It’s D.O.N.E.!

The first half of the duplex is compete AND occupied! Months of work and prep have finally come to completion. For the moment. The second half will get completed over the next few months, especially as more funds become available. We are fully booked at MRF right now (the suite is even booked sometimes twice a week and the old pavilion is being used every weekend all summer long). Pray that funds come in and that Brian and the guys have the time to finish the second half soon so we can accommodate more people as we are still turning applications away almost weekly. Okay – onward to the pictures!

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The exterior of the house that’s being remodeled. The porch is part of the suite and will eventually be the back entrance. The duplexes are to the right.

The entrances to the duplexes. The one that is complete is the sliding door closest.

The entrances to the duplexes. The one that is complete is the sliding door closest.

The downstairs view from the front door

The downstairs view from the front door

Another view of the downstairs, from the stairs.

Another view of the downstairs, from the stairs.

Panorama of the downstairs

Panorama of the downstairs

Nice, spacious kitchen (this was pre-existing). The door handle in the very left of the picture opens to reveal the stacked washer/dryer.

Nice, spacious kitchen (this was pre-existing). The door handle in the very left of the picture opens to reveal the stacked washer/dryer.

Finished bathroom, upstairs.

Finished bathroom, upstairs.

1st bedroom

1st bedroom

Bedroom #2 (bunk beds come apart if a family prefers them that way)

Bedroom #2 (bunk beds come apart if a family prefers them that way)

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

We could not have gotten this house done without loads of help, not just from the teams of contractors that came through during the winter, but also to some residents here! Families here helped do laundry, clean, wash dishes, organize linens, and watch our kids so we could finish the work. We are so grateful for them! The house looks amazing, very homey and inviting. We hope and pray that all who stay here are refreshed and enjoy their time at MRF.

School, Magazine, Duplex, and More…

Since moving back to the States, we have been praying and thinking about an upcoming big decision: School for Elena. Though I taught school in Peru and thoroughly enjoyed it, I just have never been at peace about homeschooling our own children. Not having time is  just one of the many factors. We really wanted her in Christian school, but just did not  know if we could swing it financially. But, we went ahead and applied to a local Christian school out of sheer faith, knowing even under the best of circumstances, we simply cannot afford it. A meeting with the principal the week before James arrived, though, was confirmation that she should go there. Thanks to scholarships and grants available, some specifically for missionary families, our little girl will be a Kindergartner at Canaan Christian Academy this fall! What’s even better is that her Kindergarten teacher is not just a member of our church and a personal friend, but she and her husband attend our Life Group at our house, so E knows her! We are thrilled that she gets to attend her and are excited for her about this fall. If you think of it, though, be praying with us as we help her transition into this new stage over the summer.

Here at MRF, we are officially a full house! I rarely get to welcome new families since I’m at home with the kids, but yesterday I was out getting a home ready and was there when the new family arrived. It’s so much fun greeting a new family who’s never been here before and is obviously needing a home. There are now 19 children on the property! MRF stays booked through the entire summer and already most of the fall.

This week, we are finishing up Side A of the duplex! Furniture is in and arranged. Brian is finishing up some painting and putting the toilet in. We need to deep-clean, wash all the linens, make beds, wash dishes, and arrange the kitchen before the 19th…when the first residents arrive who happen to also be with BCM! We so love it when our ministries coincide.

The new edition of BCM World has been out for a week now. Brian’s layout is, as always, just beautiful. I know Nepal has been on everyone’s hearts and minds a lot lately. I encourage you to read the feature article by clicking here. The other article I think you should read is about my favorite thing, In Step with the Master Teacher, in Africa. Click here to view the full magazine.

Some of the family got hit with a stomach bug Sunday night. We’re praying no one else gets it, but are bracing ourselves for round 2 just in case. James is growing like a weed and definitely currently in a growth spurt, which means he’s eating almost constantly and outgrowing his cute newborn clothes. The other kids are loathing summer rain storms since it keeps them inside (most of the time), but are loving the fact that “summer” means “ice cream.”

Watch for pictures of the duplex! Can’t wait to show you the finished product.

Finding God in the Pain

Many of you know about my cousins’ journey through adoption. My cousin Jared and his wife Krystal have been traveling the road of adoption for quite a while now. A year ago, things came to a head – but not in a good way. A little girl they were just about to bring home from Ukraine (literally within the week) was whisked away from them and they haven’t seen or heard from her since.

Adoption has always been on our hearts, so we have been following their story very closely. When we heard what happened, I cried as if it had happened to us. My heart just ached for them and their very real loss. I could only imagine what Krystal, especially, was going through.

Now, it’s been a full year and they are just months away from now bringing home a little boy from the Caribbean. Krystal has started a blog, is writing a book, and now travels the States sharing their story.

Why do I share this with you? For one thing, I am so proud of Jared and Krystal and how they have used their pain to try to bring awareness and change to adoption policies. She’s become an advocate for the voiceless, nameless, parentless children of the world and I think that is absolutely awesome and if I didn’t have so much on my plate already, I’d join her!

Secondly, I’m sharing this because I know for a fact that it’s so easy for us, myself included, to blame God for the pain in our lives. If anyone had a reason to do so, they did. I found myself asking God that very question when I heard what happened to them – just wondering why God “allowed” this to happen to them. It’s so easy to have the first thing we do to be to turn on God when tragedy strikes. “Why, God? Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? What did I do to deserve this? Where are You?” etc etc etc. We’ve all been there. We may have even been there this week.

Believe it or not, it is OKAY to cry out to God and be angry with God. If you read even 1/4 of the Psalms written by David, you can hear his frustration and even anger at God. Yet, you can also see how he reconciles himself with the fact that through the pain, God is still on His throne, He’s still in charge, and He’s big enough to handle our accusations. He is not the one at fault or to blame. He is the hope and reason for getting up and keeping going.

Instead of running from God screaming in anger, try running to God.. even if it’s screaming in anger. He is your only true hope for healing from immeasurable pain and brokenness. I have been reminded so often recently that truly the answer to every question, to every need is simply… Jesus.

I encourage – no, implore – you to check out Krystal’s new website and read through their journey. Start by clicking here and then read the rest of their story. Start at the beginning for it to make complete sense. Join Krystal in her desire to take care of the orphans of our world by sponsoring a child through Holt Int’l (all info on her blog). Have her come speak at your small group or women’s Bible study.

Above all, next time life throws something at you that is literally unbearable, take it the only One Who can bear every burden thrown His way. Even if throwing it at Him means you do it weeping on your bedroom floor out of sheer frustration and anger, that’s okay. He’ll gladly lift it from you and heal the wounds hidden deep in your heart. You just need to let Him.

Moving into June:

James is now three weeks old and the new rhythm of life is finally settling in. I returned to the office this morning, James in tow, though I’ve been working from home basically this entire time. It was nice to begin to get back into a routine. The main thing I’m working on right now is our church’s Vacation Bible School. Last year’s was a huge success, so we’re praying it goes even better this year. Our theme is “Thailand Trek” and will introduce the kids to a new culture. We’ll be communicating with our missionaries in Thailand and encouraging kids (and the church body) into missions. I am SO looking forward to it! Just need to find enough volunteers and we’ll be good to go!

Brian is ecstatic that Side A of the duplex is just about complete. The carpets were cleaned last week and they look brand new. It’s a little humorous — the ladies who originally lived in the duplex couldn’t afford to carpet the entire upstairs, so carpet pieces were donated and pieced together in the hallway, so nothing really matches. But, at last they’re now clean again!

Joseph and I walked up to visit Brian on Friday while Elena was out on a play date and the duplex looks phenomenal. Did I think to bring a camera? No, of course not! But, you can take my word for it – Brian and the men who have volunteered their time have done an amazing job. Friday when we visited, Brian was working on putting furniture together and arranging the bedrooms. The bathroom tile is done and he got the grout finished that afternoon. He’s working on pulling everything back out of the closets and putting the house back together. Now that I’m feeling better, I’m going to be able to help him make the beds and arrange the linens and the kitchen so he doesn’t have to do it all alone. The house is booked this month, so we’re right on time!

Brian is also busy finishing up the latest edition of BCM World. I just finished proof-reading it and let me tell you, you’re going to want to read this edition! It should go out this week. He’s also working (still!) on building websites for co-workers in NY. Thanks to James’ arrival and all that entailed, he’s fallen a little behind, so you can pray he can find the time and energy to get everything accomplished.

As for the family — Elena is a helpful big sister (even helping me with James as I type this). We are thankful for friends who come over to play and, like I mentioned, take her out on play dates. She’s such a social butterfly, she really needs those times. Joseph would live outside, tormenting the frogs and talking to our cat (who we have transitioned to an outdoor cat, much to his chagrin) under the porch. He gets covered in dirt and frog guts, is a mess of bug bites and sunburn, and is the happiest little boy you will ever meet. The two of them spend hours on the swingset and riding their bikes through the yard. Summer is such a blissful time of year!

James is growing like a weed – we estimate he’s up over 9lbs now and finally filling out newborn clothes. He’s sleeping from about 11pm-5am every night, for which we’re all thankful. He’s still very content and easy-going. We’ll see if that’s really his personality as time goes on!

Next time, I’ll try to have pictures to show you of the work and our growing kids. You’ll just have to check back in…

He’s here!

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In case you somehow missed the big news, our newest little boy arrived – FINALLY – on May 8. He was due May 3, so he was a little late! We were glad when he finally made his big appearance. I was allowed to go into labor, really for the first time, and labored almost 24 hours before a c-section became necessary, unfortunately. His heart was just not liking labor, so the doctors decided surgery would be safest.

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James Lee (middle name after my father) weighed in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long. He looks almost identical to his older siblings. :) He’s a very content little boy, loved on almost constantly by Elena and Joseph.

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I am recovering, slowly but surely. The third c-section really takes a toll on you apparently. But, overall, recovery is going just fine. Now we’re just working on getting into a new routine. Elena even told her teachers yesterday in church that she missed Sunday School because “things are different now.”

Brian was home the first few days with us, but then went back to working on the duplex while my mom and sister were around each day to help out. They have come a long way with the duplex and the first half is just about complete. He’s busy doing tile in the bathroom these days. The kitchen has arrived for the second half and will be installed soon.

Continue to pray for us as we adjust to life with 3 little ones. I am doing more work from home this week and will return to the office next week barring no complications. Thank you to everyone who brought meals and gifts for the kids and myself. They are very appreciated!

Quick Recap

To be honest, it’s pretty quiet here! We are waiting on baby as my doctor is convinced he will come on his own any time now and that surgery is not necessary unless something happens. You can pray with us that he’ll come this week as I hit 40 weeks yesterday and we’d sure love to have him here soon – sans surgery!

Brian has been hanging near the house for the past week, doing odd jobs in the duplex and then lots of yard work around here just to help with the kids. The side of the duplex that is almost completed now has major issues in the bathroom which is upstairs. Brian is having to basically tear up the floor and the dry wall and start over. Even some of the support beams are in bad shape. So, the duplex went from “almost completed” to “needing lots more work.” Pray that he can figure out how to fix the bathroom, get the house in order, and yet be present for baby’s birth and the first bit at home.

The horrendous tragedy in Nepal also gave Brian additional work. Granted, it’s work he was glad to do! But, our internet has been sporadic for a long time now, so what should’ve taken a few hours took a couple of days. He was asked to do a mailing and some web design for BCM in order to send aid to our BCM missionaries in Nepal. You can check it out by clicking here. If you are interested in donating, the link to do so is at the bottom of the article. Our missionaries are okay, but the BCM church will need to be rebuilt and as of the writing of the article, many were missing family members.

The kids are doing okay. As the arrival of baby approaches, they progressively handle the idea worse. So, you can pray for us in this aspect as well – that we would be mindful of all they’re going through and know how to help them with the adjustment. We are so grateful to our neighbors here at MRF who have helped watch them last week and for my parents who are so close and helping out a lot, too. It’s nice living in this community – 2 of our neighbors have just randomly taken the kids for us, feeding them meals and playing with them to give us a reprieve.

Thank you for praying with us! Hopefully the next time I update, it will include a picture of our new boy!

April

Since our last update, the view outdoors has gone from this:

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to this:

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Finally! Winter was just interminably long this year. I know we’ve had long winters before, but when you have small children and minimal running space in your house, it just seems that much longer.

Easter has come and gone.

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As much as we LOVE Easter and all the goings-on at church that week, I just couldn’t manage to go to it all. Brian ran sound for the Thursday evening communion service and the Friday evening prayer time. We skipped the sunrise service, much to our chagrin – it’s our favorite service. Brian headed in early to run sound and I made it in with the kids for the morning service. The church was packed!

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I’m glad I made it; made for a nice last Sunday before baby arrives.

That Wednesday was our Easter party in Kidz Konnect which was really nice (probably even more so since I didn’t have to worry about having a part in it!).

I am now taking it easy until baby arrives. It’s nice to not have much else to think about except laundry and getting the house ready and spending time with the other two kids. We are slowly realizing all the differences between this baby and the other two, not the least of which is the fact that this will be the first time that we won’t be traveling or moving within the first three months of having a baby! I think that’s making me more frantic, though. Knowing we would be traveling or moving made it actually less stressful since I knew we would have almost like a second chance to get the house ready (or in J’s case, we didn’t actually have a place to “get ready” until he was five months old). This time around, this is IT! Either we’ll be ready or we won’t be – there won’t be a redo in a couple of months!

My mom was so sweet and threw me a “sprinkle” (instead of a “baby shower”) last week so I could celebrate with some friends the coming of the baby. It was so nice!

Brought a balloon home and Brian found J sound asleep that night, clutching the string with all his might!

Brought a balloon home and Brian found J sound asleep that night, clutching the string with all his might!

As for Brian, he’s enjoying the warmer weather and finding more things to do outside. However, that means he keeps getting distracted from the work inside. :) He’s been doing a lot of painting and finish work in the duplex. It’s in the process of getting deep-cleaned so they can begin to move furniture in and get it ready for the first guests, which will be, I believe, the end of May. He’s been a big help – coming home early and taking the kids outside for me. He’s finding time somewhere in there to help with rearranging rooms and general housework, on top of building websites for missionaries in New York, setting up a drum set at church, and keeping up with the BCM website.

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If you think of us, be praying for this transitional time. Our oldest, especially craves quality time and we are already seeing her temperament get a little more difficult as she senses baby is coming soon and her world is about to change. Pray with us that our new little boy would arrive healthy with no complications and that we would have peace in the coming weeks.