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!
As you can imagine, we were beyond excited last night when our power came back on! Many of you will have heard about the crazy ice storm that hit us last weekend. Some of you I’m sure experienced it too. There were trees down everywhere and ice covered literally everything! Our power went out Sunday afternoon and came back on Thursday evening. Needless to say it will be a Christmas we won’t soon forget! The power outage also meant our well pump didn’t work which meant no showers, no flushing and no coffee! We were grateful Tuesday when someone lent us a generator which powered our furnace and fridge. And in the meantime we melted snow to flush our toilets and ran to town to buy some drinking water. Although it was inconvenient, the storm brought incredible beauty with it and the candlelit evenings have been fun. The trees were coated in ice and especially on the sunny days this week they’ve been stunning! It made for a memorable Christmas and caused us to appreciate more the warm house, the lights, the flushing, the conveniences we enjoy, the showers and yes, our morning coffee.
Some of my most beautiful and vivid childhood memories are from my Grandma’s house: making mini snowmen on the deck railing, baking together, playing in the leaves, having a “spot of tea”, making mini pizzas in the toaster oven, helping in the garden, playing on the swing set, catching the bus and heading downtown to the market, and the songs she would sing me as she tucked me into bed, which always ended with ‘Hush Little Viking’. I can still hear her voice as she sang her way in a whisper out of the room, in that little house on Stuart St. There is so much joy contained in these memories.
She was the best of the best.
As I got older, the memories turned to playing Skip-Bo together, receiving her letters on birch bark from Newfoundland, doing the Newfie jig, countless conversations & cups of tea and my two trips to Newfoundland which both contain so many special memories. She was most fully alive when she was on “the Rock” and I am so grateful for those chances I had as an adult to see my Grandma in her most favorite place.
She was the best of the best.
As with all things, her journey here recently came to an end on November 18, 2013. I had dreaded that day for many years as the void she has left in my life will never be replaced. She was truly one of a kind. We gathered in the small town cemetery and celebrated her life on a cold, crisp, sunny day. It was joyful and hopeful and her life was celebrated well. She was one of the most beautiful people I will ever meet: kind, loving, thoughtful, and always full of so much fun! I admire how she stayed young at heart as she grew older. Until her final day we were able to laugh with her. It all sort of seems surreal to think she is gone but I know as time goes on reality will sink in. She is the third grandparent Pete and I have lost in five months so it’s definitely been a tough run.
I remain full of hope and joy to think of my Grandma, the woman she was and where she is today. And I suppose if you were to take all the great Grandma’s that have ever lived and group them together, she’d not only be there but she’d be the life of the party.
Because truly, she was the best of the best.
We made it to Michigan just less than two weeks ago now! We are settled in to the house we are renting and are enjoying our time around family and friends. Neither one of us have lived by any family at all since being married so this is especially nice to have them so close by! It has also been really nice to have a change of pace and be in a different setting…with better shopping, cheaper groceries and deer in the backyard!
As you might be aware of, one reality for us working with NTM is that our jobs are not paid positions. We are supported by churches and individuals who are passionate together with us about what we are doing. Part of what do sometimes means taking time out to connect with those that support us and update them on how things are going. It also means looking for new ministry partners to support us and stand together with us. This is a big need we have right now and we’re just really praying that our time here in Michigan would be profitable as we take time out to do these things. To be honest, it can be awkward and discouraging sometimes. But then we remind ourselves that this is God’s thing and has little to do with us and we can rest in that knowing He will be faithful.
Here are a few things you can be praying about:
- for opportunities to share here in Michigan
- for increased financial support
- that we would get at least one church here in Michigan to stand behind us as we currently don’t have any
- for good health while we’re here so we can maximize the time we have
- for faith to believe that God will provide…sometimes it can get discouraging
- for Carly’s Grandma as she is not doing well recently
- for our car situation as it just went in to the shop with a serious issue that we’re hoping can be solved
One pretty great thing about Canada and the USA having their Thanksgivings at different times in the fall is that we never have to pick which family to spend it with! The weekend before we left Ontario was our Canadian Thanksgiving and we had such a great weekend in London with family! A cousin from California came too which was awesome. We hadn’t seen her in several years! Mom always makes an awesome turkey and it was just a fun day being all together. We also hadn’t seen my niece and nephew in a few months so it was fun to see how they’ve gotten bigger! It was our first Thanksgiving without my Grandpa there so that felt a little different. We were able to get across the city to see my Grandma though which is always good for the heart. She can’t get out anymore but was in good spirits the day we went. Pete always finds our Canadian thanksgiving oddly early, and I find his oddly late, but I think we both enjoy having two of them!
Last Friday we celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday. My mom, cousin Lindsay, and sister-in-law Laura, and I all went away for a girls night out. The place we went to offered a package called a “Pajama Party for Four”. It was a very relaxing and quiet evening away at a beautiful place! We all enjoyed catching up with each other, yummy munchies and having pedicures done! It ended up being a pretty special way to celebrate such an amazing woman! And while she was not looking forward to this particular birthday and the number that came with it, we were grateful for the chance to celebrate our mom, aunt and mother-in-law. Happy Birthday Mom!