Saturday, February 27, 2010

February Newsletter

From Laura, 11 … Recently Anna, Seth, Becca and I have been spending a couple of half-days at our old house to clean up the yard. We tore all the weeds out of all three beds in front, and spread red mulch in them. They look much better now. We learned that when the mulch gets soaked with water, the water flows out and is all red, like blood. Fortunately, though, the mulch was still red.

From Becca, 13 … At dinner one night Papa’s 600-mile, ten-day bike trip came up. He told us all the merry details we didn’t know. He went with his buddy, but his buddy’s bike broke down. He slept outside because his buddy took the tent with him. On the first day he traveled 120 miles uphill. He went over lots of mountains. After going up one mountain, he didn’t have to pedal for 15 miles. He was required to call home every other night. One town they got to had no phones, so they had to go farther than they had planned. They used pay phones with a dial wheel. They made their parents pay for the call like this: The operator would say, “Gerald Pedersen wants to talk to you. Do you accept the charges?” The operator was a real person. Then, the person answering the phone would say either, “Yes,” or, “No! I don’t know who Gerald Pedersen is!”

From Seth, 16 … Recently I started reading a great book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, for literature. It is an allegory, which I guess is technically fiction, but it is almost hard to call it fiction because there is so much truth in it! The story chronicles the journey of a pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City (Heaven), showing all the different trials, temptations, and encouragements he encounters on the way. It is definitely not just a light, entertaining read. Basically, as a Christian, it is very easy to relate to the story in general, and specifically to the main character, Christian.

From Anna, 19 … After seven months of having our old house on the market without ever getting an offer or contract, we finally made the decision to get rid of the ugly, dated, dark, 70’s wallpaper in the house. There was wallpaper (and dark, painted walls, which also needed to go) throughout the kitchen, office, and dining room, as well as in two bathrooms. Thankfully, we didn’t need to strip the wallpaper, but we had to paint over all of it with an oil-based primer to keep it from absorbing moisture from the water-based paint.

To that end, during the first two weeks of February, Seth and I worked nine full days over there. Papa was with us for two of those days, and there was one day when I was sick and couldn’t go, so just Papa and Seth went. It was an interesting taste for me of what it would be like to have a full-time job. Every morning I got up, packed a lunch, left after breakfast, and didn’t get home until dinner-time. By the time we were done, I was more than ready to spend some time at home! It wasn’t that I minded the work—I actually like painting—but I just missed being home. It was hard to keep up with even basic chores like keeping my room tidy; I certainly didn’t have time to make any progress on other projects I have or keep up with things like the sorting for the sharing table ministry we do at church or writing in my journal. I felt so out of touch, and I missed being involved with the cooking and other things that go on here. It made me so grateful that I don’t have to go out and get a job to support myself, but that I have the tremendous privilege of investing my life right here, serving the people I love, and doing all the things that give me more satisfaction than anything I can think of.

About John, 25 … (tidbits by Judith) John has been mentoring a young man from church. Daniel, 14, comes to the house one day each week to join John in his work. John’s careful instruction and explanations have been beneficial to Daniel.

One of John’s current jobs is to paint a young girl’s bedroom pink, black, and silver. This morning he headed out to that job very early because the parents wanted it finished in time for their daughter’s afternoon birthday party!

Recently, having received a personal invitation, John decided to try his hand (or “feet” I should say!) at Greek dancing. He has enjoyed the challenge.

About Ray, Katie, and Peter … (written by Laura) Ray has been gone this weekend at a conference for work. Katie is doing well. Peter is happy, cute, adorable, lovable, huggable, kissable, and simply perfect in every single way there could be.

(written by Becca) Peter rolled over recently and has started grabbing things. If you put your hand in front of his face, he will grab your fingers and try to stick them in his mouth. He sticks everything in his mouth, including his thumb. Sometimes it sounds like he laughs, but it may just be a smile and a squawk at the same time.

From Judith … Today (Feb. 26) Gerald and I went out to lunch to celebrate our 32nd anniversary. I was reminded of just how much I enjoy Gerald’s company. He is indeed my dearest friend.

I am also feeling a particular appreciation for my children. More and more I am realizing the great blessing that children are. The early years are full of the hard work of training, discipling, and disciplining, with a view toward these children becoming followers of Christ in every regard. Then there comes the sweet delight of seeing this hoped-for fruit in their lives as they move toward adulthood. Additionally, I am personally blessed when they sincerely want to help me with my work or are genuinely concerned about my welfare. They really care when I’m hurting or when I need help. Increasingly, my children are becoming my friends. What joy!

From Gerald … This is the month for celebrations in our family. Laura, Ray, and Seth have birthdays in February and our wedding anniversary is February 26. Birthdays are a special time for us. The birthday person gets to choose the menu for dinner and activities for us to do together as a family. A very meaningful part of the celebration is the “birthday prayer.” Each one in turn prays for the birthday person. It is a sort of “shower of blessing.”

I am so grateful for the wife that God has given to me, and the children he has blessed us with. My family is a great blessing to me.

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reforming to New Heights

Earlier this week I was reading about how King Josiah kept the Passover. He had already torn down the high places in Judah. The book of the Law of God had been found, and he had responded by repenting of the nation's sin and leading the nation in covenanting to follow God. Now he was restoring the observance of the Passover. It was definitely a high point in Israel's history-- a glorious time of faithfulness in the midst of chronic apostasy.

The most striking aspect for me, though, is the conclusion. II Chronicles 35:18 reads:

"No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem."
No other king in all of Israel's history had done what Josiah did.

Not Hezekiah, who cleansed the temple and restored true worship in it. He even had a Passover celebration, but it wasn't quite orthodox. (II Chron. 30:2-3) He organized the priests and trusted in God to save the nation from Sennacharib-- but he didn't keep the Passover like Josiah did.

Not Jehoshapat, who "was courageous in the ways of the Lord." He destroyed the Asherahs and admonished judges to judge justly in the fear of God. He also trusted God to save the nation from invaders-- but he didn't keep the Passover like Josiah did.

Stunningly, not even David kept the Passover like Josiah did. The behavior of future kings was frequently marked by David; the kings who did right walked in the ways of David their father, the man after God's own heart, the ancestor of Jesus, who desired so earnestly to build the temple. Even so, he never did what Josiah did.

I think sometimes we look at the church today, and we look at what the great reformers of history taught and believed, and we think, "Oh! If we could just get back to what the reformers taught!"

Certainly, there is much that the church today can and should learn from the reformers of the past, but our goal should not be to be more like the reformers. Our goal should be to be more and more like Christ, as He is revealed in His Word. As the teaching of the reformers aids us in that, it should be utilized, but with the recognition that they hadn't "arrived."

There are greater heights of faithfulness, greater grasps of truth to be gained, even as Josiah was able to be obedient to a degree that not even David had been.

May we always be pressing higher.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Story, By Becca

Mice Troubles

based on a true story

One day we went to visit our cousin, Christina. In the parking lot on the way into her apartment, Seth found a plastic mouse. He just stuck it in his pocket.

Well, we were talking, and somehow, the topic of mice came up.

"I used to have so much trouble with mice at my old apartment!" said Christina. "I came home one night and saw something run across the floor. I was scared out of my wits!"

As she proceeded to tell us of all the methods she had used to rid herself of the mice, I was thinking of the mouse in Seth's pocket. Apparently, he was too, because he touched my arm and tilted his head slightly toward the floor. I looked down and saw the front of the plastic mouse sticking out from under the couch!

"Draw attention to it!" he whispered.

Shortly, I found just the opportunity.

"So, are there any mice in this apartment?" I asked Christina. I looked down at the mouse on the floor, hoping she would follow my gaze.

"Aaaaah!" she screamed. Water from her glass spilled everywhere.

"Hey!" said Christina. But we were already splitting our sides laughing. That was a very successful joke!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Define Fine

“Good morning, Mary! How are you?” Janet exclaimed.

“I’m fine! Thank you for asking.” Mary responded.

It’s such a common greeting. But, is Mary REALLY fine? Is she being honest?

Some time ago, a friend and I dug a little bit into the definition of fine. She and I both deal with pain to one degree or another, somewhat intermittently, and on an ongoing basis. Yet, we both conveyed to the other that we were “fine”.

In this usage, “fine” generally means “doing well”. So, what constitutes “doing well”? It’s not that I am free of pain or difficulties, it’s that God is at work in the struggles, giving me what I need to move through them and teaching and molding me along the way.

The hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” beautifully speaks to this topic. No matter what hard times come into my life, it is indeed well with my soul, when I consider that “Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed his own blood for my soul.”

Mary might not have carefully considered her answer to Janet’s question; but, on the other hand, she might honestly have been fine, knowing that God is equipping her to face her struggles and is sanctifying her in the process.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Funny Trash Man

Yesterday something interesting happened. Mama was looking out the window when our trash was being picked up and she started laughing! The trash man looked in the trash can and pulled out some flowered leggings we had thrown away. He held them out, and without hesitating, wrapped them around his face! He then hopped right back up on the truck and headed off! I guess he was cold. He looked really funny with his green cap and flowered leggings!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sewing Basket

These pictures are for you, Mom, so you can see the basket you had sent to Laura. It came in perfect condition and is very nice.




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Princesses

We had these two lovely princesses visit our folk dancing on Saturday night!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Wallpaper to Paint

After having had our old house on the market for seven months with light activity and no offers, we decided that the dated, 70s wallpaper had to go. When we initially put the house on the market, we made sure everything was tidy and presentable, but we didn't update anything. We can't know for sure why nobody has been interested in the house thus far, but we know that there's a real possibility that people see the listing online, think "yucky wallpaper" and don't even come and look at the house.

Ironically, we've never liked that wallpaper! There were enough positive features in the house that we bought it anyway, and we were never motivated to change it. After ten years, we were completely used to it, so it's been amazing to see how much difference painting makes! The whole room feels much lighter and airier.

We really didn't want to have to scrape and remove all that wallpaper. After doing some research, we found out that if you put an oil-based primer over the wallpaper, you can paint over it instead of removing it. At this point, we have finished the priming and are now painting the main living space and patching in the two wallpapered bathrooms.

We've been pushing hard this last week to get it done, since the house is off the market until we finish. Seth and I are planning to be working over there full-time this week.




Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sewing Lesson

Laura asked me to teach her how to sew. She wanted her first project to be a dress for herself. She picked bright yellow material at the store.

Here is the lovely finished product.

Becca's first dress was made from the same pattern two years ago.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Drum Roll, Please... We Have a Cabinet!

Building the lazy susan for our corner cabinet proved to be a fairly complicated process, which took longer than we would have liked. Once Papa had built the two round pieces and mounted them on the boards that would be the shelves for them to sit on, I painted all the pieces, and the wall behind where there would be cabinets, since the wall will also be the cabinet back.
Putting it all together.

Phase 1 complete!
We were so excited that we promptly moved our microwave in, even though the final countertop isn't in yet!