Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Playing Empire

After the Serven's post about this game, which included instructions (in the comment section), we thought it looked like fun. Last night was our first time to try it out, and we enjoyed it very much. The Listmaker.
Advice givers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Almost Everything Ends Sometime

The most important things do not though:

God has been and will always be.

God's Word will never pass away, unlike grass which withers and flowers that fade.

Our souls will never die, but will spend eternity either in heaven with God or in hell away from God.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July Newsletter

From Judith … Earlier this month we traveled to see three of our four parents, see my sister and her husband, spend time in the mountains, and attend our brother-in-law’s/uncle’s retirement from the army. Our trip took us through Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. It was about 3300 miles and 12 days (six being long travel days) …. in the Buick! Since Katie and John, having had to make some travel choices due to work concerns, stayed home, and since we didn’t need any camping equipment, we decided to take the car instead of the van. It took a bit of trickiness, but we did get all the essentials in the trunk – barely! We had good visits, a delightful time in the mountains, and a special time celebrating Rob’s accomplishments during his service in the army.

From Gerald … It was nice to be able to spend time with some of our extended families on our trip to Colorado and Arizona. We were not able to connect with everyone, but the visits we had were good.

The six of us spent a couple of days in the mountains. We went to Snow Mountain Ranch, near Granby, CO. It is a YMCA camp that we have visited every year or two for the past twenty years or so. Anna said we have been going for as long as she can remember. It is a wonderful place for families to go. There are lots of things to do, both indoors and outdoors, including hiking, canoeing, swimming, mini-golf, horseback riding, Zip Line, archery, rock wall climbing, mountain biking, roller skating, basketball, volleyball, Ping-Pong, crafts, and more. We even heard a Celtic concert one evening. We did not do all of the activities listed, but you can get the idea that we were able to do lots of fun things together as a family.

The biggest surprise for us was seeing the change in the way the place looks. That part of the state is experiencing a severe loss of trees due to pine beetles. In several counties including where Snow Mountain Ranch is located, they are expecting to lose nearly all of the lodge pole pines. There really is not anything that can be done to stop the infestation. As you drive through the area, most of the mountainsides are covered with dead, brown trees. The forest where SMR is located was 90-95% lodge pole, and most of them have already died. So, to reduce fire hazard and be able to begin re-forestation, the camp has been removing the dead trees. As a result, it now looks very different from what we remember. Before, the buildings were completely surrounded by forest, and you walked through the trees to get from place to place. Now, it has all been cleared and there are almost no trees at all.

It is a reminder of God's providence to consider how helpless we as people are to effect certain changes or prevent certain things from happening. God is much bigger than any of us or our efforts.

From Laura, 9 … On the trip we went to Snow Mountain Ranch. It’s a YMCA camp. One of the things we did there was roller-skating. The last time we had gone to SMR, I was really bad at roller-skating, but, now that I am better, it was a lot more fun. On the last day we stayed there, we did archery. It was my first time to ever do it. My fingers got kind of sore, because of pulling the string on the bow so hard.

It felt really good to be home again.

From Becca, 11 … One of the activities we did at Snow Mountain Ranch was the Zip Line. You have to be at least age 10 to go on the Zip Line and I have been waiting to do it forever. I was very excited when I found out we would be going this year. Going on the Zip Line involves climbing up a tall wobbly telephone pole, standing on a tiny platform while someone hooks you up, and then just jumping off into the air. Climbing up the pole and standing on the platform was kind of scary, but the rest of it was great fun.

From Seth, 15 … This afternoon Papa taught me how to edge. It is a little hard, but I also think it’s pretty enjoyable. I think I like the more precise work of edging better than the heavier work of mowing. The main motivation for learning was to make me more valuable to people who hire me to do their lawn. I’ve known how to mow for a long time, but since I didn’t know how to edge I’ve always had to discount my prices.

From Anna, 18 … As I’ve been studying economics, (Yes, I know I’m supposed to be graduated now, but I do have a few things to finish up.) I’ve noticed how often the actions taken by the government to combat problems in the economy actually make those problems worse.

A good example would be the minimum wage requirement. At first, one might think that it will help poor people get a higher wage, which will allow them to improve their standard of living. In reality, though, raising the minimum wage means that businesses cannot afford to hire as many workers. The more highly skilled workers, whose salaries are already higher than minimum wage, will probably not be affected, but more lower-level employees, the very people such measures are meant to help, will lose their jobs as a result. Some will get higher incomes, but too many more will be left with no job at all.

From John, 23 … Over the last couple of weeks I have transitioned out of my full-time job with a local custom home builder. My goal is to become a custom home builder and remodeler myself, and this departure is the next step on that path. I have begun to lay the groundwork for the business side of the company, while I’m keeping busy with miscellaneous handyman jobs to maintain incoming cash flow over the next several months. Judging from recent trends, it looks like I will not have trouble staying busy as long as I am willing to continue taking small jobs. My old boss has been very understanding and accommodating about my leaving, which I consider to be a great blessing. He did ask if I would be willing to stay part-time, but I said no.

From Katie, 26 … I recently read an interesting book about the history of world communism. All the reading I had previously done regarding communism was in the context of the history of specific countries. It was interesting to get a worldwide view of it and see how the events in each country were all related to each other. As I read, it was striking to see the huge difference between the ideas of Marx and Lenin and what happened when those ideas were actually carried out. Far from being a vehicle for utopian paradise, communism involved poverty, famine, ruthless dictators, brutal injustice, and the deaths of millions upon millions of innocent people. Why? Because when you start out with a faulty worldview that says man is basically good and there is no need for God, you're rushing headlong into disaster.

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

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Moving Article

I always appreciate when I can read something that really puts a face to what's going on in the world, or what's in the news, so I was glad to read this article. It's a letter written by a pastor living in Zimbabwe. It makes what is going on there far more real than numbers or impersonal reports ever could.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fig Tree Woes

We've known that something was eating our figs, but we didn't know what until this morning, when Seth spotted some of these fellows out there.The ravages: We've had a few eaten before, but there were more this morning.
This was not all. Notice the dead leaves in the above picture. They've been eaten by some of these guys:

Actually, the ones on the leaves were very small (1/2 inch or less).
So, does anyone know how to build racoon traps?

You’re From Texas if You Know That:

  • Armadillos sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.
  • There are 5,000 types of snakes and 4,998 live in Texas.
  • There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Texas, plus a couple no one’s seen before.
  • Possums will eat anything.
  • People really grow and eat okra.
  • When a buzzard sits on the fence and stares at you, it’s time to go to the doctor.
  • “Fixinto” is one word.
  • “Je’eet”? is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?”
  • You measure distance in minutes.
  • You’ve had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day.
  • You know all four seasons: Almost summer, summer, Still summer, and Christmas.
  • There is a Dairy Queen in every town with a population over 1000.
  • You describe the first cool snap (below 70 degrees) as good chili weather.
  • You know someone who ate the 72 oz steak and got it for free.
  • You prefer Whataburger to McDonalds.
  • You're disappointed when a food doesn't come in spicy flavor.
  • You have both a dog and a brother-in-law named Bud.
  • Your local grocery store sells cactus in the Fresh Produce department.
  • You don't consider people from Austin to be real Texans.
  • The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a bit chilly.
  • You discover that in July, it takes only 2 fingers to drive your car.
  • You notice the best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
  • Hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • It's noon in July, kids are on summer vacation, and not one person is out on the streets.
  • You break a sweat the instant you step outside... at 7:30 a.m. before work.
  • No one would dream of putting vinyl upholstery in a car.
  • You can drive all day and not leave the state.
  • We don’t have an ocean; we have a gulf.
  • You eat tacos for breakfast.
  • You can go anywhere with a gun on your truck and no one thinks twice about it.
  • We panic when there is an inch of snow on the ground.
  • You can properly pronounce Corsicana, Ennis, Waxahachie, Palestine, Decatur, Wichita Falls, San Antonio, Mexia, Waco, and Amarillo.
  • You know someone who has a belt buckle bigger than your fist.
  • No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lexus. Drive it or get out of the way.
  • We open doors for women. That is applied to all women, regardless of age.
  • No, there's no "vegetarian special" on the menu. Order steak. Or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham & turkey.
  • Always remember what our great governor Sam Houston once said: "Texas can make it without the United States, but the United States can't make it without Texas!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What is the World Coming To?

While on our recent trip, we were visiting at our grandparents' house, when their neighbors came out and were shooting off firecrackers in the street.

Then Grandma said, "Is that the one that owes me money?"

These neighbors were some young single guys who hadn't mowed their lawn all summer, so finally they got a letter saying they needed to cut the grass. A couple of weeks before our visit, one of the guys went out and mowed the backyard, but then his mower died and he couldn't do the front yard.

He came over and asked Grandma if he could borrow their mower. Grandpa wasn't home, but he had told Grandma previously that he didn't want to loan them the mower for liability reasons. Grandma told this fellow that, no, he couldn't borrow the mower, but he could hire her to mow his lawn for him.

After asking up and down the street and not finding anyone willing to loan him a mower, he came back to ask Grandma how much she would charge. They agreed on a price, and she went and mowed the yard.

As of our visit he still hadn't paid her! She had seen him a couple of times, and he had said something about needing to go to the bank to get the money, but he never followed through.

So, what is the world coming to when an able-bodied young man hires a 70-year-old woman to mow his lawn and doesn't even pay her?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Playing With Your Food

From an email forward: This is what happens when chefs have too much time on their hands!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two new words

As I was doing my daily Bible reading, I came across two unknown words to me.

Futility: Quality of being futile; ineffectiveness; uselessness.

Obscurity: The condition of being unknown.

Context: "For it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity." (Ecclesiastes 6:4)

The Blessing of Quietness...In Moderation

Quietness, rest, reflection, solitude. These are nearly forgotten words in today's hectic society. We need to remember to stop once in a while to think, to pray, and to rest. However, as with almost everything, there is a potential negative side to this.

I tend to be somewhat of a loner. I don't mind doing things by myself and I appreciate quiet solitude...a little too much. Thankfully, my family's recent 12-day absence gave me the opportunity to consider the downside of too much quiet. I'm realizing that quietness can only be properly appreciated and truly beneficial when balanced with interaction and fellowship. This is true in several ways:

  • Times of quiet give us the opportunity to sort out our thoughts and to refocus on what's really important. But too much of this can lead to thinking about ourselves too much and getting wrapped up in our own little world.
  • Times of quiet remind us to depend on the Lord for all that we need. Taken too far, though, we may stop properly recognizing the value of the people around us.
  • Times of quiet allow us to focus on the Lord and to have uninterrupted times of Bible study and prayer. But, the insights we glean and the lessons we learn are not just for our own spiritual health. They are meant to be shared. We are called to be channels of God's love and truth, for edifying the believers and for convicting the lost.

(Just in case you were wondering, I did miss my family!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our Trip: A Pictorial Report

Here are the promised trip pictures! I would have gotten them up sooner, but I had to sort through 750 possible pictures. :) To pick up where Seth left off: A beautiful rainbow outside Grandmother's house.

A trip to the statue garden.Grandmother with her cattail.
Hmmm... those potatoes look good!

After going to church with Grandma and Grandpa on the 6th, we headed up into the mountains for a couple of days.

On the rocks overlooking Poudre Falls.

Our destination was Snow Mountain Ranch, a YMCA camp which has been a favorite vacation place of our family's for years.

Racing to the lodge.


Clip from a concert by Compass North, a Celtic trio, which we went to on our first night.

Time for a hike.
Examining the wild strawberries.
Enjoying all the wildflowers.
Finally at the top!
There was a mailbox at the top with a notebook to write messages to God. This was our favorite one:

Seth finds a tree seat.
Ground squirrel spotted at our lunching place.
This fox walked right by our picnic table!
Playing miniature golf.

The zipline!
The happy zipliner! It was Becca's first time, which she'd been awaiting for years.

After spending the night with Mama's sister and brother-in-law in Colorado Springs, we headed down to Arizona for Papa's brother-in-law's retirement from the army. Drawing on the whiteboard in the Inspector General's conference room while we waited until the ceremony. (He had given permission.)
All the family.
This funny little plug-in car was on the army base.

Passing the time while we waited for our flat tire to be fixed.
Spottings at a rest area on our last day: Praying mantis.

One last little tidbit:

Spotted on a t-shirt: "We Support PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals"

Another New Word

Brobdingnagian: marked by tremendous size

So this is what you say when you want a highly intellectual way to say "big".

Monday, July 14, 2008

Safely Home Again!

The family arrived home last night, road weary, very thankful to be home, and bubbling over with great stories. We had a wonderful time of catching up before everyone collapsed into bed.

Pictures and stories will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

This morning, I got to see some of the MANY fantastic pictures they took, and this is definitely one of my favorites:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

News from Fort Stockton

Our trip has been going quite well up to this point, but we met with a delay this morning when we found that our car has a flat tire. Papa has gone to get it repaired, so we hope to be able to head out before too much longer.

The delay has given us enough time to post here, so I suppose there is never a loss without some gain!

We are planning on getting home tonight, so we'll hopefully get a full report with pictures up sometime this week.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The End of an Era, or It's Moving Day!

Today the homeowners moved into the house which has been the focus of my energy at work for the last year. Moving day is always significant for me psychologically because in a matter of hours, it transforms a construction site into a home. It was hugely fulfilling to see a family making the house their own.

The completion of this house marks the end of my service with this builder. After three and a half years, I have quit my job with him to begin taking my own work. Actually, I have been working on the side for a long time, but now I will be able to get my business set up properly, and I will be able to take on larger projects. My desire has long been to be a custom builder/remodeler, and this is a significant step in that direction.

Here are a few pictures from today: