Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 Week 16: The earth is the Lord's

 His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.           (Romans 1:20)

 Divine Cycle

The acorn fell into the soil
Slowly, surely and without toil
Became one with the earth
Eventually giving birth
To a small sturdy sapling
Stretching, grappling
Branches reaching high
Ever toward the sky.
Seasons came and went
The oak tree groaned and bent
At last like weary arms
Tired limbs gave way
To battering storms and scorching sun
Then fell and gently lay.
Cupped hands cradle
The hope of life to come
Moist leaves welcome
The tender green acorn
Till new life is born.

Rita Koch, April 10, 2017

In honor of Earth Day, I asked my friend Georgia if I could include her photo along with my poem in the blog. 
It was the art I chose to write about at the opening evening of the Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts festival a couple weeks ago.
[No copying allowed, both are copyrighted, but Georgia sells her cards.]

One afternoon I walked around the path through our woods to see how many different spring flowers I could find.

Wednesday afternoon Rebecca was here for a couple hours and we had fun visiting and playing with the neighbors. 

Mother had not been well, so Thursday I made another overnight visit. Again we enjoyed reading more of Aunt Margaret's letters from December 18, 1950 through February 8, 1951--their first Christmas in Argentina, Lynny-boy's 3rd birthday--so many interesting comments and anecdotes.

We invited Margaret to go to dinner with us. Afterwards I showed them many photos from the early days in Argentina, my album titled Fotos Antiguas. We found one picture from the time when her letters were written.

Aunt Margaret and Uncle Jim
The next day, April 21, was Uncle Dan's 99th birthday--my mother's only living brother. I had just received a copy of a book his granddaughter created some years ago about the Daniel Hirschy family. I was glad to have it and be able to leave it there for Mother to peruse.

Throughout the week, whenever Mike is at the shop, I can watch live streaming and maybe catch some action, or see when they turn out the light and know he'll be home soon.
In this frame, they were probably on the playing field testing the latest improvement to the robot.

The mechanical and programming students (and mentors!) have been working hard preparing for the FRC World Championship in St. Louis, April 26-29. Most of the team will travel Wesdnesday. I leave Thursday with a couple others.

Indiana Weekend with John Strauss, aired an interview with two of the girls--Robot Fighters.
"A group of talented Muncie-area teen-agers is headed to the world robotics championships. The students of Team 1720, the PhyXTGears, talk about their passion for technology - and their determination to bring home another victory."

A big week ahead, indeed! Added to the excitement of Worlds, a very serious event is coming up Tuesday the 25th--Kristie's major surgery (median arcuate ligament release and partial celiac ganglionectomy) to correct MALS, a rare congenital anomaly.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

2017 Week 15: Focus


The focus of the last several weeks culminated Easter Sunday. Happy Easter messages and decor abounded, most having to do with spring flowers, bunnies, chicks, eggs--the popular seasonal themes.

I was intrigued by the window art at our local hardware store. Notice anything peculiar about the rabbit?

I try to gather and wear items that speak to the events we remember and celebrate this week--the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Hobby Lobby is where I find the most meaningful decorations, like the cross on the shelf above our dining room window, and the candies and jelly beans with a message.
I can't remember where I got the cross necklace. I love the prayer written on it, "Señor, guía mis pasos." (Lord, guide my steps.)
The  GRACE bracelet is actually from my alma mater and reminds me of the school's theme verse: Ephesians 2:8,9--the free gift of eternal life.  And the Psalm 23 bead bracelet speaks to me of the life-long living-out of that life--the daily walk with the Good Shepherd.

One day this week we had a surprise visitor! While they were out running errands, Rebecca begged her mom to stop by abuela's house. Happily both abuelos were home to enjoy her company.
The first thing she asked for was my cell phone to take pictures of us! She didn't do too badly--a budding photographer. Then we picked flowers together and it was her turn to pose. She's quite good at that too!

Resurrection Sunday, we all gathered (except Matt who had to work) to celebrate together and enjoy one another. I was too busy hostessing so I only got two photos of the lovely girls--Cassie (Skye's girlfriend) all dolled up for Easter, and Rebecca in her outfit picked out by Papaw (Jimmy) and riding her tricycle which lives here.
I'm so glad I thought to pass the phone over to Karen for a pic of our fun game time! Unfortunately, there is no photo of her nor a few other family members.

BTW, congratulations are due Karen who won a Teaching Excellence award last week!

So, I've been thinking a lot about focus  this week, hence the title.

Michael's focus lately reminded me of the absolute dedication he exercised while building our house over a period of three or more years. All other interests were set aside for a time, except his day job!

Now his focus is on mentoring the robotics team. Very little else draws him away (except taxes this past week). He is an expert at time management and never wastes time.

I have much to learn from his example. My focus is on those God has given me--family, friends, students--and the writing goals he has put on my heart.

This week our town paper ran a front-page article written by team members.

The opportunity to go to St. Louis and compete with and against the best teams in the world is truly awesome, though not entirely deserved. Spitfire did not have a flawless performance. There were electrical, mechanical, programming issues, as well as human errors, and even playing-field failures.
I like to think that God has His own purpose and plans in allowing the team to go. This unique view of the PhyXTGear trailer through our front door brings to mind God's different perspective. We want to eagerly and humbly do our part. 

P.S.: Kristie's surgery is now scheduled for April 25th.

Monday, April 10, 2017

2017 Week 14: State Championship

Sunday Daddy would have been 96 years old. The abundant and varied daffodils always remind me of one time when we celebrated together here. They bloomed late that year but just in time for his birthday.

Throughout the week I continued to read Aunt Margaret's weekly letters to her family in 1950 when we lived next door to the Marshalls in a large 15-room house. "Sam [Dad's nickname] is running himself ragged," she wrote. At the time he was preaching in several towns, teaching in the Bible Institute, and involved in church construction, there were three little ones in the family, including a baby that kept them up at night.

I've heard it said that you tend to marry someone like your father. I proved the saying true, even if I didn't know it at the time. Michael lives a very full life, carries a heavy load, always grateful for sufficient health and strength. He had an intense week preparing for the State Championship.
However, he made time to go to the Monday meal at Stephan's where we had great food--crab cakes, rice and chutney and a pear tarte tatin--and fun conversation.

This week Rebecca got a new pet, Oreo the cat. They both look very happy to enjoy life together.

Photo credit: Kayla Kern

And she visited our ladies tap class, but with different pets.

Thursday afternoon Mike set off to pick up Spitfire and the drive team and head to the FRC Indiana State Championship in Huntington.

Friday, after my various errands, I caught up on Team 1720's matches online. They had a series of problems, but ended they day in seventh place.

The drive team came here that night to watch their nine qualifying matches of the day and discuss how to improve their performance.

Saturday I went along to get in on the excitement. You might recognize us in the PhyXTGears cheering section.

It was an exhilirating and exhausting day. There were many robot failures, and a few human errors as well. We made it to alliance selection, still 7th seed. No other team invited us to join their alliance. So we formed our own.

At lunch Mike said, "It'd be a miracle if we made it to Worlds."

I may write the story of how we made it to the finals, ended second, and rank first in the state in ranking points! Then won the Innovation in Control Award, and the "miracle"--we were invited to the World Championship in St. Louis!

"Lead Mentor Mike and Team Captain Moriah get the official invitation to the St Louis Championships along with the FedEX robot shipping forms"

Team 1720 is privileged to have a full playing field in their new shop at MadJax Maker Force. A nearby team asked to practice there and made a special thank you hat in return.
Team 1720 lead mentor and team president
Speaking of hats: how do you like the one Kayla is wearing? She was honored to be the Mayor of Munchkinland at her workplace for a special gala fundraiser Saturday. 

As life goes, this week brought some very sobering news as well: 

  • April 19th, Kristie is scheduled to have major cardiovascular surgery for a rare condition--Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS).
  • Yesterday, while we were celebrating the team's success, I learned that Karen's sister's house was destroyed by fire. The family of nine are okay, but have suffered a huge loss.

    We rest in God's faithfulness and His promises: "I have made you and I will carry you;
        I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4)

Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017 Week 13: Flowers and Fun

The encroaching woods, fallen trees and branches, couldn't keep me from gathering beautiful blooms to enjoy indoors. Always wearing rubber boots, of course. It has rained a lot, the ground is saturated.

I promised last week to share Sunday's photos in my next post. Here they are.

Jimmy's 43rd birthday celebration
We enjoyed one of Jimmy's favorite meals: chicken and noodles.

Fun at the Kerns. Kayla hosted the party
We learned a new game
Monday when we arrived at Stephan's, he wasn't there, still making his way back from Canada. Karen had prepared a wonderful soup meal.
There were three men out back who had just installed a car port as per Stephan's order except that they were not told by their boss that Stephan had requested they come on a different day. Not only would he have been home on another day, but the ground might have been dried out a bit.

And wouldn't ya' know the big truck and loaded trailer got stuck in the mud. It took longer to maneuver the vehicles out of the ruts they dug than to build the shelter. After the meal we all went out to watch and help.
I had fun talking to the workers in Spanish and learned that they live in Warsaw and know my brother!

Tuesday morning I wrote and submitted the report on the Perry Meridian district competition before heading up to Winona Lake to visit my mother.
We had fun sharing, reading old letters, watching a couple shows together.

We invited Aunt Margaret to join us for breakfast in the dining room the next morning, Wednesday. We enjoyed the pancakes and smoky links, and had so much fun talking about the memories from the letters she wrote home in 1950 when they lived next door to us in La Carlota, a town in central Argentina.

In one letter she wrote, "Guess what we had to eat? Sam [my father's nickname] bought otter and gave us some. There is an otter farm near here."  Margaret said it was mild tasting, something like rabbit, but with a little wild flavor.
That is merely one small detail from the many interesting anecdotes. They help me remember and piece together a very distant early childhood, the year my brother Aldo was born.

La Carlota, 1950

Thursday, I saw that my article did appear in the SEGway News, in fact a whole page spread with more photos than I expected!

The milder weather has brought the bees out again, so the bee-man was out checking on them and feeding them some sugary concoction till they find enough flower food.

I suppose we will be as busy as bees this coming week looking forward to Indiana FIRST state-level competition. At the moment Team 1720 ranks very high, even at world-level. That is not to brag. I believe the drive team salute is very meaningful pointing to whom the credit belongs. 

Follow the event Friday and Saturday by going to