happy holidays

Happy Holidays everyone! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all that.

I pray that your New Year will be filled with vision
I pray that your New Year will be filled with faith
I pray that your New Year will be filled with prayer
I pray that your New Year will be filled with worship
I pray that your New Year will be filled with grace
I pray that your New Year will be filled with gratitude
I pray that your New Year will be filled with hope
I pray that your New Year will be filled with patience
I pray that your New Year will eb filled with love
I pray that your New Year will be full of oportunities bless others
I pray that your New Year will have more time for you to "be still and know" that He is God
I pray that your New Year will find you surrounded by family and friends
I pray that your New Year will find you closer to God than ever
I pray that your New Year will find you connecting to God in ways that you never thought possible

grace and peace, jimmy


psalm 12.5

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Into the hovels of the poor, into the dark streets where the homeless groan, God speaks: "I've had enough; I'm on my way To heal the ache in the heart of the wretched."
Psalm 12.5 msg

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Thanksgiving in the Rockies

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We spent our Thanksgiving in Colorado with my brother Ben, and his lovely bride Lindsay! We had several day trips up to the mountains, to take hikes, and this trip to Red Rocks.

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Here is the whole family! This is the first time in years that we've had all the siblings in one place at one time! Here's the list of who's who, from the left; Sam, Me, Mary, Dad, Mom, Josiah, Ben, and Hezekiah.

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We drove through the Rockies all day Friday to find snow. The boys really wanted to play in the snow. This is the first time Malachi has been in the snow. They had a blast!

It was really cool to be with the whole family for the holidays.

I was a little stressed though. Not because of Thanksgiving, but because I was scheduled to make my speaking debut at church the following weekend! I can usually put my thoughts together pretty good when I can sit down and type something up but speaking to a live audience really freaks me out. So, when we weren't off on field trips I was studying on my laptop preparing for the weekend. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. If you would like to hear the message click the link below. If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing I think the last 15 minutes were the best.
CLICK HERE to listen to Jimmy's message on worship.


if you don't have anything good to say...

I haven't posted much here lately. A while back I felt convicted that I had let this become my own "soap box" where I could ridicule, criticize, or belittle whoever I wanted. My favorite target was the people, and especially the leadership of the church. I called it speaking the truth in love. The truth is that it wasn't very loving at times.
I do believe that we, as believers, should spur each other on to good works. I believe that iron sharpens iron, but I've also come to the conclusion that when our attacks on each other are less than loving, and all too public, that it can be damaging to the witness of the church. I cringe when I think of the possibility that a non believer could stumble upon my rants and raves as I tear apart the church, and decide that they want nothing to do with such a dysfunctional family.

We are the body of Christ. We are flawed for sure, but we need each other, we need to build each other up, we need to support each other.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life, your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life, and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face."
Romans 12.1-8

"Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with, —even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God's welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It's God we are answerable to, all the way from life to death and everything in between, not each other. That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly, —or worse. Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren't going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

"As I live and breathe," God says,
"every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

Forget about deciding what's right for each other. Here's what you need to be concerned about: that you don't get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is."
Romans 14.1-13


thank you

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I want to say thank you to all of our friends that have stood by us during the past few months. Your thoughts and prayers have meant the world to us. Thank you so much for your support.

It's been two months since we lost Katie's father. The grieving process is a fascinating thing. It sucks. We're still neck deep in dealing with all the emotions that go along with this process. The interesting thing is how vastly differently we deal with it.
I've thrown myself into work and helping out at Albert's house (we're almost finished with the remodel and getting ready to put it on the market). Katie is still having a really hard time with all of this. She still cries a lot.
Obadiah understood immediately what we were telling him when we walked him home from school that day. His grief came in quick, unexpected, violent spurts. Malachi didn't get it for a long time. He would bring the phone to Katie and ask if he could talk to Grandpa Albert. He knew that Grandpa was in heaven but he kept asking when he was coming back, as if he was just on a trip. On this past Saturday we were on the way over to the house to work some more on the remodel and Malachi asked once again, "when is Grandpa coming back from heaven?" I told him, "buddy, he's not coming back. That's where he lives now."
And it finally clicked. He cried all the way to the house.

Still, every day gets a little better. Little by little. I've got a friend who lost his father a few years ago and he tells me "it never goes away, you just get used to it." Maybe that's what is happening. Maybe we're just getting used to the pain, little by little.

Thanks again for your prayers.

grace and peace, jimmy


the grove

Two months ago I told you about my favorite place on earth. I told you about the grove in Northern California, the place that makes me feel closer to God. I told you that in my opinion it was the most beautiful place in all of creation.

What I didn't tell you was how I found the grove. I was introduced to this amazing place by my Father In Law, Albert Merritt.

The first time Albert took me to the grove he told me that this was his favorite place on earth, that it made him feel closer to God, and that in his opinion it was the most beautiful place in all of creation.

We visited the grove again yesterday. This time it was to spread Albert's ashes.

I learned a lot of things from Albert. He had a deep love of God, and it was contagious. He was passionate. If he loved something you had to love it too. If he liked a book, he'd buy 6 copies and hand them out. Same thing with CD's. He was the same way about his love for Jesus. He wanted you to experience the same joy he felt. He had a relationship with his kids and grandkids that I hope to have with my kids and grandkids. He accepted me into his family and loved me as one of his own. He talked straight. You never head to guess what he was thinking. He loved life, but he didn't hold on too tightly. He wasn't afraid to die.

His death was tragic and unexpected and our family is still in shock. We are mourning the loss of his companionship for ourselves and our children. We will miss him.

We appreciate your prayers as we navigate this painful chapter in our lives.


I'm getting old

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I can't believe how big my kids are getting! Obadiah is getting so tall, and Malachi is outgrowing all of his clothes! I'm amazed at how smart they are getting and how quickly they are turning from little kids into big boys!

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Today was a milestone for us. It is Obadiah's first day of school! He's been so excited! For the last two weeeks he's been counting down the days to when he could start school. He would frequently say, "I wish summer was over so I could go to school!"

I'm gonna remind him of that someday.


closer to God

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There seems to be a recurring theme lately in stuff I've been reading or listening to. The theme is "Sabbath". Everywhere I go I hear people saying that we need to slow down, turn off the cell phone, get away from the office, disconnect. Sabbath is a biblical principal that has been all but ignored by the church. Sabbath is more than going to church once a week. Sabbath is stopping EVERYTHING for one day a week to just rest, relax, and experience God.

There are two podcasts which I just listened to the other day that were on this very topic. One podcast was featuring an interview with Rob Bell, author of "Velvet Elvis", and the other was an interview of Eugene Peterson, author of "The Message".
Both podcasts are from the people who put on the Catalyst Conference. You can go to www.catalystspace.com to download the podcast and sign up for their online newsletter, and you can subscribe to their podcast at iTunes.

Katie and I are going to endeavour to make Sabbath a priority for our family. We are committing one day a week to relaxing. No work, no lists, no errands, no shopping, no church, no cell phones, no email, nothing, just relaxing and enjoying God's, and each other's presence.

When I want to get close to God I try to find a quiet place, outdoors if possible, where I can experience the beauty of God's creation. Last week Katie and I went with family and friends to the Northern Coast of California. We spent several days in one of the most beautiful places on earth. As soon as I got out of cell phone range it almost felt like I could feel my soul batteries being charged. I love getting away like this.

This makes me feel closer to God.

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Our favorite campground is up in Humboldt County. It's called Hidden Springs. It's right next to the Eel River, and it's right on the "Avenue of the Giants". We had a blast so I thought I'd share a few pictures from our trip.

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Here are Obadiah, and Malachi and their cousins Hannah, and Summer. We had the best time going on hikes through the forest!

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The boys called this picture their "America's Next Top Model" picture. Strike a pose!

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Here is the boy's tent. This is the first time the braved the elements in their own tent.

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Here is our swimming hole on the South Fork of the Eel River. It's within walking distance of our campground. This redwood tree fell into the river years and years ago. It landed just right so that it sticks up out of the water like a built in diving board.

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And what is camping without SMORES?!?!?!

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Obadiah prefers his marshmallows EXTRA well done. Cajun style in fact.

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One of our favorite spots to go is a special grove. The ground is covered with sorrel, it looks like four leaf clovers. There are also ferns all over the place. It is so beautiful. This is my favorite place in the entire world.

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Good times.



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Forecast calls for highs of 104 today and tomorrow.


How I spent my summer vacation

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Katie and I got a chance to spend a week in the nation's capitol. It was also our 8th anniversary! We got there at about midnight the day before Memorial Day. Most of these pictures were taken on Memorial day.

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There were lots of festivities going on for the holiday. These guys were all dressed up in wartime uniforms from previous wars.

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It's been about 16 years since I've been in DC so the World War II memorial was new to me. It was pretty amazing. The fountains were beautiful and left a nice cool mist floating about. It was over 90 degrees each day we were there and the humidity was horrible so it was a nice treat to walk by the fountains.

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This wall had over 4,000 golden stars on it, 1 star for every 100 men killed in World War II. It was very sobering to think of all the lives lost.

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After the WWII memorial we walked over to the Lincoln memorial. As we were walking up to it we looked up to see Marine One, the President's helicopter flying by. The President was on his way over the Potomac to Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony at the Tomb of the unknown soldier.

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There were hundreds of Vietnam Vets in town for Memorial Day. The streets shook with the sound of their Harley Davidsons. They were all over the Vietnam Vets memorial. It was moving to see these men looking up to see the names of their friends etched in stone.

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This is the flag that was draped over the side of the Pentagon on September 12th, 2001.

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A few days later we went back to the National Mall to see the museums, and historic museums. We went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was a very emotional experience. I've seen pictures of the Holocaust, and footage from Auschwitz, so I thought I was prepared for what I was about to see.
But there was one thing that caught me off guard. One of the first things that you see when you walk into the exhibit is coats that were taken off of the backs of the Jewish prisoners before they were lead into the gas chambers.

At about eye level were two children's coats that would have fit my sons perfectly.

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We wandered around the Library of Congress for hours. It is in itself a magnificent work of art.

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One of the most treasured articles in the Library of Congress is one of the few remaining Gutenberg Bibles. It was really amazing to see it in person. I didn't realize it but I wasn't supposed to take pictures of it. Sorry Officer...

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We spent the large part of our last day in DC at the National Gallery of Art. Katie and I really enjoy fine art and this was a really good museum. Here I am with the "Self Portrait" by Van Gogh, my personal favorite. It's so cool to look up close at these beautiful works of art that you've only seen in a book. You could see every single brush stroke. I was literally shaking.

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Katie really liked these paintings by Georgia O'Keefe.

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After spending all day in the National Gallery of Art and a great dinner at Capitol City Brewing Katie and I decided to walk the whole National Mall area after dark. If you're going to go to DC you've really got to see the Monuments at night!
This was an inscription at the Jefferson Memorial. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the first half of the inscription is pretty amazing. It reads:

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

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This is at the FDR memorial. Katie and I had never even heard of it. Apparently it's a fairly new one and most of the people we've talked to haven't heard of it either. It was a really cool memorial. These fountains were all over the place, along with many depression era FDR quotes.

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Honest Abe, quite an imposing figure, even more imposing at night. He looks amazing all lit up like that. Plus, he's HUGE!!!

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This is my favorite picture form our trip. It's almost midnight and Katie is sitting at the World War II memorial looking past the fountains to the Washington Monument. That was a really beautiful moment.

We had a great trip and it was very refreshing, but it's nice to be back home and to tuck our babies in at night.