Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 6 Conference Ends

The end of our 6th day here has come to an end, and we only have 1 more full day left. What a great day it was. The closing of the Pastor’s conference was a blessed time. Although it’s been a very busy 3 days, I was kind of sad to see it end.

We started out early once again to get to Vista Del Valle before breakfast started. After breakfast we were to go on the hike down to the bottom of the waterfall for a morning Bible study, but because it rained all night last night, we had to cancel it. The ground was too slippery. The remainder of the day consisted of 1 more session, lunch, and then a final session dedicated to testimonies.

Oh man, what a blessing to hear those that shared a testimony. We had one of the Pastor’s wives, who spoke very good English, sit with us and interpret for us. Each 1 that got up to speak talked of how the conference had been a blessing to them. How it was a gift from God. A few of them talked about how they didn’t know what to expect and were nervous about going, but were now, so glad that they had come. One spoke of how they had had a number of issues come up right before coming, and that Satan was doing everything possible to stop them, but they came. And with tears in her eyes she expressed her heartfelt thanks and praised God. When they were done, they had all of us (the Lucas’ and Caskey’s) come to the front, and then they prayed over us. Just WOW!

I know these Pastors and their spouses were blessed by being there, but little do they know how much they blessed us. They left with a new fire burning inside of them. They left feeling like they had just taken a dip in a nice, cool pool on a steamy, hot summer day. They left feeling encouraged, loved and supported. And, they left with a renewed faith in our Lord. I left with a new sense of awe at what God did in their lives over the last 3 days. I left with thanksgiving that God gave me and my kids the privilege of serving them.

After we left the conference, it was time to celebrate what God had done. It was time for…Pizza Hut!

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Caskey Costa Rica Mission Trip Day 3 Party Time

Day 3 is now in the books. It was a pretty easy day today, by design, as we were resting up, and prepping for the Pastor’s conference, which starts tomorrow. But, that doesn’t mean we did nothing.

The day started with me wishing my oldest daughter a happy 19th birthday. Yes, she turned 19 years old. Man, am I feeling old. Then after everyone was up, we went on a walking tour of the town of Atenas. The town is your typical Costa Rican town with a big Catholic Church and a park as the center pieces on the main square. We got a glimpse of what life is like in Costa Rica by visiting the local grocery stores, some restaurants, walking through the church, hanging out in the park for a while, and just walking along the streets. The people are really friendly and very laid back. The slow pace here, could be very contagious. We had lunch a one of the local restaurants, which was nice. Also, we were able to pick up a few decorations and things for my daughter’s birthday party we were going to have later back at the Lucas’. I was also able to buy a few bags of Costa Rican coffee to bring back home. It was a requirement from my wife that I bring back some coffee. Costa Rica is known for it’s coffee and Atenas specifically is one of the largest coffee growing areas in Costa Rica. It’s the best I’ve had and it’s very inexpensive here. Bonus!

Later, back at the Lucas’ I spent some of the afternoon listening to and watching some iWorship DVDs in preparation to lead worship at their Wednesday night English speaking service at their church. Then, we got everything ready for my daughter’s birthday party where we had pizza and a delicious, homemade chocolate cake. What an experience she had spending her 19th birthday in Costa Rica.

After that, it was time for church. We got there a little early to get setup, and the church’s Spanish worship team was still rehearsing for their Sunday service. So, I got a chance to listen to them for a little while. That was pretty cool, but of course, I couldn’t understand hardly anything, but their sound was good. Finally, our service got started and it was a lot of fun getting a chance to lead worship for the group that was there. I’m glad I was able to help Steve out. It was a great night of teaching also, because Steve, as usual delivered a great message. It was awesome hearing him teach again. It was on Revelation 2 and the first part of chapter 3.

Once back at their house, it was time to get things ready for the Pastor’s conference to start tomorrow. We spent the rest of the time preparing the packets the Pastors will receive, the gift bags and going over the agenda for the next few days. It’s going to be a packed 3 days coming up, but  looking forward to it. It will be a privilege serving these Pastors at the conference. I look forward to meeting them and seeing how God can use me and my kids to meet their needs. I pray that they will be blessed, refreshed and equipped for their ministry. Please pray for them.

She Can’t Be Turning 18 Already

I almost can’t bring myself to say it. It just doesn’t feel right coming off the tongue. But, I guess I have to get use to it because time doesn’t stand still. It marches on at a rapid pace. Sometimes, so fast, that inside I’m screaming, STOP!!! I feel like that right now. On Tuesday, June 22nd, my oldest child, my wonderful oldest daughter, my first baby girl, the one that it seems like just yesterday I was calling “Pumpkin Face”, turns the magical age of 18. There, I said it, or wrote it in this case. Either way, it still doesn’t feel right.

Once again, like I always do, when coming up on these major milestone birthdays, I tend to do a lot of reflecting on the time that’s passed. The first thing that I think about, is that the wonderful day that she was born, was the day AFTER Father’s Day! I never let her forget that I had to wait a full 365 days before I had my first Father’s Day. Ok, sorry, enough of that. This is supposed to be a happy post. Actually, that day was one of the most exciting days in my life. One of the first things that I always think about is the little baby girl with the little red “Pumpkin Face” that I held so carefully in my arms. I remember how my wife would let me give her her last feeding of the night and how that precious little baby girl would drink until she had her fill and would fall asleep while still drinking. But then, I’d still have to take her on what we called the “Magic Daddy Ride” to get her to go to sleep and stay asleep. I look back on the first soccer game, first day of school, first basketball game, first time driving by herself, first Homecoming dance, first Prom, and the many of “firsts” that have come and gone. As many of those things were firsts for her, they were also firsts for my wife and I as parents. Through it all, I see the girl that has grown and matured into a wonderful young, adult woman, who continues to melt her Dad’s heart every single day.

Now, as I think of the present and look forward, the thoughts of just how little time we have left with her weigh heavy on my heart. I think of how little time there is to see her each day, to hear her laugh at any time, to give her all the necessary advice for adulthood (she’d say I’ve given too much), to tell her I love her, that I’m always here for her, that I’m sorry for the arguments we’ve had, and to ask for forgiveness for the mistakes that I’ve made as her father. This is when I want to yell “STOP”, “WAIT”, “DO OVER”!!! But, I know that’s not possible. We all have to move forward with our bumpy road in our past, and learn from it. It’s very strange though because even though all of that does make me sad and nervous, I still have this great sense of joy, excitement, and peace, because I know the young adult woman that she’s turned out to be.

There are exciting times ahead and I’m excited for her. I look forward to watching her continue to grow and mature, and take on, and conquer, the new challenges to come. I’m confident that the Lord will guide her steps. I’m confident that she is ready to make this leap into adulthood. I’m confident in HER.

So, I celebrate this day, June 22, 2010, and say HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY to my baby girl.

Honoring My Wife On Mother’s Day

On this day that we celebrate and honor mother’s everywhere, I want to take a few minutes to honor my wonderful wife, who is such a great Mom to our 4 beautiful kids.

I am such a blessed man to have a wife such as her. Our kids are so blessed to have her as their mother. Building a family with her has brought me great joy in this life. I thank her for choosing to marry me and have a family with me. God has smiled upon me many times, but I feel that His biggest smile has come in the form of the wife and kids that He has blessed me with.

My wife has given her everything for our family. She gives of herself, her whole self, everyday for our kids. They may not realize it now, but one day when they are parents, I believe that they will look back and realize just how much their Mom has given for them. They’ll realize the sacrifices made and the care that she has given. It takes a lot to be a Mom and many times it’s a thankless job. But, thanks or no thanks, my wife continues to be the great Mom that she is. She knows the importance of her role and she does it faithfully day in and day out. What a joy to watch.

Proverbs 31 verses 10, 11, 28 and 29 says it best:

10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

I have found a wife of noble character and I am a husband that lacks nothing. I pray that me and my kids remember more often to call her blessed and to praise her. And yes, she does surpass them all.

I love you my wonderful wife. I pray that your Mother’s Day is a blessed day.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Tribute To Momma Jane

I want to take this time to celebrate the life and pay tribute to the woman that I came to call Momma Jane. Momma Jane was my mother-in-law. I was blessed enough to know her for 14 years, before she went home to be with the Lord about 10 years ago. I know, when you think of in-laws, you think, oh no, the in-laws. But, she didn’t fit the stereotype.

Momma Jane from the day I met her was always a fun-loving person. She was full of life, energy and always had a positive outlook on life. She always treated me with respect, kindness and like another son. I appreciated how she eagerly welcomed me into the family when Denise and I got married. I especially appreciated, and still laugh hysterically, at how she wanted to talk to me in private, to make sure I knew what I was getting into, when Denise and I announced our engagement. She knew her daughter all too well. And I quickly learned what she meant. Just kidding, just kidding.

That brings me to what I’m most appreciative of regarding my mother-in-law. And that is that she raised her daughter, who is my wife, very well. I thank her for the love and support she always gave my wife. She was an encouraging individual, and wore her pride, she had in her daughter, on her sleeve. Because of a lady like her, I have the wonderful wife that I have.

I have the typical regrets, when it comes to life, and how short it can be, like my kids not getting to know her any better than they did and vice versa. Me not having a longer time to know her, and my wife not able to have her Mom around anymore. But, we have to move forward in faith and find joy in the fact that we will see her again, for my wife had the privilege of leading her Mom, my Momma Jane, into a relationship with Jesus Christ, near the end of her life.

So, this is a tribute to Momma Jane. I celebrate your life, and say, Happy Birthday!

Memorial Day Thoughts

Finally, Memorial Day Weekend is here! Even though I will probably have to work some over the weekend, it’s nice that I have one extra day to be home with the family and not have to go into the office. So, at some point this weekend, I’m sure we’ll be relaxing by the pool or in the pool, maybe going to see a movie and cooking some burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Basically, doing as much relaxing, playing around, eating and celebrating as we can. But, as I thought about it, I had to ask myself, what are we celebrating?

I, like just about everybody, was getting caught up in the thought of this being just a fun weekend. The reality is, it is so much more than that. My thoughts now turn to, “why am I able to have so much fun this weekend?” Who makes it possible for us to enjoy spending time with friends and family over the next few days? My thoughts have now turned to the those that have served, fought for, been wounded for, and died for, this great country of ours. Yes, the real reason for Memorial Day Weekend is not for us to just have fun, relax and enjoy ourselves, but to remember those that have made it possible for us to have the freedom to celebrate this weekend.

In these next few lines I want to remember and pay tribute to all those that have served in the different branches of the Armed Services. Thanks to those that have gone before us, and fought for, and in many cases died for the freedoms that we enjoy today. And, thanks to those that serve today, standing guard, protecting and fighting for our freedoms.

I pay tribute to my deceased father, who, in his day, served in the Army during World War II. He was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He fought and was wounded for our country. In all my life, until now, I’ve never taken the time to think about his contribution to the freedoms we have today. So, even though he’s been gone for many years, I honor him and say THANK YOU!

I say thank you to my brother, who served in the Air Force in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I thank him for his willingness to serve and defend our country.

Now, I have a nephew serving in the Navy. And, I want to make sure and thank him for his service. Even though he’s early in his career there, I appreciate him none the less.

So, this weekend, while you’re celebrating with your family and friends, enjoying yourself, having a good time, at the pool, on your boat, taking a trip, having a big juicy burger or steak, or whatever, take the time to remember who’s made it possible for you to have the freedom to do so. Remember those that have sacrificed greatly for you to enjoy yourself. If you take the time to do so, you may find yourself more appreciative for this weekend than ever before and you may enjoy yourself more than you ever have.

As an added extra, I heard this on the radio today and it sent chills up and down my spine. I think it’s a good reminder of why the members of our Armed Services are willing to sacrifice all for our country.

Have a great Memorial Day!