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.

Woops, it happened again!

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Good grief, I’m getting bad at this whole summer blogging thing. Sorry about that. 

July slipped away rather suddenly. It was quite emotional to see it go, too. I like July.

Brian is safely home from Florida. My parents are tucked into the suite at MRF for the time being. My dad had an unfortunate injury and so they will be here a little longer than planned. He is just fine, don’t worry.

Since returning from Florida, Brian has been able to work full-force on the shed. It is almost completely sided and coming along nicely. Currently, he’s working on internet issues, which are his nemesis.

The BCM World is in full-swing. Brian has multiple projects from the BCM home office on his plate right now, so as soon as he comes home from work on the property and gets the kids to bed, he sits on his computer.

I am back to teaching on Sundays for children’s church. Praise the Lord, we are FULLY STAFFED in every kid’s program! It’s unbelievable! Now, I begin the process of training and filling schedules. August is filled with meetings every Sunday and a few on weekdays. The end of August is our Family Carnival, so I’m busy recruiting, planning, directing, and rehearsing, too.

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Before my dad’s injury, he managed to acquire tickets for a Railrider’s baseball game for Brian and E, who has been begging to see one for two years (she’s obsessed with baseball). When plans changed last minute, we decided to take BigJ and purchase another ticket for me while my mom watched the baby. While the game didn’t move as quickly as a certain 6 year old thought it would, they still enjoyed it (especially after shade moved over us and ice cream was purchased) and we managed to stay for all 9 innings (and an awesome win by the Railrider’s!).

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Kids got to meet the team mascot, Champ

School starts in just a couple of weeks. Our scholarly, social little girl has been begging to go back since August 1st! She can’t wait to see her friends and start 2nd grade. Big J will begin K4 and is ecstatic…mostly because he gets his own backpack.

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Thanks for praying for us! August is very full and we could sure use your prayers – to prioritize, spend quality time with each other, get everything done on time, and be ready for the school year and (shiver) cold weather to arrive.

And then *poof* the calendar turned a page…

If you follow our blog, you may be wondering, “Where have you been?!” If you follow us on Facebook or get our newsletters, you know exactly where we’ve been: going crazy.

That’s right. We’ve been going crazy the last few weeks. I blame my parents.

My dad did his retirement thing in June and then decided it’d be fun to pack up and move to Florida. Yet, not move to Florida. And yet, move everything they own to Florida. Or, most of it. Confused yet? Welcome to our July.

Brian is currently IN Florida and won’t be home until sometime this weekend. My dad made one trip to Florida the beginning of July to take some things and do some work in the condo. Then it was mad packing for them as they got ready for closing on their house on July 21. Brian helped load the trailer, but the day before closing it was obvious the trailer was just not quite big enough. And that’s when the skies opened up.

Literally, actually.

I walked through my parent’s home one last time with my children, then took them home to feed them and get them to bed before my parents showed up to spend the night. We were home about 30 minutes when the skies let loose and it POURED! Our power blinked and then *poof* – nothing. We never lose power, so my children had no idea what was going on and of course, good ol’ me, was ever the unprepared mother! I found little battery-operated candles and read to my children by candlelight since the storm had made the world very, very dark.

Brian didn’t get home Thursday until 10:30pm and then spent a good chunk of the night trying to fix MRF’s generator and on the phone with the power company. He actually brought the spotter up our road and showed him the giant tree on the lines. At 4am, the power truck came up the road, passed said tree, turned around in our driveway, and left. The main road at the bottom of ours got power at 5:30am. We had nothin’. The entire MRF road was dark. After many more phone calls, we finally got someone to tell us we were next in line and by 2pm, our lights turned back on. Woo hoo!

In between phone calls, Brian was finishing up cleaning out my parent’s house before the final walk-through of the buyers. My parents scrambled out the door for closing. We crashed a friend’s house for lunch since I literally had nothing to feed my family that was not in the fridge (again, great mom-award to this one right here). My sister and brother-in-law arrived from Vermont moments after power got restored (literally, the truck was coming back down the hill as they were going up). Andy, my brother-in-law, took one look at the trailer and said, “No way is that going to Florida.” At 4pm, they were busy unloading the trailer in order to turn back around and reload it all into a rented U-haul trailer. The guys finally pulled out at 7pm Friday.

Everything is unloaded and in the condo. Everything in the condo coming back to MRF is loaded up. But, there’s still work to do as the condo is in shambles and my dad wants it nice for when they arrive in September, so Brian will help get it ready (Andy flew home tonight) and then they’ll make their way back home.

Thankfully, my mom is able to live here at MRF while they’re gone. She’s right next door and at my every beck and call. Well, not really. But, it is nice to say to the kids, “Yes, please, go see Grandma!”

Here at MRF, Brian was running like a mad man trying to finish projects before he left. He was roofing the shed last Wednesday (thankfully with a team and not alone!) and installing the garage door so power could go in while he was gone (which it has). He had other random jobs to do, but with no electricity on Friday, he couldn’t exactly do the electrical jobs that were left!

It’s also nice having my mom next door because she’s helping me inventory the place. Since she’s essentially living there for a few days, she is helping me figure out how to better arrange the kitchen and what kitchen items need replacing before new guests arrive Saturday. This is quite helpful!

As for me, I feel like I sit and write every spare moment I get. I’m working on three articles for the BCM World plus a submission to a mom blog that got accepted (woohoo for that, too!). I’m writing some other material and having that critiqued, which also takes time. Now it’s late enough in the summer that I am full-on planning for the fall, as well as revamping teams and scheduling trainings and staff meetings. The Family Carnival is literally one month away, so all of that is kicked into high-gear, too. I’m now meeting weekly with one of our Kidz Konnect girls for discipleship time. Oh, and I have my own three kids on summer vacation!

If you think of our family this week, please pray for us without Brian and safety for Brian and my dad while they’re gone. Pray for me to prioritize my to-do list and to be wise about what has to get done and when it’s due by. Pray for Brian to be able to relax while he’s gone and not stress about work that’s not done yet up here or things he has to do as soon as he gets home.

I’d leave you with a snappy picture, but I haven’t taken many lately, so just imagine three smiling kids right here:

Nearing Completion!

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Unit #3 is almost completed! It’s been a long haul, but we’re down to the end. In fact, as I’m writing this, Brian is working on clearing out his tools and doing the heavy cleaning before I can go up this afternoon and do the rest of the cleaning, making beds, and organizing the shelves and kitchen. Brian ran into all sorts of problems this week with the pipes, the tile, leaky faucets… he made more runs to the store (half hour one way) than he cares to admit. But, the bathroom finally looks modern, functions (that’s always a plus), and the work is paying off. We welcome back on Wednesday a family who’s been in the Far East for the past two years. They lived in this house right before heading to the field; they won’t recognize it when they get back ‘home’ next week!

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This picture is already dated. The new shed is coming along quite well. What’s even better bonus is that Brian hasn’t had to do it alone! One of our board members and a friend of his have come up almost every day to do work on it little by little. They actually are working on the trusses for the roof now! Once Brian is done in Unit #3 he’ll be able to help them more.

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I forgot to mention that we had a special Hawaiian night in Kidz Konnect on the 14th. We had an awesome turn-out and the evening was a blast! It’s helped us look forward to the fall again.

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Sunday, my dad handed the church over to the capable hands of these three guys. It was time for him to step out of full-time pastoral ministry and let the church continue to move forward under the direction of younger leadership. It was an emotional day watching my dad preach his final sermon. I honestly never thought I’d ever see that day come. But, he’s been wise in his decision to step out while the church is thriving and growing. It’s time for new leadership. Very few are wise enough to know when it’s time to bow out and let someone else take over. It’s yet another reason why I respect him so much.

I’ll get some pics of Unit #3 when it’s all clean so you can see the work! Have an awesome 4th of July.