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3300 River Road
Mount Bethel, PA 18343

(570) 897-6000

Christian retreat center for New Jersey and Pennsylvania marriage retreat, singles retreat, women's retreat and youth summer camp in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

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Tales of Tuscarora

Would you be interested in submitting a piece for Tales of Tuscarora? We are always looking for stories to tell! Email lindsay@tuscarora.org

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tuscarora

It’s November, and Starbucks and Brian Abrahamsen say it’s the Christmas season! We know plenty of people are opposed to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, but here at Tuscarora we can’t help but start feeling festive as we plan for our Christmas Weekend!

In order to help you celebrate, Brian has put together a playlist for you to enjoy! Barely a day goes by during November and December without Christmas music drifting out of his office.

Listen on Spotify, or see his suggestions here!

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Brian Abrahamsen

Executive Director

As I put this list together, there were definitely songs I resisted including. Songs like, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer or Dominick the Donkey. I love songs that focus on the true reason for Christmas, but I also love the fun songs about the season like Sleigh Ride and Christmas Waltz. Songs that celebrate all the ways we enjoy the festivities.

Anyone who knows me, knows that Amy Grant and Christmas music are synonymous, so she is very fairly represented here. But more than anything, Christmas is a season of remembering Christ’s birth, and all the amazing ways we celebrate - including my Norwegian heritage. I hope you enjoy my Christmas playlist!

Christmas Waltz - Michael W. Smith

Christmas Time is Here - Sarah McLachlan, Diana Krall

Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song) - Amy Grant

Mary, Did You Know? - Pentatonix

O Holy Night - Josh Groban

Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) - Chris Tomlin

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Andy Williams

Grown-Up Christmas List - David Foster, Natalie Cole

Drummer Boy - Jars of Clay

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Harry Connick Jr.

O Holy Night is my favorite traditional Christmas song. Anybody except for me can sing this song and it would be beautiful - and Josh Groban’s always stands out for me.

O Come All Ye Faithful - Amy Grant

Away in a Manger - Casting Crowns

Jeg Er Så Glad Hver Julekveld - Evie

This is the first Christmas song in Norwegian that I learned. I have great memories of walking around the Christmas tree in Hillside Church singing it, as well as in junior choir. There are other Norwegian songs that I know but this one always bring back a special memory.

Just Another Christmas - Laura Story

What Child Is This - Michael W. Smith, Martina McBride

Gloria - Michael W. Smith

Joseph’s Lullaby - MercyMe

As a father, I love that MercyMe chose to write a song from Joseph’s perspective. He’s calming his newborn baby son because he knows that the road ahead will be a tough one, but right now wants him to go to sleep.

Sleigh Ride - Amy Grant







Volunteers - More Than Just Visitors

Tuscarora

Volunteer: a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service: someone who freely offers to do something.

 Staining the Cedar Chalet deck!

Staining the Cedar Chalet deck!

 Rebuilding the Inn Rooms!

Rebuilding the Inn Rooms!

The faces that we see year to year, become so familiar that we sometimes expect them to be here during these work weeks at Tuscarora, but these faces are more than just repeat visitors… they represent hearts changed, lives turned around, and relationships restored. These faces represent years of service, offerings and dedication. These faces are people who have taken time to give love and care to a place that has made a difference in their lives.

 Deep cleaning the dining room chairs.

Deep cleaning the dining room chairs.

What would we do without them? We can tell you that Tuscarora wouldn’t be here without the willing hearts and hands. They give up time away from their routine, their lives, their families and offer to be here for these weeks of hard work. From scrubbing chairs to rebuilding entire rooms, these volunteers put their best work into the projects during Work Week.

 Deep cleaning happens outside as well!

Deep cleaning happens outside as well!

We can also tell you that the volunteers are not just here because they like the meals here (although, they are delicious), the comfy beds, or the beautiful grounds. They return because there is a God who changed their lives - whether it was in their childhood or just recently. God works in wonderful ways and has put on the hearts of certain wonderful people to come and volunteer at Tuscarora!

 Reinforcing the deck outside of Cottage 9 and 10.

Reinforcing the deck outside of Cottage 9 and 10.

Tuscarora schedules two weeks of designated Work Weeks each year - once in the spring, before the busyness of summer programs and then again in the fall.

This fall we are working on a couple of very exciting updates as well as the all-important task of cleaning and refreshing different buildings.

The staff at Tuscarora are incredibly honored and grateful that our Living God sends us smiling faces when we need them the most. Thank you to our volunteers who serve so faithfully and willingly.

Hebrews 6:10 - God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

I Want to Live Like That

Tuscarora

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Reuben Scheeringa

Pastor of Student Ministries at Grace Church on the Mount

There are those that might say that Paul was one of the greatest Christians to ever walk the face of the earth.  He wrote most of the New Testament, planted many churches throughout Asia Minor, and went on three missionary journeys. He spent time in prison, was beaten, and was ship wrecked, all for the cause of Christ.

In the book of Philippians, Paul is writing to a church from prison.  It is the only letter that he wrote that did not contain a reprimand.  In fact, Paul mentioned the word “joy” over 13 times.  It is hard to understand utilizing the word “joy” from prison.  In Philippians 1: 12, 19-21, Paul says, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel . . .  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

How did Paul live like this?  In Chapters 1-4 he tells us.  In Chapter 1, we see Paul living with such great purpose.  Paul understood that we can either surrender to our circumstances, or we can surrender to a cause so great, that our circumstances do not matter. I want to live like THAT.

In Chapter 2, Paul speaks of the most humble man that ever walked the face of the earth.  Starting in verse 5 he says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Paul understood that without humility, we cannot truly represent Christ.  I want to live like THAT.

In Chapter 3: 2-, Paul teaches us the true nature of salvation.  It is here where Paul says some very difficult things as their loving Pastor.   

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh - though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith- that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
— Philippians 3:2-11

Paul states what we do matters not; it’s really all about who we know . . . Jesus.  I want to live like THAT.

And, finally, in Chapter 4: 11-13, Paul shows us the true currency of life, contentment. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

How can Paul be so content?  Clearly, it’s in Christ. Paul learned contentment can make the poorest people rich and discontentment can make the richest people poor. I want to live like THAT.

Paul was a man of purpose, humility, salvation, and contentment. How does a man live like that? In Christ alone.

Fun Fall-tivities near Tuscarora

Tuscarora

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When the temperatures start to drop, the leaves start to change, and everything is pumpkin flavored we know fall has arrived! An especially beautiful season, and one that comes with plenty of fun activities on the Tuscarora grounds and nearby surrounding areas!

Whether you’re planning to visit us these next few months - for Fall Midweek, Fall Work Week, or Women’s Retreat - or want to plan a fun Saturday with the family be sure to take advantage of some of these local highlights!

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  1. Apple Picking

Sure, its the classic fall activity, but that doesn’t make it any less fun! Plus there’s great places in our area to get an authentic country experience. Mackey’s Orchard, in Belvidere NJ, grows over 100 varieties of apples and requires a hayride to get to the orchard! Stock up on pumpkins, mums, and more!

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2. Lakota Wolf Preserve

Just over the bridge in Columbia, NJ is a hidden secret - the Lakota Wolf Preserve! There you can find British Columbian, Timber, and Arctic Wolves in captivity. Offering Wolf Watch tours twice a day, everyday, except Monday’s allowing you to see wolves, bobcats, and foxes in their natural habitat.

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3. Easton Farmer’s Market

Just 35 minutes away from Tuscarora is the city of Easton, PA. With plenty of delights, one of the best places to visit is the Easton Farmer’s Market! It’s the oldest, continuous, open-air market in the nation! If you are looking to pick up delicious fall produce in a fun and festive setting this is the perfect spot. All the products are locally grown and produced, meat and dairy is hormone free and pasture raised! There’s also prepared food and ready to eat vendors so you don’t have to go hungry while you shop.

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4. Fall Foliage

Did you know that PA has one of the longest and most varied fall foliage seasons of any state in the nation? Situated right by the Appalachian Trail and the Delaware Water Gap, there is no shortage of drives, hikes, and visitor centers to see our spectacular autumnal display. Your memories, and your Instagram, will thank you for making the trip. Check out great locations here and here!

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5. Shopping

Tuscarora has a Book and Gift Store that’s full of great merchandise. From new apparel, Christian books, home decor, and much more! It’s a great place to get started on your Christmas shopping. You can also find Scandinavian goods you won’t be able to purchase anywhere else! So if you’re up in our area, make sure to stop in to shop and grab a bite at the Snack Shop while you’re here!


To register for one of our upcoming fall retreats make sure to visit our website!

I Belong to the Kingdom of God - Ruth Vallevik

Tuscarora

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Ruth Vallevik

Director of Women’s Ministry, Church of the Lutheran Brethren

My home’s in Montana, I wear a bandana
My spurs are of silver, my pony is gray.
While riding the ranges my luck never changes
With foot in the stirrup I’ll gallop away.
— Glenn Ohrlin

Yes, my home is in Montana.  Never mind that I don’t spend my days riding the range or sporting a bandana.  This is my home.  Though raised on the West coast, educated in the Midwest, living as a new bride on the East coast and teaching in many places, Montana has been my home for thirty-seven years.  I love the contrast of wide open range and wheat fields under the Big Sky with the rugged Rocky peaks and wide rivers.  It is here I served in ministry with my pastor-husband for 24 years, raised our two children and since his passing have served as Director of Women’s Ministries of the CLB for over a decade.  I love the bustle of my city of Billings as well as the tiny mountain village of Red Lodge nearby, where I often go for “soul care” days.  Here, in my favorite quiet spot (except for the noisy, rushing creek) I sit with my open Bible and open heart to commune with my Father.  As I ponder the majestic mountains around me I gain perspective.  They existed thousands of years before me and will exist long after my brief stay on this planet has ended.  Burdens are transferred to the loving shoulders of my Father whose promise comforts me.  Here my prayers rise to Him who created all this beauty.

Montana.  My home.  My earthly residence.  But in a far greater measure, I am a citizen of another world; I owe my allegiance to another.  I belong to the Kingdom of God, an invisible family of those who have been gathered in by the gracious invitation of Christ, my King.  It is He who paid the penalty of sin that I so richly deserved, who gave me a new heart, who calls me to follow Him, and will one day return to take me – and all the vast number of this kingdom - to live with Him forever.  It is He with whom - through a mystery I do not understand- I have a living, daily, intimate relationship.

You have likely recited the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” hundreds of times:  “Thy kingdom come…”  Maybe you have never really thought through what that means.  Is His kingdom here and now or there and then?  Who is a part of that kingdom?  Who is the King, and what is my relationship to Him?  How can I live as a duel citizen, belonging to an eternal kingdom and yet living among my family and neighbors as a subject of human government and authority?  If He is returning to earth as promised, how shall I live while I wait?  At the Women’s Retreat in November, under the theme of “The King and I” we will search the Scriptures to find answers to these questions and others, and as we learn I pray that our hearts will be lifted in joyful praise to the One True King. 

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On my desk stands a sculpture of two women, one exhausted and bowed down, the other supporting her and pointing upward.  I identify with both.  Sometimes I am the burdened one, and sometimes I am the encourager who points to King Jesus, our hope and our help.  I am praying that as we gather together in November the King Himself will meet with us, that we will learn of Him through searching the Word, grow in our love for Him, commit to following and serving Him, encourage one another and rejoice in anticipation of His return.  

I will gladly leave my beloved Montana home – briefly – in order to carry that message.I hope to meet you there!

If you are interested in joining us for our Fall Women’s Retreat, learn more by visiting our website.