Nearing Completion!

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Unit #3 is almost completed! It’s been a long haul, but we’re down to the end. In fact, as I’m writing this, Brian is working on clearing out his tools and doing the heavy cleaning before I can go up this afternoon and do the rest of the cleaning, making beds, and organizing the shelves and kitchen. Brian ran into all sorts of problems this week with the pipes, the tile, leaky faucets… he made more runs to the store (half hour one way) than he cares to admit. But, the bathroom finally looks modern, functions (that’s always a plus), and the work is paying off. We welcome back on Wednesday a family who’s been in the Far East for the past two years. They lived in this house right before heading to the field; they won’t recognize it when they get back ‘home’ next week!

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This picture is already dated. The new shed is coming along quite well. What’s even better bonus is that Brian hasn’t had to do it alone! One of our board members and a friend of his have come up almost every day to do work on it little by little. They actually are working on the trusses for the roof now! Once Brian is done in Unit #3 he’ll be able to help them more.

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I forgot to mention that we had a special Hawaiian night in Kidz Konnect on the 14th. We had an awesome turn-out and the evening was a blast! It’s helped us look forward to the fall again.

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Sunday, my dad handed the church over to the capable hands of these three guys. It was time for him to step out of full-time pastoral ministry and let the church continue to move forward under the direction of younger leadership. It was an emotional day watching my dad preach his final sermon. I honestly never thought I’d ever see that day come. But, he’s been wise in his decision to step out while the church is thriving and growing. It’s time for new leadership. Very few are wise enough to know when it’s time to bow out and let someone else take over. It’s yet another reason why I respect him so much.

I’ll get some pics of Unit #3 when it’s all clean so you can see the work! Have an awesome 4th of July.

Welcome, Summer!

Summer has finally, gloriously arrived! It is so nice to throw off our sneakers and run around in flip-flops again! The kids are loving being able to be in and out (and in and out, and in and out, and in and out…) all day long without the burden of eight layers to take on and off! E is out of school and we are glad to have this little breather.

After saying goodbye to my family, we enjoyed a lovely week of sick children. That seems to have finally run its course and we can now get into the random routine of summer. We’re still figuring out what our days look like, but it’s been nice to just be able to chill a little and spend time together, including late night Sweet Frog runs and longer library visits.

Brian is rushing to get Unit #3 done since new residents arrive on July 5 and, well, it still has no bathroom fixtures, every linen in the house needs to be washed, the entire kitchen needs to be organized and cleaned, and, oh yes, there’s still not all the tile on the walls. But, don’t worry, Brian’s got it “all under control.”

Besides unit #3, the storage shed is being slowly worked on. One of the board members is coming up for a few hours a day and has gotten at least two walls up so far. The second bathroom at the pavilion is just about ready for fixtures (finally!), but Brian is going to put a hold on that if he has to do it until after the house is done. We said goodbye this week to another resident who was here for a year. Over the next month, we’ll have various people coming and going; by September, a whole new crowd will be here long-term.

I am working on various projects over this summer. I may not be teaching full classes on Sundays, but I will be working with the kids each week, which will require some lesson writing. I’m doing some extra writing on the side and hoping to make some good progress, even sending it to a test group yet this month if all goes well.

I am doing something I’ve never done before: I joined a book launch group to help promote a brand new book coming out in July entitled “Remarkable Faith” by Shauna Letellier. It’s been an amazing book to read through and I’m privileged to help her get the word out about it. Check it out – it’s absolutely incredible!

I’ll be starting my articles for the next BCM World pretty soon. And then, I begin discipling one of our 6th graders in July and I’m organizing the church’s summer carnival for August. So, you know, just another lazy summer.

This Sunday marks the end of an era in my family as my father will preach his last sermon as a full-time lead pastor and step down. He is desiring to remain in ministry, but not in a full-time capacity. For this season of their lives, though, my parents have decided to do what every good retired person from PA does: move to Florida. At the end of July, Brian and my brother-in-law will be helping my dad move their stuff to Florida. They’ll do a little more visiting and finally move down after our children return to school the end of August. It’s bittersweet, and sometimes downright sad, but we know this is what they need to do. Just continue to pray for our kids, especially our daughter, as this transition will be hardest on them.

A newsletter will go out in the near future; as always, just let me know if you’re not on our list! It really does cover things we don’t talk about here, just to keep it interesting. 😉

Thanks for tracking with us!

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Oh yes, and I’m facilitating a ladies’ Bible study online (which is awesomely fun!), but this is how it happens: with a little stinker throwing socks at me the whole time and thinking he’s hilarious. 🙂

What a weekend!

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Months of planning finally came to fruition on Saturday as we held an Open House to celebrate my parents’ 50 years in full-time ministry. 50, people! That’s a long time! My parents began their life of ministry in France, where they met as young adults. They served in France, Kansas, Canada, Vermont, Canada again, and Pennsylvania. My dad is not retiring from ministry; just moving to a new ministry that is no longer full-time. We couldn’t let him fade into the background, so we threw him a giant party and had close to 200 guests come and celebrate all God has done.

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My whole family was here – first time we’ve been together since our furlough in 2010. My children met my brother’s little girl and they had a blast together! It was so nice being all together!

But, the weekend was not without its trials. I kept telling Brian, “What is going on?! We are so badly under attack and I don’t know why!” He gently reminded me, “We are celebrating the very thing Satan would love to destroy – a life of ministry that has touched thousands. Why wouldn’t he want to wreck it and make us all miserable?” He was right. Satan worked over-time on our family this weekend, but let me tell you, he did not win.

It started off with my brother not getting his rental car and having to drive a giant truck from Florida, getting 12 miles per gallon! An already expensive trip made so much worse by that little detail.

Then, my dad went golfing and his allergies kicked in, leaving him coughing and hoarse.

Thursday afternoon, Brian got home from clearing some brush complaining he got bit by a spider. By evening, the “bite” had swelled and was very red. Friday afternoon, his lower arm was extremely swollen, fiery red and hot, and had a nice red line streaking its way to his shoulder. He marked the line, and by dinner, it was almost 2 inches higher, prompting a trip to the ER where he was given an IV with antibiotics. Not in our plans and can I say, quite scary!

Also Friday, my mom started out just fine, but by evening was very ill. Everything was a mess – my uncle took Brian to the ER, my dad took my crying children home to bed, and I borrowed a car to go finish decorating. I got back home around 8 and cried with my dad, something I haven’t done in a very long time.

Brian was released late Friday night and was doing better Saturday. We woke up to BabyJ having some weird diaper issues that we didn’t think anything of… but immediately after family pictures Saturday at the party, he got sick all over Brian. What?! So, Brian stood in the civic center bathroom waiting for clothes from a friend and ended up wearing a free t-shirt from the civic center the rest of the day! We shipped all our kids home with our babysitters just to be on the safe side, but then I was quite paranoid the rest of the day about them, of course!

However, the event itself was beautiful and went so well – lots of wonderful sharing, good food, great fellowship. We’re so glad we pulled it off for my parents. My mom made it through the event, but is actually still not feeling well today, so you can pray for her.

The baby was still sick when we got home, but is fine today. Not sure what happened, but nothing we could do about it, so we just kept pushing through! I’m thankful for a husband with great presence of mind to manage himself with decorum through each crisis. And while I really prayed for a better weekend than that, God is sovereign and everything worked out just fine.

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Now it’s back to life as usual. I have a special Kidz Konnect this Wednesday that I’m prepping for. Brian is trying to finish the tile in Unit #3. We have laundry from 3 homes to wash this week and 2 homes to arrange. There’s other random things coming up, including my dad’s last Sunday and all that entails and our 12th anniversary this Sunday. You can just pray for our health, stamina, and wisdom in prioritizing!

On the plus side, we’re not bored and life is sure not predictable in our house! 😉 

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Oh, and this one finished 1st grade!

Full!

May has been jam-packed! Let me see if I can highlight our different ministries for you:

Bible Centered Ministries:

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Currently, our projects have been in direct relation to the massive flooding occurring in real-time in Sri Lanka. Brian is doing the web work of getting up donation pages, etc, while I’m writing. My evening yesterday was spent working on writing an update to be sent out globally and talking quite a bit with our field director online. The situation is dire, sad, and unfortunately, not over yet. Please pray with us for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka! Protection, provision, and the cessation of rain.

Grace Bible Church:

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We closed out our Wednesday evening Kidz Konnect on May 10 with an awesome group of kids and parents. We are attempting to have monthly Wednesday night meetings this summer in order to keep momentum going. My summer plans include the planning of these events, organizing a family carnival slated for the end of August, and writing some Bible lessons {a project I’ll explain another time}. I will also be discipling one of our girls, something I’m probably most looking forward to!

Brian and I had the opportunity a week ago to share our ministry at our church. For some it was the first time that they heard all we are involved in, so we were glad for the chance to give an update!

Missionary Retreat Fellowship:

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This picture is already dated; Brian finished tiling the floor in the bathroom in Unit #3 and is preparing to tile the walls. Of course, the unexpected always arises and this morning he’s helping the sewer guys take care of a sewer alarm. But, I know he’s hoping to get the walls tiled as soon as possible.

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This is the area for the new heated workshop. They are getting ready to pour concrete and then the structure should go up fairly quickly. Brian is not working alone on this, which is helpful. He’s definitely looking forward to having a space to do projects and have storage {and I have to admit, not having a giant tractor in my garage will be rather nice!}.

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This is a driveway in behind the Main House duplex. They began the clearing of the woods last fall and Brian was finally able to spread gravel and actually turn it into a usable driveway. The current tenants are appreciative of their own parking spot with closer access to their door. And let’s be honest, Brian didn’t have a hard time “finding time” to play with the tractor!

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Last Friday, we had our pastor’s banquet for MRF where we invited in area pastors and provided a meal, first and foremost to thank them for their involvement with MRF and then to encourage them in their own ministries. We had a pretty good turnout and it was an enjoyable evening.

This week, we say goodbye to our neighbors who have actually been here three years. They are now all my children know for neighbors, so this transition might be the most difficult yet for them! We are happy for them, though, that they finally have their support to get to the field (a testament to how hard it is to raise funds anymore!).

The Children:

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E will finish school in one week! She is looking forward to being home. Even a week ago, she drew us a picture that showed us how very much she craves being with family. We spent Memorial Day with good friends and she kept commenting how it was “the best Memorial Day ever!” since we were all together all day long.

The two boys are wild and want to be outside constantly. Our nasty rainy weather has impeded that, though. The 2 year old is fighting some pretty awful allergy issues so we’ll be in the doctor’s office again this afternoon. Poor kid. Just can’t seem to kick his fevers and stuffiness. He’s talking up a storm, though, and we are actively working on being a “gentle giant” since his go-to is a tad more violent than necessary!

This week, one of my closest friends is visiting from the south! Haven’t seen her since she showed up in Peru in 2009. Counting down the days until Sue gets to meet my children for the first time!!

Then next week, my siblings arrive and we have the retirement celebration for my dad. They listed their home less than two weeks ago and it sold within the week. You can be praying for our family as we walk this new road and begin this new season of life. Our daughter has not been good at “goodbyes” since we left Peru and this one is especially difficult for her, probably because it’s not especially easy for me, either, since they will be moving to Florida and not staying in the area. Just pray for all of us, including my parents. It’s rough.

Thanks for checking in! See you in June…

Spring

As promised, here’s a wrap-up of other events we’ve been a part of this spring:

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In April, Brian and I helped lead a Marriage Conference at our church. Brian was burdened about this about two years ago. He kept bringing it up to a number of people until finally, it took root and exploded. We went from thinking just a couple families might attend, to having a room full of 23 couples. For the first time helping lead a marriage conference, we were very pleased!

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We led it with our good friends, Mike and Karrie (he’s one of the pastors), and it was such a good time. We used the program “Love and Respect” which basically ran itself. Now, Brian and I are in charge of a couple of follow-up sessions and we’re in the planning stages of seeing when we can do this conference again.

Early May found us celebrating our youngest’s 2nd birthday!

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This little guy keeps us moving. He looks all sweet and innocent, but looks are deceiving! 🙂 While he is just adorable, he sure is stubborn! Yet, he’s quick to apologize and loves to give kisses and hugs. We love this little guy so very much and can’t believe he’s already 2.

Our daughter had her spring program last Friday and did a fabulous job as part of the choir. I wish my camera could take beautiful shots in the dark, but alas, it does not. Just trust me, she knew all the words to every song during the hour and a half play and she sang with great enthusiasm! We were very proud of her.

We ended our Wednesday evening Kidz Konnect last Wednesday with a great group of kids with their families. We promoted our wonderful 6th graders and gave out a few other prizes. This has been a challenging year, yet one full of fruit. We ended on a high note and already have people excited to join our team and kids who can’t wait to return! We’re going to keep the momentum going by having once-monthly Kidz Konnect meetings all summer. Usually, we stop in May and return in September, but I’ve always thought that was a very long break, so I’m excited to offer some fun nights over the summer months, too.

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Next up is my father’s retirement party. My parents have been in full-time ministry for like 46 years and he’s finally retiring… from full-time ministry. Once you’ve been in ministry that long, there’s no way you can just retire completely! He’s actively looking for where to go next, but knows that it won’t be full-time or as intense as what he’s been doing. We didn’t feel like he could just fade into the background, so we’re throwing them a party on June 10. My brother is coming with his family and that’s probably most exciting since the last time we saw them was 2010, so he has 2 nephews he’s never even met! It’ll be nice to be all together again for a few days. Our daughters are just a few months apart, so it’ll be good for them to get to know each other. If you know my dad and would like more info about the party – which is essentially an open house, free to anyone to attend, feel free to ask.

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This week, it’s time for the final Serve-a-Thon (Friday) from E’s school. Brian is also part of the Ordination Council on Saturday for two of our pastors who would like to become official “Reverends” before my dad retires. At MRF, we are welcoming more new short-term residents this week and within a month, a few more long-term, so we’ll be cleaning and getting homes ready this week.

If you are still (somehow!) not a part of our newsletter recipients, you are missing out! Drop me a note so I can add you to our list; a letter went out last week.

“Today’s the Day!”

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We do our best to read a Bible story or a children’s devotional each night before bed with the kids. We are far from 100% faithful, but we do our best. We’ve been working our way through the Jesus Storybook Bible {again}, which I cannot recommend highly enough, and last night, we made it to the final story.

P1100831The author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, does a beautiful job explaining Revelation in the simplest form possible. She succinctly describes the glory of heaven and the ultimate defeat of Satan in a way that is profound enough for adults, yet simple enough for children to grasp. She ends the whole thing with this:

John came to the end of his book. But he didn’t write “The End.” Because, of course, that’s how stories finish. (And this one’s not over yet).

So instead, he wrote: “Come quickly, Jesus!”

Which, perhaps is really just another way of saying…

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The kids looked at me and said, “That’s it? For real?” I had them grab a regular Bible and I showed them that yes, it really does end like that! A total cliff-hanger…because the story’s not done yet. We talked about how everything else in the rest of the Bible came true just like God said it would, so why wouldn’t the rest of it happen the same way? Jesus is coming back! And everything will be made new!

But, we don’t know when.

And my little boy jumped off the sofa, a huge smile on his face, and proclaimed:

Today’s the day I’ve been waiting for! I want to ask Jesus to take my sins away! I’m ready now!

Now, he’s known truth for quite awhile. He can repeat the Gospel back to me, no problem. But, for whatever reason, it hadn’t sunk down into his little heart. Every time I’d straight-up ask him, “Do you want to ask Jesus to be your Savior tonight?” He’d say, “No. Not yet. I want it to be perfectly quiet and do it all alone because I don’t want anyone to know.” He just wasn’t ready.

He was ready last night. I had his sister sit quietly next to me while I asked him questions to ensure he truly knew what he was doing because I am a firm believer of not scaring children into salvation with talks of hell, and hell had definitely come up in the last few minutes. I put all thoughts of heaven and hell aside and asked him if he knew what sin was, what sins he had committed, why couldn’t he be with God, what did God do for him so he could go to heaven, and what does he need to do in order to be with God? He knew it all. And before I could ask if he wanted to pray, he said, “Mommy, I want to pray right now!”

And right there, on our couch in the living room, my little boy had a sincere talk with God and became His child.

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The reality is that I wouldn’t have cared who led my boy to the Lord. It could’ve been one of his church teachers, a babysitter, or a grandparent for all I cared. We just want our children to know Jesus! But, the fact that Jesus has now allowed me to pray with two of my own children… I couldn’t be more ecstatic! Leading any child to Jesus is a privilege, a joy, and a humbling experience. To pray with my own kids? There are no words {and trust me, I usually have plenty}.

His big sister sat down next to him, gave him a big hug, and said, “And guess what? You don’t ever have to do this again because you are saved forever!”

I tucked her into bed and she looked at me and said, “Okay, Mommy, now we need to pray for James!” Absolutely, little girl! She even talked about how her brother is starting a new life now with a clean heart. Man, she gets it. She really gets it.

If you ever prayed for my children’s salvation, I thank you. You had a part in this, too!

The Gospel never ceases to amaze me. Only our God made salvation so simple, a 4 year old can comprehend it, yet so profound that we’ll spend our entire life never fully understanding all it entails.

Serve-a-Thon, Part 1

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Thursday afternoon, we welcomed a group from E’s school to do their first ever Serve-a-Thon! The school was divided up into groups and MRF was just one of various places the groups were sent to serve. The second group assigned to MRF was to come on Friday, but forecasted rain caused them to postpone.

Brian had everything all planned out and within ten minutes of their arrival, four groups were spread about the property working on the different projects.

Group #1 put in edging and mulch behind the Main House:

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Group #2 cleaned out the flowers around the fence (that will soon be replaced) lining the driveway to the Main House:

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Group #3 was my assignment and we worked on clearing leaves (years and years’ worth!) from an area near the mailboxes – not a consequential area except that it changed the aesthetic as you pull up the MRF road substantially!

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We made probably over 50 trips with a tarp to move all the leaves!

Group #4 was with Brian, removing tree limbs and branches by Compton Hall. The power company came through at least a year ago (maybe more?) and chopped down limbs for the power lines. They were just left behind and never moved, which was really not an issue, until now! The new storage shed is going in and they will be putting in a little driveway so Brian can get the tractors in and out easier. To make the driveway, all that brush has to be cleared out.

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The kids worked very hard and made great progress! There is still plenty left for the next group to do, too. Brian and the principal are excited about making this an annual event.

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Even our oldest boy got in on the action! He was ECSTATIC to work with sister’s classmates. This little guy cannot wait to start K4 in the fall; it simply can’t come fast enough for him.

By tomorrow, we’ll have two new residents on the property (one is a BCM co-worker who stayed about a year and a half ago!). Two families will be pulling out in June and quickly replaced by new residents. Turnovers in the summer go very quickly, which is one reason why Brian is anxious to finish Unit #3, which is currently a disaster zone. He assures me it’ll clean up fast and I just have to trust him on that one!

A lot of other stuff is going on, too, so in the next entry I’ll try to fill you in on all that. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Marriage Conference summary
  • Wrap-up of our church’s Wednesday evening program for the school year
  • Little J’s 2nd birthday (click here for the time being)
  • E’s spring program at school
  • Upcoming summer events (including a big retirement bash for my father in June!)

I leave you with our baby who turned 2 today!

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