Movie Day

I am in Mississippi to take care of Robert (3) and Alex (2 in February) because their mommy–my sweet, strong, beautiful daughter-in-law Rashell–has just given birth to Benjamin William. There is so much I want to say at this time of year about how much I’ve learned about life and faith through these past few months, but I’ve said lots previously, and one never knows how long a little one’s naptime will last, so I will let this video do the talking for me today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nrgLOTkYKc&context=C3f77c05ADOEgsToPDskIfUEshR9CngtGKNOOcAfPB

This next link is the video that won a first prize in the Glee Give A note contest.

http://www.gleegiveanote.com/video_details.php?id=48&option=first_prize

And finally, a video clip from an Albany news report about our big win.

http://www.cbs6albany.com/video/c/1143371293/local-news/1332063573001/wrgb-localnews

In thanksgiving for the birth of God Incarnate, and His gracious provision, protection, and providence, I wish all a blessed Christmas season.

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Very exciting news!

This is a quick entry. I will share a link to a website that gives more of the story.

Shortly after the flood, my friend and fellow music teacher Liz suggested that our school’s music program enter a video contest. I had received the same publicity email that she had received, but had dismissed it as something I would not be able to do since I was dealing with a flooded home.

When she read about the contest, she thought of how great it would be for our school’s music program to win one of the very generous cash prizes. She encouraged me to consider it, found some music that would be good to use, and told me she would do all the tech work, which is something I am not good at.

Others helped produce the video, and my students practiced a lot, and yesterday it was announced that we had won $25,000.  This is a great lesson in how we should be looking for opportunities to help turn a bad situation into a good one.  Thank you so much, Liz!

Here is a link to the announcement on our school’s website. There will be TV news coverage as well, and I will try to post links to those, too, if /when they become available.

http://www.middleburgh.k12.ny.us/News/2011_12/mcsgleewin1211.cfm

The school’s website also has older articles about the flood and recovery and lots of pictures.

Their Boss is a Jewish Carpenter

This is a tribute to Duane and Brad. Before August 28, we did not know either of them, nor they us. But a few days after the flood, Duane came to our house and introduced himself. He’s a retired contractor and wanted to help us rebuild. He heard about us through people at Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church,  where we have been worshiping since January. He attends a church in the same denomination in Amsterdam, NY, and he lives in Schoharie (on a big hill!). At first, he offered to store the wood floors and trim for us that needed to dry out and be reinstalled. After the clean-up  and gutting was finished, he and his friend Brad came every day to build. They adopted our house and showed up every day as though it was their job. But of course it wasn’t. Every morning Duane, Brad and Frank worked on the house then went to the Reformed Church in town for a hot meal. (Yes, people are still serving a hot meal for volunteers and homeowners every day.) Duane has rheumatoid arthritis, so they would then go home and rest. Brad traveled a great distance every day.

This is why I was able to see progress every day when I came home from school. On the few days when I did not have school and stayed home, I loved to work with Duane and Brad around. There lots of jokes and kidding–all good-natured– and the work was actually fun. I kept thinking about the bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter”. I didn’t hear Duane or Brad say much about their faith, but they were living it every day by giving freely and sacrificially of their time and talent to help us in our need.

They enlisted the help of others from their church. Bill was there almost every day, and his wife Marilyn, in her first year of retirement from teaching,was there from time to time. Alice loves demolition and is very good at cleaning up after the construction work. Marilyn and Alice would do nice things for the house for me, like leave a bouquet of flowers, or clean the windows, or clean the mud from a few stools and bring them inside so we could sit in the downstairs.

The team decided a few weeks ago to move on. There are so many people in need, and they have brought our house to the point where we have walls. There is just taping, painting, trim, and floors to go. And, well, a few other things. But every day I see places that have just been gutted, and some that look the same as they did after the flood. So the need in this area is still very great. They are now working on a house that was very near the water outside Middleburgh. The family had no one to help them at all.

When we tell our grandchildren about the flood, their names and selfless service will be part of the story. We will tell of the love and help from so many people in so many ways. God has used these people to give us hope and strength that was even more powerful than the raging waters that turned the things in our home upside down.

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Today is my husband’s birthday. I never know what to give him because he is usually interested in books, games, gadgets or recordings that I’ve never heard of. It’s impossible to surprise him with that perfect gift that he didn’t even know existed.  Many times he will buy himself things that he wants and then give them to me to wrap. And the whole problem is magnified when Christmas rolls around a few weeks later.

But this year I am keeping a blog! So I would like to take a moment and share a little about him, to honor him on his birthday.

Frank loves to laugh and loves to make other people laugh. His dad and brothers love puns and plays on words, and they have a stock of the old standards that get trotted out whenever there are family gatherings. For the first decade or so of our marriage, I would laugh at a joke even though I’d heard it several times, because I had not remembered the punch line.  I admire the creativity and wit  needed to think up such jokes, and I laugh every time. His ability to be lighthearted in these past three months has been a reminder that we only lost things, and what is most important in our lives is still with us.

He is a wonderful father. When the boys were babies, he was tender and caring, involved in every aspect of their care. He thought up fun songs to sing and games to play, and as they grew, there more games and songs. Family trips were full of improvised stories, listening to music, or making our own. And there were so many trips. Every year, in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we would make the “Annual Christmas Tour”, visiting my family in South Jersey and his in Hanover, PA. He loves to plan trips, and he took us to places near and far, including England. Our first trip overseas was in 1994. We landed in Glasgow, got off the plane, rented a car, and then he drove it in a country where vehicles are supposed to keep to the left. He learned quickly, and I was once again reminded of what an intelligent adventurer I had married.

Now that he is a grandpa, it such a blessing to relive the days when our boys were little and to see our grandsons loving the same qualities in him that our kids did. He is always ready to play and he knows just the right combination of rough-housing and gentleness for each little boy.

Early in our marriage, he began calling me “Angel-Face”. At Christmas, he gives me angel ornaments, including some very exquisite ones made from Swarovski crystal. They were not broken in the flood, and have been cleaned and packed safely for when we decorate our new downstairs for Christmas next year. He has also given me many beautiful handmade things from his travels, most of which survived the flood intact. He is very good at buying me clothes. He loves to shop, and I hate it, so he does almost all of the Christmas shopping each year.  And the wrapping. He not only remembers every anniversary and birthday, but he looks forward to them, planning how we will celebrate.

During these past months, he has been such a loving husband, taking care of all the details of recovery while I have been overwhelmed with emotion and confusion. I cry and I yell and he takes it all in stride. He is usually in pain from the physical labor, but he never complains.

When I look back at what a silly and naive girl I was when we got married, I realize I did not know Frank very well. I was definitely in love with him, and still am, but I have spent the past 32 years trying to get to know him and love him for who he is, and not for what he can do for me. My prayer has been, and continues to be, that I can become the wife and friend that he needs me to be.

Happy Birthday, Hon!