Starting in 2006, I underwent a year-long, weekly discipleship group led by my dear friend, Anna Stover.  I was discipled based on a biblical model started by Ray and Anne Ortlund many years ago.  After my year of being discipled, it was my turn to lead a group, which I did from fall 2007 - 2008, leading right up to my stroke in April (the girls had a final meeting with a friend's group actually, while I lay in ICU fighting for my life) .

 In the past year and a half, since moving back to LA, I have been able to re-visit this wonderful fellowship as I have led my own groups again with 2 sets of girlfriends (technically not the true Ortlund model just yet, but wonderful Bible studies heavy on Discipleship).

Jay was also blessed to be a part of the same model, led by Anna's husband, Andy, which Jay was finishing in the spring of 2008.

His D-group (short for "discipleship" group) finished their last month of lessons meeting weekly, early in the morning in the UCLA waiting room.  Likewise, he went on to lead his own group this past fall.

The accountability and spiritual growth found in leading and being a part of a regularly-meeting, biblically-based, discipleship group is hard to replicate.  We are meant to be in community with each other and to do life together as we live out the "Great Commission" and that is exactly what a group like this exemplifies.

Since Jay and I both led our own respective male and female groups this past year, we thought it would be fun to host a summer dinner party celebrating the close of both of our groups for the year (ending at the start of summer), so everyone could have a chance to meet each other's significant others.  As the Lord would have it, we had a lot of overlap between our two groups, so that 3 of the guys in Jay's D-group were husbands of 3 of the girls in my group.  So cool!

The fabulous SoCal weather (and lack of bugs) make outdoor dining ideal.  We don't do it often enough, but we love to eat in our back yard.

Ina Garten is one of our favorite chefs.  We have a lot of her cookbooks and love all of her food!  We decided on her "Seafood Gratin" recipe, with "Parmesan Roasted Broccoli", and it was unbelievably good!  We added some baguettes and wild rice, and we were good to go!

One of my lovely friends, Cora, who was in my group and whose husband, Stewart, was in Jay's group, brought the fabulous homemade dessert for the night--made from scratch wild berry pie with vanilla ice cream!  With that and a little decaf coffee (always a must!), we had the perfect finish to our dinner.

What a meal and what a wonderful celebration of this special group of folks in our lives--Jono, Jim, Marc, Alan, Stewart, Cora, Brooke, Cat, Mia and Amy--we love you all!  You have blessed our lives.