Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Staying Warm in a Dress

A friend at church recently asked me how I stay warm in a dress. After our chat I thought I’d write up these thoughts for the blog.

Back in the 1990s, when we lived in Casper, Wyoming, I rather surprised Gerald one day. He came home from work and found me wearing a skirt outfit, though it was just a typical day at home for me. He told me how nice I looked. That made a huge impression on me! He had never criticized my appearance (t-shirts and sweatpants being my usual garb), but clearly the skirt was a cut above.

I suppose I had been inspired by some book, speaker, tape, or such, which led to me putting a skirt on that day. At any rate, it was a turning point for me. I was determined to dress in a way that I knew would please Gerald. I gradually wore skirts, dresses, and jumpers more and more often.

The big question was how to have warm legs during the long winter months in Wyoming. Here’s what I came up with, which I still do down here in Houston, but obviously for far fewer days of the year! Occasionally I wear heavy tights, particularly for church. During the week, though, it is almost always thermal pants with knee socks pulled up over them. Admittedly, there is a slightly visible ridge where the pants end, but I don’t believe it’s noticeable except when looking closely. There are a variety of leggings one could use also.

Regarding the general concern for warmth and comfort in my cold-weather clothing choices, I have found denim and flannel to be my preference for dresses, skirts, and jumpers. I wear soft, knit tops most of the time. Frankly, I feel as warm and cozy in these outfits as I do in pajamas!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Operation House-to-Home: A Water Heater!

We put in our new water heater on Saturday! There's still a little more to do to get it fully hooked up, but it's pretty much in.

The subfloor upstairs was made of 1X12's covered with 1/4 inch plywood, and, in the hallway, the 1X12's had warped, causing the floor to be uneven. John took that all up and replaced the 1X12's with 3/4 inch plywood. It's much flatter now!

Having the joists exposed did lead to one mishap. Someone, who shall remain nameless, came upstairs and was proceeding to walk across the joists to get to one of the other rooms, but noticed too late the glue on each one. In the effort to avoid stepping in the glue a foot went through the ceiling (notice the hole in the picture), but no one was seriously injured, and the hole can be patched without too much trouble.



The new floor.




We've continued working on wall paper removal in the upstairs bathrooms.



We had to put baseboards in the corner where the water heater would go before we put the heater in. It's amazing how much more finished it looks with the baseboards. Note also the completed grout!
We've also continued working on plumbing and wiring, especially wiring. We're adding outlets and light fixtures in various places, so we're trying to get all the wiring for those in before we start closing walls up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

December Newsletter

From Laura, 9 … With Katie not a part of our family anymore, it has taken some adjusting, but I’ve gotten used to it. Before they were married, when Ray came over, we were told to leave Ray and Katie alone. They weren’t totally private, because they didn’t want to be alone before they were married. But we weren’t to be involved in their conversations. Now that they are married, when they come over, it’s time to visit with them.

Two weeks ago, Papa got his braces off!! It was very exciting. He had them for almost three years! He has shiny new teeth!

So much has happened this year that it just boggles my mind when I try to think of it all. We definitely couldn’t have bought a house (and been working on it two days a week ever since), gone on two vacations, had Papa away in Scotland, had Katie go through a courtship, and prepared for the Wades’ wedding without the hand of God carrying us through.

From Becca, 12 … Recently I tried to dye a rag with rose petals. I took a whole bunch of rose petals and a rag and boiled them together in a pot. The petals faded and became very slimy. They made the water in the pot look a pretty color, but the rag only got greenish gray. Then when I poured the water out of the pot, it was just brown and yucky. I put the water in a mug with all the slimy petals, but no one would drink it. It would probably have been a very healthy and natural tea.

From Seth, 15 … Last Sunday we saw a sign near the building where our church meets that proclaimed in huge letters, “WE ARE THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.” Our first impressions were, “Wow, how arrogant!” If you stop and think about it, though, in a way it’s true. It was our wickedness that Christ took upon himself on the cross. I still think that the way the sign was worded put too much focus on man. The ultimate “reason” that Christ came to earth was for the GLORY OF GOD!

From Anna, 18 … As we near the end of 2008, I can’t help but marvel at how much has happened. Within the last 12 months, I’ve gotten a new brother-in-law, we’ve bought a house, I’ve graduated, we went on two major vacations, and I’ve had countless opportunities for learning, from home-remodeling skills like tiling and painting, to character growth and life lessons. It makes me wonder what the next year will hold!

From John, 24 … I've been reading a book that was written in the late '90's in response to a trend that has been growing over the last twenty years. Most houses built today are gigantic compared to yesterday's standards, yet contain spaces like formal living and dining rooms that are only used a few times a year by most people. The author advocates building smaller houses that are more beautiful and designed to fit the lifestyle of the residents. Another idea the author presents is that homes, at least the part of them in which we live, should be designed to embrace, not to impress. Thirty-foot ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and grand staircases have their place, but who isn't more comfortable sitting in a soft window seat than a lonely chair twenty feet from the nearest wall? And why do we dedicate large amounts of space and money to rarely-used formal areas while the rooms where we actually live, the office, the kitchen, and the laundry room, are crowded and filled with second-rate finishes?

About Ray and Katie … We have no particular news on the Wades this month. Be sure and check out Ray and Katie’s blog (see sidebar) for the day-to-day happenings in the Wade household.

From Judith … We’re getting use to this new concept of having extended family in our same town now. Having Ray and Katie drop in from time to time reminds me of Gerald’s and my first six years of married life when we lived in Fort Collins where my mom and Gerald’s parents live.

I am so grateful that we see them every Sunday at church and usually have an additional visit, of some type, in between. Also, Katie still teaches weekly piano lessons to Seth and Becca here which gives us yet another visit, though it’s only with Katie. We are very thankful that she comes in spite of the long drive. There are a few perks for her in coming to our house, though. We’ve invited her to use our laundry facilities and play the piano. Doing laundry at the apartment is a drag and they don’t have a piano yet.

We have figured out that whenever the Wades are here, we are having a Gerald Pedersen family reunion! That has a very nice ring to it! Needless to say, these reunions are currently very easily arranged for while there are only our two families’ schedules to coordinate and while we all live in the same town.

From Gerald … Well, Laura stole my news about getting my braces off. I have gotten used to not having them much more quickly than the adjustment when I got them on. In fact, I’ve told people that wearing braces is a bit like having a stone in your shoe; you get used to it and adjust for it, but are always aware of its presence.

The work on our new house continues to progress, although more slowly than we would like. We have done most of the painting upstairs and some downstairs. The tile is laid in the half-bath and utility room. The rough-in plumbing and electrical is done in the kitchen, and we have replaced a patio door and some windows, plus other smaller jobs too numerous to mention. Check back here for more updates and photos.

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas at the Pedersens'

We had a delightful time on Christmas Day!



Mini quiches for breakfast.

Becca working on the buns we had for dessert after our noon meal.



Christmas dinner!


After dinner, we had a time of reading Scripture related to the incarnation and singing.


Then we spent the afternoon playing games, dancing, and enjoying time together.






For as long as I can remember, having a candlelit fingerfood meal has been a family Christmas tradition.


After the fingerfood meal, we always do an enactment of the Christmas story.

Angels.


Ray and Katie, as Mary and Joseph, had fun pretending they had a baby.


Shepherds.
King Herod and his servant.
Magi.
We hope you all had a merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Have You Ever Really Appreciated Your Fingertips?

I scraped some skin off the tip of my right index finger the other day. It wasn't anything serious, but even after it stopped bleeding, it was very sensitive to pressure for a couple of days.

Do you have any idea how many everyday tasks we never think about involve putting pressure on the tip of your right index finger? Holding a pencil. Picking up small objects. Typing. Holding my fiddle bow. Flossing. Playing the piano.

I made do with my middle finger, but I really missed being able to use the index finger! Four fingers gives so much more stablity when holding something, and makes typing much more efficient!

I was reminded of how intricate our bodies really are. God created us with just the right number of fingers, in the right relative lengths and positions, with the necessary strength, dexterity, and sensitivity to do what we need them to do.

Isn't it amazing?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Paying for the Wedding

When Ray and Katie became engaged, we told them that we would give them a set sum of money as our wedding gift to them. All of the wedding expenses were to come out of that sum. Whatever they didn’t spend on the wedding would then be available to help them buy a house, which they plan to do.

We also gave them three instructions:

(1) Continue to prepare for marriage.

(2) Decide where to live.

(3) Plan the wedding.

Appropriately, our involvement then shrank considerably as the two of them applied themselves to their “assignments.” We had invested a fair bit of time and money (airfare to Washington to meet Ray’s family in August) in the process of evaluating the suitability of this union, and were now ready to turn our attention to other things. We said we would help as needed and did dialogue with them about the wedding plans, particularly the ceremony.

This plan for paying for and planning the wedding worked out very well. Ray and Katie were essentially spending THEIR money, and the wedding had THEIR personality. They were highly motivated to economize. It also gave them the opportunity to work together on a project and Gerald and I the opportunity to observe how well they worked together.

We expect we’ll do this again someday!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Operation House-to-Home: We're Staying Busy!

While I was blogging about the wedding, the work on the house continued to move along. The downstairs half bath and utility room are now tiled, and hopefully we'll start grouting next time. The rough plumbing is now in the kitchen, and most of the wiring is done as well.


We filled in the holes next to the house that had been left by the foundation repairmen.



A larger project was replacing the back door.




Preparing the opening.




One of the hardest parts about installing the door was moving it, but with teamwork and the help of a dolly, it was managed.



The finished product! Sort of, anyway. We added door hardware later, and we still have work to do around the edges.


We've also been doing yet more painting!



I love this property more every time we're over there, it seems like. Here at our old house, we can count our trees on one hand, but over there we have so many trees we haven't tried to count them! We can walk around and discover plants that we didn't know we had, like this lovely Christmas cactus. It nearly got buried by all the pieces of the old deck we tore out, but is blooming beautifully nonetheless!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Papa's Braces Are Off!!

Before... ...after!!

It's hard to tell the difference in the pictures without looking very closely, but we sure notice a difference!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't Take Your Bible for Granted

We just finished reading, as a family, God's Smuggler, the autobiography of Brother Andrew, a Dutchmen who ministered behind the Iron Curtain. It was an inspiring story of faith in the midst of hardship and of care for the persecuted church. One of his chief goals was to bring in Bibles where they weren't available, which he began to do in earnest after the following incident.

"Well, after the talk, Nikola [the translator] and I gave an altar call. We asked that everyone who wanted to commit his life to Christ, or who wanted to reaffirm a previous commitment, raise his hand.

Every hand in the room went up.

Surely they hadn't understood! I explained again how serious a step this was. I made the conditions of discipleship under a hostile government painfully clear. And then I made a second appeal, this time asking the people to stand.

The entire congregation stood.

I was astonished. I had never seen such readiness. Carried away by their spirit, I launched into an enthusiastic description of the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible reading that turn newborn children in Christ into mature soldiers in His ranks.

I was outlining the plan for Bible study that we had been taught at the Missionary Training College, when I noticed a change had come over the room. For the first time people in this responsive congregation were not meeting my eye. They were looking at ther hands, the pew backs, anywhere but at me.

Puzzled, I turned to the pastor. He, too, seemed embarrassed as he told me through Nikola, 'Prayer, yes, that we can do each day. I like what you have said about this. But Bible reading... Brother Andrew, most of these people do not have Bibles.'

I stared at him in disbelief. I had gotten used to the idea in rural churches. But in educated, cosmopolitan Belgrade?

I turned to the congregation. 'How many of you own Bibles?' I asked.

In the entire room seven hands, including the pastor's, went up. I was stunned. I had long ago passed out the ones I had brought with me. Now what was I to leave with these people so eager to learn, so needful of guidance in the hard walk they had chosen for themselves against the millions marching the other way?

With the pastor we worked out a system of Bible-sharing: a schedule of group study combined with individual use, so many hours on such-and-such a day for each member. But that same evening a resolve was born in me, a resolve that has burned brighter with each passing year. That night I promised God that as often as I could lay my hands on a Bible, I would bring it to these children of His behind that wall that men had built. How I would buy the Bibles, how I would get them in, I didn't know. I only knew that I would bring them-- here to Yugoslavia, and to Czechoslovakia, and to every other country where God opened the door long enough for me to slip through."

There are two things that really stand out to me from this. One is that we take our easy access to the Word of God far too much for granted. Many of us own almost as many Bibles personally as this entire church had all together.

It also stands out to me that Brother Andrew didn't just wring his hands or say "Isn't that too bad?" and then go on his merry way. He did something. He spent the next years of his ministry smuggling Bibles by the hundreds into Communist countries. May we all have the courage, creativity, and passion to do something to advance God's kingdom, serve our brothers in Christ, and help those around us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Last Wedding Post

The reception was a wonderful time for people to wish Katie and Ray well, and for all of us to visit with all our friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in quite a while. Cleaning up afterward.

Saying final good-byes.

Off they go!


To read about what the Wades have been up to since then, you can go to their blog.
The rest of us are slowly, but surely, adjusting to Katie's absence. She was very much involved with everything we did as a family, so her being gone now is definitely felt. We are thoroughly excited, though, to see the formation of this new household dedicated to God's service.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vows, Rings, and Prayer

Ray and Katie chose to use the traditional vows. This was really the culmination of all the thinking, praying, preparing, and waiting that led up to the wedding. The familiar words still had power and meaning as we witnessed these two people that we love and care about pledge themselves to one another until death do them part!



Exchanging rings.



Mr. and Mrs. Wade!!!


Four men of the church came up after the Wades had been presented to offer prayers of blessing. These were all men who had invested much time and effort in encouraging and discipling Ray in particular.



Walking out amidst the a cappela singing of the Doxology.



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Charges from the Fathers

Each of the fathers gave a charge to his child.

Papa's charge to Katie was as follows:

"Katie, for my charge to you, I want to focus on Gen 2: 18: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
There are three words here that I will highlight: alone, helper, and fit.
Alone
To be alone is to be by one’s self. One can be alone in ministry even when surrounded by many people. Here are two examples:
Exod 18:14 – Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”
1 Kings 19:10—Elijah said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
In both of these examples, we see a leader with a vision for ministry and service who was attempting to serve all alone.
Helper
The second word is “helper”. This is one who comes alongside a leader to give aid in carrying out the task to be accomplished. The intent here is to provide what is needed to address the problem of ministering alone.
Fit
The third word is “Fit”. This has the meaning of being suitable, adapted, or complementary – literally “corresponding to.” Adam expressed it as “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen 2: 23) This means more than just that Eve was made from Adam’s body. She was like him; they were able to bond together in ways that were not possible with any other created thing. Theirs was to be a physical, emotional, and spiritual union. Together, they were better than Adam was alone.
Katie, I believe that you are “fit” for Ray – that you will be a suitable helper in carrying out the vision that he has for the family that is being formed here today. You understand what is meant by Biblical submission. It is not assuming a position of less value; it means that you choose to respect Ray as the leader in your family, to look to him for protection, guidance, and direction.
God said of Adam, “I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Katie, I charge you now to always be that for Ray."

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Transfer of Authority

Instead of a traditional processional, Ray walked up one side aisle with his dad (the only member of his family that was able to travel to the wedding) and Katie and Papa walked up the other aisle with the rest of our family. Since Seth, the photographer, participated in this part of the ceremony, we don't have any pictures of it.

When we came to the front, Papa, Katie, and Ray proceeded to the stage while the rest of us sat down.Ray:

"Mr. Pedersen,

Following the leading of God in my life, I ask you for your daughter’s hand in marriage.

By God’s grace, I promise to lead her, provide for her, protect her, and love her, all the days of my life. "

Papa:

"Ray,

You are asking a great thing. It is like coming to a wealthy man and asking for his riches. Katie has been a treasure to her mother and me all of her life. We have loved her, played with her, taught her practical and academic skills, provided spiritual training and discipline, met her physical needs, given counsel and guidance, and prayed for her.

A daughter is not a commodity to be given away; she is a uniquely created child of God. What is about to happen here is instead a transfer of authority. Until now, Katie has been under the authority of her parents. As a young child, she had no choice in this. As an adult, she has willingly submitted herself to us.

In response to your request, Katie’s desire, and the leading of our Heavenly Father, Judith and I now transfer this authority to you.

This does not imply in any way that you are superior to Katie nor that you will have any right to be demanding, arrogant, or self-serving in your relationship with her. To the contrary, it means that you are committing yourself to lay down your life for her, figuratively in terms of your sacrificial love for her, and literally if necessary to protect her.

I accept your promise to do this, and willingly grant her hand to you in marriage."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ceremony Begins

Opening prayer.
Congregational singing...

... with me at the piano...



...and John leading.

Waiting in the balcony, so as to not miss what was going on before the processional.



Pastor Paul gave an excellent message about the purpose for marriage, the comparison between the marriage relationship and the relationship of Christ to the church, the respective roles of husbands and wives, and the responsibility of those around Katie and Ray to encourage them and hold them accountable.