Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Claire's First Vacation in Maine

Shortly after moving - like, so shortly we hadn't fully unpacked - we jetted up to Maine for a week vacation at the Powell cottage.

It seemed like a crazy idea at first, but as soon as our toes touched the blue lake water, we realized how dearly we needed a rest. We had a wonderful, restful, restorative week. Here are some pictures!

Claire tests the water. She kicked her feet like a crazy woman.

 Getting warm with Daddy. 

 Going for a ride.

 We bought Claire a special life jacket... and she hated it. 

 Going strawberry picking!

 Yum. Look at all those strawberries! 

 Reading books with Daddy on the porch.

Exploring a huge snail shell with Mommy.

 Exploring (i.e. trying to eat) Maine's floral and fauna.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Between my last post (June 1) and today (July 2), an astronomical number of changes have occurred, but most significantly, we packed up our Philadelphia apartment and we moved!

Leaving was chaotic. Someone (um, me) accidentally packed the custom-mixed blue paint needed to patch the living room walls. The U-Haul was ultimately too small... we left several hours later than planned...

But in the midst of chaos, God was so good!

My aunt and uncle (Janet and Jon) drove all the way from Harrisburg to Philadelphia to babysit Claire and help us pack. They were a God-send. They packed our books, ran to Home Depot, bought extra boxes, tackled the kitchen, cuddled Claire... their presence was such a gift.

Our Soul Care friend, Sara, and her daughters Hannah and Grace came over and took Claire for a walk so I could work uninterrupted for a bit.

Sheelu, Julie and Jaden came over with gifts and spent special time with us.

Our Soul Care family rallied to help with the U-Haul. They finished packing our small items and carted our furniture and boxes down the sidewalk to the U-Haul truck, carefully arranging everything, until it was completely dark outside.

Meredith and Kyle came to our rescue and picked up all the "overflow" items we couldn't fit in the U-Haul.

Then, to top it all off... our Soul Care family gave us money to pay for the U-Haul expenses. Are you kidding?! We couldn't believe it.

And it doesn't end there... we arrived in Middleboro very late on Saturday night. We parked the U-Haul and crawled into bed at my parents' house. The next morning was Father's Day, but several guys and our pastor from First Congregational Church came to help us unload anyway. Our own fathers worked tirelessly, even muscling our refrigerator up several stairs to our second-floor apartment.

God's grace is a free and undeserved gift and our friends and family showed us God's grace in abundance as we moved. God's presence working in them was crystal clear and it overwhelmed us. All we could say was... "I hope we can do this for someone else someday, I hope we can do this for someone else..."

Thank you so much!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Farewell PhillyPowells / Jeremy Preaches

Time is ticking down in Philly and we're celebrating our "lasts"... last trip to the Amish farmer's market, last meeting with our Soul Care group, last play dates with friends, and last opportunities for Jeremy to guest preach.

For the past two Sundays (May 20 and 27), Jeremy has been in the pulpit, preaching at Pilgrim Congregational in Plymouth, PA and at Seven Mile Road, our home church in Philly.

After the service at Seven Mile Road, our first-ever Soul Care group and our current Soul Care group combined to host a farewell lunch for Jeremy, Claire and I.

It was awesome. They prayed for us. We shared a potluck meal. We talked. We hugged. The kids ran around. Claire absorbed all the sights and sounds... here are some pictures.

Daddies and their Girls
Jeremy holding Lydia and Winson holding Claire

The Powells and Georges + Hannah (front and center, our Pastor's daughter)

Asha-Auntie and Claire

Hannah-chache (chache = big sister) and Claire

The Powells and Vargheses 
Leadership team for MainLine Soul Care 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hail the Graduate

When I think about the past 4 years, I am reminded of a favorite movie quote:
"If it was easy, everybody would do it... its the hard that makes it great." 
Yesterday, Jeremy received his diploma. He is now Jeremy Robert Powell, M.Div. and we sincerely know, it was a privilege to attend seminary and pursue this degree.

 PhillyPowells family photo

 Jeremy and his parents

 Jeremy and his sister Monique

 Jeremy and his friend Sherwin

 Jeremy and Katie's best friend Marita (a wonderful support and friend on graduation day!)

Jeremy and his friend Sahr

 PhillyPowells and our Pastor Ajay Thomas

 Jeremy (second from left) and his best WTS classmates

The next morning... the graduate still celebrates while doing dishes ;-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Faithful Friends: SoulCare

Aren't our friends gorgeous? This is our SoulCare group.

As you know, I grew up in the church. I went to Sunday School, youth group and Bible camp. I attended a Christian college. I played basketball on a team that sang worship songs and prayed with our opponents... but before moving to Philadelphia, I never experienced anything quite like SoulCare.

I think anyone who reads this blog has heard me mention SoulCare before. We meet weekly to pray. We bombard each other's homes around 7:30 pm, the kids in their pajamas, snacks on the table. We do a short devotional together, usher the kids into the playroom, and then "divide up" for prayer.

The dads go to the basement or an upstairs bedroom and the moms (and baby Claire) spread out on the living room couches. I love this time. We take turns talking about whatever, big or small, is going on that week. We've developed a little lingo... we talk about the "situation" and then, we talk about the "heart"---our heart before God, our functional faith, our view of God in the situation.

I've been in other SoulCare groups before, and they've all been special for different reasons, but this is why our current group is special:

  • Meeting is a sacrifice. We're young families with young kids. We have busy lives and busy jobs. On SoulCare nights, everyone must get home, feed the kids, finish homework, clean the house, etc. etc. all in order to meet. Given the circumstances, the fact that these families faithfully choose to participate, despite the "inconvenience," shows me how much they care. 
  • We're eager to change. God has blessed this group with humble hearts. We know we need to be transformed and we're willing to put in the work. 
  • We're studying the Word. God has opened up opportunities, especially among the women, to be involved in Bible studies outside of SoulCare. This is huge. SoulCare is not a Bible Study. It's a prayer and accountability group. But at the same time, we must understand God's Word and bind it to our hearts if we want to experience the change we're praying for in the first place.  
  • We live close together. We're the rogues who live 45+ minutes away from church. Sometimes we miss church activities because its a long drive, but out here in the MainLine, we meet up for lunch, run into each other at the grocery store, take the kids for walks at Valley Forge...
  • We're affectionate. Okay, well, I will speak for the girls on this one. I am appropriately not privy to the guy's interactions. But among the girls, we send each other encouraging text messages and call each other just to say 'hi.' When someone says she's praying for me, I know she means it. 
In just a few weeks, Jeremy, Claire and I will be leaving this group, saying goodbye, and packing our bags for Middleboro. Leaving will be sad, but I think God is intentionally sending us out on a high-note. 

When we return to Middleboro, Jeremy will be responsible for starting a small group ministry at First Congregational. It will undoubtedly look and operate a little differently, but I believe God wants us to use what we've learned at Seven Mile Road Church in Philadelphia to try something new in Middleboro. 

SoulCare isn't always easy---in fact, it really only gets good because its usually hard---but its a beautiful way to live out the command to pray:
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2)
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)
Thank you, God, for our SoulCare group. Thank you for their faithful friendship. Thank you that you're sending Jeremy, Claire and I to share this ministry with others. Please bless our efforts. Help us to be humble and sensitive to your leading in Middleboro. Please bring glory to Yourself in this upcoming phase of ministry.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lately and Overdue

So much has happened lately and we are long overdue in reporting (or rather recording) some major milestones in our life.

Like everyone, we've been busy. It's incredible, but today, Jeremy will complete his last ever final exams at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has worked hard and sacrificed much for this moment.

As Jeremy packed his books, grabbed his lunch, and prepared to leave for the last time this morning, we took a moment to acknowledge just how weird this feels:

  • Westminster has been the backdrop to our entire relationship: from friends to dating to engagement to marriage to parenthood, Jeremy has been a WTS student.
  • School is our life-rhythm: fall semester, Christmas break, January term, spring semester, summer break, fall semester, Christmas break... what will life be like without it? 
  • The end of seminary means we're moving: we won't be the PhillyPowells anymore. We started out as footloose and fancy-free newlyweds here; it feels like we're leaving some of our youth behind.
  • Some really hard things are over: marriage, a new baby, living away from family support, and a rigorous academic schedule haven't always mixed well. 
  • Some hard and great things are ahead: it's time to shake life up again. It's time for new beginnings and different challenges.

On July 1, Jeremy will begin anew as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church in Middleboro, Massachusetts. The congregation created this pastoral position and is calling Jeremy home to serve among our childhood friends, family and neighbors for the next 2 years.

We love First Congregational and its people. We (and Jeremy especially) are excited to use what God has taught us, strengthened us with, and prepared us for over the past 4 academic years. Even last night, Jeremy said it was hard to study because each lesson he imagined pouring back out to our brothers and sisters in Middleboro.

We're humble, though, and nervous... and sometimes even anxious. What will it be like? What will people think of us? Will we do a good job? What happens to childhood and family relationships when you suddenly become the Associate Pastor / Associate Pastor's family?

God has been so faithful to us. "Great is Thy Faithfulness," O Lord and we totally trust You, O God, to care for us totally in the next chapter of our lives. 

One of my favorite versions of "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" sung by Fernando Ortega: 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

473 Old Forge Xing

Well, the time has come... we gave our 60 day notice to our landlord and good ol' 473 Old Forge Crossing is going back on Craigslist to find a new tenant.

We took some photographs to help advertise this great one bedroom apartment (see below).

 (see Claire in her swing?)

This sentimental side of me is really going to miss this place! It is cozy and quiet. I spend everyday snuggled up inside with Claire.