Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No Longer at Wood Road

Well, it has been a busy couple of years, and have not posted in quite, quite some time! I no longer live on Wood Road, but several towns further down the road, as I will explain. My last name is no longer the same either, as John and I got married last summer, on a sunny, wonderful Saturday. And we were married on the forth of July, which brings up all kinds of jokes about "Independance Day"!
So that ended my time living in the sweet white farmhouse in Hershey, and I joined him in the townhouse he rented, barely five minutes down the road, which had been becoming more and more like home in the years of our courtship and engagement anyway. We put up with the yellow roses on the wallpaper border in our bedroom, knowing that it would not be our home to stay and during the fall we began to search for a new home closer to Messiah where John teaches, which would also be closer to my job as well.
The house search continued for several months, and we saw many, many houses. I am blessed to be married to a guy with high standards, because I would have settled for a number of the places we saw, though each had drawbacks, from a yard too tiny, to needing serious renovation, to just not being "us". We learned a lot about ourselves and each other in the process, and thanks be to God, on Christmas Eve we saw our house, and it knocked our socks off. As it was a "For Sale By Owner" there were months of trying negotiations and again, if it had not been for John's steady perseverance, I probably would have walked off. But we settled on the house at the end of May, and those month of difficult waiting have just evaporated in the joy of moving in and living in our home. We hope, Lord willing, that it is our "forever" home. It is a beautiful all brick ranch, with an office not far from the kitchen, and a big yard with bigger trees, and endless opportunities. We planted a tomato and pepper patch in June and I am still bringing in the small harvest. We have fantastic neighbors with kids who ride bikes around and laugh and watch movies with us now and then. John walks through corn fields to get to work, and I have a new Messiah library card. Every time I walk down the steps from the back porch into the yard and around the little stone-lined shady garden with a lamp post, I take a breath, and can hardly believe how God has blessed us...and blessed me.
So this blog has a new home (but will keep the old URL address), as do I. Wood Road was my first step out on my own, and was part of the path that I needed to get me to this next leg of the journey...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Camp

Every time I walk outside in the woods in the summer, I remember my weeks away from home at summer camp when I was a kid, and I think of it because of the smell. The deep, musky, musty, spicy smell of summer. Of rotting wood and growing leaves. Of wet soil and tall grass. I went to camp for one week every year from third to sixth grade. That summer after sixth grade was my first year in middle school camp. That week was a great revelation to me. I learned about shaving my legs. I remember sitting on the porch of the lodge, looking around at all of the smooth legs and realizing I was the last girl left, who hadn't known any better (homeschooled, of course), still with soft blond fuzz covering my shins. After I got home, I got out one of my Dad's cheap disposable razors and went to work, and I remember sheepishly trying to hide the razor from Mom in a towel when she suddenly popped her head in the bathroom. As influential as that week was, I never again felt the need to go back to camp.

But there are two specific spots at Kenbrook Bible Camp that the smells of summer always bring back to me. Woodsy smells bring me back to a little dirt path that wound it's way down the hill to a tiny lake. The other is a big grassy meadow where we went to play capture the flag and where they held the crucifixion scene of the passion play produced each week for a new group of campers.

The camp was full of delightful places, and as much as I was feeling awkward there in my middle school years, I dearly loved it, and a week was far too short for me in upper elementary. There was a craft hut, full of pipe-cleaners and buttons and glue. There was a gift shop with little stuffed animals and all kinds of candy, and a bandanna with a map of the camp printed on it. There was a pool of course, with early morning swims, and an archery field, which I adored.

Last weekend I was privileged to be a delegate for my church at the BIC General Conference in Toronto. I have never been more impressed with a group of people in my life, or with the breadth of wisdom, ministry and geography for such a relatively small denomination. Kenbrook came up in conversations with others that I met there as it is run by the BIC, and I have been pondering how the church, in my case the BIC, or the church as a whole, has an arm that spreads through our whole life. My church offered half-off scholarships to go to camp, if you memorized a passage of scripture. Tonight as I walked, I tried to recite,

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from God, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let my foot slip. He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."

And this is as far as I can go, but in fourth grade or so, I could have spouted the whole thing. This brings me to my quizzing years. Bible quizzing is not for the faint of heart, as in order to be competitive, students in middle school and high school memorize whole books of the Bible in a year. I stuck it out for a couple of years myself, not really getting to the memorizing stage, and then faded out in high school. But this week at general conference, I cheered for my church's quiz team as they quoted verses from Galatians to Colossians, and dueled teams from other churches in fierce, but loving competition, always congratulating a correct answer and always encouraging after a wrong one.

And now after the General Conference, I still pondering all that goes into church ministry and the strength of serving him together in unity. We learned about our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, and not pleasant parts, like Zimbabwe and Cuba. We reviewed our connection and covenant with Messiah College, and with other related ministries to all kinds of people from the mentally disabled to children in India. We also discussed some big domestic issues like health care, budgets, and same sex marriage. All throughout the conference there was no doubt that the hearts of all were in unity, but the particulars needed a lot of discussion, and there were some very heated moments.

Anyway, as I walked this evening, I felt very blessed breathing the hot, humid summer air, and beside a bubbling little stream, and looking over the cornfields, green with the recent rain. Again, some words from a familiar Psalm came to mind, that perhaps I learned in fifth grade.

"Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Savior, Teach us so to Rise!

Note to Readers: This post was started last week on Easter evening. It needed some serious editing, though, so this Sunday morning, as I am passing time in the Cincinnati airport, soon to be home, was the perfect time to clean it up and get it posted.

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

words by Pennsylvania hymn writer James Montgomery

My Dad has been studying the great hymn writers of Pennsylvania for several years now. There are more than you would think. Great hymns like "What Can Wash Away My Sin" were written right here in our own backyard. What a heritage and inheritance!

I love hymns. I love them like I love my church, the soil in my garden and the pillow I rest my head on each night. I feel like my soul has been steeped in them since I was an infant, and I can not remember a time that I did not know the most familiar of them. On the other hand, in the last few years, since my Dad has begun his studies, and since I began to listen to Indelible Grace music, (an ongoing project by Reformed University Fellowship to write contemporary music for the words of old hymns. Not because the old music isn't great, but to try to hook college kids on old, meaty, excellent, words. It worked for me!) I have discovered how much I don't know.

The above hymn is a perfect example. I first heard it after getting the new Indelible Grace CD for Christmas. This hymn is rewritten and sung by Sandra McCracken, one of my favorite musicians. The thing about this music is that it is dense. Very dense. The words and their rich, profound meanings are packed so tightly that I probably listened to this song about thirty times before I started to "get it." But once I did...I can't help but lift my hands as I drive down the road on each early morning commute.

Then I sat at my Dad's kitchen table one day, and he showed me a newsletter that he wrote for his church and was mailing out to the congregation. Easter was coming soon, so he closed the newsletter with a verse of a hymn by James Montgomery, who is one of the PA hymn writers he often talks about. As I read it, it began to click in my mind. It was the last verse of "Go to Dark Gethsemane". Looking at the words, they began to sink in a little bit more. Phrases like "his breathless clay", and "teach us so to rise" started sticking in my head.

On good Friday, I attended my church's Tenebrae service with John and opened the bulletin to found "Go to Dark Gethsemane". Very fitting for a Good Friday service, and for the first time, I heard and sang the words with their original music. It is lovely and temperate and somber. The last verse, though, wasn't there. Perhaps it was removed because it would jump ahead of the crucifixion and rush us into the resurrection. But when I looked in other hymnals, they also included only the first three verses.

This morning, Easter morning, the sanctuary was transformed. From the black drape hanging on a rugged wooden cross to a sprawling mound of lillies and golden forsythia. From dark candlelight to the sun pouring in the windows. From soft piano to trumpet and timpani, the glory, the Shekinah, of the Lord radiated through the room and through my heart and out from my eyes. And pastor Gene reminded us that all of our church, each person's involvement, and all of the care that we receive there is only, only because of what we celebrate this day, that Jesus conquered sin and death and is alive. And he is! He is alive and he is good and worthy of all the praise that we can try to give.

Last night John did a Google search for "Go to Dark Gethsemane", and he sent me the words to verse four. So, just as it says in Ephesians, that "his incomparably great power for us who believe...is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead...", Savior, teach us so to rise!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Morning

My family stayed up until after two-o-clock on Christmas eve, trying to drink hot buttered rum (which is not quite as tasty as it sounds) and eating pumpkin pie. But for some unknown reason, I woke up at seven on Christmas morning, and decided to go out into Mom's backyard and photograph. These are some of my new favorites. If Christmas is not snowy, which it normally isn't in central PA, this is what it looks like, and I think it is so beautiful.

And one more that is not quite as beautiful, but also very much part of my Christmas morning.

okay okay...

I know my last post was cryptic. I don't really have a reason except that sometimes you feel big things rather than little ones. I have been pondering the good and the love that seems to flow beneath us and hold all things together. I just meant love. From God, family and friends.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Love pours out and over

I don't know where it comes from but it keeps flowing and spilling, swelling and washing. This is what love is doing to me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear Reader...

I am going to write this post as a letter to you. It feels more personal and like I am talking to you right now. It has been an up and down week, and tonight is Friday night and I am sitting at home blogging, hence I need someone to talk to. I just had dinner with my Dad and my sister, and have tried calling some friends, and Kelly even has a friend over as I speak, but I was hoping to go out and do something fun and worldly and distracting tonight, and I am put out that I am sitting at home instead. On the other hand, you, dear and faithful reader (if you exist) deserve to have something entertaining to read, and I will now supply what I can.

I have been pondering new aspects of becoming an adult this week, and particularly an adult woman. I found myself wearing all black twice this week, which is unusual, and I usually avoid it. But for work it is so sleek and clean looking. If the blacks match each other, that is, which mine did not, and my pants were a little bit too short, which also undercuts the desired appearance of long sleekness. Then I wore all black last night, while sitting at home, a pair of black sweatpants with an M on them for Mease, and a black boat necked chunky sweater, and I felt almost elegant. Another new adult thing is that I am finding myself wandering over to coffee shops to buy myself coffee and pastries in the morning on the way to work. Dark roast coffee. It is heaven. I am going to try to start waking up too late to make my own breakfast more often. I also just started an IRA, of all things. Nothing screams old and established like saving for retirement.

But, on the other hand, today I got to spend some time thinking about children, and what they would like. I wrote this story which will be featured in an email newsletter for work. The Latin portions are currently being proofed by someone who actually knows Latin, but I would like your input on it's plot and theme and literary merits. The thing is that without any intention of doing so, I managed to imply the impending death of two characters in this story! Is this too morbid for children? Is this what happens when one tries to write a lovely story about the fall? I mean, anyway you look at it, a turkey in a Thanksgiving story is going to have a difficult future...

I will leave it to you to decide... (Use Latin glossary at the bottom of the post. If you don't, it will not make any sense. Unless you know Latin. Aren't you glad I explained?)


One lovely autumnus morning, a young accipiter woke up from his sleep with a yawn and stretched his wings. There was a white gelu on the ground and the air was clear and frigidus. He looked out over the ager and pondered what to do. This was the first time that he would make the long journey of perigrinatio. He was a rather timid accipiter, and had been putting off the journey. “If only it weren’t so frigidus,” he thought to himself, “I would just stay here.” It was a homey place. It was messis time and the pomum trees were full of fruit, and folium after folium sprouting from his favorite branch had turned a rich ruber color.
As he sat looking about, a large black
aranea crawled down beside the accipiter, and she said, “Good mane. A bit nippy, isn’t it? Shouldn’t you be heading Meridies soon?”
“Well,” he answered, “I guess so. I wish I could build an
araneaum like you and just stay here.”
aranea gasped and said, “You should be thankful to have such wings that will carry you to where it is warm. I will lay my eggs, and my babies will come out again next spring, but I will not live through this frigidus.”
accipiter pondered this, gave the Mama aranea a gentle little peck, spread his wings and flew, turning his head toward the Meridies. He flew for a long time. All day he flew, until it grew dark and even then he kept flying. It was a bright evening, the plenilunium hung low in the sky. He flew past fields, lakes, cities, and finally rested in an oak tree in the center of the forest. It was still chilly, but he tucked his head into his wing, and closed his eyes. He was suddenly woken by a funny sound, “gobble, gobble.” The accipiter peered down to the forest floor, and saw a strange, fat bird with a bald red head looking up at him. “What are you?” he asked.
“I am a
meleagris gallopavo,” the fat bird said, “How did you get way up in that tree?” “I am an accipiter, I have wings to fly, of course!”
“My, you are lucky,” the
meleagris gallopavo answered. “I have to keep running behind trees to escape and to hide. It would be so much easier to fly.”
Suddenly a loud tramping noise was heard nearby, and the chubby bird hopped away shouting, “Good to meet you!”
The accipiter was a bit nervous about the noise as well, so he took off from his comfy branch and began to fly toward the warm
meridies again.
perigrinatio isn’t so bad after all,” he thought to himself. As he flew, he noticed that the leaves on the trees were greener than where he had started, and the sol warmed the feathers on his dorsum. He flew on for days and days, and his wings felt strong.
Early one
mane, he met another accipiter, and called out to him,“Hello! Do you know if it is warm enough here to stay for the winter?”
“Oh yes! There will be a dinner tonight, celebrating the
perigrinatio, you are just in time!”
The young accipiter smiled and beneath his feathers his heart swelled, just a little bit, and he was glad that he was an
accipiter, even if a timid one, and that he had made it so far.

Latin Glossary
autumnus - autumn
folium – leaf
meleagris gallopavo – turkey
aranea – spider
araneaum – spider web
luna – moon
plenilunium – full moon
messis, seges – harvest
frigidus, gelidus – cold
gelu, pruina – frost
accipiter – hawk
ruber – red
malum, pomum – apple
ager – field
perigrinatio – migration
mane – morning
meridies – south
dorsum –back
– sun

Saturday, October 27, 2007