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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

She's a Pablo

My twin sister is married.  One event has forever changed our family and it doesn't seem "real" yet. Perhaps because they are on their honeymoon. Perhaps because I am still physically, mentally, and emotionally recovering.  Perhaps I am simply in denial?

Today I am posting my maid-of-honor speech and tomorrow (or soon,) I will post a few more pictures with stories. :)
Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate with Jessie and Aldean! Don’t they both look great? I have no idea where Jessie’s thoughts are wondering, so I will take this opportunity, for her, to thank those who traveled so far to come. To the photographers, musicians, caterers and bakers, hair stylists, sound man, videographer, ushers, pastor, guest book attendants, bridal party, parents, sisters, and friends, to everyone who made this wedding happen so beautifully… all for Jessie and Aldean!

For those who do not know me, I am Jewel. The bride’s twin sister and the groom’s twin- sister-in-law.  I’ve been thinking about this wedding for a number of weeks and months, and I’ve been thinking about this speech for over a year. Why did I accept the invitation to be maid of honor? I don't think Jessie ever asked me to be the maid-of-honor; I think I simply assumed that I would be the only choice.  If it’s not because Jessie and I shared the womb or because we’ve known each other since we were much smaller than limes, it’s because of 24 years of shared experiences with my twin sister – starting at birth, when we were separated into our own baby boxes and she cried and cried and cried until they put her in my box, and then she promptly sucked my nose!

Aldean… I have known Aldean for a sum of two weeks. Granted, I have known about Aldean for perhaps two or three years. In the last two weeks, I’ve learned much about Aldean. I’ve seen first-hand that he loves my sister. Why else would he follow her to Hobby Lobby 8 times in 2 weeks? Why else would he spend his afternoons gluing beads and ribbons to seashells? Why else would he leave his home, his family, his culture and everything that he know… just to spend his life with her?

Though I now have my husband, and she has hers, this bond of sisterhood, this “twin thing,” is one that is irreplaceable. Though I still want to call her ‘mine.’ Though I still need her presence, word, and investment in my life, I give her to Aldean, but he better keep everyone single one of his vows or I’m taking her back!
Typically the maid of honor gives some marriage advice. I am not yet an expert on marriage, and my husband might agree, but I am an expert on Jessie. I know that Aldean will not only be your husband but your new best friend. So Aldean… I would like to share some insights from Jessie’s very old best friend to her new very best friend.

1. Aldean, if you ever upset Jessie, just remember that she loves chocolate. And if you really upset her, try some kind of chocolate coffee.
2. If you ever get tired of her talking, just send her out to coffee with me or one of her other friends. Chances are, it will keep her out late and she will come home “talked out.”
3. Jessie is very clean and organized and very methodized. Most things in your life will seem to run very smoothly if you let Jessie continue to operate this way.
4. Give her just enough space that she isn’t overwhelmed, but be close enough to convey that you want to be near you.
5. A happy wife is a happy life and a happy Jessie is less messy!

As her sister and as a newlywed myself, I tried to come up with advice for Jessie, and bride and new wife, but here continues my advice for Aldean, the new husband:

6. Say, “I am sorry.” It might hurt your pride a little bit, but the benefits of pleasing your wife will be much greater than your temporary pain.
7. Some husbands make jokes about their wives, with little put-downs that are supposed to be funny. These are bad jokes. They cut, they wound, and they destroy trust. A marriage can die the death of a thousand tiny cuts. Avoid negative humor. It is not funny.
8. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” and “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (9:14).
a. Jessie is God’s gift to you. “She is worth far more than rubies” (31:10) or any other treasure.
b. Honor that treasure. Jessie is God’s daughter… treat her like it!
c. Never allow any earthly thing—not a ministry, not a job, not a basketball game, not another friendship—to take priority over her.
9. As unlikely (or perhaps still likely) as it may seem today, you will have disagreements. But the Song of Solomon refers to these as “little foxes” that ruin the vineyards. (2:15)
a. When you are arguing, you have a choice: You can be right, or you can be happy.
b. Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half-shut afterwards. (Benjamin Franklin.) There are too many things not worth fighting or fussing about.
i. Keep short accounts with your bride; keep short accounts with your groom.
ii. Never walk away while she is crying.
iii. Never lay a hand on her except in love.
10. It would probably be best if you don’t try to get inside Jessie's head; you’ll just get lost in all the twists and turns in there. Instead, concentrate on getting into her heart; try to feel what she’s feeling and you’ll probably end up understanding her much better.
a. Simply observe what pleases her and what irritates her and work tirelessly to increase the former and decrease the latter.
11. Proverbs 5:18, instructs you to “rejoice in the wife of your youth”
a. Spend time with her. Pray with her.
b. Soak up her words.
c. Keep dating her after the wedding. (You have lots of catch up on anyways!)
d. Say “I love you” every day and try to say it before she does!
e. Never to miss an opportunity to tell her she’s beautiful.
f. Ask her for forgiveness when you need it, and ask her for advice even when you don’t need it.
12. And finally, remember that the biblical model for a husband. Love Jessie “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
a. Love her
b. Give yourself up for her.
c. Lay down your life – day after day – for her.
13. Strive always to be the man she deserves, and you’ll be amazed at how she remains exactly what you desire. (I read that in a book.)
Aldean, you are now prepared for what lies ahead. You have chosen a wonderful woman to be your wife and all I ask is that you protect her, honor her, and cherish her from this day forward, until you die.
And to Jessica, thank you for being the best friend and sister a girl could ask for. Always remember that I, along with the rest of your friends and family will always be here to support you.

Love, Love, Love,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The filippino is here!

The filippino is here!

On Saturday at 1:30pm, my twin sister’s husband-to-be arrived in Indianapolis from the Philippines, with his fiancĂ© visa in hand! Jessie and Aldean applied for a fiancĂ© visa in January 2012 and God was faithful to them as He was faithful to Titus and I one year ago!

Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.”
(2 Samuel 22:50)

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”
(1 Chronicles 16:9)

He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’”
(Hebrews 2:12)

Although I am disappointed that our small-but-growing family can no longer fit in one vehicle, I’m excited to see how Aldean changes the dynamics of our family. He’s already laughing at my jokes… laughing at least… so that’s good! And he seems to have picked up Nirtz pretty quickly, so that’s good! And he loves Jessie, so that’s great! (Although I still have to get used to my sister being in a relationship that isn’t long distance or seemingly imaginary.)

That moment when the guys met [again (Titus & Aldean actually met almost 3 years ago at a wedding in the Philippines!)] ... it was a good moment for me!  I trust that they will become very good friends!  Who else could have more in common but these two??  Not only are their wives twins, but this chapter of their lives are almost identical - leaving home [and everything!] for their brides and transitioning into a culture so foreign!  I hope that they will be an ear and an encouragement for each other.  Nonetheless, both incredible gifts to our family!

Tonight Aldean will meet Dad’s side of the family!

Love, Love, Love,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We survived Hurricane Sandy!

I received a comment from a blogging friend that he hasn't heard from us since my last post in Baltimore, when we were preparing for Hurricane Sandy! Thank you, David, for your concern!! We are fine! In fact, we were untouched inside the four strong walls of our friends' old home. The storm started before 9am on Monday and faded away during the early morning hours on Tuesday. The winds were UNREAL... unlike anything that I have ever heard or felt. For hours, I expected any minute that the windows would be sucked right out of the walls. It rained and rained and rained HARD! The power flickered off and on all day, but we were fortunate to retain power, (although I’m quite certain we would have more than survived without it for a few days!) In one simple sentence: It was an adventure. A first anniversary to always be remembered! Despite Sandy, it was a great trip! ♥♥♥
Friday and Saturday were especially a lot of fun! We arrived in Baltimore by 10am and were warmly greeted by our dear friends, Sambat and his smart and adorable daughter, Elsie. I couldn’t quite remember how old Elsie was, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw her again (I had only ever met the Long family at our wedding one year ago.) When I got in the backseat beside her car seat and I said, “Hi Elsie! How are you?” and she responded, without hesitation, “I’m pretty good. How are you?” I knew she was well advanced and, over the course of the next few days, she continued to IMPRESS me! ♥♥♥
For lunch on Friday, we ate at a delicious and beautiful Indian buffet. So, so, so good. I could not stop eating! Afterwards, the four of us explored Baltimore city around the bay. We walked a lot! Laughed a lot! And took a lot of pictures! At 5:00, Sambat’s wife, Danielle, joined us and we went to the National Aquarium. Aquariums are one of my favorite things and it wasn’t even my idea to go! SO FUN! The jellyfish exhibit was very cool (I’ll spare you all the pictures!) and they even had a DOLPHIN SHOW! ♥♥♥
 On Saturday, we explored the streets of Washington DC between the Capital Building and the White House. There is so much to see in DC and I wish that we could have seen so much more [I saw a lot on a school field trip in 9th grade, but I wanted my husband to see it all!], but I enjoyed just walking hand-in-hand with Titus; and the weather was beautiful! We started our day at the United States Botanic Garden – a beautiful living plant museum – where we had a picnic lunch outdoors at the First Ladies’ Water Garden. Another big sighting of the day was, of course, the White House! The pictures of me in front of the White House… are not good… but below is a good picture of my husband! Just beyond the White House, we found a 24/7 worship experience happening for 40 consecutive days before the elections. Very cool experience! I made a new Spanish-speaking friend and explained to her that many people think America has no hope, but as certainly do! We have a living hope in Sovereign God and we must seek Him to lead our country, homes, and selves! ♥ ♥ ♥
Other adventures include: shopping at the Asian market, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant, Titus teaching Sambat how to cook, puzzles with Elsie, and movies in the evenings. ♥♥♥
Again, despite Hurricane Sandy, we had a wonderful time in Baltimore! I wish that we lived closer to the Longs and the Novs, our two Cambodian-American couple friends who cannot only relate very well with Titus, but understand cross-cultural relationships.♥♥♥
Love, Love, Love,

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Writing this from Baltimore... preparing for hurricane Sandy aka "Frankenstorm." The Washington Post predicts it will be New England's worst October storm in more than one generation. People are stockpiling food and water, buying chainsaws and generators, taping windows, and pushing other customers in the battery aisle. Danielle's school already announced a closing tomorrow. Still... I remain a doubter. Perhaps I am naive, having never before experienced a hurricane or the threat of. We should know in the next 24 hours! In 48 hours, we're scheduled to fly home!

It's been a really good three days already, and hopefully that trend continues despite threatening weather. We flew in Thursday morning and were greeted at the BWI airport by Titus' good friend from Cambodia, Sambat, and his curly-headed, three-year-old daughter, Elsie. We went to a beautiful Indian buffet for lunch and it was... SO GOOD! Wow. Really would like to have one of those in Marion! After lunch we explored Baltimore City by foot. It was a perfect October day! We walked around the harbor, through some shops, up a huge hill to the park and a beautiful of the city, and enjoyed some live music and Italian ice. At 5:00, we got half-price tickets to the National Aquarium, and enjoyed stir-fry and Chinese leftovers at home.

I'm attempting this first post from my iPod, so no idea what you will be seeing. Hope it's decent!

Much love,

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Man's 1st Birthday

My man's first birthday in America.  Lots of emotions surrounding the occasion; a big occasion - celebrating 30 years of life. 29 years in Cambodia. [Almost] 1 year in America. ONE YEAR! So much has happened. So much has changed.

Surprise!  I like to think he was, but I think he's good at acting - at acting surprised to please his wife; his wife who worked hours and hours and hours to surprise him, to make it happen in a big way, to make him feel special.

A Scrabble party for my Scrabbler

75 balloons hanging from string, draped wall to wall.

More than 100 pictures displayed his age- 30!

Lots of food and more than 50 guests!

Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate with Titus and to make the party a success. ♥♥♥
Love, Love, Love,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Matthew 22:34-40

“In other words, you shall love God with everything you have and everything you are. Everything. Every longing, every endowment, each of your intellectual gifts, any athletic talent or computer skills, all capacity for delight, every good thing that has your fingerprints on it-take all this, Jesus says, and refer it to God. Take your longings, and long for God; take your creaturely riches, and endow God; take your eye for beauty and appreciate God. With you heart and soul and mind, with all your needs and splendors, make a full turn toward God.”

Neal Plantinga, Pray the Lord My Mind to Keep

Love, Love, Love,

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Great minds think alike!

Twin sister and I showed up at youth group last night wearing the same t-shirt. Sophie took this picture of us and I forwarded it to older sister, who replied, “Wanna know something even funnier?!” She then sent me a picture that she had just taken of her[pregnant]self wearing the same t-shirt! Crazy. I’m pretty sure the probability of this happening is ~1/250,000!! ♥ ♥ ♥

Love, Love, Love,

Friday, August 31, 2012

Carpe Diem

I HATE that few things in life cause me reflect on "today" as death and the fear of death.  I HATE that I am so guilty of taking TODAY for granted and not taking advantage of each moment in time.   Today, I am again facing this paradox of life and death - of living abundantly and of abruptly reaching the end.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Below, I have shared my friend Jason Helm's facebook status.  Jason and I attended the same middle school, high school, and university; but because he was a number of years ahead of me, our paths never crossed until May 2010, halfway across the globe on the coast of Mozambique, Africa.  During the two months that I was a missionary intern until his watch, Jason really challenged and strengthened me in a lot of ways.  The news that Jason has cancer has made me... simply put: Sad. And reflective.

Carpe Diem... We all know that two word phrase. Latin for “Seize the Day”. It’s always has been in the back of my mind throughout my life. I believe that because of this I haven’t always fit into the mold that life and people have tried to fit me in. I have always tried to follow after Christ and do what I know is right even if it has meant being misunderstood or unaccepted by others. One of
the biggest decisions in my life was to take my new wife and move to Africa to serve as teachers and missionaries in Mozambique. The ones closest to us understood but many did not. We have been in Mozambique full time now for 7 years and have seen some truly amazing things and would not give up that experience for anything. Among many things we have received two of the most wonderful and amazing blessings in our lives, which are our children. Two truly African - American blessings whom we love dearly. I know at this point that I am rambling and everyone wants to know how my biopsy came out. With every ounce of strength and courage I tell you that my results did not come out as hoped. I have been diagnosed with cancer. This has been shocking and almost numbing to hear the results today from both the pathologist and oncologist that I do indeed have cancer. We will not know the exact type until Tuesday next week, but it is most likely cancer of the Pancreas that has spread into the liver. I will continue to update all of you as I receive info but I want leave you with a couple questions. Are you going through life on Cruise Control? What have you done today to make and eternal difference?

Life… is fragile, is precious, is short!!
Every day is one more page in your life.
Every moment is an opportunity.
Smile and say hello to strangers.
Don’t take your friends or family for granted.
Don’t worry so much over the little things and don’t fight over the little irritations of life.
Say I love you to the people you love.
Enjoy your time where ever you are, at work, at the gym,at the library, resting at your house, in a park …just enjoy every moment.

Please join me in praying for my friend, Jason!

Serving Him,


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Big City Life

Life is full of adventure.
So full of adventure.

I started writing this post on Saturday, while sitting in an overly-air conditioned Starbucks on Monument Circle in Indianapolis; Titus taking the TOEFL exam a few streets away.  I need to say that I am NOT a city girl - at least I didn't think I was; - however, as I have been gaining more confidence behind the wheel, trust in the GPS, and yearning to see & explore, I am enjoying the city! [Note: EXCEPT DURING RUSH HOUR.]
While Titus took his four hour English exam - and many many many thanks to those of you who prayed for him!!! - I explored the 2 block radius surrounding Monument Circle.

Last Saturday at this hour, sweet husband and I were in Hollywood, California.  Who knows what adventures await us in the next week?

In Hollywood, we walked around Universal Studios City Walk with our friends, Barbie and Ken.  Entrance was free, and there were 30-35 shops and restaurants that we perused. We had iced coffees at Starbucks and over-ate at Hard Rock Cafe

After lunch, we got back in the car and on the 10-lane Freeway to Hollywood Boulevard, where we saw the stars

and the famed Hollywood Sign, which was on my LA Bucket List.

We also had the strange opportunity to meet Muscle Man, who was one of numerous characters standing on the street offering photo ops to tourists. Before Muscle Man, we declined numerous offers, but he was so insistent that I finally consented. What I did NOT agree to was the second pose, where he - in one quick motion - lifts me into the air for a second picture. After he slowly and gently lowered me to the ground, he said, "I do that for a donation." A DONATION!?! Of course he does. I could have used the donation to buy a new shirt... the man was SO SWEATY! Seriously gross.

Can you tell by my face that I was NOT enjoying the moment??? HA. (I can laugh about it now.)

We ended our time in Hollywood at Griffith Park Observatory, overlooking the expansive city of Los Angeles, California

Look forward to one last "LA Vacation" post about the beautiful beach wedding at Venice Beach! ♥♥♥

Love, Love, Love,


Friday, August 24, 2012


Please pray for Titus as he is preparing to take the TOEFL test tomorrow. The TOEFL test is a requirement for him, as a speaker of English as a second language, to begin taking classes at Indiana Wesleyan University. It will evaluate his listening, reading, speaking and writing skills in English. The test will begin at 9:00am and the estimated length is 4 long hours. We’re really coveting your prayers for the test – as this is very important for Titus and he is pretty nervous. Please pray for: clarity, confidence, and concentration. We will receive his results two weeks after the test.  The waiting game never ends!

Serving Him,
Jewel & Titus

Thursday, August 23, 2012

LA Life 1

Earrrrly last Thursday morning, Titus and I caught a jet plane to Denver, then onto Los Angeles, for the reunion with and wedding of my bff Loren Gail Dearth to Mr. Harrie Trotman.

Too much happened to squeeze into one post, so here are the beginnings:

I just cannot even believe how much of the world Titus and I have already seen together - the flats of Indiana, the sunny Florida beaches, the streets of New York, and the hot spots in California!  I feel so blessed to be making so many wonderful memories with such a wonderful husband.

Only minutes after arriving in Los Angeles, we were off to Santa Monica Beach with the bride-to-be and two friends.  We had a pb&j picnic on blankets in the sand and played aggressive beach volleyball.  The sand was soft and pure, the sun was high and bright, and the blankets were spread out for relaxing.  It felt like... vacation!!

Afterwards, we walked along the pier and took in all the sights.  I was most impressed to see an artist crafting and selling caricature sculptures from clay - not your typical chalk caricatures.  We also watched a man "clean" a large fish and then "clean" his teeth with one of the fish's bones.  I would have loved to have had more time to people watch, but our traveling bodies were tired, so our time there was short.

Our time at Santa Monica ended with our toes in the water, and our bums in the sand...

It was a beautiful day!!

Love, Love, Love,