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.
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