Saturday, January 29, 2005

Setting forth

There comes a time in every life when we need to reclaim lost ground. Sometimes we need to re-do a previous goof. At other times we need to take up again elements of an earlier, more robust lifestyle. Yesterday, I did a little reclaiming on three fronts: I rectified that nasty key lime pie incident, I played volleyball like I was sixteen, and I stayed up with friends till almost midnight just like old times. These were three happy events.

I hate to tarnish my stellar reputation as a cook, but the key lime pie affair set my career back a bit. Here's how it happened.

A few weeks ago, I was preparing my first key lime pie from scratch for my daughter's eighteenth birthday. The girls had downloaded a wonderful recipe from the Internet and I was the cook for the job.

With all my cunning wisdom and experience, I purchased the ingredients. The store had no key limes but I was able to find ordinary limes so I bought the specified amount. I was a little surprised that the recipe called for twelve limes, but hey, they know what they're doing.

So I pressed on with my labor of love, hand juicing the limes. On this activity, I expended much time and energy, but it was worth it for Candace's special day. When I finished, I had two cups of the freshest lime juice you could ask for. I was quite proud.

I lovingly mixed the juice in with the other ingredients and set the pie to bake. I must admit that I was taken aback at its sloshiness when I put it in the oven, but undaunted, I believed all would turn out splendidly.

Twenty minutes later, I noted that the pie still had not set up. Hum, this was curious. Thirty minutes, forty minutes, close to an hour. The thought then occurred to me that there may be something terribly wrong. I checked the recipe again. Yes, it says "approx. 12 key limes or" ::gulp:: "1/2 cup lime juice." I starred in disbelief. Now how many cups had I struggled to produce? Two cups! My beautiful key lime pie, ruined. I felt very dejected.

My thoughtful family couragiously ate the pie trying to put on gracious expressions, but only managing puckered looks accompanied with sporatic shakes of the head. Then of course the uncontrolable laughter ensued. We shall never forget Canny's eighteenth birthday. That's for sure.

*Note to self: This story has gone on longer than I intended - so be brief on the rest.

Needless to say, I made the same key lime recipe yesterday using ::embarrassed cough:: two limes instead of twelve. It was wonderful. You'll have to come over and try it sometime.

One beneficial habit I'm trying to reiterate into my life is playing volleyball. It's been years. My friend, Jenny Camery, reserved a gym at the Y for every other Friday night so that we could work on volleyball skills with some of the jr. high/high school girls from church. I'm going to be helping out and will relish every moment of it.

And if staying up late with friends is a beneficial habit, I'm not so sure. But in days gone by, I used to think it was (or maybe I didn't think - I just did it anyway). My family did rendezvous with the Yorks for popcorn and a movie at the unearthly hour of nine o'clock - P.M.! That's right, we were wild and crazy!

So yesterday I was able to set aright something that was wrong, set the ball for spiking, and set a recent record of hanging out late over at friends' house. All in one day. Imagine that!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Minutes" take on a whole new meaning

Last night brought a surprise. It all started soon after we arrived at the church building. We were there for our annual congregational business meeting, and since this was the first time I had attended this type of meeting in Kokomo, my interest ran high. Time to sit back and take it all in.

Conversation with self begins:

"Let's see what's going on here. Okay, what do I see. There's Joe Marcisz behind the pulpit opening the meeting with some wise words. He must be presiding over the ... well, um ... proceedings."

*Note to self: I need to study up on business meeting terminology.

"What else? Okay, next to Joe on the podium there sits Denise. She has to be right in front of everyone typing the minutes. Boy, I'm glad that's her up there and not me.

"That was a good Psalm. I love singing God's word. Now we'll sit down and start the business. So there's been a proposal put forth to elect a new congregational chairman. That's Joe's job. I guess we're getting someone new to precide over these ... proceedings. ::rolls eyes:: I hope no one ever discovers how dull I am when I talk to myself.

"That's good. We chose Jason Camery. Wow. Joe steps down right now so Jason can take over. Poor Jason. He wasn't prepared to take over this meeting tonight. ::everyone chuckles:: Oh well, he'll do fine. He's a good sport.

"Wonder what's next? Hum, someone's making a motion that a new congregational secretary be nominated. Somebody else suggested a person.

"... What did they say? Did they say my name? ::pulse quickens:: Now someone's moving to close nominations. It's been seconded. All in favor say i. All opposed. Silence. They're telling me to come up now. What's going on here? Do they want me to get up there in front of everyone and take minutes? Are they crazy?

"Okay calm down, calm down. Just walk up there like you know what you're doing.

"Listen to what Denise is saying to you. Yeah right, Denise, just leave me up here. Wipe that grin off your face. It was a conspiracy and you were in on it - no doubt.

"Okay, okay listen. What are they saying? Focus, focus. ::fingers typing on the keys::

"Hey this isn't so bad. Just concentrate on what you're doing and you won't get nervous."

"You know, come to think of it, if I'm up here doing this that means that nobody else will have to do it. That's a good thought."

Conversation ends.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I'm sitting here typing and listening to Andrea Bocelli sing a song in Italian. Why is it that I won't listen to someone speak in Italian, but I love to listen to someone sing in Italian?

Music is like that. It is somehow able to connect with my soul. I've always been one of those persons who experiences intense pleasure listening to others perform. Music also affects my mood. When I'm uptight, it can sooth. When I'm sad, it can cheer. When I'm happy, it seems to be one of the best vehicles for expressing my joy. Martin Luther once said, "My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary."

At present, I'm going through a little music tasting phase. For several weeks now, my family has been watching me with amused interest as I bring home from the library a sampling of various music. I assure them that I'm making many valuable discoveries. For example, I've learned that in opera when a guy gets stabbed in the back, instead of bleeding, he sings.

But much of the music I see in the library, I won't touch. I know that the Lord is concerned about the input that enters my mind. I have a hard enough time trying to put on the mind of Christ without gunking it up with a lot of worldly music.

To take the analogy of tasting food and listening to music a bit further, both food and music provide nourishment. Music which praises God is like a steak and potato dinner. That's the kind of diet you can live on. Some secular music is like potato chips and coke. It's okay in moderation. But most music you hear on the radio is, in my opinion, poisonous. It should be labeled with a warning: Stay away!

And then there's silence... Silence is good.

Parting thought:
"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger."
-Dan Rather

Monday, January 24, 2005


We went sledding on Saturday. Here are a few random moments caught in pictures.

Here are the kids at the top of the hill. Candace starts to make her descent.

And she's off. Notice the little yellow sun face paint. This was left over from a costume party the previous night.

Here's our friend, Aaron, going down. And his brother, Luke, going down in a kind of inverted fashion.

Here's Amy and Candace walking back up the hill.

Aaron and his dad, Tom, prepare a jump.

Amy enjoying the out-of-doors.

Here's me and my husband taking a turn. And away we go. Didn't get very far, did we?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Stringing beads

Since the last post...
Every other Wednesday (don't you always say "wed-nez-day" in your mind when you spell that word?) night we host a home bible study group. So the house gets clean. Every house should come with a set of teenage workers. That way the chores get done in no time. Benny comes in real handy. He shovels snow and he is also the official Wednesday night "chairman" (this means that he takes care of setting up and putting away all the extra chairs). It's a very important job with a very important title.

That reminds me of something I've been thinking about this week.

*Disclaimer: This is a warning. Remember just because you see something written in my blog that doesn't mean that I am necessarily thinking clearly about that subject. (I define clear thinking as being scripturally well grounded.) I write so I can think. Not the other way around. :-) *

Here's a timeline that's like a string of beads - they're next to each other in order, but not necessarily in order.

First bead: Earlier in the week at one of our co-op school devotions, Barry, our pastor, said that what we do in this life is very relevant to eternity since all the ways we think and act in accordance with the mind of Christ better prepares us to serve God in eternity. This idea stuck deep in my heart. I wanted to think about it.

Second bead: Then in my own morning devotion time I was reading Ps. 37 which is packed full of comparisons between the thoughts and actions of the righteous and the wicked resulting in some eternal relevance. Is this an issue of degrees? What's the difference between my whole life which is in Christ and how my temporal, earthly actions affect my eternal life in heaven with Christ?

Third bead: Finally, a couple of nights ago in our home bible study group as we go through the book of Acts, something was brought up from chapter five that ran along with the other thoughts that were streaming through in my head - the importance of heavenly-mindedness.

Fourth bead: Application: I want what I do now to have eternal relevance. I want the person I'm becoming now to have eternal relevance.

I'm sure I'll have more beads to string on this thread later. But for now, thanks for listening.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Studying Hebrew

Hebrew is a blast! Ben and I are taking an ancient Hebrew language class. I probably would have never taken it if were not for the fact that Rob is making his final preparations for the ministry. He studies Greek. I study Hebrew. That's how it fell. That way, I'll be able to help him, down the line.

This class which is offered at our homeschool co-op clips along at a fast-pace. We are reviewing the first year material for the high school students who had already taken Hebrew last year. Ben and I are the greenhorns having never taken Hebrew before, but we're holding our own since we have a really good teacher and classmates who are sharp and helpful. Our Latin background has helped immensely. I know for sure that I would have fallen behind quickly if it weren't for that.

It's a wonderful language. Of course, it's exciting to study the original language of the Old Testament. The letters look like what you would expect from scribes who wrote ancient writings several thousand years ago - a flowing manuscript style. The fact that you read Hebrew from right to left constantly reinforces the concept that you are reading works from a very different culture and time. Cool stuff!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Indiana Joneses

Throughout the last 12 months, I've talked to my two sisters on the phone to keep them updated on me and my family. And the story that unfolded grew to be -shall we say- interesting. (I tell my writing class not to use the word "interesting" unless they're trying to purposefully remain vague.) = ) One of my sisters said, "Oh Suzanne are you writing all this down? You need to be keeping a journal or you'll forget it." She was right of course. And me, an English teacher, not practicing what I preach. But being a blog writer provids me with just the format I need to write down some things that I don't want to forget. So from time to time along with chronicling daily events, I think I will also flashback a bit to jot down some details just for my own memory's sake.

I want to get some thoughts down about our journey to Indiana. Not about our ride up here, but about what brought us here, how we came to be here.

There is quite a bit of detail that I could include but let me just go back and cover some of the turning points of the last year or so. Let me see, one year ago ...
My husband, my three (still at home) kids, and I lived in a very rural area in East Texas. We had always been very happy to live in our remote, beautiful corner of the world. Having lived there for over 15 years, our days were quite busy with our homeschool and farm life. Candace who had her driver's license would take the other two kids to weekly choir practice, to visit friends, and to homeschool and church activities. Between this and visiting their grandparents, their lives were full.

I was the full-time homeschool mom of Ben who was still in jr. high and Candace and Amy who were both in high school. Being a teacher at heart, I have always loved teaching my kids. I particularly enjoy teaching high school students. So I was having fun. These high school years were (and continue to be) a great culmination of all our years together - a time of growing and learning. This was all so meaningful and satisfying to me. Could it get any better than this? Yes, it could!

Meanwhile, my husband, Robert was working full-time (VERY FULL-TIME) in upper management for a chain of retail stores. This was a high stress job and required a lot of hours. It really sucked the life out of him and took its toll on our family. We all yearned for our father and husband to be in a better situation, but we tried to learn to trust that the Lord would put him in a better situation in His own good time.

We had been seeking the Lord to see if He would be pleased to have us go into the mission field. Many years ago, God called both Robert and me into full-time ministry. All Rob ever wanted to do was to pastor a church, and from our teenage years we both felt the call of the Lord into missionary work before we had even met each other.

In recent years this old desire had come alive once again. Our desire to specifically go to the UK was born. At first, we felt very strongly that the Lord would have us go to Scotland and join the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), (otherwise know as simply the FCC). But this door closed and we questioned whether Scotland was really the place where God wanted us to be.

While we were in Scotland investigating the Lord's will regarding our service in starting a Christian school there, a strange thing happened. We spent quite a bit of time with Scottish ministers and several of them questioned my husband as to whether he had considered if the Lord had called him to preach and pastor. He told them that he believed that God had called him to preach many years ago, but that the Lord hadn't opened the door for him to pastor yet. They advised him to go home and pray about it. We liked the FCC very much and were confused and disheartened when the Lord didn't open the door for us to join them to help in Christian Education, but He had other plans in store for us.

During the entire time we were emailing the Scots (preceding and following our trip to Scotland), Robert had also been in email contact with a man in England. After the Lord closed the door to our joining the FCC in Scotland, we became increasingly convinced that our Lord might want us to join a small Presbyterian denomination to help a struggling work in southern England. Because of this, we started to doubt that we had heard the Lord correctly regarding Scotland and we turned our attention to England and the UK in general. (We would always pray for England and all of the UK because in our hearts we could never fully let go of Scotland!)

In the process of working out details to seriously consider moving to England, our English friend asked us if we had ever heard of a reformed Presbyterian denomination called the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (known as the RPCNA). We replied that we had not. He put us in contact with one of their ministers. This was in February, 2004, and before we knew it, Robert took off work and he and I drove to Florida to a RPCNA presbytery meeting in March. There we met men with whom we instantly bonded in Christ. We told them honestly about our burden to go and minister in the UK (specifically England, at that time). Then an amazing thing happened. A group of men came up to us after having only known us for a couple of days and invited us to move to Indiana in order to help facilitate us in our desire to go the mission field.

In June, we visited our new RPCNA friends in Indiana and traveled to England to meet our English friend. Then we went back to Texas and prayed about it all. It didn't take us long to see the Lord's hand in all this so in August, 2004, we moved to Indiana, became members in a local RPCNA congregation, and now Rob is an intern finishing up his preparation for the ministry with a view to be used by God in the UK!

We still have a special desire to go help the struggling church of God in Scotland. That desire has never died. But we are willing to go wherever our Lord leads us. Our kids are just as intent on going into the mission field as we are. They are older now and have minds of their own. We all just want to follow the Lord no matter how He chooses to lead us ... even if His ways seem strange and somewhat indirect!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Days of youth

I am surrounded by teenagers and young adults these days. I live with three of them. Keep pretty close tabs on a distant one. I teach some twice a week. Play volleyball with others. Go to church with a group of them. And now I read their blogs and sometimes converse with them over the Internet. I listen to them and try to really hear where they are coming from. What I'm picking up from them, I've written into this poem. (I also remember feeling this way not too terribly long ago!)

The Jewel

Full of hope
Eyes wide open
Absorbing from all sides

Laughs out loud
Open minded
Friendships will abide

Branching out
My own person
Glancing back at roots

Full expression
Resting when it suits

Life is full
Late night study
Friends come in and out

Outward purpose
Inside full of doubt

Look about
Need some answers
Feeling in a jam

Christ, my Lord
I must find you
Help me where I am

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Hopes and dreams

A friend sent me this poem and the comment which comes after. And I do think it's cool - quite profound actually. What is life without hopes and dreams?

Sail fast, sail fast,
Ark of my hopes, Ark of my dreams;
Sweep lordly o'er the drowned Past,
Fly glittering through the sun's strange beams;
Sail fast, sail fast.
Breaths of new buds from off some drying lea
With news about the Future scent the sea:
My brain is beating like the heart of Haste:
I'll loose me a bird upon this Present waste;
Go, trembling song,
And stay not long; oh, stay not long:
Thou'rt only a gray and sober dove,
But thine eye is faith and thy wing is love.

Song of the Future
Sidney Lanier

Cool huh? I wish that those were my words, but if I couldn't come up with anything for this moment of momentous momentousness, at least you should have some of the immortal Lanier to inspire you. But, truly, don't underestimate this chance; gold plated poetry, stuff typed in notepad, scribbles on a napkin are all perhaps trembling songs.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Our winter vacation dubbed: Cool Beans

Well, we knew Rob's mom and Josh would be coming up from Texas to visit right after Christmas so we planned a trip. Let's see. We've never been up this way before (the Mid-West, that is). What MUST we see while we're in the neighborhood? Why of course ... Niagara Falls! And while we're going in that direction why not just zip over to the northeastern seaboard?

That's how the Cool Beans trip started. Then hours later after much research and staring at maps, we headed north and east.

First Day: Niagara Falls or bust. The Falls were beautiful and ... cold. We snapped many photos from the cold sidewalk. Peered over the cold railings. And watched the cold seagulls fly around the cold swirling water at the bottom. I imagined that a frightfully strong undertow must exist down there and shuttered to think of anyone's fate should they fall into those waters. Such power in that unstoppable motion. We didn't have to fight the crowds because it was (have I mentioned?) cold.

Second Day: We woke up in the middle of New York State having covered many miles before we’d slept. I had always heard about the beauty of the state of New York and I can say that I was impressed. Of course, I always have liked the mountainous views.

We arrived on the coast of Maine in the early afternoon. The afternoon was crystal clean and we went bouldering. It's the latest sport, you aughta try it. The air was cool, the ocean was in and out, the boulders were plenteous, and the lighthouse was in the background - what more could you want?

Third Day: Woke up in Maine and drove to Boston. This was to be our big city day. We strolled the three mile Freedom Trails Walk through historic downtown Boston. Our walk began in the Boston Commons and led us by the State House, the Old Meeting House, the Old North Church, Paul Revere's House, and the site of the Boston Massacre among other places. We also saw the USS Constitution "Old Ironsides" in Boston Harbor. We procured a coffee cup, a fridge magnet, and a box of tea (of which I felt a small pang of guilt. Weren't we supposed to boycott the tea, or something?)

Being uncomfortable with big city driving, the twisted drive out of Boston tested our nerves, but we somehow managed to arrive safely at our local hotel.

Fourth Day: With the nose turned toward the land of the Hoosiers, we drove. A couple of things to point out here. We rented a big seven passenger van for the trip. Our rolling house during the day accommodated our need for constant snacks and for making frequent pit stops.

Since it was also equipped with a CD player, Canny and I had stopped off at the Kokomo library beforehand to check out some CD books. Phantom of the Opera was voted the Cool Beans novel. So by Day Four, the book was into heavy-duty mystery and intrigue. :: hesitates :: Okay, okay, I’ll just come right out and say it. It was getting scary. Not that I’m the timid type. I’m not the type that still walks quickly through a dark room, or checks behind a door … just to make sure, or jumps at strange noises. Oh no, not me.

Our big stop of the day was to take a walk in the Pennsylvania woods. This detour turned out to be my favorite outing of the whole trip. Isn’t it funny when a simple walk with your family can bring more joy and pleasure than famous places and planned events?

Fifth Day: Driving, driving, driving. We finished up the Phantom, visited with one another and stared out the windows. Everyone knew that our time of holiday life was coming to an end. Each of us would soon be back in the real world of work and school. But we had shared a special time together. We had enjoyed each other’s company. Not a bad way to spend a vacation.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Almost made it to Michigan

Yesterday, Robert preached twice - once for a Sunday morning service and once for an evening service. For the morning service, we traveled to Elkhart, IN, a town in northern Indiana. We were about 10 miles from Michigan which we would have visited if we had had the time. We'll make it up there some day, Lord willing.

After Rob preached, we had lunch with the McCracken's. They are very kind people crowned with a spirit of humility and thoughtfulness. Rev. Bob McCracken is a retired pastor who has pastored churches in the states and overseas. He and his family spent 5 years in Australia and was more than happy to show us the location of his ministry on a map upon our request. (We do love to look at maps so!)

When we arrived home, Rob and I went for a walk down our snowy yet sunny lane. Then I joined Canny and Benny for some good clean fun playing in the snow.

Rob preached for the evening service in our home church in Kokomo. It was a blessed service. Our new friend, Jason Camery, presided over the service. He is the other pastoral intern in our congregation besides Robert. I will never forget the Camerys (Jason and Jenny) for being EXTREMELY helpful and self-sacrificing to us in finding a house in Kokomo and helping us move in and get settled. They were both right there by our side every step of the way.

All in all, it was a blessed Sabbath!

Now for today, we will travel to a nearby town, Carmel, IN, which is about 30-40 miles away for my three kids' private music lessons. Then when we get back, the kids will go to their classical music ensemble rehearsal. This group of approx. 18 homeschooled high schoolers get together once a week under the direction of John Christianson. It has been a great addition to their total music experience.

I usually get some lesson plans lined out during Benny's cello lesson (always multi-tasking :-)

Rob's at his Greek class right now having lots of fun, I'm sure.

Josh is safely back at college starting off his semester with a bang. Hope he's always very good and well behaved just like I taught him.

And so - Monday here I come!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

First ... about the weather

Since we moved from Texas to Indiana five months ago, I've paid more attention to the weather. First off - I was mesmerized with a wonderfully mild and comfortable summer and spring. I smiled gleefully to myself as I thought of the unbelievable stifling heat we'd left behind. I soon became convinced that we had moved to the Kokomo of endless sun and fun referred to in the Beach Boys song. This mild weather stretched on to Thanksgiving and then up to a week before Christmas when we headed south to see our son in college and other family members and friends. I had convinced myself that I was leaving nothing short of an undiscovered tropical paradise.

Then it hit.

We started hearing reports on the National news about a snow storm that hit hard in ... Indiana! Indiana? They must be mistaken! That's not the Indiana I know. In Indiana, it's either perpetually sunny or blazing with awesome fall foliage. I was starting to think that Indiana only had three seasons. I stared at Peter Jennings in disbelief.

But Peter was right. We drove on our two day trek from East Texas back to Kokomo, IN through a world of white dotted with abandoned vehicles along the way who were left to tell the tale. At least the interstate was in good shape by the time we were on it.

We arrived home with a new surprise. We not only lived in a white wonderland, but a thoughtful friend had shoveled our driveway and our entire long sidewalk, too.

We took a night walk around the block to view the snow and the neighbors' Christmas lights. I'm sure we stuck out to the locals. Here we were, a mom & dad, four teenagers (yes our college-aged son is still a teenager!), and my visiting mother-in-law, walking, staring, and laughing with delight to see such glistening, fresh snow on everything.

When we got home we started a fire, checked the cat to make sure his heat lamp was still on and soon made for bed.

Hey, I think I can handle this new kind of weather. Kokomo, I still love you.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Initial thoughts

Getting started is always the hardest part. I've had friends suggest that I blog for several months now, but life got in the way.

I have my reasons for blogging. I want to keep friends up to date with the goings on of me and my family. I want to work out my thoughts in print (some thoughts of great importance and others that are valuable only for their silliness). I want to interact with fellow bloggers.

I don't know how often I'll write an entry - life rolls along at a pretty brisk clip - but I'm looking forward to this new experience.

Here goes!