Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

only by Grace . . .

My last post requested continued prayers for Tommy and Leanna. It has been quite an adventure over the past several months, especially the last few weeks! Our family has suffered some crises, pain and suffering, AND I have lamented to God over this attack in the face of what I assumed was our obedience to His Will and plans for us and Tommy & Leanna?! Then we went to court and saw God's hand at work, quickly and mightily as only He can orchestrate things! As of this writing, Tommy and Leanna have moved in with their potential forever family, and while we are aware that the CPS process needs to continue to its finality, both us and their new family are seeking God's continued Will and direction in it all. Their new family is in love with T&L, and their ultimate desire is to adopt them into their own family. Many of you know the details of this story and the "who" of their new family, but for those who don't suffice to say that God's fingerprints are all over this adventure, and this family is a true answer to prayers of many. Eventually, I will post a photo and names of this new family, but for now your prayers continue to be coveted . . . for T&L, for us, for their new family, especially that we will all seek God's direction and be prepared for whatever outcome He wills.

My family has learned a lifetime worth of lessons in the past few months; patience, surrender, perseverance, loving Grace, and more. We have all grown closer to God, and hopefully become more like His Son? I personally have learned that "His Grace is enough", and He has allowed me to have more patience and understanding and love that I would have thought possible under the circumstances. I wish I had truly profound words to say at this point, but I can only summarize with, "God is good and His Mercy and Love endure forever."

only by Grace, pat

Monday, November 3, 2008

Politics and Jesus . . . ???

I’m a Christian Democrat . . . call me conflicted!

v I’m believe in life and have been personally touched by the abortion issue. But, I’m not an extremist, and realize there may be extenuating circumstances, (rape, incest, etc.) that make this a very difficult decision for some.

v I believe marriage and “sex” was meant to be between a man and a woman. But, I support domestic partnerships and believe those relationships should receive all the benefits of traditional marriages.

v I believe homosexuality is wrong, but I’m not casting any stones as I know my own sinful state. I judge actions and positions based on what I believe as a Christian, but I’m called to love everyone by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has the final say, and He is full of Grace and Mercy.

v I believe a teenage girl should have someone in her corner if and when she becomes pregnant . . . not to judge . . . but to support and help. There is a sadness here that goes beyond the “issue” of society and politics . . . the erosion of the family in America.

v I believe there is a God . . . an intelligent designer, and I believe it is our abandonment of belief in Him that has set our country on a self destructive course.

v I believe it is the atheists and agnostics who are the closed-minded ones, not willing to even consider the possibility of a Creator.

v I believe in Democracy, and my civic responsibility . . . but I am disappointed by the choice of candidates . . . every election! And, I hate the cruel, name-calling campaigns . . . what do these people really have to offer me anyway?!

v I believe we have many needs in our communities that should grasp our attention. . . I don’t think high speed rail service, sports arenas, etc. are on that list.

v I believe in social welfare and medicine, but I also believe in earning a living, and that any welfare system should promote self esteem and motivation.

v I believe taxes are good and that the quality of life is improved for everyone, (including the rich), when the poor and oppressed have their needs met.

v I hate war and violence, but I am grateful for soldiers who believe in Freedom.

v I believe Hollywood and the media are feeding us lies and garbage, I would prefer a little more truth.

v Bottom line . . . yes, here it is . . . I believe in Jesus and want to be more like Him, everything else is just distraction.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Mascotti Family Prayer Request

Many of you are aware that Patti and I recently took in Tommy and Leanna Mascotti (aged 10 and 11 respectively). To briefly recap events of this past year; their father died in January and after trials with their mother and grandmother, they came to live with us. Their sister, Angelina (14), is living with a friend nearby now as well, after being bounced around foster and group homes.

All three of the children love one another dearly, and their desire is to be reunited, AND with their own family. Their mother is trying to accomplish all she is required to do, and I believe her desire is to be reunited as well. Mom has issues that must be resolved to the satisfaction of the Children’s Protective Services folks and the court if that is to happen.

Their plight is repeated over and over again every day in our communities, and social services offices and staff are overwhelmed by the number of children that need care. I have asked for prayers previously for Patti and I as we seek to be obedient to God’s call for these (His) kids, and those continue to be coveted. However, God has been prompting my heart daily to seek prayer for this family.

Patti and I don’t know what the future holds for Tommy, Leanna, Angelina and Mom. We quite simply just live one day at a time, trusting God with their, and our, future. We don’t see ourselves adopting or raising these three, and have not committed to a long term or permanent role with social services, but always in the back of our minds and hearts is the notion that God may have other plans?

Our prayer request on their behalf is that they would indeed be reunited as a family. Aside from that, adoption is the best alternative for all three of them, and joining other family would be best, but we haven’t seen that possibility arise. Social services work to have a “Plan B” in place if reunification doesn’t happen, and the top priority is adoption, with guardianship second and finally long term foster care the least desirable.

So, I hope you will join Patti and I in earnest prayer for this family in those regards. We have felt your prayers for us, and continue to covet them, as our lives have been literally turned upside down that past couple months, and we expect to be the kids caregivers through at least June, 2009, and possibly for another year. God is teaching us very clearly about love and obedience, and being Jesus to these children, so that is the blessing in the midst of the stress.

Only by Grace, Pat & Patti

Sunday, September 7, 2008

So PnP what are your older three up to anyway?

Clearly I have been remiss in not giving an update here on our own three children. Kyle, Cody and Karly are all doing well and we believe following God's plans for their respective lives. Kyle is working toward his PhD at Stanford University in the field of astrophysics. He has already had some incredible experiences abroad and published as well. His dream is teach at the university level, and use the gift that God has so richly blessed him with. Cody graduated from Westmont College this past spring with a degree in environmental biology/natural history. He is now pursuing a two year certificate program in exotic animal training and management (EATM) at Moorpark College in Southern California. His dream (fantasy?!) is to have his own Animal Planet show . . . a replacement for Steve Irwin?! We'll see, but certainly he is following God's passion for His creation. And lastly but certainly not least, Karly has recently changed her major at Sonoma State to Sociology and seems headed for a career in social work. Her passion for oppressed people groups, especially children and gift of advocacy (many of you know of that feisty, persevering personality) have always been clear to Patti and I, and it appears God has now spoken to her heart as well.

How did "we" do it? Not without Him certainly, and lots of unconditional love, prayer and of course GRACE.

earthly angels

Tonight as I was going out front to turn off the sprinkler, and after we had gotten our two "new ones" in bed for the night, I was surprised by JOY! There on our front porch was a case each of juice boxes and natural fruit snacks, with an anonymous note that simply said, ". . . when it's your turn for soccer snacks . . ."
Do we believe in earthly angels? You bet we do! Thanks be to God and whomever among our friends and loved ones who chose to bless us this night.
obG, PnP
P.S. Your prayers for us continue to be an encouragement and strength. And, sometimes with a very simple, tangible answer!

Youth Soccer again?!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Surprised by God . . .

They say the best laid plans are often for naught. Patti and I had envisioned a new season of time with each other, and we did expect God to provide opportunities in this new season as well. Ministry opportunities seemed to be in abundance, but also time to study and nurture our faith, and time just to relax and recreate together. My retirement from Sacramento County in December 2007 followed by a wonderful holiday to New Zealand for a month seemed to be the kickoff to this grand new season for PnP? But God . . . yes, but God, lest we forget we are the Lord's servants and His ways are indeed Higher than ours.

So, we enter into this new season with two new children (His lambs) added to our family. Tommy and Leanna Moscotti (10 and 11 yrs. respectively) lost their father this past January, then their mother wasn't able to care for them. Our daughter, Karly, had developed a close relationship with the two kids through her after school care program. Well, the rest is (as they say) history, and now Tommy and Leanna are part of our family. Needless to say, Patti and I appreciate any and all prayers and support as we enter this new and very different season.

The following are the Scriptures came to mind in the midst of all these new "opportunities" to "Feed His lambs.":

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New International Version) (for Pat & Patti)

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version) (for our kids, now including Tommy & Leanna)

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Philippians 4:12-13 (New International Version) (for all of us)

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

A different new season than we expected or planned on.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Patti celebrates her 50th

Settlin' in to a new season

As much as we loved New Zealand, it's good to be back home in good 'ol Sacatomatoes! Pat (aka Da Moose, Big Muddy, etc.) has started a new job - driving a shuttle for Paratransit/United Cerebral Palsy and lovin' every minute of it. The shuttle is a late model Dodge Magnum station wagon, and his wonderful clients include; blind, physically and mentally disabled, and elderly. It provides wonderful opportunities to be Jesus to a very special population of God's children. Still doing all the other ministries; mental health, marriage, Young Life and more with Patti as we seek His direction and guidance in this season. We are as busy as ever, but oh so blessed by it all.

Patti is truly ready for a change in the Occupational Therapy career, and actively seeking other opps at UC Davis and elsewhere. We see ourselves as missionaries right here in River City, and are grateful for the blessing of being able to serve our Lord in so many ways here. Not sure where our next journey will lead us, but always excited and anticipating God's next call.

PnP (aka Big Muddy & Wahine Paki)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Westmont Commencement 2008

Our latest travels saw the whole family road trip to Santa Barbara for Cody's graduation from wonderful Westmont College. This sadly ends six years for our family (Kyle & Cody) as in integral part of the Westmont College, but as they say on the Mont, "Once Westmont family, always Westmont family." Unless you've experienced similar events at small Christian colleges, it is difficult to explain the depth and meaning that everyone feels at these institutions of academia and faith. I can honestly encourage every parent to seriously consider a Westmont education for their children, it is more doable than you might think, and ever such a blessing for our child, AND you.

Westmont Commencement 2008

Cody Watters B.S. Environmental Biology

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vicarious Australia (OZ) trip???

So, I had planned to visit Australia, but New Zealand had so much (and we had a limited amount of time and money), that we left to our son, Kyle, to do the OZ thing for us. Kyle has been (still is as of this writing) in Australia as part of his doctoral work for Stanford University. He worked at the Dish (of movie & Apollo 11 fame), as well as a facility in Sydney. Obviously having great time, while working hard as well. He even discovered (confirmed by scientists down under) a new pulsar while at the dish! They combine both radio telescope and optical telescopes for their work in Australia. Kyle is actually a gamma ray specialist, but pulsars, black holes, white dwarfs and dark energy are of great interest as well . . . sounds like science fiction to me! Or, better yet something from the mind of Tolkien or Lewis! Of course, it is all from the Mind and Heart of the God of the Cosmos. If you want to view some more of Kyle's stuff go to

Lots of memories and stories to tell . . .

Kyle takes a "Dish walk"

Kyle's friend waves G'day (note joey in pouch)

Kyle and friend (koala)

Kyle's "office" in Australia

Monday, April 14, 2008

More SoCal adventures???

So, not ones to sit around long, we are headed off again to Santa Barbara (our whole crew) for Cody's graduation from Westmont College, then a couple weeks later it's back down to Newport Beach for a long overdue Padia (Patti's crazy crew) family reunion, which promises to be mucho fun! Expect some more photos to follow soon.

P.S. If Dallas Willard and F. Dale Bruner are taxing your brain too much these days, go read The Shack by William Young . . . very thought provoking.

Aloha ke Akua,
Mahuahua Kukele (Big Muddy, da white Hawaiian Moose)

Monday, March 31, 2008

What about this and that . . . zorbing, etc.

Okay, so we're home and almost recovered, but several people have asked about "that zorb thing you did", or that blackwater rafting, or . . .

So. here are some links to videos, etc. of some of the things we did that we didn't or couldn't get our own videos or photos of. The Zorb is a big plastic ball with a smaller one inside attached by hundreds of bungee cords, you dive in (Patti and I together), they put in some water, zip you in and push off the hill. No, I can't believe I consented to this . . . but there was much more of the same along the way. Blackwater rafting entails wetsuits and innertubes, then crawling down (200 feet) into caves to access an underground river/creek (complete with eels and glowworms), then float, jump, etc. your way along! Well, you get the idea . . . lots of nutty things to do in NZ, but we drew the line at bungee jumping or skydiving . . . preferring the comfort of a quick little helicopter for our aerial adventures. Anyway, here are some links to activities in NZ . . . most of which we did:

okay, and here's a bungee video from NZ for those who may want to try it:

No, I still don't think so???!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Home at last

New Zealand was all we expected and more in many ways. Beautiful country of incredible natural diversity; geography, topography, climate, scenery, etc. Wonderful, warm people, including the indigenous Maori people. So much to see, but easily attainable due to the small area encompassing it all; tropical beaches to alpine mountains and fjords. We came home with wonderful memories, not to mention all the crafts and apparel; Maori carvings to Rugby memorabilia! We have more photos than we can handle, but Patti is proposing to build a scrapbook of it all! Good luck!

Highlights??? There too many to name them all, but here are some favorites: the night on The Rock (boat) in Bay of Islands, Blackwater Rafting (tubing in the caves), Zorbing in Rotorua, swimming with Dusky Dolphins in Kaikoura, jetboating in Queenstown, and those were just the activities. Scenery highlights were literally everywhere we went, and the two lane roads with 100K max speed (60 mph) allows you to take it all in while driving; Canterbury Plains, alpine areas, coastlines (Pacific and Tasman). But, of course to us it's always about people first and foremost, and we met many wonderful people; some old friends and more new ones!

There is a beautiful Maori weaving on a wall in Christchurch Cathedral that sums up God's intent in creating us for one another. . . the translation of the dedication on this Maori art piece is, "What is the most important thing in life? It's the people, it's the people, it's the people." We are grateful to many people for making our time in NZ not only possible, but truly blessed. Firstly, all those of you who have been praying for us, to Margaret, Nick & Tina, Ian & Morgan, Libby, Jonny and Sarah and their crew . . . the list goes on and on with hosts, guides and just people we met in restaurants, pubs, stores and the like all along the way.

It is good also to be home, and to wait upon the Lord and His plans for this season of life. To Him be all Glory and Thanksgiving in Jesus Christ.

Kia Ora, Aloha ke Akua e i ke alo o Iesu! Pat & Patti (PnP on the road . . . the narrow road, the Hopeful journey that leads to His Kingdom.)

Christ's College, Christchurch

Christchurch Cathedral

Dunedin Railway Station

Little Blue Penguins

Rare yellow eyed penguins

Hooker Sea Lion (female with male in background)

St. Joseph's Cathedral, Dunedin

Saturday, March 22, 2008

From Kaikoura up through Canterbury and on to Fjorland and Southern Alps

After our wonderful time in Kaikoura, when headed out across the Canterbury Plains (bypassing Christchurch this time, where we'll return later.) Our first destination was Lake Tekapo, home of the Church of the Good Shepherd (one of the most photographed buildings in the world.) Also home to the Mackenzie Country (Highlands) of sheep dog fame, hence a wonderful bronze statue to honor this tireless laborer.) From Tekapo we headed over and down into the Queenstown area, home to extreme recreational pursuits, where you can book; bungee jumps, parasailing, jet boating, rafting, sky swinging, etc., etc. From Queenstown down to Te Anau, the home base for Fjorland and Southern Alps treks and tours. Some of the best hiking (tramping) in the world. We chose a helicopter flight to get the true bird's eye view . . . well worth it! Tomorrow we drive down to Milford Sound for a cruise on that fjord. New Zealand a beautiful country with a lot packed into a very small space!

Tomorrow we celebrate our Lord's resurrection in a little Presbyterian Chruch here in the Highlands! But, we have been worshipping Him in awe and thanksgiving for many days now!

Fjorland and the Southern Alps . . . one of the most beautiful places on earth

Our Raven R44 on top of the Southern Alps (pilot Rod Hall Jones)

Yep, our jet boat went right up that gorge!

Don't blink, you'll miss our jet boat warming up!

Looking down into Queenstown area from the Crown Range

The revered sheep dog

Lake Tekapo

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AbelTasman and Kaikoura

Our journey took us to Kaiteriteri (eat quick) and the Abel Tasman Nat. Park, one of the most beautiful places in the south island, where kayaking, boating and tramping (hiking) are the byword. Then off to the east coast (the Pacific Ocean here) and Kaikoura, the home of various marine mammals who make this area their year-round residence.

Already we have noticed the slower pace of the South Island, and we know that some incredible diversity in geography awaits us still! Tomorrow we head up to Lake Tekapo on our way to Queenstown (the home of extreme sports in NZ.) We will bungee from 100 meters? We will we ride the skywire plane? We will jump out of an airplane? We will we hot air balloon over the Canterbury Plains? Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of PnP on the road!

Goat in a pipe (home)

G'day Mate!

Dusky Dolphins

Bark Bay in Abel Tasman Park

Kayaking in Abel Tasman Nat. Park

Napier & Wellington

After our recreational time in Rotorua, we headed south past Lake Taupo (home of the biggest trout you'll ever see), and down into the Hawkes Bay Region where wine is the primary focus. We had a Church Road Chardonnay in Napier that rivals the best of France and California. Napier was basically destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in total Art Deco style.

From Napier we traveled through wine country, over to the Tasman coast and down to the capital city of Wellington. We stayed with good friends in Welllington (Hataitai District), were shown the town by Morgan Horwood (Kiwi & USA citizen), and finished off our time with an exquisite dinner in a favorite Wellington restaurant with Morgan, her brother Ian, and the delightful Nick & Tina! A very beautiful capital city indeed, and worth a longer stay.

But the South Island beckoned, and kayaking/tramping in the Abel Tasman Nat. Park awaited us.

Parliament Building

Dinner at Monsoon Poon

The Kaka


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Maori Christian church in Rotorua

Rotorua was awesome in many ways

So, we relaxing in Napier and preparing for a picnic. Much needed after a very busy in Rotorua. We did the sky gondola, luge ride, Zydro Zorb (water in a big plastic ball, we both jump inside and they push us off the mountain! We laughed all the way down! We did the Blackwater rafting thing in caves and underground streams 200 feet below ground. We walked the thermal parks and visited a Maori village. We also enjoyed visiting with Maori people and artists, and their wonderful church and meeting house in Rotorua.

Next, we visit the Robilliard and Horwood Kiwi clan in Wellington before heading off to the South Island and more exciting adventures! This is an incredible land of beauty and diversity all packed into two small islands!

Kia Ora ke Akua (a mixed Polynesian blessing of good health and friendship!

PnP . . . only by Grace

Chief Paka relaxes in natural spa after a long day

Tamaki warriors welcome Chief Paka and his "tribe"

beautiful thermal areas near Rotorua

a mad luger prepared to go

Sky gondola to luging site

Rotorua luge

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Waitangi River

Today, whatever day it is?!, we hiked 10K along the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls. Along the way we tramped through a Mangrove Forest (swamp), and saw a wonderful Shag (cormorant) rookery where adults and young fledges were quite at home. Tomorrow we leave Northland for Rotorua, the home of the largest population of Maoris and an amusement area for all of the north island. The Bay of Islands area has been great, and reminds both Patti and I of Hawaii in many respects. If you ever get this way, you must join the folks on The Rock for a night . . . it is definite must do here! Well, off to dinner at Seafood Only, and they mean it!

G'nite Mates, PnP

Tramping through the Mangrove Forest

Shag rookery on Waitangi River

Waitangi River area