Thursday, March 27, 2008

What a Week!

Two weeks, actually,... or has it been three?

Just to hit some highlights- or lowlights, Jim has had a couple of relapses of the Haitian gut-bug that laid him low while he was there, including nearly being admitted to the hospital. Fortunately he had been pushing the fluids and Gatorade, so his test results didn't push him in. I think a couple of kids were sick... yes, Erin and Isaac missed a bunch of school. They went back just in time for the teachers to say, "have a nice Spring Break!". So we had sick people and I was working at Curves three days a week for a couple of weeks. This week I will have worked at Curves four days, mornings and evenings, and gone with Kate for banquet serving twice- once the week's over.

I hope that sufficiently explains my confusion as to what the recent weeks have held. Add Bible study preparation and the actual meetings once a week. Being only Thursday, I am still looking forward to more work to come, but this is all good. It's exhausting, but I'm aiming for the laminate flooring that we found for a real bargain price, to put in the basement- yay!

Jim did get a bit more done down there between illnesses and we are ready to get more walls up this weekend. We've decided to add a pantry closet at the base of the stairs in order to free up some kitchen space. Hooray! There is room aplenty for that addition to the plan, so why not? This guest room, with closet and pantry will make a huge difference in the house right away.

I realize that I'm rambling now, so I'm done. Just wanted to post something to reassure myself that I'm actually awake.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Geese!

Just to be sure we had covered all the views, and had all the kids out to see them, we returned to Middle Creek Sunday evening to see the geese in the evening. Beginning with the visitor's center, we showed the girls all we had seen on Saturday morning without them. Then we took the driving tour around the lake and came upon a field white with thousands of geese!

They were lifting off as we approached and filled the sky with their cries and motion.

We parked on the side of the road and went for a closer look once they had landed in a field nearby.

Then the sun broke through the clouds for a stunning display over the main body of the lake, where, if you look closely, there is another huge flock of geese lifting off.

While we are out here we might as well take one of the short trails down to the water's edge! Temperature dropping, leaf-covered muddy ground churned by hundreds of visitors before us, yet, let's take a hike! Fortunately it was short and quick, if not painless. Our appreciation for the heater in the van rose by leaps and bounds as we piled back in, hoping to feel our extremities again!

Enough of the geese. Why can't they migrate in a nice, warm, convenient month? Where they are headed it is far colder than here,... Bye bye!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Waterfowl Migration

This morning we were up before dawn to make the 30 minute drive to Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, in a neighboring county, to see the annual migration of tens of thousands of snow geese and tundra swans. A friend told us about this opportunity to view and photograph this amazing spectacle, so we packed up the cameras, kids and coffee and headed out early this morning! Kate and Bekah are away at a youth retreat with church, so we only had to wrestle two of them out of bed.

So off we went, arriving just as the sky was lightening in the overcast grey morning. We parked and followed the signs down a trail to an observation point that Jim had found in his research to be a good place to watch the birds. As we walked, with a bit of woods between us and the lake to our left, we could hear the thousands of waterfowl, just out of sight. When we arrived at the observation point, there were already many folks waiting and watching, serious cameras with tripods on display. (Camera envy!) These are the folks who are quite serious about, and equipped for, bird watching. No quicker way to feel like a rank amateur than to stand next to one of them...

Below are some of the photos we took with the digital camera. I went out on a limb and shot several rolls of film as well. It's been way too long since I've used my real camera, so I'm not sure how that will work. Someday I'll take a class to really learn how to use it, but for now...

The Website for the Pennsylvania Game Commission has made a lovely video of the movements of these birds. Have a look to see just what we were hearing and seeing out there! After clicking on the link you will be on the PA Game Commission website featuring the waterfowl migration. There is a small picture of the photographer who took most of the shots at their website. Right under his photo is a little-bitty link that says, "Snow Geese at Middle Creek", click on that and the video opens in a Windows Movie Player. Enjoy!

Pennsylvania Game Commission - State Wildlife Management Agency: Waterfowl Migration

We'll be going back with Kate and Bekah tomorrow evening since the guy at the visitor's center told Jim that that is really the best time to see the huge numbers of geese and swans. (I paused over that that that...)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scrambled Eggs

Kate found this. Amazing what one highly trained chef with a cool accent can whip up with a humble egg. Now if I had that kitchen...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ligonier Conference on the Web!

While we lived in Florida, one of the blessings we enjoyed was going to the annual Ligonier Conference with R.C. Sproul in Orlando each March. Well, I have just -Providentially- stumbled upon the fact that they will be broadcasting the conference live via webcast, and it can be viewed for free! Not the same, certainly, as being there, but WOW!

So check it out here, I'll be watching as much as I reasonably can- especially Joni!

Thomas Says...

"A blush of godliness is not enough to distinguish a Christian, but godliness must be the temper and complexion of the soul. Godliness is a fixed thing. There is a great deal of difference between a stake in the hedge and a tree in the garden. A stake rots and moulders, but a tree, having life in it, abides and flourishes. When godliness is taken root in the soul, it abides to eternity... Godliness being engraved in the heart by the Holy Ghost, as with the point of a diamond, can never be erased."

-Thomas Watson, The Godly Man's Picture, [page 14]

Pulitzer Material... maybe not.

I wrote and re-wrote this posting several times Monday night as I was on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor, and it would have been a prize winner if I could remember all that was racing through my head. As it turns out, our sweet Erin has shared whatever gastric ailment she had with her brother, Isaac.

After we were all tucked in and sleeping soundly, Isaac bolted from his bed for the bathroom. When I found him he was standing- yes, standing- over the toilet emptying himself of the little bit of dinner he'd consumed. (when did his legs get so long?) As I rushed to hold him and give what Motherly comfort I could, I slipped- bad sign. My tired brain struggled to grasp the meaning of the wet floor as I waded in to get to him. Meanwhile Kate, who had heard him first, was running downstairs to get him a cup of water with which to rinse his mouth.

After he finished I steered him to my own bathroom to get him into the shower. He's quick, but wasn't quite quick enough to avoid soiling his jammies. As he began showering I went back to the scene of the accident to clean up. The smell hit me like a wall as I re-entered the bathroom. Kate very helpfully stood way out in the hallway telling me emphatically to get the air freshener from the bathroom closet- further into the stench. I wadded paper towels over my face and plunged onward, splashing and slipping as I went.

Air freshener sprayed, I grabbed the bottle of concentrated Pine Sol and started flinging it all over the floor, toilet and walls, (walls?!?) As I've already said, I was still in a fog of sleep, aggravated by the adrenaline now surging through my body. Paper towels in hand I rolled up my pajama bottoms above my knees and got down to some serious mopping. As I worked my way through the slurry I started to wonder why in the world it was also all over the walls. Once I had arrived at the toilet and began the cleaning there I saw what happened. He had made it into the bathroom, but not in time to open the lid. Poor baby.

As an infant sleeping in my arms I knew that I would climb mountains and slay giants for this precious child. What I have learned with each of my five darling babies is that I will rarely, if ever, be required to enter burning buildings, lift cars, or dive into swirling waters to rescue my children. More often the heroism required of a mother is accomplished in the smelly, revolting, yet mundane tasks in the course of ordinary days and nights. Mopping up a vomit-coated bathroom in the middle of the night, literally up to one's knees, then cradling the sick child while knowing that I could catch whatever he has, is how I slay giants in our home.

Two days later he is still rather green around the gills and content to stay wrapped in a blanket on the couch. Erin will return to school tomorrow- and begin Track practice- but he may need another day to be completely recovered. Poor baby.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Much Happening

Where to begin? Let's see, Erin's illness maintained its ferocity over the weekend and a visit to the Doctor confirmed a diagnosis of Strep. The Doctor warned her that she may have to wait up to 15 minutes for the test to give a result, so when the results were strongly positive in 3 minutes there was no doubt that she had it bad. Jim took her in since I was working at Curves this morning and he was given a prescription for the same thing since he sounds and looks almost as bad as Erin! Poor guy, first the travel bug, now this. They are quarantined until Thursday at least, and I'm figuring out how to Clorox-bomb our whole house. Until the siege is over the rest of us are holding our breath!

Saturday I worked my first job as a banquet server. While the drive to Philly in the pouring rain was no picnic, the event was interesting at least, entertaining at times, and a feast for the senses with the foods the chefs had turned out! We went to serve at the annual fund raiser for a Temple and began by helping to set up. I helped plate food for the buffet and get it to the tables. The theme was Cuban- Havana casino night, so all of the food and music were Cuban! Yum! First Cuban feast I've seen without a roasted pig!

By the time we were finished I'd probably walked ten miles carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen, running errands and then cleaning up. Eleven hours after the clock started at the beginning of our drive we returned to the parking lot where I deposited the others who I'd driven. Tired, feet aching, yet kind of excited that I had actually done it. I really missed being home with my family, but doing this now and then to help out with the projects and plans will be neat.

This morning was my 4 hours at Curves, two of them on my own. I am feeling more comfortable there and liking it more every day. Being able to work out while I work is a nice perk, but on top of that the ladies who come in are just all so friendly and the sense that I am part of helping them to live healthier lives is at least a nice thought.

I have just begun The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson and am already struck by the concise way in which he is delivering his points. Straight to the point, meat in every morsel, he delivers his message. It appears that he will build his picture of a Godly man brick by brick, laying first a foundation, so that as I progress through the book I will gradually see this man emerge. Since I've borrowed the book I can't be marking it up- shucks- so I'll just have to take better notes!

Tomorrow is Bible Study at church, so I'd better sit down with my materials one more time to be sure I'm ready... No time spent in God's Word is ever wasted; I pray that my time will be invested wisely in order to benefit others in some small way through this study.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


This morning I completed the last pages of The Mystery of Providence. Those last chapters were worth the whole read. It does seem that the whole book is saying the same thing several ways for most of the beginning. But as I approached the end, the theme was taken deeper, to personal application in one's own trials and questions. Right to where the fears and uncertainties surrounding "sanctified afflictions" assault the heart and mind. I almost wonder if it could be read from the midway point forward?... Maybe not. It builds toward the final ideas, so it is all necessary.

Now on to the next book, The Godly Man's Picture, by Thomas Watson.

In other news, I had to pick Erin up early from a sleep-over birthday party because she was running a fever and had thrown up! Poor baby, we really did not see this coming for her. Last night the party went bowling, and you know what a pleasant atmosphere a bowling alley can be, (cough, cough). She figured the discomfort she was feeling was due to the loud, smoky bowling alley. She is asleep in her own bed now.

Last night we again hosted Bible Study at our home. On the menu was Spaghetti Pizza-style, which I haven't made in years. John admitted to feeling a bit dubious when hearing what we would be serving, but rather enjoyed it at dinner! I was even able to sneak in whole wheat pasta, (Barilla brand) without anyone realizing until I revealed the secret! We watched some of Jim's Haiti photos in a slide show on the TV before dinner, then sat down to an abundant feast,... hmmm.

Bekah had a friend from Culinary class come to spend the night so they could practice pie pastry. (shucks) The week before they had done pastry in class for the first time and Bekah, having made pastry many times at home- many times- turned out a prefect pie crust that really wow-ed her Chef. Her friend Amelia had trouble, so naturally we must help to perfect her pie-making skills! They turned out fabulous blueberry and cherry pies last night, then apple and apricot this morning. Breakfast was yummy!

I'll be leaving in a couple of hours for the first time out with my secondary part-time job- banquet serving. The event we'll be doing is Kosher, at a Synagogue near Philly, possible a Bar Mitzvah. It's a very rainy day and I have an hour to drive, so Jim has gotten the van cleaned up inside and out so I can offer to drive others as well. If not, then I'll drive alone. I like to be behind the wheel, thank you very much.

What I didn't realize when I accepted this for today is that it's our Anniversary. I knew that it was coming around on the calendar- same date every year, but I had forgotten on Monday when this was arranged! I feel awful. With sick kids and Jim still recovering from "Papa Doc's Revenge", going out would have been a bad idea anyway. But a quiet evening at home would sure be nice. sigh.

Better run, much to do before I dress up and run off.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Irish Eyes Are Smilin'!

It's official! Kate has been invited to come to Dublin, Ireland as an intern with the Mission to the World, (MTW) missionaries there! She will soon receive her "welcome packet" and begin working with her MTW contact on things like budget and fundraising. Then once her funds are in place and her ducks in a row she will fly away to the Emerald Isle for an 11 month stay!

She has already established a blog, called Jeepers, to record her stay and keep those of us on the homefront updated on her doings. I am so excited for her. How amazing is it that the baby we named eighteen years ago, "Kate Kelly" , would be going to Ireland to serve in Missions?! She is practically beside herself with excitement.

Meanwhile, it is another lovely, warm, promise-of-Spring day. When I got into the van after work at 1, the interior was warm! Yay! I just love the feeling of sun-warmed car in the early Spring! There are yard chores to do, flower beds to prepare and maybe even veggie beds to organize, but today I am going to enjoy the sunshine and we are grilling tonight!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Home Again!

Jim is home from his visit to Haiti with a tan, souvenir or two, lots of photos, and a bug in his gut that he'd rather not have found. I have been going through his photos and am amazed at what they saw and did while they were there. When he wrote about poverty and pestilence, he was not kidding. While Milo was greeting him with ecstatic purring and miaows, he told me that there are no cats in Haiti. Evidently the half-starved dogs that roam the streets would eat any cat, which is very bad, because the rat and mouse population are spreading disease.

Having seen the Doctor already today Jim will be on clear liquids and jell-o for a few days yet along with the Cipro he's just picked up from the pharmacy. After some further tests are run we may know in a few days what exactly is eating him, but then again, we may not.

Below are a sampling photos that he took, I'll go through the disk of the others' pictures and post some later. Perhaps I can even convince Jim to sit in as a guest columnist after he has rested up some more. Brace yourself, this is longer than usual...

(To read captions just pass your mouse over the individual photos.)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

First Bible Study

This morning was the first day of the Bible Study that I, with fear and trembling, will be leading at our church. Leading a study written by a Southern Baptist back in the 60's for a group of Northern Presbyterian women in the year 2008 means there will be some translation of terms involved, but it will be worth it. Our aim is to deepen and enrich our prayer lives; and who doesn't need that?

Unfortunately, in His Providence, God saw fit to have only two of the ten women come this morning, the rest being down with illness or sidetracked by other commitments. Feeling awkward speaking to women in a group until I know them better, I think the email that I sent to our absentees was probably a better explanation of what to expect from the weeks ahead than what I stuttered through this morning! I am more comfortable at my keyboard than looking into the eyes of people I don't know well- yet- and explaining things. In fact, I think that I may be the youngest person at the study,... gulp. (Did I mention fear and trembling?)

Yet, it is ultimately not I who teach this study, but the Holy Spirit who will illumine the texts and work in our hearts as we continue in the study of the Word.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of the darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. -2 Corinthians 4:6

Monday, March 03, 2008

Here is a humorous illustration of human nature vs. temptation to sin. It seems so intriguing, maybe dangerous, but how close can we actually get? Will it really hurt?... surely not. But I just want to touch it once! It seems so soft and cuddly- and look! It's only little! If we go together we won't be drawn in, we'll be okay...

James 1:14-15, But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Does it matter what we believe concerning God?

I had a conversation with some of the other Moms on Friday night at a Scout function that highlighted for me the lack of conviction among people who consider themselves to be believers as well as my non-preparedness to answer the expressed concerns, (ironic considering the setting. I was "not prepared"). I have continued to return in my mind to that exchange and figure out what I might have said that could have made a difference. As it is, every one of the women involved left unchanged and unchallenged to think further through their beliefs.

Having come through a number of Providentially guided circumstances through churches of widely varying beliefs, I am firmly convinced that what one believes is of paramount importance. God has been gracious not to leave us in error, but to deliver us to a church and fellow believers who love Scripture and Doctrine. No longer basing my beliefs about God on opinions or what "sounds right to my ears", I have come to learn that the only way to know God is to find out what He has taught us about Himself in His Word. I have learned that those things which are easy to believe may actually be "too good to be true", and that hard truths can be blessed truths to a parched soul.

Perhaps I am merely a slow learner, but in the school of trials and dark valleys have been the most resounding lessons taught, and the very hand of God found, to grasp onto when the music has faded and all the smiling faces have fallen away. There in the shadows I have found a resting place and a refreshment that is utterly indescribable in the mercy and grace which was conveyed to my bitter and fearful heart. No more shallow waters for me. No more smoothing over when something doesn't square with Scripture. What I believe about God has made all the difference in my life when the clouds have covered the sun and all that is left is God.

God's Word is Truth. If the Words of life are to be found only in Him, then that had better be where I am looking for them. If I am drowning in my own sin and incapable of grasping a life preserver, I had better know that it is God's hand that will reach into the swirling rapids to pluck me to safety. If the trials of life are hurling at me faster than I can react to them, I must know that they are ordained for a purpose and not just chance happenings through which an impotent deity will wring his hands hoping I make it out in one piece.

These things I unswervingly believe,... and yet I sat silent while my friends nodded their heads in agreement that people mustn't be so inflexible in their beliefs and foist them upon others; after all, it doesn't matter what you believe, just so long as you believe what seems right to you. Screaming inside, yet silent, hoping for an opportunity to speak to each, one at a time. I am as non confrontational as a mouse in a roomful of lions.

I believe the official term for that is "the fear of man".

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Update From Haiti

Jim has called twice and emailed once from Haiti. He and the guys arrived safely with no undue burdens getting through customs. Below is an excerpt from his email.

Saturday we travel to Lagonav (Ile De la Gonave) via ferry boat. We will visit one of the churches and meet some of the folks Ben is developing as leaders. On Sunday we will worship at 2 of the churches on Lagonav. It should be quite a weekend - with no electricity to boot!

Thus far no signs of rot gut or sundry ailments. Although I have seen a very large rat and some scorpions...

The little bit we have seen of the people, poverty, and pestilence was quite an eye opener. Most of our time has been at the house with the Hopps working on the porch... Yesterday, we did go to the pool and beach at the Kaliko Beach Resort near the Hopps' home. It was nice, I found some nice shells.

While they are traveling away from the home base they are out of touch by phone of email. As it happens, Jim's cell phone hasn't worked since they arrived- he thought it would, but there must not be the right kind of service. It's probably a good thing that his phone is off and he can be completely free of that particular taskmaster while he's away.

John Flavel would agree... it's providential.

Meanwhile, today was Pinewood Derby day for Isaac! His last Derby as a matter of fact. the Webelos one year ahead of his den did not compete- Isaac's was the oldest group to run their cars. It was, as always, an exciting event. I know Jim hated to miss it. Photos to follow once my Cuz Heidi sends them out!

Today Erin brought up our neighbors log splitter and with the help of her friend, Erin, they split up several loads of the cut tree that is stacked in the yard. Kate, Bekah and Isaac went out for a turn later. We hope to have most of it finished before Jim gets home- something off of his list of things to do.