More Like Jesus Loves Me

VBS games
I taught VBS the last week of August at the chapel we attend.  I was exhausted dealing with fourteen little 6, 7, and 8 year olds–I can barely remember that this was my “life” just over 4 years ago.  The children who attended were all truly great kids, but there were a few moments and a few personalities that tested my patience a little bit.  
Our class had a few volunteers who were young sailors and Marines who are stationed here for their A-schools, and they were amazing with the boys and the girls and an incredible help to me. The kids climbed all over our volunteers, racing and challenging our sailors and Marines when they played at sports time, showing off their artistic talent during craft times, and trying to impress them with their knowledge during our lessons. It was also great fun for me to be around such helpful and positive young people–a blessing of our work here in Pensacola.
There was one little boy (actually more than one), who though very intelligent  and sweet, began to get under my skin just a bit.   I was so impressed by his vocabulary and utter cuteness that at first I didn’t notice his neediness. He would screech when the kids cheered and was often demanding and clingy.  He didn’t want to participate in the outdoor activities for longer than a few minutes and he quickly finished his crafts and looked for more “creative” things to do. When there was a drawing for prizes he cried when he didn’t win anything and I kindly reminded him that there was a whole room full of children who hadn’t won anything.  I found myself saying teacher things like, “Use your words!” and “We aren’t moving until you’re quiet!” or “Dennis–just STOP!”  I don’t remember Jesus talking the the little children that way…
 Finally on the last night, after the closing ceremony, I asked a friend about Dennis.
It turns out Dennis’s dad has died.  His mom has an addiction and she recently spent some time in rehab, so he lived with her parents.  When she came home, she made the difficult decision that she couldn’t support Dennis and so his aunt and uncle–his father’s brother-decided they would adopt him.  So he just moved across country, became a big brother and he has a new mom and dad.  TWO WEEKS AGO.
Imagine. . .
I told Jonathan, one of  the young Marine who worked with Dennis, his back story and I could see the lump form in his throat.  All week Jonathan had poured into a little boy who has so many empty spaces–he couldn’t be filled.
I wish I had known and I would have loved him more like Jesus loves me. 
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Attention Military Marriages–Be Our Guests!

WTR Military Announcement

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More details about the Panama City Weekend!

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A Quick Catch-Up!

As I look back at this blog, I realize that I’ve not been much of a blogger.  I haven’t written anything since March and I’m rather embarrassed.  We have been busy, but undocumented and for that I am sorry.  Sometimes I think I have to wait until I have something great to say or an amazing episode to report, but its in the details that we live and I regret not passing those along.

blog on

So for a quick recap, here are some events of the past few months:


1. Mike and Steph will be having a baby NEXT month!  This dear one is a little girl and Emmah will be her name.  We are thrilled for them, they will be great parents, but we are mostly thrilled for ourselves.

Baby Emmah is coming!

Baby Emmah is coming!

2. We moved Kate to Chicago (Forest Park) to join the family and work with Tr*be. They all have other jobs, for now, so they are busy.  Plus they volunteer with Young Life in Oak Park River Forest!  We are glad they are together and of course we consistently wish they were together closer to us–but I probably shouldn’t go there continually.  We miss them like crazy.

Stephanie, me, Kate together in Illinois!

Stephanie, me, Kate together in Illinois!


1. In May I traveled to Virginia and Pennsylvania and Illinois.  Mike, Steph, Kate, and I attended the wedding of their cousin, Danielle in Columbia, Pennsylvania.  It was great fun to reunite with family and meet the next generation in person.  I visited dear friends in West Chester and enjoyed the time catching up with them too.  Then I drove with Kate to Chicago–I must say, I miss car rides with my kids, so I kind of wished she had been moving to California…or Florida.

May Route

May Route

2. Rick and I attended the Cru North American Staff Conference in Ft. Collins, Co in July.  Over 5,000 staff members from all the divisions of Cru gather every other year for encouragement, equipping, and worship.  We had MilMin Days, time as a team to focus on our goals and strategies to Win, Build, and Send within a military context.

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The time of course was made better by reuniting with old friends and making new ones.  Kathy Cleveland, who went to high school and college in Ft. Collins joined us for the week–which made it like an “old home week” for us too! Butch and Sara Alligood, friends from Dover, shared their amazing home with us and told us the funniest stories about happy cows, lame geese, HOAs and 94 year old parents.  They both introduced us to NOOSA yoghurt-yogurt will never be the same.

Noosa! Noosa!

Noosa! Noosa!

Dear Friends with Rick in Ft.Collins

Dear Friends with Rick in Ft.Collins

3. We drove last week to Pensacola, Florida–and now we live here.  More on that soon!

NAS Pensacola Gate

NAS Pensacola Gate


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Happy Memorial Day!

God’s richest blessings on your Memorial Day weekend.  We have so much to be thankful for and so many to thank!

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“You Can’t Swing a Dead Cat…”

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The Sandestin Hilton-
when it’s not raining!

The last weekend in February we spent in Destin Florida at Family Life’s Weekend To Remember (WTR) Star Military Event. Thank you for your prayers; it was a wonderful weekend!

This loby is where we actually spent our weekend!

This loby is where we actually spent our weekend!

 We joined Mike and Linda Montgomery, who are Military Ministry’s liaison to Family Life. The Montgomerys were there to guide on best practices in creating just the right environment that honors and grows the military couples who attend a WTR event.

Mike and Linda Montgomery

Mike and Linda Montgomery

Included in the Star/Military weekend event is a military breakout session on Saturday afternoon, right before DATE NIGHT.  During the session, the Montgomerys lead the group of about 40 couples in some exercises that would be a part of an Art of Marriage event, which is like a WTR, but it uses DVDs and can be adapted for a weekend seminar, an all day event, a weekly small group study.  It was wonderful for us to learn how it works and it was great to hear the responses the couples shared!

One of the amazing things my husband did–amazing man that he is–was

Ruth's Chris Steak House-gave an amazing experience to a special couple!

Ruth’s Chris Steak House-gave an amazing experience to a special couple!

 to stop at restaurants close to the Sandestin Hilton and ask if they would be able to give a gift certificate to a military couple attending the weekend.  We all know I would never be able to pull this off, but for Rick it was pure joy!  The generosity of the restaurants blew us away!  A few in particular gave over and beyond what

Tuscany Italian Bistro

Tuscany Italian Bistro

The Melting Pot

The Melting Pot

we could have imagined and the couples who won the meals were just thrilled.  It was a real gift for us to be able to share in this way of honoring the military. We give many thanks to these wonderful restaurants: Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Tuscany Italian Bistro, and The Melting Pot!

DSC_0024On Sunday morning there was also a special breakfast, hosted by MilitaryMinistry for the active duty couples attending the weekend. DSC_0017The Montgomerys showed us how to plan for the breakfast and then how to do everything in our power to make it run smoothly.  It was encouraging

to see how many couples actually woke up early to attend!DSC_0022

 It was great to meet these couples and learn more about how we can come alongside them with resources or a ministry of presence as they deal with stress of military life during a time of war.  I still feel that there isn’t much that compares to the automatic connections between military families and when you put believing families together it is such a source of encouragement and wisdom and fun!  It is such an honor to work in support of the military family!photo-89We’d like to share with you some of the comments the couples gave us regarding the Weekend To Remember:

“Amazing Welcome! Thank you for recognizing that the military family is unique!”

        Navy husband deployed 9 times in the past 3 years.

“We made a commitment that divorce is not an option.”

                         Air Force spouse, deployed 3 times in the past 3 years, including one 8 month deployment.

“Thanks for the military angle. It made the experience more valued and enjoyable.”

Marine flight student

“We were not aware of Military Ministry before this event. We feel that the efforts of this ministry hold so much potential for helping us grow, mend, heal and support military families, that every effort should be made to grow it.  We were personally touched and enriched beyond words.”

Army Warrant Officer and wife separated by deployments 48 times in the past 3 years.

“Going out of the way for the military made us feel loved and welcomed and encouraged.”  Air Force officer

“I was ready for divorce.  I no longer consider it an option!”

Air Force Warrant Officer

“We appreciate the military focus and recommend that you keep doing it!”   

Dual career Air Force couple

Represented in Destin were couples from Maxwell AFB, Ft. Rucker, Tyndall AFB, NAS Pensacola, Whiting Field, Hurlburt Field, Ft. Hood, and Columbus AFB.  We also learned, while we were at the conference,  that a unit from Ft. Bragg had been relocated to Crestview, Florida, just north of Eglin Air Force Base and his church in Crestview had a new large influx of military families.

Another big blessing of this weekend was to be able to work alongside two other ministries.  Mike and Arden Patterson, who lead the OCF team in the Pensacola area, brought some OCF couples to the WTR.   Also there were Mike and Lisa Conn, who have a ministry called Family Teams for Christ in Montgomery, Alabama.  Mike and Lisa minster especially to the pilots at the SOS school and they brought a whole crew down from Maxwell AFB.  Mike and Lisa were a true example of servant-leadership; they spent the weekend caring for the children of one couple, whose grandparent sitter was stranded in a snowstorm in a cold place.

The Conn's Crowd at the Destin WTR!

The Conn’s Crowd at the Destin WTR!

While in Destin we were reminded “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a military member in the Florida panhandle!” so we continue to go forward with plans to move to the area soon.  We are trusting God for the wisdom about where to  live and we are excited about the many opportunities ahead!

PS: All the cats in our house are fine!DSCN0189 DSCN0233 DSCN0573

PS: The team from Northstar Church in Panama City were amazing.  As Always.

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When do you stop calling them “kids?”

I am writing today for a different reason than normal.  My kids

These kids?

These kids?

Our Children…

These children?

These children?

Adult Children

Adult Children

Fun Adults!

Fun Adults!

Our adult that an oxymoron or what?  Somehow, I can’t get “my adult…” across my lips.  If they’re adults, they aren’t mine anymore and I just hate admitting that, even though they don’t live with me, near me, or need me for too much too often.

Erick and Mike keep reminding Rick that he really shouldn’t use the phrase, “the boys” when he refers to them in public.  Trust me, I’m still holding babies in my heart, so “boys” doesn’t sound half as bad as what I might say! 🙂

And don’t Rick and I still look like this:



Anyway, these guys..

clan 2010

Steph and Mike, Kaitie, Erick and Amber

are in the process of creating a company called TR*BE clothes.Screen shot 2013-02-12 at 5.25.23 PM

About 18 months ago they read The Hole in our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision and shortly thereafter they watched a movie called 58:the film  ( Their hearts broke because more than 26,000 children die a day from problems related to poverty and they became convicted of God’s love and concern for the poor and more so of their need to do something.

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
    lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
    and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
    and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
     and do not hide from relatives who need your help.  Isaiah 58:6-12

TR*BE is the idea they began to develop as we gathered for Christmas that year, even more under the conviction of the Spirit.  It is based on the abundance of clothing in their closets and finding  a way to use what their generation has to give to needs that touch the heart of God.

They would like to start a movement that blesses.

They have submitted their company to a crowd-funding website called indiegogo to raise the initial funds for this venture.  This seed money will enable them to maintain and modify their website, create warehouse and staffing operations, and develop the product line.  They have 60 days and they are praying their vision catches on!

Please check it out!

I am a mom of adults!


with some of my adults~

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Being Intentional in your marriage!

Being Intentional in your marriage!

The Weekend to Remember Buy One Get One Sale has been extended through midnight Monday–January 28th.  If you register for any event, any where in the country,  you will pay half price for the registration fee for a Weekend to Remember!


We will be attending the WTR event in Destin, Florida, which is a STAR event, as Family Life is coming alongside Military Ministry to encourage and prepare military couples!

Here’s the link, click on it, find your DESTINation (even if you can’t make the Destin, FL WTR) and register.  You will not regret the time you invest in your marriage and your family and it is fun too!  

<a href=””>Register for a Weekend To Remember</a>

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A Weekend to Remember, even if your marriage is almost perfect…

Screen shot 2013-01-08 at 4.57.55 PMChristmas 2011 our  gift to our our newly-wedded son and his wife was a Family Life Weekend to Remember.  At that point Mike and Steph had been married for six months and it seemed like a good investment in their future.  So we picked an event close to where they lived and a date not too distant (so we didn’t forget) and we sent them off to a great hotel with a little extra money for date night and also for resources to help grow and strengthen their marriage.

They loved it all: the hotel room, the food, the location, getting away, eating out…oh–the speakers and the seminar too! The most memorable comment on the weekend was that it was great, but they sure were glad that they didn’t have the issues that some of those other people must have in their marriages!

Christmas in Chicago

Christmas in Chicago

A year later, Mike and Steph, still have a wonderful marriage that has been through a bit more of life.  They have moved to a new city, worked through some job loss and job hunts, adopted– another kitten– and they began working on a dream business with their siblings.  They work hard and they volunteer hard, with YL at Oak Park River Forest High School.  They’re still happy and in love and everything newly-weds should be! 🙂

Problems? No, not US!

Problems? No, not US!

I wonder if they’ve encountered any of those problems yet–like the rest of us old married people experience?  Well, at least we know they are equipped to deal and committed to a working at their marriage.  They enjoy each other and we enjoy them too!

If your marriage is slightly less perfect than Steph and Mike’s or if your kids or friends would benefit from a Weekend to Remember Get-away Weekend (and honestly, who wouldn’t?), follow this link:

<a href=””>Register for a Weekend To Remember</a>

and then choose your Get-Away location.  By registering with our group, you will get a great deal on a Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway event in your area!  And–If you register for an event between NOW and JANUARY 27, you will receive a discounted registration price of $150 per couple (hotel costs are extra).  The event doesn’t have to be between those dates, just the registration (someone had to explain that to me a few times).
Check it out!

It is highly recommended by the two folks below!


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John’s story–Our story

John's story

Over the past year were involved in a Bible study on MacDill AFB. It has been such a blessing to be back in fellowship with military families and we were blessed to have graduates of three service academies and representatives from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines.  It is one more thing that affirms our calling to this ministry.

Recently a member of our study, John, shared a story that spoke to our hearts and with his permission I will share it.

John grew up not being the best at anything.  His grades were average, his SATs were nothing special, he got in trouble–possibly quite often.
His parents suffered illnesses and the stress lead to divorce. During his senior year he ended up living with a friend’s family.  He cut the grass for them, but as his friends went off to college, he felt the awkwardness of knowing he didn’t belong.  So he joined the Army; I think it might have been an option given to him by a judge…

And he asked Jesus for one more chance to do things right–this time with a submitted heart and life.

John made it through basic training at the top of his class.  He went to schools to learn skills and he consistently ranked at the top of his class. The Army noticed and gave him the opportunity to attend the Military Academy Prep School where he excelled and graduated–at the top of his class.  He earned an appointment to West Point. So, John went to West Point and continued to do very well during his first two years.

But always, in the back of his mind, he feared that someone was going to find out that he didn’t belong.  He wasn’t an honor student, a star athlete, or class president  He told us that during those years, he refused to buy a t-shirt or jacket or baseball cap that said West Point on it.  He was always waiting for a call to the Office of the Commandant to tell him that the powers that be had finally found out about him and he needed to leave immediately.  So, for his first two years he lived with fear, in spite of the changed life he was living.

Somewhere in his junior year, John relaxed.  He realized the story he was telling himself was a lie.  He knew he had been fully accepted and from that point on he walked forward in faith.

But for all of those other years, he lived with the image of who he had been at the forefront of his mind.  He was afraid that in spite of his grades, his excellent peer grease, and his commitment to doing his best, others would realize that he didn’t belong because of who he was before Jesus granted him his second chance.  The source of what he was believing wasn’t the Holy Spirit, but the enemy of our souls.

Today John is a Lt. Colonel in the Army, a graduate of West Point, a former White House Fellow, a graduate of further graduate schools,  and now he has left Tampa and is working at the Pentagon.  He is also the husband of a godly woman, and a loving father of a beautiful family.  He has what he has because he knows who he is cannot be threatened by who he used to be.

I listened to John’s story at Bible study, slightly shocked because I only see who he is now.  I’m always surprised to find out that others have fears and failures, painful pasts, and overwhelming obstacles they have overcome.

But in some ways we all share John’s story.

We know who we used to be before Jesus gave us our second chance. Even the “rule-followers” and “water-walkers” among us know the secrets of their own hearts and they are aware of who they might have become.

For the New Year 2013, I need to remember that  we were all saved by the God of the second chance, the God who took our past to the  cross with Him.  We don’t have to claim that other person any longer.  We are not who we were or who we might have been, but we are what Jesus has called us to be…redeemed for His glory!

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I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20
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Run to the Pain


I have always known, as has any one who knows us, that Rick and I have very different in personalities.  We clearly share the same faith, convictions and values, but the ways we react and interact to almost every event in the world are almost diametrically opposed. 

We recently took a test called Clifton StrengthsFinder for our work with Military Ministry.  It helps us (organizationally) to know the strengths of each person, so that the ministry functions to its potential.  As I watched Rick greeting people on Sunday morning at church last week, I was reminded that his number one strength is “Woo.”  A person with woo, honestly believes that there is no such thing as a stranger, just friends yet unmet.  A “woo” loves the challenge of meeting people and making connections — and though we have just identified this as a legitimate strength, this would come as no surprise to anyone who knows Rick.  On the other side of this relationship is me and one of my top strengths is “relator.”  A relator derives the most pleasure from being around a few close friends and likes to form relationships with a few confidants.  A relator feels no compulsion to meet everyone in the room, or even acknowledge that there are other people in the room. I tend to care deeply about fewer people and that is enough for me.

Clearly, Rick and I operate in separate spheres when we’re out in any type of a crowd.  And that’s okay–God made us a team.  Hopefully a team that does not want to do permanent damage to each other…but that’s another reason God gave us the Holy Spirit .

But there is another aspect to my husband’s strengths and his willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit that stood out to me the other day.  We were on the road and we stopped in at the hotel, where a Weekend to Remember Star (Military) Event will take place.  Rick wanted to check in with their sales people to find out if there would be special deals/military rates for active duty couples attending the event.  So he spoke to the sales rep, explained who he was, the ministry we work with, and why he had stopped in.

As he did this the sales rep told Rick that one of the higher level managers had a son who had returned from Afghanistan and this son had recently committed suicide.  Rick asked immediately if he could see this father who has suffered such great loss.

This is where I see such a great difference between my husband and me.  Rick runs to the pain and I wander around pretending the pain doesn’t exist.  Rick knows he has words of healing, words of life, words of encouragement and he can’t wait to take them to the people who need them.   This drives his life and his ministry because it is his true heart, the heart of the Father.  I admire him more than words can say. 


Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  I Corinthians 9:24

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