Getting back on track.

Now that March is just about done, I feel like I have a bit of a breather and maybe I can give more regular updates again! Brian and I are wrapping up all those crazy deadlines, but we’re not quite done yet. Would you mind praying for us about the following?

  • Brian is working overtime to get the BCM World out. A variety of meetings and MRF responsibilities continue to push the date back; he’s really wanting to get it done within the next couple of days.
  • As is usual with ministry, I have some unexpected things that have come up; I just need some wisdom. I’m also back to teaching now that snow is over! This Wednesday, Brian will join me in teaching a discipleship class for the 6th graders. Sunday begins my team’s rotation in our equivalent of children’s church.
  • This Friday, I will spend the afternoon at E’s school for career day. I’m one of a couple career missionaries coming in to share with a variety of grades.
  • Easter prep for our church is in full-swing, as is a marriage conference Brian and I are helping lead.

Then, of course, there’s life and trying to figure out how to fit everything in! Our good friends are home from the NICU with baby Jax – praise God! I finally got to hold this precious little boy today and frankly wish I could just cross everything else off my to-do list so I could go be with them every day and help out. Next weekend, I head to a writer’s conference, leaving Brian home alone with the kids again. There are two homes and the suite here at MRF that all need cleaned and beds made. Along with meetings and other church activities we’re involved in, we’re definitely not bored!

Cleaning Up!

The blizzard of 2017, “Stella”, really did a number up here in NEPA! We got about 32″ of snow when it was all said and done, most of that falling Tuesday during the day, sometimes 2″ an hour. Brian was incredibly thankful for the new tractor, which made digging us out so much easier.

While we were busy cleaning up snow, we began to receive messages from friends in Peru regarding the massive flooding. By now, you have probably seen it on Facebook, on here, or received emails from BCM about it. In a nutshell, the rains in the Andes have caused flooding in the coastal regions, up and down the entire coast of Peru, including the BCM Peru property outside of Lima where we used to live. The property has been decimated and it’s unclear yet when or if they will be able to move back home and begin ministry there on the property again. We ask for your continued prayers and support as they go through the weeks and months ahead. You can securely donate by clicking here.

This Saturday is the annual training day at our church. I’m wrapping up prep now and looking forward to the day. I head to Lancaster for a writer’s conference in a couple of weeks, hoping to glean some more information for future reference. Brian and I are helping plan a marriage conference for April that we are super excited to be a part of. We have some very close friends whose baby has been in and out of the NICU since the beginning of March. Brian helped take them down to Hershey to a better NICU and as they come home this week we’re part of a group doing all we can to be their support system during this exceptionally difficult time. Pray for Jax and his parents, Jeremy and Kara; the last few weeks have been really trying for all of them.

E is back in school this week! No word yet on when her last day will be, but we know it’ll be later due to all the snow days. Baby J has taken off talking lately! Most of his vocabulary has to do with vehicles: car, bus, “kuck” (truck). He FINALLY learned how to say “Joe Joe”!! He ran into his brother’s classroom after my Bible study Tuesday yelling “Joe Joe!” at the top of his lungs to let him know it was time to go. Big J is busy playing fireman as I write this and he just informed me that he will, in fact, one day leave me in order to be a fireman, but it’s okay because I can go visit him whenever I want.

Watch your inboxes for a newsletter this week! Don’t get it yet? Let me know and I’ll add you!

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Info about the Peruvian flood:

You may have heard of the weather phenomenon “El Nino.” We literally heard stories about El Nino while we lived in Peru – how bad it would rain and the dangerous floods. But, it hadn’t happened in years!

Well, it’s happening now. Rain up in the Andes Mountains is causing horrible flooding and landslides all throughout the country. There are 25 regions in Peru and 20 of them are struggling with floods. At least 56,000 people are displaced. And then as the rains come down in the mountains, the rivers in the valleys flood as they head out to the ocean.

A river runs along the edge of BCM Peru’s property, where we used to live. The property is home to missionary houses, the campground, and  many other buildings. A usually idyllic setting has been turned into a disaster zone. As night began on March 15, they were warned the river was beginning to crest again. By midnight, all 55 people were evacuated, including 19 children. They left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Neighboring ministries have opened their doors to house all these people and are offering food and shelter for the time being. Some men are staying on the property to ward off would-be looters and do what they can to salvage what’s left. They were able to enter homes and fill bags with essentials and valuables, which is a good thing. But, the roads going in and out of the property are gone, so they have no idea when they will be able to get back in with trucks for more personal belongings.

Keep in mind as well, this water is not crystal clear, clean river water. This is the run-off of local pig and guinea pig farms and the village sewer.

I can’t really describe to you the pit sitting in Brian’s and I’s stomachs as I type this. We are part of the home office of BCM now, so our task  has been getting this information out to all of you as quickly and succinctly as possible. It’s been hard to separate “work” from “heart” all day as we sift through videos and images and try to word this in a way for everyone who has NOT been to Peru to understand the gravity of the situation.

This is not a ministry that was  constructed overnight. This is years and years of work, donations, blood, sweat, and tears. We lived there. We walked those paths. We have pictures of little E throwing rocks into the river. I remember sitting in my bedroom with the window open listening to the melody of water running in the irrigation canal early in the morning. It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting – like nowhere else I’ve ever been. To see it just ravaged and unrecognizable really does a number on your head, and your heart.

I encourage you to take a minute and put yourself in their shoes. Some have lived on that property for their entire married lives. Pretty much all of those 19 children have known no other home. To have to wake your children up and rush them through a river in their front yard, leaving behind all their belongings, clothes, snacks, pictures, memorabilia – and into trucks and backhoes to safety – I can’t even imagine. Now today, they are able to stay with Christians nearby, but that is not a permanent solution. The school year just began; do the kids even have their uniforms, backpacks, or pencils with them?

Life has been altered for them for an indefinite amount of time. Would you help? BCM is collecting donations that will be given directly to the leadership to help with supplies and living essentials right away. You can click here to do so.

Watch our Facebook, BCM Intl’s Facebook, BCM Peru’s Facebook, and BCM’s website for additional information, updates, and even live video and pictures.

Pray that God will stop the rain! Pray for safety, provision, and protection.

Click Here for a brief video.

Snow Day!

I want to see how quickly I can write an update since I need to call in my snow children very soon or else they will be frozen children!

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this was about 9am – you can see the van behind the pile on the railing, just barely

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This is in the afternoon – keep in mind, Brian cleared the porch completely between the two pictures! And he’ll have to clear it again in the morning.

We are nearing the end of a very legitimate blizzard. The last real blizzard we’ve had was back in South Dakota the day after Easter, 2006. I believe we’ve actually more snow here in PA than we did back then! We have more than 2 feet and it’s still snowing super hard – and is supposed to continue for a few more hours yet! The wind is beginning to pick up and school is already canceled for tomorrow.

Brian went out before 9 this morning to begin clearing off our porches and get the tractor out. By law, we have to have the MRF road clear in case of a fire emergency. But, it’s taken Brian and Don literally all day and they still have not finished the road. The snow has come down so fast and hard, plus there’s a layer of ice underneath, so they keep sliding around! Brian was home three times – twice just to swap clothes in and out of the dryer and once for a quick lunch. He’ll need to stop soon with the sun going down, but they’re hoping to have the bulk of it done by then.

The kids think this is glorious! And I don’t blame them! They got a little nervous this morning, though, as it was coming down pretty fast and hard and Big J kept getting stuck. This afternoon, our neighbors are out with them, building forts and igloos and pulling Big J out when he can’t move anymore! They’re having a blast and I hate to end it, but E was just inside for a minute and she is RED and so, so cold and wet. I think I’d be a bad mom if I let them stay out much longer…

Here’s a brief family update in the interim:

  • Training at the Chinese church on Saturday went very well. We were told to plan on 25-30 and we had 35-40 trainees. Very attentive, so welcoming and considerate. It was a joy to teach them and see the grasp concepts and plan to put them into practice. Had some great conversations afterwards and am looking forward to returning next year, Lord willing.
  • I have been struggling with a cold/cough for three weeks now and it’s finally got out of control on Friday. There was really nothing I could do about it by then, so I got a bunch of cough medicine and powered through Saturday. By Sunday evening, though, I was pretty sure I was getting Influenza A because I was so sick and run down. I dragged myself to urgent care Monday morning and was told I didn’t have the flu, but I needed to rest (she even offered a doctor’s note if I thought I needed it, so I guess she was serious…) and she got me some stronger medication. So far, the only difference has been no fever. I’m pretty wiped and ready for bed, but that can’t happen for a while yet, so I’ll hang on a bit longer! Brian’s coughing too; praying he doesn’t get as bad as I did!
  • Brian has the one bathroom down to the studs and has purchased a new cast iron tub for in there. It has a ways to go, but it’s going to look much better. All of that is on hiatus during this blizzard, though.
  • The printed BCM World should be off to the printers any day now. Final edits are happening and whenever Brian can take a breath from all this snow, he’ll do the updates and it’ll be ready to go! Phew.
  • My article is off to the editor for the e-zine, which Brian will begin, again, after this storm! There’s just not enough hours in the day…
  • The 25th is our church’s training day so now that I’m done with NJ, I can really finish up prep for ours.

That’s pretty much life in a nutshell! Okay – off to call in the snow children and figure out what in the world to feed them… Stay safe & warm!

It’s the most busiest time of the year…

We wear many hats, but like I’ve said before, very rarely do they align into a perfect storm.

But… sometimes they do. Like March. Possibly April. And definitely June. But, we’ll worry about that when the time comes.

A “perfect storm” for us just means lots of deadlines in a variety of different areas, all coming at the same time. Not unlike your life, I am sure! But, here’s what it looks like for us these days:

Currently, Brian is finishing up the printed edition of BCM World. His graphic design skills have greatly improved and this edition came together faster than the last two. But, it’s not quite done yet. Hopefully, it’ll just be a few more edits and then off to the printer!

While the print edition is almost complete, he is beginning the next e-version. The articles are arriving in his inbox, which means he has to begin sorting and adding pictures and layout, along with the building of multiple web pages and emails.

The beginning of each year also finds Brian doing updates on various BCM websites around the world. This year is no exception; he has quite a few requests for new websites and consultations planned in order to update old ones.

He does all that work after the kids are in bed. During the day, he’s been working on Unit #3 (click here for older pictures). Needing many updates, Brian has begun in the bathroom (this one has one and a half baths), which is currently emptied of everything but the tub… which, upon further inspection, will also vacate the premises later this week. He’s praying the wall behind the tub is fine, otherwise this job just got even bigger. The house is a mess; I think he said he has six weeks to finish… I hope that’s enough!

As for me, I have my article for this edition of the BCM World well underway, but nowhere near completion. March is my month for trainings, but unexpected meetings also cropped up at church, which involved a substantial amount of prep work. This Saturday, I head to New Jersey to train a group of 30 Chinese in children’s ministry. I’ll meet a friend and BCM Appointee there and we will co-train, relieving some of that burden. Then on the 25th is the annual training day for our church that I lead. Of course there’s prep, plans, and programs in between then, too. Oh, and an impromptu trip to Connecticut to spend some much-needed time with my big sister for her birthday! I am SO EXCITED for our time together even if it will equal only about 24 hours in the end!

Naturally, we all got sick on top of it all. Like clockwork. Every time we get super busy (and every time the BCM World is due), we get sick. I had zero voice Thursday (much to my boys’ great amusement!) and spent Saturday in bed. I just hope Brian doesn’t get it as bad.

As for the kids… they’re holding up just fine. E is getting ready to loose a top tooth (which is big news for any six year old). Big J has finally discovered coloring! He LOVES to color and very carefully roll (not fold – roll) each precious picture and tape them closed as gifts for his family, especially big sister for her return from school. Baby J has adequately learned the word “No.” I’m really hoping he’ll move on from that one soon and learn something a little more pleasant, like “Yes!” I’d even settle for his big brother’s real name, “Joe!”, not just his nickname of, “No!”, that is usually screeched repeatedly all day long.

I finally found my camera. I leave you with a few recent pictures:

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We had a nasty weather system move through the end of February – you may have seen on the news that a tornado touched down in our general area. If you look closely, the brown sludge out there is a river of water washing away our driveway. Our phones gave us tornado warnings all evening, but my dear mid-western husband sat on the porch and watched it roll in until it began to hail and kept yelling through the porch, “Doesn’t look like a tornado to me!” And then during a little delay in the storm, he threw on his boots and went outside to unplug the drains – which actually saved us from a very flooded basement, so I’m not going to complain too loudly! I’m also thankful he had the foresight to quickly return the metal-handled rake to the basement as soon as he heard thunder.

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E had spirit week at school. Thanks to some friends, we got her all dressed up as a little pink cowgirl for one of the days!

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Dancing Skill Nite during Wednesday evening kid’s program last week. So fun! We followed it up with a talent show and my daughter wanted to show off her art, but I think she instead showed that she loves to teach (don’t know where she got that from…)

 

Legion.

*Just to continue to break up the monotony of regular blog updates, I thought I’d share something I wrote recently. I got to teach the kids this lesson on a recent Wednesday night. There are lots of different applications you can draw from this story; I hope you enjoy my rendition of it.*

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A rendition of “Legion” by one of our Wednesday night 5th graders.

The day had been long and tiring. Jesus had taught and healed in the hot sun by the sea shore all day long. The crowd had been immense, forcing Him to balance precariously from a fishing boat while continuing to teach in parables. He was spent.

Night was fast approaching, so Jesus told His disciples to get in the boat and push off to the other side. The crowd was not anxious to leave Him; many hopped in their own boats to follow, more out of curiosity than actual need. Jesus was exhausted. He promptly went to the helm and fell fast asleep on a borrowed, fishy-smelling pillow.

Hidden in the inky blackness of the night sky, a storm was brewing over the Sea of Galilee. It swept in from out of nowhere, taking the disciples by surprise. Though many of them were seasoned fishermen, this storm was like nothing they had ever encountered. Bailing felt more like backpedaling; the boat was beginning to sink.

They rushed to their Master and were dismayed to find they had to physically shake Him to wake Him up! But, when He did, He did the incomprehensible: He rebuked the storm. The disciples were taken aback. Not only had the storm completed dissipated at the sound of His voice, He had actually treated it like it was alive – an entity of its own, not just a weather phenom. Who is this Man?

Arriving at the other side of the shore, the shaken and weary disciples trudged through the coast to drag the borrowed boat on to land. Jesus joined them in the shallows. A mundane task in the quiet morning was rudely interrupted by the sound of shrieks coming from the hillside.

They all turned to see what could possibly be making the racket. A man, completely nude, with broken chains hanging around his wrists, unkept hair nearly to his waist, and a scraggly beard, was charging towards them, screaming obscenities – and calling Jesus by name. Now, who was this man?

The man stank; he was covered in bruises, bleeding and scratched on almost every orifice of his dirty body. He was thin, almost famished. While he looked quite aged, the disciples wondered if that was merely from living in a cave or in the sun for an unknown amount of time. His entire being shook, foam slipping from the sides of his mouth, as he slid in front of Jesus, face to the ground. He addressed Jesus by name, but simultaneously refused to look Him in the eye. With his face to the ground, a raspy, otherworldly voice, quaking with palpable hatred, asked, “Why are you bothering me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? For God’s sake, don’t torture me!”

The disciples glanced around at the weary travelers who were still hauling in their boats from the previous night’s excursion across the waves. They couldn’t help but wonder if this was the show they had followed Jesus to see – first a violent storm being stilled for no reason and now a crazy man begging Jesus, Who had so far done nothing except walk ashore, to leave him alone. A show it definitely was; the question was now, how would it end?

Jesus could have asked anything. He asked for the man’s name. A pause. Then the raspy, obnoxiously loud voice answered, “Legion.” In their Roman world, the word ‘legion’ instantly drew mental images of at least 3000 soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder, armed to the hilt and ready to fight. A few disciples took unintentional steps backward. A host of demons were in this man; it was unimaginable.

The man’s voice changed then from one, distinct tone to what seemed like hundreds, if not thousands, of different voices speaking simultaneously. The demons were begging Jesus not to destroy them. They knew Who He was and the power He wielded over them. And they were terrified.

The man looked up at the hills and pointed. Everyone swiveled to see what he was pointing at. Only then did the silent onlookers hear – and smell – the thousands of pigs milling about on the hillside above the lake. All of a sudden, their presence, which hadn’t even been noticed yet, was all-consuming. The stench, the grunting, the stamping of little hooves on the ground – it was all everyone could hear aside from the slapping of waves on the untethered boats.

“Send us into the pigs.”

The crowd held their breath. Jesus nodded. With His consent, the man began to shake violently and was flung like a lifeless toy onto the beach. Shrieking was heard and the atmosphere tangibly cooled, as if a north wind had gusted around them.

Then, the pigs began to shriek. Their calm grunting had turned into mass chaos. Thousands of swine could be heard for miles shrieking, stampeding. The quiet morning was shattered as they took off for the cliff. Completely unorganized, the pigs flung themselves off the edge and into the deep waters and rocks below. The onlookers who were still standing in the shallows quickly dashed either into their boats or onto the shore as the red, defiled pig blood began to wash towards them.

Before they all reached the shore and long before the events had fully registered with the astonished disciples, more shouts were heard. A crowd came running from the village having been told by the herdsmen that their entire livelihood was lost. They pushed and shoved their way towards Jesus. They ignored completely the fact that the man who had terrorized their town for years was sitting, in his right mind, clothed and having a sane conversation. They stuck their accusatory fingers in the air and adamantly demanded Jesus leave immediately.

Calmly, the Master rose from the rock He had been seated on and motioned to His followers to begin to push the boats back out to the water. The newly healed man clung to Jesus’ robes and begged Him to come, too! “No,” He responded. “Go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful He has been.”

As quickly as their morning began, it was now over. The morning sun still sparkled on the lake and stomachs still begged for breakfast as they began to row back across the water to where the journey had began less than 12 hours before.

One man. He did all of that – for one man. If He pursued this man that hard, just imagine how He is pursuing you.

A recap

A week ago Thursday, we awoke to a nasty snow storm. E had a delay (again. She is no longer getting out of school June 2; in fact, her ‘last day’ is now unknown!) and it was a MESS outside. Every flight in our area was either cancelled or delayed. Which messed everything up for my Friday flights to Houston. I was already not looking forward to flying and, by 8am, we knew there was no way I could fly out of Wilkes-Barre – that flight was now landing after my flight to Houston was to have left! Last minute decision found Brian driving the boys and I down to Newark, NJ, for me to catch my Houston flight. On the plus side, it was only one flight and so four hours later, I landed in hot, humid Houston. A far, far cry from freezing cold, snowy PA!

After a run-around trying to just get out of the airport and find my ride, I finally made it back to my friend, Kristen’s, home. I was so grateful that a friend I haven’t seen since she was a young teenager was willing to shuttle me around and give me a place to crash for a few nights!

Saturday morning, she got me to the conference center – a giant mall connected to a beautiful hotel. I turned a corner and basically slammed into a wall of estrogen mingled with perfume! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many women in one place (744 attended the conference). I registered, got my coffee (praise the Lord), and found a seat along the edge of the large room in order to take it all in. Honestly, I just wanted to be alone. I wasn’t there to make friends; I wanted to learn.

The day was filled with long sessions given by Beth Moore herself, being extremely transparent and honest about her process and how she develops material, from personal quiet times through to publishing. It was the experience of a lifetime to learn from her.

In the afternoon, we had our choice of workshops and I chose the one on publishing – which ended up being taught by one of the publishers for Lifeway. She gave us the world’s fastest 45 minutes of insider info on how to get published. Elusive information I have never been able to learn. Invaluable content. This was worth every cent of that flight!

We wrapped up our day with a panel Q&A getting answers from some of my own personal heroes: Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine. OH wow. They could have answered questions for HOURS! They were a pool of knowledge and answered questions I’ve always wondered. Phenomenal.

Oh, and the worship time – surreal.

I left there so encouraged. Encouraged to keep going. Encouraged to do something more. Encouraged that I can, in fact, actually do something more and possibly even succeed! It was the refreshment I needed – as a mom, a wife, a missionary, and a leader at our church. I really didn’t know how badly I needed some time away, alone, until I got it.

My plan now is to run what I have learned past a few of my other mentors and get their take and additional suggestions. I am going to quit waiting for that non-existent time frame when my kids are magically quieter and more easily occupied so I can write in my unaffordable writing nook. I’m going to write. I’m hopefully going to write a lot. And then we’ll see what happens from there.

Thanks for praying me through my trip this weekend. If you want more details, please schedule a coffee with me; I’d love to share (my “brief synopsis” to my mother took an hour and a half, just so you’re forewarned). And thanks for praying for Brian and the kids! Not only were they alive, the dishes and laundry were done and everyone had a great time!