Summer Colorado plans

Worship 2 years ago with 5,000 other Cru staff at Cru15.

Worship 2 years ago with 5,000 other Cru staff at Cru15.

I recently posted a story of what God is doing through one CEO to invest in the lives of his employees by sending them to a Weekend to Remember.

That is your fruit too because of your financial and prayer partnership with us. Together we are playing a significant role in retelling great stories of how God is transforming lives. 

This year Deborah and I celebrate over 6 years on staff with Cru! God has so blessed us throughout these years and we truly believe that our best years of ministry are before us! 

That’s one reason why we are so excited about our US Staff Conference in Fort Collins, CO this summer (July 14-26th). As we gather with over 5,000 fellow U.S. staff and hear from our leadership, we anticipate that God will broaden our perspective for the world, equip us to be more effective in our ministry roles, and enable us to go forth to bear even more fruit. For our family, this required ministry training costs about $5,500 including transportation, conference fees, meals and lodging for 12 days. This works out to about $2.50/mile from Arkansas to Colorado, and back home again. :) 

Would you join with us by sponsoring 20 miles ($50)? 50 miles ($125)? or 100 miles ($250)? 

It is such a privilege to know that we are not in this ministry alone. We can’t thank you enough. 

A CEO invests in the marriages of his employees

Frank Kelly III is a CEO on a mission. While in college, a friend invited Frank to a Campus Crusade for Christ Bible study. And one of those nights, God got a hold of his heart. He began to live his life to find ways to connect others with the Christ he now followed.

When Frank and his brothers took over his father’s business they decided to offer the Weekend to Remember® as an optional benefit to any of their employees, vendors, and associates. He realizes that “an employee in a healthy marriage is a happy employee. Plus, we get to introduce them and their family to Jesus!” In the last 20+ years, he estimates they’ve been able to send over 250 couples! 

Recently I had the privilege of capturing Frank’s story, and some of his employees, for videos that will be featured on a soon-to-be redesigned website for our Weekend to Remember Corporate Sponsorship Program. Our hope is that many more CEOs, business owners, and companies will invest in the wellness of their employees by sending them and their spouse to one of our getaways.

Once the website redesign goes live I'll be sure to let you know in case you're a business owner/leader; or in case you'd like to encourage your work to consider investing in their employees in a unique way.

Thanks for your giving and prayers that enable us to capture stories like these and share them with others.

Deb's Foot, Summer Missions, and one more Prayer Request

Here's a couple of items to praise God about, and some prayer requests for our family at this time.

Will you join us in praying for these 3 things?

1. Deb's foot - You may have seen our previous email or social posts about Deb breaking her toe a couple weeks ago. Good news, no surgery needed; just a few more weeks of wearing one of those super fashionable "broken foot" bootsPray for a complete healing before our summer travel in July.

2. Haiti Missions Trip - Praise the Lord, both Anna and Danielle are now fully funded to go on the Haiti mission trip with our church. Thanks to all who prayed and gave to make that possible. Their trip will be June 21st-28th. Pray for receptive hearts to the Gospel, and for safety and health for the whole team doing the trip.

3. Pre-married Couples small group - In addition to our work with FamilyLife, Deb and I have become more involved with the marriage ministry at our church. For the next 5 weeks we will be co-leading a group for pre-married couples. Many of the couples will be forming a blended family. Pray for wisdom for us as we share God's blueprints for marriage and family. Pray for these couples as they do the hard work of working through issues that will need to be addressed as they enter into a marriage covenant.

Do you also need prayer? Send us an email by clicking on the "Pray for me, too" Button!

Life in the Blender

I grew up in a home with my mom and my dad, and although it wasn’t perfect, they stayed committed to their marriage vows “until death did they part.” I grew up being taught that marriage was a commitment between one man and one woman for life. 

Deborah and I entered into our relationship wanting to honor God and thus didn’t live together prior to marriage. We saved our first kiss until the minister said, “you may now kiss your bride.” We encourage every young person to pursue God’s design for marriage and family for their lives. 

Over the last couple of decades blended families have become more and more commonplace, even among Christians. And while we know that blended families get formed in a variety of ways, many of them happen after a divorce and then remarriage. This saddens and confuses us, leaving us wondering how it became so commonplace.

But then a few years ago (15+ years into my own marriage), Deb told me, “Abe, you realize that you grew up in a blended family, right?” And she was right.

My mom was my father’s 2nd wife. He had 5 other kids in So. California from his first marriage. Because we were in Wa. state, my dad didn’t have a lot of interaction with his ex-wife or kids on a regular basis. But there were times when things that happened in his first family impacted the actions my family.

There are 100 million Americans who have either a step parent, step sibling, or step child. In fact, 40% of all families in the US are blended families. A few years ago FamilyLife launched a department dedicated to ministering to the needs of those 100 million people: FamilyLife Blended.

Deb and I are still strong advocates for God’s design of one man and one woman committed for life because the biological/nuclear home is the best environment for making disciples from one generation to the next. 

But having said that, I’ve learned from FamilyLife Blended Director Ron Deal this key principle:

Stepfamilies done poorly produce more generational and societal chaos, and faith shaping hazards. BUT…stepfamilies done well are a source of grace for couples & children, generationally redemptive, and a picture of what God has done with us bringing us into his family.

If you now find yourself in a blended family relationship, or you know someone who is, I’d love to share with you more about FamilyLife Blended and the resources that we offer. Give me a call. :)

Or you can visit FamilyLife Blended's website, or pick up a copy of one of their many resources.

find these resources and more on FamilyLife's website.

find these resources and more on FamilyLife's website.

deb and I recently hosted the "Blended and Blessed" Simulcast at our church for blended families.

deb and I recently hosted the "Blended and Blessed" Simulcast at our church for blended families.

The greater work

 "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." —Oswald Chambers

 "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."

—Oswald Chambers

There's been a number of messages, devotionals, and podcasts that I've listened to recently that have driven this message home to me in the last 3 months. 

Prayer over my wife, our kids, our ministry, our finances, our community, our nation, and for the spread of the gospel is much more important than any "work" I try to do in my own strength. 

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Lord, help me to focus on the greater work that you are calling me to. May I never confuse the details of the work I can do for the greater work you are wanting to do in me.   

Sweet 16

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Sixteen years ago, the journies God had us on intertwined, and we began the adventure of a lifetime. 

Little did we know back then:

what our lives would look like now…

(serving as missionaries with FamilyLife, 2,000+ miles away from most of our family)

where we've been…

(Renton, New Zealand, Yakima, Port Orchard, Prosser, Grandview, Little Rock…)

and the other Adventurers we've CREATED(!)/recruited to join us in God's adventure.

(Anna, Danielle, Julia, Rachel, Sarah, and Naomi, + 2 foster boys)

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But I do know that I would do it all over again, and can't wait to see what adventures God has in store for us together in the next 16 years and beyond. 

Happy Anniversary, Babe! 

 

2014 Lara's Christmas Gift Guide

For all those interested in getting the Lara's gifts for Christmas and/or birthdays. (I know this mostly applies to people we call Grandma, Aunt, or Uncle, and only a handful of others)

All links go to our Amazon wish lists.

Anna Lara - (14yrs, Birthday 9/28/00) - Wish List

Danielle Lara - (12yrs, Birthday 2/26/02) - Wish List

Julia Lara - (10yrs, Birthday 4/28/04) - Wish List

Rachel Lara - (8yrs, Birthday 10/19/06) - Wish List

Sarah Lara - (6yrs, Birthday 3/26/08) - Wish List

Naomi Lara - (6yrs, Birthday 3/26/08) - Wish List

Lil' Man - (younger foster boy, almost 5) - Wish List

Big Brother - (older foster boy, ~7.5) - Wish List

 

And just in case anyone is wondering…

Deborah - (Birthday 2/22) - Wish List

Abraham - (Birthday 12/17) - Wish List

 

Merry Christmas!