Last Thursday we made it safely to Colorado. Before reaching Colorado, however, (right after we left Wisconsin), we spent a few days in Overland Park, Kansas with some of my extended family. Since I come from a large, close-knit Italian family, I know many of my mom’s cousins along with their families. Our time with “the Kansas Family” was so refreshing and fun! Here are a couple of the highlights of our time there:

1. Our children got to meet their 3rd cousins! In a world where many people have trouble keeping track of their 1st cousins, it was great for our kids to connect with 3rd cousins. (In case you are confused, 3rd cousins would be children whose grandparents are 1st cousins). I also got to see 2nd cousins, along with 1st cousins once removed. It was a blast!IMG_41522. It was a special time with family that shares the same valuable faith we do in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am very thankful for the testimony of so many of my cousins who both know Christ as their Savior and long to live for Him. Our time of fellowship was very sweet and it was neat to hear of how God has worked in their lives over the years.IMG_4138IMG_4139IMG_41313. We felt loved, welcomed, and right at home from the very start. When I was a teenager, our family made the trek out to Kansas (the family lived in Horton, Kansas at the time), and it became the most memorable vacation of my childhood. Now, 20+ years later, I am so thankful that my children had the opportunity to make many of the same memories.IMG_4155Cousin Marian and Eddy were so kind to welcome us into their home. They were such wonderful hosts!IMG_4149IMG_4167(Cousin Tony taught me how to juggle when I visited Kansas as a young teen. He now has a new pupil in Micah! He also had a chance to see Micah complete the Rubix Cube, and spurred his interest in working on a 4×4 cube now.) IMG_4163IMG_4135In the midst of travelling many miles, I am thankful for the stops along the way that refresh and encourage our hearts!

Friends Along the Way

We just spent the weekend in Greenwood, Wisconsin at Missionary Baptist Church visiting with friends, Pastor Geoff and Pam Smith.

Our family shares a number of similarities with the Smiths. Geoff and I are both from Pennsylvania (having grown up about 45 minutes away from each other). Sarah and Pam are both from Colorado. We all attended Northland Baptist Bible College, and then Geoff and I both graduated from the same seminary. Not only that, but both sets of families have 5 children. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun spending time together.

img_4123img_4121As in just about every place we go, we have felt very welcomed. Our kids loved the time playing together, and we had some fun outings (like visiting a farm and playing miniature golf). I am grateful for Geoff and Pam’s ministry at Missionary Baptist, and their investment in our family as well. They were very gracious hosts and were so kind to take time out of their schedules to make us feel at home!img_4089img_4098img_4101img_4107img_4090img_4104img_4095img_4118

Mentors and Friends in Ministry

For those in ministry, we all need mentors, and we all need friends. It is really special though, when the same person can serve as both your mentor and friend.

This past week our family had the chance to spend time with a man I have greatly respected over the years. Curt Lamansky was a professor at Northland when I first met him back in 1998 during my freshman year. I vividly remember times sitting in his classes and soaking up teaching on theology. In many ways, I have sought to pattern my own teaching after his. I look to him as a mentor in ministry.

But, over the years, I have also appreciated Curt’s friendship. On occasion (when we would visit Northland), I would bump into him and it was always a blessing to reconnect. However, since we have begun working on the program for Haven of Grace Seminary, we have had a ton of opportunities to communicate. Curt has been a huge help in formulating the program layout and helping us think through important questions ahead of the launch of the seminary. I have truly appreciate his friendship.

This past week, it was wonderful to get to visit the church Curt pastors (Immanuel Bible Church – Sheboygan, WI). The folks there we so kind to our whole family. We got to experience so much while we were there from visiting Bookworm Gardens, to Lake Michigan, to enjoying fresh (delicious) Wisconsin cheese!img_3902

Family and Friends

On August 18 we began our Westward travels. Although there are many long hours on the road, there are also many blessings along the way–the greatest of these being opportunities to connect with family and friends. After our meeting in Western PA on Sunday, August 19, we traveled to Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law’s home in Midland, Michigan. We spent four exciting, fun-filled days with the Muths. Having all 9 cousins together meant there was never a dull moment in the house!img_3821It was a true blessing for Sarah to reconnect with her younger brother, Michael. We are all looking forward to Thanksgiving when the entire Muth clan will be together in Rocky Ford, Colorado.img_3831img_3804After leaving the Muths we made a pit stop at the Regular Baptist Press Headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois (You can read more about that in the blog post “Signed Contract!

A good friend of mine, Tim Wilkes, lives only about an hour from Arlington Heights, so we thought this would be the perfect time to stop over to see them. We had the chance to stay with Tim and Emily and their family on Friday night. Tim was my best friend in college and it is hard to believe that it has been over a decade since we have last seen each other. We seemed to pick right up where we left off, and it was great to be able to reconnect with Tim and Emily, and let our families get to know each other.img_3886img_3891img_3882img_3852img_3866I am finding that the journey in life is what you make of it. You can know great joy in the various circumstances and changes in life, if you trust God’s leading, rest in His goodness and show gratitude for the blessings (both small and great) that He graciously provides.img_3874

Signed Contract!

On our journey out West we had a chance to stop by the Regular Baptist Press Headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois so I could sign the author contract for my upcoming book, God Gives More Grace.

During our visit, I was privileged to spend time with the director of Regular Baptist Press, David Gunn.

These are exciting days and I will try to share more details in future posts.

Big, Exciting News – REVEALED

On Friday, we told you that we had some “Big, Exciting News” to share… but at that time we were not quite at the place where we could share it. Well, today, we are thrilled to reveal the news.

Last Friday, I received word that Regular Baptist Press would like to publish my book, God Gives More Grace. Today, I received the contract for the book, which I will sign on Friday, August 24 when we visit RBP’s headquarters in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

I will take some time to tell more about the book, and how God brought all of this together in later blog posts. But for the meantime, we are just excited to partner with Regular Baptist Press to see this work published!

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Big, Exciting News!

Have you ever had big, exciting news that you can’t wait to share… but you are not quite at the point where you can share it just yet? Well, that’s exactly where we are at. Stay tuned for some thrilling news to come. (And no, we are not expecting another baby!)

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Sing Praise to God

Last Sunday we visited New Life Fellowship Baptist Church (East Stroudsburg, PA) and really enjoyed out time with Pastor Pat and Debbie Hughes and the church family at New Life.img_3615While there I was reminded of the importance of singing. After the Sunday evening service a group of men gathered around a couple of guitars to just sing praise to the Lord. After taking care of a couple of things, I was even able to join in with my ukulele! As time went on the crowd grew, and we were singing together until around 10pm. img_3632Singing is a vital part of a Christian’s worship. There are few greater joys than to sing with all of your heart to the praise and glory of God surrounded by fellow believers. And singing is something Christians should get used to. As we get glimpses of heaven from the book of Revelation, the saints are frequently surrounding God’s throne, offering their songs of praise. Let us sing the praises of our Redeemer!

“I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33)