No one really asks what I’m listening to…

…but I’m going to share it with you anyway.  Why?  Because I believe my life and my ministry need really good music.

 

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Ben Rector: The Walking In Between

I can not listen to this album enough.  Whether I’m at the house reading, studying in my office, or riding in the car, at some point I will be listening to this album.  “Life is not the mountain tops, it’s the walking in between, I like you walkin’ next to me.” Thank you Ben!  I don’t know you, but I would assume we would be pretty good friends.

 

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Andy Mineo: NeverLand

Anyone who can put FUBU and Chewbacca in the same prose has a gift.  Maybe you’ve never heard of Andy or maybe you’re a part of the underground 116 movement, either way this would be a great album for your playlist.  It’s a staple for us while we wait in the drop off line at school.  Not sure what Yeye’s teacher thinks when she walks in saying, “Say I won’t rock FUBU sucka!”

I would include more, but for the past two weeks, this is all I’ve listened to.  Seriously…that’s it.  Well, except for the NEEDTOBREATHE iTunes radio station (which still includes Ben Rector).

Seriously Ben, I’m in Nashville quite a bit…yes, I like coffee…yes, I like to talk…have you’re people call my people!

What can you not stop listening to?

JM

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Gotcha Day

1 year later

A year ago today we walked into a very unfamiliar orphanage and looked into the eyes of two little girls who’s faces we had been staring at for what seemed like ages and who we couldn’t wait to wrap our arms around.  It’s been a full year…a year of hard fought battles and fits of laughter…a year of what we thought were unnecessary tears, but ultimately they were tears of hurts being healed and memories being mourned.  It’s also been a year of sisters learning to be sisters and daughters learning to be daughters.  I think it’s safe to assume that is a day we will never forget.

We’ve recently asked them what they remember about that day.  Sifa willingly offered that my pants had a lot of pockets and Jen had awesome hair.  Yeye simply said she didn’t like me.  I remember looking at their feet and holding their hands, they remember our style and my facial hair…go figure.  But they also said they were’t scared.  WHAT?!?  They weren’t scared to leave what they had known as they held our hands and walked out of the gate into a world they did not know.  Maybe they surrendered to the thought that this is simply another day in what has been all too normal.

We’re still learning how to be a family of six.  Jen has recently accepted a position at one of our awesome high schools, so we are learning how to be a family of six with two working parents and four girls in school.  Needless to say, it’s been a crazy adjustment, but we love watching the Spirit gracefully thread himself through every fabric of our lives drawing us closer to Him and each other.

Here are some things we have learned over the past year:

  • You can read here what we had learned in the first six months.
  • It’s harder than we thought it would be…but so was having twins.
  • First grade is hard for a child from the Congo who was in Kindergarten for five months.  It’s also hard on her parents…But God is good!
  • Yeye LOVES to sing songs that make no sense.
  • Sifa is AWESOME at soccer, and when I say awesome, I mean so awesome that I see her potential and I become one of those dads that no one likes…so much so I’ve heard other coaches complain that she’s too rough!  My response, “There’s only one way to play in the Congo!”  Let’s face it…she’s my only hope for an athlete.
  • All four of our girls are hilarious.
  • Van rides over 5 minutes are not fun.  (Fighting, singing loudly, asking questions, throwing things)
  • Sifa & Yeye still remind us the healing process is not over.

Others have traveled this road, but I do believe we all have similar feelings and thoughts.  Jen Hatmaker has a great blog that expresses our thoughts exactly: The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later.

It has been a GREAT year, but that doesn’t meant it hasn’t been a difficult year; so we are extremely grateful for the people that God has put in our lives for such a time as this.  All of this has been so new but with a touch of familiarity as it defines our relationship with a loving Father who adopts His children into a forever relationship with Him.

Again…thanks for walking with us, hurting with us, crying with us, and serving with us!

Jarred and Jen

 

The Ever-Widening Gap…

I was reading through a Parenting Teens (by LifeWay) today and I came across an article about Teenagers and the secrets they keep (The Culture of Secrets: Cynthia Hopkins).  As I was reading through it she made a comment that is all too real: “Teenagers are basically the same now as they were when you were their age, it’s just that the dividing line between what their friends know about them and what you know about them is ever-widening.”  Teenagers have always had secrets and social media plus the lack of parent involvement in social media allow students to talk freely about life without parental interruption.

Here are some enlightening facts about students and social media Hopkins collected after asking this question, “What is one thing your parents don’t know about your use of social media?:

  • They don’t know about my Twitter account
  • They don’t know I’m on Instagram
  • I have quite a few accounts
  • I talk to guys (obviously a girls response)
  • I’m on there a lot more than they think
  • I block them (students are blocking their parents from viewing their updates
  • I cuss on Twitter
  • I talk to people I’ve never met
  • I’m on when I should be sleeping
  • 36% of those churched teenagers also admitted to having engaged in sexting

As a parent, can you give me a summary of the following social media apps?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Chatroulette

Now let’s look at them again…

  • Facebook: for friending and provides private chat windows and messaging
  • Twitter: for following anyone and provides a direct messaging option
  • Snapchat: pictures are taken and sent and will disappear after a set time limit (I think you can imagine how this can be dangerous)
  • Instagram: nothing is hidden on Instagram
  • Vine: Instead of sharing pics, you share 6 second videos
  • Chatroulette: designed to help you meet new people. “They RANDOMLY pair you with strangers from around the world for video chatting. Sexual content, especially nudity and pornographic behavior are common on these sites” (Hopkins). THIS ONE IS DANGEROUS

I wish I could say this was all of them, but the list seems to be limitless.  There are so many ways for your teen to be private and this is what I want you to know…as a parent it is ok for you to invade their privacy.

What can you do? Well, Cynthia Hopkins gives you some helpful tips…

  • Communicate: It’s more then when you first allow them on the internet or give them their first cell phone…it’s a continual conversation.  “Don’t just talk, listen” (that’s some great advice).
  • Do your own research: “Don’t count or your kids to educate you on social media, because they’re only going to tell you what they want you to know.” (Convicting)
  • Check their phone randomly, or their browser history
  • Look for warning signs: spending days and nights online or texting…grades suffering…easily angered or sad.
  • Encourage your teen to use technology for good

Thank you Cynthia Hopkins for writing this article.  Such a help for parents in this sea of technology.

If you would like to read the whole article, feel free to come by the office and pick up a copy of Parenting Teens.

JM

Another Appropriate Adoption Update

“Jarred!!! Jarred!!! You have to read this, you won’t believe it!” Normally this wouldn’t freak me out, but when it’s at 6 o’clock in the morning, it will start your heart up a little. Needless to say, I shot up and tried to focus my blurry, “OMGoodness it’s early,” sleepy eyes on what seemed to be a small screen retina burning screen. After wiping the eye boogers out of the corner of my eyes, I stressed to read the 10 type Ariel font.

I don’t remember the exact wording, but it went something like, your family has been chosen to receive a grant. Woah! It was a great grant, and one I’m sure our agency was grateful to receive. We found out later that this grant has resulted to our being “paid in full” to our agency. Now that means we save for our travel expenses.

A couple days after, we received word from another organization informing us they were sending us a grant to help us in our journey. We still have a ways to go, but we have been blessed by what God has done in the past week.

Our family memory verse for the month is, “my God will supply all your needs” Phil 4:19. God continually proves His Word to be true.

In addition to this crazy roller coaster, we found out this week that we have passed court in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. How crazy is that? God provides and God delivers!!! We now find ourselves in a 30 day wait period before our paperwork can be turned in to the Embassy.

It’s been a great week, and we wait with hearts of love ready to spill out on our daughters.

JM

The view from here…

I think it’s safe to say that I want my family with me all the time…i think it’s also safe to say they can’t be with me all the time…bummer, right? At this very moment I’m flying into Montana and as I do so I’m staring at one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen! I’ve never seen the Rockies befor…but now, I look at them as if they have been hand crafted by the Maker…and then there’s the snow that seems to be painted on with a simple brush-stroke here and there. NOW is definitely one of those times I would like to be with my family. My words will never do it justice. Even as the clouds interrupt my vantage point nothing can take away from it’s majesty.

I’m excited about going to Montana…I’m excited about serving alongside doubleU students and The Rock Church…I’m excited about be the Hands and Feet of the one who painted this picture…I’m NOT excited about doing this without my family…and I don’t think I’m wrong for saying that.

With that said…may God IMPACT Montana!!

JM

in the shadows…

…the smokies. It’s a pretty amazing thing actually. When I’m driving down the road, or standing on the back porch of Jen’s grandparents house…it’s an awesome thing to look at. Recently I believe it has become even more amazing than before. You know how you think things can’t become more beautiful…well, that’s the kind of relationship I have with the mountains. They have a new brilliance about them. Now when I wake up and look at the mountains…a lot of the times they have snow on them…I don’t care who you are, that’s cool. It’s beautiful…marvelous…brilliant…glorious.
It’s just another reminder to me of how awesome God has become in my life. Just when you think He can’t get any better…He does something else…He does something new and it’s refreshing. I’m glad I don’t serve/follow a stagnant God…Nope, I serve a God that’s moving. I follow a God that’s always changing directions on me and showing me something new.
I guess I feel like a newly snowcapped mountain just waiting to see what happens when the snow melts.