Monday, July 27, 2009

One Hand or Another

Art Pilgrimage: Station # 2

Project 365: Week 30

From Birthday to Birthday, Campus to Campus, Hellos and Goodbys

My SIL commented that we pack a lot into a week.
Amaia's last week with us was certainly NO exception, and there is NO lack of photos.
I've chosen the most representative ones.


A tour of Taylor University, including the bookstore, of course, to purchase a TU sweatshirt.
The Memorial Prayer Chapel is beautiful, built in memory of the five who lost their lives in the terrible accident three years ago that received national attention due to a mistaken identity.

In the afternoon we celebrated Amaia's 16th birthday a day early with the other Basque students and their host families. Her parents and sister were 'present' via the cake photo.

The youth went to Cedar Point: the Roller Coaster Capital of the World!
I did NOT go. I have no photos for that day.

Family and friends began arriving for our Family Day!
Here the grandboys are introducing friend David to Moe, Kayla's guinea pig who was with us for a month.

The day was looking very gray, the weather forecast was not very definite. We were determined to make the best of it and enjoy our day on & in the water.

The sun never came out. We were wet and cold, but the water was warm and we had a lot of fun: jumping, sliding, tubing, fishing, talking, eating, just being together!

The Basque students prepared (with help!) and served us a farewell dinner, Basque style, with several courses: pinchos (appetizers); salad, a vinagrette dressing and bread; tortilla de patata (potato omelet); steak; Basque cake.
Each had written a thank you note for their host family. These were very meaningful. We also shared what we had enjoyed about them and our time together.
After the meal we acquired another 'daughter' for the remaining couple days. Her host family needed to leave early for their vacation in order to visit a sick grandmother.

We took the girls to Indiana Wesleyan University especially for Amaia to learn about the pre-med program. She wants to be a pediatrician, both her parents are doctors. Irati was introduced to the pre-law program.

We said our goodbys at the Fort Wayne airport. Here one of the last glimpses as they were going through security.

Today we learned that their plane was delayed three hours and they missed their intercontinental connection and had to spend the night in Dallas. Earlier this afternoon I phoned the family, Amaia had only been back three hours--tired, happy, and a few pounds healthier!

We arrived back just in time for Skye's 12th birthday celebration.
What do you think of that cake?

The daughter always comes up with unique party ideas!
Not the end of our packed week yet, we took two younger grandboys home for the night so Sam & Kristie could look at vans to replace the work vehicle or the transmission in the old one.
Four year old's side of phone conversation overheard the next day:
--Hi, Mommy! First, did you have fun?
--I had really fun!
Grandma is always happy to hear that.
Another truthful statement the day before:
--Your house is a little bit dirty (as he pointed out spots on the carpet and spider webs in the corners.
I have my work cut out for me! Is this retirement or what?
Hope you understand why I'm late posting to Sara's circle of 'virtual yet real' friends.
How was your week?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts: Riddled with God

I said in an earlier post that I would come back to the parable a few days later, five is a good number.

Meanwhile, I've read the surrounding passages. Inrig in his preface to The Parables makes three important points:
  1. These are not isolated stories
    a. almost always came in answer to a question or situation
    b. therefore, need to be understood in context
  2. They are parables not allegories
    a. intended to teach one main point
    b. therefore, avoid secondary speculations
  3. They draw on common daily life of first-century Palestine
    a. use research, our imaginations, and all our senses to penetrate that world!
    b. This is going to be the most difficult for me.

Jesus is in the middle of his ministry on earth and has been revealing his identity mostly through actions. The parables move him into revelation through words, images that are meant to open the understanding of some and hide the truth from those who will to not believe.

Healings and deliverances had drawn such crowds that Jesus tried to withdraw, still they thronged him. His family worried and questioned his sanity. The religious leaders proclaimed him to be possessed, working for the evil one.

"So [this is why] Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: 'How can Satan drive out Satan?'...

He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit." Mark 3:23 & 30

In this context He comments that a kingdom or a house divided against itself cannot stand, and later dismisses his earthly relations and claims true kinship with whosoever does God's will.

Here is the sequence of stories meant to show what God's Kingdom is like:

  1. the seed is sown with varied results "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
  2. a lamp on a stand is meant for shedding light "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
    [These repeated exhortations tell us not everyone is willing to understand and apply.]
  3. the seed sprouts and grows continually, little by little till ripe for harvest!
  4. the smallest seed grows into the hugest tree!

The highlighted line is the the parable illustrated by the batik by Sara van Alkemade. (Read my SIL's comment also as part of this conversation.)

What it says to me:

Its application to our own situation jumped out at me the very first time. We are sowing seeds in lives; the natural processes are ongoing and unexplainable whether we sleep or get up. It is a God thing! I see it every spring when out of the ground amazing plants and flowers spring forth. How can so much potential be contained in such minute packages?

Only heaven will reveal the whole of the huge tree, the absolutely astonishing, amazing, unbelievably wondrous results from one little seed!

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Project 365: Week 29

The week was somewhat quieter, after the grandboys left ;)
They were with us a couple of days and we had lots of fun like loads of water rides and slides at the Splash House. No wonder they were so hungry.

Also every day this week...the Tour de France!

I managed a couple of shots of the unique welcome the French have prepared for the Tour.

Those spectators need to be more careful though. They get too close to the speedy cyclists.
Our own family 'celebrity' rode 168 miles yesterday in the RAIN, no I do not mean wet precipitation, in fact the weather was the best possible combination of mild temperatures and favorable wind direction. All the good fortune must have come from wearing the Basque team jersey Amaia brought him from her country!

The other ongoing event was Camp Invention.
Skye and 90+ others enjoyed taking obsolete gadgets apart and designing new contraptions.

I debated whether to post one of their inventions, but
chose to show his favorite accomplishment, making a new friend.
Yesterday, we were excited to have Amaia back from Camp.
The girls enjoyed making the BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES!
And we were very happy to eat them!

We begin our last week with Amaia and have something planned for every day, including celebrating her 16th birthday. I think there will be way too many photos to choose from next week. Do come back and visit, and don't forget Sara & friends!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Riddled with God

Another view of #1 station in the Art Pilgrimage mentioned in yesterday's post along with the plaque.

Sometime next week I will add my comments and incorporate your thoughts if there are any, responses that is. (I know you are thinking!)

For now, I will briefly add a few points made by the author of The Parables in his Preface.

Some of Jesus parables or stories are meant to illumine and others to veil a truth, hide it from those whose response determines they are destined for judgment. So, if we are open to see/hear the point of the parable, it will illumine or shed light on our condition, and on the divine remedy. Like a mirror to see ourselves, and like a window into God's heart. "Self-recognition without a divine provision would bring only discouragement." (p 7)

I wonder what we will see of ourselves and God in this art form?

Friday, July 17, 2009



This week I have been processing one of the Cornerstone experiences--the outdoor Art Pilgrimage. Every morning art expert, Nancy Hughes, offered a walk/critique. Finally on the last day, the hottest unfortunately, I was able to join the group of walkers interested in learning more about the works of art and art itself. Nancy shared so much from her wealth of knowledge and experience: about art, materials, methods, techniques, history, and always a spiritual insight as well.
The theme of this year's Burning Brush, the visual arts branch of Cornerstone, was the Parables of Jesus. The path, lined on both sides with a variety of works of art, was patterned after the early church tradition of the stations of the cross, each stopping point meant to be an opportunity for meditation. Nancy urged us to take this walk alone and do just that. She further encouraged us to approach art in general more thoughtfully, i.e. spend more time examining the piece and drawing meaning from it, than reading about it.
It is with that in mind that I would like to share photos regularly of each one of the stations, allow us time to think about it, and then summarize our thoughts a few days or even a week later.

First, I wondered if I would be allowed. There was no indication that we could not photograph the art. Blog about it, is that OK?
Secondly, I looked up a book my father sent me a couple years ago, The Parables: Understanding What Jesus Meant by Gary Inrig. I will never know why he chose to do that, seemingly out of the blue, or what may have impacted him about the book if and when he read it, but I pick it up now as my next Bible study focus.

I write this to get started, often the hardest step, to be held accountable to this commitment, and to begin a conversation on the subject whereby we all benefit. However, I do not know how to go about making those fancy blog buttons, nor hosting with Mr. Linky. I am simply leaping out there by faith.
The introductory photo, just to whet your appetite, shows the two art pieces at the beginning of the walkway, the first and the last in the pilgrimage.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Project 365: Week 28

I will begin with where I am today, and then go back and reminisce. I warn you up front that I have more photos than usual to do justice to a full week. You are probably thinking that all our weeks are big, and you're probably right. Maybe that is why the rare Sunday afternoon nap, out on the deck on the lounge chair Mike got for my birthday years ago, was so wonderful. This is the view from that restful position.

First of all I must go back and correct a serious omission. In the Cornerstone photo blog series, I failed to include son Stephan & DIL Karen. Both contributed greatly to our week--fun, food, fellowship, family. What a great formula!

Karen making pancakes, successfully, I might add. Mine flopped.

Stephan also cooked a fantastic curry, played games, told jokes, laughed a lot!


Mike took Skye, Kayla and Amaia to the Splash House where she eventually tried all the water slides.

In the meantime I went shopping. Aldi's had 500 piece puzzles reduced to $1.99. Amaia started one immediately and we've been working on it ever since! I was right, anyone who loves Sudoku, enjoys rompecabezas.

We rode 14 miles on the Cardinal Greenway, the girls on single bikes and captain Mike & I on the tandem.

Amaia was tired out, but what did the cat do?

The four host families took the Basque teens to Indianapolis to experience the city: the art museum and gardens, downtown, Monument Circle, Lucas Oil Stadium...

...and finally a meal at the Old Spagghetti Factory. The Basque girls are deciding whether they like what they ordered--crab ravioli.

I blogged about Leah's Adopted Birthday and posted enough photos already.
Amaia had to go to an orientation session to prepare for church camp.
Kayla's dance studio had their summer dance camp and sleepover. Amaia watched for awhile and hung out with the other teens who bombarded her with questions.

We used our family pass to Minnetrista where we experienced three current interactive exhibits.

We had the grandboys too.
Here Malachi as bee keeper and Elijah as cook.

And here we are this morning, saying goodbye to Amaia who left for the week with the youth to Miracle Camp.

Now check out the exciting summer adventures of all the other friends at Sara's and pray for each one.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For those who couldn't be there...

... for Leah's Adopted Birthday celebration, a few fotos & facts, food & fun:

Singing the crazy Koch BD song, after a discussion of the lyrics for a 'joining the family' version. We settled on "Happy Adopted Birthday to you..."

Kristie's adopted-birthday cake was splendiferous as well as decadentlicious. Leah decided against candles.
There were games and plenty of laughter throughout, and ATV rides from beginning to end!

The grand finale was indoors--a wild game of Nerts, an old time family favorite we hadn't played in years. Leah had prided herself in becomimg the champ and was absolutely thrilled to find out that she was still in contention. However, Sam won by ONE stinkin' point.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Leah's Adopted Birthday

In the past we celebrated two birthdates: the born-into-this-world one in February and the joining-our-family one in July, precisely the 9th (which is also Argentine Independence Day! ¡Viva la Argentina!)
This year we decided the first one did not bring happy memories for her, so we chose to settle with only one celebration, the second.

So, today we will have a cookout, or should I call it a 'Koch-out' ?

The photos are fairly recent, closer to the time of birthday # 1. Leah busy doing the mother-thing. I had a hard time finding photos of her alone.

Five years ago I wrote this poem:

Thirty One Years Ago…

A bonnie lassie joined our family
Well, actually, a wee baby
No, not so wee, already five months old.

A few months earlier,
A visitor knocked on our second floor apartment,
I left the ladies gathered in our living room,
And when I came back, announced:
“We’re having a baby tomorrow!”

They could not believe their ears,
Nor their eyes, I was not showing yet!
Perhaps this would be a German stork delivery!

By the next day friends had rallied with supplies.
It was not to be, however,
as our promised baby girl
had developed digestive problems.

We could watch her through a glass,
The only baby in the bleak hospital nursery,
Lying on her back in a sterile crib,
Playing with her hands.

We waited and waited,
Eager and anxious.
“More testing,” they said,
“perhaps the university hospital would be best.”

We decided to travel to the US as planned,
Perhaps after a few weeks
she would be ready to come home.
We could hardly wait!

But the doctor was not so sure.
“Do you really want to adopt this child?
“She needs a home,” we said.
“She may not live long,
there seems to be a heart condition.”
“You’re right, she needs love!
I’ll eat my hat if there is something wrong with her,”
Said Daddy Mike.

A few days later, on a hot day in July,
We piled in the car:
Two year old Stephan had a new toy,
Mommy Rita brought along two outfits,
One German style, one American,
(How would the German nurses want to dress her?)

Stephan fell asleep during the excitement.
The nurses, so befuddled, used both outfits on the babe!
Soon we were on our way
with the baby sister Stephan prayed so long for.

New family, new home,
But, please, don’t change my routine!
Every four hours baby Leah cried demanding her tea!
She soon learned to roll over,
And even smiled...after awhile.


“Lovely Lu,” our Leah Margit,
has brought many strengths to our family circle:
insightful, sensitive, and compassionate
she helps us better understand others, herself
and even how animals think.
As an artist, she loves to decorate her environment,
But can be melancholy too.
A strong survivor, spirited and independent
She has weathered many a storm in life…
And still hangs on.

We love you, Leah.