This past weekend we kicked off our 2014 year of Off The Grid! We had a group of youth come from London and another group come from Pickering. It was a great weekend and we loved getting to know those who came! We are really excited about our staff this summer. We have a larger staff than we’ve previously had and it’s making a huge difference! It’s just so exciting to see Off The Grid expanding and developing as time goes on. We are enjoying a quiet day today and some much needed rest! By the end of a weekend, and especially the first weekend of each summer, we are totally wiped! It’s so worth it though and we are so excited to be a part of what God is doing through Off The Grid.
A week before Off The Grid started, as many of you know, I had a kidney stone. I was so grateful that they were able to get me in the next day for emergency surgery to remove it! It was quite the few days to be sure! Pete was completely amazing during that time in how he took care of me and just loved on me. Several have told me kidney stone pain is worse than child birth so give me a few more months and we’ll see if I think it’s true too! So glad to have that behind us now and we’re seriously hoping there are no more stones! We have a follow up appointment in a few weeks with the surgeon so we’ll see then.
In the middle of all of the kidney stone craziness Pete’s sister Paige got married! I was totally bummed to not be able to make it but I was totally glad that it worked out for Pete to be there!
Anyways, a week later and here we are. We made it through those few days, we made it through this past week of getting everything ready for the launch of our 2014 year of Off The Grid and we had a great first weekend! This coming weekend we have a full weekend again with people coming from Oshawa, Stoney Creek and Goderich.
Time is running away on us and our blog has been left in the dust these days.
The big question lately is about how the pregnancy is going. So, as of today I’m at 20 weeks which means we are half way there! So far it’s been an exciting few months. I have been feeling really great which I am SO grateful for! We had our 18 week ultrasound a couple weeks ago and all is going along in normal fashion. I can feel baby moving around now which is crazy cool and also fairly weird to get used to. We have decided to wait to find out what sex the baby is so come November we’ll find out! We look forward to our monthly appointments with the midwives (ok so maybe me more than Pete) and in general this whole new baby journey is simply interesting and exciting. We’re enjoying sleep while we can still get it in normal amounts and these last months of just the two of us.
We’re into our busy time of year. Off The Grid is just less than a month away so we’re busy preparing for that – handling registration, communicating with staff, supply buying, and plenty of meetings. A new addition this year is that I will be overseeing all the cooking for the summer. We never were able to find a cook so this will be a new thing for me but we have different people to work with me each weekend so all is working out. We have expanded our team of staff this summer so Pete and I will not be living up there with the group each weekend. Although we really enjoyed doing that, it will work much better to just focus on our individual responsibilities and the general oversight of the program. Pete will continue with his oversight of the operations side of the program as well as sharing the teaching load, and I will continue on with all the administration as well as the cooking. So we’ve got our work cut out for us and we’re looking forward to it!
I’ve been challenged lately in the area of loving those around me. While that might sound cliche it’s been really impacting. I think we all probably have family members, friends or coworkers who are challenging to love – it could be personality differences, they could be going through a painful season in life or dealing with a lot of stress, it could just be the complexity of family and/or relationships coming out that makes it challenging…it could be a lot of things really. Recently I was asking God to help me be patient and loving in a certain situation because love was really not what was coming from my heart in that moment. He reminded me of those verses I’ve heard a thousand times at weddings or at church. That love is patient and kind. It’s not rude. That it always perseveres. It endures through every circumstance. That love never gives up. I keep thinking that one through and thinking about how heavy it was on God’s heart for us to truly love people. It can be hard to do but it’s the least we can do to keep trusting Him for the grace and strength to love and really love those beautiful people He’s placed in our lives.
After all, love never gives up.
We are greatly excited to show off our first family selfie and to announce that we have a baby on the way! Carly is almost 4 months along and baby is due November 4th. She has been feeling pretty good lately and we are pretty grateful for that. She had little to no morning sickness in the first trimester and apart from the normal exhaustion all is well. It still seems so surreal to both of us but as time goes on it’s changing to more of a reality. We do know that we are totally excited and we’re looking forward to this new chapter in life. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy our sleep and freedoms while we can…
Pete’s oldest sister Paula got married on the 19th over the Easter weekend. We enjoyed our brief time in Michigan and were so glad we could be there for her big day! It was a small wedding, a little smaller than ours was, in a country church just outside of St Johns, MI. Duane is a great guy who is also from Michigan, and we’re so glad they found each other!
After a busy couple of days in Michigan, we hit the road for Chicago. We were excited to take a couple days off and go see some friends who will be moving to Colombia in just a few weeks. They have two little boys who are just the coolest kids! It was great to catch up and relax a bit before heading back to Ontario.
We’ve been home a few days now and then Sunday things took an unexpected turn. We found out Pete’s Grandpa is not well and we were encouraged to come and say our goodbyes. We were scrambling trying to figure out how quickly we could make it there and then by Monday he had turned around considerably and was doing better. So we will still go but not until the weekend as you just never know with these kinds of things. This past year has been full of all sorts of unexpected turns but we are grateful for the strength to face each one and His incredible peace for the way.
I suppose we should break our blogging silence sooner than later. We are doing well and our “silence” isn’t indicative of anything wrong, just maybe a writer’s block or something. March seemed to fly by and I was happy to see April on the calendar this morning as well as my first robin outside! Pete has been co-teaching through Romans at church lately and he has also been taking the Perspectives course on Thursday nights which he is really enjoying! In March we were able to give a presentation at our church, along with some co-workers, about our ministry and NTM. This past weekend we were at the Word of Life Bible College in Ontario at their Students Exploring Missions weekend. So although most days are kept busy with office work and gearing up for OTG this summer, we’ve had some other stuff going on as well.
And yes, this morning OTG made the news! Well okay, maybe just the NTM news page but it’s still news! Check out the article that our volunteer writer put together after interviewing us a few weeks ago.
I had to laugh to myself. It’s almost the end of the month which means we get paid soon, but not soon enough. The money is gone and we still have some other expenses in the next week before we get paid again. We were praying just last night that God would provide somehow to meet the need. I was walking home this morning and found a wet, twenty dollar bill in the snow. It was just sitting there. I had to laugh to myself and think that He had answered our little prayer last night. He had provided a little bit to help with what we needed. Not sure how it got there and it wasn’t near anyone’s house but it sure was a reminder that He can and does provide!
There has been some pretty exciting news coming from the Nichols family in the last month!
It started Christmas Day when Pete’s sister Paula got engaged to Duane. We enjoyed getting to know him over these past months and we’re very excited for them! The plans are still being made but it looks like it might be a spring wedding.
Pete’s brother Preston and his wife Stephanie finally had their baby boy! Trenton Lane Nichols was born January 11th. He weighed 7lbs. 10oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long. He is a little brother to our niece Ruby and we can’t wait to meet him!
The last news came as a surprise. Pete’s sister Paige got engaged to her boyfriend Andrew! The joy in her voice as she told us her good news was very special to hear! They have known each other for a while but started dating a few months ago. We are very excited for them and for their future together! Looks like theirs will be a summer wedding!
We’re already well into the new year but just wanted to take a few moments to reflect on last year before this one goes flying by. It was a hard one for sure, but as I look back I remember all the bright spots mixed in with all the pain and loss. For the most part we’ll remember the brighter parts. So here are 20 things that stand out to us from 2013.
1. Ankle injury 2013 started out pretty quickly with Pete injuring his ankle playing soccer. It took a while but eventually it was back to mostly normal. During his recovery we had a nice weekend visit from his Grandma and Dad.
2. Family February seemed to be a month for seeing family on weekends. Carly’s parents and cousin Lindsay made a visit which included the ‘parentals’ using their new snow shoes. Our nephew had his first sleepover at Uncle Pete & Aunt Carly’s house which was FUN! The end of the month found us in Michigan where we got to hang with the Nichols family.
3. Spring Break We got to relive the fun of spring break when Pete’s sister Patience and cousin Rachel came to spend theirs with us! We dropped them off in Michigan on a quick day trip but just in time to catch the Nichols easter get together.
4. Graduations April found us in Sault Ste Marie, MI celebrating our friends graduation from the nursing program there. It was a nice weekend get away! A couple weeks later we made it to Michigan for Pete’s brother Pierce’s graduation.
5. Chicago! We enjoyed a few days of mini vacation in May when we went to the Chicago area to visit our friends Brion & Annette and their two boys. We had such a great time! It was a great break right before our busy time of year began.
6. Birthday Boy We spent Pete’s 28th birthday babysitting our niece and nephew at their house. Kids always add excitement to a birthday celebration!
7. Allergies! Carly finally got in to see an allergist in June. It was informative and helpful to learn what she was allergic to which ended up being animals and most things outside…grass, all sorts of trees, cats, birds, horses, rabbits, dust…
8. 40 years! Carly’s parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in June…amazing! They took a trip to Northern Ireland to visit friends.
9. Papa The beginning of July brought with it the start of the tougher times of 2013. Carly’s “Papa” was diagnosed with cancer and given four months to live. Three weeks later he was gone. To say those days were tough and painful would be an understatement. There were a lot of circumstances that surrounded that time that just made it plain hard. I wish I could have talked to him one more time.
10. Off The Grid This was our third summer of the program and we saw 98 people come through the course. Most of our time prior to the summer had been spent getting ready for OTG. All went well and we continue to learn and improve the program as we go along.
11. Plus One We had Pete’s cousin Rachel live with us for the summer as she came to be the OTG 2013 cook. We seriously loved having her for the summer! Her family came up on the long weekend in the summer and we had a great time with them!
12. Grandma Isham After a long battle with ALS Pete’s Grandma left us at the beginning of September. We were grateful for a few days in Michigan with family during that time. Thanksgiving and Christmas sure felt different this year without her.
13. Three Years We celebrated our 3rd anniversary in September! We enjoyed a weekend away in Oakville, some Peruvian cuisine and an All Sons & Daughters concert. It was a great weekend with my favourite guy!
14. New Brunswick Pete flew out to NB to speak at a Bible college there in the fall. This was the furthest we travelled for ministry this year.
15. Girls Getaway We celebrated Mom’s 60th birthday in October with a girls getaway and pedicures!
16. Michigan We left October 18th and moved to Michigan for the remainder of the year. We had a great time of “Partnership Development” there and a great time living close to family!
17. Grandma Noose November brought the death of Carly’s Grandma. Carly headed back to London to see her while she was still in the hospital and Pete joined her once Grandma died. The reality of her death is still sinking in and the tears seem to come at the most random times. Life will never be the same without her. She brought so much life and laughter.
18. Birthday Girl Carly’s 32nd birthday was spent with a visit from her parents, a day out shopping with the Aunt and cousin and a Hello Kitty birthday party that my in-laws threw me. And yes, you read the last part right!
19. Ice Storm The big ice storm made Christmas an exciting time as we celebrated with Pete’s family this year. We went for five days without power.
20. The End We ended 2013 with Carly’s family coming and having our late Christmas with them once we got back to Ontario. We were able to ice skate and enjoy some days together and it was especially fun to have Aunt Beth with us this year.
Our two and a half months living in Michigan were amazing and recently came to a close last weekend. As our time in Michigan was coming to an end we were busy spending time with family and friends and enjoying our last days and weeks there. We set aside our last few days to just be with family over Christmas. Now that we are back in Ontario we are already feeling the absence of family. It has been so good to have family living close by! We loved it!
Overall our time of Partnership Development in Michigan was of huge value! We were able to connect with a lot of people, share about our ministry with many and see new people join our ministry team, including the addition of a church that is excited to be joining our team as our Michigan home church. We had previously asked prayer for this so this is a huge answer to that specific prayer! Pete hasn’t lived in Michigan for five years now so the time spent there was of huge value in reconnecting with many friends and family.
We arrived home to Ontario and a day later Carly’s family joined us to celebrate their ‘Christmas’ together. It was great to see them all after being gone for so long! Now we’re settling back into to life here at home and getting ready to head back to our normal routine Monday. I must admit it has been strange to be home and in the area after such a long absence! We’re enjoying the big snow storm that is currently hitting us and the beauty of it and it’s definitely good to be back on Canadian ground!
Thanks to all of you who followed our journey while we were in Michigan and to those who prayed for us. And to our loved ones in Michigan…we sure loved seeing you all and we enjoyed the chance to catch up on each others lives!