Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday Journeys to the Far East


Memories of Eastern Long Island

Long Island grew longer on Sundays. As a child, forced to endure family drives out east, I was sure of it. Dad said it was 118 miles long, but it seemed more like a million. We lived in Mount Sinai, a town on the north shore, almost halfway between New York City and the eastern tip of Long Island. The drive always took about three hours with traffic and stopping along the way. From a kid’s point of view, that was way too long to sit in a car—but Dad promised we’d have surprises on the trip. And we usually did. 

Mt. Sinai sat smack in the middle of the Island’s suburbs where new mini-malls grew every few months. We were never more than five minutes from a Long Islander’s necessities: pizza, bagels, ice cream and a hair salon. Traveling east brought us away the malls and into the new sights, sounds and smells of farmland. For my sister and I who only saw milk at 7-11’s, spotting a cluster of cows was a treat or a contest—who could spot one first; who saw a calf or a brown one. A horse, buffalo or sheep won more points. 

With windows down, the scent of garlic bread and spaghetti sauce slowly faded as the earthy fragrance of plowed fields, horse and cow drifted through our station wagon. 

Dad often pulled into the dirt parking lot of Wickham’s Fruit Farm, one of the oldest and largest farms on the North Fork. It sat along the peaceful waters of the Peconic Bay. The Macintosh apples looked more delicious, tasted crisp and fresh. The homemade labels on the maple syrup and honey jars beckoned us to buy some of the sweet stuff. Before leaving, we had to see the working beehive. We squealed with disgusted delight at seeing so many bees in one spot, the buzzing orchestra a foot away from our noses. Then we’d sit at a picnic table and eat our bagged lunch along with a newly picked apple. 

Back to the car for more driving. My sister and I agreed that was far enough, but Dad wanted to reach the antique shops as far as Greenport.  

We’d groan every time Mom burst out, “Antiques! Let’s stop.” We’d file through the small barnlike shops, packed with the most unusual items. Mom’s eyes lit up at the strangest objects. Intricate lace doilies, iron candelabras, an ancient rocking chair, a classic book. My sister and I gradually discovered treasures we wanted: a ragdoll from Europe, an Indian headpiece with rainbow feathers along a strip of leather; a stuffed moose that smelled of cotton balls, like it spent many years hidden in Grandma’s closet and a miniature tin treasure chest. 

Our trunk filled up with someone else’s garbage. 

We stopped at Goose Creek Beach next. Before we hopped out of the stuffy wagon, we could smell the sea and hear the soft swoosh of gentle waters spilling on the shore. As we combed the beach for interesting shells and shiny rocks, kayaks raced across the horizon.

“Are you ready to head home, or do you want ice cream first?” Dad would ask, with a smirk on his face, knowing our answer already. We were always willing to stay longer for sweets. We’d pull Mom’s arm past the small shops along Main Street and head straight to Sandpiper Ice Cream parlor. Peering through the glass at the pastel colored flavors, we’d inhale the rich chocolate scent of fudge being poured over sundaes and sprinkled with candies. Of all the choices, I’d pick vanilla; my sister would pick chocolate. 

By the time we pulled into our driveway, the sun had set. It was a long drive, but we were happy to collect our treasures from the trunk and sort through the shells…until we’d groan the next time Dad suggested a Sunday drive.  

Looking back, Dad knew we didn’t have to travel far to enjoy new experiences and spend time together as a family. To us this was the Far East, with all its mysterious treasures, and far enough.











Monday, November 17, 2014

Celebration Time!



It’s time for celebrating! Our house is done. Two years after Super Storm Sandy flooded and ruined our home, it is done—all because of Samaritan’s Purse Ministries. 

This Tuesday, November 18th, at 3:00 we will welcome the Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers, family, friends and everyone else who wants to share this special time with us. They call it a house dedication. After eleven months of Samaritan’s Purse people devoting their time and energy into rebuilding our home, we have this opportunity to thank them and give God the glory for it all. They will pray a blessing over our home as we pray for every person who came. 

After the storm, we felt discouraged, trying to cling to our hope in the Lord. We had faith that God was in control, but still struggled with how we could ever get back to normal. Then Samaritan’s Purse teams arrived.
Every week a different team of volunteers wearing their orange t-shirts pulled up in vans. They came from all over the country: Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, California, Ohio, and upstate NY, even outside the US--Australia, to name some places. Under staff supervision and instruction, they fixed the entire house—new floors, ceramic tiled bathrooms, new cabinets, new oven and ceiling fans. The list goes on, amazing and humbling. 

Over 100 volunteers have worked on our house. I wish every volunteer was able to come to our dedication, so we could thank them again personally. We did nothing to deserve this awesome gift. It is a perfect picture of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Just because of love and grace. 

Each volunteer and staff for Samaritan’s Purse was part of His answer to our prayers. Our home is more than a home now; it’s where we saw Christ’s love in action! We pray that God blesses them as we have been blessed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What NOT to Design


Sunlight seeped through the cracks of New York City skyscrapers and glistened on the sewing needle in my hand. I guided it through the black linen and sewed the fourteenth button on the dress I designed. What was I thinking? Sixteen more buttons to go and my term garment was due in three hours. A term garment was the Fashion Institute of Technology equivalent of a final exam.  Back at the sketching stage, a full-length dress with thirty buttons and a jacket looked nice, made the dress unique. I should’ve foreseen the days of all-nighters I’d have. 

Three hours? My stomach twisted like a garlic knot; my eyelids were determined to close; and my finger bled needle-size raindrops. Thank God the fabric wasn’t white.  

All I wanted was sleep.

Ginina slept peacefully. As Ms. Perfect Interior Design major, she finished her project early. Of course. Probably dreaming about her model boyfriend back home in Costa Rica. No, I wasn’t jealous…maybe a teeny tiny pea size bit. Okay, grapefruit size, but no more. Right then I’d take sleep over a boyfriend. 

My head nodded as I drew blood again. “Ow!” I shrieked, waking Ginina. 

“What time is it?” she asked, her long black curls dangling in her face. 

“About 6:00 AM.” 

“Did you finish your dress yet?” 


“Isn’t your class at eight?” 


“Oh, you poor girl.” Then she buried her head under her Laura Ashley sheet. 

Another hour passed and panic set in. The buttons were almost finished, but dozing off wasn’t helping. I still had to sew the hem plus iron the wrinkled mess of a dress. And I was a wrinkled mess too.  

“I can’t believe it! I’m gonna fail…” 

I tossed the dress on my chair and fell back onto the bed.  

Dream-life was peaceful. I got an A and was featured as an up-and-coming designer in Women’s Wear Daily magazine. No worries.  

Who’s shaking me? Get your paws off me! 

“Angie, wake up! You missed your class!” 

“So what? I failed anyway.” 

“Get your bottom up. Maybe she’ll let you hand it in late.” 

“Okay, Mom.” 

I dared to glance at the mirror. Wow! If you like the natural look with dark circles and wild weeds for hair—then I looked great. Almost two hours late and class ended in ten minutes, I still had to change my clothes. A fashion design major didn’t show up to class in sweat pants. I threw on a striped skirt, leggings, a black t-shirt…and deodorant. 

I breathed deeply and pushed open the class door. Most of the kids had left. Finished garments hung on mannequins.  

Ms. Bellini appeared from behind the mannequin.  

“Angie, dear, you missed the critique class. Where’s your term garment?” 

My voice choked as I tried to explain. “I…I tried hard to get it finished, but I…had so many buttons and I was so tired…” 

“Bring me what you have and I’ll give you a better grade than a zero. Hurry up. I’m only staying fifteen more minutes.” 

“Okay, be right back,” I said half out the door. 

Pigeons scattered, and I may have bruised some toes of a few unfortunate students in my way as I dashed back to my dorm. Ginina’s design papers fluttered to the floor as I flew in the room. 

“Slow down, girl.” 

“Sorry. Ms. Bellini is grading my dress in five minutes. See ya!” I grabbed the dress and ran.  

I hung the dress on a mannequin and attempted to smooth out wrinkles.  

Ms. Bellini click clacked over in her red high heels and designer suit. “Let’s see what you have here.” 

I held my breath as she inspected the dress. She wrote something in her paisley notebook, buttoned the jacket and wrote something else. She compared the dress to my sketch and scribbled some more.

“Nice silhouette. The jacket dips in and could be a flattering style. I can’t give you an A since you didn’t finish the hem or iron it, but I’ll give you a B. Next time, meet the deadline.” 

My eyes watered as I removed the pins from the mannequin. I could’ve hugged the headless body, I was so relieved. But that would’ve been weird. 

Turning back time, I would’ve prayed more, slept more, and skipped the buttons. 

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is (too many buttons.) Proverbs 14:8, revised. 


After graduating, I gave up clothes altogether (designing, not wearing.)