Saturday, December 22, 2012

Women of the Congregation

The women of the Park Hill Church threw a Christmas party. I was invited so I guess that means I'm one of the women of the congregation. 
This group bears an interesting dynamic in that they sold their building in Fort Worth and opened a recreational center between Springtown and Azle. They present themselves more as a community center than a church in hopes to be more inviting to folks that otherwise wouldn't hang out with church goers. Some of the original group didn't quite agree with that vision so they left. Others stayed, and others still have joined--twelve people were baptized last year. The sand is still being sifted to see which grains will remain as the mission team that will canvas this neck of the woods. It looks like I might be one of those.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Basketball Rooster

I've been reporting on some pretty heavy stuff lately. If you're anything like me and you appreciate a little comic relief, then this story is for you. 

We bought some chicks when we moved to Texas and now they're full grown. What we thought were a bunch of hens turned out to be mostly hens with a couple of roosters. We made one into soup--yes, really. But the other one saved himself in the nick of time by showing us that he could do this:
We just can't bring ourselves to kill him--even though we have to carry a broom to gather eggs so he won't attack us. Any suggestions for a name?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mom's Birthday

Mom is in respite care for the month of December. (Respite, in this case, basically means a break for us, the caretakers.) I'll spare you all the details of what brought us to that decision, but I will say our family was in desperate need of some assistance and we found a place in Fort Worth that works exclusively with Alzheimer's patients. There are in-house doctors and lots of wonderful nurses who understand our situation and have been a tremendous help. They are very good with Mom and she seems to like them.

Last Saturday we surprised Mom by bringing her a cake and some presents to celebrate her 66th birthday. She's always been very good about making us feel special on our birthdays and we wanted to make sure she was honored on hers. I told her we were coming, but everything is a surprise when you have Alzheimer's. We took my mom's mom and sister with us, while my brother and his family met us there. 
The facility provided a room for us to celebrate. They even decorated and set out some punch. They seem to know their clientele; Mom was thrilled with the party hat. 
Mom enjoyed her sister's antics as she opened presents.

We got her a fuzzy sweater and some grippy socks because comfort is key when shopping for someone in a nursing home.

It was a good day and Mom was very grateful--something she's not always aware enough to be. We were able to actually enjoy the simple pleasure of her company after getting a short break from the daily task of caring for her every need. We know she's in good hands and, because the past six months have been extremely taxing on our family, we are taking the month of December to recalibrate and make some decisions for the coming year. We're asking God for wisdom to do what's best for everyone involved and we appreciate your prayers to that end.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Andy's 8!

We've been somewhat overwhelmed with life lately, but we try to always put first things first. In November that meant celebrating Andy's birthday. He's an absolute joy and a blessing to this family, so we wanted him to feel honored and asked what he wanted to do. He said "to have friends over, get a dog, and eat chocolate cake". We combined the first two, as one of my best childhood friends came to town and brought her kids and their dog. 
Mom especially enjoyed the dog.
And Andy especially enjoyed the friends, who consisted of my friend's kids and two other families.
John and two of the dads took the kiddos to play laser tag then we grilled out at the house and ate chocolate cake. I think Andy enjoyed himself. What do you think? 
A couple of the boys spent the night to seal the deal as Andy's first official slumber party. He was proud to introduce them to a breakfast of eggs fresh from his very own chickens.
Happy birthday to my great kid!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jewells at the Gem

Much of what we did in Florida centered around the YMCA. We made friends, exercised and played there. Three of the people we baptized were folks we met there. So when we moved to Texas one of the first things we did was seek out the local branch. The closest one is pretty far from our house, but someone told us about this place.
We stopped by for a tour and, as we heard the history of The Gem, felt God may have wanted us there for more than just exercise. The Gem opened its doors a year ago when a church in Fort Worth lost their parking lot to development. They sold the building and moved out here to the country where they found a big recreational center for sale. Instead of moving right in as another church, they first asked the chamber of commerce what the community needed. They wanted a rec center to replace the one that had closed. So the church bought some exercise equipment and renovated the building. Then they got a logo and opened their doors as The Gem. 

The church family that used to meet in Fort Worth now meets in the auditorium of The Gem on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Many of them have left because they either don't want to make the drive or they simply don't share the same vision of the pioneering elders--a vision that recognizes this city as a mission field. One of the most involved families has told us they prayed for other like-minded Christians and they believe God brought us here to partner with them in some way. We believe it too.

After some discussion, we found out they've been planning to launch an after school program but haven't had the manpower. We weren't particularly eager to sign up because we came here expecting to start a homeschool PE program like the one John worked with in Florida. In fact, we were busy preparing for the big homeschool conference where we would advertise the program and register families for the fall semester, when John received a phone call saying the conference had been cancelled. One of The Gem founders happened to be sitting in our living room when we got the news. It was the first time in seventeen years that the conference wouldn't run and we took that as a sign to open our eyes to what God might be trying to show us. Prayer and discussion on the subject have generated a sort of hybrid idea between the after school care The Gem had in mind and the homeschool athletics program we had in mind. You can read about it on the web site by clicking the logo:
It's a non-profit organization, and we plan to begin sessions in January. As I said in my last post we are still missionaries and our ulimate goal is to introduce people to Jesus. We also hope to be a resource for parents struggling to raise children in these tough times and we need your donations to keep the costs low. We don't want to exclude low-income families. They already can't afford extracurricular sports and activities. We have a 501c3 and all monetary gifts are tax deductible. Thanks to those of you who already support our ministry. If anyone else wishes to make a one-time donation or a monthly pledge, simply let us know. Our family, the community, and the Kingdom would greatly appreciate it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rough and Tough

I know I promised you an article about the new program we plan to start in the spring but our attention has been diverted by some other things lately. First of all, my mom's condition continues to worsen and we are adapting to the many changes Alzheimer's brings with it daily. She really can't do much of anything for herself now and requires constant attention, even on a good day. She has also been losing weight at a rather alarming rate so we are having tests run to see what might be causing that.

Ben decided to get in on the doctor's visits by falling flat on his face while playing in the bed of a friend's truck. It didn't bruise very much at all the first day but we knew the next morning he may have broken it so we took him for an x-ray. You know how a close up picture makes your nose look bigger? Well, this one wasn't taken from close range: 
He was a good sport about the whole thing, even when he bumped it two more times over the next few days and made it bleed all over again. We had to wait all that time for the swelling to go down so the doctor could see if there was any permanent damage. Ben said he thought his nose looked cool and drew a self portrait to commemorate:

We went for the follow-up visit today and received very good news. There is no fracture--only severe bruising--and the crookedness is apparently just from the swelling. I took this photo today to show you how much better he looks. As you can see, he still wants to get a bit more mileage out of his super awesome injury. 
We're thankful that Ben is fine and hope our other two don't perform any attention-getting stunts in the near future.

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Are Still Missionaries

Many of you have asked what we plan to do now that we're back in Texas. The simple answer to that is mission work. Since our conversions sixteen years ago, God has taken us across the country, across an ocean and back again, making disciples at every stop. We now find ourselves in my hometown taking care of my mother who has a terminal disease. As we grieve the gradual loss of the mother and grandmother we've always known to Alzheimer's, we are grateful to be found worthy of such an assignment.

Due to a tough economy we have also lost our main sponsor but not our focus to reach the lost. John is preparing to begin a non-profit after school athletic program in January in an effort to serve the community and make a living for our family. We're reminded of the apostle Paul making tents to pay for his ministry at times. If you've kept up with our travels over the years you probably don't expect this to be our last stop and we don't either. (Perhaps we'll even go back to Brazil some day.) I don't know exactly what God has in store for our family but I do know that we have been called to be missionaries and we will teach His truths wherever we go. If you would like to partner with us in this, your contributions will go toward the non-profit organization--I'll tell you all about it in my next post--which will provide an income for our family. Every dollar you send is less time making tents and more time making disciples.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Home Again

We're back from our travels and, while I can't say it was fun or relaxing, it was an experience I will never forget. It was good, as always, to see John's family but my mom's condition has worsened considerably over the past two weeks. She didn't eat or sleep much and the sinus infection she had turned into bronchitis. She is taking a stronger antibiotic and a sleep aid, and her appetite seems to be increasing. We're hopeful things will be back to normal--and I use that term loosely--very soon.

Although we stayed in the same house for about ten days, Mom never could find the bathroom. The family took turns escorting her, and often by the time she reached the bathroom she would forget what she was doing and think someone was trying to lock her in a closet. She was negative and accusatory, roaming the halls and saying she knew we would be leaving her somewhere to die. She suspected everything we offered her had been poisoned, and she constantly wore a look of suspicion and anger on her face. "I know what's in there," she would say as she stared at her food. She even warned the kids not to eat.

As hard as I try to avoid arguing with her, sometimes I get worn down and give in to the frustration. At one point she was begging me to kill her and not five minutes later was refusing to eat. "If you really want to die and you think this food is poisoned then you should want a big bite!" Yikes! That sounded terrible. Thankfully, she forgot the whole thing almost immediately. When I heard John say during another meal, "Liz, you have no idea how frustrating it is to feed someone who thinks you're out to poison them!" I realized how blessed I am to have a husband who is in this with me. Alzheimer's is enough to drive a caretaker mad but Ecclesiastes 4:12 gives us hope. "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

The majority of our friends and family think we should put her in a nursing home. We think that would be a mistake at this point. As a well-respected missionary friend recently reminded us, I Timothy 5:4 says, "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God." In short, what kind of missionaries would we be if we ignored our god-given responsibilities? Even with our imperfections, I believe she is still getting the very best care possible. I also believe that what God is teaching my family through this is something that cannot be measured. For example, the fruits of the spirit are being refined in a painful but effective way in each of us. At the end of a challenging day we tell our kids, "Tomorrow is a new day." I have to remind myself when I've blown it with my tongue that "the Lord's compassions never fail. They are new every morning." We trust Him to continue to guide us daily and we refuse to allow this situation to turn us inward, forgetting that we have been called to the great commission.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jonah's Birthday

One of the reasons we came to Colorado was to celebrate Jonah's eleventh birthday with the family. I made him his favorite--lemon cake--and found out that high altitude baking really is different. Ben helped "decorate" it while I was out of the room.

We asked Jonah what he wanted to do for his special day and he said go to the mall. John and I aren't mall shoppers which is probably why our kids like to go--it's a treat. We went to an enormous mall that has indoor glow-in-the-dark putt putt, a bungee/trampoline bounce, an arcade, and this fun little contraption:
We got my mom a wheelchair because she has been wandering off more and more and because she is shuffling and moving very slowly. She was consumed with the idea that we would leave her and asked me to take her where someone could hear her scream and even yelled out "don't make me do this" when I was helping her in the bathroom. She occasionally asks, "Is this where you're going to kill me?" It will be a small miracle if someone doesn't call the police on us. This disease is very cruel. Sometimes the boys are a bit frightened by her behavior but for the most part they just think it's funny. We try very hard to keep the mood light and maintain respect at the same time. Jonah said he had a great day so it seems to be working.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Road Trip

John recently submitted an online bid for a rental car that, much to our surprise, was accepted. We arranged for a house sitter, packed up with little notice, and were on our way.

The kids were super excited. Here they are waiting to see which car we would get. 

Jonah and Andy had their own little apartment in the back, and Ben and Mom stopped bickering as soon as the DVDs were started.  
Mom's screen broke almost immediately but she didn't seem to mind. She just sat looking straight ahead while the kids watched movies and John and I listened to music and talked. Every once in a while she would interject something in response to what she thought she heard but had clearly misunderstood. I hoped she could enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery, which she seemed to--at first.

We drove through Wendy's for lunch and I asked her if she would rather have a salad or a sandwich. She chose a chicken sandwich because she has trouble with utensils. I got hers grilled but when the food was passed out she grimaced at her lunch and wanted John's because it was fried. They traded. Then she took a bite and said it was delicious but would rather have my salad. I traded her but she couldn't eat it because, as I said, she has trouble using a fork. So I tried to get her to use her fingers but she wouldn't. In the end, everyone had plenty to eat but nobody was very happy and we were reminded just how frustrating Alzheimer's can be.

Later we were munching on snacks and I gave her some crackers. She ate about three then told us, in a panic, she shouldn't have because "they're thick and they'll keep me up all night". She repeated herself about every twenty minutes as if it were the first time she'd said it until I held up the box in frustration to show her that they are called Wheat Thins and can't possibly be too thick for anything and that crackers don't generally affect a person's sleep anyway. She acted like she understood but picked back up where she'd left off about twenty minutes later. It makes for a funny story and God knows we have to laugh sometimes or we'll cry, but I was close to tears by the time we stopped for the night.  

I was grateful that John had the foresight to book a hotel room halfway in Wichita, Kansas so we could get a break from the car. The nighttime routine was another stressor. John took the boys to the pool while I got Mom ready for bed. She kept saying "This is the wrong place" and I was beginning to question the wisdom of taking her away from home. I slept in her room with her and she was very nervous that she wouldn't be able to remember my name if she needed me in the middle of the night. She was up most of the time pacing and going in and out of the bathroom. By four o'clock I gave up and turned on the news.

The next morning she had the idea we were going to leave her somewhere. She was absolutely miserable and looked disgusted with everything and everybody, which is why this photo is so remarkable:

When I told her I would like to take her picture, she gave me one of the only smiles I've seen since we left Texas. (And, yes, Ben is wearing a life jacket to breakfast.)

Andy loves few things more than a good breakfast buffet, and we let Jonah have a cup of coffee so they were loving life. The kids have been wonderful through the transition and are treating their grandmother very well. I am proud of them all.
Andy's my budding photographer and he got a picture of us which proves that what hasn't killed us has made us stronger.
The car ride the second day was about the same and we were thankful that it wasn't worse. Mom seemed happy to see John's family but was sure we planned to leave her with them. It seems she'll only believe that she's going home when we take her with us next week.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

John's Birthday and Then Some

John just turned 43. I don't know if I was supposed to divulge that, but I think he looks pretty good and want to share with you my thanksgiving for such a wonderful husband and father. When Mom heard it was his birthday she was upset that she couldn't do anything for him, so I suggested she take him to lunch. She offered to take us all to his favorite restaurant, which just so happens to be right here in Fort Worth. I secretly enjoyed the day as if it were my own celebration because she has forgotten my birthday for the last three years. (Yes, this disease has been brewing for a while.) 

We had a good day, all things considered--we ditched homeschool and had a lazy morning then enjoyed our favorite foods to excess while Mom seemed pretty content and even fastened her own seat belt on the way to the restaurant.

The very next day, however, was a scheduled doctor's appointment and that didn't go so well. They had us waiting for an hour in the waiting room when Mom got upset and started to pace, insisting the people on the couch move so she could lie down. When she started to panic and talk very loudly to herself, I told the receptionist we would have to reschedule the appointment. As we were walking out, she grabbed the door saying we couldn't leave "the hospital" without finding out what was wrong with her. It was stressful, to say the least but she was fine when we got into the car.

The day after that was much better. The kids played outside while Mom sat in a chair watching me finish building the chicken coop I started weeks ago. She sat with her cat asleep on her lap and smiled most of the time. I thought we were on the mend only to experience our worst day yet just yesterday. It was the first day I had to help her with everything from using the bathroom to eating her food. She couldn't seem to do anything for herself. I expect that she may rally a little in some of those areas--she has before--but she is steadily declining and I won't be surprised if these are the last photos you see of us at a restaurant. Although, we do have a road trip scheduled soon and we could use a prayer from each of you that it won't be a disaster but a much-needed family vacation. Either way, I'll let you know how it goes.

By-the-way, if you would like to know more about Alzheimer's, the best resource I have found is a book called The 36-Hour Day by Mace and Rabins. It has proven to be surprisingly informative and accurate.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

How's Your Mom?

My mom is the little girl in the pictures. It struck me as I was looking at them that God knew on the day each photo was taken what her future would hold. What a great honor it is to have been chosen to share the gospel with her and to see her baptized in June 2009, and now to be taking care of her towards the end of her life.

Several people have asked me lately how she is. Until now I've been very careful not to share anything that would get back to her and humiliate her. Unfortunately, that's no longer a concern because her Alzheimer's has progressed to the point that she not only can't read my blog, but she also has a very tough time holding a conversation. For instance, we met a neighbor during a walk a couple of days ago who told us he restores old tractors. When he pointed to a '38 John Deer he recently acquired, my mom proudly told him that she owns a '38 Chevy. (She doesn't.)  Another man recently told us about losing his business to which my mother replied, "Oh, that's good!" I find myself explaining her condition to strangers so they won't think she's crazy or just plain rude.

Being in public with mom is stressful in that we never know what to expect. For example, her depth perception is skewed so she brings her foot up to knee level to step off of a curb and flinches if someone passes within a few feet of her at the grocery store, thinking that they'll run into her. Sometimes she thinks she recognizes a person and speaks to them as if they're old friends or, if someone actually does recognize her, she obviously has no idea who they are.

The bulk of the challenges come from our daily routine at home though. Living with mom is, I suspect, a bit like adopting a child with special needs. Her speech has regressed so that she pluralizes words and says things like "ices", "toilet papers", and "cat foods". When something is empty she says it's "dead" and she calls sweetener "softener". She has a hard time finding the right word in general. She calls me mom pretty much all the time now and makes hand gestures to get her point across, like grabbing at her zipper to say she needs a bathroom. I tell her when it's time for a shower and show her how to wash her face. She still brushes her own teeth and even flosses as long as I cut the floss for her. She also often has trouble getting a fork to her mouth or stepping into her pants. I prepare all of her food and usually at least help her get herself dressed. Last week at church I looked down to see her wearing two different shoes--both right foot. She wants to be helpful so I include her in rinsing the dishes and folding towels. She sits in a chair while I do yard work and is happy to get me a cup of water, provided I give her the cup. (She can't find those on her own.)

Mom gets frustrated with how "fast" and "loud" the kids are and she often gets angry with me for something completely irrational, like when I tell her not to eat something she just picked up off the floor or I ask her to wash her hands after she's used a public restroom. She talks to herself, and she follows me around most of the time. I have to remind her to talk to the kids and hug them once in a while. They treat her well but obviously have a hard time adapting to her becoming less capable in some ways than even the youngest, with whom she often argues. We are all struggling to adapt to our new lives together. Though I would selfishly like much more support from family and friends, I am thankful for the support we are getting and know that the lonely times give us a stronger connection to God and make us more useful to him. So we're thankful for the opportunity we find ourselves in and praise God for his goodness and mercy in finding us worthy for such a task.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


When I'm talking to someone about moving forward in life, I always give the same counsel: start where you are and with what you have. I'm taking my own advice today. Because of the amount of time that has passed and the enormous amount of change that has taken place since my last entry, I haven't been sure how to proceed with my updates.

Yesterday I uploaded the photos I've taken since our visit to Colorado, and I'm going to let those dictate the parts of our story I share with you since my last post. In case you don't already know, we sold our house in Florida to move to Texas and take care of my mother who has Alzheimer's. She was living with her boyfriend of over twenty years, and he asked us to come take over. So, we moved into a house she built in the town where I grew up and brought her back from her boyfriend's place over an hour away. To say it has been challenging is an understatement but God is good and we know we are doing the right thing. 

Without further ado, here is a random sampling of some goings on with our family:

This actually happened while we were still in Colorado, but it was the night before we left and we dealt with it for weeks after we arrived in Texas. Jonah broke his finger on a daring scooter ride:

Some very kind people from our sponsoring church came all the way to Florida while we were in Colorado and drove a moving van full of our furniture to Texas. They had everything here in the garage when we arrived. Because they also pulled up all the nasty carpet for us, the only room that was livable for a while was the dining room. We slept on mattresses in there until the new flooring was installed. It was a little like camping out, including the dangers of the forest, i.e., carpet tacks. Ben recently asked me what I ever did with all those "heart attacks" that were on the floor when we moved in.
We went out and bought some baby chickens, mostly because we didn't know what to do with ourselves and it seemed like a good idea. It actually turned out to be a great idea because those chicks have kept the boys very occupied. 

Again, some wonderful folks from our sponsoring church went with us to where my mom was living to move her stuff out. Now it's all here and a large part of what we have been doing is sorting through it all.
John took this picture of me and the kids with Helen, the woman who told John and me the gospel about seventeen years ago. She was living in a nursing home here in town. I was happy that the kids got to spend some time with her because she recently passed away. She asked John to speak at her funeral. It was a huge honor and we all miss her so much. 
We joined a local gym which turned out to be a local mission effort. A group from Fort Worth sold their church building to come out here to the sticks and start a community center. They've gotten it up and running and have been, by their own accounts, praying for some assistance. We watched their minister baptize this man in the gym pool after a Sunday service. Because the contract with our sponsoring church is up in January, we feel God is opening doors for us to partner with this fledgling church.
John's mom came for a surprise visit, which was far too short. Here we all are with the grandmas in the back yard.

I would like to say the adjustment phase of this move is coming to a close but it is quickly becoming apparent that, with the progression of Alzheimer's, every day is an adjustment. The kids are doing remarkably well and our prospects for employment and continuing mission work are looking good. God seems to be melding all of our experiences into something useful right here in, of all places, my hometown. For those of you who don't think yours is a mission field, stay tuned. I think you'll be encouraged. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Joanna's Wedding

We've been in Colorado for about two weeks now. John has a lot of family here and we've had a great time visiting with them all. I have many fun pictures I could share with you but this is the highlight of our trip:

John married his niece Joanna to her boyfriend Dan. The most exciting thing is that during our talks with the couple before they tied the knot, they both decided to recommit their lives to Christ. They even announced it during the ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding and my first wedding photography assignment. You can see the pictures on my facebook page.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Bible Study

For the past two years I've facilitated a Thursday afternoon women's Bible study in my house. Here we are: Maria and her youngest, me and my youngest, Callie and her kids, Joanne, and Hayley.

Because we announced that we would be moving to Texas soon, Callie took the lead and started having the ladies meet at her house for the study. This picture was taken there the last time we all met.

Well, today is Thursday and I know the girls will get together without me for the first time. I pray God will bless them with wisdom and understanding as they read the scriptures together. I also pray for their individual spiritual growth as well as growth in their group as they share the love of Jesus with those around them. I already miss them all terribly. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our Last Meeting

Sunday was the first time our entire south Florida church family got together. Even Chris and Jenna made the drive down to be with us. And this little guy (Terry and Maria's six-week old Kevin) made his debut showing:
So, here we all are:
Because we will be moving to Texas in a matter of days, this group will probably not meet as a whole again on this earth. I started to name this post "Our Final Meeting" but quickly changed that, because our final meeting will actually go more like this:

At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 
And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, 
from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. (Mark 13) 

We broke bread together, talked, cried, and laughed. We reminisced and dreamed about the future. It was a bittersweet day--the culmination of two and a half years of ministry--that we will always cherish. 
John and I already see God working miracles in these precious lives: strengthened marriages, overcome addictions, hearts for outreach and benevolence, spiritual awareness and hunger for an understanding of the scriptures, a newfound joy and zeal for life, and resolve to live blamelessly. As difficult as it is for us to leave this fledging church family, we are confident that God's spirit abides with them and will use them for great things.

Texas Bound

A neighbor asked me several months ago if things were all right at home. When I wondered out loud why she asked, she said John had mentioned something about problems we were having. I knew that wasn't true and politely let her know, to which she hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that she had made it up. She was trying to find out why his car hadn't been in the driveway as much as usual. (Remember Mrs. Kravits from Bewitched?)  I told her about the parenting program he was visiting in Jacksonville and assured her we were fine. She then asked how I was so sure about what John didn't say. "I know him," I said.

That conversation started me thinking about how well I actually know God. Can I be confident about what He would or would not say or do? I could tell my neighbor was bluffing about John because I spend so much time with him. We've taken time out of almost every day for fifteen years to sit down and talk to each other. Obviously, having a basic understanding of the Bible is the beginning of a relationship with God, but without spending time with Him in prayer and quiet I wouldn't be able to say I know Him at all. This is especially important in the midst of a big decision. After much time spent with each other and with God, John and I have finally made one such big decision--to move to Texas. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a couple of years ago, and we are mainly going there to be near her.

Since making that decision, we've been preparing the church here for our departure. Over the past two years, due to our limited resources, we have intentionally maintained a small group of dedicated individuals to meet in our home, rather than establishing a larger church with a building and programs to sustain. We are now very happy God led us to do it this way. Our focus has been on teaching the Bible and discipling on a small, personal scale in order to lay a strong foundation that will not easily be corrupted. We have every reason to believe that God will personally guide each of these new but committed Christians onto the very ministry He has prepared for them.

We've put our house on the market, and we plan to travel to Colorado at the end of this month where John will marry his niece and her boyfriend. From there we continue on to Texas to see what God has in store for our next mission.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Callie's Birthday...Again!

This is Callie. She and I have been friends since our family moved to Florida. 
I love everything about Callie and was happy to celebrate her birthday earlier this month during our Thursday women's Bible study at my house. This Thursday, instead of meeting for the study, we met because Callie decided she not only believes in Jesus but also wants to follow him.
She was baptized at Terry and Maria's house, where we only met briefly because Maria is still recovering from her C-section. It was enough time to witness Callie's birth into God's kingdom and get the party in heaven kicked off.  
Luke 15:3-7: Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Our Newest Blessing

Many of you know we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Terry and Maria's second son. Kevin came by C-section on Friday, because that really is the best way to deliver an 11 lb. 3 oz. baby! The nurses at the hospital call him "our three month old." Here's a picture of the proud family, including big brother Jake:
Over the past two years we have come to know this family well and couldn't love them more if we shared the same DNA. One of the greatest blessings in the world happens when God allows us to go from believing a biblical promise to experiencing it. The fact that I truly feel as if I've just welcomed a nephew into the world is proof of these scriptures:

Matthew 19:29: And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Mark 3:31-35: Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." Who are my mother and brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."