From Becca, 15 … Laura and I have been cutting up brush and burning it. There were four large brush piles in the woods from dead trees that we had cut down. I enjoy the work, especially the burning part. We are a lot better at starting fires than we were a few months ago. We can actually do it ourselves now and it doesn't take half an hour!
From Seth, 19 … For the past couple weeks, I’ve been reading Luke’s history of the life of Jesus. I’m really enjoying it. A few days ago I came to the account of Jesus calling Peter, James, and John to follow him. Before doing so, he had told them to put out their nets for fish, resulting in a catch so large that the boats began to sink. In response to this display of Jesus’ power, Peter fell down and said, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man!” This is really similar to Isaiah’s response upon beholding the absolute holiness of God in Isaiah 6. When God reveals himself, both men are utterly humbled, seeing how sinful and how unclean they are in the presence of God. At the end of the account of the disciples being called, Luke says that they left everything and followed Jesus. It seems that the main point is not the disciples’ great commitment, but rather the great authority of the One who called them.
From Anna, 22 … Earlier this week I went to Austin for a couple of days to visit a friend. We went to church together, visited friends new and old, worked on some projects, and enjoyed visiting and spending time with each other. Whenever I have a chance like this to spend extra time with a good friend, I am reminded what an encouragement and blessing deep friendships are -- friendships that are the graceful flowering of shared faith, shared values, and mutual understanding. Those friends truly are spiritual family, and I'm so grateful that God has given me such friends.
About John, Megan,and James … (by Becca) John is nearing the completion of a kitchen remodel job that he has been working on for a while. James has been enjoying rolling onto his side. Megan will be getting her wisdom teeth extracted on September 7. She also needs to get glasses. (That’s what happens when you marry a Pedersen. Mama had to get glasses about a year after she married Papa, and Ray had to get glasses some time after he married Katie. We will all have glasses now except John -- because he wears contacts -- and the little ones.)
From Ray, Katie, Peter, Samuel, and Andrew … (by Katie) The newest member of the family, Andrew, arrived right on his due date! It was my shortest labor yet: only about three hours. Andrew weighed 8 lbs. 6 oz., and is a healthy and adorable baby. We are definitely in the baby boy business!
From Judith … Our house has an apartment in it which takes up about a fourth of the downstairs. It’s always been a bit of a scary place to me, second only to our garage, due to neglect over many years. Well, we’re beginning to dig into it because we want a downstairs guest bedroom/bathroom available. The apartment has a full bathroom (only the tub is salvageable), a walk-in closet, a kitchenette (currently gutted), and also spaces for a bedroom and a sitting area. The apartment is one reason we bought this house. The first priority for its use will be to offer it to our parents should any of them choose to come live with us. As long as none of them need/want it, we will use it as a guest suite.
At first, when we moved into the house in 2009, we used it for the constantly-flowing inventory of the sharing table ministry we manage for our church family, for extra storage of our own possessions, and for our kitchen, sink, and counter functions while we worked on the main kitchen. After a year (June, 2010), and with great rejoicing, we moved all our kitchen function to the main kitchen, but the other uses continue.
The first step was to begin sorting, thinning, and relocating all that we have stored in there. That work is in process. Next, although we have a general plan for the apartment, we needed to design the bathroom in much greater detail. (Once the bathroom is functional and the storage situation is under control, we can house guests in there even if the other work isn’t done yet.) To that end Gerald and I have talked, measured, discussed, decided, researched, shopped, changed our minds (me mostly), talked, measured again, reevaluated, etc. Honestly, I enjoy designing. I love letting my imagination go wild in the effort to make a space as functional as possible and be visually pleasing at the same time.
That’s all I’ll say for now. Stay tuned for an update next month!
From Gerald … We just have one more week in our current small-group study. We have been reading and discussing together a book that points out how too many American churches have turned away from the true Christian message. For many churches, the emphasis is on what we need to do rather than on what God has done for us in Christ. This can result in at least two faulty views of the church. First, we see many churches that are really not much different than secular organizations that provide an environment where one can hear inspirational, self-help messages and have opportunities to serve in some way. Secondly, we see people who believe that they do not need the church because of a faulty understanding that Christianity is about having a “relationship” with Christ, which they can have apart from any connection with a church.
Both of these faulty views are a result of not recognizing what the Gospel is and how important it is that the Christian church continues to faithfully proclaim it. Every person has a relationship with God, either as his enemy or as his adopted child. The Gospel is not something we say or do, but is the good news of what God has done for all whom he has called to repent and believe. This Gospel is to be faithfully proclaimed in the churches; all of Scripture makes up God’s redemptive story pointing to Christ and his life, sacrifice, and resurrection in order to reconcile his people to himself.
With love from the Pedersen clan