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.

Beautiful Easter!

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Easter this year was definitely different than last year when we had the stomach bug, for which we are quite thankful. But, it was also different in that ever since we returned from Peru, we’ve spent Easter with my parents. This year, my father is slowly backing out of full-time pastoral ministry and decided it would be wise to take a little vacation during April and let the new team of pastors do Easter on their own. So, no extended family was around for the holiday! Honestly, I was not looking forward to them being gone. But, it turned out to be a wonderful weekend and Brian and I were grateful to be able to spend the weekend with our little family starting new traditions and making memories with the kids.

We began it Thursday evening at church for our church’s remembrance service. BabyJ was the only one who couldn’t sit still, so he ended up with Daddy in the sound booth! The big kids loved the music and were so good for me; I was proud of them.

Friday evening, we did something I’ve always wanted to do: celebrate Passover. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile apparently because the PDF with all the instructions that I had was downloaded back in like 2010. We had been given some lamb by a resident who moved out a few months ago, so I cooked that up, along with some chicken (because I know my kids). We had potato latkes, hardboiled and then baked eggs, radishes, charoset (fruit mixture), parsley, and naan bread (because I couldn’t find matzah). Brian read our little script, we discussed each element, and the kids were awesome at trying a little of everything. They loved it! We decided this will probably be an annual family tradition. It really kicked off the weekend beautifully.

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The table all set! Yes, that’s Ranch dressing and horseradish mustard.. we are American Christians after all. 😉

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E was super excited. She helped prepare some of the food and couldn’t wait to go through it all together.

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Looking for the hidden ‘matzah’

Saturday was opening day of trout season, so I was a fisherman’s widow for the day. 🙂 When Brian finally got home, he dyed eggs with the kids:

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Sunday, everyone was up before 6 (and we were still a tad late for the service at 7!) and anxious for the sunrise service. Between pregnancy and the stomach bug, the big kids don’t remember attending a sunrise service, so they were excited to see what it was all about. BigJ thought we were ushering in the sunrise and was disappointed that the sun was already up when we got in the car! However, this made up for it:

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A rainbow on Easter is morning was a perfect reminder that God keeps ALL His promises!

They loved being outside (and it was like 60* – the warmest sunrise service I ever remember!).

During the breakfast, Brian had to go run sound for worship practice. Everything had worked fine Thursday evening, but Sunday morning, half of the sound system was not functioning! After a lot of prayer, Brian was able to come up with a temporary solution about twenty minutes before the service began! Total Satanic attack. Satan keeps forgetting that the whole point of Easter is celebrating the fact that he’s already been defeated!

I helped my sixth graders do a puppet song they’ve been practicing for the little kids’ Sunday school class and then again for the children’s church. They did a great job! I was quite proud of them.

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I had the privilege of teaching the kids during children’s church with my team. After the lesson, I offered to talk with the kids and answer questions. I spent about 10 minutes with a 7 year old boy who’d never set foot in church before and had no idea Who God is and that he’s loved by Him! While not even remotely ready to understand the Gospel, I loved simply sharing with him that he is loved, he was created with a purpose, and that Jesus suffered all those awful things because Jesus loves HIM. Now we just need to pray that his family brings him back so he can keep learning!

Easter afternoon was filled with naps (phew), finding Resurrection eggs and retelling the Easter story again, an awesome Easter meal, playing games together, and running around in the spring rain. I’m not sure it could’ve been a more perfect day.

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no, he’s not very good at taking things serious!

Now, it’s back to reality. 😉 Brian’s finishing up Unit #3 so I can get in there and get cleaning. Coming into summer, the homes are booking rapidly for short stays, which means everything has to be totally ready to go. At church, we’re part of the team putting on a marriage conference next weekend, so last minute prep is going down for that. I’m wrapping up the Wednesday night program for the school year within the next couple of weeks. Brian’s got web design work to do for another BCM camp and we’ll be heading down to that camp sometime in the next month so he can do some on-site repairs and we can get away for a night as a family. E is finishing up 1st grade and we’re praying about finances already as we enrolled BigJ into preschool and E into 2nd grade for the fall. God will make a way, of that we have no doubt.

Speaking of school, you may have received a little fundraiser letter from E. We are SO EXCITED to be partnering with her school for a work day out here at MRF in early May! We cannot wait to have a large group of students, teachers, and parents out here helping clean up the property and get it ready for summer. We don’t know yet if E will be helping out here or if her class will go to one of other places, but we don’t really care, as long as she’s learning to serve, too! If you received a letter, we just ask you to prayerfully consider sponsoring her. This school is awesome and has done so much for us in allowing E to attend. This fundraiser is a great way for us to help give back to them. You can contact me with any questions.

Happy Spring!

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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!

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…)

 

Welcome, Rainy February

Just got home from taking our daughter to school. Yet another 2-hour delay! Freezing rain is such a pain. Now it’s warmed up and just plain raining. Feels more like spring than February! I’m afraid it’s just being deceptive.

Brian is out with a board member purchasing a tractor for MRF! This was approved by the board at their meeting and Brian is ecstatic. A tractor will be so helpful out here in the woods! He’s had to just borrow one the last four years; it’ll be nice to have one that belongs to MRF.

The two empty houses are getting nice makeovers right now. The kitchen in one home had lots of cabinets, but one of them was literally falling off the ceiling. It had always housed an overload of dishes and had finally succumbed to the weight. Brian removed it and then stabilized a few other cabinets since the home is not new and the cabinets have been bowing for awhile.

The other house has had a mice issue for quite awhile, but when you have constant residents for more than two years, it’s hard for Brian to get in and really assess the cause of the mice issue. He finally figured it out. Unfortunately, they had built a nest above the oven, inside the range hood! What a mess! That’s been disgusting to clean out and repair, but he’s basically done now. He’s also replaced a toilet that was obviously installed in the ’70’s!

My job now will be to go in to both houses and rearrange the kitchens and cabinets, as well as remake the beds and fold all the laundry. I’ll also need to finish cleaning once Brian is done with all the repairs.

At church, we are preparing to take the Wednesday night kids to a local nursing home on the 15th. They have made just about 60 sun catchers and will finish them up tomorrow night. We have about 30 kids that we’ll be taking to the home. It’s an endeavor, but we’re really looking forward to it!

Last week, for the first time in a long time, I completely messed up my schedule. I had written down the wrong dates for the Clarks Summit University ministry conference! So, I’m making dinner Tuesday evening and hear my phone beep — it’s an email reminding me to be on the campus by 6pm to set up! oops. The bigger complication was that we had a friend visiting for the week and I had specifically told her last week was better than this week because of the conference! Oh good grief. She ended up coming with me all three days and it was absolutely wonderful having her along! The conference went well and I had a few good conversations with students. I may have messed up, but it still worked out just fine.

Two personal family notes:

  • Brian is in the process of becoming an elder at our church. He was nominated by a church member awhile ago. We prayed (a lot!) about it until he finally accepted the nomination. He was questioned by the existing elder and pastoral team, who unanimously approved of him. This past Sunday, after a fellowship dinner, he was questioned by the church body. It went very well. I was so proud of him because being questioned isn’t, obviously, his most favorite thing to do. But, he answered so well and our church family is so supportive. It ended up being an encouraging time.
  • I leave Friday evening for Beth Moore’s LIT Conference in Houston – a one-day event on Saturday, specifically designed for women who want to use writing, teaching, and speaking as a ministry. Will you pray with me that this trip will be beneficial and that I will use what I learn right away? I know God wants me to do more with my writing and I would love to teach more than just children. I’m praying this conference gets me moving in 2017. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who is fully behind me, too. I got an email this morning from Beth Moore saying that everyone at her office has handwritten all 744 names of the attendees and are praying over them – by name. They prayed every name out loud, then posted all the sticky notes around the building so they could pray for us by name the rest of the week. I am thrilled that I get to be part of this group and I can’t wait to see what God does! Pray for my trip (I hate traveling alone) and for Brian home with the kids (just until Sunday night). My daughter, especially, has a hard time when I’m not home. Thankfully, they have an amazing dad, so I’m not worried.

Still no pictures… I have slacked off this month and will regret it later, I’m sure! You’ll just have to believe me that the houses look great, the kids are still cute, and it’s white and cold outside. Oh wait – here’s one from right now!

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How we roll: color wonder markers, squished on the small couch when the big one is completely vacant, talking to Mommy constantly while I try to work. 🙂

A regular update!

Okay, time for something happier!

January is always the month to try to get back into a routine – as I’m sure it is for you, too! We had a great holiday season, but, personally, I crave routine. It’s been nice to get back into the swing of things, even with snow days, delays, illness, and bad news thrown into the mix.

One of the oldest homes on the property is finally vacant for awhile, so Brian has spent all month working in there. It’s a modular and it’s feeling its age! He took out some old cabinets that were bowing and not serving much of a purpose anymore. He took out a giant china hutch that had no use except to collect dust. He is working on fixing the bathroom. Got rid of a family (or three) of mice. The carpets will be professionally cleaned in the next week. There are some other problems that need addressed, but the house should make it for a little while longer now.

Another family left us last week after almost a year’s stay. They were hoping to stay for only about six months, but just could not get the support they needed and ended up staying longer. This is probably the one job where we’re happy to see families leave because it means they finally have the funds to return to the field! The house they were in, though, has not been unoccupied in a couple of years and it has had some major wear and tear during that time. Hopefully over the next few weeks we can do some rearranging, move in some new(er) furniture and a mattress, and make it a little more welcoming.

These two homes alone are keeping Brian plenty busy. Once he gets the big grunge work and the big cleaning all set, then I go in and rearrange, make beds, and finish cleaning up. We’ll be busy for at least another week or two getting these homes ready to go.

On the BCM front, I will be going to Clark Summit University in February for the annual missions conference. I’m not teaching this year, so it’ll be a pretty chill couple of days. I won’t finish the conference because that Friday, I’ll get on the plane and head to Houston by myself. I got into a special one-day-only conference that Beth Moore is hosting for women in their 20’s and 30’s who want to use writing, speaking, or teaching as a ministry. I have a friend in Houston who is helping with housing and transportation and the conference was a whopping $25 entrance fee. I’m not particularly looking forward to the travel time, but I’m excited about the conference and really hopeful that it will be beneficial to future ministry. But, that’s not for another few weeks so I’ve got time!

Church is keeping us steadily busy. We had a cooking skill nite last Wednesday with a whopping 29 kids in attendance (which is really great for us)! In February, we’ll take the kids to a nursing home for a service project. Summer events are already in the planning stages as well as my annual training day which will be in March. Brian is down at the church once a week for a meeting and then he does work around the building.

As for the family – E. showed us again how big her heart is by donating her hair a couple of weeks ago. She had finally grown it to a pretty good length and I sent her with her dad so he could get a haircut and she could get her bangs trimmed (she always talks about wanting to be Rapunzel so I wasn’t going to ask her to get it cut). She came home with a new haircut – all the way to her chin! – and said she’d donated it. We’re so proud of her!

The boys keep themselves quite busy at home. Big J’s favorite thing on earth is going to work with daddy. We are blessed to have the kind of ministries that allow for that so at least once a week, Brian takes him to work with him. And he really does work! He’s hungry and exhausted by the time he gets home, but SO happy that he got to spend the day with daddy.

Little brother is talking up a storm and into absolutely everything. He’s adorable as all get out, but such a big troublemaker! And WOW does he pick on his brother and sister! But, he makes everyone laugh and somehow that makes up for the tornado he leaves in his wake.

Thanks for continuing to pray for my extended family, and for us! I’ll get some pictures up for the next entry. If I can find my camera…

Thanksgiving Week!

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E’s turkey puppet with thankful feathers

For those of you not on the East coast and maybe not aware – we have had an absolutely gorgeous fall. Idyllic, really. Beautiful colors, not a lot of rain, barely any cold snaps. Yesterday, it was genuinely warm out. We took the kids out to Sweet Frog in the evening to enjoy some fro-yo for the last time this year in warm weather. By the time we finished grocery shopping afterwards, the skies had completely blackened and the wind had kicked up. Brian grilled steaks and was positively freezing when he was done – the sleet had begun. When we went to bed, there was almost 2″ of snow on the ground! This morning – at least 6″! Brian had to hook the plow up to get us out this morning! Crazy. It’s snowed pretty much all day and the wind has HOWLED non-stop. Brrr! Buh-bye, fall. We’ll miss you!

In other news…

We had asked you to pray for BigJ as we needed to find him a dentist asap. He had some dental work done in September and it went fine. We went back a few weeks later to finish up and it did not go well. They didn’t use any sort of numbing agent and he went through the roof. It was horrible to watch. They couldn’t finish the work and there was no way on EARTH I was going to take him back there! The MRF Director suggested a local dentist for a 2nd opinion. They got us in right away, checked him out and even did an x-ray for free. They refused to touch the work since they’re not a pediatric unit. So, we got referred to the next city over, about 25min away, to a really great pediatric office. Unbelievably, this place got us in the same day they called us! Last Monday, I took him in expecting just a consultation and left with the work completely done and a super happy little boy in the back seat! So thankful for laughing gas and an amazing pediatric dentist that, miraculously, also takes our insurance!

We had some great times in the kid’s ministries in November.

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There was a puppet skill nite, which was a lot of fun!

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Last Sunday after church, we took 20 kids (10 families) to the local State Police (2min from church) to drop off 20 ‘survival kits’ they had put together with candy and a booklet.

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This past Wednesday, we had our first ever Christmas Shopping Nite. We always have a Store where the kids spend points they’ve earned. This time, we asked the church family for specific donations for family members so the kids could ‘shop’ for Christmas presents for their families. Wow – HUGE success! It was a blast! They shopped, had the gifts wrapped, made cards, ate Christmas cookies, and watched Christmas movies. So. Much. Fun. E has a big bag of gifts stuffed in our closet waiting for Christmas Day. Best statement of the night was from Paul, the leader seated in the picture: “Okay boys, we don’t just wrap. We present.” Such a good night.

Our church is now preparing for our annual Living Christmas Village which is Dec. 3-4 (Click Here to see what it was like last year). Brian will run sound and I will be helping with seating people and moving them through the tour. Last year, we had over 2000; we’re praying we get just as many, if not more, this year. I had a part in editing the drama and I think it’s going to be good!

MRF has its annual Christmas dinner on Dec. 1. This year, since we have 18 kids living here, I’m going to do some special stuff with the kids. We always look forward to the dinner; it’s just a nice get-together with everyone.

Brian had taken an old, rotten porch off the back of one of our oldest houses and discovered the siding underneath was rotten as well. He was hoping to get that siding done before the snow flew. We weren’t expecting quite so much this weekend, so that is now put on hold! That home is the only one with no residents at the moment, so it’s not a problem for now. Brian will be working on miscellaneous projects during the winter, while his back heals and the homes are full.

The BCM Christmas giving catalogue is almost completed! And the next edition of BCM World is in the works! Essentially that just means that we’re never bored. 😉

Kids are great, though coughing like everyone else right now. E is looking forward to a longer break from school. They’re all looking forward to seeing their aunt and uncle from Vermont this week!