Category Archives: Family and Friends

Pictures and stories of our dear family and friends

Backtracking Part II

It wasn’t all work, my friends. Not at all!  We filled these Florida months with lots of special people!
The first weekend we were in Lake Wales we took a mini road trip to see our friends Jim and Sue Taylor in Ft. Myers. We’d been friends with Jim and Sue BK (before kids) and kept loosely in touch with them over the years since Gary’s mom had also lived in Ft. Myers. It’s been so lovely these last three winters in Florida to reconnect and spend time with them!

Untitled
Yes, they are still trying to teach me the finer points of Pinochle!
Untitled
Sure do love these guys! Now we just have to get them to the cabin, right?
As we headed back to the rig that weekend, we made another stop to see a high school friend that I don’t believe I’ve seen probably since 1969. OK, maybe at a random reunion, but I can’t be sure. Any who, through the miracle of Facebook, we’d reconnected several years ago and it was great fun to see Gary and his wife at their new digs in Port Charlotte.
Untitled
Untitled(I actually grew up in the same neighborhood as Gary until halfway through third grade. He had this picture of he and his brother and dad- and my house in the one on the right behind them. (or the one next to it. It was very long ago, and they look pretty similar!))

What a fun weekend of connections!

We also connected with area SOWER friends during March too! Once for ice cream
Untitled
and once for a picnic at the park which included not only working SOWERS but also 3 Alumni couples and a single Alumni.
Untitled
Green Isle GroupFor Gary and I it was very special because one of those alumni couples was our group leader at our third project way back in January of 2006. What a blessing to reconnect with them again!

Connecting with friends – old and new! It’s one of the best parts of this crazy life of ours!

Stay tuned for the next installment of my backtracking tomorrow!

 

The New Neighborhood

Springtime in Georgia! We’re working this month at Marshview Bible Camp, located in Midway, Georgia.

It’s a “new to us” project, and actually has only been a SOWER project for about a year. We’ll be doing some general maintenance and cleaning in preparation for campers this summer, and there is also some new construction the guys will be working on.
Untitled

We’ve only been here three days and already we’ve had two campfires
Untitled
and made one trip into beautiful Savannah! Sweet!
Untitled
Then tonight we were able to connect with our nephew and his sweet wife who were in vacationing in Hilton Head and providentially were in Savannah for dinner. What a treat- both the ice cream (long gone by the time the picture was taken) and the visit!
Untitled
Yep, it’s gonna be a good month!

Nieces

I have been blessed with six lovely nieces. Over the years we’ve kept track of them, rejoiced at their weddings, celebrated at the birth of their children and prayed for them in their times of need. One of the blessings of my recent trip to Vermont was being able to spend time with three of them and getting to know them on a whole new level!
First there was Heather, Elna’s oldest daughter –
Untitled
Let’s face it – 20 hours on the road and sharing a Econo-lodge double room sets the stage for a fair bit of conversation.
Untitled
Since Heather was the driver (and bless her heart, she did ALL the driving), I figured it was my job to keep the stories coming, right? There were historical stories (about her grandparents and great grandparents), there were travel stories (yes, I have a few of those), there were family stories (we do have a fair number of family members in common), and there were sister stories (her sister, my sisters – whatever!). We didn’t come close to solving the problems of the world, but we did share our hearts as she kept the pedal to the metal (within the speed limit of course!) heading north. I think one of the reasons we kept up the steady stream of stories was because when we paused we would remember just why we were in that little Honda for hours on end. It was easier to keep talking than to focus on the unknowns ahead.
Heather, that was a very long road trip we shared – and I’ll be treasuring each mile for a long while to come.

Then there was Chris, daughter #2 from the Fitzpatrick clan.
Untitled
Chris moved to Bradford (the same town where Elna & Henry live) last summer after she took a job at Dartmouth. She not only shared her lovely guest room with me,
Untitled
but she fed me, loaned me her car, supplied me with all sorts of winter gear and even convinced me to hike into the cabin after a fresh snow!
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
It was a grand and beautiful day and a totally unexpected addition to this little Vermont jaunt.
Chris – Your hospitality was stellar! We are all so thankful you are close by Elna – and that you loves her so!

And then there was Bethany – Daughter #2 of Elna & Henry.
Untitled
Bethany, her dear hubby and two sweet little boys live in Utah, and she had flown in for the weekend. Given the limited visitor schedule, I didn’t get a lot of visiting time with Beth over the weekend (her first priority was time with Elna of course). However, since I was trying to figure out just how and when I was going to get back Florida and she was flying home on Monday, it seemed that a plan which involved getting to an airport via Beth was a good plan indeed. Thanks to some travel agent-type magic, Chris found me a flight out of the same airport, on the same airline, on the same day and virtually at the same time. Once again, God had worked out those details.
Untitled
And since the airport in question was JFK in New York City – it was another road trip in the making! We didn’t have as much time together as Heather and I, but it was still precious heart-sharing time.
Bethany – I was honored to share the time with you!

And so I could see God’s hand even in the uncertainty of those Vermont days.  He was holding us close – and we could feel it in every hug we shared.

UntitledThis past Sunday two of those nieces (along with several other family members) gathered at Elna’s for a big family visit. It might’ve been exhausting, but judging by the look on her face – it was well worth it!

Thank you for your prayers for Elna and our family. They have been appreciated – and felt!

Steph

 

 

 

PS – the header picture is from 2003. I can’t remember how we got all those girl cousins (except Sydney who was only 13) to our house but love this sweet memory. For those of you who know us  – L-R: Hannah, Heather, Lara, Chris, Abby, and Bethany =)

 

Missing in Action

Has it really been almost three weeks?  I’ve been trying to find the words to catch you all up on why I pretty much disappeared over the last three weeks, and while I’m not sure I have them even yet – here’s at least a start!

Friday, the 25th, I was getting ready to put together a Final Wrap up of our time at Lake Swan Camp when I received a text message that my sister, Elna, had been admitted to the hospital with a brain bleed. For someone who has been battling cancer (and mostly winning)  for the last four years, these were hard words to read. And suddenly writing about painting those brown benches brown faded into the background and I was searching for flights to New England!  Unavailable. Unavailable. Unavailable.  In God’s providence, Elna’s daughter Heather was also in Florida and heading north post haste. So we loaded in the car and the three of us (that’s Gibson in the back seat) pointed that little Honda towards Vermont and we drove.

Untitled
And drove, and drove, and drove. Thirty-six hours later we were at Heather’s (about 2 hours from Elna), and ready to finish up the drive in the morning. We couldn’t get right in to see Elna – the visitor policy only allowed one visitor per day – but we met with Henry for breakfast and got the update.
Untitled
Elna was in Neuro ICU, and following an MRI they discovered three brain lesions (tumors), one of which had ruptured and caused the bleed. She was awake and doing as well as could be expected following her diagnosis. I was desperate to see her, but had to wait my turn, so by the time I got in to see her (Wednesday) she was doing much better.
Untitled
She was still having difficulty processing the written word, but ‘with-it’ in most other areas. We were so thankful! Although the visitation was limited to one person per day, there was no limit to how long we could stay. That Wednesday and then Friday were very precious days and we often just sat quietly and enjoyed the love that passed between our joined hands. (That is not to say that it was easy for her to get a good nap with all the comings and goings of the doctors and nurses!) Friday afternoon she was transferred to a rehab center to help her get stronger and ready to go home. Her daughter Bethany arrived from Utah for the weekend – another boost to her morale and well-being! And then just two days ago, she came home to complete her recovery. Praise God! While I left on Monday last week (while she was still at rehab), Joie picked up the sister mantel on Wednesday, so she was well covered with Sister Love during her hospital stay and rehab time.
Untitled
Although Joie returned to PA today, we left her in the capable hands of her hubby, her granddaughter (who lives with them during the week), our niece Chris (Joie’s daughter who lives in the same town), and daughter Heather who is about 2 hrs. away. And most importantly, in the hands of our LORD,  who loves her even more than we do!
Right now her job is to rest and get stronger. Once her brain gets happier (the doctor referred to it as ‘angry’ following the brain bleed), they’ll do another MRI and then will be able to address those tumors with some targeted radiation. The prognosis is good for this incident, but it has been a vivid reminder that yes, she has stage 4 cancer and every day is a gift. We are so thankful for our time in New Hampshire just last month. How kind our God has been to us!

There’s more to the story, of course. More of God’s hand and blessing in the midst of these uncertain days.  But these are enough words for tonight.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

A couple of things….

    1. As always, it’s hard to believe that this month’s project is more than half over. So far it’s been quite the painting extravaganza for us ladies. We’ve painted a large conference room and just finished up three motel rooms. And sometimes you have to be creative to get the job done!
      Untitled
    2. More details to follow about the project here, but let’s just say that Gary was in his happy place last week.
      Untitled
    3. And speaking of that guy….
      this hardworking fellow stepped on the scale this morning
      Gary2018
      and saw a number that did not start with a 2.

I’m so proud of him and his determination to make this journey!

4.  And since we’re talking about family…. this young man turned SEVEN today!!
Untitled
And although he looks like he could be just a few years away from college in the picture above,
Frogman Taran
THIS picture speaks more why we love us some Taran!
Happy Birthday, Taran!! We love you to the moon and back!