myrtle Beach for Getaway 09. It is one of 2 Getaways for our ministry, Student Venture. Students from as north as Michigan down to us in Orlando with several cities in between all converged on the Sheraton Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the conference (hopefully I can get some and post them) only personal ones at hang out times (the following 2 posts include them). But here are some things that you can picture to get an idea of what Getaway is all about.

*450 students worshiping Christ with 10th Avenue North leading and most of them up front at the stage.
*Speakers who relate to teenagers, but would also challenge the socks off of any adult. (You can listen to any of the messages here (click on the "get the messages and more" under the Getaway picture)
*The same 450 teenagers going out to the beaches, streets and city of Myrtle Beach utilizing creative outreaches to draw people or just plain old walking up to people and starting conversations with them. Thus, the gospel being shared with 100's and many responding by trusting Christ.
*Intimate small groups each night that are breaking through the walls, revealing long held places of shame and guilt and receiving the healing grace of Christ.

Truly, it was such an amazing blessing to be a part of this. We went last year, but it was different this year. I knew more of the staff families there and JJ was able to interact with more of their kids. (the youngest, by far, in child care...he was a huge hit!) I was able to hear almost all of the evening talks due to my in-laws being down and JJ being able to have a later bed time than last year. So, I grasped more of the whole picture.

I did struggle with not having really worked to have some of the girls that I've had in Bible Study this year be there...obviously it's understandable given all that's been going on with the sickness in pregnancy, etc. But, it is my heart, passion and prayer to see at least a couple of them there next year along with others God will bring along my path...

Getaway Fun

Here we are on our way to Myrtle Beach. Rachel, who is a student at a high school in Orlando, rode both up to Orlando and back with us was a lifesaver at points when JJ was not happy riding in the car. Here she was playing a game with JJ just by jiggling her sweatshirt. He was laughing like crazy (bottom right) was like his own little puppet show! We should have named Rachel's sweatshirt/puppet, but we didn' about "skunkie"?? since it was black with a little white in it.

Here is JJ "lovin' on" his little buddy (we say cousin) Jake. Jake has made it onto the blog before, I think, he's the 4 month-old (adopted) son of our city directors, Jeremy and Shannon. JJ just loved "Dake!" as he started to say on this trip. He didn't like it when "Dake!" was crying...he tried to give him his pacifier when he already had it and it was actually the cap for was adorable. He also liked to give "Dake" kisses on the lips to help with his crying...we think they will be more appropriate for his little sissy:) but they are definitely fine for "Dake!"now (just not in a few years jj:) Again, how encouraging to see this little sweetie loving on a baby:)

JJ really made out at Myrtle Beach. He got to sleep in a queen-size pull out bed! (we realized he had outgrown the pac-n-play when he kept waking up in it. The first night he was on the couch and rolled down to cushions off the couch w/o a cry or sound and ended up in the morning on different places on the floor!) We are going to transition him to a twin bed in the near future. He really liked being able to get out of bed in the morning by himself and didn't come into our room right away when he woke up, so that's a good sign of him being ready, right??

He also made out by eating pizza (his favorite right now) and on the right below is him (ready for the beach) in the elevator (he sort of said this a couple of time "el-ee-at-er") which he always wanted to ride! When he wasn't riding that he was up and down the escalators at the convention area where most of our meetings were or running the big hallways and foyers around the convention area.
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Getaway and MiMi and PopPop

JJ's highlight and our personal highlight was seeing MiMi and PopPop (Jared's Mom & Dad). It was a treasure to have them there as they drove down from PA and we drove UP from Florida (we kept checking that Myrtle Beach is actually north of us!). It was a little more than halfway for them and a little less for us.

These two are the only people in the world (right now) that we can walk away from JJ and have him not scream! (it doesn't last long, but it always is really tough in the transition to nursery, etc.) So, that in itself was a great break for us. Also, their being there allowed me to go to much more of the conference than last year. And as you can see, JJ had a wonderful time!

Walking up the beach with MeMe and riding the lazy river that was at their hotel with PopPop.

This was on the way was a good, but tiring, week for everyone. Jared was on security (making sure none of the students got into late night trouble...the earliest he got back to our room at night was 1am:/) and JJ was up later each night and had some short naps and Rachel slept some more than other teenagers there, but she was still tired from the week. I was driving and even though I was tired, I can't sleep in the car (it might be a mom/wife thing)...I was definitely exhausted and didn't even unpack until I "hit the hay".
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Friday, June 5, 2009


This is my dear Aunt Debbie who watched JJ so Jared and I could go on the cruise. She is my mom's youngest sister and was her best friend as they were adults. She has committed herself to do, as she is able, things my mom might have done if she were still alive. She blessed us so much and I have to say I haven't felt that close to my mom in a long, long time...It is a huge blessing to have someone like her that I can reminisce with, as an adult and mother, about my mom. We help each other remember things. I have a good enough relationship with her to tell her things my mom might say to her (like "go to bed Debbie" as she can still pull all nighters trying to do all of the little things she wants to for people...) and she is always giving me new perspective on Mom. Things that I would have seen or discussed with my mom in the "mature years" of our relationship had she lived...Again, it is a huge blessing to have her in my life and I am reminded of how there are many daughters who have lost their mothers that don't have an "Aunt Debbie".

JJ just kissed the picture of "Deb-bee" when he saw it on here...I think he misses her...when he is a little older he will understand that we live far away from precious family that we always love and who we see for very special visits, but it is too far to see them very often.
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I don't know how many of my blogging friends know about BLURB. If you blog on Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad (and one other one??) you can "slurp" your blog posts to Blurb and create a Blog Book!!! Depending on how much you blog, it will be an investment to use it as a yearly chronicle of your life, but compared to what you could spend on scrapbooking supplies and the inner stress that comes from not being able to do "all of it", it is definitely worth it. I just downloaded the free book-making software and will finish this summer (hopefully by the end of July, if not before) a book for 2008 (as long as I was on Blogger...since April, I think).

I am totally indebted to my friend Julie who just did her massive volume for 2008 (almost 600 8x10 pages or close to it!) and I am so proud of her. In the future she (and I because of her) hope to be caught up to "real time" so that when the year is done, you also have your 2009 Year-in-Review book done. On Julie's blog she kind of chronicles the pitfalls in layout, etc. that she found in doing her first book. I will let you know how my journey goes, but I'M EXCITED! It is great to feel like I can streamline what I do in blogging with memories that we can have in our hands to look an album! I still want to scrapbook because I enjoy that format, but will never be able to catch up and this way I can work on some of my backlogged scrapbooking projects (JJ's baby book, our year in Hungary! trip to Spain while there, etc.)

I hope that some of you will be able to do this and that I could let you know about something us bloggers can do that you might not have known about.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Global Media Outreach...Huge Opportunity

Global Media Outreach (GMO) is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ (our umbrella ministry). They have websites in 191 countries and receive thousands of responses from people all over the world who either want to trust Christ for the first time or re-dedicate their lives to Christ or simply have questions. Any of you can volunteer and the link is

However, I was just made aware of over 10,000 e-mails that are backed up from Spanish speakers. There is a HUGE need for Spanish speakers who are committed believers that will respond to/encourage and challenge these people who are responding by the thousands. It is such an amazing gift about the times we live in that I can encourage a new believer in Ecuador (that was one of the three I responded to tonight!!) through the internet. The goal is that each would find committed believers in their own communities who can encourage them and help them to grow. But, sometimes, you are their only link initially and can have a huge impact through your immediate response to their decision or re-dedication or searching question...

So, as an English speaker you can help, SIGN UP!! You tell them how many e-mails you could handle in a week. (I put 3-5) But, right now another huge way to help would be to forward along this information to any Spanish speakers (really anyone bilingual is a huge help and anyone period who you think would be interested) and certainly pray for laborers for this harvest.

I want to Praise the Lord for His deep encouragement to me already through this. I am so blessed to know that I can have this ministry as a mom in my home without sacrificing the needs of my family, and by His grace, there will be an eternal impact...I so very much desire this opportunity for other moms who would truly enjoy and be so encouraged to do this...Blessings to you all!

(This is the message of the Response Coordinator about the Spanish need)
We are getting hammered in Spanish - 1200 to 1500 e-mails a day and they are piling up. The harvest is plentiful!If you know other Spanish-speaking believers you can recruit, by all means send them! If they're bilingual they can go to <> , or if Spanish only (that's the door you came through I think).