Graci posing in the first dress I made for her.
Jon devouring his reuben sandwich. Notice the Superman shirt :)
An update on a shot we took last year in the kid's pool at Tom and Kat's house.
Our little studmuffin, Isaiah.
I can't believe how time has flown since the beginning of the year. We are indeed still among the living and doing well...
Jon survived his spring semester at DTS as well as a two week long summer course in May. This marks the 1/3 way mark toward his Master's of Theology degree. Woohoo!!!! He has completed 42 hours of the 120 total required. We are very excited that his class schedule in the fall will allow him to finish by 5pm both Tuesday and Thursday rather than getting off at 9:30pm one of the days. He will be taking Greek again in the fall which he is excited about. Please pray for him as the curriculum will be covering more translation practice rather than the focus on vocabulary. The Lord has blessed him with some wonderful friends at DTS. He continues to facilitate his Spiritual Formation group of 2 other men.
We just celebrated Jon's birthday on Monday. I surprised him by taking the night off of work. He requested corned beef and saurkraut for dinner-his favorite. I have a wonderful crockpot recipe that I've made the last few years that he loves. His favorite part is using the corned beef to make a reuben sandwich with sourdough bread and 1,o00 island dressing. I topped it off with a lemon pound cake with icing for his birthday cake. The kids and I went shopping for presents and they all said they wanted to give him shirts, so they all picked out shirts for Daddy. Isaiah picked out a Superman shirt for him. Love it!
I am currently involved in a women's summer Bible study through our church. I've so enjoyed the fellowship with the other ladies in the group-some of whom are in our Sunday School class. We are going through Priscilla Shirer's study on Jonah. She is the daughter of well known pastor, Tony Evans. The subheading of the study is "Navigating A Life Interrupted." It seems like each week she asks what the interruption or "divine intervention" is in our life that God has allowed. I think for me it's going back to work while Jon is in seminary. I am blessed to be doing a job that I love, but it's still difficult to leave Jon and the kids five nights of the week for The Cheesecake Factory. This time has helped me to cherish time with my kids and my husband more. One lesson I'm still learning is to put their needs before my own (especially the kids) when I just want some down time for me. Can anyone relate? I love doing studies through books or stories in the Bible that are common Sunday School lessons that we learned as kids; yet as an adult it's as if the story jumps off the page as it never has before. I experienced the same thing when I did Beth Moore's study through Daniel.
Cheesecake Factory continues to go well. I was honored to be named employee of the month for May. I get to wear a special pin on the collar of my work uniform and was also given a gift card for Cheesecake Factory. We've already used a fair amount of it on a few different occasions. Jon often brings the kids in on Sunday nights for a light dinner so I can see them all. The kids love coming in to "mommy's work."
The kids are all growing so fast! I was just looking through some pictures from last year and was amazed at how much they have grown in just one year. Graci will start kindergarten on August 22-two days before she turns 5. She is fascinated with clocks and time right now. She knows that two o'clock is nap time, 8 o'clock is bedtime and 10 o'clock in snack time. She's a bit of an alarm clock of sorts for us as you can imagine. I have gotten into sewing dresses for Graci this summer. I have completed two for her and made another for her cousin. It makes me smile that she loves to wear them.
Isaiah is growing, growing, growing! He has probably changed the most in the last year. He's lost most of his pudgy baby face and is stretching out. His favorite thing to do is be chased around the apartment by us with the "bonk wand." Jon rolled up a large envelope one day and dubbed it the bonk wand so he chases the kids around the house "bonking" them with it. It's lots of fun! Isaiah loves to snuggle with us and has such a tender heart. We hear from his Sunday School teachers all the time (no really, like every week practically) how much fun he is and how he entertains them.
Ezekiel is walking and dancing around like a champ. He is quite the little communicator with his babble. He went up to Graci yesterday and "asked" her for some of her snack- in his babble of course. Apparently he was quite convincing because she gave him some. He started walking shortly after his first birthday in April. He loves to dance to music and has such a sweet personality. He can be quite the snuggle bug and has been enjoying playing a bit of chase lately too. One prayer we have for Ezekiel right now is that his teeth would come in. He will be 15 months on Saturday and the poor little guy still has no chompers! His upper gums are a bit swollen and look white-ish, but still no teeth yet. The dentist says not to worry unless he reaches 16 months and still is toothless.
Apartment Life has been a bit discouraging lately. We have not been in prayer for our ministry here nearly as much as we should be. We are working on that. Please pray that the apartment complex will be able give us a regular budget each month so that we can put on appealing events to draw residents out of their homes. We live in a very transient complex which makes it difficult to grow deep relationships with them.
We will be taking off for a road trip to Boone, North Carolina in a few weeks. We'll be meeting up with Jon's twin sister and family as well as his oldest brother and family in Arkansas and then heading on the rest of the way as a caravan. We are really looking forward to the trip. We will be there for a family reunion with all of Jon's family minus one brother and his clan. Jon's parents are moving back to the states this weekend after serving 35 plus years in Kenya. Please pray for them as they adjust to life in North Carolina, which will be their new home base. Please also pray for Jon's youngest brother Philip, who will be finishing high school in North Carolina. He will be the only one of the Bransford kids to not graduate high school from Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya.
I think that's about it. Sorry for the length, I guess it's difficult to sum up 5 months in one blog entry. Thank you all for your prayers and loving support of our family.
Jeni (for JJGIE)