Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Happy 8th birthday Gregory!

The other day we celebrated Gregory's 8th birthday.  As always I had to look at photos from past birthdays, so many fun memories with so many friends around the world.

Gregory is an amazing boy.  He is tenderhearted, encouraging, smart, incredibly smart, a thinker, a dreamer, dancer, worshiper and evangelist (just not on tv) :-)

One of my favorite characteristics about Gregory is how he loves to encourage people.  He regularly encourages those around him, adults and kids alike.

He still loves astronauts, Mars, planets, astronomy, all things space related.  He especially likes the Apollo missions.

He is an incredible mathematician and an amazing reader.  He loves to show off his math skills (still working on humility with knowledge).  He loves reading biographies and the goofy boys books that are in the library (like Big Nate books).

His love for history continues and is stretching to have an interest in travel as well.  Recently he has been enjoying the "Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego" tv dvd series.

This boy is such a easily lovable boy and is turning into quite the thinker and dreamer.  I love you Gregory!

Happy 8th Birthday Gregory Thomas Cook.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Youth for Christ Update

We are nearly 2 1/2 months away from starting our adventure with Youth for Christ in Iowa, so I wanted to give a bit of an update to our friends and family.

Over the past couple of months we hosted a couple of dessert parties.  These were a great opportunity for us to share "our story" and how God led us to join with Youth for Christ.  We also were able to share a video of the building that will be the YFC building in Hawarden, Iowa.  Below is the link to that video!

 Youth for Christ Bldg in Hawarden Video

As for our support raising...we are doing great - with just a little ways to go!  Our monthly support goal is $1366/month and we have raised about $1166.  Our cash budget was $6000 and we have raised somewhere around $12000!  WOW!!  Praise God!  This has been an amazing stretch of our faith and an increase in our faith.  Tom will start drawing a paycheck from YFC on 1 July, and we'd really like to be able to say we met our goals, so we will keep praying towards this.

In a little less than a month we will be closing on our house!  We are waiting on our VA loan to be approved still, but we are confident it will all go through without a problem.  It has been a HUGE blessing to be able to live with my parents in ND.  So many great memories for us and the boys.  I am not even sure I want to start with listing it all because with so many words people could get bored ;-) 

Here's to the next few weeks of extreme busyness!  Looking forward to posting more answers to our prayers in the near future.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

And there was rejoicing in heaven yesterday

So last night when we were tucking the boys into bed, like always, the boys are thinking of how many questions can we ask to delay turning the lights off and then Joshua picked the best questions to ask...

Mommy, are you going to heaven?  To which I answered, "yes".
Daddy, are you going to heaven?  To which Tom answered, "yes".
Gregory, are you going to heaven?  To which Gregory cut his brother off and said, "YES, I am going to heaven".
Are grandma and grandpa going to heaven?  And we all answered "yes".

Am I going to heaven?  So I answered, "Well, do you have Jesus in your heart?"  And Joshua, said, "I want to go to heaven" and turned his head and asked Jesus into his heart as quickly as he possibly could so we could keep talking.  So we kept talking a bit more with Joshua to see if he was serious about this...or was this like other times where he lets the conversation end and moves on to something else.  He kept going with the conversation and we kept going too.  I explained it all further and what this meant, that he needed to want to quit doing bad things and quit trying to be naughty and mean and to want to be more like Jesus and to try to a good boy and make good choices.

So then I told him he could ask Jesus into his heart, to tell him that he is sorry for the bad stuff in his heart and that he wants Jesus to be in his heart.

He turned his head and whispered his own prayer asking Jesus into his heart. 

Good stuff.  So proud of him and looking forward to helping Joshua to be a passionate follower of Jesus. 

This time was completely different than when Gregory asked Jesus into his heart...Joshua has been really slow to understand some things, but I am hoping this means he is making decisions for life because he seems to think them over for much longer.  Where as I know Gregory understands things earlier but he is very committal and makes commitments that he wants to last forever. 

I love my two boys and they mean the world to me and now I am happy to know how I can keep praying for each of them to know Jesus more and more and to love him more and more. 

....and there was much rejoicing in heaven last night when Joshua asked Jesus into his hear.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pray for the Cooks!

Once again it's been a while since I've posted on our to catch up below is our Youth for Christ letter that was sent out to as many friends and family as we could think of, in case we missed someone, it was not intentional :-)  

YFC support letter

If you read this and you feel you would like to support us and Youth for Christ, send us an email,, or contact us on Facebook or any other way you know possible. 

Currently we are at about 50% of our cash budget raised (50% of $6000) and about 33% of our monthly budget (33% of $1366).

We have been at this for about a month and we've been blown away at how God is moving in people's hearts to support us. 

If you'd like to pray for us that is much appreciated as well!  We can mail you a prayer reminder photo, if you'd like.  Just ask!

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.
Romans 12:11-13 The Message (MSG)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Christmas Letter 2014

For those who did not get a copy of our annual Christmas letter and card, below is a copy of it...

Here we are at the end of 2014.  If we could use one word to describe 2014 it would be CHANGE.  So many things have changed for us this year; everything from Tom’s job, our living location (home), Gregory’s school, Joshua’s age and so many other things.  Below is just a snapshot of how so much of that change came about.  Towards the end of our letter, please pay special attention for a special update on the future God has laid out for us, we are praying that at the beginning of 2015 we will be communicating more about how you can prayerfully and financially support our family as we join with Youth for Christ to reach the youth for Jesus in Sioux County, Iowa.

JANUARY – This is the month when change started happening for us.  In order to cut its budget, the Air Force decided that it would allow so many people to apply for early retirement.  So after realizing that this would be a good option for us, Tom applied for early retirement from the Air Force.

FEBRUARY – Our family went on a middle school youth retreat, “Escape”, with over 100 Chapel youth from Stuttgart.  Roxanne was one of the admin helpers and Tom was the assistant to the main leader while Joshua and Gregory got to have lots of fun with some of the other workers kids. 

MARCH – The Air Force informed Tom in March that he was approved for early retirement with an official retirement date of August 1.  This meant that we would be leaving Germany toward the end of June.  From there everything started happening pretty fast.

APRIL – Since we were leaving Europe soon we started traveling like crazy.  We took a spring break trip to the Netherlands.  While we were there we visited Corrie ten Boom’s house, windmills, a Noah’s ark replica and so much more. It was also a special time as we were there for Roxanne’s birthday and we were able to visit a friend from Colorado Springs (that lives in Germany now) when we were traveling back to Stuttgart – great seeing you Hope!

MAY – In May we made one last visit to Legoland and then one last visit to Garmisch, Germany.    Oh how we miss the Swiss Alps!  We drove from Garmisch to Pisa, Italy as Roxanne really wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Tom had already seen it years before).     

JUNE – On June 5th we celebrated Tom’s upcoming retirement with a ceremony and celebration.  This was an incredible time to have some of our close friends with us and to celebrate Tom’s 19 years and 2 months in service.  Our last European adventure was to Belgium, Luxembourg, and France to see some World War II sites.  This was a great time with our boys as we walked some of the Battle of the Bulge routes in the fields (Tom and Roxanne had done this a few years back, so it was great to be back).  While in Europe Gregory developed a great love for history (and World War II) and we love to spur this on, especially since it’s Tom’s passion as well.

JULY – On the 1st of July we said farewell to our home in Germany and many friends.  We are so blessed to be able to keep in touch with so many via Facebook and are so thankful for photos that jog our memories and keep them alive for Gregory and Joshua.  We strategically planned our entry into the US at Baltimore so that we could have a little time to visit with a couple of great friends, Gregory Shade & Amy Ellicott.  Then we began our trek across the country to our next home in North Dakota.  Once we got settled for a little bit, we took off for Missouri to spend some time with Tom’s mom, Betty, and sister, Beth, and family.  It was a great time to catch up with everyone.  The boys especially loved getting to spend time with their cousins since it had been a while since they had seen each other.  Tom was able to spend quite a bit of time with his mom and help with some odd jobs around her house.
AUGUST – On the 1st day of this month Tom was officially retired from the US Air Force.  Then nearly all of Roxanne’s family got together in Jamestown (only one nephew was missing).  We had a great time of Frisbee golf, boating, water balloon fights and s’mores around the fire pit.  Towards the end of August, Gregory started 2nd grade at Washington School in Jamestown, ND (the same school Roxanne attended when growing up in Jamestown). 

SEPTEMBER – The end is in sight!  Tom started his last year of college with Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU).  He is so close to having his Bachelor Degree in Youth Ministry! 

OCTOBER – While being in Jamestown, Tom has had the privilege to volunteer at our church with the Middle School students weekly and then he was able to go as a chaperone for the annual Youth Convention in Fargo as well.  Roxanne, the boys and her parents were able to travel to Minnesota to help her brother, Kirk, and his family as they prepared to move into a different house.  Once again the boys loved getting to be with some more cousins!  This was also the month where God started opening doors and showing us the path He wanted us to go on…Tom & Roxanne went down to Hawarden, IA to interview for a position with Youth for Christ.  We had been praying about this position and have continued to pray and feel that this is God’s direction for our family. 

NOVEMBER – This year for the first time in MANY years, we were able to be with Tom’s family for Thanksgiving in Missouri.  It was a quick trip but we were thankful to be close enough to be able to make the drive.  This has been one of our favorite things about being back in the USA, being able to be with family!

DECEMBER – As for most families this month has been filled with Christmas programs, parties, and even some caroling.  We will be celebrating Christmas with Roxanne’s parents and then Raquel’s family will come shortly after Christmas and we will celebrate Joshua’s 5th birthday in ND.  We will close out 2014 and start 2015 with a celebration of Roxanne’s mom, Judy.  She will be retiring from Building Blocks where she has worked for 25 1/2 years. 

2015…As we are working on our annual letter we are prayerfully awaiting a job offer from Youth for Christ and we plan on accepting the position as the Sioux County Area Director and we will be moving to Hawarden, Iowa (between Sioux Falls, SD and Sioux City, IA).  Tom will be responsible for leading Campus Life ministries and also running a Teen Life Center in Hawarden.  Tom will not be doing this job as a one man show; it will be a team effort.  Roxanne will be coming along side Tom to help out where and when she can.  Once we know more and have more info we will be contacting you to share how you can partner with us to reach the youth for Jesus in the Sioux County area.  So please be in prayer with us as we will be raising support before we will begin ministry in Iowa.  We are aiming to be in Iowa early in the summer, so we can be prepared for the school year.  We know this will be difficult to reach this goal in such a short time, but we do serve a big God who already knows how this is all going to work out, so we are trusting in Him for this to be accomplished and to bring Him the glory!  

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!                        Tom, Roxanne, Gregory & Joshua Cook 701-269-6259

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday Joshua!

A few days ago we celebrated Joshua's 5th birthday and as with all birthdays it causes memories to be jogged about the past, so I thought I'd pull out a photo from the past for each birthday.  The first two were in Colorado, the next three were in Germany and then the most recent was in North Dakota.  Wow, so much has changed in 5 years for this guy.  He's a handful much of the time, but he's loved all of the time.  I think that should be my "slogan with him".  He's cute as can be and knows it!  Since being in North Dakota he has fallen in love with all things John Deere, so we did that for his 5th birthday party theme.  This morning I was asking him if he still loves John Deere and he said, nope, my birthday's over...but the pile of tractors he'll be playing with for years to come is still there to remind us and him, that he still loves John Deere.  Joshua always has something cute to say, but I am usually in too big of a hurry to jot it all down, so the quotes I do grab, they are usually on Facebook for more to share in the laughter he brings.  One of his favorite things to say is "speaking of..." so I will use that here now knowing it's how he's say it... speaking of laughter, Joshua LOVES to go visit Great Grandma Vilhauer who is in a nursing home.  She will turn 95 next month and Joshua can get her (and many other residents) to smile nearly every time he is there.  Joshua is teaching me much as we have to change up discipline styles/methods so many times to try to figure out what he needs and when, I find so many times that when I am disciplining or talking with Joshua I am hearing God speak to me and remind me of how I need to be corrected in my attitudes and issues I am going through.  Raising Joshua is challenging to say the least, yes, we are rewarded in precious memories and hugs many days which helps outweigh the orneriness.  I am reminded over and over again about the verse Joshua 1:9 and I think of it as a verse that I was given to go along with Joshua when he was born.  We have gone many places with Joshua and God has been with us and we will go many more places with Joshua (through various stages of life as well) and God WILL be with us.  Here are where the rest of the photos are

Joshua 1:9  "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Back to blogging

So I have been majorly slacking on our blog and have considered giving it up, but I know our future will involve keeping in touch with lots of people and this does seem to be one of the best ways to share information (more than short posts on facebook), so I have plans to get back to blogging...
So stay tuned and I hope to be more consistent...not a New Year's resolution, but a change that needs to be made...