Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Adventures in Africa

June 14, 2012

It’s hard to believe, but in 42 short days, I’ll be boarding a plane for an exciting adventure in Africa. Along with a few others from my church, I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to travel with my mentors, Dr. Mark and Pam Kuhl, to Kenya from July 26-August 5.

We will partner with Kenya Relief (, an organization founded in 2003 with the mission of living out “pure and undefiled religion” which is “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”  They are about creating a legacy of hope in the country of Kenya, meeting the needs of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). I would encourage you to go to their website and look around in order to get a feel for the heart and scope of their ministry. Mark and Pam have been working with Kenya Relief for several years and they truly trust the organization’s heart to serve the people of Kenya.

While in Kenya, we will proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in both word and deed, engaging in a variety of activities that will impact the lives of those we encounter, infuse with energy the efforts of the full-time missionaries, and aid in the spiritual growth of each team member. For example, we will provide basic healthcare services (such as dental care), lead a Vacation Bible School, teach the Scriptures in a local jail, care for orphans, and work to improve the facilities of the Kenya Relief organization.

I truly believe God gives each of us ways to be involved in efforts like this. Some of us are given the opportunity to go, while others have the opportunity to provide prayer support and financial backing. I’d like to invite you to become part of our team as a prayer partner or financial partner. We will need your prayers for the journey ahead and we need financial partners to help our team by sharing in the cost for this trip, which is $3,000 per team member. Through partnering together we will be able to mutually share in the joy of seeing lives changed and the blessings of being used by God for His glory. If you’d like to partner with us in one or both ways, here’s how you can help:

  • Prayer Partner: Simply reply to this post and let me know that you’ll be praying. We’ll be glad to send a list of specific prayer requests so that you can join us in asking God to be at the center of this endeavor. We also plan to provide updates while we’re there, so I’ll be sure you have website information to keep up with the trip.
  • Financial Partner: If you’d like to give online, visit (as a warning: the site isn’t fancy, but it’s legitimate and will serve its purpose). If you’re not comfortable giving online, you can send a check made payable to Redeemer Church (4064 Winter Garden-Vineland Road; Winter Garden, FL 34787). Please include a little note with the check indicating it’s for the Kenya Relief trip.

I am certain that this trip will be transformational for those we serve and those of us serving together as partners on the team. I’ll be sure to follow up with you after the trip and let you know about the experience. Feel free to contact me, should you have any questions or wish to know more about this mission trip.

Thank you for your support and I hope you have a wonderful summer!


She’s Two!

October 4, 2011

My sweet niece, Cadence, turned two yesterday.
I ran out of time last night to write this post, so here it is today.

I consider it a true privilege to be close to my niece and nephew during the early years of their lives. I am grateful that God has given me the opportunity to be a part of their lives.

Two Things I Love About Cadence…

  1. Her little voice and words. She’s been talking (or trying to talk) for a long time now. I LOVE her little words and the way she talks. She always knows exactly what she’s saying, even if you don’t.
  2. Her love for family. Even at two, she really does love her family and she seems to be very conscientious about including everyone. For example, at her birthday party, she wanted all of her family to paint and color with her on her new art easel. She knows all of her family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) by name. She loves her big brother and wants to do so many things that he does. And…have I mentioned she loves her Mimi? 🙂

Two Things I Pray For Cadence…

  1. That she trusts Jesus as her Savior at an early age and that she chooses to live a life that’s honoring to God.
  2. That the fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control–inhabit her life and direct the way that she lives.

Happy 2nd birthday, Cadence!
I love you more than you’ll ever fully know!
You’re my favorite! 🙂

Yep, This Happened.

April 29, 2011

Yep…I was persuaded to wake up at 4:15am, leave my house at 4:30am and arrive at the Oates’ house before 5:00am to watch the Royal Wedding. As much as I resisted getting sucked into all this (often saying things like, “this is NOT real life!”), it happened.


Holly went all out with paper crowns, flags on our drinks, pre-wedding scones & tea and a full English breakfast right after the wedding started. Being that we have nothing even remotely close to compare this type of “royal event” to in our country, it was very interesting and intriguing. I ended up doing a little bit of Googling and reading tonight trying to find answers to some of my questions.

I was impressed with Kate’s brothers reading portions of Romans 12. We’d heard the commentators mention he’d be reading from “the Epistle of Romans” during the ceremony, so we figured it would be pretty solid. But, as soon as he started reading, I knew he was reading Romans 12 and I was pleasantly surprised. Nearly 2 billion people, almost one third of the humans on the planet, heard these words today…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Romans 12:1-2,9-18 ESV)

And one last thing…I think American guys need to adopt the tie look that Kate’s brother and dad sported at the wedding. We all agreed this morning that we liked it. Does that have a name? Scrunched up tie? I don’t care what it’s called. I like it.

This Day Five Years Ago

March 8, 2011

You know…I remember A LOT about the day Paul was born.
I mean A LOT.

…Mom calling at 6-something-AM to say, “Come on! Today’s the day!”
…Throwing stuff in a bag and racing up to Orlando from West Palm.
…Lunch at a “fancy” McDonald’s near the hospital.
…Going to Ross to get more comfortable pants because I was so tired of wearing jeans.
…Dinner at Boston Market.
…Watching my sister become my hero. (Bringing a kid into the world is hard work!)
…Holding my sweet nephew for the first time.

Every year on his birthday, though, I always remember a lot about this day…the day after his birthday.

Sweet Little Paulie

…Bringing the world’s largest balloon to my sister’s room in the hospital.
…Holding that sweet boy as much as I could.
…Taking more pictures than any less than 24-hour old baby should have to endure.
…Loving the way his little legs stayed bent at the knees while he slept.
…Having to say goodbye…At some point that afternoon, I left to drive back to West Palm to be at work later that night (Wednesdays = church those days). I cried and cried and cried as I drove. I called my Mom, unable to speak. Which of course had her panicking, saying, “Are you ok? ARE YOU OK?!” I was SO sad to leave that day, even though I would be coming back a little more than a week later to stay for a whole week. I begged God to let me move home. I cried thinking about our Grammy and Grandaddy, knowing they would have loved our family’s sweet new boy. I was such a proud aunt, but I was so heartbroken to be three hours away. I sat in my boss’s office before church and just cried as I showed him pictures of my sweet little nephew. I just wanted to be home. He was gracious enough to offer to let me go ahead and go, but I knew I had a responsibility. So I stayed. And kept begging God to give me the opportunity to move back to Orlando so that I could be closer to my family. Almost three years from that day, I was given that opportunity and five years later, I’m so grateful for that.

Five Years Old Already?

March 7, 2011

My favorite guy turns five today. I’m not even sure how it’s possible. He’s my absolute favorite and if it’s possible, I love him even more now than I did the first time we met.

Five Things I Love About Paul…

  1. His love and excitement for life. I mean, seriously…look at the excitement and light in his eyes in that picture. He loves to have fun. He loves life and he loves to have a good time.
  2. His laugh(s). He has a couple of different laughs. Hang out around him long enough and you’ll figure them out. He has this funny “fake-ish” laugh, but he has this ridiculously contagious real belly laugh. Love it.
  3. His care and compassion for others. I truly believe he’s learning young about the importance of relationships in life. He LOVES all of his family, both immediate and extended. And, he loves his friends. He shows true concern and care for them. It’s very sweet.
  4. His consistency. When he’s into something, he stays very consistent. We’ve been through a few stages with him: Elmo, Blue’s Clues and he’s been into Mickey and Toy Story for a while now. Green’s been his favorite color for quite a while now and over the past couple of weeks, he’s told several of us on many different occasions that he’d like to be a garbage man and police man when he grows up.
  5. His imagination and love of learning. He’s got the funnest imagination these days and I love playing Legos/cars/Buzz&Woody/whatever with him. The last time we played police Legos, his guy told my guy that we should go geocaching. Ha ha ha. He also loves to learn. He likes to read, play games, cook and learn new things. Hoping I can coax him out into the ocean on the surfboard some more this summer. 🙂

Five Things I Pray For Paul…

  1. That he trusts Jesus as his Savior at an early age and that he chooses to live a life that’s honoring to God.
  2. That he’s a leader amongst his peers, and for his sister, and that he leads with integrity.
  3. That he honors his parents and loves his sister.
  4. That God continues to protect him spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially.
  5. That he loves God and loves people.

Happy 5th birthday, Paul!
I love you more than you’ll ever fully know!
You’re my favorite! 🙂

Love This.

March 2, 2011

Saw this on another blog tonight. Love it.


The Last 55 Hours

February 23, 2011

Good grief. It’s been a crazy couple of days…55ish hours to be exact.

Starting on Monday around Noon…

While at a movie with Kimberly, I received a text from a coworker letting me know Kasey seemed upset and was crying. I tried texting Kasey, but didn’t hear back. A few minutes later I got a call from Kasey’s phone. I ran out of the theater and heard her boss on the other end. Kasey’s phone gets horrible service at the Village, so all I could hear her boss say was, “Kasey……..collapse…….hospital.” And, I did hear her say they couldn’t get ahold of Matt. I let her know I would be right there. I left the movie and headed straight to the Village, calling Matt along the way. Matt let me know that Kasey’s Dad had been rushed to the hospital that morning. After learning about her Dad, I understood why Kasey was so upset at work.

Matt and I got to the Village within minutes of each other. Matt was able to drive Kasey home and I went back to my apartment to get ready for work later that afternoon.

While I was at work, my stomach started to bother me. Based on the heartburn/stomach issues I’ve been having lately it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, this was a different kind of pain. To make a long (disgusting) story short, I managed to leave work early and make it home. After three hours of sickness, I became dehydrated and passed out briefly a few times. I barely managed to call 911 and was later transported by ambulance to the hospital.


Yep...that's a hospital bracelet.

My parents made it to the hospital right after I did. Kasey and Matt followed right behind them. I think I actually laughed when Kasey and Matt came in the room. I think I said, “You guys didn’t need to come!” I remember thinking that they were in the midst of their own crisis and they didn’t need to bother with being at the hospital with me right now.

During my 6-ish hours in the hospital, I received two bags of fluids and a few medicines. Finally around 5am, things were under control enough for me to go home. Mom, Dad and I came back to my house and went back to sleep. Dad left for work a little while later, but Mom and I slept until about 11. I woke up for about an hour and then went back to sleep. I slept away most of Tuesday.

My parents took such good care of me. I am so grateful that they were able to come and help me. I would have been so scared by myself. And the “taking care of” part wasn’t so glamorous…just ask my Mom. Thanks Dad and Mom! (And thanks to SO many others who offered help. Such a blessing.)

Today, I’ve been feeling better as the day’s gone on. I woke up around 8am with a headache. I took some medicine, ate something and went back to sleep until after 11am. I’m planning on going to work on Thursday and hoping to see a doctor for follow-up on Friday.

Back to Kasey and her Dad…

Kasey was able to fly home on Tuesday morning to be with her family. Another long story short…here’s the latest straight from Kasey’s Facebook…

Dad has been diagnosed with a rare blood disease called Polycythemia which triggered the stroke (mid brain). He still has pneomonia and possibly encephalitis. They have put in a breathing tube and now a feeding tube. A kidney specialist is coming in this afternoon. Still waiting for the test results to show if its bacterial or viral. Now it is just a long, game of waiting. Also continuing to trust that Daddy is in the hands of an All-Powerful, Almighty God who heals and works miracles everyday. We still covet your prayers. JR has arrived and has been a huge encouragement to us all. Trying to stay strong and know God is in control. Please keep praying. Thank you for all your prayers, kind words and texts….they really do mean so much.

There is so much that’s unknown right now, but we are trusting God for a miracle and trusting Him to heal her dad, Dave. If you’re reading this, please continue to keep Dave (and Kasey’s family) in your prayers. We know God can heal him, and that’s what we’re asking.

New Blog Discovery :: meet Me in the morning

February 21, 2011

I discovered this blog last week, through another blog I follow, and I’m so glad that I did. It’s like a little Bible study right online! She does a post each week day (or so it seems) based on the Scripture for that day. She is going through Genesis right now, and being that I can’t stand to be behind, I’ve gone back and started from her first posts in January. I’m reading one chapter a day and its corresponding blog posts until I catch up.

I know some of you have mentioned to me that you find it hard to make time in your day to get in the Word. Admittedly, I’ve been having the same issue for months. This blog came on the scene at the perfect time for me, so I wanted to share it in hopes that someone else would be encouraged by it. 🙂

Honoring Ava

September 9, 2010

I watched online today as Ava’s family and friends gathered to honor her life. I’m not sure how, but her Uncle Isaac (pastor of Summit Church) conducted an incredible service in memory of his little niece. I don’t have time to elaborate now, but a couple of things he said are sticking with me…

“Loss is not felt by those who aren’t first blessed.”

“You can’t muster up grief without realizing the blessing.”

“Childlike faith doesn’t mean having no questions. It means trusting your Father in the midst of your questions.”

Her grandfather Joel (Pastor of Northland Church) poignantly closed the service. Again, a couple of things he said are sticking with me…

“Ava lived a life that didn’t just touch people; her life changed people. God is not here just to give us what we want, but He will grant us intimacy with Him when we have what we don’t want. With each trial and tragedy we must decide again to trust, love and follow the only God.”

In a paraphrased version of Joshua 24:15, Joel also challenged those in attendance or watching online to “choose for yourself this day who you will serve. Whether that be the gods of culture and comfort in this world or the one God. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What an incredible heritage of faith Ava grew up amongst, and now her life speaks of that faith even as she’s gone to be with Jesus. I’m incredibly grateful of those in my family who left a legacy of faith for my parents (and their parents, etc, etc) to follow. I can only hope that I can continue that and intentionally be a part of passing that along to my niece and nephew, and hopefully one day, my own children.

Let Ava’s life be an example to us all. Choose this day who you will serve…

UPDATE: Etsy for Ava

September 6, 2010

By now you may have heard that on Sunday sweet Ava went to be with Jesus. As her Daddy said, “Ava has gone to be with Jesus. Thank you for your prayers. We are heartbroken for us, but know she is whole again. We serve a mighty God and are blessed by all of you. Continue to pray for Lisa, Noah and me as we walk the days ahead.” If you haven’t been to Ava’s Dad’s blog in the last day or so, I’d recommend reading his most recent post. While it is heartbreaking, you will also be encouraged by his faith in our God.

In honor of Ava and her family, we’re going to move forward with the Etsy for Ava fundraiser. Each shop owner who’d like to participate will still be responsible for listing and tagging their items, and then contributing the proceeds directly to the Ava Hunter Fund (details below). All funds will be made available to the family to use for whatever they need.

So…once again, here’s the bottom line and next steps…

  1. List and tag the item(s) you’d like to include in the sale by Wednesday, September 8. Use Ava Hunter as one of your tags and also include her name in the title of your item. Feel free to continue adding items as we go along as well.
  2. Help us continue to recruit participating shops, even after Wednesday. Let’s get as many people as possible involved. Have them email us at this email address for all the info and to let us know they’d like to participate. We’d like to be able to keep a current list of those participating so that we can be sure to thank everyone and also follow up regarding donations at the end.
  3. Help spread the word about the sale once the items are live. We will post blogs about it and we’ll be sure to send you a direct link listing the Ava Hunter search results on Etsy. Feel free to repost our blog addresses and/or the direct link to the search results. Also, feel free to use the “Etsy for Ava” art in this blog post as your Facebook profile picture or within your Etsy item photos. (Thanks to Katie of KT Photography & Design for creating that little image for us.)
  4. Donate your proceeds directly to the Ava Hunter Fund. From what we understand, donations can only be made by check. Any one wishing to contribute can send a check made payable to the “Ava Hunter Fund” to: Citizens Bank of Florida, Att: Jolene Burns. P.O. Box 620729, Oviedo, FL 32762-0729. We’ll find out if it’s possible to donate online.

Feel free to send this blog post to any Etsy shop owner you think may be interested in helping. And, of course, please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks so much!

On Wednesday, I’ll post a direct link to the Ava Hunter search results on Etsy to make shopping super easy for folks. Thanks for caring enough to honor the memory of sweet Ava and the courage of her family.