Friday, July 3, 2015

We are going to Lesotho, Africa!

July 2, 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
                This time last year, Michael had just returned from his mission trip to Botswana, Africa. In the midst of the hardest year of our life together, God provided the opportunity for Michael to serve on a mission team in Africa. That mission trip felt like God whispering to us that He was still there, He was still faithful, and He still knew the desires of our hearts. When we weren’t sure what the future held, God provided a ray of hope reminding us that He keeps his promises.

Michael with his translator, Kago, in Botswana
                Now, a year later, we’ve turned a corner and continue to see how God keeps his promises. He has been amazingly gracious to us. After an extended period of unemployment, Michael is settling in well to the job he’s always wanted at Mississippi State University. The boys are a little older and sleeping through the night (amen!). We’ve grown individually and as a couple in ways that don’t happen unless you are stretched and forced to trust only in God. Looking at how faithful God has been to us, we are encouraged to remain faithful to His call to serve others and spread His name to the ends of the earth.
Parker (2) and Thomas (4)
                While Michael was in Botswana last year, he was able to visit an orphan care center sponsored by ReclaimedProject—a not-for-profit started by local friends in Starkville, MS. He was excited to get to see for himself a ministry we have been supporting financially and through prayer. This fall from September 12-20, we have the opportunity to go and serve alongside the Reclaimed Project team in Lesotho, Africa as they work to get two new orphan care centers established.
Michael and the children at the orphan care center in Botswana
                Like Botswana, the AIDS crisis has left many children without parents in Lesotho. These children have physical, emotional, academic, and spiritual needs that would go unmet without the ministry of these orphan care centers. What’s so beautiful about this ministry is that the centers are run primarily by women from local churches who make and sell handicrafts to support themselves and the ministry. Reclaimed Project teams go in and teach the women how to set up and run the care centers.
                We are excited to follow God and serve in Lesotho, but we cannot do it without your support. As always we covet your prayers. Please pray for:

  • The Reclaimed Teams already on the ground and those that will join them long term in August—for emotional and spiritual strength and health.
  • Our team as we prepare to go and serve together as well as while we are on the ground in Lesotho—for health and unity as we work together.
  • Thomas and Parker as mom and dad leave for an extended period of time.

  •  Most importantly, the people and children we will encounter in Lesotho—that God would begin even now to prepare their hearts and ours for the time we will spend together.

Additionally, if you are able, we also need financial gifts. The trip will cost approximately $4,800 total for both of us. Donations can be made online by clicking here or mailed to this address:

                                  Pinelake Church
                            Attention: Missions Assistant
                            6071 HWY 25
                            Brandon, MS 39047
**Please write “Michael and Mary Beth Ketchum—Lesotho” on your check so that it’s applied in the proper place.**

We sincerely appreciate both your prayer and financial support. We look forward to sharing about God’s work in Lesotho when we return!


Michael and Mary Beth Ketchum

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Parker is 7 Months!

27 weeks

28 weeks
No picture for 29 weeks! #mommyfail

30 weeks

7 months!!

Mommy is actually fairly on time with this update. The biggest thing you've got going on right now is that you want to crawl SO BAD! You have become very adept at getting what you want. You manage to scoot your little self over to it or you bend over and reach for it. But still, some things are just out of reach! (usually on purpose!) You can get nearly on all fours and rock a little bit. Sometimes you even walk your hands out, but no real crawling yet. You topple to your tummy, look around for a few minutes, then holler for someone to come set you up so you can start the cycle all over again. As Daddy says, we are gonna be in big trouble when you figure it out because you are NOSY!!

You love music. You sleep to Yancy's latest CD. Anytime music is playing or you are just particularly excited, you bounce up and down with a big ole grin on your face. You are such a happy little guy. It doesn't take much to make you smile and giggle. I absolutely adore your belly laugh. Nothing brightens my day better.

You are still nursing a lot. You've finally (as in the last couple days) taken a liking to table food. We introduced it around Christmas, but you gagged until you threw up. So I've just been trying every now and then with no luck. Saturday, after Bubba's birthday party, we went out to eat with family. You sat next to Jonathan, and he showed you how it is done. You've eaten table food like a champ ever since.

Amazingly, you enjoy sitting in the pack 'n play with all of your toys. Maybe it's because you are safe in there! As long as you can see me occasionally, you will sit in there and play for quite awhile. It's very nice. Thomas never did that. ;)

I still love you to pieces buddy!


Parker is 6 Months!

22 weeks

23 weeks

24 weeks

25 weeks
26 weeks
(also Christmas Morning!)

6 months!
(really one day shy...)

This biggest change in your life is that you started day care two days a week this month. Oh it broke mommy's heart. I prayed and contemplated so hard over this decision. In the end, the job was a wonderful opportunity for mommy to help other boys and girls and still be at home most of the time with you. Daddy and I decided that God was leading me to take this job. 

I cried like a baby the first day we dropped you off. It was so hard on me, but you were so chill! I think you enjoy watching the other boys and girls in your class. The only problem is that you refused to take a bottle! It took us several weeks, but we finally found one you like (Avent Natural for anyone that cares!). Now you take 3 four ounce bottles while there. Miss Timara takes good care of you. Sometimes TOO good...she used to hold you during your whole nap! 

One thing you've done since you were really small is this. When you cry, it's not a "waaa waaa" sound like most babies. It's very clearly "maamaamaaa". I know you don't know what you're saying, but it's very effective my son. I can't resist it for long.

We are still struggling with sleep. You have me running on fumes. I've finally decided that God is trying to teach me something through all this. I'm trying to learn fast baby. :)

You have my heart sweet boy. 


Parker is 5 Months!

18 weeks

19 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

5 months
Please note that this child is huge. Thomas wore that Christmas outfit when he was almost 11 months old. Parker is wearing it here at 5 months and almost busting out of it!! He couldn't even wear it by Christmas.


I sincerely apologize for not doing a better job documenting your sweet little life. Mom told me this would happen when the second child came along. I can tell you that you started sitting up completely unassisted Thanksgiving week. I sat you down on the floor at Grammy and Poppa's house while I was chatting with cousin Becca. I expected to have to help support you with my legs, but sat straight up all on your own!! You are thrilled with this new talent. You love being able to sit up and check things out!

This is also when you started your month long sickness. Poor baby, I can see it in your eyes in these last few pictures. You most likely got RSV at some point and it left your poor little lungs in such a state. You wheezed for the better part of two months. Lots of breathing treatments, doctor visits, phone calls, and an eventual hospitalization. During this time, you also decided that sleeping at night was silly. Partying at 3 AM was much better.

Let's just say it's been a long, tired three months (I'm writing this in February...), but you are finally healthy and slowly starting to sleep better. I'm sorry for falling apart all those times in the middle of the night. Mommy just isn't good when she's sleepy. I'm working on it.

I love you SO much.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Michael Ketchum, CPA

Michael passed the CPA exam earlier this year which is a HUGE deal! We are so excited. We are now both officially done with all education. Well...I guess I'm technically still working on my LPC license, but that's just collecting hours. No studying involved. We have our evenings and weekends back to ourselves. It's wonderful!

There is a special ceremony in Jackson to "swear in" the new CPAs. We went a couple weeks ago for Michael's. We are extremely thankful to our families who supported and encouraged us through this process. Thank you for believing in Michael!

Thomas and his Clary Beth (quite possibly his favorite person next to Poppa!)

Taking the oath (who knew there was an oath!?)

It's officially official. (that's a fake piece of paper there--well the paper is real, but it's not a certificate...)

Attempt at a family shot...

Trying again...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Parker's Family Dedication

At Pinelake, we have the opportunity to participate in Family Dedication with each little one. During the service, we commit as parents to raise our children in a home that is committed to the Lord. We pick out a "life verse" for the child and commit to praying that over them throughout their life. You can read more about that here including Thomas' life verse. See Thomas' dedication here. For Parker, we chose Psalm 1:1-4:

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

I love that the elders, deacons, and anyone else gathers around the families to pray. It made me a little anxious to hold Parker while everyone was praying for us, but it was a very special time.

We are so thankful God gave us this little guy (well not so little guy!) to be a part of our family!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Halloween 2013

As I've said before, perk of college town life--lots of events! Halloween week there were tons of events to choose from. Somehow, I got it in my head that it would be "easy" to take Parker and Thomas to sorority row to trick or treat before meeting Michael at the carnival the MSU Student Association put on. Somewhere in all that, I forgot how large campus is and how difficult it is to find parking. I was exhausted by the time we made it to sorority row--and we had only just begun! We had a blast though. I'm glad we went. I adore this picture of Thomas walking up to one of the houses. 
 I was SO impressed with the carnival! They had TONS of booths set up, so there weren't long lines anywhere even though there was a huge turnout of folks. Thomas had an absolute blast!

On actual Halloween, it rained, so there was no trick or treating. Thankfully, the neighborhood across the street decided to let the kids come the day after Halloween. So we joined up with some friends and went trick or treating! This was the first time that Thomas has truly gone house to house. He LOVED it. He would run up to the door, knock, and then run away screaming. He's so silly!
It's very hard to get 4 preschoolers to smile at once, but I LOVE how Austin and Thomas are looking at each other in this picture! 

Parker and Finley! They are 6 days apart!

Hitting the neighborhood!

"Wait for me!" says Mickey!

What kid doesn't love running in the street?!