It’s February 8, 2012.
It’s been 18 months exactly since I woke up at my new home at Sacandaga Bible Conference in Broadalbin, on a 50-degree Adirondack morning, the cold morning dew soaking my sneakers as I walked to the dining hall.
That means it’s been 18 months and one day since I drove past the green sign, “New York — The Empire State,” and abandoned the North Jersey life and comforts I’d known for the last 10 years, in favor bringing my wife and daughter back home to the Adirondacks.
And that means it’s been 18 months and two days since I last wrote a blog post about food.
The world is different now. At least mine is. Or maybe not.
I’m still a journalist, as I’ve been since my first byline in my hometown paper at age 17. But the honor of being the food and dining editor at one of the 45 largest newspapers in the country, within shouting distance of midtown Manhattan, is only something I can fondly look back on. I’m now waking up at 4 a.m. to shepherd public hearings, laughing children, misguided local politcos, honor rolls, petit larcenies, check passings and the occasional dead animal into one of the country’s last surviving afternoon community newspapers.
I’m still a family man, full of pride from not only my own beautiful wife and daughter but also an extended family that many could only dream of. But I am constantly astonished to see the lives of everyone else evolve faster than mine. Baby Girl has grown into a smart, sensitive preteen who now will only snuggle up when she’s sure nobody is looking. Baby Brother and his wife a few towns away have become incredible, versatile Christian musicians, ready to move out the moment their big break comes. Favorite Teenage Niece became 18 overnight and fled to a southern college to simultaneously rock it on the president’s list and figure out what it all means — and what “it” is. Grammy, 88, says she’s losing her memory while Grampy, 92, whistles aimlessly in the background. Model Father-In-Law — his failing health and our duty to help were the catalysts for the move — was called home by the Lord before we even got the Jersey plates off the car.
I am still a Christian who never feels wavering faith, although that’s not so much a pat on the back as it is an admission that perhaps it hasn’t been tested as much as it could be. But with a more stressful schedule and smaller paychecks, I find myself learning more on God and reminding myself of his promises, never surprised when he delivers, even if it’s not the way I would expect or if it doesn’t quite fit into the Facebook timeline. He’s led us us with a warm home, sufficient jobs, big families and old and new friends at every turn. He’s amazed me with showing me new understandings of Bible verses and passages I thought I already understood. He has given all of us so much, when we give so little in return.
Which brings me to one more thing that hasn’t changed. Or has it?
I’m still a cook, but with a deeper purpose than filling my own stomach. I’m a camp cook, and that job still means everything it did when I attended the former New England Keswick (now part of Hume), Camp Orchard Hill and Camp Spofford as a kid. Alongside my wife, Julie, we provide the physical nourishment for campers, guests and staff while their hearts are prepared for the spiritual nourishment they’ll get from more focused attention from their counselors, pastors or leaders.
With every egg we scramble, every prime rib we carve and every ice cream cone we scoop, we do it with the knowledge that we are not primarily serving ourselves or even the campers and guests. We’re serving God, and there is no greater purpose in life.
I don’t know what this blog will be, but surely, it’ll be about that.
Photo: In The Record Kitchen, November 2007. Photo by Tyson Trish/The Record