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My Last Decade in Pictures

The last decade was a roller coaster for me. Of all the previous decades, 2010-2019 was the toughest time I ever had in my life. The lowest lows and the highest highs.  So what I would like to do is give you a glimpse of my last decade through the pictures I took.

The first thing I learned is that I didn’t really start taking pictures until about 2012. This means that the lowest time of my life has no pictures to accompany it. The decade started with my divorce. It was rough. I was married for 18 years and it ended pretty rough.

I moved out of a large home on 5 acres and into a small rental home that was built in the 1940s that was freezing in the winter and deathly hot in the summer. I would get the kids every other weekend and the occasional holiday.

It was rough, but thanks to the men at the church I was attending, they brought me back to Christ. By 2012, I became a deacon at that same church. And a little later that year I was asked to lead the mission journey to Peru.

That was one of the most impactful trips I ever took in my life. I learned that even though I was going through a rough patch in my life, it couldn’t compare to the lives that many of the people in Peru were leading.

This would be the first of many trips to Peru over the course of the decade, which you will see more pictures later.

Since I worked at Whole Foods Market, I was able to take several trips throughout the decade to coffee farms throughout the world. I was able to see some of the most beautiful farms and meet a lot of great people.

Throughout the early part of the decade, I spent time simply getting to know my kids again. Working for Whole Foods Market, I was required to travel a lot. There were some years that I was traveling 45 weeks out of the year.

Matt Fred 2013

So I took the opportunity to do all the crazy stuff with Matt that I didn’t have a chance to do earlier. We would hang out, go to DC United soccer games, and practice his soccer skills.

Matt Fred DC United 2013

In 2013 I became an elder at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship. The same men that built me up are the same ones in this picture ordaining me to become an elder.The two of us

Then, early in the decade, I also took a trip around the United States with my kids. I took 3 weeks vacation, turned in all my stock options, and rented an RV and traveled around the United States. It was during this time that I not only got some great time with the kids, but I met a woman who would go on to make a major impact in my life. You see, it was during the trip around the United States that I officially met Mimi Baker (now Mimi Noble). We had spoken online for about 3-6 months prior, but had no idea what each other were really like.

As I sat on the side of a lake while both our children were playing in the water, I got to know her and realized that God was showing me the woman I would eventually call my wife.DSC00893

In 2014 Kenzi went to her first middle school dance. I couldn’t believe how much she had grown up.

Kenzi Fred 2014 MIddle School Dance

That same year, I was able to start seeing Mimi much more often. She moved to Virginia and then eventually, after I moved out of the little rental home and into another one, she moved into the rental home. We were only 15 minutes apart now, not a couple thousand miles.

Fred Mimi 2014

In 2014, as the relationship between Mimi and I grew, we decided to make our first purchase as a couple even though we still didn’t live in the same house. We got a dog. Funny thing is that the dog’s name is Peru. We didn’t give her that name, she was given that name at the pound. Mimi and I had gone to Peru a couple of times by 2014 already and she had fallen in love with the country and the people there as much as I had.Fred Peru Dog 2014

In 2015, I realized that I had fallen head over heels in love with Mimi Baker and I asked her to marry me.

ring 4

SHE SAID YES!!!

wedding day

Later in 2015, we went back to Peru. It was this year that I totally screwed my back up. A few months later in 2016 I would be going back in for back surgery.

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I love serving side by side with Mimi! She has such a tender heart for people and a great work ethic.

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Also in 2015, Kenzi would be playing her final year in sports. From this point forward she would be focusing on her photography and art.

Kenzi sports 2015

When we got back from Peru in 2015, Mimi and I had finished having a home built and we moved into it. We made God the promise that if He were to give us the house, we would use the extra bedrooms to house missionaries and people who were in need. Since we made that promise, we had a whole bunch of children who were rescued around the globe and were now part of a national concert tour, we have had several young adults stay with us, we had a young woman who was lost and has since become a missionary to the nations, and we have housed several other missionaries from around the world.

boyz

2016 saw Mimi and I heading back to Peru and spending more time there with the people. We would meet Paige and Stalin, a couple missionaries, one from America and the other indigenous. They will become more important to us as the decade continues.

franks-house-6Peru 2016

I was also, beginning in 2015, but really by 2016, learning how to be a stepdad. Being both dad and stepdad is a very challenging thing. Each of the kids are so different, and their backgrounds are tough to bring together.

Jake Ryan 2015

Also in 2016, my little girl, Kenzi, got her first job. She would be a junior counselor at the local church camp in the summers. This would become a job she would love and grow with throughout the rest of the decade.

Kenzi first job 2016

2017 came in and was immediately rough. My mom was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. From the time she was diagnosed until the time she went home to be with Lord was only a matter of weeks. My mom was born on Easter Sunday and she died on Easter Sunday.

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But a week before Easter, my mom wanted to make a big dinner for her own birthday. It would be the last time that all of us would see her alive.

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We went back to Peru later that year and enjoyed a great time there with the people we served as well as the people who joined us on the journey.

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Ryan had a great year. He was on the JV baseball team and was doing very well.

Ryan Baseball 2017

Ryan also received plenty of awards academically in 2017.

Ryan award 2017

Also in 2017, Mimi’s oldest daughter, Brieanne, married the most amazing young man ever. Hopefully he will continue to make foods with Old Bay in them, so I can continue to respect him. 😉

Brie wedding 2018

Also in 2017 I undertook my largest home improvement project I ever did, I built a patio, with my 75 year old dad.

Patio 2017

Matt got his first job in 2017 selling fish and crabs.

Matt first job 2017

And he decided to switch things up a little and play football. He was actually very good! But he didn’t like all the pain his body felt after each practice and game.

Matt football 2017

I took the kids white water rafting in 2017.

Kenzi Matt Fred Rafting 2017

Kenzi had her first art show where she sold her photos.

Kenzi art show 2017

Jacob graduated high school in 2017.

Jake Graduation 2017

At the end of 2017 we had the opportunity to take everyone to Disney.

Disney 2017

And, in 2017, Jacob got his first car, a 40th anniversary Mustang.

Jake first car 2017

In 2018, Kenzi graduated from high school.

Kenzi and I

Those same missionaries, Paige and Stalin, would come to DC and spend almost 2 weeks with us. We took them on the tour of the area.

DC with Paige and Stalin 2018

Also in 2018, which was a good year for Kenzi, she won several awards at a local art show and won over $100,000 in scholarships to college.

Kenzi art show 2018

In 2018, I wanted to give Mimi an opportunity she was talking about for a long time. She had always wanted to take a horse drawn carriage through Central Park in NYC. We decided to do that and it was just as magical as we through it would be.

NYC 2018

In 2018, Kenzi started college at McDaniel in MD.

Kenzi first day of college 2018

Mimi’s and my final trip (for now) to Peru would be in 2018. It was such a beautiful trip and we fell in love even more with the people of Peru.

Peru 2018

At the end of 2018 and really starting in 2019, I left the retail/restaurant world and went into ministry as Director of Ministries for Friendship Community Baptist Church in southern MD. I was sad to leave my church home of 16 years, but in order to keep growing, change is required. And this change has been such a good fit for me and my family.

New job 2019

In 2019, Matt and I had the opportunity to take a skiing/snowboarding trip. It didn’t end so well because the friend that came with us hit his head on one of the final runs of the day and got a pretty bad concussion.

Skiing with Matt 2019

2019 saw Mimi’s aunt Becky going home to be with Lord. But before that happened, Mimi got spend a lot of great time with her in Minnesota, almost a month.

Mimi and Becky 2019

Also in 2019 Mimi decided to start farming Monarch butterflies. Apart from having a few endings that were not so desirable, most of the Monarchs were grown from egg and released into the wild.

Mimi butterflies 2019

2019 was also Matt’s final year of soccer. He had been playing soccer with many of the same boys since he was 5 years old. It was great to see him be able to finish his high school soccer life with those kids.

Matt Soccer 2019

In 2019, Friendship Community Baptist sponsored 5 homes in the county and did construction projects on them. We did everything from adding gutters, replacing windows and doors, and installing hot water heaters.

Christmas in April 2019

Also in 2019, Friendship Community Baptist did 6,208 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. A church of 200 doing 6,208 boxes is a pretty amazing feat!

OCC 2019

We have made a lot of friends at Friendship Community Baptist. Our small group had a Christmas gathering at one of the houses and we enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship.

Small group Christmas gathering

The Christmas gift that Mimi got me was given to me early, concert tickets for Tran Siberian Orchestra. It was an amazing concert! Not exactly Mimi’s favorite music, but I was in heaven!

Tran Siberian Orchestra 2019

Also at the end of the year we started going to concerts with my dad. This one was in DC, the military Christmas concert.

Military Christmas Celebration 2019

Wasn’t exactly on our financial plan for this time, but Mimi’s car decided to die. We ended up purchasing a new-to-us 2015 Mazda.

Mimi new to us car 2019

Christmas service at Friendship Community Baptist reached almost 300! Not only that, but God blessed us with 20 baptisms and several Gospel encounters throughout the year.

Christmas 2019

This is the picture I will end this with. My Christmas gift for the end of the decade was ending it with a woman who truly loves me and cares so deeply for me.

Christmas 2019 2

So there you have it. My last decade in a few short pictures. A lot happened last decade! I can only imagine what will happen in the 20’s.

 

Love Cyanide

Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Hurting those we love.

Humanity is filled with examples of hurting each other, especially the ones we love.

Too often we proclaim our love for a spouse, child, or friend and then turn around and poison the relationship with what I like to call “love cyanide.”

Just what is cyanide?

Historically, cyanide has been used as a chemical weapon. It is also used in pesticides, plastics, and mining. When shocking a pool to get it ready to swim in, cyanide can be produced in low levels. It is also found in smoking.

One important note about cyanide is that “lethal doses of cyanide results only from accidents or intentional acts.”

Once the body is exposed to cyanide, the chemical quickly enters the bloodstream. The body tries to convert the chemical to a less lethal chemical called thiocyanate. As the doses build up, however, the body’s ability to convert cyanide to something less lethal gets overwhelmed. Large doses of cyanide prevent cells from using oxygen, causing the cells to die. The heart, respiratory, and central nervous system are most affected by cyanide poisoning.

What are the effects of cyanide poisoning? Some of the more profound are: weakness or confusion, sick to your stomach, difficulty breathing, and cardiac arrest.

The quickest way to treat cyanide poisoning is to get away from the poison and into fresh air.

We could easily remove cyanide from those notes above and replace them with the words “disrespect” or “dishonor” or “loving poorly.” If we do that, then we see the effects that disrespect or dishonor have on relationships.

Romans 12:18-20 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

It is like a love cyanide.

Many times, we use our love as a chemical weapon. We withhold our true love from someone in order to see them act or behave the way we desire before we will show them love. We expect a person to love us first before we’ll love them completely.

That is a weapon.

But we also hurt those we love accidentally. I know with my children that I have, at times, not lived up to a promise or hurt them in some way through my words or actions. It wasn’t intentional, but it happened. At that moment, my love to them is more like cyanide.

We either intentionally or accidentally poison those we love. Just like cyanide.

Humans are resilient, though. We tend to stay in those cyanide relationships for long periods of time. We think that things will get better or that it will change. What might have started as a small dose of love cyanide turns into the doses building up in our systems.

We are made for relationship. With relationship comes pain from time to time. You will never love anyone perfectly. Our bodies are made to handle small doses of love cyanide. But extended and large doses of it can destroy who we are as humans. It will bring on depression and walls around our hearts.

When we have been affected by too much love cyanide, we feel weak and confused, sick to our stomach. With depression and anxiety comes difficulty breathing. And like the chemical cyanide can cause cardiac arrest, love cyanide can cause broken hearts.

What is the quickest way to get rid of love cyanide poisoning?

Well, unlike the chemical, many times we can’t simply walk away from the people we love. It is why the divorce rate is so high, even among Christians. We see our feelings as more important as those we love.

But you can’t just leave family and friends.

Luke 6:31 – And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

So I want to look at the “fresh air” idea a different way.

Instead of getting away into fresh air like you would with the chemical, the best way to cure love cyanide poisoning is to clear the air. Discuss the issues with the person you are having those issues with.

So why do I bring all this up?

As Christians our job is to not only love God and love others. Our job is to accept sanctification. Sanctification means that we are set apart for God and for those we love. But sanctification is also defined as a process of transformation.

If we are the cause of love cyanide, then we need to seek God more. We need to strive to become more like Him.

God gives us unconditional love.

We will never be perfect at giving unconditional love, but we need to try.

And in the times we get it wrong? We need to be the first to repent of our errors. If we hurt someone, even accidentally, we need to stand up and repent.

Building love cyanide into a relationship will not only hurt the relationship, but it will destroy the people in the relationship.

We need to build love, without the cyanide. Provide living water without the poison. Be sanctified and drive to love like Christ loves us.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

 

Celebrating Christmas

Luke 2:13 –  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God

Each year since my divorce, I would celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with my kids and my parents.  The same happened this year.  My parents came down about 11AM and we started cooking.  My mom makes enough ham for a thousand people, and we have mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and a lot of various appetizer type things such as vegetable pizza and taco dip.  After dinner we enjoy mom’s homemade angel food cake and 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies.

Once dinner is done, we clean up and then head downstairs to open to presents.

By the time the presents get opened, we have about an hour before having to get ready for church and then we head off to church to enjoy a beautiful service.  After the service, it all ends.  My kids go to my ex.  My parents go home.

I’m left at the house alone.

1 Corinthians 13:7 –  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This year was a little different, however.

This year I enjoyed the company of my girlfriend, Mimi, and her boys on Christmas Eve.

We had 8 people in my house.  Four of them under the age of 15.

The family

We ate dinner about 3 pm on Christmas Eve.  It was great!  I realized I do not have enough plates or silverware to entertain more than 6 people.  We prayed and dug in.

I think I can safely speak for all of us that we all overate.

Then we headed downstairs for opening presents.  Every year, my parents overdo it on the presents and this year was no different.  But what was different was putting 8 people in the basement for presents.

Mimi Bubba Kenzi

I remember an old tobyMac song in which he sings, “when love is in the house, the house is packed.”  Now I am not a huge tobyMac fan (unless it is from his DC Talk days…now THAT was a band!) but he does sing a truth there.

My house never felt so warm.

It never felt so happy.

It never felt so….packed.

We enjoyed a lot of laughs, opened way too many presents, and basically had a good, old-fashioned, family Christmas.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

After the house was cleaned up, we headed to church where we had another great, old-fashioned family Christmas.  We arrived at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship (www.4theLord.org) almost 45 minutes early and I am glad we did!  By the time we got there, there were already about a hundred people at the church.  One a fully packed day, we can seat about 800.  We set chairs down the side aisles and the back of the church that gave us about 120 more seats.  Even after all of that, it was standing room only in the back of the church.

When love is in the house, the house is packed Skit time A Christmas Celebration!

“When love is in the house, the house is packed!”

The choir sang beautiful carols and hymns.  The children’s choir sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”  The sermon was powerful and timely.

And people got the message of Jesus.

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

And then it was over.

I went back to my house alone, thinking that the beautiful day of family, friends, and love was done for another year.

But it wasn’t.

You see, in years past, I would spend Christmas day alone.  I’d get a pint of oysters and some canned corn and cook for myself.  I’d spend the day in prayer and fasting until the sun went down and then feast on the oysters and corn.

This year was different.

Waking up at 8, I left for Mimi’s where her boys, she and I piled into her car and headed to her mom’s in VA.

Really?  The Falcons?  This family is Steeler's country! Wow.  Just....wow.

Time for Christmas number 2.

When we got there, there were nine people there!

“When love is in the house, the house is packed!”

For the second day, we ate too much food and enjoyed too many presents.

And it was beautiful.

We stayed there for almost 12 hours.  By the time I got home it was after 11.

It was a beautiful couple of days that focused on faith, family and food, something that even Christ enjoyed.

We pray that you had a beautiful Christmas as well.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Merry Christmas!

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