Sunday, June 23, 2013

Father's Day

My poor dad's birthday is always right around/on Father's Day, so the two events always manage to get merged into one. This year was no exception.

Last Christmas my dad gave us all shirts that say "Hey, wanna know something?" This was a question he used to always pose to us when we were little, and we would eagerly demand "what?" He would respond "I love you!" As we grew older, the question itself came to mean he loved us.

On Father's Day we wore our shirts to church, and our gifts all centered around them too. He got a mug with the picture below on it, and a collage picture frame filled with pictures of us jumping. Or, for the most part, us attempting to jump. Trying to get a picture of four people in the air using a camera on a self-timer is harder than it sounds!

While the four Marken girls showing up to church in t-shirts is not a typical occurrence, I do hope that our actions honored Dad, and showed him how much we love him. We have been blessed to have had such a Godly man raise us in his own gentle way.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I live a fast-paced life in a faster-paced world. I am a multi-tasker even when the need to multi-task does not exist. I surround myself with noise to keep my ears occupied while my eyes and hands are busy with other things.

Then the power goes out. A storm rages. The wind tosses tree branches around as if they are bubbles. My computer sits useless; my chance to work through my to-do list is snatched away.

So I sit back, relax, and enjoy the sound of the rain pounding against the windows. A momentary pause to my day. 

Twenty minutes later the sun's presence can again be felt. Yet evidence of the storm lingers. Silence replaces power-induced noises. It stretches through the afternoon and into the evening. What began as a pause lengthened into a disruption of the entire day. No Internet, no photo editing capabilities, no iTunes.

A quiet workout. A shower in the dark. A supper of graham crackers and peanut butter. A phone conversation with a good friend. Time spent playing the guitar. A chapter in Nehemiah and one in Proverbs.

A chance to connect with my Creator. Without distractions.

As the shadows lengthen and the candlelight flickers, I spend time with the One who loves me most. The silence engulfs me like a gentle, drawn-out embrace. A chance to unburden my heart. I pour out my concerns, my fears for some I love who are headed down paths of pain and sorrow.

My Father hears. My Lover comforts. His grace in my life becomes more pronounced, more incredible, as I see His grace in the lives of others. An understanding washes over me. The pain I feel over the presence of sin in this world is only the faintest shadow of the pain He feels. The pain He felt the day He died to give me the chance to live in freedom in such a world.

The darkness engulfs the house. Small flames dance and flicker on their wicks, fighting to hold off the coming night. They reflect the daily battle of a follower of Christ. The silence deepens into peace. Fireflies begin to glow. As the night settles into its darkest, my confidence in Light's final victory grows. Victory that will replace the pain with eternal joy.

My to-do list sits untouched by my computer. The Father's Day gift will have to wait. Preparation for grading next week's work will have to wait. Life interrupted today's best-laid plans. A quick storm took my twenty-first century comforts with it. It left in its wake the chance for me to be reminded of the promise in His presence.

A promise found in silence.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I have often thought it strange that graduation ceremonies are called "commencements" when the majority of the time is spent celebrating where the graduates have come from and the conclusion of that stage of their lives. There's always the obligatory answer to "what are you going to do now?" that must be uttered multiple times that day, but the diploma is the crowning moment of a stage of schooling and we bury it in a ceremony we call a beginning. Strange. But, I suppose as a historian, I am more concerned with appreciating the past than I am with focusing on the future, so perhaps my perspective of graduations is what is strange, and not the word "commencement".

My sister's high school graduation ceremony was beautiful, and very different from my own. I did what I do best at my sisters' graduations: take pictures. These were a little less of a fiasco than Kyra's were, mostly because you cannot underestimate nine years of technological improvements in cameras, but also because I've also learned a little more about photography since then. By time Kory's graduation rolls around, I'll be able to get really nice pictures for her!

While it is strange to think of Kaitlyn going off to college (in Massachusetts, no less), it has been neat to see the accomplished woman of God she is becoming. The "quiet" Marken girl (although those of us who really knew her knew this label was never quite accurate) has a boldness and confidence about her that really shines when she gets on stage. She can also tap dance like nobody's business, and make you cry in a heartbeat through one of her short stories.

The Class of 2013

Homeschool Graduation flashback: The Class of 2006.
Amazing how long ago this was, even though it doesn't feel like it!

Each graduate played a slideshow during the ceremony, which added a sweet touch to the day. I made Kaitlyn's, and got a little more ambitious in what I wanted to do than iMovie would allow. Rather than letting the limitations of consumer software stop me, I showed my computer who was boss and merely moved over to Final Cut Pro. If I want to put three pictures on the screen at the same time, I will, thank you very much. I had so much fun working in Final Cut again! (I still LOVE editing movies. If anyone ever needs any video edited, please think of me…)

I was instructed on how to begin it, so I cannot take credit for that brilliance (and it really is a brilliant opening. Good idea, whichever sister thought of it!) If you'd care to enjoy all of the hard work that Kaitlyn still owes me a lot of fudge for, I can make that happen. Just click the play button below, and you're in business! (For best results, be sure you have your audio turned up before you hit play. Trust me, you don't want to miss the audio at the beginning.)

Monday, June 3, 2013


Yay for summers, when sisters graduate from high school (wait, WHAT? When did my little sis get THAT old?), internships only require a few days of work a week, and little buddies need playing with while their parents are out celebrating an anniversary. Being "Rissa" for a whole day was so nice!

I can guarantee you that whoever you were with on Friday were not as cute as who I was with. Or maybe they were equally as cute. No way they were cuter!

Cannot believe he was born while I was in college. Surely I am not that old, am I?

This is the Star Wars wizard right here. I promised him that I would finally get around to watching those movies this summer. I fear that if I don't, I will never be able to understand a word he is saying ever again. This should come as some comfort to those of you who have wondered how I could have been a media major having never seen Star Wars. This is a wrong in my life that will finally be righted. (Also, I would like to note that he was not mad here. He was merely trying to figure out why I was taking a picture of him and not the goat. I don't think he could understand it.)

Those buddies who were little when I left for college are no longer so little. So, I babysit the younger ones, and I socialize with the older ones. It's a good system. After all, I go over there to play. We really need people who are responsible around!

And when I say "babysit" the three little ones, this is what I mean. My secret has now been exposed. (After this, we played Pretty, Pretty Princess, but I was so intent on strategizing how to become the princess that I failed to get any good future blackmail pictures of the boys. Also, I think the best definition of maturity is "the ability to exercise restraint to NOT always take the crown when you land on 'choose any piece' in Pretty Pretty Princess, because you know it is the only piece that you can and will lose before you get to go again." This is such a hard real-life concept to grasp.)