Beautiful Easter!

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

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

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

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

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

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Looking for the hidden ‘matzah’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Spring!

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Easter Week

Flipping through Instagram nonchalantly this afternoon I ran across the breaking news about the bomb the U.S. just dropped on Afghanistan. It seems like you just can’t escape bad news and catastrophic events these days.

Which makes Easter that much more poignant.

The Thursday before Easter feels, to me, like the real start of the Easter celebration. Tonight we remember Jesus having His last supper and instituting the Lord’s Supper that we celebrate today. From there, the events of the last hours of Jesus’ life commence. It’s a solemn weekend – until Sunday, of course, when the entire world breaks out in song!

What has struck me this year is the need an Easter weekend. A time that is specifically set aside to quit looking at what’s happening around us and focus on eternity.

While ultimately our sins are the reason we need a Resurrection Sunday, the weekend is not about us. It’s about Jesus – His incomprehensible love and sacrifice for us. Not because He had some compulsory need to die a gruesome death, but because He wanted us to spend eternity with Him.

Being purposeful in remembering what this weekend is about has become progressively more important to me as I’ve gotten older. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in world events (especially when they’re so horrible) and in raising kids (even if they’re adorable) that the focus can be completely shifted from Jesus and the empty tomb to a busy schedule with no time to just sit and think.

World events – and simply life in general – can easily squelch all the solemnity and even all the joy out of this weekend if we let it. Remembrance must be intentional or it simply won’t happen.

We don’t have it all together (admittedly, I just spent an hour in my room, alone, while Brian watched the kids because I just needed to be separated from them for awhile!), but here are the few things we plan (I use that term loosely knowing anything can happen with 3 kids!) to do as a family this weekend to intentionally put the focus off ourselves and back on Jesus:

  • Taking the whole family to our church’s annual communion/remembrance service this evening. Usually just Brian and I go, but Brian wanted all three kids there tonight, so we’re going to give it a shot!
  • Tomorrow, I’m going to do some Easter crafts with the kids (if you know me, you know this is NOT in my comfort zone!).
  • Tomorrow evening, I’m going to put together our first mini-Passover. We absolutely love all the symbolism of Passover and the correlation of Passover and Easter, so I found a little booklet online that walks Christian families how to do “Passover” on the miniature with their children. Can’t wait!
  • Sunday morning, we head to church before 7am for the best service of the year: the sunrise service! Yes, we will have tired, possibly cranky children – but some of my best memories are from early morning sunrise services growing up. I love passing that on to our kids (and last year we missed it due to the stomach bug – ugh!). We’ll be at church all morning and it’s going to be awesome.
  • Sunday afternoon is when we’ll do our Resurrection Egg hunt, so that our kids get to do the traditional egg hunt, but we also get to reinforce the Easter story again.

I played very specific music all morning long for the boys and I while I worked, too. There’s just something about music that completely sets the stage for any event (here’s a good one).

Whatever you do with your family, I hope you are able to take some time and specifically remember what Jesus did – for you. It’s almost a breath of fresh air to be able to take the focus off of “here” for a few days. To take the genuinely awful events of this earth and put them back into perspective in view of eternity and what awaits us.

Come quickly, Jesus. 

Happy Easter!

Getting back on track.

Now that March is just about done, I feel like I have a bit of a breather and maybe I can give more regular updates again! Brian and I are wrapping up all those crazy deadlines, but we’re not quite done yet. Would you mind praying for us about the following?

  • Brian is working overtime to get the BCM World out. A variety of meetings and MRF responsibilities continue to push the date back; he’s really wanting to get it done within the next couple of days.
  • As is usual with ministry, I have some unexpected things that have come up; I just need some wisdom. I’m also back to teaching now that snow is over! This Wednesday, Brian will join me in teaching a discipleship class for the 6th graders. Sunday begins my team’s rotation in our equivalent of children’s church.
  • This Friday, I will spend the afternoon at E’s school for career day. I’m one of a couple career missionaries coming in to share with a variety of grades.
  • Easter prep for our church is in full-swing, as is a marriage conference Brian and I are helping lead.

Then, of course, there’s life and trying to figure out how to fit everything in! Our good friends are home from the NICU with baby Jax – praise God! I finally got to hold this precious little boy today and frankly wish I could just cross everything else off my to-do list so I could go be with them every day and help out. Next weekend, I head to a writer’s conference, leaving Brian home alone with the kids again. There are two homes and the suite here at MRF that all need cleaned and beds made. Along with meetings and other church activities we’re involved in, we’re definitely not bored!

Cleaning Up!

The blizzard of 2017, “Stella”, really did a number up here in NEPA! We got about 32″ of snow when it was all said and done, most of that falling Tuesday during the day, sometimes 2″ an hour. Brian was incredibly thankful for the new tractor, which made digging us out so much easier.

While we were busy cleaning up snow, we began to receive messages from friends in Peru regarding the massive flooding. By now, you have probably seen it on Facebook, on here, or received emails from BCM about it. In a nutshell, the rains in the Andes have caused flooding in the coastal regions, up and down the entire coast of Peru, including the BCM Peru property outside of Lima where we used to live. The property has been decimated and it’s unclear yet when or if they will be able to move back home and begin ministry there on the property again. We ask for your continued prayers and support as they go through the weeks and months ahead. You can securely donate by clicking here.

This Saturday is the annual training day at our church. I’m wrapping up prep now and looking forward to the day. I head to Lancaster for a writer’s conference in a couple of weeks, hoping to glean some more information for future reference. Brian and I are helping plan a marriage conference for April that we are super excited to be a part of. We have some very close friends whose baby has been in and out of the NICU since the beginning of March. Brian helped take them down to Hershey to a better NICU and as they come home this week we’re part of a group doing all we can to be their support system during this exceptionally difficult time. Pray for Jax and his parents, Jeremy and Kara; the last few weeks have been really trying for all of them.

E is back in school this week! No word yet on when her last day will be, but we know it’ll be later due to all the snow days. Baby J has taken off talking lately! Most of his vocabulary has to do with vehicles: car, bus, “kuck” (truck). He FINALLY learned how to say “Joe Joe”!! He ran into his brother’s classroom after my Bible study Tuesday yelling “Joe Joe!” at the top of his lungs to let him know it was time to go. Big J is busy playing fireman as I write this and he just informed me that he will, in fact, one day leave me in order to be a fireman, but it’s okay because I can go visit him whenever I want.

Watch your inboxes for a newsletter this week! Don’t get it yet? Let me know and I’ll add you!

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Info about the Peruvian flood:

You may have heard of the weather phenomenon “El Nino.” We literally heard stories about El Nino while we lived in Peru – how bad it would rain and the dangerous floods. But, it hadn’t happened in years!

Well, it’s happening now. Rain up in the Andes Mountains is causing horrible flooding and landslides all throughout the country. There are 25 regions in Peru and 20 of them are struggling with floods. At least 56,000 people are displaced. And then as the rains come down in the mountains, the rivers in the valleys flood as they head out to the ocean.

A river runs along the edge of BCM Peru’s property, where we used to live. The property is home to missionary houses, the campground, and  many other buildings. A usually idyllic setting has been turned into a disaster zone. As night began on March 15, they were warned the river was beginning to crest again. By midnight, all 55 people were evacuated, including 19 children. They left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Neighboring ministries have opened their doors to house all these people and are offering food and shelter for the time being. Some men are staying on the property to ward off would-be looters and do what they can to salvage what’s left. They were able to enter homes and fill bags with essentials and valuables, which is a good thing. But, the roads going in and out of the property are gone, so they have no idea when they will be able to get back in with trucks for more personal belongings.

Keep in mind as well, this water is not crystal clear, clean river water. This is the run-off of local pig and guinea pig farms and the village sewer.

I can’t really describe to you the pit sitting in Brian’s and I’s stomachs as I type this. We are part of the home office of BCM now, so our task  has been getting this information out to all of you as quickly and succinctly as possible. It’s been hard to separate “work” from “heart” all day as we sift through videos and images and try to word this in a way for everyone who has NOT been to Peru to understand the gravity of the situation.

This is not a ministry that was  constructed overnight. This is years and years of work, donations, blood, sweat, and tears. We lived there. We walked those paths. We have pictures of little E throwing rocks into the river. I remember sitting in my bedroom with the window open listening to the melody of water running in the irrigation canal early in the morning. It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting – like nowhere else I’ve ever been. To see it just ravaged and unrecognizable really does a number on your head, and your heart.

I encourage you to take a minute and put yourself in their shoes. Some have lived on that property for their entire married lives. Pretty much all of those 19 children have known no other home. To have to wake your children up and rush them through a river in their front yard, leaving behind all their belongings, clothes, snacks, pictures, memorabilia – and into trucks and backhoes to safety – I can’t even imagine. Now today, they are able to stay with Christians nearby, but that is not a permanent solution. The school year just began; do the kids even have their uniforms, backpacks, or pencils with them?

Life has been altered for them for an indefinite amount of time. Would you help? BCM is collecting donations that will be given directly to the leadership to help with supplies and living essentials right away. You can click here to do so.

Watch our Facebook, BCM Intl’s Facebook, BCM Peru’s Facebook, and BCM’s website for additional information, updates, and even live video and pictures.

Pray that God will stop the rain! Pray for safety, provision, and protection.

Click Here for a brief video.

Snow Day!

I want to see how quickly I can write an update since I need to call in my snow children very soon or else they will be frozen children!

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this was about 9am – you can see the van behind the pile on the railing, just barely

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This is in the afternoon – keep in mind, Brian cleared the porch completely between the two pictures! And he’ll have to clear it again in the morning.

We are nearing the end of a very legitimate blizzard. The last real blizzard we’ve had was back in South Dakota the day after Easter, 2006. I believe we’ve actually more snow here in PA than we did back then! We have more than 2 feet and it’s still snowing super hard – and is supposed to continue for a few more hours yet! The wind is beginning to pick up and school is already canceled for tomorrow.

Brian went out before 9 this morning to begin clearing off our porches and get the tractor out. By law, we have to have the MRF road clear in case of a fire emergency. But, it’s taken Brian and Don literally all day and they still have not finished the road. The snow has come down so fast and hard, plus there’s a layer of ice underneath, so they keep sliding around! Brian was home three times – twice just to swap clothes in and out of the dryer and once for a quick lunch. He’ll need to stop soon with the sun going down, but they’re hoping to have the bulk of it done by then.

The kids think this is glorious! And I don’t blame them! They got a little nervous this morning, though, as it was coming down pretty fast and hard and Big J kept getting stuck. This afternoon, our neighbors are out with them, building forts and igloos and pulling Big J out when he can’t move anymore! They’re having a blast and I hate to end it, but E was just inside for a minute and she is RED and so, so cold and wet. I think I’d be a bad mom if I let them stay out much longer…

Here’s a brief family update in the interim:

  • Training at the Chinese church on Saturday went very well. We were told to plan on 25-30 and we had 35-40 trainees. Very attentive, so welcoming and considerate. It was a joy to teach them and see the grasp concepts and plan to put them into practice. Had some great conversations afterwards and am looking forward to returning next year, Lord willing.
  • I have been struggling with a cold/cough for three weeks now and it’s finally got out of control on Friday. There was really nothing I could do about it by then, so I got a bunch of cough medicine and powered through Saturday. By Sunday evening, though, I was pretty sure I was getting Influenza A because I was so sick and run down. I dragged myself to urgent care Monday morning and was told I didn’t have the flu, but I needed to rest (she even offered a doctor’s note if I thought I needed it, so I guess she was serious…) and she got me some stronger medication. So far, the only difference has been no fever. I’m pretty wiped and ready for bed, but that can’t happen for a while yet, so I’ll hang on a bit longer! Brian’s coughing too; praying he doesn’t get as bad as I did!
  • Brian has the one bathroom down to the studs and has purchased a new cast iron tub for in there. It has a ways to go, but it’s going to look much better. All of that is on hiatus during this blizzard, though.
  • The printed BCM World should be off to the printers any day now. Final edits are happening and whenever Brian can take a breath from all this snow, he’ll do the updates and it’ll be ready to go! Phew.
  • My article is off to the editor for the e-zine, which Brian will begin, again, after this storm! There’s just not enough hours in the day…
  • The 25th is our church’s training day so now that I’m done with NJ, I can really finish up prep for ours.

That’s pretty much life in a nutshell! Okay – off to call in the snow children and figure out what in the world to feed them… Stay safe & warm!

It’s the most busiest time of the year…

We wear many hats, but like I’ve said before, very rarely do they align into a perfect storm.

But… sometimes they do. Like March. Possibly April. And definitely June. But, we’ll worry about that when the time comes.

A “perfect storm” for us just means lots of deadlines in a variety of different areas, all coming at the same time. Not unlike your life, I am sure! But, here’s what it looks like for us these days:

Currently, Brian is finishing up the printed edition of BCM World. His graphic design skills have greatly improved and this edition came together faster than the last two. But, it’s not quite done yet. Hopefully, it’ll just be a few more edits and then off to the printer!

While the print edition is almost complete, he is beginning the next e-version. The articles are arriving in his inbox, which means he has to begin sorting and adding pictures and layout, along with the building of multiple web pages and emails.

The beginning of each year also finds Brian doing updates on various BCM websites around the world. This year is no exception; he has quite a few requests for new websites and consultations planned in order to update old ones.

He does all that work after the kids are in bed. During the day, he’s been working on Unit #3 (click here for older pictures). Needing many updates, Brian has begun in the bathroom (this one has one and a half baths), which is currently emptied of everything but the tub… which, upon further inspection, will also vacate the premises later this week. He’s praying the wall behind the tub is fine, otherwise this job just got even bigger. The house is a mess; I think he said he has six weeks to finish… I hope that’s enough!

As for me, I have my article for this edition of the BCM World well underway, but nowhere near completion. March is my month for trainings, but unexpected meetings also cropped up at church, which involved a substantial amount of prep work. This Saturday, I head to New Jersey to train a group of 30 Chinese in children’s ministry. I’ll meet a friend and BCM Appointee there and we will co-train, relieving some of that burden. Then on the 25th is the annual training day for our church that I lead. Of course there’s prep, plans, and programs in between then, too. Oh, and an impromptu trip to Connecticut to spend some much-needed time with my big sister for her birthday! I am SO EXCITED for our time together even if it will equal only about 24 hours in the end!

Naturally, we all got sick on top of it all. Like clockwork. Every time we get super busy (and every time the BCM World is due), we get sick. I had zero voice Thursday (much to my boys’ great amusement!) and spent Saturday in bed. I just hope Brian doesn’t get it as bad.

As for the kids… they’re holding up just fine. E is getting ready to loose a top tooth (which is big news for any six year old). Big J has finally discovered coloring! He LOVES to color and very carefully roll (not fold – roll) each precious picture and tape them closed as gifts for his family, especially big sister for her return from school. Baby J has adequately learned the word “No.” I’m really hoping he’ll move on from that one soon and learn something a little more pleasant, like “Yes!” I’d even settle for his big brother’s real name, “Joe!”, not just his nickname of, “No!”, that is usually screeched repeatedly all day long.

I finally found my camera. I leave you with a few recent pictures:

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We had a nasty weather system move through the end of February – you may have seen on the news that a tornado touched down in our general area. If you look closely, the brown sludge out there is a river of water washing away our driveway. Our phones gave us tornado warnings all evening, but my dear mid-western husband sat on the porch and watched it roll in until it began to hail and kept yelling through the porch, “Doesn’t look like a tornado to me!” And then during a little delay in the storm, he threw on his boots and went outside to unplug the drains – which actually saved us from a very flooded basement, so I’m not going to complain too loudly! I’m also thankful he had the foresight to quickly return the metal-handled rake to the basement as soon as he heard thunder.

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E had spirit week at school. Thanks to some friends, we got her all dressed up as a little pink cowgirl for one of the days!

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Dancing Skill Nite during Wednesday evening kid’s program last week. So fun! We followed it up with a talent show and my daughter wanted to show off her art, but I think she instead showed that she loves to teach (don’t know where she got that from…)