Welcome, November!

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We don’t do much for Halloween, but the kids got to participate in a community Trunk or Treat with friends and then they got some candy Halloween night.

October is past and we can officially start thinking about the holidays! Snow is in the forecast for today, the heat is on in the house, and everyone has a cough. Yup, sounds about right.

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Front row, ponytail with a white bow – that’s E.

I had the opportunity last week to speak at my kids’ school about the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. They called it “Reformation Celebration” and spent the afternoon teaching the children all about the Middle Ages and the importance of what Martin Luther, Gutenberg, and others did. This was the first time Big J has sat under any of my teaching besides Sunday School. It was almost surreal having his little blonde head sitting in a big kid class.

Brian has been working on putting new-to-MRF furniture into a couple of the homes. One home in particular needed new dressers and bedding; it changed the feel of the home and is a nice update. He got rid of some furniture and other items that are no longer needed – some necessary cleaning out before winter hits. He’s worked on getting leaves off of roofs and cleaning up around our private lake so it won’t flood (and found a giant, resilient beaver in the process!). When he’s not doing all that, you can find him fishing for bass or hunting for turkey. He’s anxiously awaiting doe season and we’re all holding out a little hope that we’ll have venison for the winter.

The kid’s ministries have been booming. We have welcomed new children every single week both Sundays and Wednesdays and have had a great attendance in every class. My team has taught children’s church all month and it’s gone very well. I asked Sunday if anyone feels God is calling them to be a missionary and had a whole group raise their hands! The discipleship time with the 6th grade has even touched on harder topics and been challenging for the girls. It’s been a full year already and we’re only two months in. Brian has even decided to join us on Wednesday evenings. It’s one of our favorite things – doing ministry together – and so I’ve been thankful to have him join us.

November includes:

  • a medical procedure for Baby J – please pray his cough clears up so they can proceed as planned next week.
  • a conference for me for women’s leadership training.
  • prep for our church’s biggest outreach of the year, the Living Christmas Village.
  • Grandparent’s Day & Thanksgiving – our first two big events with the grandparents in Florida – pray for the kids as this will be especially hard on them. We are praising God for surrogate grandparents who are filling their shoes and doing a great job with it!
  • numerous ‘short-stays’ here at MRF, which means lots of double-checking homes to ensure they’re ready for the next guests.

Have a wonderful first week of the new month!

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……this smile is just about the best thing ever.
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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.

Welcome, Summer!

Summer has finally, gloriously arrived! It is so nice to throw off our sneakers and run around in flip-flops again! The kids are loving being able to be in and out (and in and out, and in and out, and in and out…) all day long without the burden of eight layers to take on and off! E is out of school and we are glad to have this little breather.

After saying goodbye to my family, we enjoyed a lovely week of sick children. That seems to have finally run its course and we can now get into the random routine of summer. We’re still figuring out what our days look like, but it’s been nice to just be able to chill a little and spend time together, including late night Sweet Frog runs and longer library visits.

Brian is rushing to get Unit #3 done since new residents arrive on July 5 and, well, it still has no bathroom fixtures, every linen in the house needs to be washed, the entire kitchen needs to be organized and cleaned, and, oh yes, there’s still not all the tile on the walls. But, don’t worry, Brian’s got it “all under control.”

Besides unit #3, the storage shed is being slowly worked on. One of the board members is coming up for a few hours a day and has gotten at least two walls up so far. The second bathroom at the pavilion is just about ready for fixtures (finally!), but Brian is going to put a hold on that if he has to do it until after the house is done. We said goodbye this week to another resident who was here for a year. Over the next month, we’ll have various people coming and going; by September, a whole new crowd will be here long-term.

I am working on various projects over this summer. I may not be teaching full classes on Sundays, but I will be working with the kids each week, which will require some lesson writing. I’m doing some extra writing on the side and hoping to make some good progress, even sending it to a test group yet this month if all goes well.

I am doing something I’ve never done before: I joined a book launch group to help promote a brand new book coming out in July entitled “Remarkable Faith” by Shauna Letellier. It’s been an amazing book to read through and I’m privileged to help her get the word out about it. Check it out – it’s absolutely incredible!

I’ll be starting my articles for the next BCM World pretty soon. And then, I begin discipling one of our 6th graders in July and I’m organizing the church’s summer carnival for August. So, you know, just another lazy summer.

This Sunday marks the end of an era in my family as my father will preach his last sermon as a full-time lead pastor and step down. He is desiring to remain in ministry, but not in a full-time capacity. For this season of their lives, though, my parents have decided to do what every good retired person from PA does: move to Florida. At the end of July, Brian and my brother-in-law will be helping my dad move their stuff to Florida. They’ll do a little more visiting and finally move down after our children return to school the end of August. It’s bittersweet, and sometimes downright sad, but we know this is what they need to do. Just continue to pray for our kids, especially our daughter, as this transition will be hardest on them.

A newsletter will go out in the near future; as always, just let me know if you’re not on our list! It really does cover things we don’t talk about here, just to keep it interesting. 😉

Thanks for tracking with us!

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Oh yes, and I’m facilitating a ladies’ Bible study online (which is awesomely fun!), but this is how it happens: with a little stinker throwing socks at me the whole time and thinking he’s hilarious. 🙂

Full!

May has been jam-packed! Let me see if I can highlight our different ministries for you:

Bible Centered Ministries:

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Currently, our projects have been in direct relation to the massive flooding occurring in real-time in Sri Lanka. Brian is doing the web work of getting up donation pages, etc, while I’m writing. My evening yesterday was spent working on writing an update to be sent out globally and talking quite a bit with our field director online. The situation is dire, sad, and unfortunately, not over yet. Please pray with us for our brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka! Protection, provision, and the cessation of rain.

Grace Bible Church:

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We closed out our Wednesday evening Kidz Konnect on May 10 with an awesome group of kids and parents. We are attempting to have monthly Wednesday night meetings this summer in order to keep momentum going. My summer plans include the planning of these events, organizing a family carnival slated for the end of August, and writing some Bible lessons {a project I’ll explain another time}. I will also be discipling one of our girls, something I’m probably most looking forward to!

Brian and I had the opportunity a week ago to share our ministry at our church. For some it was the first time that they heard all we are involved in, so we were glad for the chance to give an update!

Missionary Retreat Fellowship:

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This picture is already dated; Brian finished tiling the floor in the bathroom in Unit #3 and is preparing to tile the walls. Of course, the unexpected always arises and this morning he’s helping the sewer guys take care of a sewer alarm. But, I know he’s hoping to get the walls tiled as soon as possible.

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This is the area for the new heated workshop. They are getting ready to pour concrete and then the structure should go up fairly quickly. Brian is not working alone on this, which is helpful. He’s definitely looking forward to having a space to do projects and have storage {and I have to admit, not having a giant tractor in my garage will be rather nice!}.

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This is a driveway in behind the Main House duplex. They began the clearing of the woods last fall and Brian was finally able to spread gravel and actually turn it into a usable driveway. The current tenants are appreciative of their own parking spot with closer access to their door. And let’s be honest, Brian didn’t have a hard time “finding time” to play with the tractor!

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Last Friday, we had our pastor’s banquet for MRF where we invited in area pastors and provided a meal, first and foremost to thank them for their involvement with MRF and then to encourage them in their own ministries. We had a pretty good turnout and it was an enjoyable evening.

This week, we say goodbye to our neighbors who have actually been here three years. They are now all my children know for neighbors, so this transition might be the most difficult yet for them! We are happy for them, though, that they finally have their support to get to the field (a testament to how hard it is to raise funds anymore!).

The Children:

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E will finish school in one week! She is looking forward to being home. Even a week ago, she drew us a picture that showed us how very much she craves being with family. We spent Memorial Day with good friends and she kept commenting how it was “the best Memorial Day ever!” since we were all together all day long.

The two boys are wild and want to be outside constantly. Our nasty rainy weather has impeded that, though. The 2 year old is fighting some pretty awful allergy issues so we’ll be in the doctor’s office again this afternoon. Poor kid. Just can’t seem to kick his fevers and stuffiness. He’s talking up a storm, though, and we are actively working on being a “gentle giant” since his go-to is a tad more violent than necessary!

This week, one of my closest friends is visiting from the south! Haven’t seen her since she showed up in Peru in 2009. Counting down the days until Sue gets to meet my children for the first time!!

Then next week, my siblings arrive and we have the retirement celebration for my dad. They listed their home less than two weeks ago and it sold within the week. You can be praying for our family as we walk this new road and begin this new season of life. Our daughter has not been good at “goodbyes” since we left Peru and this one is especially difficult for her, probably because it’s not especially easy for me, either, since they will be moving to Florida and not staying in the area. Just pray for all of us, including my parents. It’s rough.

Thanks for checking in! See you in June…

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.