Sunday, September 27, 2009

Project 365: Week 39

Big week for the family potter!
Most of the week spent preparing for the Arts Walk on Thursday, and then a two-day pottery workshop.
So I thought I'd begin with an old photo of him by one of the sculptures at the university where I last taught-- The Potter.


At Monday night community dinner, Gina glazed some of her pieces in readiness for one last firing. She is finding her niche in carving.


Here is a glimpse of the Klaytivity's display.

Now, from all that is left, one item from the Unique Thrown Pottery will go to a reader who consistently leaves a response to Project 365 entries through Week 43 in honor of my very first tentative posting two years ago in October.

This Meemaw, also attended other family events throughout the week: Malachi's soccer game; Skye's football game (#99 is becoming quite the star--touchdowns, tackles, and more!) And even her own run/walk!
Actually, the DILs ran competitively and placed. I was discouraged by the distance, 15 K, and signed up for the 4 mile walk. If I had 'wogged' the 9 miler, I would have won first place in my age category! Oh well, next time.

Here are the three Mrs. Kochs.

Time to make the rounds and visit all the other bloggy friends in Sara's circle, then pack for my trip to Chicago to help cousin Rosie who just had bypass surgery. Don't you just love how God has prepared adventures for us to enjoy! Ephesians 2:10

Friday, September 25, 2009

Touched, Transformed, Transplanted

Today I was very moved by two FB status notes and wept for joy.
Youngest son and DIL reminded us all of a very significant turning point in their lives nine years ago.

So, I searched the archives and found an article I wrote six years ago. I share it here so you can rejoice and priase God with me.

Touched, Transformed, Transplanted

Kristie is my daughter-in-law. When she was only three years old, she first invited Jesus to come into her life. This was repeated again and again because she was never sure of his presence. She understood little of what he was doing in her heart. Three years ago, at age 22, she experienced a clarity as never before. The glimmer of hope grew into a bright beam of deliverance and assurance.

Kristie’s parents were divorced when she was only three or four. By then she had witnessed a great deal of conflict, even violence, due to drinking and drugs. The dysfunction did not end with the divorce. All the men she observed in her life, both as a child and as a young person growing up, made her feel that men could not be trusted; thus, it was very difficult to relate to a heavenly Father.

Those growing up years were chaotic. They included eight school changes, as parents moved or she went from living with one to the other; a mother who married and remarried at least six times; a stepmother who would not talk to her; and the trauma of her father being sentenced to life in prison.

God was at work all along on his child’s behalf. The flicker of light had been ignited in her spirit and she desired, even longed, to go to church. She would go on her own sometimes or have a parent drop her off. There was also the weekly Children’s Club program where Kristie heard the Word and learned and yearned for more. [AWANA]

God was faithful throughout the tumultuous years that followed. She relates, “He had already saved me years earlier…yet, he sustained me and restrained me in my season of rebellion and unyielding to his sovereignty in my life. He kept me alive in the hell of my addictions. But I was blinded by fear, doubt, pride, and hardness, and I was unable to see him there. I doubted I was saved, but I still cried out to him over and over for months and years.”

Sometime after high school, while running around with a different crowd, Kristie met Sam. He, too, had known Jesus from the time he was a little boy and had grown up surrounded by Christian role models in a missionary context. After a troubled adolescence he moved away from home as soon as he was of age. Even so, while involved with and joining in with these new friends of very different life styles from his home life, he reached out to them, talked about his faith and showed them utmost loyalty. When Kristie suffered abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, Sam protected her. She sought strength and stability from him. Their friendship grew. Eventually they became parents of a baby boy and were thrust unprepared into arenas of great responsibility. The struggle continued—parenthood, making a living, church off and on.

There came a time when Kristie experienced one of the first turning points. After witnessing so many ceremonies and sacred vows violated time and again, she could not even think of marriage. However, God’s gentle persuasion and Sam’s patient love worked a 180 degree turn, and she became truly excited about sealing their relationship before the Lord in the presence of family and friends. There was a beautiful and very meaningful wedding, a clear testimony of God’s unconditional and constant love and grace.

Yet, even as their little Malachi grew, so did the destructive dependencies. Annoying addictions were secretly and alarmingly sapping their strength and hindering total healing. God never let them go during those dark and desperate times; the Spirit-wooing went on. The desire to change grew and, as a reminder of this determination of the will, notes were placed in all the obvious places like on the refrigerator door, on the bathroom mirror—“We will go to church.”

All human efforts were not enough, however. Then one night in utter desperation, on the verge of abandoning their marriage, devastated by what that would mean for their son and seeing no way out, they cried out for help. For so long they had been able to hide from us what was really going on. Now they called and asked us to please come over.

We found them looking pale and haggard, tearful and contrite, holding hands and clearly determined. “We are addicted to pain killers,” Kristie confessed, “and we cannot help ourselves. We’ve tried everything. We need help.”

We did not know what to do or say, but on our knees we looked to God, seeking wisdom and help, forgiveness and healing. Then we turned to friends who had experience in counseling and were knowledgeable about available rehabilitation programs in our area.

Amazingly, the very next day they were both admitted into the only rapid-detox program in the state! Their policy had always been to never admit a married couple together, however, an exception was made for Sam and Kristie! Both survived the very sick period of that first week and, through counseling and teaching, grew in understanding of their condition.

In Kristie’s words: “When I surrendered all, Christ (through grace) made himself known to me more clearly than ever before. He provided a way out, and I fearfully took that step. My eyes were opened to see the cross and the fullness of its meaning. God still loves me and there is nothing I can do wrong or right to change that. It’s all Jesus. It’s all grace. It is this clarity of who he is and what he has done that has made me fall in love with him and learn to follow. But I’m still learning!”

The deliverance was a powerful event, and the renewal process has never been forgotten or overlooked. Like gold being purified, the heat is turned up, impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off the top again and again, so there are many “deliverances.” As Proverbs 4:18 describes the transformation, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”

Kristie’s spiritual sensitivity, beautiful spirit, and genuine vulnerability are a gift to our family. In turn, she draws strength and protection from us. Like a weak lonely sapling, beaten down by adverse winds and wilting in the intense heat, she has been transplanted to a wooded area, surrounded by stalwart ancient trees—the many witnesses that make up our family heritage from generations back.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Wonderings...

Art Pilgrimage, Station # 6

This is a very different art composition, but the main problem this time is I cannot find the plaque explaining the piece and quoting the scriptural basis. I do have the title:  

Smallness to Significance
The appropriate Scripture is Matthew 13:31-32.
The assembled branches had many small bright and shiny beads and things and sitting birds. Our guide said they represented the many members that make up the community of believers.

Later...I enlarged the photo and found the plaque! The passage is Mark 4:30-32 and the artist is Deb Strahan.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Fall to All...

...except those in the Southern hemisphere!

Our eldest was reminding me of a childhood memory. When he was small, three or four, I tried to explain Fall to him, "Today is the first day of Fall, that is when the leaves fall." He says he went out to see this great event, and was so disappointed because despite his eager anticipation, he did not see the leaves fall. I had failed to explain the concept of season. Probably the least of my failures as a mother. Nevertheless, he survived.

However, I did notice today that the leaves are beginning to turn and saw some fall on the first day of otoño. BTW, did you know that season in Spanish is estación, like 'station'?

As a Happy Fall gift, I will write out the recipe that earned me fleeting praise last week as more than "just a Koch (pronounced 'cook') by marriage."

ROPA VIEJA  (shredded beef)

1 (2 1/2-pound) flank steak, halved lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, sliced
2 onions, julienned
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 red pepper, julienned
1 green pepper, julienned
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sherry
2 cups whole tomatoes, canned
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper

Boil the flank steak [I used venison roast] with bay leaves, carrots, 1 onion, and oregano in enough water to cover the ingredients.  Cook for 60-90 minutes. Drain and let the meat cool, then cut into 2 inch cubes and shred. Sauté the remaining onion, peppers, and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Deglaze with sherry. [I used some of the broth instead.] Add tomatoes and cumin. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the shredded meat and cook for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serving Suggestion:
white rice

I also fried up sliced plantains. Yum!

¡Buen provecho!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Project 365: Week 38

Twos, Threes, and More

There is a proverb in Spanish "No hay dos sin tres", i.e. "When it rains it pours."
That's how this week has been. Although the saying may have a negative connotation, not so for us, all good things, but many. (It is raining right now, and that is good!)

So we celebrated 2 family birthdays--Diane's 56th last Sunday, and Kristie's 31st yesterday.

2 grandkid's sports events: Skye's football game on Tuesday, and Malachi and Elijah's soccer games the next day.

2 tandem rides: another McDate, and the Hope Ride with friends--great fun!

girls spending 2 nights here: Jessica, the TU student; and granddaughter Kayla the two days her dance lessons go late. It's fun to have them, and that gives me an opportunity to re-enforce the Spanish learning. Reminds me of another 2: the two 'tutees'.
Hard to believe Kayla will soon be 18! (BTW, I can't take credit for this photo, the daughter is responsible.)

2 successful recipes! You can't know how exciting this is. My self-esteem is very low in the area of food preparation, so my exitos are celebrated.
One was SIL's Cuban Pork Sandwiches, with some variations they served us very well as travel meals this busy week.
The other I am most thrilled about: Ropa vieja (shredded beef, I used venison). I came across a variation of this Cuban dish in the latest Hispanic magazine and wanted to try it. Son and DIL who host the Monday Night Meal have been fighting a flu virus, so I offered to bring the Old Clothes recipe and plantains, if they would prepare the rice. It was very tasty, even if I say so myself.

I finally got around to getting the 2 shots recommended after age 65: pneumonia and shingles. No photos.

Now to the Threes:
I got together with 3 friends: Monday breakfast with a dear former colleague; Tuesdays I've been taking a fellow-writer to her special treatment in Muncie. It takes two or three hours, so I had lunch with another former colleague and friend. Sooooooooooo good to share life lessons together.

Another very special 3 was the opportunity to  communicate with friends in other countries: my childhood BFF finally got her phone back, we talked for an hour; a looong online chat with my Mexican ahijada; and a great e-mail from our Basque student.

And much more...Is that what it means to be retired, really tired?

(I'm gonna get in trouble for posting this :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Project 365: Week 37

Labors of Love
Our pastor based his sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:3--work of faith, labor of love, endurance of hope. I decided to look for examples all week and post representative photos.
The first that came to mind was Sara's Project 365! I am so grateful for her step of faith in launching and hosting our circle of bloggie friends, sticking faithfully to her commitment and lovingly commenting on each one of our contributions. (I realized, after I hastily posted my blog last week, that I had failed to link you to her site.)
Nor did I take the opportunity to expand on the last photo of Week 36. Two wonderful examples were represented in that gathering. The host couple head up the Lightrider Ministries and one of the other guests is the backbone of prayer ministries in our community. She also maintains a network called Kneemail.

Labor Day Weekend is our town festival. I think you might enjoy the many photos in this album. Friday and Saturday yard sales everywhere and fun activities and programs at the park. People come in from all over. So I escaped to Muncie and joined son and family at their rummage. Here is my favorite photo, a special Meemaw moment.  

Monday, the famous Upland Labor Day Parade again attracts the crowds. The last two years, I have found that it is much more fun to walk in the parade with the church group, hand out cups and candy, wave and talk to people, than to sit and spectate. And its better exercise too.
Another prime example of a labor of love prompted by faith, is the Monday Night Meal at #1 son's place. The food is great, an interesting learning experience, and always tasty. Anyone is welcome, the diverse crowd varies from time to time, and if the food runs out, 'Chef' (as he's been called since college before he ever went to cullinary school) calmly prepares and brings out more. He usually explains each dish and sometimes has a story to go along. It is an evening of fun and laughter, jokes, puns, stories and some serious conversation. Only eternity will reveal the countless good things that have resulted from the connecting and sharing that takes place each week.
Tuesday evening was our first ladies Bible study. I am attending for the first time and it seems many others are as well. There is an unusually large group this year. This is the book we are using. The ladies who lead the Women's Ministries are performing a labor of love.
 My friend Viola lovingly crocheted an afghan for her grandson.

Jessica is a young college student who stays here a couple nights a week while attending classes at Taylor University, and goes back home to Fort Wayne the other days.
Friday was Grandparents Day at Malachi's school. I can be more involved now, so I enjoyed another fun Meemaw moment. 
That evening we had a special farewell and birthday dinner for Upendra. He left the next day for NYC. I made SIL Kim's Cuban Pork meal.
We finished off the week at the Penrod Art Fair. HUGE. We must have stopped by 40 different pottery displays and learned a lot. 
It was fun to focus on noticing loving deeds prompted by faith. And what a difference love makes to whatever task or challenge we face.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The Alert ServantsMark 13:34-37

The context of Mark 13 is The End.
The question is when?
The answer is: It is NOT for US to know, only Father God knows.
So, what is for US in these times? To watch, be alert, obey the Master!

For this post I was able to contact the artist himself!
And here are his comments:

"The thing that stood out to me in this passage was that the master gave each servant a specific task. What are we called to as Christ's servants? To have his heart of servanthood in washing one another's feet, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, bearing one another's burdens, etc. Hence, the basin and towel along with the cup and bread symbolizing servanthood and feeding on the bread of life and feeding others. The doorkeeper was commanded to keep alert and not to be found slumbering. How prone are we to spiritual sleepiness through neglect or sheer busyness? I chose to portray the doorkeeper late in the evening lit only by his torch with his hand on his sword keeping watch for the enemy. The "12" means midnight. The rooster crowing symbolizes a sudden jolting awake–a wakeup call to the master's imminent return. The path through the mountains symbolize the journey that the master is on as well as our spiritual journey."

Tim Yerrington has given us some soul searching questions.
I want to ask myself daily, "What are the tasks You have prepared for me today, Father God?"
Then, believe that He will establish my thoughts accordingly, and watch Him at work!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Project 365: Week 36

The Week in Review Just when I got the counter cleared, Grandpa and Malachi spread out the Lego Mindstorm.

Sunday was a big day: the grandboys had stayed overnight; I led Junior Worship (1st - 3rd grade); in the afternoon a mini reunion with my parents, two brothers, SIL and nieces; and were able to include Ivan & Kim in Argentina through Skype!

Monday another tandem date with hubby! We rode 15+ miles each way and picnicked by a pretty lake.

Another outing we enjoyed together was the opening of our friend's art exhibit. She began the project for an Illustration course and went on to complete a full-blown series of 24 prints, 24" x 36" each, inspired by the medieval playing cards, the carte di trionfi. We were so impressed with her stunningly beautiful thought-provoking interpretations.

We have become much more aware of all the art galleries and events in Muncie due to Mike's interest in pottery. This week he has been very focused on preparing for the Art Walk on the 24th, turning out several pieces daily. And the name of the new art venture is Klaytivity.
There is no end to learning and creativity, accidental results, surprises and failed attempts.
This is one of the cracked pots, but even so we've enjoyed using it. Reminds me of how God shines His light through us, defective though we are.

Much time was spent gathering excess stuff to sell at our son's rummage this whole weekend.
While I was at the sale today trying to be helpful, hubby was out on his regular Saturday morning bike ride with the Delaware Cycling Club.
DIL, Kristie, and I happened to meet up with Mike and save him a few miles (or did we deprive him of completing the 100 miles?)

More friend-time this evening, a meal with two other couples from our church community.
We are so blessed to have many opportunities for fellowship. These are only a few of all that we experienced this week.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price

What do I value most?

About the passage:
Jesus has begun to teach his disciples in life images or parables, an indirect way to speak truth. Those who are really interested will hang in there, ask questions, ponder and apply--those who have ears to hear and eyes to see and understand.
The Kingdom of God is like that, hidden to the world, like the wheat growing up with its look-alike fake and dangerous darnel, or the treasure buried in the field, or the most valuable pearl recognized only by the merchant. He understood its worth and gave up or sold everything else.

This art station leads us to consider a series of items and ponder their priority in our lives, compared to the Pearl, the Kingdom, the Rule of God.

a watch--time
My watch battery died and I haven't replaced it because I have my cell phone.
The real question is how does my use of time reflect my obedience to the King?

a car
I really like driving my car where everything has its place and I can listen to whatever audio book I'm into at the time. However, now in retirement, hubby likes to use my car if I'm not using it because it gets better mileage. That's OK, most of the time. We save money for the Kingdom, or survival on SS.
We have never bought a new car as we consider it poor stewardship. We accept that the King may direct others differently.

a house
We have lived in a variety of dwellings: apartments, small houses, a mobile home, and several cabins on a missionary ship. Now we own our own home, built by amazing handy-man, self-taught husband Mike (over a period of years in his spare time, I might add!). When we came back from being overseas missionaries, we had nothing. The King has been very good to us.
How much do I value this beautiful home? I know I have often failed to maintain what God has so graciously given and I am definitely working on that now in this new season of life.
Looking back over the years we have lived here and reading the names of the many who have passed through our home, one full guest book worth, I reflect with amazement on how the King arranged all those encounters. Hospitality reaps so many blessings, worth much more than the trouble to prepare and clean up, besides I need those deadlines to get things done!

a cell phone? a camera?
I was asking hubby just yesterday how long cell phones have been in. We have grown so dependent, we can't imagine how we survived BC. They can be very useful tools, or not.
What would I do without my camera. Mike knows, so when one dies, or gets lost, he buys me another! Maybe he recognizes it is part of Kingdom work?

a dog/petsGrowing up we did NOT have pets, probably because we were a missionary family and Kingdom work was more important. Mother chose not to spend time caring for animals or cleaning up after them.
So, it has been a learning experience for me to have dogs, rabbits, horses, and now a cat. I am accepting the role of pets in family life and all that we can learn from the King's creatures.

a computer
Gone are the days of typewriters, thank God for word processors! And the internet! Not being connected to the WWW can really affect our disposition. Communication is a life line, whatever platform: e-mail, Facebook, blogging, Twitter (don't use that one yet). We have come so far from when my grandmother carbon-typed four and five pages-worth of letters from all the missionary children and mailed a copy to each in five different countries and three continents. What a labor of love, we so looked forward to those epistles.
Is my time on the computer part of a work of love for the King?

a sofa/comforts of life
We love our sofa for naps and watching TV with a basket of clothes to fold or mending or whatever. We do enjoy relaxing in the evenings, or even later, each sitting in our own accustomed spot to wind down with a favorite show or a movie. Are we happy to give that up if the King gives us another assignment?
Are there any comforts we would not give up?

a guitar/music
I do have a piano again after many years without, and have enjoyed going back over the pieces I used to play oh too many decades ago. Amazing that the skills were not totally lost. Thank you Mom & Dad for those 10 years of piano lessons! It's been enjoyable to play hymn arrangements for Dad and others in the Health Center while they eat or are being fed. Those old melodies stir something deep within the soul.

I have been asking myself is there anything else I would add to the list of things I value.
When we've gone camping or even on a bike ride, and I failed to take something to write with, or if I am too long without something to read, I find myself becoming restless, even antsy.

The artist then directs our attention to a colorful item with a price tag. Perhaps it is not necessary to have the latest fashion item. Has anything become a must-have, an obsession?

Does anything compare to the Pearl??? The guide, doing the art critique and commentary at Cornerstone's Art Pilgrimage, pointed out the meaningful way the Pearl is being held showing its incomparable worth. Those few who recognize its value, relinquish everything they own to obtain it. The Kingdom costs true discipleship. Everything.