The two months we spent in Ohio recently were packed full of wonderful times with family and friends. So many happy moments shared with people we love but don’t get to see very often. We treasure the memories we made, and smile now as we remember… We had the privilege of experiencing winter, even beautiful snow. I enjoyed it mostly from the cozy indoors looking out, but the younger ones got out into it! Football and spikeball in the snow with friends, snowball fights, and snow cream were some of the activities enjoyed. Trevor was blessed with the opportunity to go snowboarding in NY with some of his Ohio friends. He also got to join several friends on a bible quiz team. Because the Ohio Valley Bible Quizzing finals were after we came back to Thailand, Trevor was blessed to be able to stay a week longer and experience that as well. Our family had the priviledge of spending time with some of my family at my brother Steve’s house in Md.on New Years weekend. From there we traveled to Gaylord’s bro. Joel’s house in Va. and spent several days with them. So much good food, laughter and fun memories made at both places! After the wedding we spent the rest of the weekend with most of the Barkmans at Camp Warsaw. A truly special time for all of us.
Much of our focus the first five weeks was preparing for the big day, CHERIE AND AUSTIN’S WEDDING DAY! Long “to-do” and shopping lists were consulted daily, and items and jobs crossed off happily as they were completed or purchased. Cherie and Austin wanted the focus of the wedding to be LIGHT, “The Lord is my light!” There were to be lots and lots of candles, 244 in all, scattered along the centers of tables under a canopy of string lights. Many assorted candlesticks and wine bottles were collected, borrowed and bought to hold these candles. Some of the bottles were used for flowers as well. They were all spray-painted gold (unless they were already gold 🙂 ) The father of the bride, the groom, and friends did much of the painting and did a fabulous job with it! There were many friends who helped in countless ways….you know who you are! We were so blessed to have my mom, and sisters Marylou, Carolyn and Sheila come early the week of the wedding. They helped bring together many loose ends, but just having them there with us was the best part!
Cherie chose lots of seeded eucalyptus and other matching greens to accompany the gold decor. The Flower Fountain -our friends Maureen and Marilyn, made it all look so beautiful, and did a wonderful job of making Cherie’s wishes come true…
Those of you that know the health problems Cherie’s been dealing with the last 3 years may wonder how she is doing now. She had been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypo-thyroidism a few months before the wedding. This was in addition to the ongoing adrenal and chronic fatigue she had been diagnosed with earlier. With her doctor’s encouragement, in August she made the decision to go “gluten-free”. This is one of the most important things she can do naturally to encourage the thyroid to heal. She also began hormone treatment for the hypo-thyroidism. Cherie seemed to handle the trip back to Ohio much better than she did last year. And though there were days that she didn’t feel well at all, we are so grateful for the strength God gave her during a time of extra activities, details and work. The week of the wedding especially, was like watching a miracle. She had unprecedented energy and we enjoyed so many wonderful, rich times with friends and family who were there to help in anyway they could. Thursday morning she invited a goup of ladies- bridesmaids, family and dear friends to have brunch together at Rebecca’s in Walnut Creek. Thank you to those of you who were praying for her, and thanks mostly to God for granting the miracle!
Austin and Cherie led their guests in praise and worship to God at the ceremony. The blessing of God’s Presence, meaningful words offered by the fathers of the bride and groom, lovely music, and sharing it all with those we love dearly, our families and many of our closest friends, made it truly a wonderful day!
Cherie free-handed the words on the backdrop…..
These photos are some of my favorite ones of the happy occasion. As you can see much of the photo credits go to Gretta @ Grettagraphy.com. I have posted the link to her website below, feel free to view more there.
My brother Jeffrey and his wife Larissa, over at http://www.cinemafour40.com, did the videography and blessed them with a short, edited version of the highlights of the day. You can view that here:
We are so grateful to see God leading our children into the purpose and callings He’s placed on their lives. When they’re small and growing up, we pray and dream of what God might lead them into, and then when they become all grown up and start those journeys, the pain of letting them go becomes real, but it is eclipsed by the joy of “seeing them walk in Truth” and those callings becoming defined. It brings about change, never again will we all be together in “our cozy little nest”, they must go places we cannot go, and touch more lives for His sake than we ever could. That’s GOD’S PLAN, and it is a good one! No, we haven’t gone through these growing pains and changes without challenges, failures and tears, but God is so faithful in leading us in it, and we do trust Him for the future! There is joy in that.
When we left Ohio to travel back to Thailand, we said goodbye to Zach for awhile. He is working full time for our friend, Tim Yoder at Fairview Log Homes, until mid-August when he plans to enroll at God’s Bible School and College, Cincinnatti OH. God has given him a burden for Bible translation, so he’s pursuing a Master’s degree in Linguistics. Pray for him as He follows God’s leading, and for wisdom in many decisions he has to make. He was able to find a functional car for a good price, we praise God for that! He will be living on campus and hopes to have a part time job.
Shortly before we left Ohio, a young man named Randy Garcete asked Gaylord for permission to begin a relationship with Christy. We were happy to grant him that, and Christy accepted. We got to know Randy when he was here as an IGo student in 2015. As of now they are writing snail mail letters and getting to know each other in that way. He hopes to travel to Thailand for a visit this summer sometime. Pray for God’s guidance in their relationship, and for the challenges that an ‘across the seas’ relationship brings with it.
Cherie and Austin are back here in Thailand after enjoying several days in a cozy cabin in Ohio, followed by 2 weeks in California. We are thrilled to have them close by for now… They were able to find a cute little house about 15 minutes from here, and are settled in nicely now. Pray for them as they seek God for their future.
Pray for us as we settle back into life here. Asian Bible school starts next week and is in session for 3 weeks. Its always a joy to meet and get to know these students who come from all over Asia with life stories of intense hardships and strong faith in God. We are always challenged deeply!
After ABS, our annual 5 day IGo staff retreat will be held. Two weeks later, first semester 2016 will begin.
We are nearing the hottest time of the year. Temperatures have been around 100 degrees during the day this week, but the nights are still cooling down nicely. I really do think 100* is cooler than it used to be :). I’m grateful that our bodies do acclimate and it’s not as unbearable as it felt the first year or so…
Recently one of our hens hatched 9 baby chicks. It was fun for all of us to watch the process … small white eggs to fluffy, yellow chicks. Observing it all brought so many comparisons to mind of God’s love, and especially His promise in Psalm 91… “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” I’m so grateful for the never changing and faithful love of the Father God in all the seasons of life, all the new experiences, and the changes we face as a family. Whether I’m happy or feeling sad, there is that refuge of peace “under His wings”, close to His heart. It’s there that I want to stay… always.
Thank you all for your prayers. God bless you!