Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Is it really July?

Ezekiel peeking out our front door

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)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Stand in Awe...

Daddy and Zeko buddy.
The snow covered van next to our bronco is our new van!

Having fun together on the top bunk.

One last snuggle before mommy heads off to Cheesecake Factory for work.

Happy birthday Isaiah!!

Greetings from the ice covered Dallas region! We have been hit with a frigid ice/snow storm this week. I know all our friends in CO are probably laughing at the ridiculousness of practically shutting down the city for 3 days now due to "inclement" weather with temps in the teens and twenties during the day. However, with windchill it has been as low as -9. So there :) We've learned that Texans tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to anything freezing that falls from the sky. The blessing of it all is that it has given us some wonderful family time at home together. With DTS closing campus Tues-Thurs this week, Jon getting called off work Wed. morning and me getting called off work Tuesday night, we've have 3 glorious days of being home together with nowhere to go. Jon's getting a bit of cabin fever so he's out picking up a few groceries, but other than that we haven't ventured out anywhere. So nice!
So, I stand in awe of all the amazing things God has blessed us with. We got to renew our food stamps for another 6 months, WIC support, and the kids are still covered with Medicaid until April when we'll renew them again. The biggest blessing came the first week of January when we were able to purchase a used 2005 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. We got a special gift that was desginated for this purchase and the gift covered all but $100 of the price. As we were driving home from picking it up, the worship song, "I Stand in Awe" came on and brought me to tears almost instantly. We serve such a generous Lord who provides well beyond all we ask and think, and I just can't thank Him enough.
Jon is back into the swing of things with school. His classes have a ton of reading as usual. We are both amazed at how many books he has read in the last year. He continues to enjoy his classes and enjoys hanging out with some seminary buddies of his while he's on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays each week.
I am still waiting tables at The Cheesecake Factory and really enjoying it. I am working 4-5 nights a week and I've earned the privilege of working a number of closing shifts which helps bring in a little more money each month. The tips were particularly good in January and that has allowed us to have a bit of breathing room financially and help us nearly pay off our debt and begin saving a bit for tuition in the fall. I am also able to take a quick trip to Ca in the middle of February to visit my family for a weekend. Ezekiel gets to go with me so he can meet all of his aunts and uncles for the first time. We with both get to be there for my nephew's dedication and get to meet him for the first time too. I am really looking forward to it- and I'm sure Ezekiel will be excited too!
Graci, Isaiah and Ezekiel are doing well now after a month of illnesses spread through all three of them. They all had a horrible chest cough and cold for the first two weeks of the month. No fun! Especially when Graci is the only one who really knows how to blow her nose by herself. Isaiah is good at inhaling, but hasn't quite figured out how to blow the air (and other contents) out of his nose. Ezekiel is just a cutie who is happy letting his nose run all over his face and smearing it on his hands right before mommy comes with a tissue. The dear :) Graci and Isaiah's favorite past times of late are singing worship songs together, dancing, and tickling mommy. Graci has found my tickle spots and LOVES to torture me.
Last weekend Jon took Ezekiel to the emergency room after he had been running a fever of 102. The only thing that kept it down was pumping him full of tylenol. We wanted to be sure there were no infections, so daddy sacrficially sat in the emergency room for 5 hours with the little man to make sure all was well. They ran all the tests and everything came back fine, so we all deduced that it was just teething. He still hasn't broken any teeth through, so I'm guessing he'll get a few of them all at once and his poor little body is on overload from it. His fever broke Monday morning and we haven't seen it since. Thank you, Lord!
Apartment Life is going well, but seems very busy at times. We met a Kenyan lady last week and she said that there are a fair amount of Kenyans who live in the complex. (There are actually a LOT of Africans in general who live here.) We exchanged contact information and are hoping to set up some kind of a potluck with Kenyan food. I'm so excited! With a complex as large as ours (708 units), we've been averaging 50-60 new residents moving in each month as well as that same amount renewing leases each month. We are required to talk with 50% of both lists to welcome them and see if they will be renewing their leases. This can be very time consuming. Please pray that we can do our job here well and help the residents connect with each other.
Jon has been asked by a pediatric neurologist (Pam) that we met in Kenya, to do the architectural designs for a medical clinic for YWAM (Youth With A Mission) in Tanzania. He is very excited and yet intimidated by this venture. We are meeting with Pam and her husband tomorrow night for dinner to talk details about what it all will entail. We renewed Jon's passport so he'll be ready to fly out to see the land possibly in March during one week of his spring break. He would be working from home and maybe only go to TZ once or twice throughout the entire process. Pam saw some designs of Jon's when we were living in Kenya a few years ago and the name that kept coming to her mind was Jon's. We all prayed about it and decided to take this leap of faith and see what God has planned through it. Jon will be able to work on the plans over the summer and some during the semester. Thankfully for our sake, nothing happens quickly in Africa, so there isn't the time constraint pressures or even guidelines that one would have to deal with in the States.
Jon's twin sister and family came down from Kansas to join us for Christmas and Isaiah's birthday (Christmas Eve). It was quite cozy with 4 adults and 6 kids ages four and under in our little apartment, but we had so much fun! It was nice to stay home for Christmas this year and not travel anywhere.
Whew! I think that's all the nitty gritty details I have to share for now.

Blessings to you all :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I can't think of a great title tonight :)

This was just before he turned 6 months. About a week later he was crawling around.
Not only does Ezekiel sit and crawl, he also likes to pull himself to a near standing position!

Jon and his mom :)

The bumpkins and their Shosho :)

An attempt at a family photo with Shosho with the timer on the camera. Not too bad!

Aunt Lois enjoying some time with Ezekiel.

Mommy and her boys :)

Having fun with Grandma while watching people ice skate at the mall.

Graci and Jon hanging out for a photo op in a tree.

Oh my goodness. I knew it had been awhile since I last updated the blog, but I didn't realize it's been nearly 3 months!!! Wow, where does the time go? So I last wrote about Jon beginning his fall semester and now I can tell you that he's just 2 weeks away from finishing it. Greek has been challenging and yet fun for him. He probably wouldn't call it fun, but I can tell he enjoys flaunting his new language skills. He put together this amazing chart for all the paradigms (conjugations) he has to memorize and shared it with his classmates. Some of them commented that they think they may have a fighting chance at passing Greek because of it. Great job, Handsome :)

We are settling into our busy schedules as well as can be expected. I am working five nights a week at The Cheesecake Factory and Jon is working 2-3 mornings a week at Starbucks. God has been so gracious in giving us jobs that allow for at least one of us to be with the kids at all times so there's no daycare involved. We even get a few hours in the afternoons together some days. It really is the ideal situation considering we are both working.

November has been a busy month of visiting for us. It began with a visit from my mom for a weekend. The kids love it when Grandma comes. We took the kids to the mall to play in the play area and mom and I got to go shopping another day. So much fun!!!

Our next "visiting" was a few weeks later when we drove up to Salina, KS to visit with Tom, Kat and kids (Jon's twin sister and family). We took the weekend off work and just relaxed with our great friends who happened to also be family. The kids did superb on the road trip. We stopped at a dear extended family member's home on the way back. Aunt Lois has cats, kittens, a dog, horses and cows at her home in KS and the kids had a ball! Graci and Isaiah got to help Aunt Lois feed the horses and cows. This was definitely a highlight for them. She sent us home with yummy apple pie and lots of goodies she's been canning. We've been enjoying them all this last week!

We got home from KS three days before Thanksgiving. Jon was off from school the week before Thanksgiving as well as the week of Thanksgiving. He had to work at Starbucks on the holiday, but then came home and we enjoyed a relaxing day together with just the five of us. I didn't cook a turkey or any of the usual fixings for the celebration this year. It was much more valuable to spend time with my family, then use the extra time together standing in the kitchen and cooking. It was so nice to have the time together!

Jon's mom (Shosho- which is Kikuyu for "grandma") came the day after Thanksgiving and stayed thru Monday. This was the first time we've seen her since September '09. She got to meet Ezekiel for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. It was great to catch up with mom and to see her enjoy time with the kids. We took Mom to the mall where the kids like to play in the play area. It wasn't until we pulled into the parking garage at the mall that we realized the lack of intelligence on our part at the thought of going to the mall the weekend after Thanksgiving. It was just a wee bit crowded! But, I can proudly say, that we left the mall purchasing nothing. It was a great day :)

The kids are doing well considering that Jon and I are both working now. There are times when it wears on them more than others. We are constantly seeking to give them the quality time that they need from us. Sometimes we do a great job and other times we fail miserably. We are thankful that they still love us. Graci and Isaiah are growing so much it seems! They both outgrew all of their trousers from last year. Graci had been handed down a bunch from her cousin and all the trousers were too short for her. Praise God she didn't get my vertically challenged genes. I think they passed by Isaiah too. We'll have to see how Ezekiel fares in a few years. "Little man baby Zeko" (this is Ezekiel's full name according to Isaiah) is over 7 months old now and growing like a weed! He starting crawling at 6 months and THEN learned to sit up at 7 months. Apparently he didn't get the memo that babies typically sit before crawl. I guess he had places to go and people to see. We've just started giving him some finger food/snacks to get his pincer fingers working and figure out how to get food not only to his mouth, but IN his mouth. We're still working on the "in" factor.

Well, that about sums up where we're at currently and what's been going on. Oh yeah...Apartment Life is going well, but very busy lately. We started doing welcome visits and renewal visits in November and scaled back the events to just 2 a month. The visits are great because we get more face time with the residents. We went to one home and the lady opened the door and exclaimed, "It's the CARES Team!" We felt very famous to say the least :) The difficulty lies when we have 47 new move ins and 32 renewals all in one month to go visit. Whew! That's a lot!!!

Please keep Jon in prayer as he has some late nights ahead of him completing his final papers and projects. He has done so well in all of his classes and may very well continue his straight A's this semester.

Okay, now we're summed up. I pray your holiday season is off to a great start. May we all remember that Christ is the reason for Christmas and deserves all the glory and honor for the holiday season.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Coffee and Cheesecake and Faith, OH MY!

Graci sporting her new swimsuit from Heidi and her family
Isaiah and Mommy hanging out :)

Our little drooling man :)

Heidi and Graci together at the play area at the mall.

Hanging out after bath time.

Hello everyone :)

To quote one of my mom's favorite movies ("Overboard") "It's been a hell of a day at sea, sir!" Well, it's actually been more like a month or so for us. When I last left you we were pretty busy. I've come to realize that was just the tip of the iceberg.


Jon is now a barista at Starbucks!!!!! He was hired about a month ago and is really enjoying it. He's becoming quite the officianado on coffee. One of our friends in Apartment Life works there as well and he recommended Jon for the job. What a blessing! The manager there is a believer and a former DTS student so she understands the busy schedule of a seminary student. She also highly values family and makes sure her employees have time to pour into their families at home. She will be giving Jon Sundays off unless there's an emergency or something. What a huge gift! He'll qualify for health benefits after 90 days, so in the meantime we switched his insurance coverage to a short term plan that's about $100 cheaper per month than we were paying for him. He gets to work the opening shifts Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, so he's home by one o'clock at the latest. The bummer is that he has to wake up to be at work as early as 4:30 sometimes. It's most brutal when he works at 4:30am on Wednesday morning after being in class from 8am-9:30pm the day before. Early to bed, early to rise is our motto as of late. Easier said than done is what we're learning though :)


I am now a server at The Cheesecake Factory here in Dallas. Woohoo!!! After two weeks of training, both "classroom style" and on the floor, as well as a few written exams over the menu (the final was 350 questions!), I am officially on my own and making tips beginning this Monday night. Whew!! It's been a crazy two weeks!. I am really enjoying waiting tables again and my co-workers are very welcoming and supportive. The restaurant location is ideal for great tips: across the street from Northpark Mall (one of the busiest malls in the metroplex) and in a VERY wealthy area of town. I'll be working four nights a week, probably Mon, Wed, Fri and Saturday. The blessing of Jon working at Starbucks is that he gets to work early in the morning and be home by lunch. This gives us the afternoon together before I head off to Cheesecake Factory somewhere between 4:45-6:15. My managers are going to try to give me at least every other Sunday off, if not every Sunday off. I told them of our crazy life these days and they too were very supportive and seeking to make sure we have time together as a family. What an answer to prayer!


It's a daily thing, but in reality it's a constant thing. At least that's what I'm learning. Last week we had the privilege of writing our tithe check. This particular time was exciting because we didn't know how the rest of the monthly bills would be paid even before writing the check, yet it is not our money. It is His and we are just stewards of it. Notice I said it was "exciting" to write the tithe check. A few years ago I would have been absolutely terrified to do something like that and would have tried to convince Jon to wait to tithe. I've learned enough to know that that is definitely not the route that God would have for us. Well, just as God would have it (and after much prayer), we were given a gift from some friends this week that will help cover the bills that are due this week. (To clarify, yes, we both have new jobs, but we entered in the middle of the pay cycle so we won't get our first checks until later this week.) This gift came from friends who didn't know of our financial predicament this month, but were given a gift themselves recently and felt that the Lord wanted them to give the tithe from that gift to us. Needless to say, I cried when Jon showed me the gift.

So just as we breathe a sigh of relief and offer up many thanks to the Lord for unfailing provision...Jon goes to run an errand Friday night and the car won't start. It just clicks once and that's it. I drove it to work earlier that day and had no problems with it and then this. I've learned that my first reaction has changed in these times. I don't go into panic mode but instead, I go to the Lord first and-because I'm human and I don't understand Him many times-I ask Him what is He thinking and why now?! And then I rest in the assurance that He of course knew this would happen and all will work out fine. Jon went with our Korean friend, Kanghoon, to get jumper cables to try and jump it, but to no avail. We had the kick-off conference for the Spiritual Formation groups for DTS all day on Saturday and had no car. I had to be at work at 7am to take my final exam to complete my certification. Kanghoon graciously loaned me his car to go to work and then called another friend to pick up he and Jon for the kick off (Kanghoon is also a DTS student).

I woke up Saturday morning with the overwhelming feeling that God wanted me to email our Sunday School leaders and let them know of our predicament. So often our pride gets in the way of asking for help. This lesson was touched on even at the DTS conference on Saturday, so I was even more convinced that I needed to send the email. We got home and within an hour of notifying our leaders of our situation, one of them had already called us with a mechanic friend that he has that is willing to help us get the car looked at and fixed. By evening time, our Sunday School teacher had called to offer their support and anything we need. They both said they would be in touch with us today to check in on us and see how we're doing. In a way, I kind of think that God allowed this to happen at this particular time because we needed a day of rest. Jon has today off as do I and we are pretty tired as we continue to adjust to our new busy schedule of school, work, apartment life, leading a spiritual formation group each week, and family life. It is for a season and He will sustain us! We are thankful to have a day at home with the kids and no option of going anywhere. A blessing in disguise :)

OH MY!...

We celebrated Graci's fourth birthday on August 24. I can't believe our first little bumpkin is four. To think that she'll be in kindergarten a year from now is crazy! She and Isaiah love to go over to our Korean friend's house to play. Kanghoon and Jihyun have a 4 year old daughter named Heidi that the kids love to play with. It's pretty neat to see that language is no barrier between kids. Heidi doesn't speak hardly any English, yet the kids don't care. I love it!

Isaiah is fully potty trained!!! Woohoo for only having to diaper one tushy!!!!! He is such a hoot and has very little volume control. Okay, let's just be blunt. He's LOUD! I know he gets that from me. I have recently apologized to my parents because I now understand what they meant when they told me I was so loud when I talked. Notice I put this all in the past tense because of course I am such a quiet and mild toned person now (please note the obvious sarcasm).

Ezekiel is growing and learning so much! He has even shown early signs of mobility. Scary!!! He mostly scoots backwards for now, but he does roll everywhere. He definitely does not stay in one place anymore. We were able to pick up a really nice swing from DTS "Luke's Pantry and Closet" a few weeks ago. He really loves it! We started him on rice cereal a few weeks ago. He enjoyed it for the first week and then realized how bland it is, so mommy spoiled him and started adding some mushed banana to it. Now he scarfs it down!

We have officially changed churches to Park Cities Baptist Church. We are really loving the teaching there and the people as well. As I mentioned earlier, the Sunday School class has been so welcoming and supportive to us-and we just joined the class 3 weeks ago. It's amazing to see the body of Christ rally together to help one another. It's so amazing to be part of a community like this again.

I'm sure you're all tired of reading by now. I'm sorry this update is late and thus became so long. Believe it or not I left out a lot of other exciting details (like tornadoes in Dallas and getting caught outside in a thunderstorm with the kids on a walk). Thank you for your constant love and support of us. Thank you for letting me share what God's been teaching us in our time here. I've believed for a long time now that we're not necessarily here for the purpose of Jon getting his THM degree from DTS, but for the journey that God will take us on through the process.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Whirlwind of a month

Watching movies with Grandma and Grandpa.
Fun picture angle, courtesy of my creative husband :)

Mommy and her boys :)

Family picture in front of Tom and Kat's house.

Graci and Isaiah with their cousins Kara and Calvin staying cool in the blow up pool.

Our 3 bumpkins posing in mommy's chair :)

Where to begin? Well, I guess the easiest way to explain it all is like this...

  • we've moved and are now a CARES team with Apartment Life

  • Jon will be leading a Spiritual Formation community group (of couples) for DTS for the next two years beginning this fall
  • Jon is going to be interviewed for a position in the library at DTS sometime in the next couple weeks
  • Ezekiel is now three months

  • we're searching for a new church

  • working with premarried group at church

  • visit from my parents
  • quick weekend trip to Salina to visit Tom, Kat and kiddos

We met with the management of an apartment community on Friday, July 2 and were moved in on Monday, July 5. Talk about a whirlwind weekend of packing! It was a bit crazy to say the least, but exciting nonetheless. There were a few hurdles along the way like no air conditioning for most of the first two days (it was 87 degrees inside the apartment), complications getting our internet hooked up a week and a half after moving in, and an oven that wasn't working when I had a batch of butterscotch brownies ready to bake, etc. All in all, everything worked out fine and we are feeling more and more settled in our new place. The management team and staff here are wonderful and have been very welocoming and helpful to us. We are really excited to get to work with them! We are blessed to have a 2 bed/2 bath home with a sunroom for Jon to study in. We are on the third floor of a complex with over 700 units for us to take care of as the CARES team. We get to plan events and create a fun and friendly environment for the residents and staff so they can truly feel a part of a community. Tonight we met a family from Korea who just moved here last week to begin at DTS this fall. We have been trying to sell our old crib on craigslist all week and have had three people back out of the purchase. I felt that the Lord was saving the crib for a special reason...we got to give the crib to the Korean family tonight who have an 11 month old son and a 4 year old daughter. What an answer to prayer for them and for us! Jon met them while swimming with Graci in the pool that's just down the walkway from our apartment. The boys and I went out to join them and got to meet our new friends. Yay!!!!

Jon interviewed a few weeks ago to be a leader of a couples small group for his Spiritual Formation class. It's a requirement for all students and the group will continue to meet for two years. It's not a paid position, but it will give him 133 hours toward the 400 hours required for his internship in a few years. Blessing!!! We are super excited to have a community group again! This leads into why we are searching for a new church...the one we have been going to since January is a great church, but it does not offer Sunday morning Sunday school classes. Because of our involvement in the Spiritual Formation group at DTS as well as work and family time, we don't have time to be a part of another community group during the week. So, we've decided to find a church that offers Sunday school classes on Sunday mornings so we can have a small group fellowship with other members of our church body without having to commit to another night in the week. We want to be more than just seat warmers.

Jon also will be interviewing for a position in the library at DTS sometime in the next few weeks. The pay is not fabulous, but it's still a little more than he's making now at Sprouts. It would be awesome for him to be able to work on campus. Please pray that his interview will go well. We are unsure when it will be.

The kids are all doing great and growing like weeds it seems. Ezekiel just turned 3 months last week. WOW!!! He smiles and coos and giggles and...even rolled over from back to belly for the first time today. He did it in his bed so we didn't get to watch him in action, but rather I found him squirming around on his belly when he was fussing after nap time. He loves to watch his big brother and sister play around and especially loves to lay on his play gym and kick the bars for the music and lights to come on. Isaiah continues to be our little lover boy, showering us with kisses and hugs constantly. Graci loves to sing and dance and help take care of baby Zeko. All three kids had such fun with Grandma and Grandpa Long when they came out a few weeks ago. It was great to see them and enjoy their company for a few days.

We have really enjoyed mentoring two couples at church in the premarried classes the last 6 weeks. It has been very rewarding for us to have a bit of a refresher course in some ways as well as getting the opportunity to share our stories and experiences from our five plus years of marriage. Going through the class has made me so thankful that God brought Jon and I together and amazed at how much we have grown and learned as we go through the adventure of marriage together. I remember being at the dating stage that our couples are at and how much I loved Jon at that point. How exciting it is to see how our love for one another has grown over the years.

We are doing well and enjoying the summer together before the busyness of the semester begins at the end of August. Jon is getting a head start on his reading to help alleviate some of the work load. Please pray that he can get a lot of his books read by then. Please also pray for continued provision from Him as we are unsure how all the finances are going to work out with Jon going to school full time this fall. We are considering me waiting tables again to help relieve some of the pressure from Jon and allow him to study more. Please join us in praying for these things as we seek His best for us.

TTFN (ta ta for now!)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ministry on the horizon

Happy summertime! If only it weren't so hot here in Texas. Right about now (and the entire last month) we are missing the mild summer of Colorado Springs. We had no air conditioning in our townhome there and really didn't miss it except for maybe two weeks out of the summer. Each afternoon the clouds would roll in and we'd get a great thunderstorm to cool everything off. It was great! Here in Texas it's a wee bit warmer and much much much (did I mention much) more humid!

Jon is officially off school for the summer now. Woohooo!!! He turned in the last assignments for his summer school course last week. We got his grades for his spring semester classes and I'm very proud to say that he received all A's and one B+. We are awaiting his final grade for his summer school course. I'm sure he did great in that one too.

We had our interview with the Apartment Life organization and it went very well. We were accepted as a CARES team for them and are awaiting to hear where we'll be living. We went to a training seminar with them this last Saturday and got to meet some great people. We will be known as "retention specialists" for the apartment community. Our role will have different facets including welcoming new residents, planning activities/events, helping the apartment managers, as well as visiting residents when they are up for renewal. Our prayer is that it would be in the Uptown/Downtown area of Dallas; putting us between DTS and church. We are also praying to be placed sometime within the next month.

We also began working with the premarital ministry at church. Last week we got to meet for a leadership training session. And this past Tuesday was the first of eight classes with the couples. We are the table leaders/mentor couple to two couples. Neither of them are engaged yet, just considering it and excited to learn if their relationship is marriage material. Jon and I are super excited to be involved in ministry together again and are looking forward to getting to know our couples better over the next eight weeks.

With school finishing for the summer, Jon is working more hours at Sprouts while continuing the search for a better job. He's applied to five or six great ones over the last few days that would be right up his alley. One is for a construction company here in Dallas doing the exact same job he did with Caffey Inc. in Colorado Springs. The job hunt is very frustrating most of the time with very few employer's responding to the applications/resume's you submit. Please continue to keep this job search in your prayers.

God has continued to provide for us along the way. Graci and Isaiah were finally approved for Medicaid a few weeks ago. Praise God!!! As soon as we got their paperwork in the mail, I turned around and called our insurance company to drop them. It seems that His provision for us since arriving in Texas has been by removing expenses from us through: Medicaid, WIC (women, infant, children...a government funded program that provides healthy, nutritious groceries each month for pregnant and nursing mothers and their children that are 5 years old and younger), Luke's Pantry/Closet (a ministry at DTS providing groceries and clothes/household necessities for full time seminary students), a greater discount on food purchased at the Sprout's where Jon works, Apartment Life, etc. I could actually keep listing more ways that He has continued to show us that He very much here with us and taking care of us.

The kids are all doing great! Ezekiel is growing more and more each day. All three kids have a doctor's appointment next week, so we'll see where they all measure up. Zeko is about to outgrow his newborn size onesies. He continues to sleep like a champ through the night. I can't believe our little man turned 2 months old yesterday. Where has the time gone? By the way, I still hold the "never been squirted" title in the house. Although his diaper did leak on me the other day when I was carrying him in the baby bjorn. Oh well :)

We've had fun going to the pool in our complex with the kids. Isaiah is a bit more timid and unsure of himself in the water, but Graci can't wait to get in each time and swim around with daddy holding her. I love to see the trust in her eyes and she gets up the courage to jump off the edge of the pool or the step into her daddy's arms. As I sat in the lawn chair watching her get more courageous, I thought of how difficult it is to take that first leap into God's arms. I feel like each time we venture out into our "faith adventures," I have to muster up the courage to once again leap into His arms and entrust my life to His leading. I'd like to say that it gets easier with each leap, and maybe in some ways it does. Yet this whole issue of trust is one that I am always challenged with. I look back at my life and am so amazed and encouraged at how He's molded and shaped me through each of those leaps of faith. We knew that Jon going to DTS was a huge leap of faith financially. What an amazing comfort it is to know that when we jump each semester, His arms will be there to catch us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Zeko" and the rest of us

Our little man Ezekiel is now 5 weeks old and going strong. At his last weigh in (nearly 3 weeks ago now) he was 7 lbs 3 oz. He smiles more and more (yes, some of it is still gas-but that doesn't make it any less cute!) and is even...dare I say...sleeping through the night! Wooohooo! His last feeding is at 9 pm and he sleeps until at least 5 am, and sometimes as long as 6:30 am. The part we have to work on is getting him to fall asleep faster after his 9 pm feeding. He tends to have gas and poop issues after this feeding, so he doesn't usually get to sleep until about 10:30 or 11:00. For any new parents out there who aren't sure how smart their newborn is...the other night I was putting Ezekiel to bed and as soon as I entered the dark room and turned on his bedtime music, he started crying. He knew full well is was now bedtime and HE DID NOT want to go to bed. It was the funniest thing!

Isaiah gets the credit for Ezekiel's nickname of "Zeko." This is how he pronounces his little brother's name and we thought it was way too cute to pass up. Isaiah and Graci have taken to their new little brother so wonderfully. They are both so tender with him. Today when we left church to come home, Isaiah was informing Zeko that were heading home to have lunch now. It was pretty cute. Graci of course loves to take care of her littlest brother. She is the official "binkie" monitor and goes to get it for him if he's fussing. She loves to hold him and get diapers for me when I'm changing him. Isaiah has become the official monitor of throwing away Zeko's diapers in the trash for us. I love to see them love on him and be so helpful!

I have to add (very humbly of course) that although I change more of Zeko's diapers than Jon does, Jon still holds the record for being the ONLY one that Ezekiel has played "fireman" with and squirted while his diaper was open. I think he's up to about 4 or 5 times now. We'll see how long I can keep my dry streak going.

Jon is reading away in preparation for his summer school class that meets this week. It's a one week course from 8-5, Monday through Friday. I think it's a beginning Theology class. We were both amazed at how much work there still is for such a time condensed class. He received an email from the professor last week saying that although the time is condensed, the work load is the same as it is during the regular semester. This explains the 900 plus pages of reading, 2 exams and 2 papers required. Yikes!!! He's been reading his little eyes out the last week or so and is almost through all the reading assignments through Wednesday.

We are interviewing on June 7 for a position as a "Cares Team" with a ministry called "Apartment Life." As a Cares Team, it will be our responsibility to organize and hold events and activities, welcome new residents, and build relationships with the people in the apartment complex that Apartment Life assigns us to. We work with the apartment managers and minister to the residents through gatherings, organized sports, and helping out in times of need. (organize meals for new babies or deaths in the family, etc.) In exchange for our services, Aparment Life pays our rent for us. What a blessing! We are SUPER excited about this opportunity to minister in a way that we are both gifted at and love. It's also something that we can do together which is what we've been praying for. Please keep our interview in prayer. We are praying to get placed in an apartment complex that is between DTS and our church, and also hoping to be placed sooner than later so that we won't have to keep paying rent where we are now. We're excited to see what God has planned!

I am healing well and am still waiting to wake up one morning and have my body back to it's normal small state. It hasn't happened yet, but I'll keep you posted. Weight Watchers is in motion as well as my post-pardom workout video, so hopefully I'll start feeling the affects soon. I am feeling well and had my last doctor's check up last week. All is well and I got a clean bill of health.

I'm sure there's more to write, but I'm even more sure that you're tired of reading, so I'll end this post. Thank you for your prayers and love!