I was out of state last week teaching a doctoral residency (along with conducting another remote learning course, a prayer meeting, a variety of staff meetings, and even some dissertating). I couldn’t wait to get back and see our little Bubby. (Yes, and everyone else, too.) In fact, I got choked up on the flight home at the thought of reconnecting with this little munchkin and getting to make a “Samuel Sandwich” again.
What a joy to return to this adorable, pleasant, and wonderful little boy. His receptor language has always been good, and now he’s starting to talk up a storm. He said “Bible” the other day, which was another reason to get choked up. He was also the ring bearer at a wedding last week. He’s only 17 months old, but he made it down the aisle (with a little help)!
He’s the best Bubby ever, and every day I get a little more smitten. Below are some random snaps and video clips, in no particular order.
Out of gas, but resting up for tomorrow.
In addition to which…
Here are a few bonus pictures that didn’t upload the first time.
On Mother’s Day 2021, Sonya was opening her gifts from her children. At one point she held up a gray T-shirt and started to cry. I was sitting on the other side of the room and couldn’t see what it said. I thought to myself, “I’m sure it’s a very nice T-shirt, but we don’t usually cry over T-shirts now, do we? So, what’s up with that?”
What’s up with that was the writing it featured on the front: “Best grandma ever.”
“Is this true?” she asked with a gasp.
It was. And after she turned the shirt around to where I could see it, I started to cry, too. Micah and Bethany were expecting their first child. As readers of This New Life well know, Samuel James White was born on December 1, 2021. I’ve been utterly smitten ever since.
Bethany always felt kind of bad that her mom got the news a split second before I did, so on Christmas Day 2022, I opened a similar gift. This one had a little red Christmas stocking in it with a piece of paper inside. “What in the world is this?” I thought. I was mystified—until I saw that the little paper was actually the sonogram of child number two.
I may have cried again once the news sank in, causing the others to wonder what was going on. It was my turn to be smug this time as Sonya was sitting across the room in confusion. Eventually everyone came to realize that Samuel was getting a sibling.
Last night was Micah’s birthday. We celebrated at Dogood’s Tavern here in Myerstown, and then we came back to our place to give him his gifts. To our surprise, he then gave us a gift. We had a hunch it might be some sort of gender reveal, much like they did for Samuel.
Sure enough, when we opened the box, a little white onesie greeted us with the joyful announcement:
Hello, my name is Levi Timothy.
Samuel has a brother, and that brother’s name will carry my own. Are you surprised that there may have been more tears? I’m still stunned. And I’m smitten with Levi already. This week he’s the size of a lemon.
We expect to meet Levi sometime around July 18, 2023. Until then, my prayer for him will be Luke 5:28: “And Levi got up, left everything, and followed [Jesus].” Come to think of it, that may be my lifelong prayer for him.
Until Levi makes an appearance, Samuel has the stage all to himself. So, here you go…
I’ve written before about my adorably delicious Samuel Sandwich gig—a fun little game I play with SamJam every time he comes to my house. You might remember that two pillows serve as the top and bottom slices of “bread.” Together they encase the “Samuel meat” and the tickling “condiments” he receives (endures?) from me before I gobble him up.
Well, for Father’s Day this year, I received two pillows that look like bread to give our game a touch of authenticity—one from Micah and Bethany, and one from Sonya. They were the funniest gifts I think I’d ever received, and I couldn’t stop laughing after I opened them. Of course, I had to try them out right away:
Micah and Bethany also got me a whipped cream spoon (long story, maybe for another post), and two beautiful cards that got me seriously choked up. Sonya got me a few polo shirts and a Japanese maple tree, something I’ve always wanted to get but never did. Her card was excessively kind, too.
Andrew took me to see the new Top Gun movie, which was fantastic. He also sprang for snacks at the theater, so he might need to take out a loan to pay for them! 🙂 It was great for just the two of us to hang out for a while. He’s a wonderful young man.
All this was after a great morning at church and family lunch at our favorite local Italian restaurant. Best Father’s Day ever. I am supremely blessed.
I’m not sure how Santa got this thing down the chimney, but I’m glad he did. I’ve never had a power recliner before, but this is a high-end Bassett that’s super sturdy and comfy.
This wonderful piece of furniture was for yours truly. “Hers truly” got a silver Bach Stradivarius trumpet. This top-tier instrument is stunning and is supposed to be played only with gloves or a hand cloth.
Both are kingdom tools. One is for reading and writing. The other is for praising and worshiping.
As nice as these things are, the best Christmas present this year (besides Jesus) was the new addition to the family. Samuel didn’t make a peep during the entire Christmas Eve service—even with our brass team belting it out during the opening carols. And, yes, he slept through the sermon! 🙂
Today I got to babysit him for a couple hours while Bethany went to a doctor’s appointment. What a blessing that he lives less than 15 minutes away. I’m utterly smitten with this little munchkin and have to share a few snaps from the past few days.
What a glorious day it’s been. Mother’s Day usually gets more fanfare than Father’s Day, and rightly so. After all, as Jim Gaffigan says, “When you consider the male contribution to human life, it’s not very impressive.” God knew what he was doing when he gave women the travails of labor. We men never could have handled it. That’s why Mother’s Day gets top billing. Still, my kids made me feel like a million bucks this weekend. They even laughed at my dad jokes, which were especially bad this year.
First, my son came to our house Friday night for our usual movie and pizza night. He brought along gifts and treats that were deeply meaningful to me, and we started watching The Chosen together. Tissues may have been involved—not only because the production is fresh and alive with new angles and insights than most of the “screen Jesus” fare we’ve seen (hey, love the cinema, hate the sin), but also because Andrew is making a major life change this month. It’s a new journey for him, and it’s rooted in his desire to know Christ better and love him more.
He also called me today to wish me a happy Father’s Day, and we talked about his new adventure. He said, “I’ve never had this much confidence in the face of this much uncertainty.” I’m moved by his faith and dedication, and I couldn’t be prouder of him than I am right now. He’s the first blood relative I ever met, and I often remind him that he’s “my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Then, this morning, we had a beautiful worship service focusing on our “good, good Father.” It was a thrill to meet some new people today and hear their stories. After the service we gathered at my favorite Italian restaurant in the area with my daughter and her husband. They, too, shared wonderful cards and gifts that got me choked up. I even got a card from my future grandchild, along with a special gift from him or her. (The in utero child is the size of an avocado right now, which explains one of the gift tags below.)
Micah, who is celebrating his first Father’s Day this year (because being pro-life means he’s a father now), turned my Puddles the Popsicle post into a children’s book so that I could read it to the munchkin when he or she finally arrives. (The due date is December 2.) Opening that gift was a heart-stopping moment. And it made it easier to forgive them for getting me the card that came with it—the one with “Puffy” on the front.
Years ago I had a beautiful Pomeranian. Beautiful on the outside, that is. Inside, the little terror was demon possessed, and, alas, I don’t have the gift of exorcism. Our failed experiment in having a dog actually began with Bethany batting her eyelashes at me when she was little and saying in the cutest way possible, “Daddy, can we have a puppy? I’ll take care of it.” Uh huh. Right. And now she owns a cat. Smart lady. Bethany and Micah are serving the Lord, too, using the gifts and graces God has given them for his glory.
I am beyond blessed to be a father to these three wonderful kids. And I can say with the Apostle John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).
“May his favor be upon you / And a thousand generations / And your family and your children / And their children, and their children….”
We mothballed This New Life two years ago when I started my (second) doctoral program at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, PA. I’ve been studying biblical theology ever since, and now I’m in the dissertation phase of my journey, having passed all the coursework and the comprehensive exams. (Officially, that’s called “Th.D. [cand.]” status, also known as “all but dissertation.”)
Our plan was to re-launch this website after the dissertation was complete, but several factors propelled us to open it now. Some of the reasons are COVID-19 related, and some have to do with the fact that the two churches I pastor have asked for a way to access certain resources while we’re in the process of merging our congregations and establishing a new internet presence—complete with live-streaming capabilities, digital communication apps, and an expanded radio broadcast. These items will take a while to pull together, so the re-launch of this site is an intermediate step.
Because of the dissertation, it will also take a while to re-populate the various sections of This New Life, but we have to start somewhere—so here we go! In the meantime, feel free to kick the tires on any of the few posts and pages we’ve been able to publish so far. The inaugural post is here, and our family update post is here. Each section has at least one post in it except for the popular “Connections” series, which will have to wait until after graduation.
Incidentally, all prayers are welcome for the writing of my second dissertation, as composition at this level can be awfully tedious. My working title is:
MEEKNESS AND MAJESTY: YAHWEH’S TABERNACLE IN THE DESERT AS A REVELATION OF THE NATURE AND WAYS OF GOD
My son, Andrew Valentino (a recently Emmy nominated photojournalist), and I are working on an interactive video to accompany the academic paper, which hopefully can be published someday as a popular-level resource for the church at large. The tabernacle has so much more to teach us than we’ve ever imagined.
In any event, it’s nice to be back. These past two years have been times of unprecedented learning, growth, fun, and flourishing, not to mention off-the-charts peace, contentment, joy, and prosperity—even in the midst of a pandemic. We hope you all are likewise blessed!
Tim, Sonya, Andrew, Bethany, Micah, and Samuel. That’s our immediate family for now, and we’re exceedingly glad that God has decided to put us together for this life. We’ve had plenty of good times over the years, and a few challenges, too. But through it all, we’ve loved each other without limit and have encouraged each other always to make Christ our highest treasure. We’re not batting a thousand on that, but we’re still in the game.
We like to think of ourselves as just a handful of “nice, nutty people on the journey of life,” though lots of people probably think we’re more nutty than nice. We’re not inclined to argue the point. We just soldier on, trying to answer the call that God has placed on each of our lives as best we can. Our extended family is likewise precious to us, though they’re far too numerous to mention here.
I was born in Philadelphia, PA and adopted 13 months later by Carl and Cherie Valentino, of Reading, PA. Dad was a blue-collar worker for the Reading Eagle newspaper, and mom went to work for the same company after all three of us kids started junior high. Our parents provided us with something of a lower middle-class upbringing, and our youth was filled with myriad sports, school activities, and trips to the emergency room.
In earlier days, my brother called me, “Harry Homework.” The nickname was well deserved, though I didn’t like it very much. (I wanted to be cool, not geeky.) Our challenges were many, but we pressed on together when life was tough. Today I’m a grace-loving husband, father, pastor, seminary professor, conference speaker, swimmer, and incurable Philadelphia Phillies fan. I have an odd sense of humor. You can read more about me on the About Page.
I was born in Marietta, OH and spent much of my young life in that state, where mom and dad served as church planters with the Southern Baptist Convention. My siblings and I moved around a lot, helping our parents start new churches in new towns. On several occasions we served as the nucleus of a new children’s ministry or youth group, learning to do Christian ministry firsthand from mom and dad. Eventually we wound up in West Virginia, where I went to college on a music scholarship.
My school days were filled with lots of joy, laughter, music, church activities, and homework. Mom and dad taught me to love God and put him first in my life, which was easy to do since they didn’t just preach the Christian faith, they lived it in front of us. Today I’m a faith-filled wife, mother, ministry leader, and development assistant in Christian higher education. I also provide daily care for my mother, who has stage 4 dementia. Unlike Tim, I have a normal sense of humor. You can read more about me on the About Page.
We have two adult children, Andrew and Bethany, and a son-in-law, Micah, whom we claim as our own. We also have a grandson, Samuel, who was born in 2021.
Our son Andrew holds a film and media arts degree from Temple University and worked for eight years as a videographer for WFMZ-Channel 69 in Allentown, PA. He now works as part of the support staff for Sight & Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. He also runs Andrew Valentino Media, which provides voiceover work, photography, videography, film editing, documentaries, and other related services. An Emmy-nominated photojournalist, Andrew enjoys film, anime, screenwriting, science fiction, apologetics, philosophy, and music. For better or worse, he looks like Tim and acts like Sonya.
Our daughter Bethany holds a speech language pathology degree from Bloomsburg University and worked for seven years as a psychiatric assistant at Pennsylvania Counseling Services in Lebanon, PA. She now works as an administrative assistant at the Evangelical Congregational Church Center in Myerstown, PA. . Her interests include worship, dance, discipleship, and sharing her faith. For better or worse, she looks like Sonya and acts like Tim.
Bethany’s husband, Micah, holds a psychology degree from Kutztown University, and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree from Evangelical Seminary. He currently works as a therapist at Salisbury Behavioral Health in Wyomissing, PA. His interests include music, worship, guitar, computers, woodworking, and car repair (thankfully). For better or worse, he doesn’t look or act like Tim or Sonya at all. Yeah, that’s probably for the better.
Micah and Bethany have one son, Samuel James, and another son on the way, Levi Timothy.