Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Flood in Our Neighborhood

We are very grateful to have a dry house today. Some of our neighbors, who have lived in this neighborhood for decades, told us that they've never seen the water so high here.

This is usually the road just outside our neighborhood, about three blocks away from our house.
This picture is taken from the same place, but looking down the street.
This flooded car was in the same area.

This is only about a block away.

There was a television crew about two blocks away. They were interviewing people and wading around to get footage. There was even a news helicopter flying around above!

This was a block and a half away.
We're very thankful to have not flooded. It was close-- the water was right up to the back door, and had started seeping in, but we were able to keep it mopped up, and no damage was done. Our area got eleven inches in three hours, and that doesn't even include all the rain yesterday afternoon!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April Newsletter

From Laura, 10 … We went camping to Bastrop State Park! Our family arrived close to lunch time. It was nice because the Wades’ campsite was right next to ours. On Saturday we went rappelling and orienteering. It was the first time for most of the people who rappelled, including me. The cliff we went down was only about 20 feet. I went twice. The first time was kind of clumsy and I slipped to the side. I was able to pick myself up, but the second time was much smoother. The group that went orienteering wasn’t very big. Only our family went, minus Mama, and plus a friend who was familiar with crashing through bushes and things like that. For those of you who don’t know what orienteering is, here’s an explanation of what we did. We used a compass and a map to find white posts with random numbers on them. Often we had to squeeze through brush and trees. But that was okay, because what we were trying to do was find the white posts, and it didn’t matter what we had to go through.

From Becca, 12 … Recently I read some things that made me think about the place of humor in conversation. I want to be someone who says encouraging and edifying things, not just someone who says only funny things all the time. I think conversation filled only with light, funny jokes is like eating whipped topping alone. It’s fun, but not filling.

From Seth, 16 … On Easter weekend we went camping in a hilly, well-forested Texas state park. I greatly enjoyed the whole campout, so it is hard to say, but I think that my favorite part was probably walking around in the woods, either with other people, as in hiking or orienteering, or by myself when not very many people were up and nothing else was happening.

From Anna, 19 … I’ve stayed pretty busy lately with house-related work. Now that we’re getting close to being able to move in to the new house, we are really buckling down and trying to get some things done here at the old house. I’ve mostly been working on some deep cleaning that we don’t do on a regular basis, such as scrubbing scuff marks off of the baseboards.

I’ve also been able to find time for some other projects. My most recent hobby is tatting, which is basically a type of lace making. It’s been interesting to learn, and I’m enjoying it. I’m also in the middle of making myself a skirt.

From John, 24 … (Editor’s note: John is uninspired this month, but is in good health.)

About Ray and Katie … Ray and Katie have now experienced camping as a married couple using all their nifty new equipment. It was quite the novelty, after many, many years of having Katie camping with us, to see her camping “next door,” with her new husband, practicing all her camp skills she had gained over the years!

Recently, they enjoyed the great delight of hearing their baby’s heartbeat for the first time! It’s a special joy like no other. The baby is as big as a fig now and Katie is quickly outgrowing most of her clothes.

From Judith … I have always wanted fruit trees, but they were quite limited up north where we spent the first 21 years of our married life. We had a pretty little apple tree in Casper, but the few apples we got weren’t tasty at all. We’ve had figs and pears here at our current home. But, oh, what an abundance we have over at our now home: oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, grapes, figs, plums, and most recently we’ve discovered a peach tree! Gerald has added loquat and papaya. I remember visiting Gerald’s uncle in Arizona and having the great pleasure of standing in his yard, picking fresh oranges off of his trees and eating them right then and there! I thought how fun that would be to simply go out and feast from one’s own trees! I am certainly looking forward to whatever the Lord provides from these trees and am glad to be living in a climate that is conducive to growing fruit.

From Gerald … We had an enlightening discussion last night with some other families from church. We had learned that humility means to intentionally and voluntarily give up one’s position or status. It does not mean that we are less capable or that we falsely discount our abilities. It does have a lot to do with servanthood. The thing that was interesting to me is that a humble attitude can take different forms for different people. For example, I tend to be very focused on any task that I am engaged in, to the exclusion of anything else going on around me. For me, a humble attitude would mean becoming increasingly aware of the people and events around me and being more involved in them. Another man in our group last night has a very different temperament from mine. He tends to be easily distracted by anything going on around him, so for him the challenge is to be able to focus on one individual and give that person his undivided attention. In either case, it really is a matter of considering the interests of others ahead of our own.

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

Friday, April 24, 2009

Operation House-to-Home: The Next Phase

We are now in the full throes of moving preparations. With the completion of the wood floor downstairs on Monday the 13th, we reached a crucial landmark in preparing the new house for moving in. We are still planning to do baseboards, trim, and light fixtures before we move in, but other than that we just need to hook up the range!

Having reached that point with the new house, we have now shifted much of our focus to repairs on this house and packing and moving boxes. This house isn't in terrible shape, but there are still some minor repairs and major cleaning that need to be done, so we're chipping away at that as quickly as possible. We're also taking a couple of van loads of boxes and furniture over each week.

It's hard to say exactly how long it will take us to get completely moved, but we're hoping that it will be within just a few weeks!

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Respond to a Negative Audience

I recently enjoyed seeing the clip from Britain's Got Talent showing Susan Boyle, posted here by Pastor Voddie. It's a great story of a very ordinary person overcoming prejudice and turning out to be unexpectedly talented.

I was struck by this woman's demeanor in front of a hostile audience. She was not angry or rude, nor did she cry and lose confidence. She knew how she could sing, so she didn't let the sneers and laughter bother her. She went out there, sang her heart out, and then was going to walk off the stage, without asking for accolades or approval, and literally had to be called back.

It occured to me that this is very much how we as Christians ought to respond to hostility. Just as Susan Boyle did not become defensive or angry, we should always remain gracious, no matter how unfriendly the audience. Just as Susan Boyle was confident in her ablility to sing, we can be confident in our message-- the greatest one anyone will ever hear, since it comes straight from the Sovereign King of the universe! Just as Susan Boyle did not wait in agony for the decision of the judges, we should not be dependent on the approval of the world. If we have shared God's message to the best of our ability, we can walk away with our heads held high, knowing that God is the only one whose approval really matters.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Titles

I've been realizing the need recently to come up with a succinct explanation of what I'm doing with my life, since I'm not going to work or school full-time.

This really came home to me when someone from the insurance company called and wanted to know what my occupation was. I was tempted to tell her that I was a homemaker, but that title usually indicates being married and managing a home. I must confess that I was rather tongue-tied and didn't say anything very intelligent. I'm afraid that the lady probably thinks I'm some perpetual adolescent living with my parents because I'm aimless and can't think of anything really useful to do with my life.

So I was feeling a little disgusted with myself for not having a better answer ready, when it came time to fill out income tax forms.

Papa did my taxes for me, and, when he'd finished, he had me come over to sign the form. There, immediately above the signature line was the occupation line-- which had been filled in with Assistant Homemaker.

Perfect!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Quote From My History Book

"Taxation for social benefit is like getting a blood transfusion from your right arm to your left arm, and losing half the blood in the process."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 2009 Spring Campout

Last weekend we had a wonderful time camping with friends at Bastrop State Park.

This is actually the Wades' campsite, but it was such a good picture (taken by Seth) that I'm putting it up anyway. This is our campsite, as seen from the top of the hill. One reason we like Bastrop is that there are so many pine trees and hills.
After we had eaten lunch and set up camp on Friday, several of us took a hike down to the small lake. We found these two uprooted trees on the way.
Conditions are very dry there right now, so we weren't allowed to have wood fires. It was a disappointment, but we made do with charcoal in the absence of any alternatives.
On Saturday morning, we went rappelling. Texas does not have much to offer in the way of steep inclines, but we found a spot where we could at least do a little rappelling.
A strong rope, properly tied.
Papa went first, to demonstrate.
Watch carefully, everyone!
A view from the bottom.
Spectators.
There were 14 of us who rappelled, and some of us did it twice, so we were there for a while. It was a lot of fun!
The forecast was for rain Saturday night or Sunday morning, so we got out our giant tarp to cover our tent.
Before tying up the corners.
Our own personal pavilion!
It was actually quite funny to see people's reactions to the tarp. Everyone driving or walking by would point or laugh. As we were walking from one end of the campground to the other, a man asked us if we thought we would stay dry that night. He said that he had seen the tarp going up, and thought it looked like a circus tent!
Just as we got the tarp up, it started sprinkling, but it only rained for a little bit. Since it let up, we decided to go orienteering.
Orienteering is hiking through the forest, regardless of hills, ditches, or thick underbrush...
using a map and compass...
and looking hard...
for these numbered posts.
We found every pole we looked for, and had a glorious time trekking through the wilderness.
We discovered that baby prickly pear cactus leaves feel like kush balls.
Roasting marshmallows Saturday night.
The forecasted rain came at 7:15 on Sunday morning. It never got very hard, though, and it had cleared up by the time we gathered for a time of worship.
Becca had fun over the weekend finding unusual rocks.
On the way home, we stopped to admire the bluebonnets.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Operation House-to-Home: More Wood Floor

We actually have enough floor in that we need to keep it clean! Once we finished the living room, we started down the hallway, which meant dealing with corners...

and doorways.

The corner around the stairs, successfully accomplished!

Onward to the dining room!

We've also planted a couple of fruit trees...

finished installing crown molding (though some of it still needs touch-up painting)...

started installing ceiling fans...

and moved a couple of van loads worth of boxes over.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter Celebration

Due to scheduling issues, we had our Easter dinner last Friday night.

On the menu was lamb...

with mint apple glaze...

unleavened bread...

carrots, salad, and apple nut cake, which did get frosting later.

After dinner and an Easter devotional, we did a reenactment of the burial and resurrection.

Scripts and costumes all ready.
Jesus meets the women, with unconscious guards in the foreground.
We spent the rest of the evening playing Empire, and generally having a very good time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Jesus I Serve

"I'm only a whisper away."

I saw this on a little sign stuck along the road the other day, but that was only the first part. The rest?

"Love, Jesus."

What was that little sign really saying? Jesus is near us, as Acts 17:26-28 says: "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’"

I don't think the sign was wrong, necessarily, but it was woefully inadequate. Who is doing the whispering? Why are they whispering? What exactly will Jesus do when they whisper? The idea I get from that sign is something like this:

"Are you experiencing pain or uncertainty? Do you want peace? Are you looking for unconditional love, no matter what you're doing? Just whisper to me. Just whisper. I'm right here. I'll make you feel better, because I love you just the way you are."

In other words, this sign presents Jesus as a wooer. Again, there's an element of truth in this. Jesus did come "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10), but he does not do so as one who pleads helplessly to people to come to him. I think there are two problems with this idea of Jesus as a wooer.

First, it puts man in control over salvation. Instead of God's sovereign grace at work in a person's life, inexorably drawing them to faith and repentance, we have Jesus pleading longingly, hoping that someone will come to him.

The second problem is our culture's understanding of love. In our culture today, people believe that love means being made much of, and being accepted and embraced "just the way you are," regardless of one's actions. Those who buy into this idea of love run into problems when they come to the Bible and read that Jesus loves us. Suddenly, instead of a Jesus who came in order to save sinful man, we have a Jesus who accepts us in our current miserable state of sin, makes us feel good, and leaves us in that miserable state!

That is not the Jesus I serve. I serve the Jesus who was God himself (Col. 1:15-17), yet came to earth as a human, not counting equality with God a thing to be grasped. (Phil. 2:6-7) I serve the Jesus who laid down His life for His own sheep, (John 10:14-18) and then rose again. (1 Cor. 15:4) I serve the Jesus who will return in power and great glory at the consummation of all things. (Rev. 19:11-12)

And, I serve the Jesus who chose to love me, to save me, to cleanse me of my sin, and to make me His child, with the privilege of making His glory my lifelong pursuit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Anna!


Last week we celebrated Anna's 19th birthday. Katie and Ray joined us for a tasty and daringly creative meal prepared by the birthday girl herself, after which we enjoyed an evening of conversation and playing games.

Anna has grown into a woman who is beautiful inside and out, and I am proud to be her older brother. She is an example of hard work, industry, and prudence. She is equally capable of rollicking gaiety and serious discussion. Our family is truly blessed by her every day.