Thanks to all of our friends who have been praying for Jen and her health. If you are unfamiliar with what’s been happening with Jen, please check out our latest newsletter, which explains more of the history of her condition.
Last Thursday, Jen was admitted into the hospital for a lung biopsy. The doctors felt this was necessary to try to diagnose what is really happening with her lungs. The procedure was not long or incredibly complicated, but it did require a short stay in the hospital for recovery.
Jen spent two nights in the hospital and came home Saturday afternoon. She is home recovering and though she is very sore from the incision, she is showing improvement every day.
She has several follow-up doctor visits this week but we don’t expect results from the pathology report really until early next week.
Please pray specifically for two things – first, that Jen would recover quickly from the procedure she had. The incision was near the rib cage and I guess there are a lot of nerve endings in that area so it can be quite sensitive to pain.
Secondly, pray that the biopsy would enable the doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and corresponding treatment. Up until now, the doctors have been eliminating things that they know are not part of the problem. Our hope is that the biopsy would show clearly what the issue is and that it can be treated simply and quickly. We hope that Jen’s body will return to normal as soon as possible.
Thanks again for your love and support during this time of uncertainty. Your notes of encouragement, your prayers and concern have meant a lot.
Click here to view the pdf version of The Lowedown.
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
This oft-quoted line comes from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1785 after he inadvertently plowed through a field mouse nest. The words, penned with sadness, communicate the universal truth that one cannot plan for the unexpected. This line aptly describes our week in Nashville.
For months, Jen and I had been preparing for a week in Nashville, where we would have the opportunity to meet up with fellow Cru City Millennial workers for the first time. In addition, we were looking forward to challenging our thinking on Christianity and Culture by attending the Q Conference later in the week.
We thought we had worked out all the details. We were blessed by Jen’s parents, who visited for Easter and stayed through the week to watch our boys.
I even worked feverishly through Spring Break to renovate our guest bathroom in preparation for my in-laws’ arrival. That whole process in itself is probably illustrated by the above quote given the number of unexpected situations encountered that threatened to keep me from completing the project on time. I’m happy to report though that the renovation was officially completed in the afternoon on Easter Sunday mere hours before our departure.
We arrived in Nashville as scheduled on Monday where we had the opportunity to meet our new colleagues for dinner for the first time.
The next day was a full day of meetings and connecting. For me, it was invigorating to increase my vision for what we will be doing here in Orange County to reach Millennials. That night, we were treated to some live music at the home of one of our Cru colleagues who lives in Nashville.
The next day was the start of the Q conference. The Q conference was started 8 years ago by Gabe Lyons as an opportunity for Christians to hear from numerous leaders and experts who share thoughts and insights on 7 major segments of culture: Media, Business, Government, Social Sector, Education, Arts & Entertainment, and Church.
The first day was packed with speakers who talked on a wide range of topics. We were even treated by a surprise appearance from Carrie Underwood and her husband Mike Fisher who shared about the challenges and their commitment to marriage. Though a little like drinking from a firehose, we were eating up all of the great content.
That’s when our plans got derailed. Jen shared that she was experiencing some chest pain and wanted to go back to the hotel and rest. We were supposed to meet up for dinner with some friends from our University of Arizona days who were now living in Nashville. But Jen’s chest pain got worse, making it harder to breathe. We decided to go to the ER.
As many of you know from experience, the ER is rarely a brief experience. For Jen, she was subjected to just about every test imaginable to determine if there was something wrong with her heart. Thankfully, every test came back clear. It was determined that the source of the chest pain was likely caused from having a case of walking pneumonia.
Jen was eventually released with antibiotics and she’s doing much better. We weren’t able to make our dinner appointment, and we missed the rest of the Q conference. But we made our flight home, thankful that it wasn’t something more serious and also grateful for the time we were able to spend with our new co-workers.
Though the week didn’t go exactly according to plan, we still left Nashville with an increased vision and excitement to reach Millennials. It was great being with others like us who are venturing into this new arena.
We are grateful too for your partnership. Please pray for us as we continue to prepare for this new ministry to which the Lord has called us. Pray for our plans to be the Lord’s plans and that we would be able to trust Him when things don’t go “according to plan!”
Recently, I came across a picture from 2006. Jacob and Joshua were holding up a Good News booklet after they both had made a decision to trust in Jesus.
Over the years, we’ve had a number of conversations about their decision and whenever our church had planned a baptism time at the beach, we talked to them about it. But they were always a bit hesitant to take that step to publicly identify themselves as followers of Jesus via baptism.
A few weeks ago, unexpectedly, they both came home from their Wednesday night youth group meeting and announced that they wanted to get baptized.
So that Sunday, after the service, they both took the plunge, literally, to identify to everyone their desire to follow Christ.
It was an exciting moment for us as parents to see our boys growing spiritually and desiring to live for Christ.
We wanted to share that moment with you and say thanks for your prayers for us and our family. It has meant a lot to us to have dear friends and partners in the gospel praying for our family and our boys and their spiritual development.
Please keep praying for us and our family. And don’t hesitate to share any prayer needs you might have with us!
Last week was a week of celebration. On consecutive days, we celebrated Mother’s Day, Jacob and Joshua’s 11th birthday, and our 19th anniversary together.
While Jen and I were driving to downtown L.A. for dinner and an engagement with Cirque du Soleil, we spent time reminiscing and reflecting on our 19 years of marriage. Here are a few of our most vivid memories:
1993 – getting married in Fresno and honeymooning at DisneyWorld.
1994 – moving to Tucson. Our Ryder truck breaking down in the Mojave desert on Hwy 395.
1995 – driving from Fresno to Ocean City, New Jersey for our summer mission project. Staying in St. Louis to celebrate our anniversary.
1996 – Moving back to Fresno to be staff members at Fresno State.
1997 – spending the summer in Colorado taking Bible classes.
1998 – moving to Davis to become new campus leaders. Summer training in Myrtle Beach followed by vacation in New York and D.C.
1999 – beginning to explore the adoption process. Davis ministry continues to grow.
2000 – buying our first home in Davis – a real fixer upper! A summer in Ocean City, New Jersey.
2001 – Jacob and Joshua arrive. Crazy summer leading Lake Tahoe summer project
2002 – Jacob & Joshua’s one year birthday. Impact and Bridges start at Davis. First students begin to graduate and go to the world as missionaries
2003 – Epic launched at Davis
2004 – Destino starts at UC Davis
2005 – PreSchool for Jacob and Joshua. Summer leading the Newport Beach Summer Project
2006 – Driving to Seattle and British Columbia for a wedding and vacation. Re-starting the ministry at Sac State
2007 – Summer in Colorado. Family trips to Kansas and Hawaii. Remodeling and Renovating our house in Davis.
2008 – God’s call to Southern California. Selling our house and moving to Mission Viejo. Spending the summer overseas.
2009 – Season passes to Disneyland. Summer trips to Davis, Colorado and Zion National Park.
2010 – Summer trip to San Jose, Destino team started in Long Beach.
2011 – Summer in Colorado. Bathroom leak and bathroom remodel.
2012 – New ministries established in San Jose (Destino), Chico (Bridges), Santa Barbara (Impact), Fullerton (Epic) and San Luis Obispo (Destino).
Thanks for your prayers and partnership which has helped us experience 19 amazing years of life and ministry together!
Not long ago, we heard the words that no parent wants to hear from their dentist.
“Your kids need braces.”
When we broke the news to our kids, understandably, they were not very happy.
I can sympathize with them. I remember having braces when I was in junior high and high school and it was horrible. It was bad enough that I had all of this exposed metal in my mouth, but the orthodontist told me I had to wear these little rubber bands that went from my top teeth to my bottom teeth. I couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to accomplish other than getting me to keep my mouth shut! Maybe it was a directive from my parents!
The orthodontist also gave me this contraption that he called “head gear.” It was basically a big metal bar that connected to the braces in the back of my upper teeth and attached to a strap that wrapped around the back top of my head. It looked kind of like an old school football helmet, with that bar sticking out in front to protect the kicker’s face. (Some have referred to it as a Halo)!
The purpose of the “head gear” was to put tension on the upper jaw, pulling it back to correct an overbite. The orthodontist instructed me to wear this thing “at all times”, including when I was at school.
“No Way!” That’s where I drew the line. I remember one person from school who wore a “head gear” and it permanently ostracized her from the rest of society. It was like having leprosy or some nasty skin rash. If you’ve seen the movie “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, wearing a “head gear” at school was equivalent to having the “Cheese Touch”. I wore it to bed and that was it.
During my freshman year of high school the inside of my mouth got so cut up from wearing braces during wrestling season that we referred to the inside of my lips as “meatloaf.”
One day, my dad asked the orthodontist if he could finish what he needed to do without the braces. The dentist agreed to take the braces off if I would wear a retainer every night. It seemed like a good trade, so I enthusiastically agreed.
When the dentist took the braces off, I had nice straight teeth. Man I looked good! At that point, I was glad that I had invested over 2 years in braces. At some point though, I stopped wearing the retainer every night. It just didn’t seem completely necessary. I didn’t see the point.
One day, years later, I came across that retainer. When I put it in my mouth, I realized that it didn’t quite fit anymore. It turns out that my teeth had shifted. Slowly, they were drifting back to the state they were in before I had braces.
The concept of braces is simple: you put a wire around the teeth and slowly tighten the wire to straighten and align them. Once they’re aligned, you wear a retainer in order to keep the teeth from drifting back to their crooked state.
It seems to me that spiritual disciplines are a lot like braces. In my heart, I’m prone to sin and wander from what’s right and what’s true. I read God’s word, pray and practice other disciplines in order to stay on the right path.
God’s Word transforms me and helps align me to Him and His purposes. So spiritual disciplines are like braces in some ways.
And it turns out, that once I stop applying these disciplines to my life, I’m prone to wander back to my sinful, selfish state, just as my teeth, without that retainer, will slowly drift back to being crooked and unaligned.
So when I question the purpose of reading my Bible, praying and meditating, I think about braces. The benefit may not be immediately apparent, but it’s the end goal that motivates me—to become more like Jesus.
Now if I could just think of a way to help my 9 year old boys to see the “benefit” of braces now. Because at this point, the motivation that “you’ll look good for the ladies” isn’t quite working. I’m guessing though that by the time they get their braces removed, they’ll have a much greater appreciation for “the ladies”!
Please pray for our kids and us to be constantly “aligned” to God’s purposes!
Click here to read the pdf version of The Lowedown!
This was our family outing last Friday. A short fun little bike ride in a regional park about 15 minutes from our house. One of the neat things about where we live is that we can be at the beach within 30 minutes but we can be hiking or biking in the foothills within 10 minutes. Very cool.