Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going into 2009

Last day of the year
Time to look back,
reflect, regret, resolve.

a year of inner turmoil--
hard to walk away from 20 yrs.
also very difficult to part
with all the teaching materials,
still have boxes to deal with.
I poured myself into that career!

Looking back over the losses--
all things I'd grown accustomed to,
taken away against my will,
in God's sovereign purposes,
for my greater good.

The theme impressed on my heart since Christmas
in the words of a familiar hymn from childhood:

Tú dejaste tu trono (You left your throne)
y corona por mí (and crown for me)
al venir a Belén a nacer... (when you came to be born in Bethlehem...)

Jesus gave up all intentionally.
In 2009 I want to follow His example
in every area of life.

So tonight we welcome 2009
with a big event in Muncie:
robotics team drops the NYE ball!
Since Mike has been so involved,
we will all be there!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My true love gave to me...

...a very fancy model Yamaha keyboard built into our old oak organ furniture after taking out the custom-built-in electric piano which had not worked for years!
Notice on the left, the Santa train jumped to a higher track, probably on its way back to the North Pole till next Christmas; and on the right another of true love's projects--a piece of pottery. He is really enjoying this new hobby and that is a mate he made for me (not glazed yet).
You are not going to believe this next story, how I treated true love today.
We went to take Diane (Mike's little sister) back home after her four days with us over Christmas. Afterwards he dropped me off at Goody's to exchange some items while he went to Lowe's. Over an hour later, feeling hungry, bored and abandoned, I phoned him and yelled at him. And he was only giving me more time in a favorite shopping place and looking for more gifts for me. How could I?
[None of you out there have ever done anything like that, right?]
Well, back to the piano: the goal is to play every day, at least 15 minutes a day, but I don't think I'll be able to limit myself to such a short time!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Projects

Sam, Malachi, Kristie, Elijah
Leah, Jimmy, Skye


Stephan and Karen
Here are the promised photos of what the Grand Sewers, maybe a better name would be the Sewing Grands (grandma and granddaughter), have been up to lately. We thought it very appropriate for all related to the Koch family to own aprons, and tried to find an appropriate design to match each one's interests or personality.
We ran out of time and have a few more to put together so all the Kochs will be 'aproned.'

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Such a Strange Way to Save the World

This song moves me today.

And it reminds me of a Christmas some 31 years ago when Mike was Joseph in the Omro Christmas Pageant. Since then, Joseph's role in the great event has taken on new meaning. Also since then Mike has had a moustache; the beard, however, had to go.
Our dear friend Marlene was the organizer. She had the choir, a young Mary, even a donkey, but no Joseph. She threatened to come by the trailer at night and be the voice of God calling for Joseph by our window. Mike agreed before she had to resort to such tactics.
This year Marlene is celebrating her first Christmas in heaven.

That same year, we had no Christmas tree. One or two days before, a beautiful tree appeared by our door. We never did find out who left it.

By the following Christmas we had a new born son and were on the M/V Doulos, OM's missionary ship, where we served for almost five years.

Many years and stories later...we celebrate the birth of Jesus, moved once again by such love.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Photo Tag

I've been tagged again. This time it is a photo tag. I will include two photos because a strange thing happened which I will explain later.

First, this photo of my young friend from Xocenpich, Yucatán, México, Mary.

I have been to that little village on four different occasions. The first time when I was teaching at The King's Academy and I went with the group of highschoolers for their Servant Safari week. That was when I met my 'Mayan twin', my alma gemela, Femia. (Learn more about her in my other blog.)

The lady who cooked for the group mentioned that she ran every morning at 6 a.m. I was hoping for someone to run with! So that's how my friendship with Herlinda began. Mary is her daughter.

I became aware of her childhood dream--go to college and work in tourism. It wasn't till a couple years later that Femia asked if I would be able to contribute even if it were only half of her college tuition, get this, $80 a month! It was a no-brainer. Even so, I wanted to make sure Mike was with me on this. He has been, even through uncertain times.

So there is Mary: standing in front of her university, excelling in her studies, at the top of the class, willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to achieve her dream! I hope to attend her graduation summer of 2010.

OK, so that was the fourth photo that showed up in folder four the first time I checked. That was before Mike installed an amazing, unbelievable free photo organizer that allows you to view, group and regroup, etc., etc. all your gazillion files.

So now the 4th in the 4th is another one, seems they have been reorganized. It's all well worth it, believe me. And this photo, tho' not the greatest quality, also tells a story.

It was taken during the FIRST simulcast, the first Saturday in January, comin' up soon! Mike dedicates almost all his spare time and energy to mentor the Muncie robotics team. That event is

most exciting--the announcement of the game and guidelines for building the robot. They also get their kit of parts and begin the build season, six very intense weeks till shipping day, same all over the world!
And that is when I become a robotics-widow.

Now for the game.
The rules of the Picture Tag game:
1. Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures.
2. Pick the 4th picture in that folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

I tag my brother Lynn, a new blogger!
And Brittany, a former student who is out wandering the world.
Dani, another former student, who is done wandering for awhile.
Finally, fourthly, not leastly, Jenna, another FSNF who wandered down to Mexico with me and loved it so much she went back twice!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Come and See!

What there is to see
Like the bright blue tree,
Mary and Joseph in the entry way,
and on the piano, Santa's train.

Help yourself to the neighborly sweets
and gaze at the little ones we miss each year.
Most of all reach out to the Babe in the manger:
"Come into my heart, Lord Jesus."

This was a somewhat poetic attempt at an entry for the BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes, and a less than successful decorating deadline.
  • The tree has no ornaments yet. (Any ideas for toning it down?)
  • Mary and Joseph made by my wheelchair-bound friend Viola--a traditional welcome! (Her husband is with Jesus as of a month ago today.)
  • Santa's train reminds me of when consuegra (co-inlaw) Debby was staying with us and we wrapped gifts together and piled them on the steps all the way up the stairs.
  • The only treats I can offer you are those given by neighbors and friends.
  • Yearly photos of the grandkids on Santa's lap are part of traditional decor.
  • Often, as we read the Christmas story the little ones each had a nativity set to 'act' it out.

Such as it is, enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Other Changes

Some positive:

  • Stephan's ice carving business is expanding. He has regular customers and many return orders. The Indiana Ice Studio is now in a building a couple miles from his home.
    This is the busiest time of the year. Chris, our South African house guest has been a God-send--helping with the move and with all kinds of support-type jobs while 'Chef' keeps on carving "like a madman."

  • Kristie was offered the opportunity to go to school full time. She is enjoying this new routine working on completing a B.A. in psychology.

Some neither + nor -, just different, I think:

  • I did NOT write an end-of-year family letter this year. If you know me that is one of the MOST important to-do's before Christmas, or soon thereafter. So, if you know me you are wondering what happened to me. Blogging happened!
  • Michael put up the Christmas tree and bought new lights, LED's to be precise, light emitting diods which use a fraction of electricity compared with anything else. Did I say they are BLUE!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Changes--for worse or...?

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (New King James Version)
A Hymn of Faith

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—

Sounds like our times: economic failures and future uncertainty dominate the news.
In our own experience:
  • 126 were laid off where Mike works, even after many years with the company.
  • In our family we have experienced losses: Sam got out of the skateboard business; Leah had to quit studying; and I am no longer teaching in the university.

What has been our response?

Mike is asking, Why me? Why was he not let go?
Sam has been kept busy with remodeling and carpentry type jobs.
Leah is doing what she can. She is a survivor.
And I still have much to learn in my position as bilingual specialist.

Though we have questioned, complained, doubted and grumbled at times, our ultimate desire is to be grateful, adjust and learn.

Mike has to work longer hours, but he has employment.
And I enjoyed subbing four weeks for a Reality Spanish course for Teachers.

There is a saying in Spanish:

No hay mal que por bien no venga.
Basically: Good comes out of every bad thing.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God
is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


First week of Advent=Coming
We wait to celebrate the first coming of Christ into our world as a baby.

Pastor Mark's sermon was an unusual Christmas message from Habakkuk.

The prophet was complaining to God about the world he lived in, a description very apt for our days--violence, destruction, injustice, innocence overwhelmed by evil...
The Lord: "Be astounded! You won't believe what I'm going to do!"
Nor could the prophet believe the means--a mighty trampling force to overrun his people?!
Again the Lord urges Habakkuk to wait, believe, trust--He is at work!
The promise may take a while, but the vision will come true.
As unlikely as it may seem now, the land will be filled with people who know and honor the Lord, just as the water fills the sea!
So the prophet concludes that even in the bleakest of times and circumstances, he will remain steadfast.
And in the meantime, God gives him strength to climb mountains like a graceful deer!

Why did this message resonate so with me?
This has been a difficult year for our family: loss of jobs and opportunities; economic hardships; circumstances that threaten to tear us apart; and things may get worse before they get better.
We look around and see: terrorism in Mumbai; economic collapse; our children surrounded by negative influences.

But then this message of hope and these strong promises, so I say with the prophet: "I will still celebrate because the LORD God saves me.

Signs of celebration have merely begun: a poinsettia on the counter; some Christmas cards waiting to be addressed; a red tablecloth on the dining room table; a few wrapped gifts on the love seat and the wrapping paper under the spiral stairs (in that I am way ahead of other years!). No Christmas tree yet. Downstairs by the sewing machine a bag of various fabrics for a special project Kayla & I will be working on--a uniquely special gift for each member of the family. (Photos later, after Christmas!)

Meanwhile life goes on: school and work, robotics and home projects and repairs. The new water heater is working. The hanging garden is nearly finished (photos later). And somehow we find strength to keep going.