Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Scrapbooking and Constipation

The girls and I went to visit my friend Isobel yesterday. Isobel is the Scrapbook Queen, and she offered to let us use her "snibbly" box (all sorts of scrap papers and cardstock and embellishments) and stamps and cutters and so on.

I wanted the girls to learn the basics of scrapbooking, and they did a great job. It's obvious that they have an artistic bent, and they aren't bound by rules, so they are free to be creative.

God is good, giving us relationships with friends and family that are uplifting and encouraging, and just plain fun. We'll be back to our regular routine tomorrow, thankful for the mini-retreat we enjoyed.

I got this from Rachel today, regarding her 8 year old son:

I was talking to Trenton about constipation, and how it makes it very hard to pooh. He replied, "I call those my contemplation poohs, 'cause I have to sit there for a long time."

Isn't he brillliant? :)
I'll say.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

How Big is our God?

My husband was asked to read the first chapter of Ezekiel this morning, as preparation for our Pastor to begin his sermon. The vision Ezekiel has is of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
As I stood there, listening to the description, I realized that I cannot begin to comprehend God. He is above all. He is utterly magnificent.

Does my vision of God shape my life? Do I live for Him? Do I instruct my children to focus on the One who sits on that glorious throne, with a rainbow of grace surrounding it?

God is the Lord of Time and Eternity. One day, every single knee, whether willingly or unwillingly, will bow, and every single tongue will declare that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God is the Creator of all things. Every heartbeat, every breath I take is only because of His mercy. Do I use them for His glory? Do I arrange my days to serve Him? Is He at the forefront of my mind and plans for the days and weeks and months ahead? Or am I simply relegating Him to the back corner, and putting my self on the throne? Are MY plans, MY dreams, MY desires and MY goals what I focus on?

When I read the first chapter of Ezekiel, I know that I must


God is the Potter, and we are the clay. He has every right to do as He wills with His own creatures. Some He will raise up, and some He will put down -- all for His good pleasure, and all because of His sovereign will. He chooses our course, and we must learn to humble ourselves before Him, surrendering to His will. Whether we are up, or whether we are down, we must live for God!

Am I ready to live for God, radically, moment-by moment?

Ezekiel was.

At the time of Ezekiel, there was great political upheaval. Judah was in the middle between Egypt (Pharaoh Neco) and Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar). In 609 good King Josiah was killed at Meggido, and by 605 BC Neco's armies were destroyed by Babylon at the Battle of Carchemish. King Jehoiachim was playing politics instead of turning to the living God. He kept switching allegiance from Egypt to Babylon, which didn't go over very well.

Daniel was taken in the first wave, in 605. In 597, Ezekiel was carted off to exile, along with 10,000 others. By 586, Nebuchadnezzar in his fury destroyed the temple.

The children of Israel cried out, "What's going on? Where is God? Why did He allow this destruction? Doesn't He care about us? Isn't He in control?"

That's why God gave Ezekiel the vision of WHO HE WAS. And when Ezekiel saw it, he fell on his face:

Ezekiel 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.
2:1 ¶ And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. 4 For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. 5 And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them.

Ezekiel was certainly a prophet - he saw the vision and took the message to the people. He was also a priest, the son of a priest. His name means "I will strengthen", and he was strengthened by God to do His bidding and minister to the people.

He had a tough message. Daniel, like Hosea, was tender. Ezekiel, like Amos, was tough. God uses all sorts of people for His purposes. Don't compare ministries or personalities, but be thankful when you see God's provision in the talents of His people!

So God sent Ezekiel with a the message that judgment begins at home. They were dabbling in sin, going after idols, listening to false prophets, using false measures, pursuing gain, ignoring the needy, and trusting in super-powers rather than in the Living God. God used Babylon to discipline His people, to purify them and bring them back to a relationship with Him.

The book of Ezekiel is all about

the PLAN of GOD - to discipline Judah;
the PURPOSE of GOD - to restore Judah; and
the PROMISE of GOD - that His people would return to the land.

It wasn't an easy task, to take this message to the people. They were confused and felt abandoned, and Ezekiel knew it. That's why God gave him a glimpse of His power and glory, along with a reminder of His unfathomable grace. The rainbow encircling the throne was a powerful reminder that God always keeps His promises. Even if the enemy has come in and carted you away to a foreign land. Even if you have lost your home, your family, your land, your temple, your very country...God never fails. He will judge the sin of His people, and it is never easy. He also will restore His people back to a full relationship with Himself. One day, we will be in the Land - the best land - the heavenly land, where God dwells in the midst of His people.

We had a foretaste of heaven today as we gazed upon Jesus. He is the One with the plan to make a way for the elect from every tribe and tongue to be gathered as a People of God. He is the One with the purpose to redeem us from a life of sin, under the power of Satan and the sentence of death. He is the One who promised never to let one of His chosen ones go, and HE has the power to carry out His plan, His purpose, and to keep His promise.

It's all about YOU, King Jesus, and the glory of Your name.

My God is so BIG,
So strong and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do!

The mountains are His,
The valleys are His,
The stars are His handiwork too!

My God is so BIG,
So strong and so mighty,
There's nothing my God cannot do!

Oh, God, Help me to live as one who really GETS that I am very small, and You are very BIG. Let me keep the vision of Your power and Your glory at the forefront of my mind. Remind me that Your eye is always upon me, and that You ordain every little thing that happens to me for my ultimate good, and for your glory.

In the name of Christ, my Saviour and Lord, I pray. Amen.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Love is the Glue

While surfing the web this evening, I came across this poem on the Prairie Home Companion website. I have been teaching analogies to Christopher, and this poem is full of examples. I'm glad that Rick and I are glued together uproariously, too.

"Love is the glue that makes us stick"
by Marydel Rosenfield

Love is the glue that makes us stick
That holds us together through thin and thick

Love is the yeast that makes us rise
To the occasion and fills with surprise

Love is the power that helps us stay
The course when we enter the fray

Love is the force that keeps us on track
That sends us on missions and brings us back

Love is intangible and also invisible
And sometimes positively risible

Being in love is a human emotion
Entraps like a mud flat, engulfs like the ocean

As fish love the water and birds love the air
Love tugs at our heartstrings and makes us a pair.

About the Author
Marydel Rosenfield (nee Coolidge) grew up in Bangor, Maine, the daughter of a forester; she was an only child and bookworm. She always loved playing around with words (learned "The Jabberwocky" in third grade; plays Scrabble not bridge). Her favorite living poet is Billy Collins. She lived in Riverdale (NW Bronx) from 1950 - 2006 with her architect husband; they summered in Maine (east Penobscot Bay region). Her favorite things are saiiing, music, three grown children and two grandchildren. Now living permanently on Deer Isle ME, she and her husband have been uproariously married for 59 years; he married her for her 1939 Ford convertible with a rumble seat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


The south side of our house is perfect for a small garden. It used to be a less-than-stellar spot, because we had four huge maples that shaded the entire area. However, since tornado-like winds took out most of the trees, and since Rick and Daniel took out another one the other day, there is plenty of sunshine in a very sheltered spot.

So, Rick tilled up an area about 40 feet long and about 12 feet wide. He added good, broken-down manure and soil, then tilled that in.

Today the children and some of the grandchildren helped me mark out the beds and the pathways. Presently we pass to some other object which rounds itself into a whole as did the first; for example, a well-laid garden; and nothing seems worth doing but the laying-out of gardens. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We got onions (white and multipliers) into the ground, but I am not planting anything else until we get a fence up, to keep ducks and geese and dogs and various other animals, including two-footed ones, out of the garden! Thankfully, we have plenty of posts and enough fencing to get the job done. Planting shouldn't take place before the third week in May in our area, anyway. I can plant onions, and I will put in some Romaine lettuce and a few peas, because they don't mind the cold.

There is something about gardening that warms the heart. It's amazing to see that the dirty soil has enough nutrients in it to transform lifeless seeds into beautiful plants, bearing fruit. There's nothing like seeing the flowers transform into beautiful tomatoes, or gigantic zucchinis, or perfect peas!

Poetry and Gardens go together...

Of all the wonderful things in the wonderful universe of God, nothing seems to me more surprising than the planting of a seed in the blank earth and the result thereof.

A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Fern'd grot—
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
'Tis very sure God walks in mine.

Dorothy Frances Gurney
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

It doesn't matter a whit that some of my vegetable gardens in past years have been overrun by weeds or consumed by creatures. It's spring, and here we go again!

Vita Sackville-West: The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.

Meanwhile, I hope you are all planting seeds, and remembering how nice it is to play in the mud.


Mud is very nice to feel
All squishy-squash between the toes!
I’d rather wade in wiggly mud
Than smell a yellow rose.

Nobody else but the rose bush knows
How nice mud feels
Between the toes

By Polly Chase Boyden

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Piano Competition in Walkerton

Linda began piano lessons nearly two years ago, when she was already 18 years old! She has a wonderful, highly qualified teacher who is committed to helping her learn as much as possible. She is truly blessed.

Today, she participated in her first piano competition. Heather and I had the pleasure of going with her to Walkerton. We arrived over an hour early, so we got to sit in and listen to others compete in their class. The adjudicator was professional, yet warm and kind in her suggestions to the students. She took plenty of time to explain how they could improve.

When Linda's turn came, she was the only competitor in her class. She played beautifully, and Heather and I were so proud to sit there, listening and watching her play. The adjudicator then went forward and told Linda that although her piece seemed simple, it was actually rather intricate and difficult to play. She asked Linda questions like, "What is the most important thing about this piece?" Gulp.

Linda's answers apparently satisfied the judge.

Then, she said things like, "This piece needs balance...which you did beautifully! The dynamics are very important, which you demonstrated well!"

Heather and I were swelling with pride. We wanted to break out into cheers, but that wouldn't have been appropriate.

She earned an 88. Not a bad mark for her first competition!

Oh, and she came first! :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Ladies at my door...

This morning, I was busy in the kitchen, and Tiana came in, saying, "Mom, there are JW's at the door."

I headed outside and greeted them. Two women, an older one and a young mother with a child, stood there. "Your daughter is very friendly," the younger one commented.

"Well, we're a friendly family," I responded.

"Did she tell you that we're JW's?" she asked.

"Yes, she did. And I am very sorry to hear that."

The surprise on their faces was obvious. I went on to talk about my faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I quoted Scripture, explaining that Jesus is God, and that He is to be worshiped. I told them that the entire Bible is about Jesus, and that the Father is pleased to glorify Him, and that the Holy Spirit is pleased to reveal Him as the Son of God.

"Oh, you believe in the Trinity."

"Yes, most certainly, I do. The most important thing I can say is that you don't believe in the same Jesus I believe in. You aren't trusting in Him completely for your salvation."

They argued with me, but I pressed the point home, mentioning that they have a works-based religion. The older woman reminded me that James speaks of works, but I jumped on that, explaining clearly that faith without works is dead...but that what matters is the KIND of faith they have.

I asked the younger lady, "Who are you trusting in to take you to heaven?"

"We don't believe in heaven," she said. The older lady piped up, "We believe we will continue here on this beautiful earth!"

"You want to continue on THIS earth?" I asked, incredulous. "This sin-cursed earth, with all of its problems and all of the pain you see? That's your inheritance?"

"Well, Armageddon will happen and it will make all things clean."

"The fact remains that you do not worship the same Jesus that I am putting my trust in to take me to heaven when I die," I reiterated. "You forget that Thomas bowed down and worshiped Jesus, saying 'My Lord and my God!' You forget that the entire Bible is the unfolding story of Redemption, bought at an incredible price so that we can spend eternity with our Redeemer."

They inched away. I wanted to run after them, pleading that they should ask God to show them the truth about His dear Son. It was a blessing to be able to say what I did, and I do pray that God will plant the Seed of His word into their hearts, and that some day, I will fellowship with them in that glorious heaven they don't believe in just yet.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Kids + Bikes = Spring!

Grandkids and my son Christopher, riding bikes down the lane at Jeff and Adeena's farm.

Do you have a helmet?

Christopher is visiting his oldest sister and her brood this weekend. Jeff, his brother-in-law, dug out the bikes for all the kids, and found one suitable for Critter. Instead of jumping for joy, Critter seemed hesitant.

"Do you have a helmet?" he asked Jeff.

"No," Jeff replied. "Why do you need a helmet?"

"Ummm....'cause I haven't ridden my bike since last year, and I am not sure if I can do it. I might fall off and get hurt!"

Christopher obviously isn't familiar with the old adage, "It's as easy as riding a bike!"

Adeena told me that he got on the bike and soon was exclaiming, "I'm just as good as LAST YEAR!"

I think he figured it out!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No More Dragons!

There were "dragons in this final room in the basement. Wires, stones, metal, wood, debris...all sorts of paraphernalia.

More Junk.

And look at it now:

Linda the dragon-slayer, and her assistant, Elena, are rejoicing in the fact that all of the dragons are purged from the dungeon!! Maybe now we can do something with those rooms!

Dungeons and Dragons

Our basement is like a dungeon. Damp, dark, and dirty. At certain times of the year, we have a river running through it, over to the sump pump, where the water gets sucked up and sent out to the field.

Our old house has rubble walls, and the basement is unusable - except for being a place to toss things we don't know what to do with.

We have lived here nearly 18 years. In those 18 years, we've only ventured into the basement to look at the furnace, or to check the sump pump, or to put something down there that we might need later. BAD IDEA!

It's amazing how junk accumulates. Yesterday, our basement was full of old, moldy, damp and messy things. Broken bottles sat alongside good mason jars. Long-lost tools had been left with metal from the old furnace ducts, and fake Christmas trees, and coats that were no longer usable because of the dampness and subsequent mold.

Spring fever has hit our family, hard, this year. We rented a dumpster, and we have tossed tons and tons of garbage! Blessed relief! The yard is nearly done. We are tackling sheds and barn and garage and yard, sorting out metal to send to the scrapyard, keeping a few items, and tossing the rest.

Then there's the basement. A dungeon, remember?

Linda, bless her heart, tackled the dungeon yesterday. Boxes and boxes and boxes of damp, dirty, moldy stuff was carried upstairs and out to the dumpster. Patrick, Elena, and Tiana were willing helpers. Linda filled bins and they carried them, load after load, up the stairs, through the kitchen, and out to the big bin.

At the end of the day, I went downstairs to check. The transformation is amazing. Where once clutter abounded, there are bare (dirt) floors! Incredible!

There is still one more room to tackle today. Then we have to get a shop-vac (ours was tossed because it is defective) and vacuum all of the cobwebs. But after that, we will have a clean basement, and who knows what we might accomplish with that extra potential? We have considered digging it out and cementing the floor, gaining a minimum of 900 square feet of usable space. That may happen, some day.

But for now, we will rejoice that we can even walk down there. The disorder has been like a dragon, waiting to devour, always present, always making us nervous and unsettled. We've had plans to get down there and tackle the job, but it always seemed too overwhelming.

Enter Linda - the dragon-slayer!! The rest of us are singing the praises of this good "Knight in shining armour", because she went into battle, and she killed that nasty dragon.

Bless her heart.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Marriage, Responsibility, and the Fall

In Biblical Theology class today, we were going through the three Creation Ordinances: Sabbath, Marriage, Work (Rule/Reign). I got pondering what Pastor Bob said about Marriage Principles, the Responsibility of Adam as the Covenant Head, and the subsequent Fall.

There are Seven Christian Marriage Principles found in Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

1. Celebration of Compatibility.
Both marriage partners are image bearers, made in the image of God (imago Dei), so they were spiritually and emotionally compatible. Eve wasn't a dog or a horse - but was very similar to Adam, because God made the woman out of the rib of the man. This means their flesh was perfectly compatible, physically.

2. Celebration of Companionship.
It was not good for the man to be alone. The animals couldn't talk, or share their feelings or hopes or dreams or desires. Adam needed someone to share his vision, to come alongside of him as his companion.

3. Celebration of God's Precious Gift.
Just as a father walks his daughter down the aisle, giving her to her groom, God brought Eve to Adam as a most precious gift. Adam's reaction was joy! Finally, someone to share his life with.

4. Celebration of Covenant Headship. (vs. 24)
In marriage, the wife leaves her father's headship (including his provision and protection) and comes under her husband's headship.

5. Celebration of Cleaving.
Just like two lumps of clay that are molded together and left to dry in the sun, the husband and wife are to cleave to each other. If you try to separate that dried lump of clay, it crumbles and is destroyed. Marriage is to be a cleaving together of two separate people. As a soldier without his sword will die in the midst of battle, so a husband without his wife is without strength.

6. Celebration of Completely One!
One in heart, one in vision, one in purpose - the husband and wife become one flesh. This is more than physical oneness. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed - completely vulnerable, honest with each other, without secrets.

We are not told in the account how long Adam and Eve were married before the Serpent (Satan) came along, intending to destroy. The Bible makes it clear that Adam fell, Adam sinned, that he transgressed the law, and so on. Eve certainly was deceived.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

1 Timothy 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Eve was the one who reached out and took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and she gave some to Adam, who was with her.

We don't know if Adam was there the whole time, or if he happened on the scene. But it is clear that God holds him responsible as the Covenant Head.

In pondering this, I realized that both of them failed in their role as a marriage partner. As soon as Eve heard the snake talking, she should have run to her husband, her protector, to let him know that the garden had been invaded! Snakes don't talk! Something was up. But she thought she could handle it, and didn't think she needed protection. After all, she was as smart as Adam, and perfectly capable. Or was she?

And where was Adam? Was he being the companion to his wife that she needed? Was he protecting her, and being intimate with her in fellowship, instructing her and explaining all he knew about God's instruction. He should have stepped up! He should have known that she was vulnerable and easily deceived. If he had taken the time to really KNOW her, he would have figured that out.

I know this is speculative. However, I believe that God holds Adam responsible for a reason. Just as the wives and children of Daniel's accusers were thrown to the lions alongside their husbands/fathers, and just as Achan's family was cremated right along with him, God sees the family as a unit, and the husband as the responsible head.

Some applications:

1. Marriage is God's ordinance, not man's invention.
2. Marriage is a heterosexual union.
3. Man is the head of the home. (Genesis 2:18; 21 cf. Ephesians 5:22-23)
4. Marriage is a union for two believers. Do NOT be unequally yoked. (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
5. Sexual intercourse is great, but only within the marriage union. (1 Cor.7)
6. Women are not permitted to be in authority as a pastor. (1 Tim. 2:13ff)
7. Divorce is the result of sin. (Matthew 19:4-9)

So, husbands and wives, spend time together. Cultivate common interests. Practice the roles God has called you to, by letting your husband lead or your wife follow. Men, you are called to be leaders! Wives, you are called to be helpers. Do so, to the glory of God.

Husbands ought to be protecting their wives. This is important even within the family context. If a child is rude to his mother, the dad should be all over that with shock and awe! Protect her, and she will feel loved.

Work at intimacy by being vulnerable. Share intimately, and keep no secrets.

Companionship means working together on the house and property. Plenty of shoulder to shoulder time, subduing the earth and making it reflect the glory of God builds a sense of teamwork!

It's a mystery that Adam, created in the image of God, sinned in the first place. We have inherited that sin nature, but God calls us to be holy, as He is holy. One way we can do that is by determining that, with the Lord's help, our marriages will bring glory to God.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Sushi

Matt and Joanna and Kaleb and Kaitlyn came for a visit today. They arrived in time for brunch, which was a true family affair. Linda made gluten-free waffles. Jared peeled and fried potatoes. Tiana set the table. Elena peeled onions. Patrick made a bunch of scrambled eggs. Daniel made tea and coffee. Christopher ran errands. And I took Linda's waffle batter and Elena's onions, and transformed them into onion rings that were truly yummy!

After brunch, we sat and chatted, dreaming about a patio and courtyard (Janet's dream) complete with a stone wall, or about a humongous deck (Rick's dream, remember?), and asking Matt what he thought about the whole idea. That got us to talking about Courtyards in Roman times, then about villas with gardens in the center of the home. We began designing a home, just for fun.

By then the rain had stopped and all the big people (except for pregnant Joanna and busy me) headed outside to do more yard work. Joanna cleaned my kitchen then went for a little nap, and I finished designing my dream house. The afternoon flew by with a million little tasks occupying my time and thoughts, then I got supper ready for the hungry workers.

Rick grilled hamburgers and chicken burgers on the barbecue; we had rice, corn, peas, sliced tomatoes and onions and condiments. Leftover waffles make great hamburger buns for celiacs, we've discovered, and are much better than bread done in the breadmaker. Supper was an enjoyable meal, with all kinds of bantering back and forth as we shared stories and experiences with each other.

Cleaning up took very little time, as I was smart enough to suggest using paper plates for the meal. Matt and Joanna soon left for an evening affair, and I decided to make sushi for tomorrow's lunch. I had the seaweed paper and lots of leftover sticky rice. We boiled a few asparagus stalks, and I opened a can of wild salmon. We cut up a few cherry tomatoes, and used up some leftover corn.

Here are the results:

They aren't perfect. Some are bigger than others. Corn is not usually an ingredient in sushi, as far as I know. But they taste good, and Linda whipped up six different dips to use, both for the sushi and for the veggie trays we'll have with them.

Now, I know my husband won't like them. He may force himself to taste one or two, but fiddly little things wrapped in seaweed won't impress him much. That's why I will make him a sandwich to eat for lunch tomorrow, before we sit through three hours of grueling instruction in Old Testament Biblical Theology!

Life is a bit like sushi: a lot of rice with some strange and wonderful additions, all wrapped up in seaweed. Rice is kind of mundane and plain, like the normal, everyday tasks we do, over and over again. They are a necessary part of life. The strange and wonderful additions add colour to our lives, much like the pink salmon, the yellow corn, the green asparagus, and the red tomatoes. Our lives are filled with holy interruptions - sometimes joyful, sometimes painful, but all designed to nourish us in our spiritual growth. The seaweed wrapped about the sushi reminds me of God, Who surrounds us every day with His grace and wisdom. He is what holds it all together!

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Tractor Driver Daddy

I thought you might be interested in this picture, as an addendum to my last post. Rick loves his little tractor, and uses it for all sorts of jobs. Here he is hauling some debris away to be burned.

I think men are happiest when they have land and the tools necessary to subdue their domain. This tractor has been a great tool in Rick's hands! He has piled manure, moved snow, dug holes, filled holes, weeded my flower bed, moved debris, flattened the driveway, moved garbage, loaded the bin with garbage, and done many other things!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gardening a la Tractor-Driver!

Rick and I often disagree on things. It seems to me that he does it just to bug me. One of the things we have been discussing lately is whether we want a deck or a patio in the front of our house. We have a flower bed, and a pond, and a small patio, but it's simply not big enough when the married children and grandchildren come for a visit. We spend a lot of time on the patio, or sitting around the little fire pit that we have out there. I envision a stone or cement patio, with a rock wall enclosure. I like privacy. I like stone. I want a Roman statue and plenty of room for patio chairs, barbecue, etc. My bricklayer son can build me a wall. I want to incorporate the flowerbed and pond into the enclosure. I'd even like a wrought-iron gate.

My husband, however, wants to build a deck. Out of wood. He LIKES wood. I point out that the deck will require far more maintenance than a patio, especially a cement patio, which can be washed with our pressure-washer.

Anyway, on we go, discussing the merits and detriments of each. I don't know what we'll end up with.

We sat outside today, thinking about all this, then I mentioned that I wanted to finish weeding the flowerbed around the pond. Rick suggested getting some good dirt from the well-rotted manure pile. I said, "Not yet...I have to dig out weeds first."

The next thing I knew, Rick came chugging along with the bucket of the tractor filled with dirt. I looked at him blankly...what was he going to do with that? NOT pour it on the flower-bed. I still wasn't done with the weeds.

Then he suggested digging out the flowerbed with the bucket of the tractor. "What about my tulips and the perennials?" I wailed.

"They'll be fine," he assured me.

So, the next thing I knew, Rick dug away with the bucket. What would have been hours of work took about an hour. He dug out buckets full of dirt, and we went through them, picking out clumps of weeds and rescuing anything that looked promising. In a short while, we had much better soil in the garden, weed-free for the most part. We planted the bulbs and any perennials that we rescued, and went in for supper, satisfied.

My point is this: Sometimes what seems like a hare-brained scheme is actually a good idea. I have learned to ponder what Rick suggests, and have found that he often comes up with a better and faster way to do a job than I would have done.

It will be interesting to see if any of the tulips and crocuses survive their rude transplant. But even if they don't, I can soon get some petunias and a few more perennials, and we'll enjoy the colour show.

The best part is that the garden is weed-free. I can't complain. In fact, I am rejoicing. God has given me exactly the person I need. We don't see eye-to eye very often on all the little details of life, but when it comes to what REALLY matters, we're a team.

What really mattered today wasn't our method of gardening, or the discussion about deck vs patio. What really mattered was that we worked together, loving each other, serving each other, setting a good example for our children, and glorifying God in the process.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bell Boys (and a girl!)

Today, Rachel brought her children to "Granny's house" while dh was on the truck. Matthew, 8 months yesterday, had fun sitting in our little sink for a bit. He then played happily on the floor with his twin sister, Heidi, while big brother Trenton copied a Psalm with Uncle Christopher.

Meanwhile, three-year-old Stewie busied himself playing "checkers", or a form thereof, and waiting for Auntie Linda to make lunch. Apparently the very early rising of the Bell family this morning was too much for Stewart to handle. This is what he looked like when he was eating his lunch:
Aunt Linda took pity on him, and came to his rescue, helping him eat the rest of his food before he went off to Dreamland.

And just one more picture for good measure, before I go and join Sleepy Stewie in a good night's sleep:

Now you know why I call my blog "Grannymom's Spot"! Grandkids are great!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Spring Yard Work

We have been fighting some kind of 'flu bug, so we decided not to go to church today. After a lazy morning, we went outside and did a few jobs. It was a beautiful spring day, just warm enough to be pleasant, and just breezy enough that we couldn't keep a fire going.

Patrick trimmed the lower branches from the trees and bushes next to the parking area. Rick assembled a barbecue. Linda raked and cleaned up the pasture. The girls and Christopher ran errands. I raked up the debris from Patrick's tree-trimming, and Daniel ran the tractor and assisted Rick. Jared moved the logs from the van to the side of the house. We all kept busy!

It was very satisfying to be out in the sunshine, and even though we only worked a couple of hours, it was enough to make us feel like we accomplished a lot!

I have never considered yard work with the family as a chore, so much as a fun family activity. It was a joy to be out there, working together. When we were finished hauling away all the branches, we enjoyed a steak dinner, cooked on the barbecue.

What simple pleasure there is in just being together, working and playing and laughing and loving as a family! By the time we went in for supper, we all were feeling better. Maybe we have finally shaken the 'flu bug.

This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Candle Giveaway

Shari U is raising money for a future adoption! In order to do so, she has a button about Virginia Candles on her website, and she is giving a candle away.

You can visit and enter here: http://makingahouseahome.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 03, 2008

My day

Sometimes it is good to sit down at the end of the day and reflect. What did I accomplish today, with the Lord's help? How did we as a family work out our salvation in fear and trembling? Did we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Was there joy and laughter in the home? Did we nurture one another?

Rick and the big boys were on the truck and pressure-washing the bins today. Linda and the girls headed off to piano lessons, leaving Christopher at home with me and the dogs. (Well, not all of the dogs...Fatty and Abe were let out together at 5:30 this morning, so they were off gallivanting. They came home, late this evening, worn out and filthy, but with happy doggy faces. I imagine the creek and the woods had lots of adventures for them.)

We have no hot water downstairs right now, because one of our pipes sprung a leak. We assume it was during the really cold spell, when the wind was howling and we could see our breath in the bathroom. I left the tap on at a trickle, but neglected to consider that the bath pipes might freeze. After I complained to Rick about a hissing sound for a few weeks, he told me that nothing was wrong, and I was to stop worrying. He sent Daniel into the basement to make sure the sump pump was clear of debris, in anticipation of the spring thaw and flooded basement that we always get. Daniel discovered the leak, and turned my hot water off.

So, doing dishes means running upstairs and coming down with buckets of hot water. The guys pulled the wall apart yesterday, intending to fix the pipe. So, Patrick loaded the dishwasher...we were going to get our hot water back. He should have remembered the old adage, "Never count your chickens before they're hatched." Rick didn't feel well; Daniel couldn't repair the pipe without him...so today I had the pleasant task of not only washing the breakfast dishes, but all of the dishes from the loaded dishwasher as well.

Critter dried; I washed. As we worked, we chatted. Christopher told me about a book he is reading. I asked lots of questions to determine if he is following the plot well. Then, I asked him if he could recite Psalm 23. NO! He couldn't. I think he forgot it, from lack of review. So, we repeated Psalm 23 a few times. I explained the imagery of the Shepherd caring for His sheep and providing for them through the valleys and beside the still waters. I explained the purpose of the rod and the staff, and by the time the dishes were done, Christopher could recite the entire Psalm. We reviewed it when the girls got home, and throughout the day. He learns fast, and I am certain that he will remember most of it tomorrow.

We then went out to the computer and found a medieval castle to construct. Here are the instructions for building a Medieval Castle.

The girls told me all about piano lessons while we put on a load of laundry and folded clothes. We tidied the upstairs (bedrooms, bathroom, hall, laundry room) while Linda made lunch. At lunch time, we read a Bible verse, prayed, and chatted while we ate.

After lunch we continued cleaning. Yesterday's activities had meant lots of mud was tracked into the house, so we scrubbed the kitchen floor, did the dishes, vacuumed the living room and family room, then the children headed outside to clean the yard, taking advantage of the beautiful, sunny day the Lord blessed us with. When they came in, they began work on the castle. I kept working while Linda showed her siblings how to colour the bricks to make them look two-dimensional. The children worked diligently, colouring and cutting and pasting, and got most of it done.

Meanwhile, I worked on finances and did more laundry. I had meat thawing for supper, and asked the girls to peel sweet potatoes. Linda put the chicken on to cook, and baked cookies for dessert. By the time Rick and the boys got home, the table was set and supper was ready. It was so nice to welcome them home to a clean house and the smell of dinner in the air.

What did we accomplish today? With the Lord's help, we deep-cleaned most of the house. We did school-work, reading about castles in the encyclopedia and online, then worked on the castle project. We memorized (or reviewed) one of the most beautiful Psalms in the Bible. We have socks in our drawers and dishcloths in the drawer. We ate nutritious meals and enjoyed each other's company. We learned that tracking mud in over clean floors results in discipline for not being careful. We worked together, laughed together and loved together.

Today was a good day. What makes it especially good is that it is my second daughter's 30th birthday! Happy Birthday, Heather!!

Lord, thank You for this day. Thank You for giving us joy in our work, and for giving us sunshine and spring weather after this long winter. Thank You for giving us a sense of accomplishment when we look back at the end of the day. This is one of Your many mercies...You are always good to us.

I pray You will bless Heather richly as she goes through this year. May she grow in grace, and in the knowledge of You as her Lord and Saviour. May she raise her children to know You and love You. Give her wisdom, Lord, and grace to live her life in a way that pleases You.

In Christ, I pray. amen.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Homeschooling is Safer, apparently


In the REALLY STRANGE category, I just heard that eleven 8 and 9 year olds plotted to kill their teacher. They had weapons: an old steak knife, a Crystal paperweight, duct tape, and so on. They even assigned jobs for each person in the conspiracy.

A bit of digging around brought me to a comment from a parent of one of these nasty children. 'My poor kid couldn't help doing that...it was a WHITE teacher, and these are BLACK kids.' Please.

Somehow I just can't feel too sorry for a bunch of children who plan to get rid of their teacher, who must be older, as she is about to retire. According to the parent, she screamed in the kids' faces, and was just all-around nasty. Could the kids have talked to the principal, perhaps? Their parents? Presumably they had homes to go to and parents who want to see them do well in school. If this teacher was so mean that she deserved to die, wouldn't one of the kids (at least) have said something?

I'm sure my children have been frustrated with me at times over the past 25 years that I have taught them. But, I know for certain that they have never plotted to kill me, nor have they amassed a bunch of weapons in order to carry out their evil plan.

Another reason to homeschool: it's safer.