Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spring Dancing

I've been quite busy this spring with a variety of folk dance performances here in Houston and in San Antonio. Here is a brief visual taste:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Saturday Projects

As I'm sure most do-it-yourself home remodelers do, we have a lot of extra lumber. It's somewhat tricky to store, since in order to be able to look through it, it can't be stored flat, which means that it has to be leaning against something. The only place we had for it to lean was a corner that had a workbench and shelves, which meant that we couldn't utilize any of that storage space. This weekend, we put together a rack that holds the lumber in the middle of the garage, freeing up those shelves to receive all the clutter that was on the floor of the garage. It was a significant upgrade to our garage! Seth decided that he wanted to try making bread by hand. Now, he didn't just want to make it by hand, but he very definitely wanted round loaves with slashes on top. It looked just like the loaves you see in the Bible story picture books!
The beautiful and delicious end product.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June Newsletter

From Laura, 11 … For one of my school projects, I am going through the process of writing a story. It’s a lot more involved and a lot more work than I ever expected. One of the things I had to do was draw a setting map. I drew a map of the main character’s family’s town. That was pretty fun. I could think of all the different street names, and all the buildings to put in the town. It has a bank, hospital, restaurant, store, school, office building, six houses, and an apartment complex. Other things involved with the project have been character sketches, finding new words, finding an interesting plot and person, and interviewing someone.

From Becca, 13 … Last weekend we found a bird nest in our grape vines. There were two baby birds in the nest. They were big babies with feathers. The mother was sitting near the nest. We came up very close, but the mother and the babies did not move or make a sound. The next day I looked and saw that the nest was empty. We saw them just in time. They must have grown up and flown away.

On Saturday we found a turtle. It was a small one—very cute. We took it across the street to show it to our neighbor. We set it on the ground and it walked right back to the street very purposefully. I took it back to the iris patch where it came from, but I wonder if it could have gotten back there by itself. We named it “baby” and labeled it accordingly on its shell with a permanent marker. It is our third one to label. The first was labeled “turtle”, and the second “yurtle.” I like turtles. They are strange and interesting. One does not have to make up an imaginary world to experience odd and wonderful creatures. There are a great many in our world—even in our backyard.

From Seth, 17 … Since the last newsletter I have worked three times with a surveyor. It has been a great learning experience, and I have been able to see what the work is like. They have let me use their GPS, set up and hold target poles, and do some other odd jobs like carrying gear, digging out an old buried rod, and cutting some branches out of the line of sight. I enjoy the work—especially spending so much time outside.

I also recently finished a pretty good book, called Bright Against the Storm. It is the first in a four-book epic. The story is interesting, set in a realm on the eve of war. One thing I liked about the book is how the world it portrays, though made up, has aspects very similar to our own world. Its world is reigned over by a sovereign and holy God, and is marred by sin and populated by sinners, whose only hope is in Christ who redeems. The book also has some great characters, situations, and descriptions.

From Anna, 20 … I recently started reading The History of the Reformation of Scotland, written by John Knox. Knox was one of the pivotal characters in the Scottish Reformation, so it’s fascinating to read about what happened from his perspective. I’ve sometimes found it difficult to follow who all the different people are, since he assumes a greater degree of familiarity with the Scottish nobility than I possess, but that hasn’t hampered my understanding or enjoyment of his story. Knox clearly saw that God was the one doing a work in Scotland, and that the true church of Jesus Christ would always prevail against those who opposed it.

About John, 25 … Besides being busy with work, John has just finished a hectic dance performance season. He was involved with Greek, Russian, and Ukrainian groups over the past few months. Now he is turning his attention to remodeling one of the bathrooms at his house. Having gutted it, he’ll begin rebuilding it.

About Ray, Katie, and Peter … Ray is busy building up his real estate work, and Katie helps and supports that process as needed. Peter is crawling now so he is keeping them hopping! Training and disciplining Peter is now a common topic in their home. Day by day, Peter’s personality is blossoming.

From Judith … I am absolutely thrilled to be moved into our new kitchen!! The big day was June 4! Instead of tramping back and forth from one end of the house to the other in order to prepare and clean up meals, now it’s all done in one amazingly convenient and central location. The greatest delight of all is being able to enjoy the flow of family life while busy with food preparation. I most definitely have a fuller appreciation for simply having a sink and work counter just a step or two away from the stove and fridge. What joy! Call me nuts, but after a year of living with a split kitchen, I just can’t help basking in it all!

You can see pictures of our current kitchen with some “before” pictures also here and here.

From Gerald … Well, here we are with summer in full swing. Our temperatures have been in the nineties lately and on hot days it is hard for us to keep our upstairs rooms cool. So, my current project in the house is to do some work in the attic to help keep the heat out of the house and the cool in. It currently has very little insulation, no radiant barrier, and minimal ventilation. There is much room for improvement and we are hoping to make some progress before this summer is past.

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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kitchen, Phase II: Before and Current Pictures

Looking from the front door, down the hall …

Before …

Current …

Looking from the living room…


Current …
Another angle…

Current …

For years we’ve wanted two sinks to help with the bottleneck of multiple cooks at the one sink. Also, we love wood and ventured to put it in for our counter with the sinks. Water just beads up and wipes away! We’ll see how it holds up in the long run! The island counter will have quartz (engineered stone) to add variety and for a surface for hot pots and rolling out dough.

Having ample counter space for many working hands was another desire. Here are five of us comfortably working at our individual tasks at the same time. What fun!!

Obviously, we still need cabinet faces, drawers, upper cabinets, a range hood, and an island. (The temporary, makeshift island you see in the pictures is two tables. One is a counter-height table we’ll use for serving in the dining room when we get our permanent island. The other is a card table.) In time, the other elements will be added, but getting all of our kitchen function into one place was a huge step. No other step with the kitchen will make as much functional difference as this one has.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby Birds

We were delighted to find this bird nest in our grape vines the other day. It was such fun to see them up close! The birds looked like they were almost to maturity, and they were gone the next day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Created to be His Help Meet, by Debi Pearl (A Book NOT to Read)

Due to the popularity of this book among Christian women, I felt compelled to read it to see what the draw was. Having read and reviewed it, I cannot recommend it. It’s not that I disagree with everything in the book, but I disagree with enough that I am taking a position against the book. I know the Lord can use even imperfect means to bring about his good work in our lives, but this book just has too much in it that would misguide women.

I have written a short paper on this book which primarily includes several pages of quotes and comments. (We will not put it on the blog because some of the content is not appropriate for children to read.) We will e-mail it to anyone who requests it. If you put your e-mail address in a comment, that will give it to us, and we will then not publish the comment.

Here are a few excerpts from my paper:

(In the introductory, general comments from my paper:)

--“Debi uses or quotes low, derogatory language throughout the book. It’s a form of propaganda called name-calling used to manipulate the emotions of the reader. This is distasteful and unbefitting a Christian woman.” (I give examples in the paper.)

--“My husband also has objections. He finds it offensive that she portrays men as animal-like and unable to control their physical desires.”

(Quotes, with my commentary, from specific pages in the book:)

Page 58: "‘When a woman gets old and realizes that there is no man to love and cherish her, it is sad indeed, for she has failed in the very purpose for which she was created – to be a suitable helper to a man.’ Yes, ideally each woman is protected by and submitted to a man, be it husband, father, or the elders of her church. In any of those relationships, her role is to further the vision of her authority figure, in other words to be a helper. But the ultimate purpose for which she was created, in and through every aspect of her life, is to worship and glorify God. My heart especially goes out to the woman who might feel she has no purpose because she has no man in her life.”

Page 148: “‘… your husband will be proud to know he has a better wife than the other guys at work.’ What possible humble, God-glorifying good can come to either Jill or her husband by comparing Jill to other wives?”

Page 148: “‘If you pamper your husband, in time he will become more sensitive to your burden, but you must be a soldier and show yourself strong.’ ‘Pamper’ means ‘to treat or gratify with extreme or excessive indulgence, kindness, or care.’ In this case, there is the risk that the pampering will come across as manipulative, which indeed is the motivation. One might also ask if this is best for the husband. Furthermore, this statement generates the expectation that the husband WILL eventually become more sensitive. He might, but he also might not. Finally, to tell a woman to ‘be a soldier and show (herself) strong’ is to only deal with outward actions and not the heart. There is a limit to how long she can keep up such a ruse, and her serious heart ‘condition’ is left unaddressed.”

Page 291: “On this last page of the book, there is a view of God that I simply can’t abide. We don’t, ‘by our ‘carelessness,’ … force (God) to judge.’ His judgment is the necessary process he has righteously instituted for separating the wheat from the chaff. He is not ‘looking, searching, calling out to those who will hear him,’ nor is he ‘softly and tenderly calling your name.’ He chooses whom he will and decisively draws them to himself. His marvelous grace cannot be resisted. God is not reduced to pleading.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Papa!

We celebrated Papa's birthday last week, and managed to get good pictures of everyone!

Titus 2:2 says, "Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness." Papa exemplifies every one of these qualities, and is a tremendous blessing to each one of us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sometimes Up, Sometimes Down

I found myself a bit reflective when we recently sold our old house after it sat on the market for ten long months.

In our 32 years of marriage, we have sold four houses (1984, 1994, 1999, 2010). The first three sold quickly with the one in 1999 taking only a few days! We were spoiled.

Being an odd house for the neighborhood and a soft market, we weren’t surprised that our most recent sale took longer. “This house will take a special buyer,” was the feedback coming our way. Indeed, the people who bought it, loved it at first sight!

The first three house sales produced nice profits. (The house in Glenrock, Wyoming, produced a considerable profit because of the extensive improvements we had made on it.) This recent sale of our Houston house did not gain much.

Each time we have bought or sold a house, we have tried to carefully consider all the current influencing factors, while utilizing our collective knowledge and experience. Ultimately, though, God’s sovereignty has directed every transaction. Markets go up and markets go down; in either case, God is in control. Of this we are sure: he faithfully works in and through every circumstance of our lives, regardless of the results.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...

We have a kitchen sink!
It was a happy morning today, as we moved all our pots and pans and dishes from the apartment kitchenette we've been using into our real kitchen!

Putting in the faucet.

Preparing to install the sink.

Supply and drain plumbing both complete!

Mama enjoying her new kitchen!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Humor From the Archives

We were looking at some old family pictures today, and we laughed so hard when we came across this one! It was taken on vacation in 2008.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In Which the Pedersens Perform a Most Satisfying Science Experiment

Seth's chemistry book had directions for an oxidation demonstration. He started with ground sugar, and then carefully measured in potassium chlorate.

He mixed it thoroughly...
...and then we moved the operations outside. He added one drop of sulfuric acid before stepping quickly away.
This is what it looked like after about one second!

In less than a minute, the flames and smoke had died down, and the fine white powder was completely transformed into this crusty black ash.