Thursday, January 31, 2008

Creatively Cooling a Cake

I thought this was pretty amusing when I saw it. The cooks informed me that this particular cake (angel food) has to be cooled upside-down. Since our cake expanded out of the pan we couldn't set it upside-down on a counter to cool, because it would smash the cake.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Don't Trust Your Heart

I heard some good advice the other day: don't trust your heart. It was in the context of how to determine if "gray matters" are right or wrong. It's hard to determine exactly what's right when it comes to which movies to watch, which clothes to wear, how much, if any, alcohol to drink and with whom, what music to listen to, and so on.

It's easy to get into lots of extra-biblical rules, and really, that would make everything much easier. That's not how God planned it, though. By diligently studying the Bible, seeking to imitate Christ, and not trusting our hearts, we'll know what's right.

That last step, don't trust your heart, really stood out to me because I hadn't heard it put quite like that before, and because it stands in such opposition to what our culture says. How often have you heard, "What does your heart tell you?" or "Does it feel right?" In a society where personal pleasure is the chief goal of life, we must constantly remind ourselves of this truth:

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Newest Seamstress

Cutting it out.
Sewing it together.

Becca, proudly wearing her new dress.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

January Newsletter

From Laura, 8 16/17 … The past few days I have been reading about mass and weight in science. I thought it was interesting how sometimes someone might say, “I’m going to lose some weight.” But what they really mean is that they are going to lose some mass. I also read that since I weigh about 60 pounds, I would weigh 300 newtons in the metric system.

From Becca, 11 3/8 … Mama has been helping me make a dress for myself. It is pink with little white flowers. We’re almost done. All I have to do is sew the skirt to the top part, put a zipper on, and put the facing around the neck. She had to teach me how to use a sewing machine. I think its lots of fun sewing on the sewing machine. What I’m most excited about is that now I can help Mama with her mending.

From Seth, 14 … Lately I have been considering how the way I function shows what my treasure is. How I spend my time and money, what I think about, talk about, dream about, and what I am willing to suffer for all show what I treasure most.

From Anna, 17 … I’m currently reading Amazing Grace, a biography of William Wilberforce. He was a member of the British parliament during the late 18th to the early 19th century who fought for a variety of issues, but is best-known for his decades-long battle for the abolition of the slave trade. It’s inspiring to read about how he never gave up, even after his bills were defeated again and again. A devout Christian, he believed that God had called him to this battle, so he had no choice but to keep at it, even when it seemed there was no hope. Wilberforce was known for his eloquence, his wit, his charm, and his brilliance, and could easily have attained to a high governmental position, but he instead chose to remain where God had him to make a difference in his world.

From John, 23 … It has been bitterly cold in Houston lately, just as it has across the country. It has hardly gotten above 50 degrees in days. To add to the misery of the cold, it has been rainy and perpetually overcast. As I shuffle about the un-heated house-in-progress which I occupy during the days I dream longingly of sweltering heat, a hot sun, and my face dripping with sweat. Oh well, February will be here before I know it.

From Katie, 26 … I’ve been working through a study of the book of Isaiah lately, and have found it very interesting. I had read Isaiah before, but never really paid much attention to it. It’s amazing how much foreshadowing of Jesus there is all through the book, not just the famous passages in chapters 9 and 53. There’s also a lot about God’s judgment and how he punishes sin. It’s been especially interesting to learn about what was going on in the world during Isaiah’s time, to get a historical context for his writings.

Between my sedentary job, the chilly weather, and all the reading I’ve been doing, my problem now is how to avoid turning into a pale little hunchback!

From Judith … I guess I’ve gotten used to life in the sprawling, massive city of Houston, but I still notice the way it influences our scheduling of activities. My friend and I were laughing the other day about how we don’t have any idea about how many miles it is to anywhere we go in the greater Houston area. Everything is measured in time, TWO times for that matter. For example, on weekends we live about 30 minutes from church and on weeknights we’re about 50 minutes away. It’s always a question of WHEN you are going. It’s assumed that people with flexible schedules will choose late morning or early afternoon for daytime errands and appointments. People will wait until after the morning traffic to venture out or hurry home from daytime shopping or visits to beat the traffic. It’s like what people do with storms. They either wait until it passes or rush to beat it, but in Houston it happens like clockwork twice a day!

Gerald and John deal with it every day. As a family we deal with it whenever we have a 7:00 weeknight activity. As I ride in the van at those times, my heart goes out to those folks who face that every single day. It also makes me very grateful for the times when we have visits and Bible studies with nearby friends and neighbors. Ah, life in a big city – makes you want to move to one, huh!?

From Gerald … I heard an interesting program on the radio recently. It was discussing how computer technology has advanced in power and function while getting smaller and smaller in size. One interesting point was that the largest components now seem to be keyboards and screens. We humans are the limiting factor; if the keyboards are too small, we cannot use them, and we like to have BIG screens to see more stuff more easily. But, of course we need to have some way to interact with the machines. We are indispensable, yet also are a limiting factor in their efficiency.

It occurs to me that this is much like our relationship with the Lord. In many ways, it seems God’s purposes would be carried out much more efficiently if we were not involved. Just as our interface with computers makes them more cumbersome, so our humanness seems to limit our effectiveness in ministry. Yet, God has chosen us to be his tools, to play an important part in accomplishing his plan.

Our Love, Gerald, Judith, Katie, John, Anna, Seth, Becca, and Laura

Family Picture

This was taken at a friend's party a few weeks ago. You can't get the height perspectives since we're on stairs, but hey, stop complaining.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Overheard Earlier Today

"You know how one half of the earth is dark and the other is light? Could you stand with one foot on the dark side and one on the light side?"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

You Just Never Know

Christmas caroling has been a long-standing Pedersen family tradition. When we sing, people will often say how much they appreciated it, but, unless we have some later contact for other reasons, we don't remember ever hearing anything further from anyone.

Until yesterday.

Seth, Becca, Laura, and I were playing outside yesterday morning, and a golf ball ended up in the street. It was near the curb, so we didn't rush out to get it right away. Before we got it, a pickup came driving up, went a little past us and stopped suddenly right behind our ball. The man driving then got out and started coming around towards us.

I'm thinking, Okay, what is this guy up to? Is he mad about our golf ball in the road? Is he going to yell at us? Should I be worried? What's going on, anyway?

He said, "When you all came Christmas caroling, it was the best part of our entire Christmas."

Continuing, he told us that he could remember when people actually went caroling, and how special it was that we took the time out to do that. He said it was "spectacular" and not to forget them next year because they were looking forward to it!

We assume that he was just driving by, and recognized us after he'd partly passed, which is why he stopped so suddenly.

The funny thing was that when we'd caroled at his house, we'd actually scared him. He came around the side of the house from the back, worried about his family, because of this group of strangers in front of his house!

It's encouraging to hear how much a simple gesture like that meant to someone. Sometimes it's easy to wonder if doing something like that is just fun for you, or if it really makes a difference in another's life. We don't often get to hear the results, so this was a treat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mosquitoes in New Plymouth

After the original group of pilgrims established Plymouth Plantation, private settlers came from England to join them. A few of them did not find life in the colony pleasing and returned to England. A list of their objections was sent to the pilgrims. Here is the 12th objection and the pilgrims’ response:

Objection: The people are much pestered with mosquitoes.
Answer: They are too delicate and unfit to begin new plantations and colonies who cannot endure the biting of mosquito. We would wish such to keep at home,--at least till they be mosquito proof. But this is as free as any, and experience teaches that the more the land is tilled and the woods cut down, the fewer there will be,--and in the end scarcely any at all.
--From The Plymouth Settlement

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Why the Study of History is Important

"Please inquire of past generations, and consider the things searched out by their fathers. For we are only of yesterday and know nothing, because our days on earth are as a shadow. Will they not teach you and tell you, and bring forth words from their minds?"

~Job 8:8-10

Our lifetimes are small indeed in comparison to all of history. We cannot know and experience all that God has done in history, nor can we begin to comprehend the big picture of the world without understanding what He has done. When we study history, we can begin to see God's hand at work throughout all generations. We see the rise and fall of nation after nation, and can learn lessons for our own time by seeing what has gone before. Why have to learn the hard way all the same lessons that our forefathers learned, if we can gain from their experience?

"Inquire of past generations... will they not teach you and tell you?"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Success of Capitalism in New Plymoth

[The Pilgrims] began to consider how to raise more corn, and obtain a better crop than they had done, so that they might not continue to endure the misery of want. At length after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household, and to trust to themselves for that. So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number with that in view. This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

--William Bradford, in The Plymoth Settlement

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Glimpse of the Future?

A friend of ours recently gave us her wedding dress. She has always thought it was hideous, even when she wore it. Becca and Laura both enjoyed trying it on. (All right, I confess. I tried it on too. :) I didn't let anyone get a picture of me, though.)