Please take a moment to read our update for June 2018. This has been a month of adjustments, new experiences, and opportunities for ministry and the Gospel.
Please take a moment to read our update for June 2018. This has been a month of adjustments, new experiences, and opportunities for ministry and the Gospel.
TWO NEW PARTNERS – TWIN CITY BIBLE & FINCH HILL BAPTIST
Over the last 24 hours, I learned from two churches that their congregations voted to take us on for monthly support.
We are so thankful for the ministry of Twin City Bible Church (Nitro, WV) and our friendship with Pastor Scott and LeAnn Bandy. We are glad to now be a part of their Missionary Family. Pastor Scott and LeAnn have a missionary’s heart having served the Lord in Ireland before coming to minister at Twin City.I learned that Finch Hill Baptist Church (Carbondale, PA) also voted this past Sunday to bring us into their Missions Family. We had a wonderful time with Pastor Joe and Leslie LaCava and the church family at Finch Hill.What excites me the most is the passion these churches have for the Gospel, and for the work of spreading the Gospel, not just in their own hometowns, but across the globe.
With this new support we now stand at 65% of our monthly need!
The past month has been a unique and joyful period of our lives. This post is more of a series of random reflections on what we are learning as a family, and the blessings we have received.
First and foremost, the addition of Noemi Grace to our family has brought an immeasurable amount of joy, not only to Sarah and me, but to our children as well. I cannot imagine another baby sister that is so adored. The children are enraptured with Noemi. In fact, they love having a baby around so much they keep asking if we can have another one… maybe two!
Of course, in caring for a little one, sleep is a bit more difficult to come by. Sarah is trying to find rest throughout the day, and has been doing very well in her recovery. Thankfully, for a 3 week old baby, Noemi sleeps very well. She is sleeping 5 to 5½+ hours through the night, and I have a hunch she would sleep even longer if we allowed her to. At this stage, Sarah still needs to feed her on a more regular schedule. We are looking forward to the 4 week mark when we can start letting her sleep even longer. Thankfully, all of our children began sleeping through the night by 10 weeks, with the average being closer to 6 weeks. This, for us, is the first “big” milestone. It would be great if Noemi reaches this mark next week.
Since I generally do not have to wake up early during the week, I have been doing my best to get up and change Noemi after Sarah feeds her either late in the evening or early in the morning. I confess, I never did this with any of the other children. (Yes, I realize that does not win me any “Father of the Year Awards”). This provides a great reminder, though, of the sacrifices Sarah has made over the years in caring for our children. She has spent countless early morning hours feeding, changing, and caring for our little ones.
We have been on an extended break since the end of April. I have not preached for 5 Sundays in a row. This is the longest stretch I have gone without preaching over the last 15 years. Although I missed a couple of Sundays right after Noemi’s birth, it has been refreshing to be in church services to simply sing praises to God, and listen to His Word proclaimed. I am reminded of how vital the ministry of a good local church is for believers. I am grateful for those within the Body of Christ who are ministering to me and my family.
On the topic of ministering to our family, an unexpected blessing came through two “table showers” for Noemi (one from Lighthouse Baptist Church and the other from Bensalem Baptist Church). We received so many generous gift cards that have helped as we purchase supplies for the baby. It would be hard to express how encouraging and helpful these gifts have been.
This coming Sunday will be our first time back out on the road. We are traveling to the Western part of Pennsylvania and look forward to being at First Baptist Church (Grove City, PA). This will also be the first time we stay in our RV for a trip. Following the services on Sunday, we are heading back to Millville, PA (where I pastored), and we will spend a few days at Knoebles Amusement Park where we will park our RV at their Campground site. Knoebles, in my view, is the best family amusement park in the world—by far! Our kids are really looking forward to this mini-vacation. The following Sunday (Father’s Day), we will have the privilege to be back at Emmanuel Baptist (Millville, PA). It will be wonderful to reconnect with good friends.
We are grateful for the blessings God has richly bestowed upon us. We are not worthy of the least of His favor, but because of Jesus, He gives us everything we need… and so much more!
Please take a moment to read our update for May 2018. In this update we welcome Noemi Grace to the Valiante Family! We thank the Lord for His goodness and blessing.
BROTHERLY (AND SISTERLY) LOVE
Yesterday was a “big day.” It was the day our children first got to meet their new baby sister, Noemi… and what a joyful meeting it was. The picture below pretty well sums it up.While visiting mommy and Noemi, each of the big brothers and sisters took their turns holding the baby. This was a special and proud moment for them.Everyone has been eagerly anticipating this little one’s arrival, and Noemi has been officially welcomed into our family with open arms. Now, I am naive enough to think our children will never bicker or fight, but these momentary frustrations do not negate deep and abiding love they have for one another. We are grateful to God for allowing this love to exist and flourish.
Interestingly, when God speaks of the love Christians should have for one another, he uses the love of siblings as the pattern. Hebrews 13:1 offers a simple encouragement: “Let brotherly love continue.” As you may be aware, the words, “Brotherly love” come from a single Greek word, “Philadelphia.” This term joins the Greek word for “love” and “brother.” The love that believers are meant to express to one another is patterned after the love that a family (specifically siblings) have for one another.
I know the deep sense of connection, and love siblings have. I am very thankful for both my brother and sister. Siblings are supposed to stick together, support one another, and encourage each other. We are called to live out the same commitment to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
My brother, John, and his wife Ruth were able to stop by last night as well and visit the baby.
And, of course, Grandmom was able to be there to see and hold her newest Grandchild. We have been richly blessed!
We are thrilled to introduce Noemi Grace Valiante. She was born on 5/13 at 7:25pm weighing 6.49lbs and measuring 19″ long.Sarah is doing great, and we are thankful for God’s protection and strength during the delivery.Noemi is already a sweet little girl. She has been eating great and giving mommy and daddy some good rest in between feedings. The other children are eagerly looking forward to meeting their new little sister today.
While scrolling through pictures from the past couple of weeks, I am reminded that life is a tapestry stitched together with a thousand “happenings.” Many of these “happenings” or events are mundane, yet each one becomes an integral part of who we are. The pictures in this post will give you a glimpse into the everyday happenings of the Valiante Family. We are joyful and thankful for this season in our lives.Micah and Kiersten enjoyed helping out at our home church’s Work Day (Lighthouse Baptist). It is especially fun when Pastor Witmer drives you around the property in the back of Pastor Pritt’s pickup truck.The kids did a great job helping clean out the RV in preparation for our first trip as a family of 7 in the month of June. I was able to de-winterize the RV, and all of the major systems checked out fine (plumbing / electrical / water heater / heater / air conditioner / stove / refrigerator / water pump etc.). We are excited to get it on the road!We are also enjoying our “down-time” together as a family. There was a marathon Monopoly game that spanned a couple of nights. Lydia would have destroyed Micah, but kept forgetting to call “Rent.” Micah took advantage and eventually won the game. The kids also enjoy eating Popsicles on the porch. They also like the many stops to restaurants during our travels. Our last visit to Burger King made me realize how much our food costs will increase as Micah enters his teenage years. He ate a Whopper, 3 Chicken Nuggets, French Fries, Onion Rings–all washed down with a Dr. Pepper. Although he is only 11, he is able to pack it in!Micah has not only enjoyed eating our food, he has enjoyed making it as well. The picture above shows deviled eggs he made all by himself. Just the day before he made Banana muffins. We have enjoyed eating his creations… all the while offering our critiques (I think the kids have watched too many cooking shows on the Food Network)!We have also had our share of sickness over the past couple of months. This past week, I took Kiersten to the emergency room after she experienced severe hip pain. After an X-Ray and MRI, the doctors determined that the fluid in her hip was inflamed with an infection. They believe a virus likely settled in that joint. Everyone in our family had the flu during the month of April, so it is not surprising to have some lingering affects from it. Thankfully, God continues to offer grace, even when we face trying times.After a year of schooling where we were not sure if Lydia would get a handle on reading, it seems like everything began to click in the last month or so. She is doing very well now, and enjoys having a little brother to read to. She is overjoyed with the thought of having a little sister to join him.
Sarah continues to do well, as we await the arrival of our little girl. These are exciting and joyful times in the Valiante Family. Thank you for your continued prayers on our behalf!
A FITTING END… FOR NOW
Last Sunday was our final meeting for the next five weeks, and we could not have ended on a better note! We had the joy of getting to know Pastor Dave and Dawn Field, their family, and the congregation at Truth Bible Church (Alloway, NJ).
Of course, the reason we are taking a break for the next month is to prepare for the arrival of the newest member of our family. Traveling the past couple weeks has been a bit more uncomfortable for Sarah. Thankfully, our trip to Truth Bible on Sunday was only a 35 minute drive. Interestingly, Pastor Dave’s lesson in Sunday School was on the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. It was impacting to think about Mary traveling to Bethlehem while being great with child (Luke 2:5). Although it appears Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem for some time before Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:6), she was certainly far enough along to make the trip uncomfortable. With regard to our own travels, I have been very thankful for how well Sarah has handled the hours on the road, especially trips over the last couple of months. Traveling in a van is not the easiest thing, but I reminded Sarah that it is still better than having to travel by donkey :).
In addition to Truth Bible Church’s proximity, we also found kindred spirits in the Field family. Pastor Dave and Dawn have four children (like us), with one more on the way (like us). Sarah is due in May, and Dawn is due in June. Not only that, but the ages of their children exactly match our own. The children had a blast spending time together in the services and during the fellowship meal.
Last week was a perfect ending… for now. We are excited for the arrival of our little girl. We will have about a year for our little one to get acclimated to our family, and we look forward to being in the Philippines around this time next year!
STORING GOD’S WORD IN OUR HEARTS
Every morning I meditate on the “verse of the day” in the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. In this morning’s verse from Psalm 119:11, David speaks of “storing up” or “hiding” God’s Word in his heart so that he might not sin against God. After thinking about this verse and spending some time in prayer I came out of my bedroom. When I came into the living room, I found my two oldest children living out the verse I had read just moments before.
I am so grateful that our children are learning to make God’s Word a priority in their lives because I know that hiding God’s Word in their hearts and living out what they read will transform them. Listen to what Psalm 19 says God’s Word accomplishes: “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11).
Although we desire our children to read the Bible, this is not something we have forced upon them. Instead, they choose to wake up early and spend this time with God before the start of their school day. I am extremely proud of them, and their desire to know God more intimately. I pray that this is the beginning of a lifelong pattern of reading and studying the Word of God. As they hide God’s word in their hearts, they will find the rich blessings of God’s wisdom and grace.
NO GREATER HONOR
Over the years I have had the privilege of preaching all over the world in countless venues. I have preached in churches, at conferences, and at youth rallies. I have preached in jails, in nursing homes, and even on street corners! But this past Friday, I was given the greatest honor in my years of ministry when I preached my Grandpop’s funeral.
A week and a half ago I learned that my Grandpop had been admitted to the hospital. On Sunday, we were heading back from North / Central Pennsylvania and arrived at my parents’ house where we learned later that evening that Grandpop had taken a turn for the worse. I was able to go to the hospital early Monday morning, and while there, the doctors informed our family that Grandpop had passed away.
Monday was a long day. My parents, aunts, and uncles began making the necessary final arrangements for Grandpop. After meeting with the funeral director that afternoon, they asked if I would conduct the funeral service to be held on Friday. I was honored by the request and grateful for the opportunity to preach my Grandfather’s funeral.
I met with my family on Monday night to discuss the details of the service. This was a sweet time to reflect on my Grandfather’s life. We crafted a service that we felt would glorify God as we honored the life and legacy of Anthony Valiante. During our time that evening, we talked about what made Grandpop special. First, he had a deep love and devotion to his family. He loved to be a dad, grandfather and great-grandfather. He also had a love for God. My Grandpop came to faith in Christ in the late ‘70s, and over the years developed a deep love for God’s Word. He read his Bible through 22+ times, and even made his own hand-written copy of the Scriptures.
Grandpop was also an amazing story-teller with a fun-loving personality. After I got home from a long day Monday night, I was pretty tired and went straight to bed. Even though I was still exhausted, I found myself awake early Tuesday morning. At 5AM I began thinking about the countless stories we rehearsed the night before from Grandpop’s life. Thinking about these stories I could not help but laugh. The more I thought the more I laughed. I found myself laughing uncontrollably for 15 minutes. I am certain Sarah thought I had lost it, but I could not stop laughing as I thought about those stories. Grandpop brought so much joy into our lives. Even in spite of the all of the hardships Grandpop faced through life, he maintained a joyful spirit.
Over the next few days I began working on the service for my Grandfather. This was a wonderful time to remember a man that I love and respect. Then, on Friday, I conducted my Grandpop’s home-going service. I did my best to honor his life, while making sure to preach the simple message of the Gospel. In the service we turned our attention to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. In this text we have the simplest explanation of what lies at the heart of the Gospel. You can sum up the Gospel with these simple words: “Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Each component of this message is vitally important. First, we find “Christ,” the Chosen One, the Savior and Son of God—God in flesh. Christ “died for our sins.” Jesus laid down His life as the payment for our sins. Jesus died in our place. He was “buried,” but as evidence that He overcame sin and death, He “rose again on the third day.” It is simple faith in this message that brings life. I am grateful for the impact this message made on Grandpop, and I am grateful for the impact this same message has made in my life. Death has a completely different meaning for those who have placed their faith in Christ. Because Jesus is alive, my Grandpop is alive today. Because Jesus is alive, I will live forever with Him. And as an added bonus, I will get to see my Grandpop (and all those who have placed their faith in Christ) again as well!