April Updates:

I honestly thought I’d kept this updated since our snow storms! Here is a desperately long overdue update with some pictures. Hopefully I will self-edit enough to keep this a readable length:

March came in with a bang with all the snow storms – kind of hit after hit, all month long. When that finally seemed to clear for awhile, we had some exciting events:

#1: My mom came to visit! She surprised our kids for Easter and stayed with us for 10 days. It was THE BEST visit ever.

#2: The Annual Kid’s Min Training Day was held. Being the responsible adult I am, in my rush to accommodate three trainers and my mother and prepare for an event that more than 35 people attended, I completely forgot to drink and managed to get pretty dehydrated the night before. woops. Brian dragged me to church and I made it through the morning, but crashed when it was over. My dear mom jumped in with caring for our kids all day and getting dinner on the table when we got home. She went above and beyond when I should’ve been accommodating her. I guess that’s what moms do best.

Besides all that, the training day was a great success. I was joined by three BCM trainers, all friends of mine, who are just awesome. This was the best turnout yet for our annual training.

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Then, Easter arrived! We continued our new annual tradition of celebrating Passover Friday evening, then painted eggs on Saturday. Sunday morning was full at church – and my mom surprised everyone by playing the organ during the service. Now, you have to understand, there’s “organ playing” – the music that probably instantly pops into your head when you heard the word. Then, there’s organ played by my mother. She is a musician in the fullest sense of the word and her organ playing is like nothing you’re used to, I can guarantee it. To have her play “He Arose” on Easter morning was just…. right. It’s really the only way to sing that song!

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Look! A family picture that’s not a selfie!

In April, I was attended two conferences in Lancaster – a writer’s conference I try to hit every year and a children’s ministry conference. The children’s conference was invaluable and I left with various ideas I’m already starting to implement at church.

Last week, we took 24 kids to a local home health care center – and returned with 24 (phew!) – for a Talent Show they put on for the residents. Over half of them were brave and stood up front and showcased their talents; I was very proud of them!

We did have difficult news in March, though. Our co-worker, Don’s, wife, Gail, was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer. She has been quite sick. Brian is doing his best to relieve Don of most of his responsibilities when he needs to be with Gail. Please pray for this sweet couple; we love them so very much and this is very difficult.

Brian has kept busy with various repairs and upkeep at MRF. He also completed the print edition of the BCM World and we received it in the mail a couple weeks ago!

If you didn’t receive a copy, let us know; we’d love to get you one!

The next online edition will come out in about a week. This week, however, Brian is focusing on Reach Day – a 24 hour giving extravaganza for BCM, focusing on four specific ministries. They’d like to see all four fully-funded by the end of the the 27th! All administrative fees will be waived during these 24 hours. It really is an awesome event. If you have ever considered giving to missions, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. You can read more about it here. And pray for Brian – since this is an online-only event, he will be very busy overseeing it all.

Last week, I was invited to speak at a local ladies’ group for another church. It was a joy sharing our testimonies with them and encouraging them to pray more specifically for missionaries. Next week, I help host an IF:gathering at our church, which is something I’m very excited to be a part of.

Coming up:

  • May 5: IF:gathering
  • May 10-11: Serve-a-Thon for our kids’ school, out here at MRF
  • May 13-19: Brian co-leading a missions trip to Rockport, Texas, for hurricane relief
  • My sister visiting the week Brian is gone!
  • Both big kids seeing specialists in May for various physical issues they’ve been dealing with
  • June 6: end of Wed. evening program for the school year

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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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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!

Busy Week!

November is turning out to be a packed month. We worked together to finish the annual Christmas giving catalog for BCM. You should have received, or will receive soon, one via snail mail if you have ever supported us or another BCM ministry. Now, we’ve moved on to the 2018 calendar that gets handed out. Brian is compiling pictures and when he has the layout done, I’ll help him with the text. It’s an interesting task as wall calendars are not as popular anymore, so they need to be more artwork rather than functional. Brian does a fabulous job, though!

I am working on a couple of articles for the last BCM World of the year. I have also been asked to consider working on another publication and will decide this week if I have the time to devote to it or not. When I asked Brian his thoughts, though, he looked at me and said, “Based on how you’re smiling and how excited you are about this, I think you’ll find the time!”

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We had asked prayer for James as he had a little procedure done this week. He was sick a week ago and we weren’t sure if it was going to proceed as planned since he had to be put under anesthesia. But, he was cleared for surgery and Tuesday morning everything was done. We are thankful to God for how all of this transpired as his “routine procedure” turned out to be a little more complicated than planned. He is more sore than anticipated and still not moving around much, but is healing well. The whole thing could’ve been much worse, so God was gracious and spared him a lot! Thank you for continuing to pray for his recovery!

Winter temps hit NEPA this week, so Brian rushed to get everything winterized, especially the outdoor pavilion restrooms. We have vacant homes, so he had to check on pipes and plumbing as well. This week, we welcome some short-term guests and our new neighbors, whose arrival was delayed, should move in as well.

The kids are gearing up for Thanksgiving. Their classes will both participate in missions outreaches this week where they visit different nursing homes. Big J’s class is filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child and the entire school is collecting canned goods. Grandparent’s Day is coming up right before Thanksgiving; they’re thankful that a great friend from church is playing surrogate Grandma and will be there with them!

And then, in between all that, there’s been time for this:

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He’s anxiously awaiting deer season, especially with the regular appearance of a large buck on his trail camera right where he’s putting up his tree stand! At least he’s got a hobby. You all know Brian; it’s good to see him not working once in a while and doing something else he enjoys.

Fall Ministries

Birthdays are over and fall is supposedly here, but the weather feels like spring and the colors of the leaves are pretty dismal. But, a part of me secretly loves the fact that it’s still warm so late because that means less time in the bitter cold! I’ll take it!

Here’s what’s been going on around here:

I spoke in chapel at the kids’ school on Sept. 27 – Big J’s birthday (I was essentially at school all day). It was a blast and I was so glad I got to do it! I speak again in February, but told them I’d be willing to be a fill-in if they needed someone last minute. It was just to the elementary, but it was so much fun. I return to the school on Oct. 29 to help teach part of a “Reformation Celebration.” I thoroughly love doing more at the school and being a hands-on part of their education, even if it’s in small areas.

The day I was gone to Philadelphia, our roof got replaced (if you haven’t read about my experience in Philadelphia yet, click the link). A team of men from area churches came and helped Brian redo our roof. It was a HUGE blessing, especially because Brian didn’t have to do it alone! Our roof was getting quite ‘iffy’, so having a new one before winter is awesome.

We had people move out of MRF and realized we had a lot of work in a couple of homes. One was just in need of basic maintenance due to normal wear and tear, but the end result was lots of plumbing, a fair amount of cleaning up afterwards, and digging out new bedding and towels. But, it looks great and should be set for awhile now.

We have a number of “short stays” the rest of October, then a few will be here for longer stretches starting in November. We were overjoyed to provide a stay for a couple who had never had a break from ministry, not even for a honeymoon. They loved their restful week here and were a good reminder of why we are involved at MRF. Our daughter is seeing once again that God cares about her: she has been praying faithfully for a family with a daughter to move in next door. She gets her answer on Nov. 1 when a family with one child – an 8 year old girl – moves in for a year and a half!

2017 coming to a close means lots of computer work for Brian and writing for myself. We are currently working on the giving catalog, then the 2018 BCM calendar that gets handed out. We have been tasked with the design and the writing for both.

We had our first Skill Nite of the year this past Wednesday at church. We had a blast teaching them about puppets. The leaders did a phenomenal job, especially considering a number of things that went ‘wrong’ behind the scenes! We had a big turnout and a number of guests. By every estimation, it was a wildly successful evening.

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The end of Skill Nite with one of our leaders sharing his testimony with the 30 kids.
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Brian took the big kids fishing a few weeks ago. Big J is an avid fisherman who loves it so much. E is a little more unsure. 🙂 
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My girl and I, since I realized I’m usually the photographer and don’t share many pics of myself!

Fall Beginnings

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And we’re off and running! I spent this week prepping for today’s start-up of fall programs at church. I’m not a decorator at heart, but thanks to Pinterest, there’s new decor and new bulletin boards in each classroom along with more things on the walls in the Kidz Church area. It may not be perfect, but at least it’s colorful! We had a phenomenal first day back with a full worship service and overflowing classes. I have a fantastic group of teachers who came prepared and ready to go for a new year. Move-up Sunday is busy and exciting for everyone. This Wednesday will be our kick-off for our Wednesday evening program. If today’s attendance was any indication, we’re going to be filled to overflowing this week – the best kind of ‘problem’ to have! Praise the Lord for being fully-staffed!

Meanwhile at MRF, Brian got siding done on another portion of the Main House. He has one more end to do – way up high – the hardest part. And then he’ll work on painting the front of the house instead of trying to side the whole thing. It was a cold, rainy week, hindering a lot of his outside work.

I have an awesome opportunity this month that came up last minute. An organization in Philadelphia contacted our BCM HQ and asked for some help for an evangelistic event they’ll be holding in Courthouse Square on Sept. 23. It’s a huge event and they’re expecting about 1000 children to come through. They needed someone to present the Gospel about every hour during the event to groups of children. After some prayer and discussion with Brian, I went ahead and accepted the invitation. Amazing how our Family Carnival has become practice for a much larger event! I will head to Philly on the 22nd and the event is 11am-6pm on the 23rd. Please pray with me; I have never been to Philadelphia by myself and have to navigate a large city and find my way around, plus meet up with and work with a group of people I have never met. And I’ll be presenting the Gospel 4-5 times to inner city children in one afternoon. I feel very unqualified and nervous! Yet so excited and humbled to have this opportunity!

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School is going very well for the big kids. As you can see in the picture, we’ve had to break out some winter clothes lately due to some cooler temps. All three kids managed to come down with colds this week, randomly enough. I’ve been busy disinfecting every night and trying to get a handle on germs because this feels just too early to have to be dealing with this! The toddler and I are enjoying some quieter days alone, allowing me to get work done at church beyond just my Mondays in the office, and to even sit and relish in a quiet house for a little bit each day.

For those who may be wondering – my parents are not in Florida yet and don’t plan on heading down until the 20th, barring no major hurricane damage since their condo is now in the direct path of the storm (at least, as it sits right now). My brother and family are in Pensacola and do not need to evacuate, but are keeping an eye on things and will adjust life as needed. We are just continuing to pray that God calms this storm.

Back to Fall Schedules.

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School is back in session! We have a 2nd grader and a preschooler. BigJ attends K4 3 full days every week. This week felt more like a trial run than a regular week since E started Tuesday, BigJ started Wednesday, and now they’re off for Labor Day Friday-Monday! Poor BigJ loved school so much, yet doesn’t get to go back for a week! At least it was a good start to the school year. Everyone is very happy and excited and let’s just be honest, a few hours of quiet and nobody fighting a few days a week is quite blissful right now.

Brian got the shed completed, except for the electrical and heat. He’s working on siding the main house now. He has a few other fall projects. Fall hit fast and hard, though, so hopefully the cold will hold off so he can get things completed.

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The end of August was our Family Carnival at church. Friday evening was slow, but Saturday more than made up for it! We had a huge crowd Saturday evening, mostly people from the community who heard about it from Facebook. We had a short puppet show every 20 minutes and I gave the Gospel after every one. It was a real burden on our (the leadership’s) hearts to ensure that we seize the opportunity to share the Gospel clearly with our guests. While I didn’t counsel anyone, the seed was definitely planted.

September 10 begins our fall schedule at church with the 13th starting up our Wed. evening program. We are fully staffed and mostly ready. Even going over the class rosters today, I realized yet again how full we are and what a great ‘problem’ we have this year!

A very packed BCM World came out last week. I had the privilege of writing 3 articles and then, of course, Brian did the design. The articles include quite a few updates of things that have happened over the course of a year, including new ministry in Madagascar and an update on the flooding disaster in Peru. If you haven’t done so, take some time this weekend and give it a read!

My parents are still around as my dad recovers from his broken ankle. He’s doing really well, though, so it looks like it’ll only be a few more weeks of them in the area. He’s been busy painting our kids’ rooms – a task I have neither the time nor the will to tackle! The kids are thrilled to have pretty rooms and it’s given me an excuse to clear out their toys and rearrange.

Brian is super busy with church things, including a bunch of wiring into a new office this week. Being on the elder board he has a whole new set of responsibilities each month. But, I’m pretty sure there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

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Newsletter is slated to go out Monday! We always include a bit more info than what’s here and prayer requests, so if you’re not on our list, let me know and we’ll add you.