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=”http://shop.familylife.com/events_1.aspx?categoryid=97&groupName=Hammestead”>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!

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 11.41.44 AM

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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Austin 1992

When my kids were little and I thought my days were rough.  I couldn’t wait until Rick got home.  I’d station one little boy at the window, another at the door and they would wait expectantly.   Some couples make a big deal of greeting each other warmly, I think I just told the kids, “Daddy’s home!!!” and had them run outside to greet him.  I’m sure the cheers were heart-warming to him, but the peace and quiet were my goals.

I was selfish and I pretty much remain selfish now. I was waiting for my husband, my

Charleston 1990

partner, the love of my life, to come home because I needed a break from the demands of being a mom of small children.  I wasn’t anticipating his return because of how much I loved him and wanted to see him, though I did love him and want to see him.  Instead, I wanted him home because I was thinking about me.

In the same way, I have been thinking recently and regularly of how the changes in culture, post-modernism, and political turmoil have all made me long for the return of Christ.  I see diminished options for our national future and I have less hope for the future of our children and grandchildren and even the church.  So– Come, Lord Jesus, Maranatha!

I’m doing the same thing, am I not? A friend wisely reminded me that there is no wrong

Whenever he is ready, let my heart be his.

reason to long for the return of Christ, but I don’t think my heart is completely right on this.  I want to wait expectantly for the second coming of Christ, not as just relief from the burdens of this world, but because of how much I love him and long to see his face. I want to be so in love with my Savior that I can’t wait to be with him because where he is–is my true home.

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Ops Retreat Update

Military Ministry Staff at the Operations Retreat

Rick and I just returned from the Military Ministry Operations Staff retreat.  We were there with staff members from other regions for a time of encouragement, replenishment, and learning.  We traveled to the Redwood Forests of Northern California (funny, we live by “Gulf Stream waters”–I know not really the Gulf Stream, the Gulf!) and were in awe of God’s creation.  Somehow, looking at an 1800 year old tree, that soars 250 feet above our heads, just reminded us that our God inspires awe!

This was our first encounter with all the staff who do the same jobs we do, but in different regions.  There with us were the Fishbacks/Tyrells (Europe), the Dorners (Red River/Texas), the Barrons (Southern California), the Cooks (Monterrey), the MacIntoshes (Great Lakes), the Trexlers (Hampton Roads) and other national staff who work in MilMin Headquarters in Newport News.  Each of these veteran families gave us ideas of how the ministry works in their area, so we could set goals based on their experiences.   It was a blessing.  The national staff, who encourage us regularly, gave us a ideas of how the vision and mission of the whole organization can help us reach the goal of our ministry,  that we would be caring community passionate about connecting the global military community to Jesus Christ.

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Where did the summer go?

Fall in Tampa Bay

It is now officially fall and I still can’t figure out where the summer went.  That could possibly be because it still feels like summer in the Tampa Bay area since there are no leaves changing colors or temperatures dropping–yet.  My only solid clue to the season change is that the women at church are wearing muted fall colors instead of the pastels of summer.  So, where did our summer go?

Our long time friends, Kim and Don

In May, we completed MPD and Rick went to MilMin headquarters in Newport News to check in–we rejoiced!  I spent some time at the NIH with my friend Leslie, who is recovering from a stem cell transplant.  I am happy to report that she is back in Maine and getting better every week! We then visited with our kids and we all attended the wedding of Trey and Maggie Stewart.  Trey’s parents, Kim and Don, are our friends from our days in  at the Charleston Naval Base.  I held Trey on the day he was born.  It was a great time of reunion and a recognition that our savior does knit our hearts together!

I loved this tree on the Rollins campus

In June I completed the first year classes as all Cru and Military Ministry staff are required.  It felt like it was me and a few hundred 20-somethings, I loved their enthusiasm! I had finished Old Testament Survey and New Testament Survey online and this summer I had classes in Bible Study Methods and Introduction to Christian Theology.  I learned a lot and most importantly to me, I learned that I like the Theology of Cru–and I really am a “quasi-reformed Bapti-matic!”   Another important thing–I passed!

Sunset off Clearwater Beach

We were also able to visit with David and Laura Preston; David serves as theDeputy National Director of the Military Campus Ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  David and Laura were able to give us more specifics on the nature and priorities of our work here in the southeast.  We, in turn, were able to share with them a walk, dinner, and a sunset on the beach at Clearwater.

Each Cross represents a Floridian who paid the ultimate price

In July we participated in a Warrior Walk in Lakeland with Nate and Jenny Garcia, who have recently joined MilMin staff.  The Warrior Walk was sponsored by Polk County Veterans and included a performance by the USMC Silent Drill Team.  It also gave us an opportunity to share Military Ministry resources with a new crowd that isn’t too far away and make some new friends.

In August Rick was able to meet with the SOCOM (Special Operations Command) chaplain and to discuss how Military Ministry can come alongside the Special Forces, like SEALS and Rangers.  These chaplains are so busy and so committed to being there for our troops that its hard for them to find time to meet–Rick met the senior chaplain for SOCOM during a 30 minute brown bag lunch.  Please pray with us that we can find ways to complement the incredible work our chaplains are accomplishing.

First Baptist Church Newport News

This month we have had numerous opportunities provided.  We attended a Bridges to Healing Conference at First Baptist Church of Newport News, Virginia.  There we learned how we can encourage and equip churches to support service members and families within the body and the greater community.     Last weekend we represented MilMin at a Weekend to Remember here in Tampa.  Only four couples had identified themselves as military before the weekend began, but there were four others who were identified during the weekend.  But beyond the active duty heros, many couples stopped by our table to talk about brothers or sons or daughters who were living with the long-term effects of war.  It always blesses us to be able to encourage these families, we know Jesus can bring healing.

MacDill AFB Chapel

This weekend, Rick will help lead a one-day retreat at the MacDill Chapel on the topic of discipleship, which you know is close to his heart.  The impetus is a video/study series called Not A Fan (by Kyle Idleman), which is great if you get a chance to check it out.

So the time has flown, the summer has passed and our fall looks full.  We are thankful for everyone who reads our blog, cares for us, and prays for us.  God is faithful and we are working hard to be like him.

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Because of you, because of Him.

This is a link to a video produced by Campus Crusade to let you know a portion of the work done for Christ around the word.

Click the picture

Because of you, because of Him~

Thank you, together we are making a difference.

Jan and Rick

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