Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ruth's 2nd birthday

We took this video of Ruth learning it was her birthday (and randomly since then she's said it's her birthday too). It's been an amazing two years with our baby Ruth so far!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Year End Update

There is something about spending time with family around
the holidays and the nearing of the end of the year that causes me
to be more reflective about the past year than I tend to be while in
the midst of it. Each year I appreciate that as it helps me to take stock of what the past year has brought- the blessings along with the hard things. It is always humbling to look back over the way that God has provided, and especially this year.
It was about this time last year that Lauren and I made our decision to leave PA, even though at that time we really had no idea where we were actually moving to. A decision that even perplexed us more than once. Through God's guidance, we settled on moving to Bozeman, MT and working at Yellowstone Alliance Adventures for the three months of summer.
Through many tears we said “see you soon” to the countless people that were an integral part of our lives in PA. Our church family, some of our immediate family, our small group, and our larger group of friends and coworkers. God had provided and placed each of those people in our lives for a season, and we were trusting him that if he could do it once, he could do it again. The last week of May held many goodbyes and many memories. I for one was glad to have a long drive ahead of us before we dove head-first into our Montana summer.
God provided a wonderful staff at YAA this summer, and the lives of many kids were impacted by our staff. It was a joy to be able to work and live life with the Coates and the Hawthorne's, as well as the other full time camp staff, David, Shawn and Tessa. Camp stretched us in many ways, many that we anticipated, some that we didn't. God graciously provided financially for us over the summer, often through many of you, and we humbly thank you for that opportunity.
In moving to work at camp we came to know Joe and Debbie Velli, who opened up their home to us and provided us a place in their home to live for the summer. Their kindness and hospitality has been a huge blessing to our family as we have continued to live there even though the summer is long over!
As camp came to a close for the summer, the larger question of finding real jobs loomed ahead of us. In September, Lauren was able to get a casual call position in the ICU at the Bozeman hospital, which has worked well to fit around the rest of the family schedule. I started working at TGW Inc., a custom rustic furniture and cabinetry shop in November. I have enjoyed getting to learn a new facet of the woodworking industry, though our market has continued to slow as the year has drawn to a close. I'm not sure what the new year will bring, though I am confident in the Lord's provision, one way or another.

Ruth has been a constant source of smiles and joy in our lives! It has been incredible to see her little mind and body grow and change as she learns new things everyday. She has shed most of the rolly-polly baby rolls that she brought to Montana. They slowly disappeared as she began to put one foot in front of the other and walk and run laps around our apartment. She has enjoyed having a playmate in Mayne Coates, and their clear personality differences keep the four of us parents often laughing. Ruth is currently expanding her vocabulary on an almost daily basis, and loves “talking” with her stuffed moose and stuffed puppy. She's still just as cute as she was last Christmas, even though she's lost a few chins along the way....
This coming May, Ruth will be joined by another sibling! Lauren has been feeling much better lately, now that most of the morning sickness is past. We're both unsure what life will be like with two little ones to tear up the house, but we're looking forward to it all the same.
We've enjoyed the random and the planned visits of many friends over the last six months and welcome the many more to come! Joe Gough, Dan Porter, Luke Zitzman, Lauren's family, my parents, Larry and Laura Hoffert, Garrett and Beth Suhr. Anyone is welcome to visit, we'll find room for ya!
All things considered, we have really enjoyed our time in Montana so far. It really is a joy to have such beautiful country literally right out our back door. There is a National Forest trailhead at the end of our road, which is a hiking and mountain biking trail that networks into a trail system that could take you all the way south into Yellowstone National Park if you'd like! There are countless trout streams to be explored and fished, and I'm really looking forward to going elk hunting next fall.
Because of working at camp for the summer and having a cold fall, Lauren and I did not make it out camping at all this past year, but we can't wait to have some weekends next year to explore our back yard, on foot or by Jeep.
I was asked last week by a friend if Montana feels like home yet. His question really caused me to ponder that thought. In many ways yes, it does feels like home. It feels comfortable, inviting and welcoming. But from another perspective, we sometimes still feel like strangers, like outsiders. We've begun to establish some friendships here in Bozeman, but that is a slow process and can't be expected to happen overnight.
We remember that this world is not our home, someday we will be with our Saviour and friends in Heaven. But in the meantime, please pray with us as we travel this earth seeking the best path. We are still not sure what the future will hold for our young family. We desire to enjoy the earth given to us as we serve him and fulfill the calling of raising children. Please pray for contentment where God has us at present, and to make the most of every opportunity.
Thank you for you friendship. Grace to you-
Josh & Lauren

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I know, it's August, but seriously, I didn't have to wear a sweatshirt out of the house this morning and it is warm enough that we let the girls (Ruth and Mayne) go swimming this afternoon. Ruth was a little fish in the water, Mayne took a little while to warm up to it but lived it after a bit. I don't blame her though, the water was pretty cold!
One of my jobs has been taking pictures for an end-of-the-week slide show, and it's great fun getting the pictures of kids completely enjoying themselves. I am finishing up the staff slide show, then both main roles of mine (pictures and camp nurse) finished. We are finished with the kids camps, so now we have a few weeks of Awana camps, church camps, and a family camp. We are not as involved in these camps, we don't do counseling or teaching, but we run some activity areas such as climbing wall, zipline, and canoeing. Josh's role as mentor of the high school program leaders has wrapped up, but his facilities management role continues, and I will probably be helping him on some projects. I will also be continuing to develop the camp's Health Center and other policy writing.
We are beginning to pursue some jobs and housing as our time here is ending in a few weeks. We appreciate prayer as we jump in to the next leg of this journey!
Here is a link to additional pictures on facebook (you do not have to be a member to view these pictures)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life now

There are certain things that I am learning about living in Montana. There is only one area code (406) for the whole state. Yeah, there's that many people. The weather is crazy. When they call for scattered showers, they mean it. Not just scattered areas of the county might get some rain, like in Pa. The day will start sunny, then absolutely pour for 10 minutes, then be sunny again. This repeats about 3 or 4 times throughout the day.

It's weird to be living on the West side of the time zone. So last night we played soccer (which was a blast!), starting at around 8 or 8:30. We stopped at around 10 or 10:30 with still plenty of light to walk the 1/4 mile home. It actually gets dark around 11 or 11:30. But because we're more North of Pa, it still gets light at 5:30-6am.

It's June 19th, and I'm still waiting for summer to come. Today was the nicest day, mainly because there was no cold rain and it peaked at about 75 degrees if you were standing in the sunshine. I have all these cute summer clothes for Ruth that I want her to wear, but I would be freezing her cute chubby legs if I put them on her. Maybe it'll warm up soon!

Ruth has been growing and throwing us challenges here and there. She learned how to gag to the point of vomiting if she doesn't like a food. We're putting a stop to that real quickly. Her favorite food is prunes, so we often use that to disguise the peas. She's such a camp kid already. I caught her with a handful of dirt in the mouth the other day. I usually don't mind the rocks or sticks, but the dirt is something we're trying to stay away from. There is an endless supply of new friends willing to hang out with Ruth, particularly her new friend Brianna who is going into 5th grade. Brianna loves to hang out with Ruth, and she never complains about her arm aching after lugging the chub across camp (as I frequently do). Ruth loves the swing, the grass, and dandelions. She loves animals, when ever she sees the dogs, birds, squirrels, or the like, she gets really excited and says "ooh! ooh!" and pushes off whoever is holding her to try to get closer to the animal. So cute. The dogs are, fortunately, very tolerant of her, all others run away before we get too close.

Soccer day camp just ended and the 3rd and 4th graders come next week as the first of the residential camps. Josh is swamped with work at camp, and I try to make myself busy. I am basically the nurse, laundry lady, photographer, camp store helper, office manager assistant, and mom. That's all for now, I'll post some camp pictures soon!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

We've arrived!

Greetings from Bozeman, Montana!

We are thrilled to be writing you from our summer home here at YAA! We left PA on Wednesday, May 27, with our caravan headed West. My dad, Dale, and Lauren's sister, Heather, drove with us on our journey across the nation. It was a huge blessing to have the extra hands as we took our fleet of three vehicles and trailer loaded with our belongings towards Montana.

All told, it took us 44 hours of driving in 4 days to cover about 2200 miles. Our travels took us from Pennsylvania just past Chicago, IL the first night. The next day was a shorter day, leaving Illinois and heading through Wisconsin and into Minnesota. We were thankful to meet some dear friends for lunch in Wisconsin, which was a welcome break from the road. We then spent the night with some other friends in Minnesota. The third day took us through the remainder of Minnesota, across South Dakota and into Wyoming. We took detours to drive through Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore. Saturday we headed Northwest through Wyoming to Bozeman, Montana.

We arrived at camp Saturday afternoon and were able to take the next three days to settle into our summer quarters and regroup after an emotionally and physically exhausting previous three weeks. It was refreshing to wake up on Sunday and not have to get into the car!

The first of the summer staff arrived on Thursday, so it was awesome to get to put faces to names and share a meal with everyone that evening. Staff training started first thing Friday, which included all 18 summer and year-round staff members. We've been able to participate in a number of activities which have really helped the staff to begin to gel as a group. Saturday we took a twelve mile hike that took us over a ridge and down Cottonwood Canyon, right in the back yard of camp. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the 40-50 degree temperatures and snow! Sunday we awoke to about 2” of fresh powder, which although it is beautiful, was a surprise with only two weeks until the start of summer camp!

Please pray as the high school students in the Timothy Program, arriving Thursday the 18th., who are assistant counselors and help with the overall maintenance of camp. Pray for Josh as he works with them and alongside the other senior staff. Pray for Lauren as the health care of the camp is being developed and grown. Pray for us as we continue to learn what it means to be parents as we are involved in camp life.

We are praising the Lord for our safe arrival, a great staff, and encouragement from His word. We are currently just over 75% of our support goal, and are so grateful for His provision thus far. We are confident in our Lord to provide for our needs. Thank you so much for your gifts, notes and encouragement, we would not be here without you!

Ruth's update!

She's been crawling all over the place, every evening coming home with dirty knees and socks. We hold to the wisdom of Grandma Barb – a dirty baby is a happy baby! She is pulling herself up on everything that will hold her, and falling over when it doesn't. She's taken many tumbles, but she's learning fast. And yes, thankfully, she survived the car ride here!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Heading West

Spring has sprung, and I think it springs faster every year we get older. Outside, the little tiny white flowers that are scattered through our yard are coming up and blooming. Some would call them weeds, but our daughter loves them! Speaking of weeds, baby Ruth Elizabeth, who was born October 19, 2008, is growing fast. She has already outgrown some of her friends who are a few months older. She has been such a joy in our lives as we watch her grow and learn every day! Right now she’s so close to turning over by herself and will start some real food soon. And just this weekend her first tooth started to poke through!

After Ruth’s birth, Lauren has gone back to work as a full-time nurse, and Josh has been doing part-time work in a number of carpentry and woodworking areas, mostly working for a custom wood furniture builder. We’ve been able to share working and at home responsibilities, which has been great!

In the summer of 2007, we had an opportunity to work at a camp in upstate New York for the summer. Both of our skill-sets fit very well into camp life, which helped us make the most of that time. Prior to that summer, and much more since that summer, we have been constantly in conversation about where our goals and desires would take us, both vocationally and geographically. In a large part due to how much we enjoyed our summer at camp in New York, we’ve been exploring the idea of working at a camp that operates year-round. During the past few years, a number of our very close friends have made the transition into full-time camp ministry, and we’ve been able to visit to work and play along side them, which has renewed our desire to pursue camp ministry.

Through many conversations and prayer, we have made the decision to move to Bozeman, Montana and work at Yellowstone Alliance Adventures for the summer! We have been out visit Montana on four different trips, and to YAA on three different occasions. Two of the trips were to volunteer for work projects, and we will be taking a third team out for a work trip in May. We are excited to be working alongside Seth and Cathy Coates at YAA for the months of June, July and August, and we feel that the positions we have been offered at camp fit us well. Josh will be playing a key role in the maintenance and facilities department while also participating in various program areas as he is needed. Lauren’s primary role with be as Mom to Ruth, but will be expanding and updating the healthcare role at YAA.

YAA is a family centered Christian camp that resides just south of Bozeman, nestled into some of the mountains there. They have a full summer camp program which targets both kids and families, and their facilities are used year-round for retreat groups and community organizations. The camp was founded in the 1960’s, but has existed in its current form with a full-time director since 1995.

For the positions that we are taking, we are required to raise the funds that will pay our salary, as the other full time staff do. We also need to have people who would be committed to prayer for us and the ministry of YAA. With our previous experiences at camps, both as campers and as staff, we see the great impact that it makes in the lives of the children and their families that attend. We will continue to leave updates and pictures throughout our time in Montana.

Christmas pictures