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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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!

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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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.

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.