ARDEN UPDATE #20: On Her Feet Again!

Finally, Arden is back on her feet. She can stand by herself and take steps with help. She only wears her brace at night. So the healing and the hard work of learning to walk again continue. But she is up and on her way.

This week she started kindergarten and loves it. A special bus picks her up each day with her wheel chair. The driver reported, “Arden is hilarious!”

She has miraculously maintained her chipper spirit throughout this ordeal, and we will always be thankful for friends and family who have prayed and supported her from the start, and for Dr. Blumberg and Seattle Children’s Hospital. We are blessed to have so much help for our little one. Please do keep Arden in your prayers as she continues the fight to get moving again.

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Something to ponder . . .

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New Releases for Summer Reading!

If you’re looking for some compelling summer reading, here are three great options to consider.

In the Lingering Light, Cynthia Fantasia takes readers into the world of Alzheimer’s from the caregiver perspective. The long journey that began with the shattering diagnosis of her husband of over forty years brought a litany of losses, isolation, and grief. Cynthia bares her heart to share the realities—the good, bad, and ugly—of this shadowy world where there is no cure and where, as caregiver, her faith was fiercely tested, yet was also what kept her going. No one should minimize what it cost her to look back and relive those painful years for the sake of others. Other caregivers will find here a wealth of helpful information and a wise friend with them on the journey. It will be eye-opening for pastors and friends who want to understand and help in ways that matter. 

The assumption within Christian circles is that for women and girls silence is golden, deference and submission are supreme virtues, and less is more. The compulsion to hold back—fortified by church and cultural messages for women—means offering less to Jesus. It vastly underestimates and hampers the mission he entrusted to his followers and deprives our brothers of the strengths and wisdom they need from us. We end up living with one foot on the brake. We owe Jesus more! In No More Holding Back, Kat draws from her own struggles with these confining, cautionary messages to summon her sisters in Christ to stop holding back. Her passionate call to shed these hindrances and press on to love God freely with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength is crucial reading for the whole church!

Jenny Rae Armstrong’s bold new book, From Risk to Resilience: How Empowering Young Women can Change Everything, is a bracing exposé of the current global human rights crisis that is destroying and diminishing the lives of millions of girls. This crisis occupies a wide spectrum of expression—from the deadly sinister acts such as child marriages, honor killings, and sexual violence to benign forms involving limiting a girl’s horizons simply because she was born female.

This is urgent reading for pastors and ministry leaders, parents and teachers, and anyone who longs to see God’s daughters flourish!

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ARDEN UPDATE #19: Good News from Seattle!

Well, the Spica came off today, and the brace went on. After 8 long weeks of cheerful endurance, Arden’s Spica cast days are over! We are thrilled and relieved for her finally to reach this milestone. I love the look on Dr. Blumberg’s face reflected in the mirror. This is a big moment for him too.

Arden, her mommy, and Tata (her other grandmother, a.k.a. Hilda Rodriguez) celebrated by going to the Seattle Aquarium. They’ll head home (Anchorage and Orlando respectively) this evening.

Now begins the hard work for Arden to learn to walk again. A while back, my close friend Lori Lambelet faced a similar road to recovery from a broken femur. Lori wrote,

“It is crazy how much she will have to concentrate to walk. But the pictures you share display a very spirited young lady, who is very strong and excited to be free!”

Yes she is! This little ezer has a lot of fight in her. Based on Arden’s determination so far and the prayers of family and friends, I’m betting on her to succeed. After all, “Arden is one tough little kid!”

Please keep her in your prayers.

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ARDEN UPDATE #18: Bye Bye Spica Cast!


The latest shorter Spica cast (now above the knee on both legs vs down to the ankle on the problem side) has made a huge difference for Arden. For Avery too. The Anchorage heatwave notwithstanding, they’ve loved playing together outdoors.

Now that Arden is semi-vertical, the girls have also made the happy discovery that they can hug each other again! (See video below.)

This week marks a crucial point in Arden’s recovery. She and Allison return to Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) this Thursday, July 11 for the removal of Arden’s Spica cast on Friday, July 12. Since her severe hip dysplasia diagnosis, she’s had 2 major surgeries plus 3 Spicas altogether for a total of 12 weeks!

It’s not exaggerating to describe Arden’s ordeal as a marathon.

If X-rays reveal her hip to be in good shape, she’ll have seen the last of the Spica casts. Dr. Blumberg will fit her for a brace which she’ll still wear 24/7 as she moves into full recovery mode and gets back on her feet again.

Needless to say, we are praying and hoping all goes well.

I hear constantly from friends and family who are praying for Arden and her family and checking for updates as she continues her marathon to recover the full use of her hip and leg. It means the world to us that you are following Arden’s story and are holding her up in prayer until she’s up and running again.

Please join us in praying for a successful visit to SCH this week!

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ARDEN UPDATE #17: Fun in the Summer Sun

Warm summer days in Anchorage (yes, even in Alaska) are giving Arden and Avery plenty of opportunities to play outdoors, and they are making the most of it. Arden is pressing the limits of the extra mobility her new Spica cast allows. She continues to surprise us all with her readiness to push herself to the next level and to regain her independence.

Nothing passive about this little ezer-warrior!

We are thanking God each day for the fight in her and for her incredibly positive attitude. It’s hard to imagine what she’s endured and is still enduring with such a resilient spirit!

July 12, Arden will be back at Seattle Children’s Hospital for the fourth time when Dr. Blumberg will remove her cast and fit her for a brace. We’re all looking forward to that big moment for her. Who knows what she’ll attempt to do once she’s free of her cast?!

Please do continue to pray for her and for her complete healing as she moves through this final Spica cast stage. And thank you again for your interest, prayers, encouraging messages, and generous support.

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Calling all Phillies Phans!

Far be it from me to turn down an invitation to a MLB baseball game. Below is the invitation to a Phillies game that Frank sent out to Missio Seminary community, families, and friends. I’m definitely going to this one!

If you live in the Philadelphia area, consider yourself invited.

To all PHANATICS, high and low, near and far, current students, board members, alums, faculty, staff and friends—join the MISSIO family for a Phillies game and tailgate party on 30 July.

The game starts at 7 PM but the tailgate party begins at 5pm. What a great way to enjoy the summer together. This has been a big year in the history of MISSIO Seminary and we need to celebrate together. Let’s have some fun in the sun.

Tuesday, July 30th!
7:00pm Phillies vs San Francisco Giants
Citizens Bank Park
Plus 5:00pm Tailgate Party

Purchase tickets here!
$20 each
Order by JUNE 25

We will all meet at the tailgate party (location TBD) with food, drink and loud music in the parking lot and to get your tickets.  

The deadline to purchase tickets is JUNE 25.   The cost is only $20 per ticket so please feel free to bring friends, family and neighbors.

As I see it, coming to the game is a MISSIONAL calling! 

The Phillies will have a secret weapon this year—my wife, Carolyn Custis James. Why is she a secret weapon?—because wherever Carolyn lives, she sprinkles star dust on the local team and they win the World Series! I am not kidding. When we lived in Southern California, the Dodgers won. When we lived in Florida, the Marlins won. When we lived in Boston, the Red Sox won. And when we lived Philadelphia for grad school, the Phillies won, so her magic works in Philadelphia too.  Join us on 30 July and see Carolyn work her magic.

For more information contact:
Paul Zazzo
Missio Director of Church and Alumni Relations

For the record, everything Frank said about me is true. I was even in Chicago when the tide turned for the Cubs in 2016. Still, you need to know that my so-called “star dust” doesn’t work over night. That said, I’m looking forward to a fun evening with Missio family and friendsand a big win for the Phillies. Come join us!

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