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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

C. S. Lewis wrote: “The moment you wake up each morning your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job of each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, letting that other, stronger, larger, quieter life come flowing in.”

Here’s how the psalmist began his day: “Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer” (Psalm 5:3).

Spend time waiting on God. And, at the end of the day, thank God for the good parts. Question him about the hard parts. Seek his mercy.  Seek his strength. And as you close your eyes, take this assurance into your sleep: “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).  If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father.

Max Lucado

(P.S. Thank you João Spencer for sharing with me, almost 10 years ago, the wisdom that God gave you on prayer. Wisdom beyond your years! It changed my prayer life.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Heavy Rains

Yesterday we had a couple hours of heavy rain. We needed it. It's been a pretty dry summer.

Even though we needed it we always cringe a little when it rains hard for longer than 30 minutes. Why? Because there is so much trash in our sewer systems that when it rains it floods lots of different areas of the city.

It rained so hard yesterday that our airport had to send two planes, trying to land, to another city in another state to land until the storm passed.

During and after the rain the streets looked like this yesterday:
Not a pretty sight.

Now imagine what that does to people living in favelas with dirt or plywood floors. We have a family in our church that used to live in a place like that. Whenever it rained like it did yesterday their floor became wet and muddy. Thankfully the city provided them with a brand new home when they needed their neighborhood land to extend the airport runway for the World Cup next year.

I read yesterday where a 61 year old taxi driver got stuck in the flood. Water started coming into his car. The paper he had some type of sudden illness inside the car and started to get out. He fell in the water and drowned.

Living in the states for so many years we never saw things like this happening with a heavy rain.

Yesterday we were reminded how bad things are for many people in our city, and the world. We were also reminded of how quickly things can change and how we never know if today is our last day to live. We need to live it to the fullest.

The next time you are in a long, heavy rain remember the people of POA and lots of places in the world where rain is needed but isn't always a crop watering, water reservoir adding blessing. It can, literally, be life changing and not always in the good way.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Year

Warning: Another blog that only big sisters in Texas will appreciate.


Today was the first day of school and you guys know how we love to take a picture on the first day.
See the joy in Garrett's face for picture time? This was actually the second picture I took because he made no effort on the first. So this is effort on his part.

Hard to believe he's a senior isn't it?

Two more graduations at the end of the year.

Gi doesn't start school for a few more days. He and I had fun just hanging out and cleaning the house together today while mom works at school with the Clube de Mães selling used school uniforms. We get a 40% discount on those uniforms because of it and she also gets to hang out with some of her buds all day. Not a bad deal.

Anyway, thought you guys would like the picture. I know it gave you both some fun memories of us running out the door on the way to school and either me or mom making everyone stop to get together for a dumb picture before we loaded up the car. Good times!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ooma Buds

The last time our family went to the states was at the end of 2011. Right before we left a new missionary family, the Wards, moved to POA. Dee, the dad, introduced us to this thing:
It's called an Ooma phone.

I still have no idea how it works but it's a phone system that goes through the internet. We ended up buying one when we were visiting the states and haven't regretted it for one second.

We bought the system and then chose a phone number. It's a Memphis number. Anyone in the states can call this Memphis number. It costs the same as what you would pay if you called anyone else at a Memphis number and it will ring right in our house here in Brasil.

We only pay about $3-4 dollars per month. It's a great way to keep in touch with people.

It's an amazing piece of technology that we like better than skype. We don't have to be fixed in front of a computer with another person to have a conversation. We can call cell phones and house phones from our cordless phone here in Brasil and vice versa. People have called us from their cars on the way home from work, etc. We talk to our girls whenever we want. That alone is worth the price of the system.

We have also been blessed with lots of frequent callers. Some call almost weekly. Others call monthly. All are appreciated and encourage us so much.

We had a week, a couple of weeks ago, where we were just bombed by Ooma encouragment. In a 6-7 day period we were overwhelmed. We try not to whine too much about how hard it is to do what we do but it can be overwhelming at times. God has blessed us with lots of Brasilian friends that, honestly, feel like family but there is something a little extra about speaking with mature Christians (even if it's just about normal, day to day stuff) in your native tongue that lifts you up spiritually.

So for our super encouraging week we had from our calls we want to thank you Larry/MA. Thank you Tim. Thank you Brian. Thank you Sascha. Thank you GT and thank you Pops and Grandmommy. You blessed us greatly.

And thank you Dee for sharing this cool technology. Now that you guys are back in the states it's good to know we can call each other whenever we want.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"People with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole. Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing."

Isaiah 26: 3-4

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mazembe's Revenge......Huachipato


You, of course, remember our weak game against Mazembe in the 2010 Mundial. You also, of course, remember how gremistas love to bring that up every chance they get.

Last night was the first game for gremio in the libertadores. Their fans, as we would do the same, have been giving it to Inter fans for not being in it this year. gremio played their first game at home last night against a team called Huachipato from Chile. No one had ever heard of them. No one. I read that they were in the libertadores one other time (1975) and got put out in the first round. They were also in the sul americana one time and also were put out in the first round. You get the picture. They aren't a powerhouse and it's Chile (no offense to any Chileans reading this).

Garrett and I actually saw 5 or 6 of their players and some of their coaches on Wednesday at the mall. We were hoping they would win but didn't really believe they could do it.

I'm sure you can guess what happened by the title of this post. Garrett and I watched some of it on tv. It was awesome.

Here are your highlights. I even found them in Spanish just for you Ans. It's the announcer for Huachipato. Thought you'd like that.

Today Garrett saw another coach from Huachipato at the store as we bought school supplies.

Garrett wore his new Inter jersey and later a gremista came in the store and was complaining to Garrett about the game and how happy Garrett must be with the result. He was actually a very courteous and funny, but disappointed, fan. Garrett didn't say anything. He just smiled.

Busting on each other has a way of biting you on the bum.

We have Mazembe and gremio now has Huachipato.

Maybe both sides have learned their lessons.

Nah. You guys know it's never going to stop. It's too deep here.

Did I mention that Garrett and I have been fans of Huachipato since we were little?

Mom also likes them now because they have the almost identical symbol as the Pittsburgh Steelers? She thought it was funny.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

For Pops


We played on the road last night and won.

The first half was played in a huge rainstorm. It caused puddles all over the field. Hard to pass when the ball just stops where it lands.

Anyway, we got the job done (moved into first place in the state championship with one game left before the playoffs begin) and your boy scored our second goal. He's starting off the year playing awesome. Thought you'd like to see it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Happy Brasilian Carnaval......
......and happy 25th anniversary of the day when my girlfriend agreed to marry me.
Still can't believe she fell for it!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace."

Donald Barnhouse

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Birthday Stuff

We know not many people will care about our day yesterday other than a couple of girls in Texas. The rest of you are free to check out right now if you'd like. It's okay.

Okay girls, as we always do, we made a special breakfast for mom. Carys did 95% of the work. She made blueberry muffins and eggs. They were awesome! The other 5%? I made some fresh orange/pineapple juice.
Of course mom ate on the "You are Special" plate. You've got to love Gi posing with his "Green Lantern" ring. By this time he had a little more energy. He woke up early and was catching up on his sleep on the couch while breakfast was being made. By breakfast time he was ready.
During breakfast Gi was DYING to give mom her presents. He almost couldn't make it through breakfast because he was so concerned about it. We finished eating and went straight to the presents. Gi, of course, was going to be first. I think if we made him wait any longer he might have exploded.

He picked out his presents and they were a shiny pants little boy necklace and some, what he called, "Angry Birds" ear rings.

Mom wore them all day. I loved that!
Gi then spent some time on the dance floor.
Anderson gave her a jewelry box.
Mom insisted on no new clothes. She told each of us to not get her any presents this year. She said she already had too much. What she wanted was some help in fixing up her house. That's the only thing she asked for.

We weren't about to give her nothing so we went with her house fixing theme.

Carys gave her 4 quadros that they will paint and put up in the house. She also gave her a coupon worth a house redecorating.
Garrett and I were stuck because we love to give her clothes. We weren't about to go out and try to buy something for the house without mom with us so we pooled our gift money and told her to take a shopping day to find some things to help with the fix up project.

That picture was a little harder to take. First Anderson had the camera and took a super close up of Garrett. Only Garrett.

Then Carys took the camera and goofed around and didn't take the picture until the exact time that I started giving it to her for taking too long.
Then she took one right as Garrett was getting up to get her for continuing to goof.
Take 4 finally worked.
I know you guys can picture how all that went.

Then the phone calls started coming in. First one of the day? We all know and expect it. Grandmommy and Pops singing Happy Birthday as soon as you answer the phone. It's a birthday tradition we all love.
The phone calls came the entire day. Last one was about 10:00 at night. Brasilians and Americans. Calls from North America and South America. Your mom is loved by many!

After the initial calls mom got the chance to just chill a little bit and she really enjoyed it because she, as you guys know, rarely gets to do something like that.
While she chilled some more the kids watched "Surf's Up."
After the movie mom chose lunch. She chose a place we haven't been in years. Pizza Hut lunch buffet at Praia de Belas. She was happy. You know of her love of pizza.

It was good. Gi ate a ton!

Afterwards the boys got to hang out with an old friend.
We came home and then she and I went on a date. She looked very cute so I had to take a picture.
It was really good to hang out and celebrate mom's birthday together.
Wish you guys could have been here too!

Here's some highlights just for you guys:

Friday, February 08, 2013

Birthday Chick

Today is my girlfriends birthday. You all know how cute she is. If you forgot I'll remind you:
Told you she was cute. 

You know how we do it on birthdays. Here we go:

Gi: "I want to go to the swimming pool and the beach! Just that! I want to say Happy Birthday to her! I love you mom!"

Anderson: "Mom, I love you! Happy Birthday! I hope you have the best one ever! I'm happy and lucky to be your son. Thank you for everything and this is the day I can show how much I love you by having a good time with you and that's all."

Carys: "Happy Birthday mom! I love you so much and i couldn't imagine my life without you, you make every day happy and i wanted to thank you for being the best mom ever and for loving me every day and making everybody happy when you walk in I LOVE YOU!"

Garrett: "Happy Birthday mom! I love you so much! I love everything about you, how you treat others, how you are always really nice to people even when they did something bad or wrong, how you take care of our family especially the kids and I love your food! You are the best cook ever! I love you a ton, and I hope you have an awesome birthday!! Love you!" 

Ansley: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!! I miss you so much already and am sad I can't be there with you today!! I want you to know how much you mean to me. I love talking to you on the phone, facetiming with you when you can figure out how to work the iPad, and making you laugh when I am back home. Thank you for literally ALWAYS being the perfect example of EVERTHING I WANT TO BE as a woman. You are amazing mom!! I love you so so much! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!"

Bronwyn: "Happy Birthday Mom!!!! I wish I was there with you so badly today, but I know that you'll be having so much fun You seriously are the best mom in the whole world. You are the best at taking care of all of us and having fun with us. Thank you for all of your advice and help that you give me! I love you so much, and I hope you have a great day!!!"

Stephen: "Hey mom. Thank you for choosing to live your life selflessly. Who you have chosen to be is a large part of what makes your family beautiful. I appreciate so much the way you love, lead and serve your family and others. Thanks for putting up with Kevin, too. You should win a big birthday reward. I love it when you kiss me on the forehead. I love you Benay! Can't wait to see you soon."

Me:  "I've said it before but I've never met anyone like my girlfriend. She's the most selfless, caring, grace giving, forgiving, non grudge holding, loving, happy, fun person I know. She is the most incredible wife and mother in the world. Our kids, as you can tell from what they shared above, are so blessed to have her as a mom and the cool thing is that they know it. I'm a better person because God blessed me with her. If you've known me for a long time I know you are nodding your head in agreement right now. That's cool, I'm nodding with you. I'm closer to God now and I thank my girlfriend for being a major part of that. I honestly don't feel like anyone is more blessed than I am. And on top of all that I've shared, she's the best looking girl I know. I thank God every day for blessing me with such an incredible partner in this spiritual walk. I love you Benay!"

I thought about putting a bunch of pictures of my girlfriend here at the end. Then I remembered one of my all time favorite photos of her. You can't even see her face but it's just a perfect picture of who she is as the mom of this family. It's perfect. I love it. 
Feel free to leave a comment here or call, email or send her a note on facebook today to wish her a happy birthday. We know she'd love it. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Faith of a Child

I'm biased, there I said it. 

About what? My kids. 

I'm a pretty normal dad. I think my kids are the best. 

I'm thankful that all of our kids follow Jesus. That's a huge blessing to us. 

Last week my girlfriend and I started a new allowance system with the kids. She found it on the internet. It involves cleaning up, reading your Bible every day, 30 minutes of just reading something (doesn't have to be the Bible) every day, saving their allowance and tithing.

Two days ago I took Gi, Anderson and Anderson's best friend to the park. While I walked holding Gi's hand I overheard the conversation between Anderson and his friend.  Anderson was telling his buddy the importance of tithing and why he does it. I just smiled as he told him how God likes it when we give our money and stuff to people who need it. I smiled as I was impressed by the seriousness of the conversation between two 8 year olds discussing kingdom stuff with Anderson leading the way. What dad wouldn't like that? 

Then yesterday we had our brother Paulo Renato in our house for the morning. He has been an employee of our church family for almost 10 years. He can retire now and my girlfriend and I were going to take him to the retirement offices to start the process yesterday. We found out they don't allow walk-ins anymore so we ended up spending most of the morning on the internet making appointments and making calculations regarding his retirement. 

While my girlfriend and I spent time on the internet Paulo and Anderson were doing this:

Studying the Bible in English.  They studied for about an hour. 

I looked at Anderson after 30-45 minutes to see if he was getting tired. He wasn't. He and Paulo were laughing and having a big time together. God's family was happening before our eyes in an amazing, spontaneous way. A 6o year old Brasilian, recovering alcoholic and an 8 year old American/Brasilian boy digging through God's word. 

Gi even saw how much fun they were having and wanted in on it.
Paulo ate lunch with us, helped clean up and left shortly after. 

As he left he looked at Anderson and said, "Every time I come here from now on I want to study the Bible with you!" Anderson smiled and agreed. 

As Paulo left he looked at me and said, "I love being with Anderson because he always teaches me something new."

We've lived in Brasil for almost 11 years. We've had our ups and downs. Moments of great happiness and disappointments. Sadness, frustration and mountaintop experiences. 

Just being honest but sometimes, on the days when the spiritual warfare is most intense, my girlfriend and I wonder if we have been used, really used, to make a kingdom difference in our city. It's a tough city.

Then God blesses us with seeing what we saw this week through our 8 year old and He reminds us how kids grow His kingdom. Our kids. What an awesome blessing!

My girlfriend and I have said, since we arrived here, that it would not be worth it if our church family here had 5,000 members but our kids didn't know Jesus. Our kids know Jesus and we thank God often for that blessing. And we know we will see people in heaven because of them. It's exciting to think of where God will send them in this world to do His work. 

This week He allowed us to see how His kingdom is growing here and how He is using our kids. 

What mom and dad could ask for more?

"The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: 'Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.' Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them."

Mark 10:13-16

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Big Game

While most Americans watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, we watched THE big game here in Porto Alegre.

It was the first game of the year against our biggest rival. There isn't much, sports wise, that will get someone from our state more excited than a Gre-Nal (gremio and Internacional).

I have some highlights. This is the part when some Americans leave the blog because it's soccer highlights. At least that's what I've been told by someone (not naming names but J.J. these highlights are for you) when we go back to the states. That's okay. I do, however, know two people in Texas who will enjoy them.

The good guys won and Ansley, guess where they played?


Thought that might bring back some good memories. Hard to believe that was over 5 years ago. Feel free to go back and check it out. Just one click here takes you there.

Now here are your game highlights. Enjoy:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

"No one can be good and do good unless God's grace first makes him good; and no one becomes good by works, but good works are done only by him who is good. Just so the fruits do not make the tree, but the tree bears the fruit. . . . Therefore all works, no matter how good they are and how pretty they look, are in vain if they do not flow from grace."

Martin Luther

Saturday, February 02, 2013


When we have American visitors here in Brasil or when we are back in the states for a furlough we are often asked what food we miss from the states.

To be honest I don't really have that many food cravings. The kinds that make me really, really miss a certain food or place. 

One pretty constant food craving I do have is a Wendy's spicy chicken sandwich. I LOVE those! I could eat one of those every day if we had a Wendy's in POA.

Dr. Pepper used to be on that short list as well.  Dr. Pepper for me would probably classify more as an addiction than a craving. Man, I can suck down some DP's. I cut out all soda from my diet last August and my body has been enjoying being free from headaches, addiction to caffeine, etc. so I'm not really missing my DP's. My girlfriend recently cut soda out from her diet as well. She's still in the withdrawal phase but is doing great. 

I share all this because I had a weird experience a couple of days ago. I had a really odd craving as I was walking close to our house. A craving that I never would have thought I'd have. Not in a million years. And, honestly, you have to be from Memphis to even appreciate it.

As I was walking, someone was cooking and it smelled exactly like something I had not eaten in many, many years. 

What was it?

If memory serves correctly the last time I remember having Jack Pirtle's fried chicken was with my girlfriend and parents. We ate our meal on the hood of my parents car outside the Liberty Bowl stadium in Memphis before a football game. I think that was about 20 years ago. 

The memory that most sticks is the fact that our family used to eat this, what seemed like, every Wednesday night after my sister's piano lessons. I think the chicken was my mom's way of bribing me for having to sit in the car while my sister practiced. In my mind and world at that time those lessons went on FOREVER when in reality it was probably just an hour. But an hour to a little kid doing something he didn't want to do was like FOREVER. 

I sure don't miss those days of waiting for piano lessons to be over but a couple of days ago I missed some after piano practice chicken from Jack Pirtle's.

I had no idea if Jack Pirtle's even existed anymore so I did a google search. To my surprise I found that it's still in Memphis.

So if you live there or visit there sometime, go eat some chicken and biscuits/gravy for me. You can be my craving killer.

And, here's a big plus, you get to do it without having to sit in the car for an hour first while waiting for dumb piano lessons to be over before you can eat.