10 Pics That Make Us Say… Thanks Lord!

Drum roll please!!!  Here they are in random order. 10 Recent photos of life and ministry here in Panama that really make us stop and acknowledge the greatness of our God and what He is doing in us, around us and often in spite of us simply because of WHO he is.

#1 – Praise the Lord, Cesar has a van!!! God used the generosity of many believers and church partnerships and finally the national director of Global Fingerprints, Cesar Guerra, has a vehicle! 
#2 – Like a breath of fresh air, Bianca’s family came down to visit us and we took a “stay-cation”.  It was wonderful and we were so thankful to be able to see family. 
#3 – We finally made it out to Taboga Island and saw the 2nd oldest church in the Western Hemisphere! A reminder that we are just joining God in what he’s been doing for a long time! 
#4 – Thankful to God of our teammates Frank & Silvia Saavedra.  They have worked so hard raising support for the last year and they have almost finished.  97% (On-going) & 85% (Start-Up).
#5 – Praising God for the chance to work with the church Refugio de Gracia. Jon is temporarily substitute pastoring for our friend and Bianca and Ethan are helping with worship. It’s a joy.
#6 – God surprised us with a church partnership this past year that has been a blessing to us over and over. Lord, thank you for sending Springs Church from Springfield Missouri. (Feb.2018 Trip)
#7 – Praise God for Global Fingerprints, the ReachGlobal Child Sponsorship program here in Panama. It has opened up so many ways of impacting families around Panama for Christ.
#8 – Thank you Lord for giving us long-standing relationships of trust. By His grace, we will keep building on what we’ve been given for the cause of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20)
#9 – Thank you Lord for the children that you have helped by your grace and in your great love. 
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#10 – Thank you Lord for providing this beautiful group of people to call my team! (The Fowler’s, The Lowe’s, The Saavedra’s and the newest members…The Johnson’s! 

The Last few months have been a crazy-busy time for us since Christmas with receiving new teammates, having our team retreat, hosting short-term teams and other guests but we have been blessed in countless ways and we want to thank all of the people God has used to build this ministry here in Panama and remind you that this couldn’t happen without you deciding to build with us and for that we just want to thank each one of you.

We also want to thank Adrienne Gerber for her photo contributions.  She captured several of these moments and many others which help us share with others about what the Lord is doing all around in Panama. Thanks Adrienne!

Bricks AND Blades

“Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked…” – Neh. 4:17-18


This picture has always impressed me.  It might be my favorite part of the book of Nehemiah. I won’t retell the whole story but in short God calls Nehemiah away from his job as the cupbearer to the King to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and when he obeys, God rebuilds much more than the wall.—though it wasn’t easy. There was much opposition. Besides the natural challenges of people getting tired or just plain organizing a group toward the same goal, there were those waiting to celebrate his failure or even trying to cause it. So, there was only one solution…carry both bricks AND blades. You construct while you defend…simultaneously.


To me this is such a vivid image of ministry. You are constantly constructing and defending at the same time. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, missionary, Sunday-school teacher, small group leader, or just a Christian with a specific task from the Lord, this is true. If you are focused on doing what God wants then there will always be opposition waiting to tear it down and seeking to destroy it. Expect it.  Even if your enemy is not visible, you need to count on the fact that a victory for the Lord is a defeat for Satan. It doesn’t even have to do with you.  Satan simply does not want God to be glorified in this world and if you (or anyone for that matter) are seeking to do anything that points people to the God of all creation, the Lover of souls, the Redeemer of the lost you will have an adversary.   So don’t be surprised—just be ready!  Just expect to build with bricks and blades from the start and you’ll be less frustrated.  Make room to carry one of each in each hand.


What is the material God wants to use to build up the task ahead of you?  What is the weapon you need to ward off the attacks of the enemy?  Did you realize that the Scriptures do both? You need not look further than the Word of God because it is the nourishment the grows people spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2) and the sword that defeats our enemy (Eph. 6:17).  God has already given you everything you need in His Word. The only hard part is getting to know it. You must choose to make time daily to pour over His Word, to learn the Mind and Heart of God and this is what makes you ready.


This is an non-negotiable fact for any Christian truly following the Lord and that wants to make an actual difference in this life. The Word of God is one of the most powerful things ever given to mankind.  It’s use and abuse is proof of that but nevertheless it is the place to start for every single one of us.  God calls people from every generation to build and defend for Him. Are you ready to answer that call?  Now know where to start. Dig deep into His Word, say yes to his call and don’t look back. You will never regret it.

Where is God?


It seems to me that this question is many people’s minds. The world seems to be changing. People are changing. Morals are changing. Laws are changing. Lots of things that used to be steady and dependable sources of clarity and direction don’t seem to be the same as they used to be. People have witnessed or experienced enough let downs and disappointments with science, religion, politics, authorities and even the media that now trust is damaged. Failures and faults of policeman, doctors, teachers, presidents and many more have made many realize that this world is so tainted with corruption that it seems impossible to correct. Our last hope seems to be…where is God? In all of these changes, has he been sleeping? Has this escaped his attention?  Goodness is eroding and disequilibrium surrounds us.  All of what we once trusted as reliable beacons of right and wrong seems to be shadowed now by doubt.

The question of “where is God?” is one of the best questions we can ask in our entire lives! IN fact, God wants us to ask that question. I will go as far as to say that he has actually allowed things to happen many times in our lives for the expressed purpose of our seeking for him.  Listen to Paul the Apostle in one of my favorite verses in Acts 17.  He was speaking to a group of philosophers that did not know about the God of the Bible.

26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. – (Acts 17:26-27)

Did you catch what these 2 little verses said?

Of course it starts with our creation coming from Adam and Eve but after that, God stayed involved with each person to the point of appointing the exact times that they would live in world history AND where they would live (boundaries of their land).  And Why would he care about those two details???   Verse 27, says “so that” “they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”

This has always blown my mind!!! God has wanted you to ask “Where is God?” from the beginning of time!!! Before you existed! He has wanted you to look for him and he has even appointed things about your existence to get you to ask that very question!!! Why am I impressed by this?

If you are at a place in your life, where you are asking “Where is God?”, my encouragement to you is to pursue that question until you have a satisfying answer.  That question is one of the best questions you could ever ask and the answer is waiting to be found. Don’t get discouraged by the way the world is going. Get answers. Get busy investigating. If you want to know where God is…Go find Him. My favorite source to recommend as a starting place is the Bible.

What do you do about Crisis in the world?

Overwhelmed by all the crisis in the world?  You’re not alone.

[Intentionally NOT placing a PICTURE HERE!]

As human beings, we all share the reality of living on this “grand terrestrial ball” and our response to these disasters, atrocities or out-right acts of evil in this world have a profound impact on each of us.  As a missionary I have witnessed up close, how people deal differently with these things.  I don’t have clinical names for these responses though I’m sure they exist.  I also don’t claim to be a scholar of any kind.  At most, I would say I am a kind of practitioner in the field, though I can tell you that there are several common responses that I have become accustomed to seeing.

To help, I thought I might share these to coach people through the storm of all the global news that constantly brings us wave after wave of stories of the evil happening all around us. My hope is that we won’t let ourselves get taken down by the barrage of bad news but rather that we would feel called to rise to the occasion or even perhaps find your true reason for existence!

Here are EIGHT common ways that people often respond to the news of global crisis:

  1. Self-Protection
  2. Blind Eye
  3. Angry at Injustice
  4. Unable to Function
  5. Sadness & Depression
  6. Indifference
  7. Increasing Hatred

  1. Self-Protection

Pull in and take care of me and mine. Bar the windows, lock the doors. Hoard my wealth and keep to myself. Look out for number one and let everyone else go.

This is the height of selfishness and it only works until you’re on the other side.  Eventually we all have needs and when it’s our turn we quickly abandon this approach and condemn those who would live this way as if we didn’t do it.


  1. Blind Eye

I don’t see it on purpose because I don’t want to think about it. I don’t watch the news because I don’t want to be confronted with this information because It makes me feel bad, guilty, sad or something else. Out of sight, out of mind.

You can only ignore or deny something for so long. At some point, it comes to your door and you can’t hide from it any longer. Ignoring something doesn’t help the problem, in fact it just gives the problem more time to get worse.


  1. Angry at Injustice

I can’t believe it! I can’t believe that no one is doing anything! This is terrible. Why haven’t I heard more about this? Why doesn’t our church care? Why hasn’t our Pastor said anything! Why isn’t our president taking action?  This is wrong!

We feel better with a fast, visible, emotional response of horror or shock but it often doesn’t lead anywhere. When emotions subside, we get back to what we were doing before but we feel better knowing that at least it bothered us and we convince ourselves that we’re good-hearted because of our reaction.


  1. Unable to Function

I have no words. I don’t even know what to do. This is just too much to handle. I can’t even do everyday things now because of the effect this news is having on me. It feels like I am shutting down emotionally if not also physically.

The virtue of this response is that at least it’s honest and deeply affecting you. The problem is that it doesn’t produce anything helpful or worse, it actually robs you of where you are at present and creates new problems in your life.


  1. Sadness & Depression

I am constantly gripped by sadness over this situation.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  My heart is broken and I feel consumed.  I don’t think anyone understands or that anything will change.  If anything, this will probably just keep getting worse.

Again, at least you are grappling with the reality of the problem.  You haven’t shut down but you are still just turning inward and letting the problem take you down.  You are letting your emotions control you instead of the other way around. You could be making a difference but instead you are being side-lined.


  1. Indifference

I don’t care. It’s not my problem. It doesn’t affect me. Why don’t they just change their circumstances. Why don’t they just get a job…or move…or stop complaining about their problems. We all have problems, what makes theirs so special?

This is emotional blindness. This is the response of a person that can’t feel. It would be better to have a bad emotional response than this indifference. This is a picture of a person without love. This person is in trouble personally and doesn’t even know it. They have forgotten what it is to be human.


  1. Increasing Hatred

Amid the problem, I’m looking for my opportunity to gain.  I want to exploit the situation and see what I can get from this.  If you can’t beat’em, join’em. I’ll get mine while I have the chance even if it’s at the expense of other people.

It’s hard to believe but there are people out there like this. There are people who have stopped loving and have simply let hatred take over and have it’s way. Even Jesus spoke of this happening in the end times.  Matthew 24:12 says…”Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold



All I know is that I can’t sit back and do nothing! My conscience won’t allow it! I must take action even if it’s only me.  Even if no one ever knows I did it…I need to make a difference.  

These are my kind of people! People that refuse to stand by and let evil things happen! For these people there are options but they’re almost always grouped in FOUR categories:

  1. PRAY – By calling on the Almighty God in faith to do His work in the lives of others! Without doubt this is the first and best answer and really isn’t exclusive because most of us can pray while doing other things as well.  However, make no mistake, if prayer is all you can do it is the mightiest of weapons! Check out these verses that stress this reality…(2 Chron. 7:14, Eph. 6:8, 1 Tim. 2:8, 2 Cor. 1:11)
  2. GIVE – By making donations to organizations, ministries or missionaries that you know and trust are doing what they say they’re doing, you accomplish several things.
    • You provide for those help structures to even exist and represent you in places that you can’t physically go for one reason or another.
    • You provide the actual resources to distribute in the areas where they are needed physically and/or spiritually.
    • You invest financially in an area that becomes important to you and you are changed in the process as you participate in the change.
  3. GO – By going to a place, whether short-term or long-term you take an irreversible step that changes your life. You can never “un-see” certain things and you become marked by your experiences. Going to a place as an answer to a problem is an incredible way to respond that does profoundly impact both you and those you visit. The big determining factor is the “what you do” and the “how you do it” but the physical step of being there is undeniably powerful especially if it is for Jesus Christ.
  4. ADVOCATE – By speaking on behalf of others that either have no voice or can’t get an audience with others you become a powerful representative in their place. You can speak for the crisis itself to generate awareness or you can speak for the those that are there helping in the midst of the need that others may not know about.   Many ministries and missionaries need help with publicizing what they are doing. This can be done by organizing events, photography, petitions, leading prayer groups or just simply using your social media responsibly.  However you do it, you can make a surprising difference just by advocating for others!


I have shared this, not trying to persuade people toward helping one organization, ministry or another but to hopefully reminding people that everyone can and should do something. That whatever, God puts on your heart to do, you should treat is as from Him and respond to it with all your might. Spend yourself in this life living for the Lord and He will not waste what you have given Him to use! There is no better way to live!

What is Global Fingerprints?

So what is Global Fingerprints you say?  I’m so glad you asked!

It may look like your average Child Sponsorship program but there is a lot more here than meets the eye! This is not like other Child Sponsorship Programs you may know about.  Since ReachGlobal is all about multiplying healthy, transformational Churches this program is firmly rooted in that idea. Everything that Global Fingerprints does happens in and through the local church and Panama is no exception.   We, together with the sponsors are bringing fire-power to Holy-Spirit filled pastors and church leaders to take what they are already doing to the next level.

By God’s grace, our team in Panama started the first chapter of a Global Fingerprints in a Spanish speaking context about a year ago and now we’re ready to expand our list of child sponsorships to 150 kids here in Panama. In 4 locations we are partnering with pastors to accomplish the Great Commission and make disciples in their context.  The tangible help that Global Fingerprints provides for these vulnerable kids gives these pastors a greater voice for greater influence in their communities than ever before.

Our National Global Fingerprints Director, Pastor Cesar Guerra (Pictured below) is a dynamic, and passionate visionary with a huge heart and busy schedule helping to oversee all the work that is done with this program and his church.  In addition, there are several Panamanian supervisors that perform monthly well-ness checks on the kids with sponsorships and a team of Americans that assist in the background with other nuts and bolts necessary to run this program optimally and help these kids in a holistic way.

We are so excited about how God is using this tool to share the Gospel in Panama and care for the physical needs of at-risk children and we wanted to share it with you so you can be included as well. If you want to learn more about Global Fingerprints in general click here.  If you want to learn more about what Global Fingerprints is doing in Panama specifically stay tuned!  More info is coming about what God has been doing and what you will see very soon.

Some of our prayer requests and immediate needs are:

1) the On-Going need for child sponsorships (Click here for more info) and

2) Pastor Cesar needs a vehicle.  We are in need of a donation of $3000 to complete the vehicle fund for Pastor Cesar who currently has no reliable transportation.  We are praying that we can give him a vehicle by the end of this month (Dec. 2017). This would make his work with the program, his church and his family a whole lot easier. If you feel led to help with this specific need then just click here.

Above all, please pray for all these kids, churches and pastors in Panama. God is doing tremendous things in and through his people and we’re so glad you get to be a part!

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“When you have a child, you have the heart of a parent in your hand.”

These words recently came roaring back to my mind in a rather unexpected way…

We have been taking baseball pretty serious lately within our little family here in Panamá.  All three of our boys (Ethan, Ezra & Eli) have had to wait a long time to do the “normal” things that kids their ages do in the States and Bianca and I had decided enough is enough. So, in July when we got back to Panama from our furlough, we signed them up for Baseball.  First time ever!  As it turns out, we learned that we were just 3 miles from one of the most competitive youth baseball schools in all of Panamá.  To be frank, it has been awesome and the timing couldn’t have been better. The boys are growing leaps and bounds and in addition to sports, it has become a humungous cultural connection for all of us. We all feel like we’ve been seeing blessing after blessing as a result of this decision and we thank the Lord for that.  One of those unexpected blessings occurred about 3 weeks ago and it came from Venezuela.

Ethan and I were at one of his practices that day and I noticed that a new coach showed up to help but I had never met him.  He was a big guy, like 6’ 5”, 260 lbs. type of big.  It caught my attention because I’m usually one of the few guys over 6 feet tall in the crowd and he was way bigger than that.  I introduced myself and discovered that he was one of the many Venezuelans that has recently come to Panama in search of critical economic help for his family in Venezuela. (More on that later) He told me his name was John and his expertise was baseball and specifically batting.  In fact, they called him “Bam-Bam” (yes like the Flintstones) because he was apparently known for crushing baseballs.  He had played in Cananda, Venezuela and a bunch of other Latin American countries as well. Now his formal player days we nearing an end and he really wanted to coach.  I had noticed he’d been working with Ethan intentionally and it just warmed my heart.  So after practice I asked him if he’d come over and do some more coaching with all three of my boys.  I had no idea how important that move would become.

That night he came over and after dinner started working right away with our boys on batting drills. What impressed me most was the way he shared batting tips but he had an equal focus on motivating my boys to believe in themselves, dream and be confident. I could see it affecting their attitudes, especially Ethan our oldest.  Day after day Bam-Bam kept coming back and working with the boy’s and every time I saw the same thing.  One night I felt the clear tug from the Lord to give him a Bible and talk to him directly about Jesus.  On our way home that night I couldn’t get the words of one of my former pastors out of my head. It was something that my Senior pastor had said to me on my first day as the new Youth Pastor at the Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh years before.

Pastor Ron Moore had taken me and the other new youth pastor, Dan Basile out for a drive around the community to show us where all the important places were.  He showed us the schools, the parks, the places that kids hung out and during that drive he gave us the scoop on the youth culture there. It was priceless information and I know he was just sharing it because he wanted to help us reach as many youth for Christ as possible.  When the drive was over, we ended up back at the church parking lot and as he was turning the car off.  I remember him saying something that has stayed with me ever since. He said, guys “never forget that when you have a child, you hold the heart of a parent in your hand.” It was a powerful statement and it was as true then as it is now; though I didn’t understand the gravity of it until many years later. It’s interesting how having your own kids gives you a fuller perspective.

That final night, watching Bam-Bam working with my boys with such intentionality and care, those words came rushing back to my head once again! Working with my boys, this stranger from Venezuela was holding my heart in his very hands.  There really is no price for the love that people show to your children.  In fact, I believe that one of the best ways to love people is to choose to love the things they love and there are not many things that I love more than my kids!  I was so grateful for his work with my boys and I knew that the Lord was telling me to love his kid “Bam-Bam” the same way.

That night, I had the chance to share the Gospel and I took it. I explained about how he had impacted me and my children and then I shared about how much the Lord loved him and how loving him was even a way that I could show love to my Heavenly Father because he had Bam Bam in his heart as well. I told him that the Lord wanted me to share with him how he could have the certainty of salvation in heaven and become an authentic son of God according to John 1:12-13, which says:

12 “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Immediately after I explained this, Bam-Bam decided right there in my car that he wanted to pray and put his faith and trust in Jesus for his salvation. The timing was fortunate because he found out just 2 days after that he had to fly back to Venezuela.  Even though his visit was short, Bam-Bams’ impact on my family was long-lasting and his place in God’s family is eternal. We’re forever grateful for all that God did in His own amazing way and for that we praise Him.

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Please remember to keep Bam-Bam (John) in your prayers. He is a young Christian and he is living in a very difficult environment. He is recently married and has a baby boy that just turned 1.  He hopes to return to Panama to find work very soon and if he does we hope to have a chance to encourage him even more towards the Lord. His country, Venezuela is in shambles.  Perhaps you have been aware of some of the difficulties that are happening there largely because of the oppressive government and Dictator Nicholas Maduro. Please keep on praying for Venezuela. The situation is desperate and we meet more Venezuelans every day here in Panama desperately seeking work to help their families that couldn’t leave the country.






Though we weren’t looking for that blessing we are thankful for how the Lord works. We are amazed at how God even uses broken economies, dysfunctional governments and dictators to move people around and accomplish his will. I guess that’s why they call it redemption.









It sure is a blessing when God puts people in your life to love but even more when they love and care for your own kids. And just like when people love our kids, every time we love God’s kids, I know it’s like holding God’s heart too. Please pray for Bam-Bam and his family in Venezuela.  If you want to help them specifically please contact me. Please pray for all of Venezuela too because it is a very hard place to live right now. Many people are suffering though God is redeeming all the brokenness like he does.  We are so thankful we got to meet this young man and we give God thanks for that.

The Beautiful Things

So here’s a random mission’s reflection.  I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to join the conversation here but this has been in my head for the last few days…


In mission’s and ministry in general, we are trained to constantly ask questions about what is wise and strategic; especially when it comes to the stewardship of money, time or other resources.  We are careful because there are about a ker-jillion reasons that testify to the wisdom of such thinking.   We truly do not want to create unhealthy dependencies nor take away people’s dignity.  We truly do want to help people “up” not just help them “out” by being smart in how we minister and not just passionate.  We are aware of the book “When Helping Hurts” and others like it which have been part of this conversation on how to do ministry with your head and not just your heart. BUT…

And I do mean BUT…I have also become aware of another problematic byproduct or perhaps an unintended side-effect of some of the warnings and information that we’ve been given about how to do missions and ministry.  I call it the “Paralysis of Generosity”. I define it as “the effect of being inundated with so much information about the failures and incorrect ways of being generous or kind in missions and ministry that people just don’t do anything since they aren’t sure what they can do that won’t be criticized.” Now don’t worry.  I am not about to argue for irresponsible spending sprees or reckless, uncalculated giving to the poor or any other destructive method that we know for sure has proven to be dangerous or counter-productive in the past.  However, I think at times we need to balance the scales or be reminded that there may be another scale altogether that matters to Jesus too.

So, I read this story about Jesus getting anointed at Bethany in Mathew 26:6-13 (See also John 12:1-8) and something jumped out at me that I had never noticed before.

Just days or hours away from his death on the cross, the culmination of his work and ministry on earth, we find Jesus hanging out with close friends at the house of Simon the Leper. Then out of nowhere this woman comes in and begins to pour perfume on Jesus. We don’t know if Jesus knew her from before or if anyone knew her for that matter.  We don’t know if she was already there or if she just walked in to the house. We don’t know her name, where she was from or where she went afterward but we do know what she did (Matthew 26:6-13). And as unusual as it was, it turns out that what she did was a symbolic act to prepare Jesus for burial and it also created a lot of conversation among the disciples.  It seems that the perfume the woman used was extremely expensive.  It was actually worth about 300 Denarii which is equivalent to a year’s wages in Jesus’ day.  Today it might be like paying $25,000 to $50,000 or more for just one bottle of perfume or cologne! Yikes!!!

Now I can’t imagine owning a bottle of perfume or cologne worth that amount, much less pouring out on someone.  However, if there was ever anyone worthy of that kind of treatment I think we all can agree that it would’ve been Jesus.  Though in that moment the disciples were not thinking that way. In fact they were asking questions similar to what I have been trained to ask.  Like, “Is that good stewardship?” or “Is that the most strategic way to use that resource?” I totally understand because I’m there every day, sometimes several times a day but must admit that I absolutely love how the Lord responds:


10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”


Isn’t that refreshing!!!  Jesus didn’t agree with the disciples at all, even though they made good sense and had solid logic.  Even though a lot more people could’ve been really helped with the money from selling that perfume.  Jesus just stops and calls this act “a beautiful thing” and then he goes on to say much more, including making a promise that wherever the Gospel is preached this story will be told in memory of her!  I love it!  It’s a reminder to us all really.  This is a lesson that so many are prone to forget these days including myself. Here it is…

Strategy and stewardship are critical and important and should always be in our minds but there is another critical category that we must also make room for called “things that are just beautiful to Jesus”.

These are the things that are unforgettable to Jesus and thus he wants others to remember them as well. Radical love, devotion and sacrifice for Jesus Christ are too beautiful to not remember and we should never be afraid to show them to Jesus.  Even if Jesus is the only one that understands and approves, we need not be afraid.  Even though we want to be strategic and wise and careful in our ministries we cannot afford to forget that there is this other category for “beautiful things” that Jesus loves to see too and it is Jesus that we live for!

May the Lord lead you in your strategy and in the romance of your love for him may you also still surprise him with the beautiful things as well!