Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thankful pictures

Simply put: I'm thankful for family and friends who celebrate my life.

Sunday was my 27th birthday. To be honest, heading into it, I had mixed feelings. Something about 27 sounds old to me. Not old-old. Just old. And, I was painfully aware of the fact that it's my last birthday at home for a while. Or, as my brother says, "When you come back from Africa, you're going to be pushing 30!" Nice, Aaron. Really nice.

The birthday festivities actually began Friday, when my co-workers had a pitch-in lunch for me complete with my favorite dessert. I felt quite loved, for sure.

Sunday, my actual birthday, I woke up to this in my bathroom: (just like old times)

After church, my friend Mandy took me out to lunch. I came home from lunch to the smell of a freshly baked cake, which was a surprise because usually we go out to eat for our birthdays. My mom had baked a cake and decorated it all cute with candy and frosting and love. :) Sunday evening, my brother (Aaron) and his girlfriend came over for dinner.

Mom, me, and Mariah-We all got the green memo that night I guess

Hi, my name is Aaron, and I have to ruin every picture I'm in.
My birthday gifts...Don't judge me.

Monday night, my other brother (Bryan) surprised me at work with flowers.
Then, he went back to my house and surprised me with homemade cupcakes complete with a TRICK CANDLE!

The birthday festivities continued on Tuesday. My friend Kelsey had mentioned that my Bible study friends wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday. So, they made plans to pick me up at 6:15 on Tuesday. That's all I knew. So, I was picked up at 6:15 to head to a restaurant in an undisclosed location. The entire ride there, I kept thinking, "Wow...these girls must really like me to drive this far away just for dinner." We get off a certain exit, and I realize we are going to the restaurant where my brother (Bryan) is assistant manager/sous chef. As we walk in, my friend Caitlin said, "We're here for the huge party." And the hostess said, "Party of 25?" I said to myself, "Last time I checked there are only 7 people in bible study." As we approached the table, even now words fail me to express what I felt. 25 of my closest friends and adopted "family" had gathered almost 30 minutes away to celebrate my birthday. I was floored. Shocked. Surprised is the understatement of the century. Here are just some of the pictures from the night.

The Bible study girls...minus Patricia.

Me with Jon and Kelsey. Dear friends.

Me with Jer and Julie

Beth, Faith, and Ken

Em and Mark


Grace, Hayley, Mark, and Noah

Joann and Tom

As my friend Caitlin dropped me off that night, I walked into the house feeling so full. Full of life. Full of love. From Friday at lunch all the way through Tuesday at dinner, family and friends went out of their way to show me I am loved. Deeply. Not because of anything I do, but simply because I was born. There's something about celebrating birthdays that brings you back to the basics. It disarms you. Suddenly, you stop trying to "be" something as people surround you celebrating who you are. This week, even to say "I'm thankful" doesn't seem to be enough. "Thank you" just seems to fall so short. I am undone. Blessed to the uttermost.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Missionary Spotlight

This week has been an interesting one for me. As I approached turning 27, there were many thoughts swirling about in my brain. Many questions about my current place in life. Yesterday, I had intentions to write about a missionary I had read about recently, and how a whole nation was changed because of his obedience to Jesus. I was going to write it when I got home from work last night, but there was a storm of thoughts in my head that would not cease. Not a bad storm. Just the kind that only time with Jesus and sleep can take care of.

And then I woke up this morning and read this blog by Christine Caine, whom I introduced you to last week. And many of the questions suddenly ceased. Check out her blog titled "Here Am I Lord Send Me-Why I Travel." I pray it blesses your missionary heart in whatever you put your hand to today, in your specific ministry. And yes, you have one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

27 Years (or 14,191,200 Minutes)

27 years ago today, I made my entrance into the Friedrich household. I was going to do something creative and list 27 things I've learned since then, or 27 memories I have from various stages of life, or make a list of birthday memories, but then I decided I would not bore you with those. And 27 things is a lot. 15 would be more manageable. But I'm not 15. So, how about some cute pictures? People like cute pictures, right? So, here are some of my favorite pictures of me as a small child. Correction: Small(er) child.

This is me back when I didn't wear shirts or pants.

This is me when I...well, I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing. But I found some pants I guess.

Rockin' the red cowboy hat.

Just me. Being cute.

I cracked up when I saw this. Looks like some things never change. Even then, you could dress me up but couldn't take me anywhere.

I have had a great day with friends and family celebrating my 27 years of life. I am blessed. I am loved. And I think of all the next year may hold and I am hopeful.

Thanks, mom, for giving me life 27 years ago. (Can you believe it???) I'm sorry I cried for the first 3 months solid. At least I was cute, right?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Oh, summer, where art thou?

Seriously. Does anyone know where to find the pause button around here?? It really feels like just yesterday was June 1st and we were celebrating my friend Caitlin's birthday. Then, BOOM, it's the eve of my own birthday. I seriously have no idea what has happened to this summer. Have I been in a coma for most of it? I blinked and it's over. Perhaps I will blink and there will be snow on the ground. And Christmas music in the air. Not that that's all bad. Just sayin'.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful:

1. For not breaking my wrist and hip after falling out of the tent on the camping trip.
2. For this video that makes me laugh at random times during the day.
3. For the smell of fall in the air today...rain + fire + cool air= amazing.
4. For being able to make fun of things on TV with my mom.
5. For a great camping trip with great friends in the great outdoors. It was great!
6. For being able to see a good friend and her family in Louisville. Love those Neeley's.
7. For sleep.
8. For being able to see the African Children's Choir downtown with my mom and brother.
9. For God's faithfulness...that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Missionary Spotlight: Meet Christine Caine

This Missionary Spotlight is a bit different for me. For the first time, I am highlighting someone I have actually never met. One thing I love about the Body of Christ is the fact that, at the end of the day, we all exist to make Jesus famous. Period. Regardless of our location on the globe, our denominational affiliation, our past, or our God-given gifts and talents there is a connection through the cross of Christ that is unmatched. For this reason, I can feel just as connected to a ministry half-way around the world as I do something happening right across the street.

I first heard of Christine Caine a few months ago while listening to a Podcast from Hillsong Church. She spoke with such passion and conviction that as I drove, I honestly kept forgetting she wasn’t sitting in my car with me. As I read more and listened to more of her teaching, I discovered a few things that are undeniable. One: Christine Caine loves Jesus. Passionately. Two: Christine Caine is authentic. She tells it like it is, and desires to allow her story and what God has done in and through her to bring redemption to many. Three: Christine Caine (and her husband Nick) are passionate about bringing an end to global human trafficking.

The statistics are quite horrific. An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery worldwide. Every 30 seconds, another person falls victim to human trafficking. It is estimated that by 2010, human trafficking will be the number one crime worldwide. The average age of a trafficked victim is 14, and the average victim is forced to have sex up to 20 times a day. Christine discovered the magnitude of this atrocity while walking through an airport in Greece. Plastered on the walls were posters of missing women and children, some as young as 6 years old, which she later discovered were faces of people who had become victims of human trafficking. Christine began researching this global injustice, heard countless stories of women and children being forced into prostitution, and decided immediately that doing nothing was no longer an option.

Christine and her husband Nick have launched the A21 Campaign, which stands for “Abolish Injustice in the 21st Century.” A21 is committed to the abolition of human trafficking by rescuing girls caught in sex slavery, and bringing them freedom, justice, and hope. Currently, A21 is focusing their work in the city of Thessaloniki, Greece - with the long-term goal of moving into other areas of Europe where there is a need. You can read more about the specifics of their strategy here. A21 has partnered with agencies and organizations that provide rescued victims with legal representation, psychological and medical care, housing, and vocational training.

Generally, I ask the missionaries I highlight “Why do you do what you do?” As I have only communicated with Christine on Twitter (in 140 characters or less), this question really was not able to be asked. I did, however, come across a blog she wrote after a trip to Mumbai back in 2008 that I feel really answers that question. I will leave you with her own words:

"I have experienced every emotion possible today but I am now ready to fight for justice at a whole new level. I want to see the cessation of human trafficking and am passionately envisioned to see the A21 project fulfil its potential. I want to see women set free and children fulfil their purpose and destiny and am determined to play my part in seeing this come to pass. I have a fresh revelation and total conviction of the fact that Jesus Christ and His Church are the only ultimate hope for this world. Nick and I purpose to give our lives to this end... bringing a living Jesus and life giving Church to a dying world." (1/19/08)

Amen and Amen.


1. PRAY (these requests were e-mailed directly from the A21 Office)
-for fear to break over the girls that are being held as slaves right now. We have come across many girls that are so afraid to escape their traffickers because of fear that harm will come to either them or their families back home.

-for corruption to cease within the legal system in Greece. Just last year a brothel was found in the basement of a courthouse in Athens, and just a few weeks ago, several police officers in Greece were found guilty of trafficking.

-for new ideas and strategies on how to get girls out of being held in slavery

-for protection over all of our staff as we are actively taking new ground in enemy territory – and we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices.

-Go to the A21 website and learn more about the issue.
-Check out the "21 Things You Can Do," and pick one...or twenty...and do it. (I personally am committing to #1 and #2 at the moment
- Check out this video or this one to hear some of Chris' story and hear her passion first hand
-Check out Nick and Chris' ministry website

-Her blog, her Twitter , her Facebook
-Her weekly Podcast "Coffee With Chris"

Monday, July 20, 2009

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program...again

I know I promised a spotlight on a group of people fighting the injustice of human trafficking today, but I am awaiting an e-mail about specific prayer requests before it can go live. I know it would devastate many of you to not have something to look at, so in place of Monday's regular Missionary Spotlight, would you care for some pictures? Don't answer that. Regardless of your answer, I'll probably post them anyway.

Our young adult group went camping this weekend. We had a great time of fellowship, laughter, falling out of tents (okay, maybe that was just me), canoeing, laughter, riding in the back of trucks, and laughter. Did I mention we laughed? A lot?

The Ultimate Frisbee group. I do not love this game, so I gladly sat out and was the photographer in residence. Almost died a few times sitting on the sidelines (that really don't exist), but it's all in the name of getting some good pictures. Anything for a good picture.

Some of us before canoeing. I love how tough my guy friends like to pretend they are.

A friend of mine from Panama City was in Louisville with her family this weekend, so I decided to drive down to see them. We went to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. This is a picture of Will (he's 2), jockey in training.

And last, but not least, this is me (I'm the one with the ridiculously shiny face) and Nathan.

I'm sure there will be more pictures from both events for your viewing pleasure later. Look for your regularly scheduled Missionary Spotlight Monday tomorrow, which is Tuesday. Thank you and good night.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Today, I am thankful. Care to know why?

1. I'm thankful for my friend Emily Davis. She told a story on Sunday about people she had been praying for, and it encouraged me so.

2. I'm thankful for rain today. After reading
this post, I think you will be too. It's from my friends Billy and Jo in Uganda.

3. I'm so looking forward to camping in Brown County with some of my favorite people. And I may even be thankful to play Ultimate Frisbee. Or maybe I'll pass out the water. It will take some time to actually enjoy that game. :)

4. My mom and I had a great time working in the yard the other day. And I think she's thankful that I "trimmed" the plants around the barn. Okay, okay. I demolished them. I guess her definition and my definition of "trimmed” are quite different. Sorry mom. You didn't raise a landscaper.

5. I just found out a friend of mine who lives in Panama City and her SWEET children (see below) will be in Louisville this weekend. I may get to see them while they're there!

Will Neeley

Nathan "Oget" Neeley

6. I'm thankful that I had a great church service in Seymour, Indiana on Sunday.

7. I just received a message from a friend in Florida who reads my blogs who said she loves my friends that she has never met...she simply knows them from what she has read here on this blog. You're right, Parsons, I am blessed. I'm so thankful I get to do life with some pretty amazing people.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Because You Prayed

It's been a month since I started the Missionary Spotlight Monday, and I have gotten some updates on the missionaries I have highlighted here and thought it would be a good thing to update those of you who have been praying. First let me say that all of the people I have heard updates from extend their heartfelt gratitude for your prayers. For the first two, I have basically cut and pasted their own words.

The Hallahan's- "The move went very smoothly, and we are mostly settled in! It will take a little time for it to feel like home, but we're getting there! Our [support account] goal was 35% by now, and we are at 26%- God has faithfully provided a job for Josh while we wait, and he keeps growing our account bit by bit! Keep praying! Consistency in prayer and Bible study is still a struggle as we try to find our new rhythm in a new house. Please continue to pray. The boys [Caleb and Seth] are doing well, and thus far have enjoyed all the churches and nurseries we have visited! It is an ongoing request." -Kelly

Jara Sturdivant- "[Peace, clarity, and sustainability as I work at Word Made Flesh] is a constant need. I want to be in a posture of listening to God and hearing how the Spirit is leading. though we're contracted staff, i do want to be sensitive to how God's leading me. It's actually been a good month so far (with her boss on sabbatical), and I feel like a lot of favor in relationships in the office has happened. Can [praying for restoration and renewal] be on everyone's prayer circle ;). I'm trying to be obedient to being in solitude, so I'm starting off my mornings without the TV and trying to be still and journal. Pray pray pray! Our first pre-marital counseling appointment [with her fiance Kenley] is on Friday. I'm very excited. Lastly, though [my support account] is still negative, I saw an incredible increase last month with some significant one-time gifts." -Jara

Lisa Fish- Though I did not hear from her about many of her prayer requests, I did hear good news about her mom's Thyroid cancer. The surgery went very well, and the doctor was able to remove all of the cancer. AND, they did not find cancer cells anywhere else in her body! I will try to get more updates from Lisa, but it may take some time as she is out of the country.

Thank you for praying for my missionary friends. These people are very dear to my heart, and it means the world that you would pray for them even if you do not know them. Your prayers are making a difference! Thank you.

I'm excited about next Monday when I will introduce you to someone on the front lines of the war on human trafficking. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for:

1. That my friends let me go bowling with them, even though I'm so amazing at it. Or not. (I took a picture of this for 2 reasons: First, because I didn't come in dead last this game, and second because I tied with Noah, who was one of the better bowlers of the night.)

2. This video. It's of Ava, the daughter of a friend of mine who a few months ago, out of the blue, began saying "Jamie...Africa...MOVE?" And for a long while, when she would see me, she would point and say, "AFRICA!!" SO cute.

3. Christmas in July with Mariah.

4. I can read. Have you ever thought about that? I began thinking at work today just how miserable and H-A-R-D life would be if you couldn't read. Seriously.

5. My dear friend Shannon flew in last weekend from Texas to surprise her mom, and ended up making my day Sunday.

6. Good friends who make a rainy-no-fireworks-out-of-the-ordinary July 4th less odd.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Missionary Spotlight Monday: Meet the Pastors

As you may recall from my first newsletter , in the summer of 2010, I (along with another couple) will be joining the WGM missionaries already established in Arua, Uganda. Arua is located in the northwest part of the country, near the Sudan and Congo borders. The Coppedges, who are dear friends of mine from Asbury, have been there for a few years doing pastoral training in the surrounding areas. Pictured below are Joanna, Billy, Elsie Jayne, and Lucy Mae Coppedge)

A few months ago, I received a prayer update from the Coppedges saying one of the pastors they had been working with had left the training program altogether. This week, I read on their blog that another pastor has chosen to leave the training. I know Jesus has a plan for the church in Uganda. In 2006, I had the privilege to take part in pastoral trainings for pastors in various areas of the country. I am convinced, now more than ever, that the enemy has an agenda to take out the church in Uganda, beginning with those who are being trained to lead.

For this Missionary Spotlight Monday, I would invite you to the Coppedges blog to read more about this situation. They have names and pictures of the pastors with their names and the names of their family members as well so you can get a visual of who you are praying for. (When you look at their names, please know that it is cultural for the last name to be listed first. So, the second name you see is actually their first name.)

Please join us in praying to see the church of Uganda is strong to pass the torch of faith to the next generation. Your prayers mean the world!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Drop kicked to Cleveland

Okay. If I dropped the ball on Monday, I have now officially drop kicked that proverbial ball to Cleveland. (Why Cleveland, anyway??) I woke up this morning and realized that it was Friday...which is the day after Thursday. Raise your hand if you missed my Thankful Thursday post yesterday? :) Well, wait no longer. And put your hand down while you read...the blood may rush out of your arm, and that gets uncomfortable.

This week, I'm thankful for:

1. Old Friends
Here I am with 3 of my "Pink Lady" friends from Asbury. There were many others who were not there with us. We came in as Freshman, went all the way through school together, and here we are 9 years later.

2. New "Old" Friends
I was so blessed to connect with people this past weekend that I never expected to be able to. One conversation, in particular, blew all expectations past and present out of the water. Thanks, Jamie. I am blessed. And I would have attached a picture, but for some reason, it keeps coming up sideways. Par for the course this week.

3. My friend Jara...
Who shares my borderline obsession with all things Michael Jackson this week. I know, I know. Don't judge us.

4. Ice cream with good friends.

5. Laughter.
I love to laugh. Period. This week, I have particularly enjoyed laughing with my mom. She is quite funny.

6. I'm OH SO thankful that I'm not famous.

7. July 4, 1776