"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Monday, April 30, 2012


Yesterday my girlfriend, Sergio and myself ran in the Porto Alegre half marathon.

It was cool and cloudy. Perfect weather.

It was the second half marathon my girlfriend has ever run. I mentioned in Saturday's blog post that we haven't trained as much as we did for her first one last December so we were going to play this one by ear.

My girlfriend didn't feel great on Saturday and that carried over to yesterday but she muscled through the cruds and did great. She didn't stop one time and she finished within 20 seconds of her final time in December. That's crazy. A 13 mile race and she basically ran the exact same time as her last race.

Side note: For those of you ex-teammates of ours who were here years ago we were blessed to see Pablo and Dani Espíndola during our run. We got to stop, talk and hug them before getting back to the race.

We crossed the finish line and Sergio gave my girlfriend a huge hug and told her how proud he was of her. She really did great.

Before the race I told Sergio he could run his own pace because Benay and I were going to run together. His response? He wanted to run every step with us.

I  mentioned the other day that Sergio runs with joy and encouragement. Here's a taste of what I mean. Yesterday, while we ran, he sang to us, played classical music for us to listen to, he danced, he told jokes, he talked and he encouraged. He told my girlfriend that she, once again, did FANTASTIC! And, as always, we crossed the finish line and he prayed. I can't say it enough, I love running with Sergio.

Here we are about 30 minutes before the race trying to stay warm.

And here is my girlfriend after the race with her medal.
We were also happy that the name on her numbered race tag was right this time.

Last time we ran a race in Brasil my girlfriend's race tag was just a little off in the name department.

No after race photo with Sergio because he had to leave quickly to go to work for a little bit.

Later we met up with his family at a churrascaria (sorry girls) for lunch. We love this family.

After lunch my girlfriend got phone calls from our girls and my dad to find out how she did in the race. Lots of people were thinking of her and praying for her yesterday. That's pretty cool.

Later in the afternoon we were blessed with a Gre-Nal. Those are always fun. We didn't go but watched it on tv. The good guys won. (Sorry you missed it girls.)

Here are the highlights for our girls.

The day ended with Giovanni sharing this quote with me as he laid in his bed getting ready to go to sleep:

"Hey dad, blue stinks and red is happy right?"

One more Colorado.

God really blessed us with a great day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Not a Fan

I just finished reading this book:
In the book Idleman talks about the difference of being a fan of Jesus versus being a follower.

If you want to be challenged to be a follower then I would suggest getting this book. I will also tell you that you may not like to read what he says because it might make you very uncomfortable with where you are in your walk with Jesus.  It will, at times, feel like a hit in the face but you will, if you allow the Spirit to work, see the difference between fan/follower and hopefully make some changes in mindset and actions in your life.

One of those "hit in the face"comments that shook me up and I can't get out of my mind is his fan take on the verses from Matthew 23:23-24. Here's what he said:

If Jesus were preaching this sermon today, I think he might say something like:

"Woe to you fans, if you would be as passionate about feeding the poor as you are your church's style of worship, then world hunger would end this week. Woe to you fans, if you sacrificed as much to care for the homeless and hungry in the community as you do for your church building or place of worship, the need would be wiped out. Woe to you fans, if you would be as zealous about caring for the sick as you are about a 'Christmas tree' being called a 'holiday tree,' health insurance wouldn't be a problem."

I needed to read this book to be reminded to be a follower and not just a fan. Jesus wants all of us. He doesn't need a fan club.

My prayer is that we all become followers.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tomorrow and Sergio

You might remember that my girlfriend completed her first half marathon last December.

There is another one that we will run in tomorrow.

We haven't been as consistent in our training this time as were last year so we needed to do a long run last weekend to see where we were physically.

Our brother Sergio is also running in the race tomorrow.

God brought Sergio into our lives the first month we lived in Brasil 10 years ago. He's a real estate agent and he helped us get our first apartment. He also helped us with the legal part of getting our first house.

Over the years he and his family have become our great friends. We've shared meals together, trips together and, most importantly, studied the Bible together. I was blessed to have been asked by Sergio to share in his baptism a few years ago. He is a very encouraging brother and a great husband and dad.

He's also a runner. He, in fact, has taught me more about the joy of running than any other person in my life.

I've always been a casual runner but my running has increased since we moved to Brasil. Much of it has to do with Sergio.

He runs with joy and he runs for the Lord.

When I tried to complete my first marathon in 2005 he ran every step of the way with me. He had already completed 10 marathons before that one. He did not train for that one like he should have and so I thought that as I struggled he struggled. When I needed to stop and rest he stopped and rested. He was super patient and calm with me the entire time.

I was unable to complete that first marathon. I had to stop at the 36th km. He stopped with me and pulled out his cell phone. Did I mention that he answered a business call at the 21st km of the race and set up an appointment to show an apartment later that day? Anyway, when I had to quit he called his wife and my girlfriend to tell them where to pick us (I thought) up. He then asked me, for the 10th time, if I was okay. Even looking into my eyes to make sure I was okay. Feeling that I was good to wait for our wives by myself he said, "Okay, you wait here. I'm going to finish the race now."

The whole time I thought he was going so slow because he, like me, hadn't trained properly and was hurting when, in fact, he was just staying by my side and carrying me km after km. I knew it before but it was at that moment that God really showed me just how special this brother is. He had stayed the whole time to encourage me. He put me ahead of  him.

Because of me he was the last runner to cross the finish line. He had an ambulance behind him with sirens blaring. If that was me I would have been a little embarrassed or would have tried to explain that I was helping a slow/hurting friend and that's why I was in last place. My pride would have taken over.

What did Sergio do? He smiled and waved at everyone as he soaked in the ambulance escort. Pure joy as he runs.

I love to train with Sergio. Our schedules don't allow it as much as we'd like but it's always a pleasure to run with him.

Last week he called and wanted to run with us on our long run. I told my girlfriend how much of a blessing it would be for her to run with him.

So at 6:30 last Saturday morning the three of us met at a mall to run around the sidewalk that enclosed the mall. It's almost a mile loop.

Sergio showed up with granola bars and Gatorade for everyone. That's Sergio.

We took off and ran 11 laps. We ran for almost 2 hours. We talked the entire time. We, as usual, talked about kids, sports, God and our relationship with Him, business stuff and life in general. We also talked about how last Saturday was his dad and my grandmother's birthday. They had a 10 year difference in age and died within 4 months of each other. Sergio is close to my parents and so that parent/grandparent connection makes our family connection even more special.

We were also blessed with Sergio praying. Before and/or after you run with Sergio he bear hugs whoever is around him and prays to God and thanks Him for our run, our day and the ability to run.

While we ran he told my girlfriend how thin she looked because she is a runner now. How she did, "FANTASTIC!!" with her training run and how her calves are just pure muscle now because of her running. Like I said, he is 100% encouragement. Nothing negative ever comes out of his mouth.

He took some pictures last week so, as he said, people would believe that we actually ran at 6:30 in the morning.

Here are a couple before....

......and one after.

We are really blessed to have this guy in our lives.

And, by the way, Benay nailed her run last week. She actually ran faster than us on the last lap. I'd say she's ready for the race tomorrow.

It will be fun and something we won't ever forget.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Birthday Girl

Today this goober turned 19:

You guys know what we do on birthdays. Hope you enjoy it Ans.

Giovanni: (direct quote) "Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!"

Anderson: "Ansley, you are one of the best sisters I've ever had. I like it that we make handshakes and you are really nice. And Awesome! Done. Dad don't type done. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!"

Carys: "I love you soooo much and miss you so much you are one of the best sisters ever. With you everything is soo much fun''

Garrett: "Ansley I love you so much!! You are awesome, I love doing everything with you, especially torturing Carys!! I miss you a loooooot!! Just 20 more days and you will be here!! And Happy Birthday!!!!!!"

Bronwyn:  "Ansley!!! Happy birthday! You're so cool, having your birthday in a foreign country and stuff. I hope you have a really really great day :) I am so so proud of you. I think you are the coolest person ever and I look up to you a lot. I love you!! Get here to ACU already! Duh! Sheesh."

Girlfriend: "Ansley, I hope your birthday is great.  I love you so much and I am so proud of you.  You have a gazillion talents and gifts and I believe that your experience in Ecuador has taught you not to let silly fears and lies keep you from using everything God has given you!  I know that everyone there, especially the kids, has loved having you there and will miss you so much.  But, I am ready for you to get home.  I need to crack up more, and nobody makes me laugh like you do!  I'm sorry we can't be with you on your birthday, but God will surround you with many blessings, I'm sure.  Make the most out of your last days there and then get back home!  We all miss you and love you!!

Me: "In some ways it's hard to believe you are 19 but in other ways it feels exactly right. You have become an amazing young woman who has a big heart for God and His kids. I love that. I know you are right where He wants you to be right now and you are making such a huge kingdom difference. I think a lot about the things God has blessed you with. Some of them are that you are funny, an incredible story teller, happy, a good friend, a good listener, an encourager and you share the love of Christ with people. What better people on God's earth deserve to be around someone like you than orphan kids and school age kids?  We miss being with you today but take joy in knowing that you have a bunch of Ecuadorian kids around you and that they are loving on you. I could not be more proud of you. And we are really excited about you being home in just a few days. Giovanni can't stop talking about it. Have a great rest of the day. I love you!"

One more thing Ans. As you know we normally try to have our birthday blogs out first thing in the morning. This one got out a little late in the day and you may be wondering why.

Well, when I talk about how God uses you to make a difference in the lives of others. I don't want you to think I'm just talking about kids in Ecuador, or your brothers and sisters or people in our house church family. I'm also talking about your friends in Brasil.

You are loved so much here and your friends wanted to share that love with you here as well. Fabi called a couple of days ago and asked if we could hold off on doing your birthday blog until she sent us something.

What was it? It's the video below.

You are loved and lots of people are looking forward to May 13. I think these guys are almost as excited about you coming back as we are.

Enjoy this present from your buds. We think it's pretty awesome. (Our apologies to you guys who don't speak Portuguese.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This past Sunday around noon our American phone rang.  We have a Memphis number that rings straight to our apartment. Don't ask me to explain how it works. It runs through the internet. That's all I know.

Anyway, it was Ansley. She was calling from Quito.

She called from this place.

It's the stadium for the LDU (Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito) soccer team. It's called "La Casa Blanca." (Impressed Ansley?.....I did some homework)

She was watching her first Ecuadorian soccer game.

Last night my girlfriend and I got home from our weekly date. We walked in the door and Garrett tells us that Ansley had called (she has an American phone deal as well) and that she put a picture on facebook that someone had posted. I'm pretty sure he took it out of a newspaper or website. It's a picture of the players and fans from Sunday's game.

As Garrett was telling us about it we went to facebook and looked at the picture. I found Ansley in about a second. My girlfriend started laughing at how fast I found her.

Wasn't too hard to find a tall, blond haired girl in a group of Ecuadorians.

Can you find her?
How'd you do?

Need some help?

If so, then follow #3's tattooed left arm and shoulder straight up to about midway through the crowd and you'll see Ans.

She's winding down her days in Ecuador and we are thankful that she is able to have some fun, like this game, before she leaves.

By the way, LDU won 3-0. She and her buds left happy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

If following Jesus cost you everything, would it still be worth it?

Kyle Idleman

Monday, April 09, 2012

For B and Ans

Here's a video that probably only our girls (the one in the states and the one in Ecuador) will like. It's some inside footage from our favorite team and their game last week with Santos (I know that means nothing to most of you).  It was a BIG game.

Garrett and I went and, like always, had a great time.

Have I ever mentioned that I love Fernand√£o? Listen to him as they are in the tunnel getting ready to go up to the field. He makes me want to play.

I also love the sound after Nei made his falta. Very, very cool.

So girls, hope you enjoy it. Next month you guys will be going with us and hopefully we'll still be in the  Libertadores. Just think, we could all be together again for one more final.

Using a new favorite word of Giovanni that would be "awesome!"

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Anderson turns eight today. If you know him then the correct Anderson way to say it is: "ANDERSON TURNS EIGHT TODAY!!!!!!"

If you don't know Anderson here is his world: I woke up this morning at 5:15 with a really bad headache. Got up, took some medicine and decided to see if a hot shower would work to knock it out. I stayed in there longer than I normally would trying to make the pain go away. I got out and opened the bathroom door and there was Anderson with arms wide open and a huge smile from ear to ear waiting to give me a hug. I have no idea how long he had been standing there. He was waiting to give me a hug on his birthday. He didn't even wait for me to say Happy Birthday. He was just happy to see me on his birthday and ready to give me a hug. That's Anderson. He's pretty cool.

We've told you before he's just a really happy, joyful little guy and never more so than on special days.

When he first saw Garrett this morning Garrett wished him a happy birthday and Anderson smiled, walked over to Garrett and gave him a thirty second hug thanking him for wishing him a happy birthday. Simple joy.

Most days he's a walking joy bomb.

You guys know our birthday deal so here it goes:

Giovanni: (exact quote) "Happy Birthday. Nothing."

Carys: "Anderson you are so much fun to be around and i love drawing and coloring with you. i love you sooooooooooooooo much Pagogo!"

Garrett: "Anderson! You are the best little brother ever (and giovanni) I love to play soccer with you and I love to wrestle with you. You are awesome and sooo funny!!!! I hope you have an awesome birthday!! I love you!"

Ansley: "Anderson! Oh my goodness! I am so glad it is your birthday because now we get to have 3 weeks of being EIGHT and EIGHTeen! I miss you so much! You have no idea. But I get to see you soon! YAY! Thank you for being a constant ray of sunshine and happiness in our lives. Whenever I think of you, I think of your smiling face :) That is a gift from God, buddy, that I hope you never lose! KEEP SMILING! I love you:) Love, your twin."

Bronwyn: "Anderson!! You are so much fun and so funny. I still remember going to the hospital to see you. I was so proud to be your big sister! You are so sweet to everyone and, every time I'm having a sad day, I watch the 'what's up my friends, WHAT'S UP MY FRIENDS. This.' video. You always make me laugh! I love you so much and I miss you so much!"

Girlfriend: "Anderson, you are the biggest and best surprise that God ever, ever gave me!  You have always been such a blessing.  I love how you love God and are not ashamed to say it!  I love how you are a happy kid and you spread that happiness to people around you.  God has blessed you with lots of talents and gifts and I pray that you will always use what He has given you to bless other people and bring glory to Him.  We are going to have a great day and an awesome weekend celebrating your 8th birthday.  I love you so much!!!! Mom"

Me: "I can remember the exact moment we found out we were pregnant with you. We thought we were done having kids but God had something else planned for us and, like always, His way is so much better than ours. I can't even imagine our lives without you. I love how you are happy every day when you wake up. Every day! That's a blessing from God and you bless your family just by the way you wake up in the morning. You are my wake up early buddy. I smile as I think of the mornings we would both be up at 5 and we would watch Jacques Cousteau before school. I still don't know why that channel (of the 4 we could pick up) showed it in English but I'm glad they did. I love your excitement for life. I love that you are so tuned in to what the Holy Spirit is doing in your life. I LOVE that you have already given your life to Jesus. I think you are awesome! But it's not just me. Everyone who meets you says you are awesome. Stephen, Weston, Josh, Elyssa, Traci and all the Aggies and many more have told us how awesome you are. Everyone loves your heart and your spirit. People love to be around you and God is using and will use that to His glory. LOTS of people will be in heaven because of you. You just love on people like Jesus loves on people and that's the most important thing. I love you Anderson. Happy Birthday!"