Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blog update for 7/15 - !2/12

It has been so long since I have updated our blog, I will have to try to remember back to when I last left off.  I will keep it brief and try to hit the high spots for you.

Three Springs Ministries had a great camp summer!  God was faithful again to bring so many young people to us to hear and experience Him at summer camp.  The highlight for me was planning and leading a backpacking wilderness trip to Wyoming with 14 other teens and young adults.  What a beautiful part of the country that I had never seen.  We were awed by God's creation through the sights of the Rocky Mountains and also some wildlife that we normally don't get to see.  We praise the Lord for the safety and times of learning together of our Creator and Savior.

The fall season for us at the Inn is crazy!  It starts at the end of August and will stop briefly after this weekend.  I looked back at our calendar, and we had 20 different groups retreat with us during that three and a half months!  Many of the groups were back-to-back with less than 24 hours to re-group for the next, but with God's strength it seemed to go very smoothly.  It's hard to believe that we are just about to the end and ready for a 2-week Christmas break.  We will be heading back to S.C. for a very much-needed time away with family and friends.

During that busy time this fall, we also had a very important date on our family calendar.  Evelyn Claire Rickert was born to us September 30th!  God really answered prayers in that we were able to go in for a scheduled delivery on that Sunday.  Kathryn's mom came up to be with the kids while we were at the hospital, and Kathryn did a great job during the labor and delivery.  Evelyn was just over 7 pounds, and both Mom and baby did fine.  There were some questions during this pregnancy about the development of the baby due to some unique circumstances.  This resulted in numerous moniterings and ultasounds, but Evelyn has been very healthy and a wonderful blessing to our family!  Her siblings can't get enough of her!

This is the year for our bi-annual Live Nativity at Three Springs which is the big event of the season.  With about 150 people involved, 12 productions, and 1,000+ people who come through, you can imagine it's a lot of work.  The farm turns into a life-like reproduction of Bethleham complete with animals, Roman soldiers, shepherds and a very special young couple who will become parents to a very special baby.  This free drama has had great success in years past and we are praying that God opens the hearts of all those who come through, especially those who may be hearing and experiencing the Gospel message for the first time.  Just today, Nate and I picked up two donkeys, three sheep and two alpacas that will be part of the drama.

 Tomorrow the camel will arrive, ready to make it's first acting debut!  We are all looking forward to this weekend!  We will be housing people at the inn, who will be coming from afar for the drama.  At least WE still have a few rooms available at our inn (Ha Ha).

We trust that you will not lose sight of the true meaning of the season as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ!  Merry Christmas from all of the Rickerts!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Blog Update for 5-12-12 thru 7-15-12

Greetings to everyone from the Rickert Family!
We are just over half way through our busy 9 weeks of consecutive residential camps at Three Springs Farm.  We just started our Senior High School age week of camp today.  God has been very gracious in giving us a drama-free first 5 weeks.  Things have been running smoothly, no major injuries, kids have been getting along with each other, and having the opportunity to hear from God with some responding to Him for the first time in their lives!  It's so neat to talk with Hannah, our horse ministry coordinator, and see the excitement in her as she told us about the first camper that she was able to help lead to the Lord during one of her horse weeks.  It reminds us of why we are all here serving the Lord in one way or another and that God is using this ministry in young people's lives.

I have been spending the majority of my time at the camp property when we don't have a group here at the Inn, which is mostly during the week.  I am one of two lifeguards that help serve at the pool for our camps or for groups that don't have a lifeguard of their own.  Last week we had a few days of life guarding for CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) as they were doing a 5 day club here in our community.  I think they had about 60 kids for the week which I think is a great number for our rural area to hear the gospel every day.

I have increased my responsibilities at the camp property this year as well in the area of grounds maintenance.  There has not really been a point person doing the maintenance regularly, so that fit me and my experience that I have had with my landscape business.  There was a lot of trimming shrubs, flower bed work, and mulching to do initially to go along with the grass cutting and trim work, but  I enjoy trying to keep everything looking nice for our guests. 

We successfully got all of our first cuttings of hay in the barns for the horses for this coming winter.  I really enjoy getting the opportunity to help with the farming aspect of things.  I think I really would have been at home growing up on a farm!  Whether it's driving the tractor, throwing hay bales, or helping with the animals, I love it all!

I don't think, however, that I would love being a mobile-home-setter-upper!  The camp had a mobile home in the area donated to us here recently, which we had moved to a lot that Three Springs is renting close by.  It will be used for additional staff housing as needed, but two days of crawling around under the trailer, moving concrete blocks and trying to get it level was all I wanted of that!  Oh well,  I guess everything can't be so fun! 

We had a youth group from Connecticut come down at the end of June to volunteer a couple of days of work which I was able to head up.  We were able to clear quite a bit of new trail as we expanded our existing nature trail and did some improvements to what we already have.  It's really neat to see how God uses people from all over to partner with us in the ministry here.  This group had never been here before, but someone from the area, not associated with the ministry, recommended Three Springs to them.  Sounds like God had a hand in those arrangements!

With everything in full swing at the camp, we have had a few weekends free at the Inn which is typical for us in the summer months with our adult groups.  We have had a few weddings this summer, however, which has been different, but fun in addition to our normal retreat weekends.  The busiest time for us starts in September and goes through the end of the year, so we are enjoying a little change of pace if you want to call it that, before we really get going again.

Pray for me as I prepare for a backpacking trip that I am helping to lead in Wyoming.  We have 10 campers and 3 other leaders that will be going.  We are leaving July 28th and will be returning Aug 5th.  It's a big responsibility for me as the oldest leader in our group, as I have never done anything quite like this and it being so far away.  Pray for safety, all the logistics of driving and hiking that we will be doing, and that we will experience God in a beautiful, unique way, in a part of His creation that we are not privy to everyday.  Pray also for Kathryn and the kids as I am away.

Kathryn and the kids will be in Conway while I am out west, which will be nice that she will have the help of family during my absence.  We are all headed to S.C. this coming Wednesday for the wedding of Kathryn's youngest sister Margaret over the weekend.   I will be there with them for a week before I have to get back to prepare for my trip, and Kathryn's parents will bring her and the kids back to PA in a few weeks after I get  home from Wyoming.  We are all looking forward to seeing all of our family and friends during our visit.

As many of you remember, Kathryn is about six and a half  months pregnant with our fourth child, which is a girl!  We are very excited and still nervous even after three kids already.  I guess that's a good thing as we realize it's only with the Lord's help that we raise our children for Him.  Pray for a smooth remainder of her pregnancy and a healthy delivery.  She is due the first week in October.  Kathryn and the kids have been continuing on in their homeschooling to get caught ahead for when the baby comes.  Homeschooling is a lot of time and commitment especially as the kids are young and are just getting grounded in their reading and writing skills, but it is so worthwhile as we still have their tender hearts to teach them God's Word and to train them in discipline and obedience -which some days feels like all you are getting accomplished!  Again we are reminded of how much we need the Lord's strength and continuing grace in our lives!

The kids are having a good summer!  Both Audrey and Duncan are riding their bikes without training wheels now, and Clay loves playing in their new sandbox that I built for them recently.  We try to get up to the pool when we can in between groups, or go see the animals up at the farm.  It's a great environment for the kids to grow up around, and I know they will only value it more as they get older.

Please pray for our home in S.C. that is currently on the market for sale.  We made a quick trip to Conway at the beginning of June just for a few days to get the house ready to sell, since we had been renting it.  We are very thankful for our family and friends who helped us those days as we did a lot of painting, yard work, and clean-up to get it all ready.  We couldn't have done it with out them.  It's in the Lord's hands, and we are praying for the right people or family to come along to buy it in His timing, which we pray will be soon.  We were using the rent money to help with our financial support, but we know the Lord will faithfully supply in other ways.  God is faithful to provide for all our needs, and we thank those that have or are presently supporting us financially.  If you would like to become a partner with us in this ministry, and would like to know more about how you can make a tax-deductible donation that will go 100% to our family, please contact me, or you may send your donation to Three Springs Ministries, 874 Linck Hill Rd., Morris, PA, 16938, with a separate note stating that you would like it to go toward the Rickert family's support. 

Thanks for all your continued prayers for our family and the ministry here at Three Springs.  Pray that we will continue to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, as we seek to live our lives for Him.   Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."

Doug, for the Rickert family.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Update from 2/20 - 5/10

It's been a while since I've last reported on our family and our busy lives here in Pennsylvania.  It seems like it's harder and harder to make the time needed to sit down and write our blogs with everything that is going on.  I am currently in a hotel in New Jersey just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.  I drove a Christian School from our area near Three Springs here to Philadelphia on our coach bus for a two-day field trip.  Since I am here with some extra time, I wanted to get our blog updated.

The last couple of months have been very busy as we have gotten into our spring retreat season at the inn. We hosted our biggest group of the year, almost 60 ladies, for a long weekend in March.  It's tiring work to serve and feed these big groups for three days, but it is a good tired knowing that you are helping to facilatate a time that God regularly uses here to encourage and refresh those who come.  We've also had a number of first time churches to come and use our facilities which is encouraging for us to see.

As spring has burst onto the scene especially early this year, I have found myself doing a number of different things as we transition from winter.  There are always the last loads of hay that we try to sell and get out of the barns to make room for this year's crop.  I get the opportunity to help my friend Nate roll and fertilize the hay fields in  preparation for spring growth.  There are apple trees to prune, flower beds to weed and mulch, and grass to start cutting.  Our goldfish pond has to be drained and cleaned, and spring decorations have to be put up at the inn.  Our challenge course and nature trails always need cleaning up from winter storm debris to make ready for spring groups.  You never know what a week may bring forth here at Three Springs Ministries, but I always enjoy the different jobs that are included with the ministry.

We did have Kathryn's Mom and Grandparents visit in March, as well as my parents right after Easter. We met my parents near Philadelphia for a day to visit with my grandparents and also my Aunt and Uncles from the Rickert side of the family.  We all enjoy being able to visit with family whenever we get the opportunit, and the kids especially have fun playing with their grandparents and great-grandparents.  Having family here even allows Kathryn and me to slip away for a date as we did with another couple for dinner and a Laura Story concert.  It's not easy making time for us to get away without the kids, but very needed occasionally.

We had a big surprise on April 23rd when we got a late winter storm that brought 5" of snow with it.  This was the largest snowfall for us the entire winter and after such a warm and early start to spring!  We quickly took advantage of this very wet snow that would melt very quickly to make a snowman and a snowfort in the front yard.  We all had a lot of fun with our late winter surprise! 

We thank the Lord for answered prayer in a couple of different areas, including Kathryn doing well with her pregnancy, and my truck finally selling since the last blog.  We also had a scare with Clay which resulted in our first trip to the ER.  It turned out not to be serious, so we thank the Lord for that.  God always finds new ways to remind us that He is in control and our dependance must be on Him.  We continue to value your prayers for us as we search for a home church, that the Lord will make it clear to us where He wants us.  We are currently visiting another Baptist church in the area that we feel may be a good fit for us.  They also have an AWANA program.  Our kids just finished up with AWANA at the church we were previously visiting.  They loved the year-end carnival that wrapped up the AWANA year.  Audrey was more interested in all the games while Duncan was just as content to enjoy eating a hot dog.  What fun!

Please pray also for us as we have decided to sell our home in S.C. which we had been renting.  We hope to get it on the market sometime next month.  Pray for a smooth selling transaction!  We love and appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers for our family and enjoy updates on your families also.

Love in Christ,

Doug for the Rickert Family

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Update For 11/2 -2-20

Did you have a good Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and happy New Year?  I guess I should add Valentines Day in with that as well.  I am so embarrassed that it has been this long since our last update.  I guess I could make up a lot of excuses but it really wouldn't matter.  I will try to hit the high spots as best as I can.

This fall was a busy time for us at the inn, but things finally slowed down right before Thanksgiving.  I even found a few days to try my hand at Pennsylvania deer hunting.  There is an abundant amount of state forests and game lands here, and I was proud to shoot a 9-pointer on the final day of archery season.  Our venison supply had been depleted, but we now have a freezer full.

  Dave and Doris came up to be with us for Thanksgiving, which was a lot of fun.  We took four-wheeler rides and also picked apples and made our own applesauce.  We were glad for their visit.

As soon as they left we were busy decorating the inn for Christmas.  It took us almost all of four days to complete the job, but it was very pretty for the groups that were here around the Christmas holidays, including the Three Springs staff party. 
Another one of our Christmas groups was the entire Rickert family!  Mom and Dad as well as my brother Jeff and sister Beverly and their families came up the week before Christmas and stayed in the inn.  We had our own family reunion and Christmas all together.  The only thing that was missing was the snow.  We have had an incredibly mild winter here compared to normal years, so everyone says.  It's still pretty cold for us Southerners though!

  On Christmas Eve everyone packed up and headed back down South to be "home" for Christmas.  Three Springs Ministries staff all have time off the week between Christmas and New Years, which allowed us to go back to Conway.  It was very good to back with Kathryn's family and our church family at Bethany Bible Chapel.

As soon as we got back to PA, we packed up all the Christmas decorations  and began a pretty full winter retreat schedule.  The Lord has really been faithful to send us groups to use our facility.  Our calendar has really filled up.  We only have 5 weekends that have not been used or are not reserved all the way through November of 2012.  We are very thankful for the opportunity to be involved in life-impacting retreats here at Linck Hill Inn.  Just in the past couple months, we have hosted our own Winter Progress retreat for high-school age teens, had multiple church leadership retreats, and a MOPS retreat (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers).  As I have said before, it's so neat to see the variety of groups that we serve here.

One special event for us came at the end of January.  We had a very close friend of ours come to visit us all the way from China!  Well, not exactly, but Eddie Lawrimore,  a single brother in the Lord from our home fellowship in Conway, was back in the states on furlough from serving the Lord in China.  We were so glad to be able to have him with us just for a day and a half or so.  Remember Eddie in your prayers as he strives to further the gospel of Christ in the very closed country of China.

As usual,  my days in between groups can vary with many different activities.  I help out delivering some of our extra hay that we sell,  round-up our beef cows that the camp is raising when they occasionally get out of their fencing, or make coal runs with the dump truck to keep our coal furnaces burning through winter.  I haven't had much snow shovelling or blowing to do this winter, however, which has really surprised me after the rough winter we experienced here last year. 

Kathryn and I continue to tag team some of the meal responsibilities on the weekends, as she is mostly busy with the kids.  Audrey and Duncan are continuing with homeschooling with Kathryn, and Clay is just about to officially hit the terrible 2's, although I think he matured early into that phase!  He's a busy little fellow to put it mildly, and our life is only going to get busier as we just found out that the Lord is blessing us with our fourth child in October.  Kathryn is still early on in her pregnancy, but she's doing well, just feeling the tiredness that comes early on, although she didn't need a reason to be tired with all that she does already.  Pray with us for a healthy pregnancy and delivery!  We are excited, but we continue to look to the Lord, recognizing every day how much strength we need from Him, as we seek to raise and train our children for the Savior.  We thank our God that He is always faithful to us. 

Pray for us also as we have been in a transition looking for a church fellowship, where we feel at peace and where our spiritual gifts can be best used.   We have been visiting many different churches in the last few months, and the Lord has been teaching us patience through this whole process.  We have been at a small Baptist church for the last month, which seems to have a good nucleus of devoted Christians who have been praying for younger families to join them.  They are also looking for help in the music ministry where alot of Kathryn's gifts are and could even use me to help fill in as a teacher for some adult Sunday School classes.  They have an AWANA program that has been going on there for several decades, which we are exited about along with our kids.  We just competed in their Grand Prix races that they do for the clubbers and as an outreach ministry.  Please pray for continued guidance and discernment on this important decision of choosing a church.

I am also learning patience as I have been trying to sell my truck, which I don't use very often anymore.  I have had it "sold" numerous times without the deal completely going through for different reasons, but again I know God is in control and will provide in His timing.

Pray for our executive director Jeff Rush and his wife Deanne, who after 28 years of starting and faithfully serving at Three Springs Ministries have been given 3 months off by our board to take some time away to refresh and refocus and spend some time hearing from God for direction and vision.    We're thankful for their leadership and example for our ministry.

Sorry for the delay in the blog update; I will try to be more consistent in the future.  As always, thank you for your prayers and support for our family.  We love hearing from you and what's going on in your busy lives also.

Doug for the Rickert Family

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Blog Update for 9/27 - 11/2

Well,  last time I updated the blog I was saying that fall had come, and now I am saying that fall has gone.  We had snow all day this past Saturday but not a lot of accumulation like some parts of the state.  It was very pretty to see all the trees and ground white again, but I am afraid we will be seeing that more than we think this winter.

We have about 2 more weeks of retreats that will cap off our busy fall season which has been non-stop for the last ten weeks.  We have hosted groups of church Sunday school classes, church ladies retreats, church  couples retreats, a hunting camp reunion, quilting retreats, scrap-booking retreats, and even a ladies Red-Hatters Dinner.  Although the majority of our groups are church related, we do have the opportunity to serve groups that probably are majority non-believers as our schedule allows.  It's a good opportunity to show Christ's love and to explain what our ministry is all about.  Pray for continued renewing and refreshing of Christians and also opened eyes for those who don't know Jesus.  The Lord has given strength and endurance for us, as we have been very busy with our hosting responsibilities.

In between time with the groups, we have tried to enjoy some really nice weather and also some activities with our neighbors.

 We praise the Lord for our neighbors who are mostly professing believers who have really made an effort to include us in their community.  This year has been one of the best apple seasons for this area in probably 20 years.  We got to help the neighbors right across from us pick apples out of their orchard for eating, sauce, and cider.

  They gave us as much as we wanted, and we got to see how they make their cider, just as they have done for the last 100 years.

  We love learning about the farming way of life in this area and experiencing a simple lifestyle that emphasizes family and friends.  People are very generous and have a spirit of servanthood towards one another.  We try to encourage them as much as possible and continue to look for new relationships to foster in our community.

We enjoyed having Kathryn's parents and grandparents spend about 5 days with us last month.  They got to spend a lot of time with the children, and we had a couple of nice days to show them around the area and just enjoying being together. 

Kathryn had planned to sing for a Child Evangelism Fellowship banquet last month and had worked together about a 30 minute concert, but she developed a cold and sore throat the week of the banquet.  She reluctantly had to cancel, but we continue to pray for opportunities for her to use her music and singing gifts for the Lord.  She is helping the children at church with a hand bells group that will be playing and singing this coming Saturday for a Veterans Appreciation Breakfast our church is hosting in the community.  Pray that all goes well for that outreach.  

Three Springs Farm is finishing up their field-trip season, in which they hosted elementary and middle school groups of all sizes for a day of fun fall activities.  They got to play games and do crafts, observe and catch chickens, watch horse demonstrations, walk our corn maze, eat lunch,  take a tractor-pulled wagon ride and take a pumpkin home with them.  We had groups about every day during the week through the month of October.  We pray that the experience they have with us will be very positive and that it will translate into many of them coming back for our camps in the summer where they will the Good News.

Kathryn and I are both participating in a mentoring program with our True North Interns, in which we spend a few hours together one afternoon  a week with our assigned interns.  Pray for us as we try to encourage them and  keep them accountable in their walk with the Lord and their growth  here. Kathryn's intern is a young girl named Katie who is from southeast PA, and my intern is Wade, who is a young Navajo Indian from Arizona.

All the children are doing well.  Audrey and Duncan continue to do homeschooling with Kathryn.  Their favorite part of the day is their Bible lesson, which they are soaking up.  We pray for their salvation and growth in the Lord.  Clay is really starting to talk a lot more here lately and is quite a handful.  They all get along really well and enjoy playing together.

Thank you all for your prayers, and thank you also to those who help us financially.  The Lord is faithful through the giving of His people to allow us to serve Him here full-time.  We think of you all often and love to hear how you are doing. 

For His Glory, The Rickert Family

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog Update for 8/24 - 9/26

Fall is here in North Central PA.  The leaves are changing color rapidly,  pumpkins are being harvested,   the temperatures are getting cooler and the sound of geese migrating south fill the air.  Such a beautiful place to observe the changing of the seasons and to marvel at God's greatness through His creation.  We are so blessed to be able to serve God here with Three Springs Ministries.

The past month has really been a month of transition and preparation as we usher in our busy fall-retreat season, both here at Linck Hill Inn and also at Three Springs Farm.  One of the things we do in preparation for fall and winter is to refill all the coal bins, since we will be firing up the coal furnaces once again.  I took our dump truck for a load of coal a few weeks back and helped Nate as we stuffed the bins full.

 Fall cleaning and decorating here at the inn has been in full swing.   I've never washed so many windows or wiped down so much woodwork in my life.  All are necessary chores to keep the inn looking nice for all the guests coming through in the next couple of months.  Kathryn spent a day changing out all the summer decorations for fall ones.  Mums and fall wreaths now greet our guests as they arrive for a stay at Linck Hill Inn.  Fall has always been my favorite time of the year!

One weekend this past month, we were able to participate in our neighboring town of Morris's Old Farm Days celebration.  They do this every year, with lots of food and activities throughout the weekend, one of which is a tractor pull.  We had never seen this before!  It's simple fun, competing to see whose tractor could pull the heaviest weight on a big sled.

 Also on Sunday, they hold a community worship service there at the Fire Hall.  Our church participates in this, with other local churches, as they take turns sharing in preaching and music responsibilities each year.  Our church led the music this year and Kathryn was able to sing special music.  It was a good oppurtunity to meet some new folks and to share and fellowship together with other believers as well as share the gospel with some who were there only for the festival.

Kathryn also prepared and sang special music for our church the following week.  She just started yesterday teaching and leading the sunday school children in handbells which she said could be a challenge.  She is also now preparing to sing a half hour concert for our county's Child Evangelism Fellowship banquet next month, and to play her flute in a Christmas concert with area musicians held in Williamsport.  We are thankful for the oppurtunities to share the gifts and  talents the Lord has given her for His glory.

The last two weekends we have had a full house at the inn with the start of our fall retreat schedule.  Last weekend we had a senior Sunday School class from a Baptist church in Lansdale, PA.  We had 52 guests for meals, which really streched our capacity for dining and in the kitchen.  That was a good weekend to start with because all the other retreats are smaller and won't seem quite as hectic.  We had a group this weekend of about 30 couples who are all part of a hunting camp nearby, who have been hunting together for 50 years or more.  Most members of the group were in their 70's and 80's.  They were mostly believers, and they really enjoyed just being together rocking on the porch,  playing board or card games, and reminiscing about deer hunting in years gone by.  My kind of people!  Pray for us as we continue our busy fall season.  Next week we have a women's retreat for about 30 as well. 
     The Lord has answered our prayers for a new cook for here at the inn.  Amy, a young single girl, is arriving today from Colorado to start this very important full-time position.  Pray for her transition here, being far from home and right in the heart of a busy season.

The kids continue to plug away with their homeschooling, and enjoy the Bible lessons the most, which we are thankful for.  We continue to pray for each of our children's salvation at an early age.  
We have enjoyed these fall afternoons lately and being able to hunt and fish right across the road on our neighbor's property.  The kids enjoy catching a few fish and helping Daddy and Mama keep count of the doves that we shoot.   We even spotted a Bald Eagle perched on top of one our trees beside the inn!   Good fun and good memories!

We are so thankful for each of you and your support and prayers.  We think of all of you often, our family and friends,  as we serve Christ here.  Pray for God's continued stength and grace for us, as well as spiritual growth in our lives. 

Love from The Rickerts!