Spring Snow Storms

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What a week it’s been!

The weather called for a winter storm Friday, so we were hunkered down, mostly prepared for it. I was watching Facebook and seeing friends lose power all morning long – the wind was gusting over 50mph and snowing like crazy (2-3″ per hour). Finally, around 3pm, our power blinked rapidly about five times and disappeared completely.

Brian, ever the optimist, was certain it would return that evening. We roasted hot dogs on the grill, ate by the light of some flashlights, read books to the kids and put on a puppet show and a musical with the spotlight, then slept in the living room with sleeping bags. Still no power.

By morning, it was 46 degrees in the house and we were cold! No ability to make coffee didn’t help.

Thankfully, friends nearby did have power and graciously allowed us to invade their home even though they actually wouldn’t be home until Monday evening. We got warm, ate some warm food, and watched TV. At 11, Brian texted to say the power was back on! We returned home and had time to do a load in the dishwasher and put sleeping bags away before it disappeared again.

Instead of toughing it out at home, we ended up sleeping at our friend’s home. It was warm and safe and close enough for Brian to go back and forth to MRF to check on everyone.

The residents did okay. Compton Hall has a generator, so a number of people slept and cooked in there. A few families were able to shelter elsewhere, so they did. Only two families stayed on the property, Brian checking up on them every few hours.

Brian worked almost around the clock, making sure the generator at Compton ran (which it didn’t always) and running a smaller generator at our house to keep our food frozen (we learned it’s 30+ years old, which explains why it would just randomly quit working every little bit). He plowed and shoveled and kept an eye on everybody the entire time.

Our power returned Tuesday afternoon (a full day ahead of the schedule PPL put out), but that caused a massive overflow of sewer water from the pavilion into Compton Hall. Don came into Compton to discover water gushing from a ladies’ room toilet – as in, spurting out like a fountain, gallons at a time. Brian got the water off and he and Don were able to get some water out before Don had to go to work (he drives a school bus). Brian put out an emergency call to three friends and within the half hour, they were there! They helped clean out sewer water that was throughout the whole building, except the office. Brian did some math and figured upwards of 1200 gallons had come into the building! Brian also called a friend who owns a carpet cleaning business. He showed up within the hour. He has lent industrial-size dehumidifiers and fans and he came again after hours to check on everything. He will be thoroughly cleaning the carpets and the flooring in the whole building once it completely dries. Amazing generosity!

We were happy to move back home Tuesday evening. Kids are still tired, but a snow day yesterday helped a bit. Brian got the property plowed out again after the storm yesterday and has decided today and tomorrow, he’ll be taking it easy! His ankle and his back are ready for a break.

However, “taking it easy” will mean computer work for BCM. An important meeting at the IMC has also been put off twice this week; hopefully he’ll make it to Lancaster on Monday.

I am trying to catch up on computer work and prep for the annual training day coming up. However, 10 loads of laundry (and the baking of a rhubarb pie as a ‘thank you’ for my man) hindered that progress yesterday! Maybe today I can get back into the swing of things.

We want to THANK every one of you who offered your home, meals, showers, and help over the last few days, not to just to us, but to the five other families here. We appreciate all of you very much, even if we didn’t take you up on it. We honestly had more offers than we could accept! You all are amazing.

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Such a pain, yet it really is beautiful out there!
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February in Pictures

I can’t believe I skipped blogging in February completely! That’s okay; it was a short month anyway.

February included, but was not limited to:

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Helping friends out while they moved – watching their kids and Brian chipped in doing house repairs.
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I had my hair dyed as a reward to the kid’s ministry since they raised nearly $400 in Nov. for a local pregnancy care center.
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Brian spent most of his time finishing the workshop. It’s got electricity and a heater. It’s organized, functional, and already been used for multiple vehicle repairs and welding projects. The tractor got a roof this month, too, thanks to the generous donation of a welder friend’s time and resources.

I participated in IF:gathering 2018 and am working with a team trying to figure out how and when to use this conference and what God has in store next for discipleship of women in our church. You can check out what I’m talking about by viewing the promo here.

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Snow storm and multiple snow days for the kids. This particular one even cancelled our Wed. night programs.
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Valentine’s Day! During, yes, another snow day.
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My prep for the morning I spoke at elementary chapel at our kids’ school. It was the week after Valentine’s Day, so I talked with them about John 21 and different words for “love.”
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Skill Nite in our Wed. program this month was State Police. We love it when our own Trooper joins us and lets the kids try on his gear!
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Even my little guy got in on the action. He’s too young to attend Wed. nights, so he’s stuck playing with his brother in the nursery. But, that meant he got to sit in the cruiser by himself and try on the hat! He was SO happy.
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This one got glasses! To be used mostly for reading and I’m certain at some point in the not-so-distant future they will get left behind either at home or at school. But, we’ll cross the bridge when we get to it…

Also this month, Brian has been finishing up the print edition of BCM World. Which, spoiler alert, looks wonderful! I have written two articles for March’s regular edition of the BCM World, too, which means next week, Brian will start the graphic design of that.

Brian’s done a lot of work on vehicles this month, for us and for friends. As mentioned in a caption above, a roof was welded for the tractor. It was an all-day job that a friend offered to do. It took time and resources and just over-all generosity. Brian is so grateful, especially since another snow storm is in the forecast for tonight.

Brian did manage to mess up his ankle this month, though, so if you think of it, pray that heals quickly and completely with no need of further x-rays. It’s not broken, but it definitely hurts him.

Tomorrow, we take E to a new doctor to try to figure out some physical issues she’s been having for quite awhile. They have somewhat subsided since she got glasses; we’re praying that maybe that’s all it was??

March is going to be equally as full. Wait, scratch that. March is going to be MORE full. It’s just how it falls with meetings, school activities, the annual training day, deadlines, and Easter. We are INCREDIBLY thankful that illness has not struck our home yet and would love it if you would pray that it would stay that way! Ain’t nobody got time for that. 🙂

I leave you with a cute picture of the big kids. Somehow, in the midst of all that crazy, Brian found the time to make BigJ a T-rex head for school. It was favorite animal day in his class (western day in his sister’s) and he was insist that he be a T-rex. I, being the creative that I am, was content slapping spikes on a hoodie and calling it good. Brian, being the amazing dad he is, pulled boxes out of the basement and went to town. It turned out pretty awesome!

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January, with a prayer request

January has plodded along. Nothing overly exciting or new to report, hence the quiet on here! I’ll go through our each of our family:

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No picture of the heavily bearded man himself, but Brian spent most of January working in the shop. He’s got some electrical done, including the light on the outside that comes on automatically at night. He’s got the heater installed and most of the ceiling up. He was able to use it for the first time this past Saturday when he worked on a friend’s car all day. They were able to be inside and not freezing cold, so, mission accomplished.

The print compilation edition of the BCM World is in the works. And, Brian’s been doing a lot of web design for a BCM camp. He’s been kept plenty busy.

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Due to weather, we had to cancel one Wed. night so far this month and I missed one Sunday morning because it was pure ice leaving MRF and Brian (who was at church early) texted and asked me not to come in. Beyond that – my Wed. night team is being extremely gracious and are piloting some church material I’ve been writing this past year. I want to see if it’ll work and what changes I need to make going forward. It’s humbling and terrifying, but I’m praying the end result will be a good experience!

I’m working on editing revisions for BCM’s In Step with the Master Teacher material. And, I’m in the middle of planning the annual training for the kid’s ministries at church, to be held in March.

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This one got a yucky tummy bug a couple weeks ago and, as per usual, took her well over a week to bounce back. But, she’s a trooper and handled it like a champ. She’s doing well now. She has two loose teeth, but is too anxious to actually pull them out. While she’s quite independent, we’re seeing her sweet spirit come out more often – quick to hug and make sure people are okay, worried about others, and always the peacemaker.

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This guy had a small medical procedure done last week and while recovery was tough, he’s doing just fine now. He is enjoying learning how to use Legos, but if given the choice, he’d be outside as much as possible. His class at school has a new pet: a lizard! His writing and coloring are greatly improving and he’s such a gentle little boy (well, most of the time. He is still a boy!).

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The big news for this guy is that he’s finally out of diapers! He is so proud of himself and we are quite content not having to contend with that anymore! He is our biggest talker at this age. When the big kids are at school, he follows me around chattering all day long. By the time Brian gets home, I beg to be alone and just not have anyone talking at me anymore! He’s hilarious and ALL boy.

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In closing, can I ask you to pray for my friend Sue? Sue and I go way back. Like, she entered my life when I was in middle school and just hasn’t left. She is my mentor, one of my closest friends, a bridesmaid, aunt to my kids — there are not enough descriptions for all she means to me. She has visited us in every place we’ve ever lived – including Peru – and I love her to pieces. She’s family, not just a friend. Well, she was diagnosed with cancer Saturday. I am usually full of words, but this has left me speechless and utterly, completely heartbroken. Please pray for the Great Physician to heal my precious Sue. I don’t even know what else to say, so just pray for her. Thank you.

To paradise and back to the bitter cold.

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We had a spectacular time in Florida for Christmas! The Lord graced us with good weather on both the trip down and back – we missed this nasty winter storm on the east coast by a few days, so that’s awesome. While in Florida, we even had genuinely warm days, allowing us to truly enjoy Clearwater Beach, hiking, and outdoor activities as a family. I even still have the sunburnt, peeling back to prove it!

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We went to a beautiful Christmas Eve service with my parents at the church MY grandparents attended. I can still picture my Grandma Ribble (E’s middle namesake) walking down the aisles of that church in her flowered dress. Being in my grandparent’s condo brought back such nostalgia and it was fun sharing memories with my own children. And yes, I do realize there’s a good chance that BigJ will one day look at this picture and go, “Mom, what did you let me wear?!” 

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The Christmas morning jammies lasted only as long as opening presents did – it was just too warm! We loved being with my parents Christmas morning. The lovely task of packing wrapped presents into totes for the trip down was totally worth it (but may not be something I want to do every year!).

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Christmas afternoon, we did what apparently everybody in the area also did: went to the beach. Actual Clearwater Beach was packed and traffic was horrible, so we went just a tad farther and found a less occupied beach that was almost as pretty. The kids got to put their feet in the ocean and collected piles of sea shells.

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My parents graced us with a date night. We watched a gorgeous sunset and had cajun food for dinner. No phones. No work calls. No stress. Just us. I’m pretty sure it was just what the doctor ordered.

The kids got to go swimming in the pool at the condo. We took walks and went hiking in a park where the kids got to see their first alligators. I did loads of reading. Brian left his phone off and only did computer work once. I even got to do some shopping with my mom and sister. We took three days to get home (only two days to get down) and made a stop at our good friends’ house in Virginia for New Year’s Eve. All in all, it was a simply beautiful, much-needed vacation and we were thankful to come home Monday night to running water, no frozen pipes, and a house that {eventually} warmed up!

Now, it’s back to reality! The kids are home on a snow day. It hasn’t stopped snowing all morning and the temperature is continuing to plummet as the wind kicks up.

I’ll work on sending out an actual newsletter this month with a game plan of what’s on our agendas for the beginning of 2018.

One last thing — we wanted to give a public THANK YOU to the many of you who unexpectedly gave financially towards our trip. We are humbled by your outpouring of love in this way. It truly made the trip feel like a vacation because finances were not a stress. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

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We’re always busy, but this week is particularly slammed, so I thought in these few moments of peace I have this morning, that I’d post an early Merry Christmas for all of you! We hope your holiday is lovely, uneventful, and full of joy. We are looking forward to seeing my parents in Florida (yes, we’re driving). Naturally, there’s five million loose ends to tie up here before we can leave, so if you think of us this week, just pray it all gets done and that no emergencies (like the plumbing problem at MRF that Brian had to work on the last couple of days!) arise while we’re gone. It’s been a while since we’ve had a vacation or a substantial break, so we are simply looking forward to crashing for awhile. Built-in babysitters in the condo are also a plus – maybe we’ll get a date night out of the deal?!

We shall see you in the New Year! Have a good one…

*because outtakes are often better than the real one…. believe it or not, most of the outtakes involved the 2 year old… shocking, i know…*

Fruition!

Since Thanksgiving…

I finished two articles for the BCM World. Brian is now putting the magazine together and it will be published within the next week or two.

Our church put on its 9th Annual Living Christmas Village:

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The kid’s area kind of dictates the theme throughout and this year, they chose Christmas in Hawaii! It was very pretty and definitely a change from the norm. As usual, there was great music in the sanctuary and lots of free cookies and cocoa in The Hub. A great addition was having the Gospel clearly presented out at the Nativity scene by two of our pastors.

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Saturday, good friends watched our kids for the afternoon and evening so Brian and I could both volunteer. Brian is always the head sound guy; I help with seating and getting people through the tour (part of the event is a play and we allow in 50-70 people at a time). This year I was the doorkeeper to the entrance to the play and got to personally greet about 950 people! Sunday was even bigger; we estimate well over 2000 came through the Village this year. Which means that all 2000 clearly heard the Gospel!

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Before we headed out to the Village on Saturday, though, Brian thought he would sit in the woods for a few hours and see what would happen. I got an excited text at 8:30 saying, “I think I got my doe!” About an hour later, he came home to collect Big J, our hunter enthusiast, so he could see the deer and help him drag it home:

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Another friend came out today to help Brian process it since this is his first deer. We are ecstatic about the freezer of meat this provides our family! So proud of Brian!

We welcomed a new long-term family to MRF this past week. Our daughter has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 8 year old girl. She kindly left a note welcoming her to MRF and introducing herself. We tucked another note in their door on Friday about Christmas Village since they weren’t home. Sunday after church, E was floored to find a note in response tucked into our door! We got to meet them Sunday afternoon and found out their little girl had been praying for a friend during their time here, so this is obviously a gift from the Lord.

Lastly, I came home to find this in the mail today:

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This is the end result of hours of work for Brian. He poured through thousands of pictures, I sent multiple emails around the world asking for more pictures, he designed and compiled and edited, I wrote the text and he slashed it in half (haha), and this is the result! If you have supported a BCM missionary or the ministry in the past, it should be arriving in your mailboxes soon. If you do not receive one and would like one, drop us a note and we’ll be sure to get you one! They really turned out very nice.

On our agenda now:

  • Christmas Shopping in our Kidz Konnect Store on Wednesday night
  • Annual MRF Christmas Banquet on Friday
  • I teach Sunday School this month
  • Brian will be completing the BCM World and getting it online
  • Kids’ Christmas concert at school next week
  • And the big one…. A trip to Florida to visit my parents for Christmas!
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The snowman is his “senior buddy” at school – the youngest grades get paired up with the seniors each year and spend extra time with them. Big J was thrilled to see who it was and could not stop hugging him and visiting him! It was awesome!

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Just wanted to take a minute to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving! We continue to be grateful to God for where he has placed us… in a tiny house in the woods in the corner of Pennsylvania, ministering to our church family, missionaries from around the world, and our BCM co-workers. Thank you for being a part of that. Thank you for caring for our missionary kids, praying for us, keeping up with what we’re doing, and supporting us financially. If you have done any of that this year, then you are as much a part of our ministries as we are because we cannot do this alone. 

We hope your Thanksgivings are filled with wonderful family times and great food! We are home this year and have no visitors, which means it’ll be just our family for the first time ever for Thanksgiving! And we decided to do what every normal family would do in that case: celebrate on Friday. The kids generously shared their colds with us and even though Brian is basically fully-functioning, I am completely miserable, have no voice (which the kids think is hilarious, by the way), and have no desire to be in the kitchen coughing over the pumpkin roll. So, we’re postponing and declaring Thanksgiving Day the day of snack food, family games, and movies! 🙂 Whatever works, right??

Happy Thanksgiving!