Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom and Dad were born 6 days apart- some things were just meant to be. They met at a church reception that my dad did not want to go to. He had a round of golf scheduled with his friends, but his mother made him cancel to go to the reception for the new minister. Little did my dad know that the woman of his dreams would be waiting there! He asked her to go on a date Saturday night, but got confused and showed up at her door Friday night. My mom says it was because he could not wait to go out with her!

I can see why he was so taken with her. My mom is an amazing woman- she is definitely a look a the glass as half full woman. She is like a gold miner who always looks for the best in everyone and every situation. When you want something done, put my mom in charge. She is a go-getter and loves to use this gift for kingdom purposes. She has never met a stranger and will go the extra mile to serve someone she just met. She adores people (I get this from her :)) and has an incredible ability to make them feel encouraged and loved. She has been on the sidelines cheering for me at every important event I have participated in since my first swim meet at age three.

Some of my favorite memories with my mom are: planting daffodils in the front yard, our 2 month whirlwind tour of Europe with my sister (she had more energy than both of us!), making pancakes before church every Sunday, the memories growing up at 1905 Lafayette, trips to the beach every summer, winning a trip to California together for raising the most money for the swim-a-thon when I was eight, The Children's Theater Plays she helped me memorize my lines for, Camp Miniwanca, Women of Faith Conferences, working on countless papers together, watching Hallmark movies, teaching me how to play tennis, the Alpha course in Florida, organizing the Potter's Wheel conferences for Andee, Taryn, Melanie and me, family reunions on Figure Eight Island, our first trip to Regent when we both felt God saying this was my next step, editing my dissertation, laying by the pool at Sea Oaks Beach Club on Easter, hours upon hours of phone conversations, and just being unconditionally loved by her through every season of my life. Happy Birthday Mom- I love you so much!

Nadia and Jules' Florida Vacay!

Nadia and I had an amazing Spring Break in the Florida! We went to the pool and the beach almost every day (it was rough!). We celebrated Jesus' Resurrection with my family, went shopping at the Vero outlets (Nadia used to be a personal shopper- she was mine for no charge!), had brunch overlooking the water, clandestinely went down the water slide at the Disney Resort, drank tropical smoothies, watched the excitement of the adorable kiddies racing for Easter Eggs in their preppy little J.Crew outfits at my parent's beach club, went hot tubbing, ate too many Mint Oreos and Lime Tostedoes, went to Mr. Manatees with Tracy, Rob (they are getting married in October- Congratulations!) and Meg, walked the Boardwalk overlooking the ocean, had several talks about life and friendship over Starbucks lattes, watched a number of chick flicks, tested a variety of key lime pies, soaked up the golden rays overlooking the aqua water, and had great conversations about the Lord and our dreams in life.

One of my very favorite memories from our trip was riding around my parent's neighborhood worshipping Jesus listening to the new Misty Edwards in the pouring rain. You could feel the presence of the Lord in the car with us as we sang of His affections for His people and our love for Him. My parents could not get over how much alike we are- it is such a blessing to have a friend that loves to live each moment to the fullest, loves to have so much F-U-N, and loves the Lord in a similar way. I could not have imagined a better week of vacay or anyone I would have rather shared it with! Nadia and I just booked our tickets to Key West, Florida with our sweet friend Leah for the week after school gets out. Two more months until we reunite in Florida! Here are some fun pictures from our time together...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pursuing God's Dream For The DC Metro Area

Have you ever had the feeling that you were a part of something much bigger than yourself? This has been our story at DC Metro Church. Many years ago God planted a dream in my heart to do life with a community of people that I loved and to be investing my life in eternity. Almost ten years ago God gave my dear friends David and Taryn a dream to plant a life-giving church in the DC area that would impact culture and influence the spiritual dynamics of our country. When I met David and Taryn in grad school at Regent University, we felt a God-connection and felt a calling to do life and ministry together. After many years of praying, training, and seeking the Lord, He allowed this dream to become a reality. Looking back, we can see even more clearly now that our lives have been a series of divine appointments preparing us for September 9, 2007.

Pastor David and Taryn and Their Son Isaac

Thirteen others (Matthew, Andee, Ella, Sophia, David G., Jack, Jamie, Annalee, Summer, Ray, John, Julie L. and Isaac) felt called to move with us to help launch DC Metro Church! Because we have realized the profound wisdom of investing one’s life in the eternal, all sixteen of us packed our bags and moved across the country to pursue God’s dream for the DC Metro area. Once we arrived in the DC area, we participated in a variety of local community events, talked to strangers in shopping centers, and invited our “new friends” to our Vision Nights where David would share the vision God had given us for this area. Within three months, God brought us a team of seventy people (“The Dream Team”) to help launch DC Metro Church on September 9th. It has been quite an adventure to partner with God as He writes the unfolding chapters of the DC Metro story.
Our First Sunday- Septmber 9, 2007

Our vision is to build a God-first culture in the DC Metro area, which God spoke to us through the book of Nehemiah. Just as Nehemiah was called to his capital city of Jerusalem to rebuild the physical walls, we realized God was calling us to rebuild the spiritual walls around America’s capital city, Washington DC. We currently meet in a movie theater and typically have between 150-200 attendees on a Sunday morning with a number of salvations and recommitments to Jesus each week. We have had approximately 96 people dedicate or rededicate their life to the Lord since the launch. We are so excited to be reaching this demographic! There is no greater joy than watching someone surrender their life to the Lord so that they might discover true life in Him and reap the incredible benefits of being planted in the house of the Lord. I love being a part of introducing others to the kindest, most incredible One we can ever know. God’s love has transformed my life, which has now become a journey toward knowing and loving Him more. Every day we are well aware that we are a part of a story much bigger than ourselves, and we count it a high privilege to play our role in His story and to be pursuing His dream for the DC Metro area.

John and Julie Lee

Jamie, Matthew, and David G.

David G., David, Isaac, Jack and Taryn

The Stroia Family!

Members of the Dream Team Celebrating Life Together

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

My Daddy is the kindest man I have ever known. I gave him the book The Giving Tree for Christmas because that is who he has been in my life---someone who continually sacrificially gives of himself to make the dreams in my heart come true. His generosity and gentleness have defined who our family has become. It is a legagy I want to live...

Some Interesting Facts about My Dad:
  1. He is a scratch golfer (zero handicap) who can go head to head with the best of the best about golf trivia. He played on the UNC golf team (Go Tarheels!) and has played over 10,000 rounds of golf (He might even beat Tiger in that stat because he has a few years on Tiger :).
  2. He is very competitive. He hit my mom in the head with a racquetball so hard that she fell to the ground during an intense match that he was losing. It was an accident, but they wisely decided to never compete against each other again.
  3. He is a Southern Gentleman who is always looking for ways to bless and encourage others. Last week someone at church told me if they are having a hard day, they go and stand next to my parents because they seem to effuse love.
  4. He was the number one salesman in his company because he has a way with people. He is loaded with personality, a great conversationalist, and man of his word.
  5. As the years of progressed, he has come into a deeper walk with the Lord and a deeper level of surrender. He has been given so many gifts and has been very successful, but has given himself back to God. Like Jim Elliot, he has realized, “He is no fool that gives up what He cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose.”

I am a Daddy’s girl. One of our favorite movies to watch together is Father of the Bride. There are many moments in the movie when Steve Martin reminds me of my Dad, but my favorite is when he gives his daughter her wedding gift. He is embarrassed because the in-laws bought her a much more expensive gift (a new car). As she unwraps the cappuccino machine she says, “I couldn’t love anything more.” Looking at her from across the room, he whispers under his breath, “My thoughts exactly.” My Daddy’s love has been one of the most tangible pictures that the Lord has used to teach me about the constancy of His character and to show me His unrelenting heart for me. They say that 80 percent of women marry someone like their Dad- I am praying to be so blessed! Happy Birthday Daddy!

You are loved!