Friday, January 27, 2012

One Glorious Day

As I write this, I'm sitting outside, enjoying the fresh coolness of this beautiful, breezy day.  Earlier the world was brilliant with sunshine-- the pink flowers on a nearby shrub shone brightly and all the leaves overhead danced in the sparkling light.  The sun is low enough now that most of the yard is in shade, but the tops of the trees are still lit up, and there's a last bit of sun on the oranges and the peach blossoms.

I love days like this.

So I've been sitting out here as much of the afternoon as I could, reveling in the combination of warm sun and cool breeze, just soaking it up.  It's not just the weather, either.  The last day or two I've been filled with renewed wonder at the goodness and love of God, and today I've been marveling in the mercy and kindness that He has demonstrated in my life.

God is always gracious and merciful, but I'm not always aware of it like I am at this moment.  Today, though, God has allowed me to catch a glimpse of His bounty, and He has filled my heart with joy and thanksgiving.  So I revel and delight in this gift of a day that He's given me.

Interestingly enough, I've been reading Job lately.  Job wasn't exactly feeling God's kindness.  Instead, he was trying to make sense of the immense tragedies that God had sovereignly placed in his life.  Ultimately, God called him to trust in God's character, instead of his ability to comprehend the meaning of his suffering.  We, however, have more than this.  We can follow in the footsteps of Christ, who suffered more than we ever will, and who promises victory on the other side of suffering.  Mark Dever, in his Message of the Old Testament, says this:

"Finally, we can trust God because, as Job himself said, 'I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth' (Job 19:25).  How would Job's Redeemer redeem?  By living more righteously and perfectly than Job ever could, and by taking upon himself more suffering than Job ever knew.  Job's patience amid suffering, you see, was finally meant to point to the genuinely perfect righteousness and wholly undeserved suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Through his death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day, Christ would defeat the powers of sin and death.  God then promises to forgive everyone who repents of their sins and trusts in Christ.  And they, too, along with Job, will stand with their Redeemer in the end."

So for those who have been redeemed by Christ, part of our reason for hope is the knowledge that beyond our suffering, beyond the brief time we have in this life, there is a glorious future awaiting us, when we shall see our Redeemer face to face and spend all eternity worshiping, serving, and adoring him.  Then will our joy be made perfect.

The most beautiful day on earth cannot compare with this--even now, the last vestige of sunshine is fading from the tops of the trees, and it's almost too chilly to sit comfortably out here-- but such days can serve as a reminder and a foretaste of what is to come, thus increasing our anticipation of that one glorious day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Operation West Wall

Operation East Wall moved along quickly because we had Papa, John, and Seth working on it full time for two weeks.  Now John and Papa have both gone back to their other work, and Seth is back at school, so progress on the west wall is slower.  However, we have continued to make progress, bit by bit.

First off, a before picture:


In addition to the structural issues with the brick that I mentioned in this post, this side of the house has suffered from foundation issues.  We've known for a while that the giant brick chimney on this side was at least a factor in the problems we've had, so that was yet another reason to take it all off.  Once we were in the middle of removing the chimney, we could tell that it had been added later, which only confirmed our suspicions.  You simply can't tack a solid brick chimney onto a foundation that wasn't engineered for it and not have problems!


Whereas the brick veneer on the wall was practically falling off, the solid brick chimney was still holding together quite nicely and therefore had to be taken apart one brick at a time with a hammer and chisel.  Seth diligently chipped away at the job, though, and our giant chimney was gradually converted into a giant pile of bricks.


In case you were wondering whether or not the brick was really in bad shape, note the plants that were growing out of the mortar!


Pulling off the wall brick.


Once the wall brick and some of the rotten sheathing had been removed, Seth and Papa decided to frame the opening for a window that we are widening.  They removed the old window and the sheathing around it, and they found this:


Pipes!  This window goes in the kitchenette for the apartment in our house.  On one side of the window was the cold water supply for the sink, and the sink drain vent.  On the other side was the hot water supply and a gas line for a range.

That kitchenette needs to be gutted eventually, so we knew that the plumbing in that wall was going to need redoing at some point.  We just hadn't planned on doing it now.  Ever in pursuit of the critical path in a project, we opened up the wall inside, cut the pipes back, and capped them off.  We'll run new lines at some later time, since we don't need that space to be functional right now.


Area for the window opening... sans pipes.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Striving in Prayer

We were privileged to have Tedd Tripp as a guest speaker at church recently.  He preached about striving in prayer, from Paul's request to the Romans in Romans 15.  It was an excellent and timely message.  One point that I found particularly insightful was that generic prayers cannot be fervent.  If we are to pray fervently, we must also pray specifically.  More importantly, I was reminded of the necessity and urgency of prayer, the humility and love for the brothers from which true intercessory prayer springs, and the example left us by Christ of passionate prayer.

Click here to listen to the entire message.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Motherhood

Motherhood means laying down your life for another, like Christ did in the Gospel.  Abortion means killing another so that you can live for yourself.

Idea taken from Rachel Jankovic, "Motherhood is a Calling"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January Newsletter

From Laura, 12 … Ever since sometime in August, I have been realizing just how much starting 7th grade is a turning point. It’s when all preconceived notions of “spare time” are abolished. It’s when I wondered how I could have possibly ever been bored. It has certainly helped me determine which of the things I want to do are most important. I’ve also especially been reminded that every moment of my time is precious.

From Becca, 15 … Anna, Laura, and I have enjoyed being able to help Papa, John, and Seth here and there on the siding project. My favorite thing was nailing up the rigid foam insulation and house wrap. Mostly we have done a lot of moving. We threw, hauled, and stacked bricks and we moved the siding to the other side of the house two pieces at a time. We have tons more bricks to move. (I mean literally tons.) We will probably work on it a little each day.

From Seth, 18 … Right now I am enjoying a winter break from school. (Classes don’t start until the 17th.) Breaks are nice, but they do require more discipline in order to spend that extra time well. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see the house project come together and to be able to labor with my hands. I’ve also had more time to read; my current book is called The Mortification of Sin, by John Owen. In the last chapter I read, Owen made an excellent point: To fight sin because of its unpleasant effects is self-love; true, God-pleasing mortification (killing of sin) flows out of love for Christ and hatred for sin as sin, not as something that makes us feel bad.

From Anna, 21 … In December, some friends of ours invited us to go Christmas caroling with them in their apartment complex. We had never caroled at apartments before, so it was logistically a little bit different than what we are used to. As far as the range of reactions, though, it was very similar to what we’ve experienced in other neighborhoods. Some people were so shocked they didn’t know what to do with themselves, while others opened the door only to immediately close it again. The most memorable people for me whenever we go caroling are the ones who seem to be genuinely touched, and we had several of those this time as well.

From John, Megan, and baby-on-the-way … (by Megan) This past month was a nice one – filled with friends and family. With holidays coming up, we went to friends’ houses, and had friends over to visit and fellowship. The closer it got to Christmas, the more time we spent with family. We had a day spent with my family to celebrate with them, a day spent with John’s family to celebrate with them, and then Christmas day with just us. We had a nice quiet Christmas at home enjoying each other’s company, and working on a 3,000 piece puzzle. (We are going to frame it and put it above the couch in our living room now that it’s finished.)

James has been growing each day. It’s amazing that it’s only 10 weeks until the due date! We have gradually been getting things ready – guest bathroom tiled, guest bedroom/baby storage room and baby stuff organized and cleaned, etc. We eagerly await James’ arrival!

From Ray, Katie, Peter, and Samuel … (by Katie) Samuel started crawling in the last few days. He's been warming up for it for quite a while now, and it's really cute to see him venturing forward. It's a new era for Peter, who now has a little person coming after him and trying to take his things. He's a good big brother, though, and enjoys having Samuel around. He calls him 'baby'. Ray and a friend recently replaced our old, rickety back steps with a wonderful four-foot square deck and nice, sturdy steps. Meanwhile, I am trying to get used to the fact that I'm turning thirty this week. Yikes! It makes both me and my mother feel old.

From Judith … For January it’s perhaps an oddity to you northerners, but we are currently having a truly beautiful fall here. We don’t usually get much fall color in south Texas, so this is a treat. We’ve heard that the drought generated these lovely rich hues we’re enjoying. They’re especially vibrant when the sun shines through the leaves. Photos never seem to do justice to these scenes. My additional delight is that now I can be at the ironing board or sewing machine during the day and see the trees through my brand new window! The view includes only a smidgeon of the neighbors’ houses which is the perk of having an upstairs room.

It has rolled around again just as it does every three years – a bit of Pedersen trivia. Between Katie’s birthday on Jan. 7 and Laura’s birthday on Feb. 2, the ages of us eight original Pedersens, and now Ray also, are multiples of three. Yes, trivial, I know.

From Gerald … The porch and east wall project has been the most significant event for me this past month. Our goal has been to improve the function and appearance of our house. The brick and mortar were badly deteriorated. The drafty, single-paned, aluminum-framed windows had no flashing. So, when a driving rain would come through the brick, instead of just running down inside the wall, around the windows, and out the weep holes at the bottom, the water would come inside the house at the top of the windows. It also could not get out at the bottom of the wall, because there was a foot or more of crumbled mortar down there. The east wall that faces the side street was also very plain and ugly because it was a large, rectangular expanse of brick with only two windows.

So, we removed all of the brick from that wall, extended the front porch to wrap-around that side of the house, replaced the two windows and added an additional one (all properly flashed), added rigid foam insulation (with foil radiant barrier) and house wrap, and finished with Hardie (fiber-cement) siding. All that remains to be done on that wall is shutters and paint. Now, we move on to the west wall. You can see photos on our blog.

It has been a great blessing to have my children’s help for this project. John and Seth worked full-time during the two weeks that I was home and the girls also made significant contributions to the work.

For another perspective on our project, see the entry at the bottom of this newsletter.

With love from the Pedersen clan

P.S. Becca wrote the following as a joke and was going to delete it, but we all thought it was so funny, we decided to let you all be amused also:

“My entire life right now is consumed by moving bricks. Every morning I wake up before the sun and put on my grey uniform. Then I troop outside into the biting wind and dreary cold. I lift bricks into the barrow, then push it far across the property. I stagger under the back-breaking load. This is what I do from morning till night every single day with only a dry crust of bread and a sip of water to keep up my strength. This is what I will be doing day after day, day after day till the end of my life.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Deck for the Wades!

The Wades recently took out the rickety steps leading to their back door and put in this lovely little deck. 


Of course, the steps didn't look quite this bad before they were taken out...but you can kind of see what they were like!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Operation East Wall: Nearing Completion

First siding!


Cutting pieces to length.


Moving up the wall.



This was a template for the odd piece...


...that had to go next to the porch roof.


Siding complete!


And, for the sake of comparison, here is a picture taken less than three weeks before.


Peter getting in on the action.


He's learned what to do when Grandpa starts the saw!