Friday the 13th

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ImageToday is Friday the 13th, and I am feeling very lucky–blessed, actually. A group of volunteers worked at our house this past week, and our stairwell and and upstairs hallway are completely transformed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to be very clear that although we did have lots of water in the house, it did not go to the second floor. However, with five feet of water inside, the stairway carpet had to be ripped up and the first floor wall of the stairwell was taken down. Therefore, the second floor wall and upstairs hall were affected. Also, many volunteers with muddy boots had walked on the carpeting in the upstairs hallway.

A group from Temple Baptist Church in Waterford, NY came to Schoharie for the week. They stayed at a hotel in Cobleskill and made our town their mission trip. The group is called TSM Engaged (Temple Student Ministry). All the students we met were really nice kids, and great workers. Their leaders were models of passion for God and compassion for others. And, they had great knowledge and skills for rehabbing homes. This group pulled up the carpeting, removed  the remaining wallpaper, skim-coated the old plaster with new, the primed and painted the walls of the stairwell and upstairs hall. Also, they painted two door to upstairs rooms and the front door. As it turns out, there was a nice finshed wooden floor under the carpeting upstairs!  Thank you, Lord, for TSM Engaged, and thank you to those at Schoharie Recovery and SALT Recovery for attracting and assigning volunteers.

I have had the priviledge of working twice at the Loaves and Fishes Cafe, the system of feeding the volunteers at noon each day. The women who work at this ministry have been serving meals every day since about a week after the flood, and will continue to do so for the rest of the summer. It is amazing tosee God work through those who cook at home and bring food, prepare and serve food, and then clean up and get ready for the next day. There are so many people helping from so many different sources.

A couple of weeks ago, we put a little bistro set on our back porch,and I have been enjoying morning devotions and coffee out there. A photo is included in this slide show.

We are planning on hosting an Open House during Labor Day weekend to re-dedicate the house to the Lord, to celebrate the rebuilding and recovery, and to thank all those who helped. I started this blog to keep our volunteers from far away informed. It would so great to see them again and let them see the fruit of their labor.

Advertisements

Commencement

This is graduation weekend in New York State.  Last night was Middleburgh’s ceremony and this morning was Schoharie’s. Much has been written in the local papers in recent days about the resiliency and strength of the Class of 2012. Many of these kids were among those whose homes were flooded, and almost all of them helped family, friends, and neighbors clean and rebuild.  In Middleburgh, students helped to shovel out mud and help rebuild ruined equipment in the tech rooms. The gym was flooded as were the athletic fields. The large key that is handed to each newly-elected senior class president from the graduating president was among the many casualties of the muddy waters.

This is a link to one of those articles:

http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/jun/23/0623_middleburgh/

This has been a very difficult year at school. Financial pressures, many employees flooded, concern for the students and their families, facilities rendered unusable all combined to create even more stress than we usually see at school. Sometimes, tempers were short, but more often, colleagues were very supportive and sympathetic.

Now that I am finished with school, I will begin the work of trying to organize the upstairs rooms and the garage,which have been housig rescued belongings. Many volunteers cleaned and boxed up households items that were not ruined or could be cleaned, and most of them have been untouched while we were busy with the rebuilidng of the downstairs. So now I will be spending much of each day with this next project.

The area has seen many volunteers this past week. Some finished painting our garage. Attracting volunteers to our area, and then matching them with the appropriate work site is a huge job, and we are so thankful for the people at Schoharie Recovery and Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery for all their efforts.  You might want to take the time to follow these links and read more about what is going on with the recovery effort, as well as some interesting media attention to our little village. Another example of the help and care we receive is the $10 gift card we received to purchase bedding plants. Since we will be doing some digging around the foundation later this summer, I am using lots of containers for my flowers this year.  

We cannot say “thank you” enough for volunteers and donors from near and far that have helped us rebuild and have encouraged us every step of the way. And, of course, we thank God for using so many people in so many different ways to provide that care and help for us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It has been so long since I posted. Life is returning to “normal”. In our community we are calling it the “new normal”. There are so many changes that we have to learn to accept as the norm. With the beautiful spring weather, the robins have returned, and so have many village residents. The singing of the birds combines with the hum of power tools as homeowners and volunteers continue to rebuild. I’ve learned to appreciate walks through the neighborhood again so I can view the progress.

Our downstairs is almost finished now! Duane and Brad installed all the wood trim, and some wonderful personal touches such as the door for Sandy’s under-the-stairs den. The kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and music room all have Tiffany-style light fixtures. The kitchen has back-splash that is reminiscent of an old metal ceiling. Both the living room and the dining room have area rugs. The new dining room furniture has arrived, (although it is not in place yet), and the donated living room couches look elegant and are very comfortable.

I am recovering, too.  I have always been rather “scatter-brained”, but now it’s worse than ever. We call it “flood brain”. I realized the other day that my memory is improving because when I needed to put a new set of checks in my checkbook, I was able to remember that after the flood I ordered new ones and had stored them in my desk upstairs. When I went to fetch them, they were there! This may sound rather simple, but I have had so many moments of not remembering where I put something, or not remembering if I still have it, or remembering something that didn’t really happen, that this event was a real victory.

There is still much work to do. The downstairs little half bath still needs a sink. I am soon going to be making a decision about a new piano and finish up the music room. Then we will have to deal with foundation work, roof work, the stairs, and the upstairs hallway. But none of this is pressing, and we will have time to enjoy our new digs downstairs. This summer I will be going through the upstairs rooms where all the flood-surviving possessions were stashed in the days after the flood to clean and organize them. We want to make room for family members to visit this summer!

The following link is about one setback in an otherwise monumental amount of work, planning, creativity, and compassion on behalf of so, so many local organizers and volunteers from near and far.

http://www.fox23news.com/news/local/story/Theft-from-Schoharie-Recovery-effort/EeXgwLGUgEmsvyKlwXVjkQ.cspx?autoplay=1

Before I end, I want to share this link to a story in the Albany Times Union. The church in the article is the one where our son JJ and his wife Kate were married in November 2010. When they celebrated their one-year anniversary and looked through their wedding album, every place in it had been hit by Irene: the church, her Mom’s house, his parents’ house, and the cute little covered bridge where some of their outdoor shots were taken. The resiliency and faith of my friends, family, and neighbors,  still moves me to tears.

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/At-tiny-church-a-time-of-renewal-3466567.php#photo-2791580

1 I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever ; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. 2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever ; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.” Psalm 89

Let Me Tell You!

We continue to see progress. Today I have no school because of President’s Day, but Duane and Brad are here working on the wood trim around the windows. They started coming back last week, so most of the windows are trimmed and I can begin painting. They have made the two windowsills that face the flower garden and bird feeder very wide so I can put plants there. There is a small shelf under each of the window sills, so it will be fun to put little knickknacks there. Our local superhero,  Josh, stopped by. It is always so good to see him. He spends all his time helping our town and surrounding area recover from the flood. He told me that union workers and their journeymen are now working on the house across the street from us, and his is the fifth house they have done. There are different teams whose expertise is sheet-rocking, or taping, or painting. He is amazed at how quickly each can get the work done. He also said that there will be 15 VISTA volunteers in the area for the summer. There is another group coming in who will be canvassing the area and checking with all homeowners to see how they are in the recovery process to make sure no one is overlooked and is getting the help they need. There are so many people who are working on behalf of all of the flood victims to help us in so many ways.

Two Saturday ago, on February 3rd, my two cousins who live in the Capital District came to the house. (Their grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, which means their mom and my mom were cousins. We’re not sure if that makes us third cousins, or twice-removed, so we just call each other cousins.) They have come several times to help clean after the flood. This time they brought a very generous check from donations from members of that side of my family. It will be used to get a new piano. They also brought a beautiful set of china dishes that their childhood friend and neighbor donated. It looks as though it has never been used. I am sharing a photo of one of the plates here so you can see how beautiful and cheery the pattern is.

Last Saturday, February 10th, our first pieces of new (to us) furniture were brought in to the house. A customer of Frank’s gave us a couch and we had been storing it in our garage. When two men from the volunteer center came to help bring it in the house, they realized that it was not only really heavy, but that it was too big to fit in the front door and then turn to get into the living room. By taking off the legs, it just barely got in. If the wood trim had been on the doorways, it would not have fit. So we need to keep this couch for a very long time 🙂 Its younger, smaller cousin was brought later that day by the customer and his son, and they had no problem getting that in. And, to give an idea of what it’s like to live in small town, one of the volunteers was the pharmacist who has filled our prescriptions since our boys were little. The other helper was his cousin who had come from Michigan to volunteer for a while. His wife, Sara, runs the volunteer center at the Reformed Church in Schoharie.  There are few photos of our new couches.

Frank installed the new Tiffany-style lamp (photo included) in the breakfast nook and there is a folding table there, so we had dinner together in our breakfast nook this past week. We can’t use the range yet–a cabinet has to be moved to make room for it, and part broke when Frank was working on it (not his fault–it just broke). The dishwasher has to be plumbed in, so those two appliance make a bit of an obstacle course in the middle of the kitchen. But we can use the beautiful counter tops, the fridge, the microwave, and our sink in the utility room to prepare food. The propane company came, and all the baseboard heaters that Frank installed now are giving us heat, so we are spending more time in the downstairs. I am so thankful for every step in the rebuilding and recovery process.

Our family is continuing to build in another way, too. This past Tuesday, the evening before Valentine’s Day, our youngest son Nathan proposed to very vivacious and talented Chelsea, presented her with a ring, and she accepted! She is an actress, so there will be some time and planning before a wedding date can be set. We are so happy to welcome her into the family and to get to know her parents and brothers as well.

I just have to keep thanking God for His provision and care for us and for so many people with tender hearts who want to help in so many ways.

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Blessed Be Your Name

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du0il6d-DAk

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

The lyrics above are from a praise song written by Matt Redman, with a link to a video with the music and lyrics. I first heard it when two friends sang it together in church a few years ago;  later, I added to my iPod. The words are based in Scripture, with the idea that we are to praise God in all things. I am reminded of this passage from Ephesians:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always ; again I will say, rejoice ! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Most mornings when I walk with Sandy, I listen to Christian praise songs. Whenever I would hear this song, I would think, “Well Lord, I am not in a desert place, and I am not walking through the wilderness. Thank you that my world is all as it should be.”  And I see now that God was preparing me for this time, when life is not so easy. He is teaching me to praise Him in all circumstances. This is a list of some of the things for which I thank Him.

1. Although it is difficult to thank God for the flood, I do thank Him for what I am learning and especially that I know He is close and that He is providing for us. And I know that I am most ready to learn from Him and walk closely with Him when I am in need.

2. I thank Him for my parents. We will be spending Thanksgiving with them for the first time in many years. I can’t say enough about what wonderful parents they have always been and continue to be. All the years of love, sacrifice, and hard work are beginning to take their toll; I hope to get the house back in order soon so I can spare more time away from home to visit with and help them.

3. I thank Him for my siblings and siblings-in-law. My sister and her husband came up from Maryland the weekend after the flood to help, and Frank’s brother Dan, his wife and one of their sons traveled from southern Pennsylvania that weekend as well. It was such a comfort to be with family at such a time, especially since we share the same faith and I know our family members are praying for us.

4. We have been embraced by a new church family that has been ministering to us in so many ways. God has used this denomination to send us financial help and volunteer workers from near and far.

5. All three of our sons are walking with the Lord and “all is as it should be” with their lives. When one of them is going through something difficult, I find myself wishing that I could take on that burden or trial instead of him. Well, now I am the one with the burden, and knowing that my kids are in a good place is one of the many things that helps to lighten the load. They have all been a tremendous comfort during this time to recovery, and have all helped with many aspects of clean-up and rebuilding.

6. We have new family members! It is almost the one-year anniversary of JJ and Kate’s wedding, and now they have added Noah to the Meredith clan. Christopher and Rashell have moved into a beautiful new home, Robert and Alex have a back yard to play in, and, Lord willing, Benjamin William will make an appearance around Christmas. Four grandsons in three years!

7. I am so grateful for my husband. He holds me when I cry, and he has taken on every task regarding finances and rebuilding. He is doing everything possible to take away stress and worry from me. He is usually exhausted and in pain, but keeps a sense of humor and a cheerful attitude.

8. The community I live in has been an incredible example of strength of character. I have written in past posts about the way people are working together and helping others. People are helping in so many ways: cleaning, demolishing, building, organizing, networking, cooking, serving, donating expertise, driving, loaning equipment, giving money, donating goods and services, and the list goes on. Needs are being matched with those who can help meet that need, and the result is beautiful.

9. I am thankful for my job and my students. These days I really need the paycheck, but I really love going to school everyday. My colleagues are very supportive, and I love spending time and making music with my students. Many of our students have suffered loss and are displaced; many helped to clean up the school after the flood. The school community is facing many challenges together.

10. I am thankful for the technology available to communicate and keep in touch with far away loved ones and to learn more about so many things. The internet and Face Book have been very valuable resources during the flood and recovery. I plan to write more about it in another post.

He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” Job 1:21

It is true that God provided everything I owned and lost in the flood. As my pastor pointed out, I was going to lose those things at some point in time anyway. So, at Thanksgiving and every day, I will praise Him for who He is and that I belong to Him.

Goodbye, Old Friend

I don’t exactly know when we first got our piano. I remember my mom asking me if I thought I might like to take piano lessons someday. She said her parents were offering to buy one for us if we were interested. My grandmother Loretta came from a very musical family, and my grandfather, Alfred Hanser,  would have given us anything in the world we wanted. My sister began lessons soon after the piano arrived, and I started a few years later. I was in second grade.

My teacher was Mrs. Ullman, who had been a friend of my mom’s in college. I had trouble practicing, and Mom would pull up a chair next to the the piano and help me. She’d taken lessons and could read music. If something I played didn’t “sound right”, she’d  to help me figure out what I was doing wrong and correct it. Parents take note: Mom sitting there,  listening to me practice, spoke volumes about the importance of what I was doing.

After a few years, I switched piano teachers to someone on my street, so I could walk to lessons. She introduced me to the John Thompson Method. It is still around today. Billy Joel talks about having to take lessons with that book, and he found it so boring that he began making up his own music! So I suppose in some perverse way one could call it inspiring.

My next teacher was Mrs. Sharfe. She lived near my elementary school. I would walk to her house after school for lessons. We continued with John Thompson, but she also assigned me pieces that were more fun and let me choose some that were popular at the time.  She also began teaching me to play scales, some music theory, and helped me earn my music badge for Girl Scouts.

Throughout elementary school, many of the other students were unkind to me because I was so horrible at athletics. I was always the last to be picked for a team, and the kids would call me “fat”, and some not-nice names that rhymed with Hurd. But I was told that everyone has gifts and they are different for each person,  so I figured my gift was music. I began the clarinet at the end of 6th grade. In 7th grade, I started making friends that were also involved in music. It was a wonderful change for me.

Mrs. Sharfe moved, and I was in need of a teacher. Our new priest at the Episcopal Church had a beautiful wife who taught piano lessons. I had to AUDITION to see if she would be willing to teach me. That was a scary thought, but she was so nice, and she wanted to teach me. Nancy Winterrowd was a wonderful teacher, and now that I was in high school, we had the kind of great relationship that a music teacher and student can develop over time.  She had studied at Eastman, and in Italy, and she played so beautifully. She gave me challenging repertoire to study written by real composers, told me interesting things about their lives, and insisted that I learn how to play all the major and minor scales. She also taught me a few tricks about sight-reading and accompanying that I would later need to know as a choral teacher and director of musicals.

Our piano was still in the same house in the same place in our living room. However, I was beginning to favor the clarinet. I was attending a high school with a fabulous music program; there were so many rehearsals and activities related to band, and I had a great group of friends as a result, so sitting at the piano by myself was not high on my list of priorities. Mom would bribe me: if I practiced piano after dinner, I didn’t have to do the dishes. Even so, I was woefully unprepared for lessons, and they were not much fun for either Mrs. Winterrowd or myself. But Mom said I should continue lessons because I would probably be sorry someday if I quit. Kids, take note: parents usually give good advice.

When Frank and I were married, the reception was in my parents’ home. We asked Frank’s brother Dan to sing and play piano during the reception. It was a beautiful day, and his music meant a lot to us.

Somewhere along the way, I had decided to be a music teacher. My major instrument would be clarinet, and I would train to be an instrumental teacher. My piano knowledge helped me throughout music school, of course, and in my first teaching job after college, at Cobleskill Central School, a few people began asking if I taught private piano lessons. So I traveled to their homes to teach lessons, or we met in a church where there was a piano.

When I expecting for the first time, we realized it would be so much easier for me to give lessons if we had a piano in my home. My parents and sister agreed that we could have the piano. Christopher was born a few days before Christmas, so when my parents drove up to see us after his birth, they brought the piano. But I was in the hospital and did not know they had brought it. So when I brought my newborn son home, there was my piano to greet us! I later heard (many times over the years) of the harrowing trip with the piano in a U-Haul, the car that broke down on the way, and the mechanic with the Christmas spirit.

When the boys were little, sometimes Frank and I would play music for them at bedtime. We would play Disney songs together, he on euphonium or trombone, and I on the piano. I had taught countless lessons on that piano, but Christopher had no interest in taking lessons. Ditto for Jonathan. Nathan wanted to take lessons, but he wanted to learn HIS way, not the way I wanted to teach. (I’ve learned so much about music teaching since then…) But, they began experimenting on that piano, asked a couple of questions, and used what they learned from their lessons at school on their band instruments. The Lord saw fit to gift them with amazing talent. Today, they can all do so much more that I ever did on the piano. I will refrain from bragging about my kids; suffice it so say that I am both humbled by and proud of their musical abilities and accomplishments.

I loved hearing them each of them play piano. I would be in the kitchen, and one of my sons would be playing and singing a Broadway song, or a praise song, or experimenting with chord progressions. If  my work in the kitchen was finished, I would pretend to be working to make the serenade last longer. I knew if I sat down to listen, he would stop.

I played the piano to prepare to play for worship services, or to prepare for choir rehearsals. When I was alone in the house, I would play and sing praise songs and hymns to God.

I didn’t think about it much, but I now realize that piano was my connection to all that is precious to me: my heritage, my parents, my childhood home, my husband, my kids, my vocation, and my God.

After the flood, Jonathan went to the house while we were still in Mississippi. He found the piano laying on its back, covered with mud. He and his friends set it upright before I would walk through the house, but there was no way to remove the mud or repair the damage. It was heartbreaking to see it in that condition, and a few days later, to see a big, ugly, impersonal crane that would just scoop it up with so many other muddied possessions and dump into the back of a truck. As I write this, twenty days after Irene, I can’t stop the tears when I think of the loss of my piano. Jonathan removed all the keys, and he and Kate have cleaned them, in the hopes that someone somewhere can help us make the keys into some sort of wall hanging or memento for each one who learned to play on that piano. My dear friend was murdered and then tossed aside without a proper burial, but I hope we will be able to at least have a suitable memorial for such an important part of all of our lives. Rest in peace, Old Friend.

My plan or Thy plan?

We had a plan. It sounded really great to us. This past spring, my prayers sounded something like this:
Dear God,
Please give Christopher a great job offer in June or July. He now has a job, but it is only for a year, and he started last September. So, if he gets a new job lined up, then he can give notice at his present job, and he, his wonderful wife Rashell, and their two little boys Robert and Alex can all come up to the Northeast and visit family at the end of August. Thanks and Amen.
Well, God did not make it happen. All summer, Christopher was job-hunting. Several companies were interested in him, but no offers were forthcoming. He even got to the point where he began making plans to start his own business. I worried about his finances, and his emotions, and whether we were going to have the family together this summer. I kept asking God to make this plan happen. Why wouldn’t He want our family to be together?! Why wouldn’t He want Christopher to get a job?! And yet, every time I asked God these things, I knew He was saying, “Betsy, I can see what’s ahead and you can’t. You will see why I am saying ‘no’.”
Finally, around the middle of August, Frank and I made plans to fly to see the Mississippi branch of the Meredith family. JJ and his wife Kate decided not fly as she was in her third trimester of pregnancy; Nathan could not take time away from work at their busiest time of year. But at least we would get to see our grandsons and their parents.
We traveled on Wednesday, August 24th. Christopher picked us up at the airport and told us that he had a job interview for the next day. During the next few days, it became apparent that Irene was going to cause quite a bit of trouble in the Northeast. My parents have a house at the Jersey shore, as well as one closer to Philadelphia. My brother and his family live on the other side of Philadelphia; my sister’s family lives in Maryland. All seemed to be in jeopardy based on the meteorologists’ predictions. Ironically, Frank and I were safe in Mississippi from the threat of hurricane.
We anxiously watched weather reports, consulted the internet, and touched base with loved ones. Sunday morning, as church service was ending, I began receiving text messages that flood warnings were being issued in the Schoharie Valley. As JJ and Kate were heading to higher ground, a friend texted me suggesting that JJ go to my house to put valuables upstairs. I told her that their safety was more important. Of course, she agreed. Kate asked me to have the people at church pray, and I asked several to do just that.
All afternoon, we used smart phones and computers to keep in touch with those in the Schoharie Valley. It was sounding very serious, like the historic flood of 1996. In that flood, we were evacuated, but our home was not damaged.
Sometime during that afternoon, I realized why God had not agreed to our plan. I know He was keeping Christopher’s family safe, as well as Frank and me. He was sheltering us from fear and danger.
In the days following the flood, when someone expresses surprise that we are not depressed, we can tell them that it was only things that we lost. We are so grateful that our kids and grandkids were unharmed, and we know that this flood did not take God by surprise. He is still on His throne, and He is also the Shepherd that will lead us through this time of loss and confusion.
Oh, and by the way, Christopher got TWO job offers in the two days following Irene, and has happily begun his new job.
Yes, He is still on the throne, and I hope I have learned to stop trying to push Him off of it to make room for me.

All because two people fell in love

To begin this blog, a bit of background information is in order. Frank Meredith and Betsy Hurd met in a Concert Band rehearsal at Ithaca College in September of 1977. The music school was buzzing about the new euphonium player of amazing talent and skill, but no one had told me how handsome he was! He noticed that I was staring at him, our eyes met, and the rest, as they say, is history. We were married on June 30, 1979, and Christopher was born in December of 1981. I longed for a house, so we did some shopping and one fit our budget: 124 Grand Street in Schoharie. (The number is now 146 but it’s the same house.) It was very close to Schoharie Central School, where Frank was a music teacher at the time. It needed lots of updating, but the plan was to do that room by room in the upstairs. In August of 1983, Jonathan was born, and in 1987, Nathan made our family complete. The house was not fancy, and I am not the best of housekeepers, but over the years, we have eaten dinners together, hosted gatherings of friends, played piano and various band instruments, sang, celebrated birthdays, loved our dog Honey and cat Hot Dog, did our homework, prayed, played whiffle ball in yard, and in general, raised our family in that house.
Sending each of them off to college was wrenching, and adjusting to the empty nest was tough, but Frank and I had settled into a pleasant routine. In October of 2008, we became grandparents, and a brand new chapter of our lives began. I once again longed for a house. This time, it was MY house, but neater, less cluttered, and better suited for grandkids and their parents to stay and play.
So, be careful what you wish for. On August 28, Hurricane Irene caused the flood waters to rise so high that the Schoharie Creek sent rushing muddy water through the basement, garage, and first floor of our home. In the days that followed, I experienced heartache, but also real joy and thankfulness to God for preparing me for this event, and providing for us in the aftermath.
Needless to say, we now have a major remodeling project on our hands. This blog will be good therapy for me, a way to tell others about His goodness to us, and a format for others to share in the rebuilding process with us.