Monday, April 23, 2018

2018 Week 16

Time for another weekly look back. Hardly any photos on my phone. Many more lovely flowers popping up outdoors. Is it really true we did not have snow this week?

Monday I enjoyed some time with the Muncie Kochs. I was there for Zion when he got home from school. Kristie and Malachi had gone to one of his first appointments. They came back with three free pizzas, actually Zion earned them by meeting reading goals. Unfortunately he can't eat them (not GF). 

Both boys are still hopping around on crutches, though they've graduated now from casts to boots. They took advantage of their injured status to race around Target in scooters for the disabled. 

Love this kid, and his T-shirt!

The robotics team is focused now on preparing for WORLD Chanpionship in Detroit next week! In their regular Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday work times they repair, improve, adjust the robot and practice. Beyond those hours there's some fundraising, even a radio interview:

Indiana State finalists

I had two fun Spanish related events Wednesday. I interpreted for a parent-teacher conference at the high school, and then met a former colleague and friend from when we both taught Spanish at Ball State.

Also, that evening Michael and I went to see the film I Can Only Imagine, based on the true story of how the song was inspired. We highly recommend it.

Thursday, appropriately for TBT, this very old photo surfaced on Facebook and along with it many comments and memories. 
The young man on the right became the pastor of the church when we left Don Bosco to come back to the US in December of 1963. The other three young men grew up in the church; we were in youth group together and were very involved in the ministry. 
Interestingly I heard from two of them this week. One recalled when he was about five years old, my dad was going door to door inviting people. His father was acquainted with evangelicals and took his son to the Sunday School. That's how it all began for him. Even now at age 73 he recalls the wise answers.Pastor Hoyt gave to the difficult matters they discussed.

I revisited other memories this week as I prepared for a storytelling session Saturday where I had offered to tell the story of our housefire and how the community came together and surrounded us with so much love.

One friend wrote and recorded this beautiful prayer-song. I could listen to it over and over. Wish you could too.

Unseen Hands

Lord, I come to your throne room
Where I know you abide
I know Christ is there close by Your side.
I’m askin’ and I’m prayin’
Holy Spirit, interpret me
Cause I’m comin’ on behalf of friends in need.

Open heaven, rain down on them
Your amazing, unbounded grace from heaven
And we’ll know it could only flow
Down from heaven
From thine unseen hands.

There are problems they face
That need your touch
They’ve worked and they’ve labored
Oh, they’ve given so much.
There are strongholds that only You can break
So I’m askin’ for your unbounded grace.

 All for now from our neck of the woods.
I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 16, 2018

2018 Week 15: Pixel, Poetry and more

 Years ago we planted many different bulbs in our woods. Once a year there is an explosion of yellow and white blooms. Too many to count. Way too many for indoor bouquets. I regularly bring in armloads of only the ones bent over, fallen, touching the ground. I wouldn't want their beauty to remain unnoticed.

When we go to Stephan's  Monday evenings, there is always something new to notice. This time he'd built a bicycle garage onto the side of his pole-barn studio.

Tuesday after breakfast with Diane and a hair appointment, I drove north to visit Mother.
She had called feeling an urgency to have everyone sign a card for her only living brother's 100th birthday. We spent time revisiting a photo book about his life and family history which his granddaughter had put together 10 years ago. This time we read all the letters and notes included.
An aid came around to let us know the pie-making activity had begun in the dining room.
The ladies were fun to be with and the apple pie we sampled was delicious!

Taking turns filling the pie; Mother perusing Uncle Dan's life story; Visiting Aunt Margaret while son David trims her hair.
The article I wrote last week made it to the press just in time for this week's Indiana State Championship.
Wednesday, Mike and the drive team spent four of the six hours allowed to work on the robot, preparing, improving, adjusting, and putting Pixel back together.

Then Thursday, the drive team used the last two hours to complete the task and then set off for Kokomo to the 2018 FIRST State Championship.

Michael gave me a chore before he left: trim the hydrangea bushes. I stacked the discarded branches behind the wall, swept the deck and garage, all the while enjoying the unusually mild weather.

I had several of my own activities going on: our little art club, a couple friends came for an hour or so; then exercise class. It was extra fun because I had agreed to watch Rebecca for part of that hour.
Sadly, I failed to get any photos of her again. I'd missed the opportunity the day before when she joined us at tap class.

Another little girl came by for a visit later--my friend Petey's granddaughter! I hadn't seen her since she was a baby.

Friday was a busy day as well--the annual Rick Seaman Memorial Chapel at Taylor University. Jared Seaman, the oldest of the four siblings, gave a powerful message. The luncheon that followed was a joyful reunion of family and friends. Heather, second in the family, was one of our Kayla's dance teachers, a good friend and inspiration to her as well. Now they are both mothers.

The day was certainly not over. It was the start of the 8th Annual Barton Rees Pogue Poetry and Arts festival. I was on the organizing committee and had extra duties. The best part for me this year was that Leah and I both entered art and poems.
Friday evening we set up our pieces in a perfect spot along the wall and then stayed to listen to our guest speaker--Philip Gulley.

Leah's painted gourds and skulls caught the attention of one of the other artists which may open up opportunities in the future!

This year's theme was "The Future is Yours." To go along with that futuristic concept, we invited a group of storm troupers from a local Mandalorian Mercs Costume Club. They interacted with the kids, helped the older participants up on stage, handed out awards, and provided numerous photo opportunities.

In the poetry slam Leah, though extremely nervous, rose to the occasion and read two of her heart-felt poems. I only made it through the first round. Several commented on her poetic pieces.

Meanwhile, in Kokomo, an hour away, the PhyXTGears were battling to maintain a middle-of-the-pack standing, four wins five losses, ending the day ranked 18th.

Saturday, however, they were improving, two wins one loss, in the final qualifying matches. The surprise came in the afternoon, when #7 seeded team invited 1720 to join their alliance. The three teams on #7 alliance were so well matched, had unified goals, with three cube stacking bots and our excellent climbing bot -- unbeatable until finals game 2, when Pixel toppled over atop the opposing captain-team's robot. In the tie-breaker match our robot managed to perform in auto and climb at the end lifting a partner bot, however had a rough patch in between due to the damage caused by the opponent tearing itself out from under Pixel. Did we dream we'd make it to finals and end up #2? And win the State Award for Industrial Design? AND THEN BE INVITED TO WORLDS???

I was following every detail at home, taking notes, not missing a thing, thanks to livestream and faithful Facebook updates and photos. When the final announcement was made, I texted Michael, "Miracles do happen."

Ecstatic fan; cheering section in the stands; victory lap high-fiving all the judges
FIRST Championship, Detroit MI, April 25-28. Here we come!!!

Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Week 14: Easter and more

 Despite lingering winter weather, some yellow lovelies dared face the world. 

Most family members showed up for lamb dinner and fellowship. Sam and three boys ventured out, but Malachi and Kristie, still recovering, stayed home.

We  celebrated Jimmy's birthday, belatedly--44 on the 26th. Did he like the crazy Koch song? Hmmm. . .

Here are some of the others in attendance, showing off their favorite girls.

Stephan and Karen; Uncle Skey and Rebecca; Skye and girlfriend Cassie

I do believe the day after Easter was our heaviest snowfall of the year, some 6". 

I enjoyed the beautiful snowscapes on my drive into Muncie. Sam had asked me to be there with Malachi for a few hours while the rest of the family was gone to school and work.
I was pleasantly surprised to find him enjoying the company of a couple of old friends. 

Ben, Malachi, and David
The snow was gone before I drove home. 

Tuesday, the trailer that had looked so pretty snow-covered the day before, made its way back to its home in the Madjax shop carrying precious cargo--Pixel the robot to be unloaded and upgraded. Now, 16th in the state, the PhyXTGears will be off to the 2018 Indiana State Championship, April 13-14, in the Kokomo Memorial Gymnasium.

Wednesday Michael's schedule was a bit more open so he suggested we take a meal to Sam's family. They opted for a Chick Fil-A carry-out. We loved spending time with them, and observing the amazing progress. In my mind I can still see sweet Lexi in the ICU, head bowed, sitting for hours next to unconscious, sedated Malachi. 

What a joyful contrast!

Homework duty
Just came across a photo of the older siblings some eight years ago.
Then and Now

The Thursday exercise session I attend for seniors, was quite different. Yes, we did work out some, but for a good half hour we helped support our trainer--Miss Spirit of Indiana

She won the title in February. The contests for the next level are in June.

Paige Harder
Her platform is "Promoting Exercise for All Generations!" so she wanted a photo with us her trainees. 
Her talent is the piano, so we persuaded her to play her competition piece--Solfeggietto

We may some day claim to have known Miss Indiana, or even Miss America!

Michael came home from robotics that night, late as usual and in quite a bit of pain. 
In the days that followed he concluded it was a kidney stone. 
After some research, he tried an olive oil/lemon juice remedy. 

Saturday was another even longer day at Madjax. He survived, barely. Only now is he feeling relief.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

2018 Week 13: Another opportunity

Among the Easter decorations I dug out of the attic, I was especially drawn to this small clay piece I picked up somewhere, I can't remember where or when. It took on special meaning this year. Jesus bore our shame, paid for our prideful wrongdoing and then gave us a new commandment, "Love one another as I have loved you."
As a family we experienced an outpouring of loving support like never before from all over the world, hundreds if not thousands prayerfully and practically bearing our burdens with us. Our local communities and Facebook came alive! I am convinced we heard from every person we've met or befriended over the years. Thank you!

A brief reminder of what Sam's family went through a week ago:

Saturday March 24th, 13 year-old Elijah broke his leg in a skateboarding accident and was taken to the ER. While at the ER with him, 19 year-old Malachi, on his way back to Grace College, was in a terrible head-on collision at 60mph (not his fault). He was intubated and lifelined by helicopter to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne.

Both boys underwent surgeries early Sunday morning, same hospital (thankfully Elijah was taken there and not to Riley!), same surgeon, back to back surgeries, same leg - the left one.  

Michael left the robotics competition in snow-bound Plainfield and came home. Then we went together to Fort Wayne and spent the day taking turns, as needed, to visit the boys in different areas of the huge hospital so parents and others could have a break or switch stations.
We learned about the services of the Ronald McDonald House within the hospital--a wonderful free potato bar meal for all of us that evening and a room for Sam, Kristie, and Elijah discharged earlier!
While there, Grace College president Bill Katip and wife Debbie stopped by. Others had come the day before to support the family.
Sharing anecdotes with Bill and Debbie Katip, president of Grace College
Monday Kristie woke up ill with Influenza B so drove home with Elijah.
Later that afternoon Grandma Debby dropped off the two young ones. We took them to Stephan and Karen's and had a wonderful meal.

It's good to be on spring break! The boys slept in late Tuesday. They had fun painting wooden eggs and crosses for our Easter tree.

We joined Kayla and Rebecca for lunch at Taco Bell.

When I took the boys home that night, I found Elijah crutcheting about! 

The daily progress has been astounding. The most surprising was Malachi's discharge Wednesday, allowed to go home instead of a rehab facility! Of course, he must have 24/7 care, meds, and go to rehab next week.

Many came to their rescue with a walker, help, provisions, and ever continuing prayer.

Thursday Michael left for the second district competition in West Lafayette. I went to help out at Sam's and then took the younger ones to Escapades. Due to spring break and rainy weather, the place was packed. We met up with Kayla and Rebecca there. They had so much fun, although it took Rebecca a while to get up the courage to join the roudy croud!

Can you tell what Rebecca's T-shirt says? ;-)

Rebecca took a few pictures with my cell phone: a mama goose sitting on her eggs, right outside the window by our table; and abuela herself. Not bad, I thought.

Grandma Debby came to pick up Zion and Jude went home with me, decided previously by a coin toss. Jude and I watched the movie "Coco."
The little guy was homesick so he got to sleep on Grandpa's side of the bed. Friday we followed every qualifying match that Team 1720 was in. We kept the live stream on playing loudly and ran upstairs to the computer whenever they were on. However, Jude only cheered for blue alliances, so quite often we were opponents!
Between matches, I tried to get some things done, or we played together. He insisted on a game of chess. Between the two of us we attempted to remember rules, forget strategy!

Grandmas swapped kids at a McDonald's half-way.  It was now Zion's turn with me.
Saturday morning I watched the opening ceremony and the last three qualifying matches before Zion even got up. Ah, spring break!

I followed the team photos posted on Facebook as well, and finally spotted Michael. When I commented on that they said he rarely sat down, and was often in the pit helping repair Pixel, the robot.

Moriah, also on spring break, enjoyed getting back into the fray.

The greatest exciting surprise of the day was that our team, the PhyXTGears, made it to alliance selection, the #8 seed, and was then invited to join #3 seed alliance!

Alliance #3 captains
Though they did not make it beyond semifinals, we are grateful for the learning experience, the progress, and for the awards!

That evening Debby came halfway with Jude and I took both boys the rest of the way home. I was so blessed to visit with Malachi, as alert, positive and witty as ever!

Mom and Dad, however, are quite exhausted. Doesn't this look like those old-time photos?

This morning I read a phrase from John 11:15 that caught my attention: ". . . this will give you another opportunity to believe in me. . ." Jesus was explaining to the disciples why he was glad he had not been there when his friend Lazarus died.
Sam and Kristie have been given multiple opportunities to trust God's goodness. He has been faithful to them through Sam's brain surgery, Kristie's major surgery only a year ago, and now this.
Malachi, such a gift to our family 19 years ago, has been given back to us.