Phoster : In Love's Service, Only the Wounded Soldiers Can Serve


Did you get the free Phoster app two weeks ago from the iTunes store? 

I've been waiting to use an awesome quote and this one seemed pretty amazing. John Piper has a daily devotional app {John Piper Daily Devotional} that you should check out if you haven't already. This particular devotion was actually from March 6th but still wanted to share it with y'all.


The eternal God is your dwelling place and 
underneath are the everlasting arms. 
(Deuteronomy 33:27)

You may be going through things right now that are painfully preparing you for some precious service to Jesus and to his people. When a person strikes rock bottom with a sense of nothingness or helplessness, he may find that he has struck the Rock of Ages.

I remember a delicious sentence from Psalm 138 that we read at our breakfast devotions last Saturday: “Though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly.”

You cannot sink so low in despairing of your own resources that God does not see and care. In fact, he is at the bottom waiting to catch you. As Moses says, “The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Yes, he sees you trembling and slipping. He could (and often did) grab you before you hit bottom. But this time he has some new lessons to teach.

The psalmist said in Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” He does not say it was easy or fun or pleasant. In retrospect, he simply says, “It was good for me.”

Last week I was reading a book by a Scottish minister named James Stewart. He said, “In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.” That’s why I believe some of you are being prepared right now for some precious service of love. Because you are being wounded.

Do not think that your wound has come to you apart from God's gracious design. Remember his word: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god besides me. . . . . I wound and I heal” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

May God grant a special grace to you who are groaning under some burden. Look eagerly for the new tenderness of love God is imparting to you even now.

“Only Wounded Soldiers Can Serve”



We hope this has been an encouragement to those who have been wounded, those who have hit rock bottom and those who are living out the precious service of love in the midst of healed wounds.

Viva Las Vegas : Happily Ever After

Have you ever been to Fashion Show Mall in Vegas? 

It's pretty epic. 

A fashion show stage and catwalk literally rise from the ground floor and models strut their stuff. As soon as the show is over, the models step back into their window-shop positions as the stage and catwalk lower back down into the basement of the mall like an elevator. 

Sheer genius.


We celebrated Jackie's birthday at Maggiano's, family style Italian. 

Mmm.


The guys fought against Optimus Prime. 


And we took a lovely family photo in front of a fountain.


Here's a few last Vegas shots for your viewing pleasure...






Thanks Chase and Jackie for letting us stay with you guys. We're super proud of the things y'all are doing in Vegas. God is doing amazing work in and through the two of you. Can't wait to see what else He will do! 


Mom and Dad  - Few kids can say that their parents have been married for 30 years... much less happily married for 30 years. Chase and I have been infinitely blessed by you two. Your kisses in the kitchen and hands intertwined when you walk have not gone unnoticed. In fact, it is the imagery of your entire marriage. Thanks for loving each other wholeheartedly. You have not only stuck with each other through the worst of sickness - but you have fought for each other within in. Thanks for rubbing mom's feet when her neuropathy kicks in full-blast and for driving dad at nighttime because glaucoma has glazed his eyes. Your support of one another is impenetrable. Thanks for remaining faithful in prayer and in the Lord when doctors said mom would only have one more year to live in her darkest time of sickness, and when doctors said dad wouldn't be able to see his daughter's birth because he would be blind by that point. 

Most people must live by faith and not by sight.

But I have seen. 

I have seen that God heals and that He does a mighty work in marriages, in families and in our bodies. Thank you for leaning on Christ and each other in times of trials rather than straying apart from one another. Thank you for setting such a pure example of marriage for Chase and Jackie, and JD and myself. 

We love you.

Here's to 50 more years of being newlyweds. ;)

Philanthropic Friday : Emma Kate & the Nephcure Foundation

Things have been INSANELY crazy over the past couple of weeks. We've missed keeping up with our blogger friends and posting about our adventures but time slipped away before we knew it. Here's an attempt at getting back on track...

We want to introduce you to our sweet little cousin, Emma Kate.



Isn't she precious!? She was diagnosed with Nephrotic Syndrome a couple of years ago.

Emma Kate is our inspiration for a new series we are beginning this week: Philanthropic Fridays.



We will probably only host Philanthropy Fridays about once a month. It will be a chance for you to link up and post about philanthropies or ministries that are close to your heart too. Let's get the word out!

Here's an excerpt about Emma Kate from Meredith's (Emma Kate's mom / my cousin) blog....


The entire time she was at the hospital she was SUCH a trooper. Never shed a single tear or complained about the treatments. Even through all the needle sticks, IV's, night wakings, ect., she was braver than us. 
The nurses were impressed. 
We were all impressed.
There were so many unknowns, and the doctors were far from encouraging! It didn't help matters that my son (5 months old at the time) was fighting a 104 degree fever and double ear infections. Thank God for family! And thank God for all the people lifting us up in prayer. With so many hard things coming at us at once, we were so thankful Emma Kate embraced the situation so well. Seeing her strength helped us out.
I cried more then than I have in my entire life. Part of the tears were from seeing how the steroids affected my sweet little girl so much. She went from hugging and smiling, to hitting and not wanting to be touched, overnight. Despite the behavioral changes on the second day, she still did well with the nurses and treatments. Thankfully, by the third day the initial shock to her system had calmed down and she was MUCH better. Needless to say I hugged on her ALL day that day, since she hadn't let us touch her the day before. A 2 year old not wanting to be touched or hugged by a parent is so much harder than you can imagine. Especially when all you want to do is love on them and let them know it's okay.
You can check out the rest of Meredith's blog here. Daniel and Meredith have changed Emma Kate's diet to reflect a gluten-free, dairy-free and low sodium lifestyle because of her condition. Along with other great tips and wisdom, Meredith's blog has fantastic insight and options on which foods to buy with that diet.

So what is Nephrotic Syndrome?

Nephrotic Syndrome, in itself, is not classified as a disease. However, it can potentially lead to blood clots and very serious conditions such as kidney failure if not treated correctly. In a properly-functioning system, the kidneys spill protein into the blood. With Ns, the kidneys spill protein into the urine instead. This causes swelling, lack of energy and urine output. Though Ns is most common in kids, doctors have yet to figure out the cause. More importantly, there is NO CURE. There are two types: minimal change (what Emma Kate has), and FSGS which is far more serious and often ends with a transplant. Eighty percent of the kids have the minimal change and do respond well to treatment. Though the cure has not been found, high doses of steroids or chemotherapy drugs can help put the body in remission.

There are a few ways you can help to find a cure...

(1) Walk. Are you free on September 15? Do you live near Alpharetta, Ga.? Go walk. Registration is free; they have a Zumba warm-up activity; and a Pancake Breakfast begins at 10:15... Do you need any more enticing?! 

(2) Donate. Emma Kate's team is trying to raise $2,000 for the foundation by Saturday. If you or your company are interested in donating, click on the Donate link. 

(3) Get the word out.

(4) Pray. Pray. Pray. For the kids who have the rare condition and for the families who have the challenge of comforting their kids through it. And pray for a cure. 


Philanthropic Fridays Button


Link back to us on your blog adding the button above to your post!







Camel Crossing & Floating in the Dead Sea


Yield to the camels, people. ;) 





THIS kind of landscape is what we were expecting when we traveled to the Middle East: desert. The sand looks like marble. We couldn't get over how truly AWEsome this view was. In fact, it was here that we decided to use the word "awesome" more sparingly because few things in life actually put us in a state of awe like knowing that God structured all that surrounded us on that trip.

The top photo is a long distance snapshot of what's left of the Dead Sea. From Tel Aviv to En Gedi (location of Dead Sea), it was about a five hour drive but we think we took the long route.

We were actually warned not to drive this route because Palestinians have been known to hide beside the road with bombs (sand dunes and hills make it hard to see ahead) but we accidentally went this way. Praise Jesus that He had His hand over us and no bombs went off during our drive. 

On our drive through the desert, we hit the -100 meter mark. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth in any land mass (417 meters below sea level, to be exact). The quantity of water that evaporates from it is greater than that which flows into it. On our lovely tractor ride down to the Dead Sea from the "spa", signs marked the drastic changes of the shoreline every year. Thus, the signs saying 2000 and 2004. In other words, the Sea is shriveling. Visit it before it disappears. :)


We saw this lonesome clay pot propped up by rocks in the hard mud. Immediately, the verse Jeremiah 2:13 came to mind. This pot is not a cistern, as they are much more complex and actually more like a pit, but this is a great visual of how our lives are broken just like this pot. We attempt to control our own lives by molding them into broken clay pots, when God is there as a natural spring of everflowing Living Water longing to share His abundance with us.


JD heading over to the Dead Sea via boardwalk. The Dead Sea derived its name from the high salinity water which prevents any existence of life forms in the lake. Though the Dead Sea prevents all life forms from living in the water, it does provide healing benefits for people. Healing properties of the water helps arthritis and circulation, strengthens nails and bones, balances skin moisture, slows skin aging and calms the nervous system.


We thought mud would be the base of the Dead Sea because we saw pictures of people floating in the lake with mud covering their bodies. We were mistaken. These jagged, healing salt minerals line the lake. Be sure to wear tennis shoes or thick-soled sandals!


It is impossible to drown in the Dead Sea. We could basically bend our knees as if sitting in a liquid lounge chair. The depth had to be more than five feet here but we wouldn't know because we couldn't even stand up straight. We were human buoys. Absolutely amazing!!






The awesome cabana with salt minerals growing up the posts.




See you again, Dead Sea... I doubt it. :/ The lake dries up at least one yard every year. 

October 28: Capernaum

We placed the map below to help you envision the country of Israel. The big star is Tel Aviv (our home base) and the little star is placed on Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. 


We only drove through Capernaum so we didn't do much sightseeing. It was beautiful though. JD and I would like to go back and actually spend time there, reading different parts of scripture together and walking around.

Capernaum is a pretty epic place.

It was Jesus' next destination after leaving Nazareth. In fact, Capernaum was the central location of Jesus' ministry for the last 18-20 months of His life on earth. It was here that Jesus told Simon and Andrew, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." In other words, this is where Jesus gathered His group of disciples and called them to action (Matthew 4 and 9).

Jesus performed more miracles in Capernaum than any other location, including:

  • Healing a man with an unclean demon in the synagogue (Luke 4:31-37)
    "Be silent and come out of him!" Jesus rebukes the man who is mocking Him. We love when Luke describes the witnesses by saying, "They were amazed and said to one another, 'What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!'" Luke says that Jesus' word astonished the crowd, for it possessed authority. Instantly, the grapevine started growing into every place in the surrounding region with people talking about what they had seen. That is Jesus. Our Savior with power and authority. Is your soul stirring yet?
  • Healing Simon's mother-in-law, and then many (Luke 4:38-41)
    How beautiful is this story? It seems to be early morning ("and he arose") when Jesus walks into Simon's house and finds that Simon's mother-in-law has a high fever (Jesus probably knew about Simon's mother-in-law prior to walking into the house, since it's Jesus and all). Jesus heals her and "immediately she rose and began to serve them (vs. 39)". No recovery phase or anything like that. She just gets up and actually begins serving them, offering them some hot tea and crumpets (well, the latter part may not be 100% accurate). Then the sun is setting (a full day) and people began bringing sick and demon-possessed friends and family to the Son of God. And He touches and heals every one of them (vs. 40). That is Jesus. The ultimate Healer.
  • Healing a centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13)
    In case you're wondering, a centurion is the commander of a century in the ancient Roman army. But seriously? Have you read this story lately? Here comes the centurion, asking Jesus to heal his servant who is laying in bad - paralyzed - and suffering terribly. And Jesus is like, "Sure. I'll come to your house." But no. The centurion says he is not worthy of Jesus entering his home. Instead, how about Jesus just say the word and his servant will be healed, with miles between them. Even Jesus is marveled by this man's faith and tells the centurion, "'Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.' And the servant was healed at that very moment. (vs. 13)" That is Jesus. The One who responds to our faith by being faithful. 
These are a few among many accounts of Jesus' miraculous healings. Here are a few more miracles that Jesus fulfilled in Capernaum in case you want to check them out:
  • Matthew 9:18-26 - Jesus raises a woman from the dead
  • Matthew 9:20-22 - Jesus heals the woman who suffers from a discharge of blood
  • John 4:46-54 - Jesus heals an official's son


Thoughts...


In many of these stories, Jesus responds to believers by saying, "Take heart, your faith has made you well. (Matthew 9:22)" We are baffled and encouraged by these believers with such immovable faith.


Has Jesus ever responded to your prayers in this way? 


When you talk to Jesus and ask Him for healing (not just physically, but emotionally or spiritually), do you have absolute faith in Him that He will heal you? 


What's holding you back from surrendering completely to Him and trusting that He will be faithful to your needs?