Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some Kentucky pics

It was Sam's dream to bring into reality the pictures on the box, so we brought the Snuggies on the plane

All the grandkids with Papa at Christmas...

We did a little story telling tour in Louisville with the kids. This next picture is my old childhood house. When we pulled up, the new owners were coming home and let us look around inside! They did an awesome job restoring the house. I still remembered where to step on the stairs so they wouldn't creak, a great talent for not waking your mom (who had eagle ears) when coming home too late.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Castle Stuffing...Merry Christmas to me!

Well, it's true. We went and did it! We made the famous White Castle stuffing for Christmas dinner. Oh my gosh, it was sooooo good. I just riffed off a simple recipe online HERE but I will show you the beautiful process in pictures here.

First, you get yourself a big suitcase full of White Castle hamburgers (best if you say "no pickles"). If you haven't had a White Castle, they are awesome. You know the 'sliders' craze going around at other fast food joints? Well, these are the original and the only ones that really slide down. They have an unparalleled steamy consistency...steam grilled with little chopped onions.

OK, sorry, I lost myself for a minute there. OK, so, you got your box of, you know, eat a few and put the rest in the're making this stuffing tomorrow.

Alrighty, it's the next day and your Castles have been settling and really sealing themselves together so take 'em out and break 'em up into little pieces into your pan. Then add chopped celery (a couple'a stalks), about 2 teaspoons of sage, two teaspoons of thyme, two teaspoons of black pepper and 3/4 cup of chicken broth.

You can just stuff it in the turkey (Safety tip: make sure you stuff cold stuffing into a cold turkey to avoid the salmonella) or bake it along side the turkey (what we did) at 350 degrees for about an hour. Mmm!

If you like stuffing, you should like this because it tastes like great stuffing. If you like White Castles you're going to like this because it's all a good Castle should be...oniony, steamy and savory. If you like White Castles and you like're going to looooooooooove this. With the turkey gravy...oh my gosh!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two Christmas Concerts

First of all, if you're reading this in face book, there are a couple of videos below. So look over there and glonk "view original post" to see the real deal. Or heck, go here...

Our family is in Kentucky. We are here on grace alone. Some friends here did a facebook campaign to raise money and a generous donor in California paid for the rest of our tickets here. When I saw the best times to fly and that the dates lined up with Andrew Peterson's Behold The Lamb Of God concert at the historic Ryman auditorium in Nashville, I thought, "That's a nice thought but it'll never work to get into town and we'll never afford tickets for all of us!"

Then, another supporter gave us money to do something special with my Sister and her kids. To say they have had a rough year is an understatement. Then I thought, "Well, the money's there now but there is no way everyone's schedule will line up!"

Then, I talked to my Sister about it and everyone got off work and school and we even secured free hospitality in Nashville. Then I thought, "There's probably no tickets left."

So I went to the Ryman website and sure enough, they were sold out.

Then, I emailed Andrew Peterson.

Then he told me to contact his management.

Then they called me immediately and released 11 tickets for us to be able to go.

Then my credit card didn't work.

Then they said the machine had been acting up. They were fine for me to just mail a check!

So we went!

I couldn't believe it worked. I just kept waiting for something to go wrong and it never did. It was such a good show. A dream come true. And they ended the night with us all singing together “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him...” and then Andrew started us singing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.” And by that time, the stage was empty and the only star was Jesus.

THIS is a video from the same show but last year...

The very next day, we went to another concert at Dad’s nursing home. It was so good to see him. There he was, sitting out with all the others waiting for the Christmas party to start. His face was priceless when we rounded the corner. We were the biggest stars in the world to him. We sat and listened to a small choir from a local church.

Dad is in advanced stages of a dementing illness that has stolen much of his ability to talk, walk, remember and care for himself. Recently, he got to the point where he needed more care than family could provide.

The choir director turned to intro the 3rd song and shared from his heart about Christmas. Then they sang. Then I noticed Dad was singing. There is no music, not even music at the Ryman, that is better than listening to a little choir with beautiful hearts sing to all of us in that nursing home about the joy and spirit of Christmas. It was so good to just be in that audience and be the honored recipient of such a regal gift. It’s too much. We had to turn that kind of glory back to God and sing to him ourselves. He has made this time possible. Again, the only star is Jesus.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Update 12/14/09

Merry Christmas from the Whitlers!

We trust that you are resting in hope, peace, joy and love this Advent season as we reflect on Christ's coming to the earth as a baby, his coming into our lives as Savior and his coming again to make all things new.

I'm writing this as we prepare to make the holiday trek to Kentucky to spend the season with my sister, her kids and my Dad. This was made possible by generous donors on both sides of the country. We are so thankful for God's provision through his people. Many of you know that my Sis and Father have both faced huge battles this past year and it is extra special that we get to share Christmas together.

Some highlights from the month and links you may have missed...

Airport Soccer
- I have been weekly walking with my friend Jeff for probably two years now. We became friends through a local seminar for city ministries. Jeff is a part of a group from a downtown church that is trying to engage our impoverished airport community with ideas of development. They meet and work with neighborhood leaders. This is the neighborhood where some of the families we have met on South 9th Street landed when they got out of the motels. We are still in relationship with these families and this month I was able to take them to the Airport Soccer Tournament. This was a fun way for neighbors to spend time together. I went to just take some kids but Jeff recruited me, who knows nothing about soccer, to be a referee! You can see pictures from the day by CLICKING HERE.

South 9th Street
- You can see recent posts and pictures from our continued work along this little strip of old motels in these links...

What a day on 9th St. looks like... Surprises
A beautiful opportunity... Honored Guests
A new friend's perspective... Bethany

Stella's Birthday - Stella is 4 years old! Her big day is December 6th Some pictures from her party HERE.

Prayer - We are hosting a Christmas party tomorrow night (Dec. 15) on South 9th Street with a local church youth group. They are bringing coats, gifts, cards, food and carols to fill up the street with cheer!

Pray for friends on 9th Street to be safe, find recovery and hope.

Please pray for the Sustar family on staff with us. They are gearing up for a 3 month family trip to serve with our partners in Thailand at Compasio. They need about $1500 still to cover their trip.

Pray for fellow YWAM Modestan and friend Aaron heading back to Canada for the holidays. He has some issues still to be cleared for his legal status in the US.

Please pray for safety and that God will make us a blessing to our friends there. Pray for our upcoming travels. We'll be in Kentucky until January 6th.

Support - If you would like to support our work financially, all donations are tax deductible when made out and sent to: YWAM / P.O. Box 3000 / Garden Valley, TX / 75771-3000. Our name must not appear on the check but include a separate note stating the gift is for the Whitlers in Modesto, CA.

There is also an auto-withdraw form available with instructions on how to set up monthly support for our work. If you have any questions, feel free to email We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks so much!

Here's how to find us online and other ways...

Family site/blog -

Whitler podcast (some new Christmas stuff up)-

Comedy Podcast - (with a few holiday selections) -

Amie on Facebook -

Chris on facebook -

YWAM site -

YWAM blog -

Chris on Twitter -

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Josh and....Sam vs. Food!

Alrighty, it's the habanero salsa challenge. Josh thought of it. If you're reading this on facebook you can Glonk on "view original post" or Glonk here for Vimeo...

Josh and Sam vs. Food from Chris Whitler on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Honored Guests

He approached me with hesitation because we don't quite know each other. He has unusually bright eyes for someone stuck on South 9th Street. Most who live there wear their years like an old, heavy coat that's too big. He does not. There is some light and a little hope. He pulled me over out of her earshot to ask me a question. "Hey, I was wondering something. I missed her birthday, it was a while ago, and I was wondering if you guys would be able to help me get a cake for her?"

They are stuck right now. Stuck down on 9th. Stuck because they don't see a way out. Stuck in addiction. Stuck because they choose to be. Stuck from ignorance. Stuck from fear of the unknown. Stuck because it's all they've known for years and years. Just stuck. They live in a motel. Everyday they survive. But, they have a plan. It is a broken plan. It's a bit dysfunctional, but it is a plan. And they are working it for what it is and things are getting a little better. He really wants to get her off that street.

She's been on 9th street for around 12 years. They have been years of abuse, soul-tearing violence and addiction. It is really hard on South 9th Street.

"It has to be chocolate and I want it to say 'Happy Birthday Honey Bunny,'" with a bit of an embarrassed smile. "Can you help me?"

I told him that I thought I could and we made our scheme. "We'll be right here Wednesday at noon. If anything comes up, call me."

I called a woman in our church that likes to bake and who could actually write on a cake and have it be legible. She happily accepted the challenge. "I'm not professional, it won't look like at the store." It was beautiful. We picked it up and headed over to our spot on South 9th.

In our work, 6 times out of 10 something goes wrong. People can be difficult to find and a little hard to pin down. Planning can be sketchy as most days blend into the next. And things happen. We usually set a time for how long we'll wait for an arranged meeting to materialize. We decided we'd wait 20 -30 minutes. Right around 12:05, she walked out of the mini-mart and was coming past our van. I got out and said hello. He wasn't with her and I didn't know if I should say anything about our surprise so I made some small talk.

She smiled, "Ok, I know there's a surprise...what's going on?"

I laughed and told her to get in the van and we'd go down to the motel and find him. She got in the front seat and Aaron started driving. I pulled out the cake from the back seat and set it in front of her eyes. 'Happy Birthday Honey Bunny' She squealed and started to cry.

Back at the motel parking lot, she jumped out of the van and invited everyone there to her "birthday party". Everyone gathered around and we sang to her. She cut her cake and served her guests. "Thank you for coming to my party" as she handed each friend a piece. And for a moment, she was laughing like a girl.

We were honored to be guests at such a party.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The tree's up...happy December!

We put up our tree last night in our annual Whitler "Put Up The Tree And Make Popcorn And Watch 'Elf'" event. The guys put up the ornaments...

Stella wasn't feeling her best.

Stockings not quite where they should be (or as Stella calls them, "Christmas socks")...

It's Sam's year to put up the star.


Got it!

And Stella feels a lot better this morning : )

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Looking for signs

This is a sign posted in Modesto's airport neighborhood at a strange bend in the road. Classically (and a little notoriously) called the "Airport District," this part of our town was settled at the arrival of the dust bowl refugees. Plots were cheap and times were hard. While the demographics have changed here, poverty has not. It has always been a part of the story in this neighborhood. On this side of this street, it is county property. Some of the area is claimed by the city and other islands are in the county. You can tell the county areas by the lack of side walks and street lights.

This sign caught me off guard while walking with a friend in the neighborhood. Just a simple hand painted sign warning motorists that kids are near by. But it speaks. It speaks of caring parents or a concerned neighbor. It speaks about going the extra mile. It speaks about using what you have to do what you can. It is resourceful, creative and compassionate. It speaks of hope.

What can you do today to make the world better? How can you use what you have, where you're at? Who needs encouragement? Who needs your time? Who needs a gracious ear? Who needs food? Who needs a call or letter?

In our first Advent service at church, we talked about living as people of hope. We can live awake, alert and intentionally looking for opportunity to express our hope to an aching world. Keep your eyes open. Signs of hope are everywhere.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with cousins

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings...popcorn, jelly beans, pretzels and toast. We even had Snoopy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

(Not) Too Hard For Christmas!

Well, the time has come! The Rap Stars (featuring Quade) have produced a new holiday classic. You can download the MP3 HERE to share at all your holiday functions. Also, over at the Part In The Middle podcast, I've posted all of our Christmas projects we've done over the years.

If you're reading this on facebook you can glonk "view original post" or go HERE to watch the youtube version. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

9th Street Surprises

The past couple of Fridays on 9th Street have been good but a little different. With the Sustars in Ohio and Aaron in Canada, Bob and Arlie and I have been holding down the fort. Yesterday brought a few surprises.

Looks like a normal day at the 9th St. Cafe...friends having coffee and goodies, relaxing and laughing. But...

there's Julie! She came today to try her hand at being a 9th St. Barista. It was great to have her out with us again. And then my pastor showed up! He talked and prayed with folks and tried his hand at being a Barista too...

Then Amie showed up...she's not usually able to come out on Friday...another nice surprise.

Mary (in the middle there) really likes it when other girls come with us. We can have the tendency to be a bit of a boys club : ) Speaking of which, Arlie proceeds to pull out a little pool table he found. So the cafe upgraded to a game room!

It was fun to see this little thing work it's magic on friends down there who carry so much worry. It's like they got to come up for air in the simple joy of playing a game. It's exactly what we want our time on 9th Street to be.

It's the simple things that matter the most. Times like that leave me grateful and amazed. Let's pray for eyes to see God's little surprises everyday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

We're going to allow this...

This is a fly that died (all by himself-we didn't swat him) on our wall sometime around 2 weeks ago. We thought we'd see how long it takes for him to fall off.

This is a plant that sprouted in our living room maybe 2 months ago. We wanted to see how big it would get.

And finally, this is a remnant of potato that is on our wall from last week's Whitler family food fight...started by Amie.

Which will we clean up first? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November update

Howdy folks, Chris here writing for the Whitler family in Modesto, California.

A quick update...

My week with Youth With A Mission in Winnipeg early in October was great! I was up there to teach in the Justice Discipleship Training School on Evangelism. There are 6 students with them right now and I had a blast spending time with them and sharing my heart. They reviewed my teaching on their blog and you can read that by GLONKING HERE.

Following my October travels, our team jumped right in to hosting our friends from Stanley Park Community Church that come for an annual visit and ministry trip. This has become one of our favorite events of the year (four years and counting!). This time a group of four men visited to join us in our work. We spent a lot of time on South 9th sharing food and friendship right on the street. You can see pictures of their time with us HERE.

In our last update I reported that Amie's Grandmother had fallen and broken her neck and wrist. We are happy to report that she has recovered quite quickly and will be able to go back home this Friday! Thanks for all the prayers and kind messages.

Josh had his 14th birthday on October 30 (we're still in shock) and my 30-somethingth birthday was November 4th. We were both rolled under the bed on our birthday mornings in the grand Whitler tradition and served breakfast in bed in the Hewitt tradition.

And finally, a request for help and for prayers...

My Kentucky family has faced a major battle this year and we would like to go to be with them for the Christmas season. At this point, we do not have the funds to purchase tickets. We need either money for a road trip or air tickets or for someone to donate air miles/points to help us go. If you have questions or would like more info, please feel free to call me (209) 404-4027 or email

Please pray for Helen and Danny, a couple stuck on South 9th St. that desire to be free of addiction and a destructive life. Pray for a family we know facing homelessness in the next few weeks. Pray for health and peace for Mary, Cheryl, Arlene, Ken, Brandie and Dave.

If you would like to support our work financially, all donations are tax deductible when made out and sent to: YWAM / P.O. Box 3000 / Garden Valley, TX / 75771-3000. Our name must not appear on the check but include a separate note stating the gift is for the Whitlers in Modesto, CA.

There is also an auto-withdraw form available with instructions on how to set up monthly support for our work. If you have any questions, feel free to email We'd love to hear from you.

Thanks so much!

Here's how to find us online and other ways...

Family site/blog -

Whitler podcast (teaching, music and fun stuff)-

Amie on Facebook -

Chris on facebook -

YWAM site -

YWAM blog -

Stanley Park Team '09!

For four years and running, we've hosted a team from Stanley Park Community Church in Kitchener, Ontario; Canada. This has become less like hosting a team and more like a visit from friends. This year was no exception. They have have been so faithful that they even have people in Modesto they go see from the friendships they've formed in previous visits. Here's few pics and highlights of their week with us...

This was our first group to host in a new location...they were small enough to fit in the Haddon house at New Hope's new property (still very much under construction).

But the guys seemed fine with our "casual" digs.

On a previous trip, the guys had connected with Ken here and helped him patch up holes in the roof of his trailer. Ken is a shut in due to illness and lives alone in a trailer park off South 9th St. This year, the awning covering his front porch was all but gone and with the rainy season on it's way, the guys set to work.

You can't keep Danny away from a project : )

It was an engineering marvel and just in time. Of course, we spent a lot of time on 9th Street with coffee, chili and BBQ, just doing what we do, spending time with people...

They spent time in the hobo shack...

Lots of taco trucks including the TACO BUS!


And of course...

Thanks guys...see you again next year!