still being written
Sandy and I (Rich) first met in the halls of S.M.B.I (Sharon Mennonite Bible School, Harrisonville, PA) in January of 1995. Sandy had grown up in Kalona, Iowa and had recently moved to Nashwauk, Minnesota, with her family. I had grown up in Ohio and had informed God in late 1994 that I could dedicate a year to God and would have no interest in dating women when....boom, Sandy starts singing across the hall as we all line up for the evening meal. What an adventure! I (barely) kept that year commitment of no dating. I moved to New York City in September of 1995, we began dating/courting in November of 1995, and we were married in June of 1998.
Since June of 1998, we have had the privilege, and sometimes the pain, of sharing life together as a married couple. Through the years, God has given us six living children born from 1999 to 2013; Brianna, Avery, Benjamin, Corinne, Abigail, and Caleb. Their ages at the time of this writing range from 18 years old to 4 years of age, but since there is a chance we won't update this every year, people can figure from birth years. Included in our goals as a family are the simple yet all-important desires to love the Lord God with all of our hearts, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
The first two years of our married lives we spent involved in Urban International Outreach, a ministry to international students in Queens, NY, that was directed by Millard & Joy Yoder. We then moved to the Cypress Hills area of Brooklyn, NY, and I (Rich) taught at Followers of Jesus School from 2000-2005. From 2004 until June of 2017, I served as a pastor with Sandy as an involved pastor's wife at Followers of Jesus Mennonite Church. We have lived our entire married life in New York City, aside from a four month sabbatical in Westminster, SC, in 2016.
The family kept growing. Elizabeth Charis, our stillborn baby, is buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery, a reminder of some of the pain. Sandy makes great cheesecake, plays piano and sings, and laughs at most of Rich's jokes--a small window into some of the pleasure.
We moved to The Bronx in October of 2018, into a house that was a miracle gift from God where we received multiple gifts from friends and family to cover the down payment and more.
For 2019, Sandy's word is "Deeper" and Rich's word is "Pray." We want to go deeper into God's presence and pray, pray, pray and we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we want to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
In 2020, our story was long and full, but has not yet been written down.
For 2021, we aim to live each day with faith, hope, and love as it comes, and praying that we can live like Jesus. He was full of grace and truth. If we are Christ followers, it's not too much to ask that He fill us with grace and truth.