Saturday, August 30, 2008

Spending Money Wisely

One day I felt like writing a report. After a few suggestions from others I decided to do one about spending money. Here it is:

Approximately from the ages of 4 to 7, I spent a lot of money on things like candy, shoes, toys, food, and dress-up items. Now I’ve chosen to save my money and only buy things that I really need, which isn’t really anything because my parents provide for all my needs. It’s important to use our money wisely, and to give some of it back to God.

Caring for others

It’s important to think of others’ financial needs, but we also need to make sure we don’t just give people everything they need, because it might make them become lazy. Many of the organizations today give everything that people need and they don’t have to do anything. God gave us work before the Fall.

Loving money

Unfortunately, many of us fall into the trap of loving money more than God. It’s impossible to love wealth and God.

Loving money is tied to stealing. Luke says in 3:14, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and when people long for it they lose their faith. Many people don’t realize the bondage they are in when they love money. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have;”

Hundreds of dollars are wasted every hour. We should trust God for our needs. Not only that but we really don’t need anything but food, water, shelter, clothing, and God’s love, mercy, and grace. Wealth comes from the full assurance of understanding.

We can’t “buy” salvation with money. God has already paid the price for our sins past, current, and future when he died on the cross. All we have to do is believe that God is God, and have faith and trust in him.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A New Instrument!

I've been wanting to play the hammered dulcimer for a long time, and I finally ordered one. It just arrived today! Of course, everyone wanted to try it out. I'm very excited about now being able to play it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dear Readers...

Katie is in Zambia, and you can stay up-to-date on what's going on with her by reading the reports of the trip written by various team members (including Katie) on this blog.

Our House Search Saga

As Papa mentioned in our last newsletter, we have been considering buying a house.

At the end of June, we had found one that we thought was a possibility, but because we were going out of town, we couldn't do anything with it at that time.

When we arrived back home, we decided to put on offer on the house. The offer was initially rejected, and we had a difficult time learning from the seller's agent why, or if there was a chance that a second offer would be accepted. We finally got some information and made a second offer.

Between when we made that second offer and when they got back to us, the sellers had signed a contract with someone else. We took this as a closed door, and, since we didn't know of any other potential properties at the time, we turned our attention to other things.

About two weeks ago, we received the news that this house was available again! The first story we got was that the other buyers wanted to back out of the contract, but then we learned that they had actually closed. Supposedly they didn't want to lose their earnest money, so they thought that if they could turn around and sell it to us, they would come out ahead.

This wasn't making sense to us, but when we found out that this buyer was the sellers' agent, things began to look downright fishy. We decided to back off and wait, to make sure that everything was legitimate before doing anything else.

After we made this decision, our realtor/friend sent us some more listings. There was one house that looked like a possibility, so we drove by this past weekend, and had a showing on Monday. Yesterday, we made an offer, they countered, we made a second offer, and they accepted!

Whether or not we actually buy the house depends on inspections, but right now it looks like we'll probably be buying it!

It is on a 1-acre corner lot, which gives us a lot of space. We like the layout of the house, but it does need a lot of work, so we wouldn't be moving in right away. We're excited about all the potential we see in this house, and it seems to be that all the difficulty with the other house was really God's hand directing us in a different direction.

Yes, we know it's not very pretty. Assuming we buy it, stay tuned; hopefully it will improve!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

August Newsletter

From Judith … It’s been a crazy and exhausting summer but delightful in many ways. As nutty as it sounds, yes, we hit the road again earlier this month. This time it was all eight of us for a nine-day trip of sightseeing in Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Louisiana.

First we met Katie in Nashville after she had been to a conference. While there that day we visited the Parthenon replica and the Hermitage (home of Andrew Jackson). In the course of the week we visited a Corvette factory, the Creation Museum, the Kentucky capitol (a very impressive and accessible building), Shaker Village, the Biltmore Estate, a waterfall, saw the remaining evidence of Hurricane Katrina on the gulf coast, and drove around the French Quarter in New Orleans. After all that sightseeing, it was a welcome change of pace to spend time with the Cooper family north of New Orleans for a sweet time of fellowship in the Lord. With that outline of our most recent road trip, now we’ll see what the rest of the family wants to highlight.

In case you’re trying to figure it out, six of us (not Katie and John) traveled west 3300 miles in the Buick in July, then all eight of us traveled 2500 miles in the van, and then three of us (Gerald, Katie, and I) flew to Washington State (see Katie’s entry) the next morning. But that’s not all! Katie, along with others from our church, left for a two-week mission trip to Zambia on August 22. To wrap up this wild summer of traveling, Gerald and I will have the privilege of flying to San Diego in September to celebrate my dad’s eightieth birthday. So stay tuned for more travel reports next month!

From Laura, 9 … The Biltmore was really amazing. It’s 175,000 square feet! Not only that but it’s surrounded by forests, which were all planted by the grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt who built the house. It has been really well restored. Somewhere in the 4-story house, I read: “We don’t restore the Biltmore to make a profit, we make a profit in order to restore the Biltmore.” There was a huge chandelier reaching from the ceiling to the first floor, with all the staircases curving around it. The self-guided tour guide book said that it weighed 1,700 pounds. It would be terrible if it fell down in the middle of the day when people were sightseeing. The basement had a swimming pool! At the side of it there were ropes hanging down with loops at the end. A worker told us that those were for holding onto because the pool didn’t have an edge. (Three sides of the pool extended up to the ceiling.)

From Becca, 11 … One of the things on the trip that I liked was the Parthenon in Nashville. It is a full-size replica of the original Greek temple. It’s a huge building surrounded by huge pillars. It took five of us to reach around just one pillar. It is amazing to think of the work the Greeks put into even just one pillar. They did it very carefully so that the cracks between the pillar pieces were even smaller than a hair. The temple was made to house a huge statue of a goddess, so there was a replica of it inside. It was very ugly. It didn’t look like what I thought a Greek statue should look like, because it was painted -- mostly gold. It was more like a huge plastic Buddha. On each side of the building there was a pair of giant seven-ton bronze-colored doors. We were allowed to open and close them. Once you got them going they would keep going by themselves. If you got one of them going and then stood between it and the wall, you would get smashed flat.

From Seth, 15 … After the Creation Museum we drove through Frankfurt, KY, on our way to the Shaker Village. Since we had some spare time, we decided to check out the state capitol because our Kentucky map said it had an interesting staircase. We ended up going to the wrong capitol, (the one with the staircase is the old capitol, now a museum), but the visit was still well worth it. We particularly noticed how few people were there, how cheap it was (free!), and how much freedom we had to go where we wanted. We were the only tourists there, and other than us there were only a few government employees. While we were there we went into almost every interesting room: the state reception room, the governor’s office, the supreme court room, and both legislative rooms. The rotunda and surrounding hallways were mostly constructed of polished marble and granite. Visiting the capitol was interesting to me for two reasons. First, it was fun to see because of its quite impressive architecture. Second, being there and seeing the rooms where state leaders work really made the governing of a state and the legislative process feel more real and close to home, even though it was in Kentucky!

From Anna, 18 … I really enjoyed the Corvette factory. The most interesting and amazing part was the plant itself. Every car they make has already been sold, and has a certain amount of customization. This means that as the car goes down the assembly line, everything—wheels, seats, doors, bumpers—have to be in the right order so that each car gets what it’s supposed to. It was also interesting to see all the tests they do on the cars.

Another highlight was the Creation Museum. There wasn’t a lot of new information there for us, but it was very neat to be in a top-notch, technologically-advanced science museum that wholeheartedly embraces and supports a Biblical view of the earth. My favorite part was probably the Noah’s Ark exhibit, which included a life-size replica of a section of the ark’s wall, as well as several scale models.

From John, 24 … One of the stops on our vacation was a Shaker settlement in Kentucky. The Shakers were a group in early America who believed that Christ had already come, so the settlement was an attempt to create a sort of heaven on earth. Two of the distinctive characteristics of the group were celibacy and the absence of private property. When new converts joined the community, they gave up their families and all their possessions. By sharing their work and their profits, the Shakers were able to maintain quite a high standard of living compared to their neighbors on the Kentucky frontier, and they began to gather wealth and market clout. Through the second half of the nineteenth century, however, the group’s success gradually faded, partly because of their celibacy and partly as a result of economic changes. By the early twentieth century, the settlement was gone. After visiting the restored site, we talked about how in some respects the Shakers enjoyed the fruits of living according the Bible. They shared with each other, they were hard-working, they were frugal, and they were innovative, all of which are godly qualities which contributed to their wealth. In those areas most of us Christians could afford to learn a lesson from the Shakers, but we have to avoid their errors. Unless we are about the business of raising godly children, preaching to the lost, and discipling the undiscipled, the effects of any good character we have will be short-lived.

From Katie, 26 … I have had a lot of excitement in my life lately, to say the least. My friend, Ray Wade, went to my father about a month ago, and said, “I want to talk to you about marrying your daughter.” !!! We had met each other shortly after he started coming to our church last January, and got to be good friends through church and family activities. After Ray’s visit with my father, we transitioned from a casual friendship to an intentional courtship, and began asking each other lots of questions. We have continued to get to know each other in various settings, and through writing page after page of emails! We have found that we have a lot in common, including nearly identical values, and we also really enjoy each other’s company. (He laughs at all my jokes!) It has been a blessing to get to know each other in the context of my whole family, and to have the guidance of my parents in our relationship. My parents and I also had the opportunity recently to travel to the Seattle area to meet Ray’s parents and several of his other family members, while Ray was there. It was a special and important time. We would certainly appreciate your prayers for us as we seek the Lord’s guidance and strive to bring him glory in our relationship.

From Anna, 18 … While Papa, Mama, and Katie were in Washington the week after our other trip, I was mostly in charge of the household, since John was working each of those days. I’m happy to say that everything went well, and I think it was a good experience for me to have to think through and pay attention to everything it takes to keep things running smoothly around here.

From Gerald … As if things are not nutty enough around here, we are also considering buying a house. We are hoping to find something that would not greatly increase my commute-to-work time, but would help us in some other ways. We have a bit of a parking problem as we shuffle four vehicles in our driveway to get them in the right positions for coming and going. The situation in our kitchen is similar at times, except with people instead of cars. We would also like to have a larger lot for the children to play and for us to garden. It would also be nice to have a guest room and be closer to where most of our friends live.

So, we want country living in the city. It would also be nice to not need to pay any more than what our current house is worth nor to need to do any repairs on the new house. Needless to say, we are not expecting to find anything that meets all of these criteria, but there are a couple of houses we are considering. It has been an interesting process so far.

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

Monday, August 25, 2008

Biblically Suspicious

The sermon at church this Sunday was on 1 John 4:1-6, where John instructs his readers to not believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see if they are from God.

This means that every teaching, idea, or message, must be carefully scrutinized to see if it is in accordance with God's word.

In our culture today, and even in our churches, tolerance and acceptance have been emphasized so heavily that it is hard for us to be discerning. We are so concerned with appearing gracious and accepting that we have not had the gumption to stand up and speak out against false doctrine and ideas.

There were two main things I took away from the sermon.

First, nothing is exempt from being evaluated and examined. Even if someone is a Christian, uses some Scripture or Christian terminology, has been recommended to you, or whose teaching you have found to be good in the past, we must still search the Scripture to see if the message is true.

Second, the only way to do this is to be immersed in the Scripture, so that we can recognize the false teaching. If we do not know the truth found in the Word of God, we will be easy prey to the lies of Satan.

So let us be Biblically suspicious, not paranoid of everyone we meet, nor questioning of what is found in Scripture itself, but instead be deeply, earnestly seeking the truth in Scripture "to see whether these things [are] so." (Acts 17:11)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Be Sure to Check Out Our Updated Profile...

...where Seth has just added a brief description of our family. For those of you who know us personally, there probably won't be anything you don't already know. For any of you who read our blog but haven't actually met us, though, consider this an introduction!

And, if you would like to leave a comment and introduce yourself to us, you would be more than welcome to do so!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Seth's New Bow


Seth made this bow out of a pipe, and then glued feathers to a dowel rod to make the arrow. It works pretty well!

He has actually made a bigger one now that shoots 75 or 80 feet!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The World We Live In

We received an advertisement in the mail today for the "Obstetrics, In-Vitro Fertilization, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and Neonatology" units of a new hospital in our area.

I was saddened and disturbed by some of what they are advertising.

"...we offer added peace of mind with prenatal testing, genetic consultation..."

Prenatal testing? Genetic consultation? In order to increase peace of mind? It is tragic how many parents or prospective parents will abort or prevent children because of supposed defects or genetic abnormalities that might be passed on.

"Planning a new addition to your family?"

A new addition to your family? Like adding a room onto your house? Or adopting a pet? I was struck with this reminder of how selfishly our culture views children. If a child will enhance a person's life or increase the general happiness of his family, then sure, he might consider it. Our culture tells people to have children (in moderation) if they want them, or not, if it is inconvenient.

"As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth."

~Psalms 127:4

"Children born to men in their early days, by God's blessing become the comfort of their riper years. A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot: good sons are their father's arrows speeding to hit the mark which their sires aim at. What wonders a good man can accomplish if he has affectionate children to second his desires, and lend themselves to his designs! ... Let the Lord favour us with loyal, obedient, affectionate offspring, and we shall find in them our best helpers. We shall see them shot forth into life to our comfort and delight..."

~Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Texas-Sized Grasshopper

We found this fellow outside the other day. He landed on Katie's window with a thunk, and then we all went out to have a closer look. He was about three inches long!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Sensitive Plant

This is a really neat plant called a sensitive plant that we saw at a garden at the Biltmore. Watch very closely what happens when the leaves are touched.


Friday, August 15, 2008

The Rest of Our Trip

We had read somewhere that the Kentucky State Capitol had a double curved staircase, so we decided to check it out. As it turns out, that was in the old capitol, but the new capitol (built around 1910) was still well worth the stop. We were glad to see the Ten Commandments here in the Rotunda, right between the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta!

The main inside area was beautiful and amazing.
We pretty much had the run of the place. There was hardly anybody there, and nothing was in session, so we could go in the Senate and House rooms, the governor's office, and, pictured below, the state Supreme court room.
Outside, there was this huge floral clock.
We also toured a Shaker village. We didn't really know very much about the Shakers before, but we learned a lot. They were a celibate society, so whenever a family joined, it would be dissolved. The men and women were kept very separate, and all the children were together to be raised collectively. They also believed that there should be no distinction between men and women, so they had female elders, the women smoked (very rare in the early 1800's!), and they would sometimes refer to God as Mother. They had all things in common, so they were able to achieve a remarkable amount of prosperity for their time.

There were lots of these stone walls.
This was the main building, with living, meeting, and work areas.

Seth took this lovely picture.
The Shakers highly valued simplicity, but they had a rather unique concept of it. They didn't have anything that did not have a purpose, but they embraced technology. The idea was that anything which made their lives easier made them simpler, and more like the heaven on earth that they were trying to create.

This picture shows one technological advance: The stove for irons on the left. It held eight or ten irons at once, so several people could iron at once and still always have a hot one.
In their heyday, this village had over 400 people, so they farmed extensively.
This circular staircase was in one of the buildings.
It is amazing how the Shakers were living, considering that most people in the area at that time were living in one-room cabins with dirt floors. They accomplished much by working together, but they had their theology all mixed up, and completely denied God's plan for the family.

A religion which depends on new converts to keep it going, since they don't have children of their own, won't survive long, as evidenced by the fact that there are only three Shakers left, two of whom are in their seventies!

It was quite a switch to go from the Shaker village to the Biltmore, the home built by the grandson of fabulously wealthy Cornelius Vanderbilt!

We stopped at the farm area there and enjoyed the animals and garden.

The house itself was simply amazing. It's 175,000 square feet under one roof, has about a hundred bedrooms and 60 bathrooms, and has a swimming pool in the basement! The dining hall seemed like something out of a medieval castle; it had a high, vaulted ceiling, a triple fireplace, an enormous table, coats of arms, and tapestries on the walls. It has been remarkably well kept, and most of the furniture is original.
There were some beautiful gardens outside the house, with arbors, paths, and a conservatory.

We also toured the winery, which has been operating there since the 1980's.

We stopped at a waterfall on the North Carolina/South Carolina border to get in our time in the Appalachians.
After we'd looked at the waterfall, some of us decided to take the longer, more rustic path back to the parking lot.
Our leader, undaunted by spider webs.
On our way home, we drove a little bit of the highway right along the Mississippi coast to see the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. The rubble has pretty much all been cleared away, but there were empty lots and foundations where you could see that there had been buildings. There were driveways and steps leading to nowhere. We stopped at a little park along the way for lunch, with this view of the gulf:
We finished off our trip by visiting some dear friends near New Orleans. We enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship with them!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Creation Museum

On Tuesday we visited the much acclaimed Creation Museum. When we got there the museum wasn't open yet and it was raining. After waiting outside of the museum for a bit, we decided to walk around in the gardens surrounding the museum.
The gardens were beautiful and well-kept. I personally thought that the cold and rain greatly enhanced the experience (by the way all the first-person pronouns in this post refer to Seth, who is writing under Katie's profile). It was especially great since no one else was in the gardens because of the stormy weather.
Besides plants there were also several bridges going across the large pond they had there. This particular one was a suspension bridge.
Once inside the museum, we saw several films and a lot of exhibits. I personally liked the life-size models of dinosaurs and the scale models of Noah's ark the best.

Overall, I thought it was absolutely fantastic to be in a museum operating from a Biblical worldview, and to not have to be constantly filtering out all the evolutionism that is so common in most museums.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fun on the Highway

Yesterday while we were driving down the road, a car drove by with two girls in it. One of them was holding a handwritten sign that said "Are you Mormon?" John was the only one who saw it. He told us and, as fast as we could, we made this sign:It took a while for us to catch up, but we finally did and they got all excited and mouthed the words, "Our Bible is in the back." They were even giving us victory signs and thumbs up.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Trip Update

We left Nashville this morning and headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to tour the Corvette factory.

It was really fascinating to see how everything worked. The precise timing and arrangement of the plant so that all the parts were at the right place at the right time was amazing. It was also interesting to see all the quality tests they put their cars through. The tour was very good. They let us get close up, where we could really see what they were doing.

After the factory tour, we drove on up to the Cincinnati area, where we're spending the night. We found a cozy little diner to eat dinner at, which had a very nice home-town feel, with low prices and friendly service, so we enjoyed that!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Greetings From Nashville!!

Our first sight-seeing stop of this trip was the Nashville Parthenon, a full-size replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. It was originally built as a temporary building for the Tennessee centennial, but was then rebuilt to be permanent.
It was an amazing building. It took five of us to reach around one of the pillars! I can't imagine what it took to build this out of marble in 430 B.C!
Of course, the original Parthenon was built to house the image of the goddess Athena, so the replica of the Parthenon has a 42-foot replica of the statue as well. We all agreed that it was horribly gaudy and hideous.
Our second stop was the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson. It is a remarkably well-preserved house. It has all its original floors, and even has the original wallpaper in a few rooms!
The home sits on several hundred acres, so the grounds are extensive. We walked around a little bit and looked at some of the outbuildings. Papa found this tree with huge leaves.

This is the vegetable garden, where we saw beans, zucchini, peppers, corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables. When we saw these chickens wandering around, John said, "Look! Soup!"

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Role of the Homeschooling Father

I am at a conference/camp for homeschool graduates this weekend, and there have been some very insightful and encouraging speakers, which has been the highlight of the event for me so far. There was a panel discussion this afternoon covering lots of topics, including homeschool graduates homeschooling their own children someday. In the course of that, one of the panelists made a good point about the role of homeschooling fathers. That's not exactly my department, obviously, but I thought it was insightful and worth sharing. He said:

"The primary role of the homeschooling father is to keep the big picture in mind. When he comes home and it looks like a re-enactment of Gulliver's Travels (the little people have taken over), it's his job to remind his wife why they're not putting the children on that big yellow bus tomorrow."

(The picture is of the pond here at the camp, in central Kentucky.)

O Jesus, I Have Promised

We sang this hymn as a family the other night, and I found the words very meaningful.

O Jesus, I have promised
To serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me,
My Master and my Friend:
I shall not fear the battle
If Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway
If Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me!
The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle,
the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me,
Around me and within;
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer,
And shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of selfwill!
O speak to reassure me,
To hasten or control!
O speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul!

O Jesus, Thou hast promised
To all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory
There shall Thy servant be;
And, Jesus, I have promised
to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow,
My Master and my Friend!

~John E. Bode

What a beautiful reminder of our need for God's help every day as we walk through life in this world!