Monday Question Series: Coolest Color?

Posted by tom | Jan 15, 2012


What are your interests? Coolest Color?


Yes, I have a question which I can answer simply ;) And if you'd have any interest on my preference scale, I slightly favor yellow over red. As you you may guess, I love watching green become a richer/more mature color against the complementary blue sky ;)

Above's a shot from my first-year dorm room at Grove City College. The combination of leaf colors brings home to me the mix of 'maturity' alongside the various seasons of my own life (and the communities with which I've been/continue to be connected with). Wish I had taken more pictures from this dorm window. Yes, I'm drifting into thoughts about Mark Buchanan's Spiritual Rhythm: Being With Jesus Every Season of Your Soul (Zondervan, 2010), but that is a topic for another day. . . . 


Monday Question Series: Perfect Pet?

Posted by tom | Jan 9, 2012

The questions from this Monday Question Series came from a piece of paper I found in the recycling bin. I printed a draft of my most recent prayer letter on the other side and thought 'Hey, these are interesting questions.' I'm assuming one of the girls brought it home from a school or church activity . . . continuing to reuse valuable resources :)

What are your interests? Perfect Pet?

Collie puppyHmm . . . We currently do not have any pets and I find myself not a fan of pets. But I may be ok with a dog, a bird (a canary or a parakeet come to mind), or a few small exotic fish (i.e., particularly no goldfish), as long as I don't have the regular responsibility for their care. Periodic dog-sitting or canary-sitting is preferrable :)

Little more thought . . . I've never been a fan of having a cat, although I don't mind visiting a house which has one (or more). No, I don't consider our chickens as pets (or for that matter the bees we'll invest in this spring). It's good to share the responsibility of their care. Ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, turtles, etc, are not on my list. But, the more I think about it, a turtle or bearded dragon lizard has some appeal.

I wonder if Theresa and the kids are softening me. A variety of fish in larger fish tank might be a possibility in the short term. As for a perfect pet, maybe a Collie or a German Shepherd Dog after the kids "grow up," one which takes care of me ;) I had a dog like that growing up. 

1996 Honeymoon Snow Storm

Posted by tom | Jan 7, 2012

1996 Honeymoon Snow 1777 House at Donneckers -- Sign

Did you know Theresa and I were "snowed in" at the 1777 House (Donneckers, Ephrata, PA) during our Honeymoon? We were to enjoy Williamsburg. But it's good that we choose our first night closer to home. Williamsburg (and Virginia for that matter) was shut down. I had family stranded for nearly a week close to their home in Charolottesville, VA. Below are some more pictures of the snow. If you have memories/pictures of your own, please share . . .

1996 Honeymoon Snow at Donneckers 1777 House -- Front (More)

Monday Question Series: Prayer Requests?

Posted by tom | Jan 2, 2012

Here's the ninth and final question in our series of questions stemming from a Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA Social:

What prayer requests do you have? 

As we enter the new year, God has been faithful in 2011 and we rejoice in his continued faithfulness in 2012. Praise God for and continue to intercede for Eden's growth and healing in balance/coordination. Pray for the financial and volunteer resources to sustain the expansion of partnerships with Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church, Elizabethtown Public Library, Emerging Scholars Network, InterVarsity's Undergraduate & Faculty Ministry in South Central PA, Penn State Hershey's Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA. Pray for preparation for a number of upcoming gatherings including Helping Haiti (2/13-16: Kent Annnan, co-founder of Haiti Partners and InterVarsity Press author in South Central PA), Embracing Grace (2/19: Scot McKnight, religion professor/author/blogger, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church as part of the Christian Scholars Series), A Night with the Inklings (3/15, 6:30 pm, David C. Downing, English professor/C.S. Lewis scholar, as part of the South Central PA Christian Scholars Network at Acorn Farms).

Please share your prayer requests with us by email or in person.

Earlier posts in the series: What's in a name?Bringing back 1990's?Favorite Holiday?Favorite Meal of the Day?High School/College Hobbies?Coffee or Tea?Favorite Childhood Teacher?Monday Question Series: Bible Reading?

Monday Question Series: Favorite Childhood Teacher?

Posted by tom | Dec 26, 2011

Who was your Favorite Childhood Teacher and why?

Hmm . . . not sure if I can answer that question.

Middletown Christian SchoolAt Middletown Christian School, they were all good. Upon reflection, amazing! To God be the glory! But don't get me wrong, as I lived in my own world/reality at that time, I wouldn't have said such. 

The most foundational was Gordon Oosterman, who in 4th or 5th grade woke me up to the real world through geography and world history. He touched some deep passions which I was unaware of until that time. I embraced and enjoyed them ever since. When I have more time, I'll should give this more reflection . . . more coming.

Earlier posts in this series: What's in a name?Bringing back 1990's?Favorite Holiday?Favorite Meal of the Day?High School/College Hobbies?Coffee or Tea?

Monday Question Series: Coffee or Tea?

Posted by tom | Dec 12, 2011

Coffee or Tea?

Tea. But frozen forms of coffee are acceptable.

As many of you know, I enjoy tea in most every form. I prefer those with less to no sugar, unless it's some form of tea which is really more like a "punch" ;) It's always great to have the ability to make one's own (sun, mint, hot).

Although married to a former Starbucks employee and one who almost always has a Starbucks coffee cup with me (see below in picture from WJTL 90.3 FM interview on 11/3/2011), coffee is not for me. But I will partake in Coffee ice cream and fraps of various forms. Chocolate and more sugar helps a lot :) 

Tom on WJTL 90.3 FM (November 3, 2011). Note the Starbucks Coffee Cup, part of a pair which Theresa found for free (unused, still in the box, on a give-away pile) when out on a run.

Earlier posts in this series: What's in a name?Bringing back 1990's?Favorite Holiday?Favorite Meal of the Day?High School/College Hobbies?

Monday Question Series: High School/College Hobbies?

Posted by tom | Dec 5, 2011

What hobbies did you have in High School and/or College?

Basketball . . .

is the first one which comes to mind. I guess one may consider basketball a sport. I played on school teams from Middle School (Middletown Christian School) through my Junior year at Donegal High School. During my senior year, the school newspaper became an obsession :) At Grove City College I played intramural basketball.

Although on various teams, I always enjoyed playing basketball and marveling at the gifts of the ability to play (some with much better gifts than my own). I played because I enjoyed being on the court as individual part of the team with a shared task.

15 years out of college, I wish that I had more time to play and less concern about possible of injury when under the hoop. As the matter of fact, it's been quite awhile since I've been on court. I should calendar it in after the fall term ends. A gift for the holidays :)

More posts on hobbies coming, maybe a good present day example of a hobby is Groshlink ;)

FYI: Earlier posts in the series: What's in a name?Bringing back 1990's?Favorite Holiday?Favorite Meal of the Day?

Monday Question Series: Favorite Meal of the Day?

Posted by tom | Nov 28, 2011

Hobbit hole in Hobbiton, New Zealand

What is your Favorite Meal of the Day?

2nd Breakfast

The younger two wake me up early, which means that I have a breakfast sometime during the 6th hour. As such I'm ready to eat by mid-morning. I truly enjoy this time of grazing, which reveals my Hobbit nature ;) By-the-way, have you been following my Bedtime Hobbit Reading Series?

Eariler posts in the Monday Question Series: What's in a name?Bringing back 1990's?, Favorite Holiday?

Monday Question Series: Favorite Holiday?

Posted by tom | Nov 21, 2011

We've asked What's in a name?, and Bringing back 1990's? Here's the third question, which comes with beautiful timing:

What is your Favorite Holiday?


I wrestle with the overwhelming cultural elements of Christmas and Easter (Note: Easter less so than Christmas). I've found my desire for celebrating Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, more and more focused upon God and as such, increasingly separate from the larger culture. At present my experience of the cultual practice of Thanksgiving, with its focus on 'giving thanks,' is much more laid back AND it's surprising to me how much time the kids have off school :)

Random thought: Black Friday kicks of cultural Christmas with a little too much of a bang, but some have pointed out how cultural Christmas takes over after Halloween and rolls right over Thanksgiving. I noticed that especially when I picked up candy/cookies the day after Halloween and saw the shelves being stacked with Christmas candy. Let's try our best to resist Thanksgiving candy, I much prefer the pies ;)

Thanksgiving Cartoon


Monday Question Series: Bringing back 1990's?

Posted by tom | Nov 14, 2011

I kicked off this series by sharing about a Penn State Hershey Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA social during which we gathered into groups and chatted through a list of "get to know you" questions, see Monday Question Series: What's in a name?, I really enjoyed the time and desire to share it with you :)

So here's the second question:

If you could bring anything back from the 1990's, what would it be and why?

Bright neons.

Wish I had more opportunities to clash in daily attire, but my closet is stacked against me. Rustic gold, orange, and red shirts with brown pants are the closest I get most days of the week ;) Below's a picture from the fall of my first year at Grove City College (1992).



Monday Question Series: What's in a name?

Posted by tom | Nov 7, 2011

At a recent Penn State Hershey Christian Medical Society (CMS)/CMDA social, we gathered into groups and chatted through a list of questions. I really enjoyed the time, so I'm passing along the experience to you . . . more questions coming :)

Do you know what you name means?

Thomas means twin.

I came across a site with lots of name info. If you're interested swing by: The link for Thomas is :)

For more on naming, check out my recent Emerging Scholars Network blog post, Finding Calcutta: Jesus’ Call to Us – “Follow Me.”

Reminded of "Cat's in the Cradle"

Posted by tom | Oct 23, 2011

The other day I was reminded of Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle and the call to be a true father -- with the added longing of becoming more "like Our Father in heaven" who waits patiently upon the homecoming of both the younger and the older children. After a brief search, I came across this beautiful piece which begins with family reflections (Harry's widow Sandy & their son Josh), moves to a performance by Harry Chapin, and concludes with a brief tribute to a talented artist who regretably died at 38 years of age in a car accident,



In another performance Harry attributes to his wife the concept and a number of the key lines "Cat's in the Cradle." Material "stolen" from her, the way all great artist's come about their great work. But a song which quite frankly scared him, As you look back and look forward, does the song scare you? Be honest ;)

Note: Not to be confused with Cat Stevens' Father & Son.

Book quiz: Who is Eden reading about?

Posted by tom | Oct 20, 2011

"Penny," said ________. "That's what I'm going to call that horse. She's the color of a new copper penny. It's a good name for her, isn't it?"

"Aye," said Ben. "Because she's an independent-minded horse, that's for certain. Call her Penny for her independence, too."

________ smiled. From then on, she thought of the horse as Penny -- beautiful, independent, bright, shining Penny.

Who is receiving Eden's attention as I tuck her into bed as Mom is with the oldest twin at gymnastics? Fill in the ________ . What an opportunity to read a book which I most probably would never otherwise read. . . . Sesame Street's over. The television's now off. A rush past me, footsteps down the stairs. I hear the violin has started to play in the background. 

"Daddy, I want to go to bed. When will Mom come home?" (the youngest)

Time for me to tuck in the youngest one. Wonder what we'll read? She's starting to look through the above mentioned book. Maybe I'll read the chapter book twice tonight. Eden borrowed it from the violinist.


Back to School Alert Message

Posted by tom | Oct 10, 2011

Today our household received an Alert Message by phone and email:

"The _____ Middle School Faculty and Adminstration are asking parents to remind students about the importance of completing homework, being respectful to each other and to the adults in the school, and attending regularly. These are vital pieces to a successful school experience and we need your help as a parent to reiterate these to your child. Thank you for your continued support and assistance in making the school experience a positive one."

Honest. I'm not joking.

Of course maybe you're already familiar with this communication style and can give advice as to whether this is typical Middle School protocol (for the framing of the realities of Middle School life after some time off*). Should I be concerned that there is something going on in the Middle School (outside of normal Middle School life) ;)

*Note: This is the second time we've received the message this fall. I believe the other time was also after time off.

2011 Etown Library Costume Swap

Posted by theresa | Oct 3, 2011

Hey local yokals: The Etown library is having a costume swap: bring in your costume (multiples?) this week during their regular hours and you'll get a ticket to come back on Sat. and pick out a new-to-you costume. I couldn't find it on their website, but it was in the Elizabethtown Advocate. I'm going to call today to find out if you get a ticket for each costume you bring in. AND when you're there on Sat. to pick out your costume, stop by the craft show and visit Naptime Inspirations! -- Originally posted by Theresa on FB.

How important is having dinner together as a family to you?

Posted by tom | Oct 2, 2011

While wrapping up a day, I came across a friend who posted this question on G+

I'm curious. How important is having dinner together as a family to you? To what lengths will you go to make it happen?

Wow! Great question. If you're currently living with family, how would you reply? If not, what was family dinner like when you were growing up?

Below is some of what I shared (in a slightly revised form, with more to come in the future):

A shared dinner (and breakfast -- in a loose sense) are very important to our family. We bend/stretch time and stomachs :) We include prayer, Scripture, and conversation (at dinner time we debrief the day by sharing highlights/struggles, i.e., examin-lite). On Wednesday we enjoy dinner and fellowship with believers at our local congregation before an evening of choirs and kids programming. What a blessing!

Ten Boom Family

Corrie ten Boom's testimony has been a great encouragement to our regular practice. Why? Her father's (Casper ten Boom) devotionals were what fed her and her sister (Betsie) the Word which enabled them to share/be the Word (with some supplement by scraps of the Gospels passed along by prison nurses and hidden in clothing) while in concentration camps. Corrie's father's meal times and the kindness/hospitality which he extended during these gatherings shaped their family's life, practice, watch business, 'hiding place,' and gatherings while in concentration camps. As I've thought about preparing those whom I've been given charge for their next steps in Christ and how a home serves as a place of hospitality, Corrie's father has often come to mind. More on Corrie ten Boom's family in future posts. . . . Above: a ten Boom family picture from

From our family's journey: With my current seminary class schedule, I miss one dinner a week. A short term concession which will not become a long term practice. I've found the material from the Psalms class fitting right into dinner conversation. During a recent dinner devotional time, one of our daughters shared about David's struggle with "being on the run" from Saul (stemming from her reading of Max Lucado's Facing Your Giants, which she has found a great encouragement in her walk). I furthered the reflection by reading and commenting upon Psalm 56, the focus text of research/discussion for my Psalms class the day before! How fun to discuss the metaphors in the text and various key words/translations which bring home the teaching. God weaves the stories and lives of the people of God in amazing ways. To God be the glory!

Don't miss Naptime Inspirations on-line or in person (10/8 Etown Library Craft Fair)

Posted by tom | Sep 29, 2011

While sharing the news about the upcoming Christian Author Series presentations

AND renewing library books for a family of readers . . .


I came across the PR video for Elizabethtown Public Library's Annual Craft Fair (10/8). Note: If the video doesn't upload, click here.

All the materials are so good! But as you know, I particularly appreciate seeing Theresa's Naptime Inspirations pieces coming from "the family room studio" during naptime . . . to being photographed . . . to being posted on the web . . . to being gathered and displayed at such venuses as Elizabethtown Public Library's Annual Craft Fair. If you're in the area, please come out to support the library and all involved.

A sampling of what from Naptime Inspirations will have available is posted on the library's website, click here. Whether or not you're in the area, the Etsy shop is always open. . . . and don't miss the Appliqued Onesie Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Alien or Heart :)

PS. A big thank-you (from me) to all involved in the process enabling Theresa to give time, attention, and energy to Creative ReUse specializing in clothing and accessories. What a joy to see her continuing growth in this trade/craft alongside generations of family and the generous gifts/interest of a growing circle of friends who likewise desire to invest in (and wrestle with) the hard task of incarnating God's call to "care for the creation" through a passion for the exploration of and soaking in the blessing of Simple Living. . . . To God be the glory!

PPS. In case you didn't pick it up, When Thrift is Chic: Living More with Less in a Real Simple World (10/27) is part of the train of thought. More on this another day. Must run to campus.

Road Trip: Traveling back in time to "ACAC"

Posted by tom | Sep 24, 2011

ACAC Church City View from ACAC website

As we begin a full day at Grove City College Homecoming with an InterVarsity Missions Fellowship (IVMF) breakfast, I also look forward to tomorrow with great anticipation. . . .

The joy of worshiping the Lord at and reconnecting with the people of God at Allegheny Center C&MA (ACAC). If you're part of ACAC, please find us and say 'Hi!'

11:15 AM Worship Service

Lunch in Simpson Hall

What a joy to once again worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ at ACAC -- knowing that we are part of the Body of Christ wherever we go and will be such through eternity. To God be the glory!

Road Trip: Traveling back in time to "the Grove"

Posted by tom | Sep 23, 2011


In a few hours, through the help of family and friends (thank-you!), Theresa and I will once again make our way back to our alma mater Grove City College. Why? 15th year class reunion at Homecoming.

Above is what I looked like when I began -- Theresa did not authorize the release of 1st-Year photos. But when I have time in the next couple weeks I'll look for photos of high school sweethearts off to college together :)


Revisiting Candyland

Posted by tom | Sep 12, 2011


When the twins were little we played hours of Candyland. Also known as "The Game that Never Ends" (you know, you get within a few blocks of winning and the next card you pick up is Plumpy. Yeah, you know...). I haven't played Candyland for so long but we "rediscovered" it this weekend while cooped up in the house for several days. The joy is that Eden is now able to play and she loves it. This excites me b/c it's a developmental milestone of sorts. She's kind of behind on the "game-playing curve". But now I'm back in Candyland. I guess there are worse things... It's also a joy to find something that all the kids can do and enjoy together. Yes, even the older girls enjoy playing. -- Theresa on FB, 9/12/2011.

More from Tom: In contrast to some of my weekend visits to Candyland, "The Game that Never Ends" lived up to its reputation this morning. But none-the-less it is fun to fill the time between when the girls get on their buses (twins earlier than Eden) mostly with Candyland -- Lily even joined us for the game :) 

Eden's intense about playing, but even more excited about getting back to school. She really missed being in class the two days cancelled due to Tropical Storm Lee's flooding. Hoping and earnestly praying all the girls enjoy their first day back and that the schools are ready for all that the members of their community bring back with them.

PS. Wish I had more time to play games! Something to look forward to in the mornings, evenings, and weekends. BTW, We also gave Chutes and Ladders a try. The Candyland characters draw more interest at this time. It's a lot of Lost Cities and Bohnanza (i.e., the Bean Game) with the twins :) More on that later . . .

Lost Cities Bohnanza

Cabin fever . . . successful outing . . . Naptime Inspirations

Posted by theresa | Sep 10, 2011

Morning on FB (Theresa): Desperate to get out of the house [cooped up since the rains came down and floods came up], we're taking the entire family to the store, the library (if it's open) and out to lunch (if it's open).

Afternoon on FB (Theresa): . . . we had a successful outing. We went to the Mount Joy library as Etown is closed due to flooding. Then picked up some essentials at the Country Store and then headed to Isaac's to use the kids' library summer reading coupons. Everybody had lots to eat and behaved very well! Home now for nap time -- which is Naptime Inspirations time for mommy :-)

Mark your calendar: 10/8 Elizabethtown Public Library Craft Fair.

Posted by tom | Sep 10, 2011

Naptime Inspiration Cupcake Onesie

On Saturday, October 8 Theresa will participate in the Elizabethtown Public Library Craft Fair with her budding Naptime Inspirations. If you're in the area, don't miss the opportunity. If you're not from the area and/or can't make it, check out her Facebook and Etsy pages :-) Visit the Elizabethtown Public Library's website for details,

Academic year starts well

Posted by tom | Aug 31, 2011

"Morning bus time used to seem early. Until your early-riser needs to kill 3 hours before she gets on the bus..." (Theresa on FB). A quick update on the new academic year: ‎

Three of the girls and their Dad have loved being in the classroom over the past several days. Praise God! We rejoice in your prayer for and encouragement of our whole family during this time of transition.

  • Focused request: On the first day, Eden's bus was 45 minutes late in drop-off. Pray for it to run more on time in the afternoon. 
  • Praise: Eden's come home very mellow, quiet, and tired (asleep by 7:30) over the past two days. Pray for this pattern to continue. 
  • Note: This morning Eden shared a desire to talk more in class. We discussed the 'times to talk' and the 'times to listen.' We'll see how it goes. Like her Dad, she has a lot to share :)

As you may guess, Theresa's enjoying the space with only our youngest (3 years old) at home during the day. With the press of the kid's school assignments (including book covering projects), Theresa's Naptime Inspirations sewing projects, and the household in general (throw in canning applesauce and spaghetti sauce for fun), I try to be (& am working on trying to be) as present as possible during not only pressure points/crunch times, but also times of Sabbath rest. I've appreciated the timing of What I Wish I'd Known About Graduate School Emerging Scholars Network Blog series -- thank-you Hannah!

In addition I'm trying as much as possible (in the process of dialogue with Theresa) to write and apply Evangelical Theological Seminary class material directly to walking with God, family, neighbors, the campus, and beyond. The genograms assignment for 'Personal Foundations for Ministry' appears particularly interesting. Keep your eyes out for my application/reading assignment posts (Note: I'll also work material into Emerging Scholars Network Blog posts), e.g., Sacred Companions: The Transformational Journey, Chapter 1).

In partnership with the church, Evangelical Seminary develops servant leaders for transformational ministry in a broken and complex world by nurturing rigorous minds, passionate hearts, and Christ-centered actions.

As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast

Posted by tom | Aug 28, 2011

Thank-you to David* :) 

I'll forward this one: As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast, federal disaster officials have warned that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA has advised: "Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook updates strung together."

Comment regarding Hurricane Irene: To access what we'll today, our family tuned into a local TV station. I had to chuckle as the station tried to invite South Central PA residents to keep track of the storm via their TV, web page, email, twitter, FB sources. Don't worry phone wasn't left out :) 

At present our power has blinked on/off several times, but has not been off for an extended time. We've turned our attention to taking a "camping trip" in the living room :) Not sure about the rest of the day, but hoping everyone's not worn out for the new school starting tomorrow -- including myself at Evangelical Theological Seminary, Myerstown, PA.

Note: Already started with InterVarsity for the new term, PSU - Hershey has been in session for several weeks. Loved having the twins join me for a variety of activies. Theresa and our youngest will start coming to some of the lunches with the rest of the girls in school.

*A friend with whom I now largely stay connected via FB.

Recipe: Microwave Popcorn Au Natural

Posted by tom | Aug 27, 2011

Did you know you can make microwave popcorn au natural? Recently Theresa shared the below recipe on Facebook. I thought I'd post it here (with some edits). . . . and yes, it will end up on Facebook again, but this time on my page ;)

Recipe: Microwave Popcorn Au Natural

Just put 1/4 cup popcorn in a brown paper bag, fold over the top (2x) and microwave for a few minutes. I'm still experimenting with the perfect timing for my microwave (1000W). I burned the first batch and the second batch was delicious but had quite a few unpopped kernels. Melt the butter in your iron skillet while it pops. Mmmm.

On-line recommendations from friends:

  • You can also sprinkle a little ranch dressing powder mix over it for an extra kick!
  • Alton Brown's DIY microwave popcorn recipe:
    • 1/4 c. popcorn, 2tsp. some kind of oil, melted butter, etc. and salt or seasoning as desired (during or after popping.) Popcorn salt is finer and sticks better. We like garlic salt. One could also choose to add a little sugar before popping, for that kettle corn flavor.

On-line endorsements:

  • That's awesome. And much cheaper!
  • Cool, just folding over the top keeps it closed? I would be afraid it would open up. I am going to have to try this.
  • I am very interested to know your final results. . . . [My spouse] and I were just talking about popcorn options on Sunday! 

Confession and Disclaimer: My preferred popping method is my "whirley popper". But this is good for a smaller quantity and easy clean up! Interestingly, when I was looking through my microwave manual to find its wattage it said not to pop popcorn in the microwave unless it's in a special popcorn contraption or its commercial microwave popcorn. I just add that so you don't blame me if something goes awry!

Tom's comment: I likewise prefer the "whirley popper," but please no toppings (including salt) or as little as possible (e.g., oil, butter) . . . unless we're talking about caramel :)

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