May!

This month has been slammed! Once we got past the baby’s birthday, everything flew by:

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I helped host an IF:gathering at church. We figured if 20 women showed up for our first year, that’d be great. We ended up with almost 50! It was a great morning with much interest in a second showing and follow-up. Now to just keep the momentum moving!

The kids’ Christian school had their Serve-a-Thon. The entire school, K4-grade 12, are divided into groups for two days of serving around the community. We were excited that they chose to come serve at MRF again! We had a large group come out that we split into two teams. Brian took one down to our back pond to clear out the path and the area by the pond so residents can hang out there, even camp if they would like. I led the second team (only got pictures of them – above) in clearing out the leaves from the area by our mailboxes and the playground. We didn’t finish the playground, but it’s no longer super intimidating to complete.

We had our final Skill Nite of the year in our Wed. evening program. The kids learned about Service from our own Pastor Dave. He taught about restaurant etiquette, listening skills, and various tips on what servers do. The kids had a great time! It was a fun way to close out this portion of the school year program.

Brian had the opportunity to help lead a team from our church down to Rockport, Texas, to do some hurricane relief with Samaritan’s Purse. Their time was phenomenal – they got a lot done (as seen in the above before & after picture of the one house), bonded as a team, and can’t wait to go back. Samaritan’s Purse was incredible to work with and they are very glad they got to go. I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon and will include more details there.

While Brian was gone, I attempted to hold the fort down at home. We made it through a bike accident, tornado warning, ear ache, to and from school (on time!), and a visit from my sister who was an enormous help and great company! All in all, the kids did awesome without Daddy for a week and I’m thankful for everyone who prayed us through it.

In other news:

At the beginning of the month, a dead bear was found on the MRF property. Brian reported it to the game commission and they discovered it was poached. We had an interesting few days with game wardens scowering the property and surrounding neighborhoods to find the shooter. To our knowledge, no one has been apprehended. Originally, the game commission was going to leave the bear there to decompose, but the day of the Serve-a-Thon, when the teens were to be down in that spot with stinky, rotting bear, clearing it out, the bear mysteriously disappeared. We’re thinking someone from the neighborhood who were more in the smell-proximity must have complained and had it removed. He was getting rather… fresh. Here’s a link to a news article about it.

This past Saturday was the spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Don and Gail. The event turned out wonderful and looks like it was a great help to them. If you attended, thank you! We had absolutely nothing to do with it, but we’re grateful for everyone who put in all that time and effort to make it possible and help out a beautiful couple.

June is shaping up to be a quieter month with no trips or major events planned. It will be nice to catch our breath for awhile.

 

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My kids and I on Mother’s Day.

 

 

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The Baby is 3!

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Three years ago on May 8, we were finally welcoming our baby into the world. He was five days late and took his sweet time, necessitating yet another c-section. For all the trauma, he was my easiest recovery and easiest newborn. He fit into the family seamlessly and, like all families, we can’t imagine life without our youngest.

As always, it seems the leap from age 2 to age 3 is a big one. So much growth – physically, mentally, emotionally – in one year. It’s no wonder they sleep so much!

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Last summer, we had him observed because we thought his speech was delayed. They assured us he was just fine, and they were absolutely correct! While the other two took their time learning to talk, he has raced to add vocabulary all year long. He loves words like “actually” and sings all the time, even insisting that someone sing “Jesus Loves Me” every single night while he crawls into bed.

This was the year of transitions for him: toddler to preschooler, diapers to undies, crib to toddler bed. He is extremely independent and self-sufficient. He does his best to keep up with the big kids, although he gets locked out frequently because he is rather on the destructive side! His sister is his person of choice to put him to bed and his brother is his favorite playmate. He loves his friend Abby and misses his Florida grandparents, even asking if we could go there to eat birthday cake.

He is happy, friendly, constantly on the go, and a ball of energy. He is quick to apologize and tries his very best to be helpful {most of the time…he is still a little boy!}. He hates haircuts, blowing his nose, being left out, and vegetables. He loves ice cream, trains, PJ Masks, dinosaurs, and his family.

We pray that he will come to know his heavenly Father while he’s still little, like his sister and brother did. And that he will grow to be a strong man of integrity, using his social skills, ingenuity, and creativity to serve the God who made him so intricately.

We love you, James Lee. Happy Birthday!

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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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Spring Snow Storms

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What a week it’s been!

The weather called for a winter storm Friday, so we were hunkered down, mostly prepared for it. I was watching Facebook and seeing friends lose power all morning long – the wind was gusting over 50mph and snowing like crazy (2-3″ per hour). Finally, around 3pm, our power blinked rapidly about five times and disappeared completely.

Brian, ever the optimist, was certain it would return that evening. We roasted hot dogs on the grill, ate by the light of some flashlights, read books to the kids and put on a puppet show and a musical with the spotlight, then slept in the living room with sleeping bags. Still no power.

By morning, it was 46 degrees in the house and we were cold! No ability to make coffee didn’t help.

Thankfully, friends nearby did have power and graciously allowed us to invade their home even though they actually wouldn’t be home until Monday evening. We got warm, ate some warm food, and watched TV. At 11, Brian texted to say the power was back on! We returned home and had time to do a load in the dishwasher and put sleeping bags away before it disappeared again.

Instead of toughing it out at home, we ended up sleeping at our friend’s home. It was warm and safe and close enough for Brian to go back and forth to MRF to check on everyone.

The residents did okay. Compton Hall has a generator, so a number of people slept and cooked in there. A few families were able to shelter elsewhere, so they did. Only two families stayed on the property, Brian checking up on them every few hours.

Brian worked almost around the clock, making sure the generator at Compton ran (which it didn’t always) and running a smaller generator at our house to keep our food frozen (we learned it’s 30+ years old, which explains why it would just randomly quit working every little bit). He plowed and shoveled and kept an eye on everybody the entire time.

Our power returned Tuesday afternoon (a full day ahead of the schedule PPL put out), but that caused a massive overflow of sewer water from the pavilion into Compton Hall. Don came into Compton to discover water gushing from a ladies’ room toilet – as in, spurting out like a fountain, gallons at a time. Brian got the water off and he and Don were able to get some water out before Don had to go to work (he drives a school bus). Brian put out an emergency call to three friends and within the half hour, they were there! They helped clean out sewer water that was throughout the whole building, except the office. Brian did some math and figured upwards of 1200 gallons had come into the building! Brian also called a friend who owns a carpet cleaning business. He showed up within the hour. He has lent industrial-size dehumidifiers and fans and he came again after hours to check on everything. He will be thoroughly cleaning the carpets and the flooring in the whole building once it completely dries. Amazing generosity!

We were happy to move back home Tuesday evening. Kids are still tired, but a snow day yesterday helped a bit. Brian got the property plowed out again after the storm yesterday and has decided today and tomorrow, he’ll be taking it easy! His ankle and his back are ready for a break.

However, “taking it easy” will mean computer work for BCM. An important meeting at the IMC has also been put off twice this week; hopefully he’ll make it to Lancaster on Monday.

I am trying to catch up on computer work and prep for the annual training day coming up. However, 10 loads of laundry (and the baking of a rhubarb pie as a ‘thank you’ for my man) hindered that progress yesterday! Maybe today I can get back into the swing of things.

We want to THANK every one of you who offered your home, meals, showers, and help over the last few days, not to just to us, but to the five other families here. We appreciate all of you very much, even if we didn’t take you up on it. We honestly had more offers than we could accept! You all are amazing.

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Such a pain, yet it really is beautiful out there!

January, with a prayer request

January has plodded along. Nothing overly exciting or new to report, hence the quiet on here! I’ll go through our each of our family:

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No picture of the heavily bearded man himself, but Brian spent most of January working in the shop. He’s got some electrical done, including the light on the outside that comes on automatically at night. He’s got the heater installed and most of the ceiling up. He was able to use it for the first time this past Saturday when he worked on a friend’s car all day. They were able to be inside and not freezing cold, so, mission accomplished.

The print compilation edition of the BCM World is in the works. And, Brian’s been doing a lot of web design for a BCM camp. He’s been kept plenty busy.

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Due to weather, we had to cancel one Wed. night so far this month and I missed one Sunday morning because it was pure ice leaving MRF and Brian (who was at church early) texted and asked me not to come in. Beyond that – my Wed. night team is being extremely gracious and are piloting some church material I’ve been writing this past year. I want to see if it’ll work and what changes I need to make going forward. It’s humbling and terrifying, but I’m praying the end result will be a good experience!

I’m working on editing revisions for BCM’s In Step with the Master Teacher material. And, I’m in the middle of planning the annual training for the kid’s ministries at church, to be held in March.

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This one got a yucky tummy bug a couple weeks ago and, as per usual, took her well over a week to bounce back. But, she’s a trooper and handled it like a champ. She’s doing well now. She has two loose teeth, but is too anxious to actually pull them out. While she’s quite independent, we’re seeing her sweet spirit come out more often – quick to hug and make sure people are okay, worried about others, and always the peacemaker.

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This guy had a small medical procedure done last week and while recovery was tough, he’s doing just fine now. He is enjoying learning how to use Legos, but if given the choice, he’d be outside as much as possible. His class at school has a new pet: a lizard! His writing and coloring are greatly improving and he’s such a gentle little boy (well, most of the time. He is still a boy!).

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The big news for this guy is that he’s finally out of diapers! He is so proud of himself and we are quite content not having to contend with that anymore! He is our biggest talker at this age. When the big kids are at school, he follows me around chattering all day long. By the time Brian gets home, I beg to be alone and just not have anyone talking at me anymore! He’s hilarious and ALL boy.

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In closing, can I ask you to pray for my friend Sue? Sue and I go way back. Like, she entered my life when I was in middle school and just hasn’t left. She is my mentor, one of my closest friends, a bridesmaid, aunt to my kids — there are not enough descriptions for all she means to me. She has visited us in every place we’ve ever lived – including Peru – and I love her to pieces. She’s family, not just a friend. Well, she was diagnosed with cancer Saturday. I am usually full of words, but this has left me speechless and utterly, completely heartbroken. Please pray for the Great Physician to heal my precious Sue. I don’t even know what else to say, so just pray for her. Thank you.

To paradise and back to the bitter cold.

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We had a spectacular time in Florida for Christmas! The Lord graced us with good weather on both the trip down and back – we missed this nasty winter storm on the east coast by a few days, so that’s awesome. While in Florida, we even had genuinely warm days, allowing us to truly enjoy Clearwater Beach, hiking, and outdoor activities as a family. I even still have the sunburnt, peeling back to prove it!

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We went to a beautiful Christmas Eve service with my parents at the church MY grandparents attended. I can still picture my Grandma Ribble (E’s middle namesake) walking down the aisles of that church in her flowered dress. Being in my grandparent’s condo brought back such nostalgia and it was fun sharing memories with my own children. And yes, I do realize there’s a good chance that BigJ will one day look at this picture and go, “Mom, what did you let me wear?!”¬†

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The Christmas morning jammies lasted only as long as opening presents did – it was just too warm! We loved being with my parents Christmas morning. The lovely task of packing wrapped presents into totes for the trip down was totally worth it (but may not be something I want to do every year!).

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Christmas afternoon, we did what apparently everybody in the area also did: went to the beach. Actual Clearwater Beach was packed and traffic was horrible, so we went just a tad farther and found a less occupied beach that was almost as pretty. The kids got to put their feet in the ocean and collected piles of sea shells.

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My parents graced us with a date night. We watched a gorgeous sunset and had cajun food for dinner. No phones. No work calls. No stress. Just us. I’m pretty sure it was just what the doctor ordered.

The kids got to go swimming in the pool at the condo. We took walks and went hiking in a park where the kids got to see their first alligators. I did loads of reading. Brian left his phone off and only did computer work once. I even got to do some shopping with my mom and sister. We took three days to get home (only two days to get down) and made a stop at our good friends’ house in Virginia for New Year’s Eve. All in all, it was a simply beautiful, much-needed vacation and we were thankful to come home Monday night to running water, no frozen pipes, and a house that {eventually} warmed up!

Now, it’s back to reality! The kids are home on a snow day. It hasn’t stopped snowing all morning and the temperature is continuing to plummet as the wind kicks up.

I’ll work on sending out an actual newsletter this month with a game plan of what’s on our agendas for the beginning of 2018.

One last thing — we wanted to give a public THANK YOU to the many of you who unexpectedly gave financially towards our trip. We are humbled by your outpouring of love in this way. It truly made the trip feel like a vacation because finances were not a stress. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

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We’re always busy, but this week is particularly slammed, so I thought in these few moments of peace I have this morning, that I’d post an early Merry Christmas for all of you! We hope your holiday is lovely, uneventful, and full of joy. We are looking forward to seeing my parents in Florida (yes, we’re driving). Naturally, there’s five million loose ends to tie up here before we can leave, so if you think of us this week, just pray it all gets done and that no emergencies (like the plumbing problem at MRF that Brian had to work on the last couple of days!) arise while we’re gone. It’s been a while since we’ve had a vacation or a substantial break, so we are simply looking forward to crashing for awhile. Built-in babysitters in the condo are also a plus – maybe we’ll get a date night out of the deal?!

We shall see you in the New Year! Have a good one…

*because outtakes are often better than the real one…. believe it or not, most of the outtakes involved the 2 year old… shocking, i know…*