Remembering 2017

As the year started, we looked forward with great expectation. But with great expectation often comes great accommodation, because rarely do things work out as we plan or hope. The Lord, however, blesses us with exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine.


All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.
1 Peter 1:2-4 (NLT)

A quick recap of our amazing year:

We built it.

This was the year we built our house. We broke ground in December, when UBuildIt placed a sign on our one-acre lot in the Texas Hill Country. Forms for the foundation were set up over the Christmas holidays and the foundation was poured in January. Construction moved along fairly quickly and despite some challenges and frustrations, everything came together and we closed on the house at the end of June.
To see pictures and read detailed descriptions of the building activity, check out my Country Living blogs.

In Loving Memory

My dad, sister and I sadly shared the news of our loving wife/mother, Shirley Ann English, 73, going to be with the Lord on Friday, May 26, 2017.
In May, Jon and I felt a prompting to make a crazy, weeklong road trip to the northeast. Daniel’s girlfriend, Kd, received her master’s degree at UMUC and invited us to the ceremony. We combined the trip with a surprise visit with my mom for Mother’s Day. We had the sweetest visit and we are ever grateful we went.
A week later, I received a phone call. My mom was back on the ventilator and unable to come off again. Too full of life to live on life support, mom made the decision to be taken off. I flew up to Pennsylvania to be with my sister and dad at mom’s side when she entered into the presence of the Lord. Her memorial was held on June 3rd.
We miss her very much, but rejoice in her glorious, inexpressible joy.
Read her full obituary at Glunt Funeral Home.

Welcome to the World

Proud parents, Heather & Jarred happily announce the birth of their second daughter, Charlotte Ann on October 15th.
Jon and I flew to Norfolk in February for a few days to visit granddaughter Scarlette. While there, Heather & Jarred surprised us with the wonderful news: Scarlette was going to be a big sister. Baby number two was due in October. Over the 4th of July weekend, we hosted a gender reveal party in our new home. Another little princess!
Then in October, toward the end of our visit in Pennsylvania, we received a text telling us Heather was in labor. We packed up and drove the nine hours to Norfolk.
In the early morning hours on October 15th, Charlotte Ann made her grand arrival. Right on schedule and right into our hearts.

Other Notable Events

Heather: notified in November she made Aerographer’s Mate First Class (E6). Congratulations!
Jarred: begin a new job as a mechanic at  U-Haul in January.
Daniel & Kd: transitioned from the Navy to civilian life and moved from Hawaii to Colorado in September.
Jonny: worked as a research assistant all summer and began his sophomore year at Baylor in the fall.
Jon & Jill: published their first book together, a photo devotional.
Praise: Proclaiming the Glory of God.
Check us out on Amazon.

A Time such as this

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…, a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to cry and a time to laugh, a time to grieve and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones, a time to embrace and a time to turn away…, a time to keep and a time to throw away…, a time to be quiet and a time to speak…
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7, NLT)

May all your days in the coming New Year be a time of grace and peace.


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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 70

Save me, O God!
    Lord, help me now!
Psalm 70:1 (GNT)

The cry of our heart.

Sometimes, we find ourselves on the bottom looking up.  We long to be free. Free from whatever holds us down. Free from the shackles binding us. Free from the situation we’re in. Circumstances in life have brought us to a place we did not plan for, did not expect, did not want.  Yet here we are.

And it may be from any number of reasons.

Debt. Divorce. Death. Discouragement. Disappointment. Unforgiveness. Mistakes. Loss. Lies. Joblessness. Illness. Hopelessness. Fear. Failure. Criticism. Betrayal. Anxiety.  Addiction. And everything in between.

So our hearts cry out. Save me! Help me!

And we wonder. Who can help?

Let us look, ask, and realize, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth.”Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

Our God is sovereign. He knows the circumstances in our life, the ones holding us down, holding us back. The devastating events that rock our world.

What shall our response be? On what do we focus? The problems and pains of this life? Or the goodness of the Lord?

He can release us, restore us, refresh us, so we can walk in the freedom and strength.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

“The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

The Lord lifts us up, “…out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 (NIV)


Heavenly Father, Let me pray as the Psalmist prayed: “I am weak and poor; come to me quickly, O God. You are my savior and my Lord—hurry to my aid!”
Psalm 70:5 (GNT)

Grace and Peace

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First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 68

Arise, O God, and scatter all your enemies! Chase them away!

Psalm 68:1 (TLB)

Arise O God. May that be our headline, rather than the headlines that horrify us lately:

Gunman opens fire…
Mass shooting…
Terror strikes…

It seems like one tragedy occurs after another. We are shaken, shocked, horrified, helpless. And often weary, numb, overwhelmed.

With each tragedy, we think, surely the world is more evil than it ever has been.

Yet, a Psalmist, thousands of years ago, cried out to the Lord to scatter his enemies. There was evil then, just as there is now.  And while we can analyze, identify, deliberate, argue, condemn, and legislate, there is only one thing that can confront evil head on. One thing that can undo it, defeat it. destroy it.

Love. God’s love.

I know it sounds trite. simple. even condescending. But even though the world may deny it, we have an enemy of our soul. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We are in a battle with him (Ephesians 6:13). He prowls around to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He is a murderer, a hater of truth and a liar (John 8:44). We see evidence of his schemes everywhere.


While evil seeks to destroy, Love designs to build up (Ephesians 4:12). Love does not create fear, instead it gives us power and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Love is patient and kind, it protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4,7). Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, because Love is with us (Psalm 23:4).

In times like these, we are challenged with what we believe and living it out. Our hearts break. We ask why. And we weep with those who weep. Which brings me to a letter written by a man with a passion for God and his love.

In Paul’s day, evil, terrorism and violence were rampant. Just as we see today (truly there is nothing new under the sun). But Paul challenges the evil. Just as the Jesus he followed, he lived counter culturally, an upside down kingdom if you will. One that responds to evil with good.  There is a deeper truth in the letter he wrote to suffering believers. Not an easy truth, but a greater, grander truth. The truth of love.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

While we weep with those who weep, when we respond to tragedy with love, real love (the kind that gets involved, gets messy, does not grow weary, stays when others have moved on, offers help, gives hope) then, then, evil is defeated and Love Wins.


Heavenly Father, Arise and scatter our enemies. Comfort those who mourn. Help us find peace in the midst of tragedy, hope beyond what we see, and a faith that trusts in You.

Grace and Peace

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Another Response

“The angel of Adonai appeared… and said, “You valiant hero! The Lord is with you!” Judges 6:12 CJB

Gideon was an obscure nobody living in a time of oppression, suffering and evil, his homeland occupied by an enemy. Life was not good. Life was filled with darkness.

I love Gideon’s reply “Excuse me, sir.”

We, too, live in a time where life does not always seem good. Life is filled with darkness. We want to know the Lord is with us.

But when we see another horrendous act of evil, we say “Really? Is he? Excuse me?”
Like Gideon, we want to know “if Adonai is with us, then why is this happening to us?”

Gideon goes on to say, “Where are all his miracles our ancestors told us about when they said ‘Didn’t Adonai bring us up from (slavery)?’ For now Adonai has abandoned us and handed us over to (the enemy).”

Sure seemed like God had abandoned Gideon and his people. And it seems like He has abandoned us and handed us over to the enemy.

We want to be the generation of miracles. The heroes of old. Not the ones leading up to God’s miracles. Not the hurting masses. Not the oppressed. Not the victims.  We want to see the miracles. The mighty acts.

Will we hide like Gideon, fearful of the enemy, thinking God has abandoned us?


Will God find us faithful in the midst of trials and tragedy?
Will we wait with eager expectation?
Will we count it all joy?
Will we exchange ashes of mourning for a crown of beauty?
Will we allow our suffering to turn to praise?

In Gideon’s case, the Lord was preparing to raise an army.

He can do the same today. Not a physical army. An army of prayer warriors. Ready to do battle against the evil seeking to steal kill and destroy. Warriors prepared to stand with our spiritual armor. A battle not using worldly weapons but weapons with God’s power for demolishing strongholds. Not against human beings, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers governing darkness, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. If God is for us who can be against us! Stand firm then.

Pray for those who persecute you!

Keep watch and pray.

Pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.

Pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.

Pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Pray for God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Keep on praying, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.

Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people,

Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.

Pray this way for… all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Never stop praying.

Heavenly Father, God of Angel Armies, raise up your people to pray. Ignite the hearts of your people, who bear your name, to humble ourselves, to pray, to seek your face and turn from our evil ways. Hear us from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land.
(from 2 Chronicles 7:14)

Grace and Peace

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Building Oak Haven – road trip!

Wow. Two months since my last post.

And it has flown by.

Our oldest son, Daniel, and his dog arrived for a visit at the end of August. He was transitioning out of the military and spent a few weeks with us while he waited for his vehicle to arrive from Hawaii and before he and his girlfriend moved to Denver, Colorado.  In September, Jon and I planned to leave for our trip to visit my family in Pennsylvania, with the expectation we would head to Virginia in October for the arrival of our second grand baby.

Toward the end of September, when Daniel’s vehicle had not yet arrived in Dallas, we decided we’d have to take a slight detour on our trip. We packed up our truck and headed up to Denver to take son and dog to their new home.

I was sad to leave our new home for such a long time, but looked forward to the journey ahead

We endured the long hours and drove straight through, arriving in Denver late that night. KD was delighted to see us (especially Daniel and Kylie) . The next day, Jon and I took a drive into the mountains and spent the day enjoying the Colorado aspens in their glorious color. We took quite a few pictures of God’s beautiful creation. In the evening we had a great dinner with them at The Viewhouse. (I really need to remember to take more pictures when I’m with others).

Then it was time to drive east. I was sad to leave our son and his girlfriend for such a long time, but looked forward to the journey ahead.

Jon and I headed cross country to Edinboro, Pennsylvania to visit my family. It was my first time driving through Kansas and more than a corner of Missouri. I found the eastern part of the Kansas quite pretty.  Unfortunately we were too far north to visit Lambert’s in Sikeston, Missouri, much to Jon’s dismay.  The rest of the drive was rather familiar, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. We’ve driven through them many times.

While in Pennsylvania, my sister and I sorted through more of mom’s stuff, including her holiday decorations (she loved her holidays), her jewelry (she loved her jewelry, especially holiday jewelry) and her pigs (she loved them, too, and collected them, along with cats). The picture doesn’t include the pigs still scattered about the house.

Jon and I also spent some time with the cousins, took a few bike rides around Presque Isle, made a day trip to Panama Rocks, and helped dad around the house with some chores. We also cooked lots of meals for him (and Jodie, when she stopped by after work).

While we were visiting, mom’s christmas cacti bloomed. She would get frustrated they never seem to bloom for her. It was blooming like crazy and I know she’d love it. What a beautiful flower.

When our daughter Heather texted to tell us she and Jarred were on the way to the hospital for the arrival of our second granddaughter, Jon and I packed up and headed to Norfolk, Virginia. I was sad to leave my dad and sister for such a long time, but looked forward to the journey ahead.

We were overjoyed with little Charlotte who arrived right on time. Perfect in every way. We spent lots of snuggle and play time with Scarlette, visited a pumpkin farm, and carved some pumpkins. We helped Heather and Jarred around the house and also cooked lots of meals for them. Then before we knew it, the time had come to head home again.

I was sad to leave our sweet grand babies for such a long time, but looked forward to the journey ahead.

On our way back home, Jon and I took the scenic route through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. The drive to Asheville, North Carolina was interesting, since we drove through torrential rain (but thankfully not through the tornadoes that hit further south). The autumn color was beautiful, depending on what side of the mountain we were on. We took quite a few more pictures of God’s beautiful creation.

We arranged the timing of our final leg and stopped in Waco, Texas to visit and have dinner with our youngest, Jonny, at Baylor. He has a tough semester and it was good to spend time with him and see how he is doing. (I really need to remember to take more pictures when I’m with others).

I was sad to leave our youngest for such a long time, but looked forward to the journey ahead.

It’s good to be home again.


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