Nicholas had quite a big day today. He had his first exam of the semester, for which he got a B! And then he had to give a speech in another class, which he felt he did pretty well on that (the grade hasn't posted yet). And then Nicole took him to get his driver's license! He's driving to work tomorrow morning, so just a warning to those of you who live near us to be on the lookout - lol! Congratulations, Nicholas!!
So, the first thing I want to talk about is a picture I took of Tim 2 days ago taking a nap that sparked a walk down memory lane. When the triplets were born, they were all put in an incubator together, and Nathan had one hand out of the blanket and on his face like Jack Benny the old comedian used to do. So here is a picture of Jack Benny, and then Nathan, and then Tim. Quite the resemblance of all 3, don't you think? :-) Oh My!
The nap was after a wonderful trip to the beach we took Thursday morning with our dear friends, the Perrella's. I just want to say I was severely outvoted as to the time we went to the beach. I ask you, if you were planning on going to the beach and you basically had the whole day to go, what time would you go? I've been asking people that question since our little excursion on Thursday and most people, like me, said they like to go around 10am or 11am. So what time did the Perrella's and Tim want to go?? 7:00AM!!! What the heck? So I had to drag my butt up at 7am to go to the beach (wanna give me some cheese with my whine?). I was slightly appeased when the Perrella's showed up with bagels and coffee. I'll tell you what, we had our pick of parking spaces, that's for sure! We decided to go to Pass-a-grille Beach, and it was really lovely. I was a little concerned about the red tide, but we didn't see any signs of it while we were there, thank God! Here's a picture of the 4 of us, and then one I snapped of Lee & Marie - aren't they the cutest?
We walked across the street for lunch at the iconic Hurricane restaurant for their famous grouper sandwiches - yum! We're so grateful to have the friendship we have with Lee & Marie. As I mentioned in a previous post, the 4 of us lead the marriage ministry at our church on Thursday nights, so we can find ourselves talking 'business' a lot, and this was a deliberate effort to put all that aside and just go and have fun together, and we definitely accomplished our goal!! As they say, a great time was to be had by all! :-)
When we last left off, I was sharing about our incredible sailing adventure we took with WinShape Marriage July 7-14. Just a couple weeks later we headed up to the WinShape retreat center July 27-29 to be the host couple for their Courageous Hearts retreat. It was such a blessing to be there again!
The next weekend we drove up to the Cincinnati area to be with the guy who led Tim to Christ on Tim's 16th birthday many moons ago, lol. He is suffering from ALS, and when we first arrived both his head and his spirit were down. We talked and prayed with him throughout the weekend, and when we left on Monday morning he told us he felt like a new person and that he felt like something had literally fallen off of him (can you say a spirit of oppression?). While we were there we met up with a couple we had met the weekend before at the WinShape retreat who live in Cincinnati. It was definitely a divine appointment as they shared how alone they had felt in their marriage and their struggles, and through the grace of God we were able to remove some of that aloneness and provide hope. It was an amazing time together.
Mid-August saw the kids all heading off to their 4 separate colleges. Nicole and Nicholas are still living at home and commuting to college, while Nathan and Noah moved into dorms at theirs! Nathan enjoyed moving into a brand new dorm at Trinity College, while Noah is enjoying a private room (within a quad) at Polytechnic.
I was taking Nicholas to college for his first day of his first class that started at 8am in St. Pete, about an hour away. It was about 6:45am on August 15, and we were about 5 minutes into our journey when bam, someone hit me! After the phone call to Tim to ask him to reschedule with his corporate client so he could come and get Nicholas and take him, he actually arrived on time (whew!). The damage doesn't look that bad, but my car was in the shop for 2 weeks (thankfully, the guy's insurance paid for a rental for me during that time), and I just got it back yesterday!
August 22-24 saw us heading back up to WinShape to be facilitators at a Host Couple Training. We reunited with one of the couples from our sailing adventure who were at the training and the wife actually works for WinShape! It was a very sweet time and again, just a blessing to be there with all the wonderful people and all the deer! We were invited to do a testimony of our WinShape Sailing Adventure, so if they post that to their website, we'll let you know!
Today wrapped up our marriage conference at our church, and it was probably one of the most smooth conferences I've ever been involved in at our church! There was a date night last night with food trucks and a comedian, and then this morning was the teaching time. Tim and I did a breakout session on Fighting Fair today, which is basically about communication tools for better connection in our marriages, and we really enjoyed ourselves and received great feedback. Our facilitators from our marriage class did an AWESOME job as the volunteers for the event, which I think was a main reason every thing went so smoothly! Actually, I think it was mainly a huge answer to prayer. There was a lot of unity and camaraderie, and we are hoping and believing it helped provide many couples with the hope and help they were looking for. It is SO cool to be doing something the Lord told us years ago we would be doing. There's nothing like it!
Finally, I think I want to talk about my hair. I don't remember if I've even mentioned any of this in any of my previous posts, but last fall my hair started falling out (oh, I just got that pun - last fall it started falling! lol!), due to an autoimmune response I had to the clinical trial drug I was on last year. It got so bad I started wearing a wig in February of this year, just about the time it (thank God!) started growing back. It took a few months to get long enough for me to feel comfortable ditching the wig, which happened around May. Since then, I decided to grow out my gray hair since I already had a 3 month start. It is actually all white for about 3 inches of the new growth in the front, and then salt and pepper for 3 inches everywhere else. But to avoid that awful line of demarcation, I'm using a temporary spray color to cover up the worst of the demarcation. I'm a little over 6 months into the process, and I think I have another 18 months to go!! Argh!! I went to get a trim this week, and my hairdresser cut it way shorter than I expected because she said the colored part of my hair is going to eventually need to be cut off anyway as it is not going to magically become my natural color. True, but I've had long hair as far as I can remember, so this short stuff (as you can see how short above) is taking quite a bit of getting used to! Eventually, I plan to ditch the temporary color, so don't be surprised if one time you see me with dark hair and the next time I see you I'm a lot whiter and grayer than the last time!
Well, I think that's it for the random ramblings! Hope everyone is having a nice weekend, and I wish blessings to you all until next time!
I've been DYING to post this update! I've been waiting to get access to the all the photos others took because I didn't take that many, and then I finally did get access to those about a week ago and I've just been too busy to post them to this blog!
So where do I start? I guess I'll start with the Friday night, July 6, before our flight to the Abacos Islands on the 7th. We were about to go to bed when we received a hysterical call from our daughter, Nicole, at about 10:30pm that our son, Noah, had just suffered a seizure and was non-responsive. Needless to say, we hopped in the car and rushed to where they were about 10 minutes away, arriving just after the ambulance pulled up. I rode in the front of the ambulance to the ER, praying the whole way and honestly being scared out of my wits as I watched Noah throw up and then thrash around incoherently. After a CT Scan of his head and his regaining full consciousness, they determined there was no damage and he only had a concussion. Whew! The cause was due to some guy rough-housing that ended with him falling and bumping his head which caused the seizure. Here's a picture of him in his lovely hospital gown after regaining consciousness (of course, the first thing he wanted was his phone!).
We were unsure whether or not to leave for our trip, but we thankfully decided to go and Noah was absolutely fine, thank God! So after a few short hours sleep, we drove to Orlando, flew to Nassaau, and then flew to Marsh Harbor on the Great Abaco Island. Here we are on our last flight leg - check out the hand photo bomb. Some people - lol!
I'm struggling with how to record this incredible trip with lots of pictures and without too many words but enough words to hopefully capture some of the magic of it! We arrived on a Saturday evening to a beautiful 52 foot sailing vessel where we met 2 other participant couples, a host couple, and the captain and his wife. The goal of Winshape Adventures is to "strengthen marriages through experiential discipleship". How do adventures strengthen marriages you ask? "When husbands and wives adventure together with the purpose of strengthening their marriage and growing closer to God, they discover more intimacy, connection and growth". And we definitely discovered all of these on our adventure!
The typical day included a devotional each couple did on their own together in the morning, and then some type of adventure (be it a golf cart scavenger hunt or snorkling or swimming with sting-rays and sharks or hiking), and ended with time around the table together discussing the morning's devotional with the other couples. I don't know what else to say, except it was absolutely incredible! I was going to comment on all the pictures, but I think I'm just going to post a gallery of pictures below and let them speak for themselves. However, there is an amazing story about the place we spent our last 2 days that I'll share at the end with those photos.
So the last place we pulled into before heading back to Marsh Harbor was Treasure Cay, and Tim and I recognized we were at the same resort we had honeymooned at 30 years ago come this November! Right after we moored, we all went to the restaurant where Tim and I had most of our meals when we stayed there 30 years ago, and even our waitress (see below) had been there for 32 years so we talked about all the changes that had taken place since we were there! It was crazy! Here are some pictures from the restaurant.
Then the next day we all renewed our vows on the very beach we honeymooned! It was almost surreal. They had no idea about how special that place was to us, and we had no idea we would end up there! God is so good! Here are some pictures from the vow renewal ceremony and also just some cool pictures we took with a Treasure Cay sign with our sailboat in the background:
I still can't believe we got to do this! I'm just hoping we can go again as a host couple. We just need a few participant couples! Any takers?
When Noah was little and we were trying to redirect him, he would say, "but I'm not done with my words!" Well, as I alluded to in my previous update, I am not done with my words regarding Winshape, our ministry to pastors, and our church's marriage ministry. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee or tea, put your reading glasses on if needed, and if you are so inclined and have the time, read on...
#2 started happening right away when we returned from our RV trip, with a local pastor approaching us and asking us to care for he and his wife. We spent the rest of the year of 2011 meeting regularly with this anointed couple and saw God show up in powerful ways. This couple took that time and allowed the Lord to multiply it and now they care for each other and others in powerful ways!! But then, we went back to praying and waiting over all 3 of the things I listed above...
#3 started happening last spring. Finally, April of 2017, our pastor asked Tim and I out to lunch and asked us to start a marriage ministry at our church called re|engage. On May 17, 2017, we met with 6 pastors at our church along with our dear friends, the Perrella's to discuss the vision of marriage ministry for our church. That night, we watched our youngest walk across the stage and receive his high school diploma. Coincidence? I don't think so! God's timing was perfect, because any time you do marriage ministry, it takes you away from your kids - it just does - so while we were chomping at the bit all those years I'm so glad we waited on God's timing. Honestly, there were times we even thought of leaving our church and going elsewhere to places we knew were already doing what we wanted to do. But God knew we needed to stay right where we were, and so we never had a peace about leaving. So glad we didn't! We put out the request for facilitators for the marriage ministry, and we had 86 people (43 couples) go through our facilitator training last summer, and then we started out our first night in September with over 200 participants signed up!! It's been amazing!
So what about #1? That's been a 20 year (or so) wait. Honestly, I think we had almost given up on it, but the desire never left. Well, long story short, in November we came in contact with the author of Intimate Encounters and he invited us to contact his daughter, Terri, who was heading up a training at Winshape (Chick-fil-a's retreat center) to see if we could help her. She said yes! We were just going to be table leaders, but we ended up presenting when one of the presenters fell ill with a bad cold. It was such an honor and encouragement to see the beginning of a fulfillment of something God had laid on our hearts so long ago, and also an incredible introduction to the Winshape Foundation! Since that time, opportunities have been coming out of the woodwork this year!! Here are some of them:
So, those are the words I wanted to share as I posted all those pictures in my last update. I hope it is an encouragement to those of you who are waiting on the Lord in areas You've felt His leading on but haven't seen any fulfillment in them. We waited 7 years, 8 years, and around 20 years. It's DEFINITELY been worth the wait! We thank God for speaking to us and then giving us the privilege to partner with Him in places He is working. Reminds me of Eph 2:10 For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. How cool is that? OK, I think I'm done with my words now (until next time...)!
How about some milestones over the past almost 2 years? Here we go!
We'll start with 2016 and our anniversary on Nov 5:
Then the triplet's 19th birthday on Nov 16:
Thanksgiving with the fam!
As shown in the Oct 10, 2016 update, we bred our kitty cat and had the cutest kittens ever!
Meeting up half way with our friends the Hoffman's in Savannah celebrating my birthday and my dear friend, Laura's birthday since they are on the same day (Dec 18)!
Christmas at our church
The Everglades after Christmas family vacation:
Now on to 2017. My first trip to Detroit was on Feb 3, 2017 to begin the process of the clinical trial:
Road trip with my dad to Pensacola to visit his uncle!
Nicholas' birthday May 16, and then graduation the next day! Sadly, not a lot of great pictures (none in his cap and gown!) but at least some pics:
Tim's birthday June 7th, and then a road trip a week later (I don't remember exactly where):
June 2017 treatment in Detroit with my dear friend, Marie (who came with me) and my sister-in-law, Lorrie, who showed us a fantastic time at her family's lake house and then downtown Detroit:
July treatment hosted by my wonderful niece, Leeann, and accompanied by my sweet daughter, Nicole:
Nathan passing the torch of his job to Nicholas at the Egg and I before he heads off to college:
The wedding of Nathan's childhood best friend in Jacksonville at the beginning of August, and an excuse for a mini family vacation before college starting for all the kids!
Mid-August - moving Noah and Nathan on campus of their respective schools (all 4 kids starting 4 different colleges - with Nicole and Nicholas still at home)
Driving Nicholas back and forth to St. Pete College every Tuesday and Thursday offered the opportunity for some one-on-ones with people I invited to come with me, including a beach day with my friend, Kim! A visit to Scoops Ice Cream was a requirement! :-)
Tim and I and our dear friends, the Perrella's, trained a fantastic group of facilitators in July and August for the marriage ministry at our church that cranked up with our first class that started in September. Have much more to say about this, but it will have to be at another time since this is just picture time!
A last minute meetup with 3 of the kids in downtown Tampa for pizza and a walk. Love our kids!
Labor Day with the fam in front of the Perrella's new RV they purchased that day and came by to show us!
Check-up in Detroit in September with a mini vacation afterwards in upper Michigan with Lorrie - fun times!!
Celebrating my dad's birthday on October 10 at one of his favorite places - Cracker Barrel!
Anniversary #29 on November 5th in Long Boat Key - a super great and relaxing time - so much to be thankful for!
Kittens again!! This time, only 3, but oh so cute!!
November saw our 1st trip to Winshape, a ministry of Chick-Fil-A. SO much I have to say about this, but I will save it for another time.
The triplets' 20th birthday!! No more teenagers for them!
My birthday in December celebrating with the Perrella's one night and then my awesome family the next!
One-on-one time with Nashun (Nathan) at the Tampa River Walk. So blessed with such a great son (as I am with all my kids!).
Christmas at church, the family on a boat you can rent downtown and go around the canals looking at lights, and then a day after Christmas brunch!
Check-up in Detroit on December 27. I took the family support team to dinner to celebrate their incredible care the whole year!
Don't ask me why I'm including these pictures - not exactly milestone material - I just think it's funny. We had all the kids home for Christmas break so Tim initiated the great 'sock-in' where we all tried to match all the socks in the house! Lol!
Now onto 2018!! We had our 2nd trip in January to Winshape with the Perrella's for Host Couple training (again - so much more I want to say but will hold off until I can do it justice). Bottom line, some dreams are coming true!
Right after Winshape we were invited and accepted the opportunity to be host couples for a Pastor's retreat at this enormous house on a beautiful lake in Georgia. I'm telling ya - we were just suffering for Jesus. :-)
Nathan was on his college basketball team this year, and we had the opportunity to see him play at a college in Tampa. Go Trinity Tigers!!
I can't believe this is the only picture I have of this, but we had another opportunity in April with Pastors at an Emotionally Healthy Spirituality conference in New York. Here we are on one of the infamous subways. Again, more details to come about this.
Nathan and 2 buds went skydiving in May, so I tagged along to be the last person to see him in case he died (kind of kidding)! They had a blast!
Mother's Day picture at church, and then an amazing time at a Tim Hawkins concert - SO funny my side hurt! I think it was the best Mother's Day ever!
Nicholas' birthday on May 16. Is that Nicole dabbing?
The first week in June we drove an RV owned by the Perrella's out to Denver for Tim's birthday and my nephew's wedding, and then we flew back to Tampa so they could fly in to Denver and take it from there. They're still driving that thing around in the Wild West! We stopped at a rest stop in Metropolis, Kansas, so I just had to get these pics of Nathan and Noah! Then Nathan and Nicole and I had the opportunity to take the groom out to lunch. Tim's birthday on June 7th took us into what we call 'enchanting' Estes Park for a family breakfast at the Egg and I there, a walk around the town, and then a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park (that's Nathan with snow in his hand!), followed by pizza at Tim's favorite pizza place, Beau Jo's! And finally there's a picture of us crammed in the RV all dressed up to go to the wedding! Such a beautiful wedding and a great time to see so many family members! Sweet time!
My latest checkup in Detroit just last week (June 20). My step-mom, Diane, picked us up on Tuesday, took us to my appointment on Wednesday, and brought us to a fantastic authentic Hungarian restaurant! Yummy! And then took us to the airport on Thursday! So thankful for all her support!
I told myself if I ever got through this cancer thing I would come out and visit my mom's cousin, Joanna. Well, it's been almost a year since my negative cancer biopsies, so I finally just did it and came out to California to visit her, and what a great visit we had!! She lives in a fantastic senior independent living facility, and we enjoyed going to the dining hall (amazing food!), sitting out by the pool, crying over a Hallmark movie, participating in chair volleyball, reminiscing about our shared relatives, and then her daughter, Nancy, gave us a wonderful day yesterday by taking us to the mountains up to Lake Arrowhead. I found this restaurant there called the Belgian Waffle, and since our relatives we share in common are all from Belgium, we just had to go there! Look at that dessert we shared! We arrived home in time to go to the place Joanna and Nancy go to for massages, and we all enjoyed amazing massages - mine was the best I've ever had! We spent the rest of the evening looking over old pictures and documents and listening to a tape of their mom and my Grandma and their other sister reminiscing about the 'old country' and their folks. I can't imagine a visit being any more satisfying! So blessed am I!
Well, I'm getting ready to board my flight home, so until next time (and hopefully it won't be almost 2 years later), blessings to all!
Wow - it's been almost 2 years since my last update, and I had been mentioning the fact I had cancer and then I disappear! How wrong is that?? I actually completely forgot about this blog until a couple of days ago, and then I was feeling terrible as I realized how much I left people hanging!! So sorry for that!! I'll try to do a quick synopsis of my cancer story:
We were so thankful for our supporters for our missions trip to Lebanon that we threw an appreciation dinner this past Friday night with authentic Lebanese food that we prepared (for the most part) from scratch! You can see the menu here:
Our friends, the Storms, hosted the dinner (and they hosted 2 of our main fundraisers!), and so we spent the whole day Friday cooking at their home! Ronda said she had pretty much always had buffet style dinners, but in Lebanon our meals were almost always served family style sitting down at long tables. So we created a zig zag long table and put the food on the table just like they do in Lebanon, with all dishes on the menu repeated between every 3 or 4 seats:
In Lebanon they kept bringing out so many dishes you just don't know where you're going to put it and then they bring out more! Our menu was actually a limited version of what we were served while we were there, and it was still a ton of food with lots of leftovers. After dinner we showed the pictures that I posted in this blog along with a video testimony from one of our translators who was a converted Muslim. I had been able to text him before hand to get his permission to show the video, and he asked that I please, 'thank them for sending you guys here. You were a big blessing to me personally and to my country as well." We still feel so incredibly thankful for the amazing opportunities we had there, and we're so glad that we were able to bless the people who had blessed us so much!
So - guess where this picture was taken? You guessed right if you said our garage! A nameless person turned the bathtub water on in our 2nd floor bathroom last night and then forgot about it. Discovery was made probably a couple hours later at around 11pm and the sopping up of water began! We called our insurance company, Tower Hill, last night and were told we could either get a mitigation service out there in the middle of the night (ensuring none of us would get any sleep) or we could call them in the morning. This morning I had jury duty, so Tim made the call to our insurance company, and the mitigation specialist was out here in no time installing about 9 fans and 2 dehumidifiers. In the meantime, I'm waiting in the jury auditorium and finally about 10:30am my name gets called along with 29 others. We get taken to a courtroom where it is explained that the case before us was a civil case where the plaintiff, who is from Brandon, is suing his homeowner's insurance company for not paying on a claim of water damage in his home. And guess who the Insurance company is that he was suing? You won if you said Tower Hill!!! Are you kidding me? So when they asked if there was anything that might make it difficult for any of us to be unbiased in this case another guy raised his hand and said he was in the process of suing Tower Hill for not paying on his claim!!! I, of course, then shared my sob story and said I was really pulling for the plaintiff in this case and I hadn't heard any of the evidence. Needless to say, I wasn't selected for the trial. I came home to our house sounding like the tarmac of an airport! We called Tower Hill and asked if they would pay for a hotel room tonight, but were just told we could pay out of pocket and see if they would reimburse. Aha! After the earful I got today, I don't think so. So we may just camp out in our bedroom since our bedroom is the furthest away from all the noise, and if you close the door you can hardly even hear it. I still can't believe all that has happened in the past 24 hours. And of all the trials that were going on today in Hillsborough County, I got called into that one! That's just crazy! Our policy is pretty clear that it covers accidental water damage, but I'm not feeling all warm and fuzzy about it after today! So please be praying they pay for this.
On another note, Nicole bought another car about a month ago (you may remember her first car was totaled), but it started giving her some trouble shortly after bringing it home. It was just taking 2 or 3 times to turn over when she tried to start it. We took it to a mechanic who said it was the fuel pump and gave us an estimate of $450. Yikes! So we were going to get a 2nd opinion but Nicole was really busy with work and school, and then she ended up driving it some distance a couple weeks ago and, long story short, a rod was thrown into the engine and now there's a hole the size of a fist in it. So I think she's just going to sell it for parts at this point. We may sell her our van and then buy a car ourselves, but I think a lot of that depends on our insurance claim! So again, prayers for wisdom would be much appreciated!
I've been practicing being thankful in all circumstances, so I just want to say that I'm thankful for a wonderful, supportive family, and amazing friends, and a literal roof over my head and plenty of food and no worries about money because I have a God who has ALWAYS provided for me and He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purposes. So there!! :-) Blessings to all!
We keep seeing blessing after blessing out of Nicole's accident. First and foremost is that she wasn't injured at all, praise God!! Another blessing is that Geico totalled the car and then gave her $1500 more than what she paid for it! Yay!! Another blessing is a bit of a longer story. Tim and Noah have been planning a trip to Nashville for this coming weekend for months. The only question was which of our two 100,000+ mile vehicles were the lesser of the 2 evils?? Enter Geico's rental reimbursement! Since Nicole's car and policy were in my name first (Nicole's name second), Geico reserved a rental car in my name. And spouses are included! And they can take it out of the state no problem! So Nicole will drive our van here around town while we're looking for a replacement vehicle for her, and Tim will be able to take the rental to Nashville!! Woohoo! We are just thanking the Lord! We know we're getting to the place where we're going to need to replace at least one of our vehicles - we have been budgeting $300 a month on auto maintenance for the past couple years and we've been spending it and then some every month! Argh!! But hopefully we can hold off on that a little bit longer. Anyway, I just wanted to report all this good news!!
BTW - They didn't put Nicholas on the schedule at Fred's until August 8, but he's scheduled to work August 8, 9, and 10 from 5pm - 10:30pm, and he starts back at school on August 10! Tomorrow I am taking him to get his senior pictures made. I think this school year is going to fly! Our last kid in high school - such a weird feeling. But please be praying for his first day at work at his first job next Monday - he's understandably feeling a little nervous, so I would appreciate any prayers you could throw his way! Well, that's it for now. Until next time - blessings to all!!
Tim & Jodie