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Dear Family and Friends,
Another year draws to a close. Another year on this journey of discovery within Christ. Another mother lode of reasons why He is worthy of our bond-service. He is not merely the reason for the season, He is our All in All. This is why Grace Link exists – to connect others to Him in personal, healing ways. Thank you for being on this journey with us.
I probably say this too often, but this year has been a blur for me. Sandra and I were quite busy through November and just now things seem to be settling down. I’ll hit the highlights month by month:
January – Along with the staff of Rivertree Church, we relocated our office to 652 Taylor Road in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama. Our church has provided us ministry office space since we returned from Budapest in 2000. We (I’m on the elder board) now have our own property and should start building sometime this year. PRAYER: This building phase is a huge step for Rivertree. We ask God to bless this generous congregation and extend their impact.
February – We did a Grace Life Conference at the Young Life office in Huntsville. It was well attended. We’ve had a solid relationship with YL. It’s area director, Steve Hampton, has gone through our training and is a strong advocate for our ministry. PRAYER: YL is an effective ministry to students. We ask God to provide for their financial and staff needs.
March – We led a team of 19 students and adults from Rivertree and three other churches on a mission to Katowice, Poland to teach English as a second language and American football in a few of their schools. Our hosts were Kings Kids of Poland (http://kingskidspl.blogspot.com/), a ministry of YWAM. It was a great trip!! Of course we also got to visit our family there – Erin, Greg, Abi and Hannah Skrobarczyk – our kids and grandkids (as well as our hosts)!! PRAYER: God is blessing Kings Kid Poland with growth beyond their ability to manage. We ask God for leaders and funds to keep up the momentum and for stamina for Greg and Erin.
April – Much of the month was spent preparing for the annual members’ conference of the Association of Exchanged Life Ministries, held in Toccoa, Georgia at the end of the month. I’ve had the honor of serving as the chairman for the AELM the past few years and I have a much deeper appreciation for how our colleagues are expanding the kingdom of God, and how the AELM encouraged and empowers them to press on. PRAYER: In May 2010 I’ll step down from the board. Ask God to give the board a renewed vision for how this unique organization should move forward into the new millennium.
May – Along with a group from three different churches, I was part of a mission team to Sighsoara, Romania. Our mission was to support Casa Vieti, a pro-life ministry, in their work with Gypsy women, and my role was to teach a series on leadership in Manna Church, led by Pilu Hadarean, a good friend from our Budapest days. It was a very successful mission and extra special to be on mission with our good friends Tommy and Barbara Glenn. PRAYER: Casa Vieti and Manna Church offer invaluable ministry to the Gypsy culture in central Romania. Ask God to give them increasing favor and influence with this unique subculture that they might transform the lives and families of these dear people.
June - One of the highlights for June was a weekend in Franklin, Tennessee with the Family Dynamics Institute (http://www.familydynamics.net/).We were attending a refresher workshop for facilitators of the “Dynamic Marriage” class for married couples. This is a powerful group experience for any couple that would like to strengthen their marriage. We were preparing to facilitate a DM class here at Southwood Presbyterian in October and November (see below). PRAYER: Family Dynamics Institute is doing great work on behalf of the family. Ask God to multiply and bless their work.
July – Counseling at Rivertree Church (http://www.myrivertree.org/) and Summit Crossing Community Church (http://www.summitcrossing.org/) mostly highlighted this month. These two churches have been very supportive of our ministry for years by providing financial support and office space. They are both growing and impacting North Alabama for God’s glory. PRAYER: Ask God to give wisdom and boldness to the leadership teams and the young men, Ross Jaeger and Paul Whaley, who pastor them.
August – Certainly the highlight was the mid-month arrival of our kids and grandkids from Poland (http://skrobarfam.blogspot.com/) for an eight-week stay to visit family, friends and supporters of their Kings Kids ministry. We had a blast getting to know our grandkids, Abi and Hannah, better and coaching them on their English skills, not to mention getting our hands on them and their parents. PRAYER: Of course we ask your prayers for them as they labor and raise a family in the challenging secular culture of 21st Century Poland.
September – Two things were special: 1) The extended Rymer family took their vacation on the Gulf coast. We had 20 of us enjoying the beauty of the white sandy beaches and the face-to-face family time it offered us. 2) We also did our second Grace Life conference, this time at the Choose Life office’s pleasant meeting room. It went great as well. PRAYER: Please ask God to show us new and effective ways to share the liberating, transformational mess age of Christ our Life in our churches and community.
October – We met with the AELM board of directors out in Estes Park, Colorado so that we could visit the location for our April 22-25, 2010 AELM members’ conference (http://www.aelm.org/), the YMCA of the Rockies. We had a wonderful getaway to the Rocky Mountains as well as a very productive board meeting. PRAYER: The annual AELM members’ conference can be a very encouraging event for our members and the public. Ask God to give us success in this event so that it might strengthen the AELM and our mission.
November – Sandra and I had the honor of facilitating our first Dynamic Marriage class in October and November. It was eight weeks of interaction and growth for the eight couples and for us. This is something we can encourage anyone to do for the sake of his or her marriage relationship. PRAYER: Ask God to use the seeds that were sown in the lives of these couples to bless and strengthen their marriages.
So there’s our year in brief if you add in the week-to-week counseling, church responsibilities and assorted other meetings that go with our various roles. One request we have for us: We need your prayers also for a clear vision from God of the future for us. We don’t want to presume that we are where He wants us. We may be, but we always want to hear Him say, “It is very good!”
Thanks!! You are an inspiration for us to keep it up! We love you for it!
Blake and Sandra
P S - Here are some recent bonus photos of our wonderful grandkids - In the 1st picture Front Row: Seth, Jacob; Back Row: David, Josh & Noah / In the 2nd picture - Hannah & Abi.
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