Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mentoring at Its Best

Recently Gordon's Companions for the Journey program celebrated both Christmas and the end to a successful semester of fruitful mentoring.
Laurie Truschel, director of discipleship ministries, and Alyssa Baker, sophomore and Laurie's intern, oversee Companions, a mentoring program that matches students with faculty or staff mentors from the Gordon community. “We believe students benefit greatly from interaction with those who have committed their lives to walking with Christ,” says Laurie, “seeking to honor Him in their vocational and spiritual lives.” The eight- to 10-week program is set up to encourage students to be more like Christ, using mentoring as a vehicle to make this happen.
Alyssa agrees: “Our prayer is that both our mentors and students would be blessed by the opportunity to share their lives with each other through stories of their past and their hopes for the future. During our Christmas party it seemed like a lot of these prayers were answered—two matches shared how much of a blessing it was to get to know each other and how much both mentors and students learned. Each was surprised by how challenged they were and the inspiration they gained from spending time together.”

Learn more about Companions for the Journey.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Make a Fluffernutter

Yates, associate director for Gordon in Lynn (GIL), with a special how-to guide for Notes Along the Way.

One of our philosophies with Gordon in Lynn, an urban service-learning partnership between Gordon and Lynn, is that you need to get to know the city in which you live and minister. GIL’s director, Val Buchanan, and I both live in Lynn and have come to know and love many aspects about this city from the beautiful ocean front to the diverse cultures (and their corresponding eateries), to the vast Lynn woods. We’ve also gotten to know a little of Lynn’s history.
Lynn is known as the city of firsts—including the first female model, Lydia Pinkham, who used her image to sell apothecary products and the nation’s first jet airplane engine, which was built at Lynn’s General Electric plant in 1942. But most don’t know that Fluff was also first produced in Lynn! It is believed that a Somerville man invented the gooey white stuff in 1917 and then sold the recipe to two young entrepreneurs, Durkee and Mower, whose business savvy and creativity allowed
Fluff to become a bonafide food product beyond our Massachusetts borders.
While we don’t send Gordon students to the factory for service-learning opportunities (maybe someday?), we do enjoy spreading the Fluff love. To that end, relive some childhood memories with this how-to guide.

How to make a Fluffernutter:
Step One: Spread 2 tablespoons of Marshmallow Fluff on a slice of Wonder bread.
Step Two: Spread 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (preferably Skippy Smooth) on another piece of white bread.
Step Three: Stick together and enjoy!

No time to make your own? Just head to the Lane Student Center, where this New England staple is always on the menu.

In addition to her flair for Fluff, Christy Yates is especially passionate about the intersection of faith, the arts, and sustainable community development. During seminary her final thesis involved writing a business plan for her church's drop-in pottery studio—now a viable social enterprise.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Bach, Earl Grey and Dr. Wilson

Elizabeth Fisher is a senior at Gordon College. Her academic focus is on biblical studies, Jewish studies and biblical languages. For three terms she’s served as the teaching assistant (T.A.) for Dr. Marv Wilson—author, editor, and professor to many. She shares her experience below.

“For the past year and a half Frost Hall has become my home away from home, and Dr. Wilson’s office has become my sanctuary. Whether I’m grading exams or studying, you’ll often find me there—listening to Bach, enjoying a steaming cup of Earl Grey tea with a stack of exams in front of me and a red pen in hand.

“He once said my willingness to help was an answered prayer. What I’ve come to understand since I started this assignment is that the answer to prayer extended both ways: God provided a T.A. for Dr. Wilson and an invaluable experience for me—an experience that has served to shape my thinking about His plans for my future.
“This semester I’ve attended Dr. Wilson’s Old Testament class, led weekly review sessions for his students and assisted with grading. Although Dr. Wilson always reads and grades his students’ essays, the experience of being a T.A. is both challenging and immensely rewarding since Dr. Wilson’s classes are packed with rich biblical knowledge.”

After graduation Elizabeth plans to enroll in graduate school. Her hope and goal, as she wraps up her senior year here at Gordon, is to obtain her Ph.D. in biblical studies and teach at the professor level . . . just like her mentor, Dr. Marvin Wilson.


Homemade Christmas III

Give the gift of warmth this Christmas! Surprise your friends and family with easy-to-make rice bag foot warmers as they come in from the cold. Directions are courtesy of Lisa (Schwabauer) Poblenz ’02, who said, “I received one of these years ago from my aunt. It was so great that I made several of my own as gifts. These are a staple in our house in the winter and for aches and pains all year long.” Keep reading to find out how to warm up your loved ones’ lives this Christmas.

Rice Bag Foot Warmers


• ½ yard of muslin or other 100% cotton fabric for the rice bag itself (this will be mostly unseen)
• ½ yard of 100% cotton fabric for the outer covering of the rice bag (it will be like a small pillowcase)
• 2–3 cups of uncooked rice to fill the bag with
• Thread in the colors of your two fabric pieces
• Sewing machine (recommended) or needle and thread
• Fabric scissors
• Rotary cutter, clear ruler, and cutting mat (all optional)
• Iron and ironing board
• Straight pins


• Wash and dry all of your fabric without using a fabric softener sheet. Iron all fabric.
• Cut the fabric. You will need an 11" x 15" piece of the muslin/rice bag fabric and a 14" x 16" piece of the fabric for the “pillowcase” of the rice bag.
• Begin to sew the inner cover. Fold the inner fabric (muslin or whatever you are using) in half, making a 7 ½" x 11" rectangle with right sides together. Pin. Sew the bottom and side of the bag with a ¼" seam, removing pins as you come to them. Turn the bag right-side-out.
• Fill the bag with rice until it is about ½ full when you hold it by the top.
• Sew the top seam of the rice bag. Fold ¼" of the fabric at the top to the inside all the way around the opening and iron with the steam off. Pin. Sew a ⅛" seam to close the opening. Don’t worry that this seam shows.
• Create a hem at the opening of the outer cover. On one of the 16" sides of your outer cover fabric, fold ½" of fabric to the wrong side and iron. Then, fold the fabric again ½", enclosing the raw edge and iron. Pin. Sew the seam you’ve created with a ¼" seam taking the pins out as you go.
• Finish the outer cover. Fold the fabric in half, making an 8" x 13" rectangle with right sides together. Pin the bottom and side together and then sew with a ¼" seam taking pins out as you go. Leave the top (where you made your hem) open. Turn inside out and iron.
• Slip the rice bag into its cover and it’s done!

When you or the recipient of your gift wants to use your rice bag, microwave it for two minutes on high power, making sure it never gets wet. Then use it to warm your feet, soothe your aches, or keep you cozy when you’re watching all those Christmas movies.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paper Angels, Pine Cones and Recycled Confetti = ?

Elizabeth Pfeffer, an English major at Gordon, recently led a sustainable ornament night to teach children about the ease, fun and value of “green-living.”

Recycling bins; trash cans; things found on a walk in the woods . . . hardly items you think of during Christmas time, right? Not according to the Advocates for a Sustainable Future. Recently we offered a sustainable ornament night, where families and students could experience creating earth-friendly decorations.
Who says Christmas has to incorporate new rolls of printed wrapping paper, or nice glass ornaments from Macy’s? The materials we started with were far from festive, but the finished pieces were more beautiful than anything bought in a store.

The night was a real family experience as parents, students and children helped each other create something beautiful out of something . . . well, not. They used their creativity and problem-solving skills to decorate pine cones with glitter and pipe cleaners or make paper angels on the backs of old term papers.
But the real joy from the evening was listening to the reactions we received. One mother in particular, her sons totally covered in glitter, glue and recycled confetti, exclaimed over and over, “This is so cool! I never would have thought of this,” as she looked with astonishment at the beautiful pine cone ornaments her sons were making. Ultimately, that was just the reaction we hoped to get . . . the realization that sustainable living isn’t extreme or difficult, but can be easy, tangible, and above all else, beautiful.

Elizabeth is a senior at Gordon College and currently lives off campus in the art district of nearby Beverly. A resident of Harwood, MD, she's currently an active member of the student club Advocates for a Sustainable Future.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Gordon Students Launch News Service

For existing news outlets on the North Shore (and beyond) who might be experiencing reduced staff because of the current economic state, there is good news. January 2010 marks the launch of the Gordon College News Service (GCNS), a multimedia internship program that provides journalism students with the opportunity to gain professional experience as they cover a wide range of stories.
Communication Arts student Christina Matthew, of Havre de Grace, MD, has long been
drawn to publications and is the founding administrative coordinator for the program. Along with Jo Kadlecek, their Gordon faculty advisor and founding editor of the internship, Christina and her peers are ready to launch the service for the benefit of local media partners, journalism students and the wider community.


3,000 Impressions

Amanda McGregor, reporter for The Salem News, writes on the impact Gordon College is having in Salem through the Institute of Public History.

The Salem News - As many as 3,000 people visited Pioneer Village during the summer and fall, breathing life back into the city’s replica 17th-century historic settlement that had been shuttered since 2003.
Meanwhile, the city’s landmark Old Town Hall in Derby Square has seen more use as a rental facility and continues to undergo renovations. The increased activity and improvements at both city-owned properties are being driven by the Gordon College Institute for Public History, a nonprofit, which this summer entered its second year of a five-year lease.
Read the entire front-page article titled Good First Year for Group Running Historical Attractions in the December 9, 2009, issue of The Salem News, as well as, local readership commentary on Gordon’s work HERE.


This Way . . . To Finish the Course!

As finals week creeps closer, students are beginning to make the necessary adjustments: We’re writing out study schedules and stocking up on easy-fix meals; we’re not going out as much, but we are going to the library more than usual. It’s all part of the routine, and thank goodness Finish the Course is part of it as well.
Finish the Course is Gordon College’s “friendly finals helper,” according to the Academic Support Center (ASC), who organizes the study-help program every year. They offer mentoring, workshops, time-management and study sessions to help students succeed, not just academically but also mentally during this stressful time. They’ve also organized a quiet study hall for students nightly through finals week, complete with writing tutors, treats and coffee.
Students should stay tuned for event updates and encouraging emails from ASC entreating us with 2 Timothy 4:7 to persevere: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Geekiest Christmas Ornaments Contest

Stephen Collins recently took part in the second annual Geekiest Christmas Ornament Contest. He writes:

“I’ve been pretty excited to take a stab at the physics and engineering Christmas ornament competition. My ornament has taken a fair amount of work to put together and relies heavily on the things I learned in my first-year engineering course with Dr. David Lee. When I finally get it working, it will take your picture whenever you stand in front of it, complete with a beep timer and a clap-to-retake feature. Looking at ornaments from years past, I’m hoping I’ll stand a good chance at the Best Overall award, or at least the Best Tech award. The prize for Best Extemporaneous Biblical Exegesis may be a little harder to claim.
“Regardless, showing mine off and marveling at the creativity of my peers will surely be one of the highlights of this year’s Physics Department Christmas Party. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know both the upperclassmen and the faculty in the department through fun get-togethers like the biweekly physics cookout, and I’m looking forward to the Christmas Party as a great capstone for a semester of phun fysics.”

Prospective students: If you’d like to learn more about all the cool stuff that goes on in Gordon’s 3-2 engineering program and in our Physics Department, give Dr. Lee a call at 978.867.4372 or send him a message at In fact, why not get in touch to arrange a visit?


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home-Made Christmas II

This Christmas season, create unique and fashionable clothing pieces for your friends and family using scraps around the house. Not only will you save money, but you’ll be able to tailor to your loved ones’ different personalities and styles from the comfort of your home. You can match them to the fabrics you used for your homemade belts from the last session or start anew! Once again, Lisa (Schwabauer) Poblenz ’02 shows us how . . .

Appliqué Shirts

Ever feel like your stash of T-shirts is getting a little boring? That’s what got me started using appliqués for T-shirt embellishment. The great thing is that these shirts make fun and unique gifts, and you can apply this skill to other fabric items too.


• A T-shirt, new or used (I’ve typically used 100% cotton).
• Fusible webbing like Stitch Witchery (This can usually be bought very inexpensively by the yard).
• Fabric to make the appliqué shapes with—knit and woven fabric will both work well; the amount depends on the size and number of shapes you plan to put on the shirt; ¼ yard is probably a good place to start, or you can use scrap fabric or scrap T-shirts for material.
• Matching or contrasting thread, as you desire, to go around the outside of the appliquéd shapes if you are machine sewing; thread or embroidery floss for hand sewing (You choose which way you’ll want to attach the pieces).
• Template to make shapes or a sketchbook, pencil and eraser to draw your own shapes.
• Transfer paper to transfer your designs onto your heavy paper (optional).
• Heavy paper (like cardstock) or thin cardboard (an empty cereal box is thick enough) to draw on and cut your shapes out of.
• Pencil, pen or marker to draw your shapes with.
• Separate scissors for paper and fabric (don’t use your fabric scissors to cut paper; it will make them dull faster).
• Iron and ironing board.
• Sewing machine or hand sewing/embroidery needle.


• Machine wash and dry all fabric. Make sure you don’t use a fabric softener sheet in the dryer with your fabric or T-shirts (It can keep fusible interfacing from adhering, should you need it in the future, and may interfere with the fusible webbing adhering as well).
• Prepare your templates. Draw out whatever shapes you want to use to your satisfaction in a sketchbook or find shapes to trace (I’m including a few with these directions). Then cut out your shapes and trace onto your cardstock or cardboard, or use your transfer paper to trace the designs onto your cardstock or cardboard. Cut out your templates from the cardstock/cardboard.
• Using the templates you’ve just made, trace your designs onto the dull side of the fusible webbing. The dull side is the one that feels most like normal paper.
• Cut out the general shape of each design from the fusible webbing using your paper scissors. You don’t have to bother with cutting it out exactly just yet.
• Attach the fusible webbing to your fabric. Turn on your iron to the cotton setting. While it is heating, position the pieces of fusible web with the designs on them onto your fabric with the dull side of the fusible web (the side you drew on) up and the shinier, smoother side down on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, iron over them. They should adhere to your fabric. If they don’t, run the iron over them again, letting it rest on top of each design for a few seconds. Once they are staying on reasonably well, let them cool.
• Cut out the appliqué patches. Using your fabric scissors, cut out your shapes exactly from the fabric and fusible webbing that you’ve ironed together.
• Attach your appliqué pieces to your T-shirt. Arrange your appliqué pieces as you’d like them on your T-shirt. One thing to consider is that if you will be using a sewing machine to stitch them to your shirt, it will be very hard to stitch in the sleeves, so you’ll have an easier time if you stick to the body of the shirt. Once you have the pieces all arranged, peel off the paper from the back of your fabric pieces. The back should now have a surface on it that can be ironed onto your shirt. Iron the pieces onto your shirt.
• Let the pieces cool for a few minutes.
• Sew/embroider around the edges of your pieces. To ensure that your pieces stay in place permanently on the shirt, you’ll want to sew around the outside of each one using a decorative stitch or a zigzag stitch on your machine. Instead of this, you can also choose to hand embroider around each piece. I’ve always used the machine for speed, but you should choose what will fit your skills and sense of style best.

You’re all finished! Now you have a unique shirt to give (or keep).

To see more of Lisa's work, visit


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Homemade Christmas

Some of us are still reeling from the aftermath of Black Friday—headaches from being caught in dense traffic during peak shopping hours, lost sleep when we went to stores with the sun to get the sale. But years past have proved that this madness will continue right until Christmas morning. If you’re tired of stressing while shopping, we’re here to offer you some hope.
We’ve enlisted our friend Lisa (Schwabauer) Poblenz ’02 of Ipswich, MA, to help us out this year with Christmas gifts—the old-fashioned way. She has been making crafts and gifts for as long as she can remember and has some great ideas for homemade presents. “I love finding the perfect gift,” she said. “But one that I’ve made is an offering of time and love, too.” It will also save you money, save you from the glaring florescent lights in the mall, and, more importantly, help your friends and family see that they’re worth more than a sale.
This week’s gift idea is cloth belts, and we’ll be posting directions for more of Lisa’s gifts in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! Below are directions on how to make Lisa’s cute cloth belts.

Cloth Belt
I made this belt after looking around at all the great cloth and ribbon belts on the market. They seemed so expensive to buy yet simple to make, so I decided to give it a try myself.

• 1 belt buckle—mine was approximately 2 ½ inches x 2 ¾ inches with a 1 ½ inch shaft in the middle
• Scrap fabric of three types: one for the front, one for the back, and heavy duty fabric such as canvas for extra stability in the middle (this will be unseen); ¼ yd. of each should be more than enough. I used pieces from a vintage quilt that was too frayed for repair, part of a vintage pillow case, and off-white canvas. I also made sure I liked my front and back fabrics, so that I could make the belt reversible.
• Thread in whatever colors you like—matching or contrasting
• Sewing machine (recommended) or sewing needle
• Scissors sharp enough to cut fabric and/or thread or a rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and clear ruler
• Measuring tape or ruler
• Iron and ironing board
• Straight pins


• Wash and dry your fabric, but do not use a fabric softener sheet (if you need to fuse something to the fabric at a later time, the fabric softener sheet will prevent this)
• Determine the length and width of your belt: measure the bar on the inside of the belt buckle that you will be attaching the belt to for width, and measure your own waist or, if you can, the waist of the person you are making this for. I measured my own waist and estimated sizes for those I was making belts for—this doesn’t have to be exact—it’s ok to have extra length. Write down these two measurements.
• Now for some addition: add ½ inch to the width and about 9 inches to the length. The extra width gives you your seam allowances on the sides and the length gives you that as well as length to go around the shaft of the buckle and to actually put through the buckle when you put it on.
• Cut the front and back fabric. You will want to use the measurements you wrote down to cut strips of the front and back fabric. I cut my own fabric in strips 2 inches wide, and just cut as many as I could from my limited supply since I was making several belts. Your strips will not be the length you are going for—just cut the width you need and you will sew the strips into the proper length later.
• Cut the middle (heavier) fabric. This layer will be slightly different to cut down on the number of fabric layers you have to sew through. The middle fabric layer should be the width of the belt without the added seam allowance (in the case of my belt, it was 1 ½ inches) and the length that you wrote down minus ½ inch. I made my belt 51 inches long, so my middle layer would have been 50 ½ inches in length.
• Sew the strips together. Taking two front fabric strips, put right sides together and line them up at one end. Sew across, width-wise, in about ¼ inch. Continue to do this until you have the length you need. Repeat with the back fabric and the middle fabric. After you have sewn your strips together, iron the seams open on the wrong side.
• Secure the middle fabric to the back fabric. Lay your middle fabric onto the wrong side of your back fabric and fold the edges of your back fabric over onto the middle fabric (this will be that extra ¼ inch of fabric on each side that you have for a seam allowance), ironing it down as you go. Pin the seam allowances down so they stay put.
• Sew the back and middle fabrics together. Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine or with your needle and thread, sew the fold you just made as close to the edge as possible, catching the middle fabric between the layers of your back fabric.
• Iron the seam allowances down for your front fabric. Lay your front fabric on your ironing board with the wrong side up. All the way around, as you did with your back fabric (but without having to work with a middle fabric), iron ¼ inch of fabric in toward the middle of your front fabric and pin.
• Sew the seam allowance for the front fabric down. You should now have a long strip of front fabric and a long strip of back fabric with a stabilizing (middle) layer sewn into it.
• Sew the two strips together. Pin wrong sides together and sew all the way around the belt, keeping close to the edge of the belt. You should now have one large strip of fabric that is your assembled belt minus the buckle.
• Optional step: At this point, you may want to quilt your belt by sewing lines in any pattern over the whole thing. I sewed in a free motion pattern all over my belt because my top fabric, from an old quilt, was already quite frayed.
• Sew your belt onto your buckle. Fold about 2 or 2 ½ inches over your belt buckle, keeping the back fabric on the outside of the fold. Then sew across the width of the belt to secure the end to the main part of the belt.

That’s it! At this point you should have a finished belt that is reversible and also machine washable as long as your buckle and fabric are not too delicate. Enjoy!

Like this and want more ideas? Visit or email Lisa at


Friday, December 4, 2009

Boston’s Top Doctors (in Progress)—Meet Marya Spurling ’08

BOSTON MAGAZINE: Top Doctors: The Best Physicians in 55 Specialties, as Chosen by Their Peers.

Article: “The Doctors Are In (Progress)”

“With more than 2,000 students enrolled at the Hub’s three major medical schools—not to mention the scores that flock to its world-class hospitals for training—the city is filled with young people you may one day know as your heart surgeon, or your kid’s pediatrician. Meet 12 of them today . . .”

Marya is a a graduate of Gordon College from the class of 2008. Read the entire BOSTON magazine article written by journalist
Mary Carmichael at

Congratulations, Marya!

Photography by Dana Smith, copyright, BOSTON magazine.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Fullness of Shalom

Gordon in Lynn is an active place each semester. This afternoon 145 students, all serving in the community of Lynn, gathered on campus for The Great Conversation—a special Gordon in Lynn celebration.

Jennifer Brink, coordinator of academically based service learning, shares:

Serve and Learn Teams (SAL) gathered together to reflect on and make connections regarding their service as well as celebrate the relationships established this semester. With 11 teams and 28 trips to and from the city of Lynn each week, the program is rooted in relationships. The majority of Gordon students participate in service through their first-year seminar The Great Conversation, where they connect course readings and discussions with their experiences serving people and organizations in the city of Lynn.

Today we gathered to review course themes of love, suffering, community and the good life—reminding students of the call to shalom.We’ve caught a glimpse of ‘the good life’ promised for us in Scripture and echoed by people like Peter Kreeft, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nick Wolterstorff. In this time of Advent we wait for the fullness of shalom, and yet we are still called to work and struggle for justice.”


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas at Gordon

Its finally here . . . the start of CHRISTMAS AT GORDON.

Wrap up the kids and join us for festive
Christmas hayrides. Then gather together for a Tree Lighting with President Carlberg—a time of carols, live music by the Jabulani Choir, Christmas reflections, and complimentary hot chocolate and candies.


World AIDS Day: A Scientist’s Perspective

From associate professor of biology Dr. Craig Story on World AIDS Day:

“World AIDS Day is an important day because so many millions of adults and children in the world are directly and indirectly suffering from the results of HIV virus infection. As a biology researcher who is very interested in immunology, I encourage everyone on this day to become informed about the HIV virus
as a global health issue.
In addition to my teaching and research, I serve as the prehealth professions advisor to biology students at Gordon College and, consequently, have been following the world’s recent upsurge in HIV in some parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. What is uniquely concerning about this virus compared to others is that it’s very small, mutates rapidly, and is therefore a major challenge to attack with a vaccination strategy.
“I’m thankful, though, that our work in Gordon’s Ken Olsen Science Center is impacting the field of science every day. And on this day especially, I’m hopeful that all of us—particularly in the field of science—would pause and think critically about the issue, our research and the impact it could have on the world.”