Friday, December 28, 2012

Camp cooking in our living room

Back in '77, Dennis' aunt and uncle gave us a slim green and yellow Primus cookstove for a wedding gift. Only one of the two burners still work now but it served us in all our camping trips all these years. Now it is in use in the living room on top of a displaced cabinet next to the displaced island stove cabinet in front of the large window that looks out on the street. Across from the cooking place is our displaced refrigerator. A card table between serves for the place to eat. All we lack is water, and the food, dishes and utensils stilled stored in the kitchen. All the extra steps it takes to make a meal are good exercise during this cold, dark season!

Our old vinyl kitchen floor is gone! It was 20 to 25 years old. Now the wide open floor space is all covered with HardeeBacker board, from the dining area through the kitchen and into the laundry room.
The tile and thinset are ready, the transition piece between the wood and tile is being completed. The tile saw is about six feet from the cookstove. The days of actually laying the tile, plus drying time and the grout application will mean no trips to the kitchen for water or anything else. So we'll use paper plates and eat take out food a lot and try to have everything we need taken out of the kitchen and put in the living room.

In the meantime, the bathroom is nearing completion! The 20's chandelier is wonderful, the door step is installed in the shower, I've even bought some towels and rugs in neutral shades from ivory to taupe! The mirror frame and shelf are stunning, nearly all stained and finished. The trim work around the window really sets the tone for the room. The new alder door just has a few more finish layers to be ready to install. Pictures are getting closer, I promise!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MRTOC: Gender Identity

"Children are born either male or female. Boys become men who can become husbands and fathers. Girls become women and may become wives and mothers." Those simple, straightforward statements, marking the up till now obvious difference between male and female, are under huge, unrelenting attack today from  Hollywood movies and every other media, from Gay Rights activists, from the humanistic religion that rules our nation, from our own sin natures. Therefore, it behooves mothers raising their own children (mrtoc) to open their eyes and become part of the solution instead part of the problem.

Men and women are designed differently by our Creator. Men are designed to be provider and protector of their family. The Savior is his model, who sacrificially laid down his life in love for His Bride. Women are designed to be helpmeet to their husband, to nurture their children. The Bride of Christ is her model, faithful to submit to and glorify her Head. Together, they train up their children to know our Creator, who made us male and female. Marriage and family were God's idea to demonstrate His sacrificial love of redemption for all those who would receive Him.

A lot is at stake in being faithful to the masculine and feminine roles God ordained. For many more than 50 years now in our nation, women have been encouraged to abandon all traditional feminine roles  and instead, to compete with men. This revolution left many homes without mrtoc. This "liberation" has made whole generations of women to become men in women's bodies and produced more and more men who are anti-marriage. They don't want to compete! Sex is easily available outside marriage now since feminism took over, so that gives men one more reason they needn't marry.

What's a mrtoc to do? First, make peace with your own femininity. Ask God to show you how glorious it is to be a women made in His image, for His purposes. Eve was made out of man, for man and brought to man to be his helpmeet, because he needed a helpmeet, not a competitor.

Second, ask God to show you how to honor your husband. There are a myriad of ways to show him honor, and many other ways to dishonor him. Choose to practice the honoring ways and to neglect the dishonoring ways. Honoring your husband speaks louder than any words you will ever utter. Respecting your husband says to your boys that it is very good/valuable/important to be a man, husband, father taking care of his family. It says to your girls that being cherished by your husband is the best thing in the world!

Third, don't treat your children all the same. They are not neuter, all the same because they are immature. Each boy is a young man, each girl is a young woman. Yes, they all eat dinner and have other commonalities, but they have different destinies. Don't foster their competitiveness by treating them all the same. Set back in the 1800's, there is a story called Smiling Hill Farm we read in our home school. Progress brought a beautiful coach that traveled the roads around Smiling Hill Farm with mail and passengers. Every boy in those parts wanted to grow up to become the driver of that handsome coach. Matilda, who lived at Smiling Hill Farm, said she wanted to drive it too! But she was quickly reminded that women didn't drive coaches, only men. So she changed her desire and said she wanted to marry the driver of the coach and have him take her for a ride on it every Sunday afternoon! Today, we laugh, knowing, of course, that a woman could drive a coach. She could compete with men. But how could she be a mrtoc AND compete with men at the same time? She couldn't. Mrtoc are either important and very valuable and necessary, or they are not.

I was born in 1951. Girls wore dresses and wanted to be mommies, nurses or teachers. Boys wanted to be cowboys, soldiers, doctors. Girls played with dolls, made mud pies, played house. Boys wore pants, played with weapons, cars, erector sets. Girls played with girls and boys played with boys. The fall after I graduated high school in 1969, the dress code changed to let girls wear pants. Now, in 2012, it is considered flat out wrong to teach a girl to prepare to become a mrtoc (since it takes no skill at all!), or that becoming a professional will make becoming a mrtoc unlikely, not to mention that becoming a good helpmeet would be virtually impossible as well. Of course a woman CAN become a professional. But how much chance will her daughter have of becoming a good helpmeet or a mrtoc? And how likely is it that her son will find and marry a good helpmeet or a mrtoc?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moms Raising Their Own Children: Example & Work

While I was visiting Keith and Bethany and their children at their home in Michigan this past week, I picked up a book about the myth of being able to have a full-time/outside the home career and children too and do it all well.

The author makes the point that it has done mothers who raise their own children an insulting disservice to label them "stay at home moms". What they really are is mothers raising their own children (mrtoc), an infinitely complex, demanding, fulfilling calling and occupation that each child's mother is best suited to because no one else loves her child like she does.

Mothers who raise their own children are as much like the daycare providers or babysitters, whom children who are being raised by other than their mothers are entrusted to several hours each day, as someone you pay to come in to clean your house is like a homemaker. Keeping a child safe, warm, dry, fed and entertained is a fraction of what a mother does for her children.

For example, mothers are constantly training their children by their example to be like themselves, to value what they value, to do what they do. They are teaching them limits and giving them areas to explore in great numbers of ways, all day long. Other children who are not related to them are not there to compete for their mother's attention. No, each mother's child is the apple of her eye, and she communicates that to them all day long in a huge variety of ways. Just this one aspect of mrtoc is reason enough to only entrust your children to childcare providers for a limited time each week. But there are many other important reasons as well. Here is one big one.

Work is what we are made for. Each successful adult in life is able to work at a variety of tasks that bring satisfaction and meaning as well as provision for his life. Being able to work is a skill that makes one responsible and able to be independent. Children who grow up cared for mothers and fathers who include them in many of the daily tasks necessary to keep body and soul together gain well-being and confidence that a child who has everything done for them and is left to play all day with peers will not develop. So a mrtoc having her toddler put the forks on, dry the unbreakable cups, help her make the bed, fold the washcloths, fix the meal, dust the bookcase or help her in the grocery store is doing a far-reaching service for that child. She is teaching him/her to work and that she/he is an important part of the family, necessary to its well-being. This is the kind of self-esteem you want a child to develop. Child care providers cannot do this, it being their very job to do everything for the child!

In future posts, we'll talk about children learning male and female identity, customized training according to each child's bent, basic obedience, spiritual training, playing outdoors and other home health practices, preparation for formal learning, pitfalls, living on a budget, how cool this is or isn't and much more. The riches mothers can impart to their own children in their own homes will take your breath away! Every sacrifice that is made to make this kind of home possible for your children is worth it!

I raised my own five children in my home, starting in 1979. I'm still learning how to do the things above with my youngest son who is 17 now. I was very encouraged by the book I mentioned. It made me proud of what I had done and am still doing. And it made me want to encourage every mother I know to raise their own children!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Scope of Life

Yesterday when we arrived home from church, the sun was shining and the temperature was around 65 degrees. After weeks of cool rain, this was very welcome! We took a grateful, pleasant walk around the block going west of us before making dinner. The humidifiers are up and going round the clock now, bringing our indoor humidity above 50, making our sinus passages and all our wooden musical instruments very happy.

Today, again, it was near 70 and so sunny and beautiful-- Arthur, wearing his new skinny jeans, and I walked around the block going east of us. There are several nice houses for sale in this 50-year-old neighborhood so we prayed for people to buy them that would take good care of them and love the place like we do.

I'm prepared to be gone for more than two weeks to visit my new grand babies and their families in Michigan and in Colorado Springs. At the same time I was talking to Keith this afternoon on my cell phone about him picking me up at the airport in Detroit on Wednesday, Dennis was talking on his cell phone to Paul about Annie coming to stay with him during the Sandy storm hitting the east coast this day. Tonight we talked with them about the power going off and their location being central and high enough in the city to miss the flooding. Zach and Kaley's new baby is due any day now.

After work we drove over to Pasco to pick up some rancher steaks Dennis ordered. We discovered gas for sale for the amazingly low price of $3.59, so filled up my car. We ate our steaks on TV trays while watching one of the last episodes of Monk.

Last night we finished the rest of the tile in the beautiful bathroom remodel and planned to grout it all tonight. Dennis is out getting a tool from Home Depot to clean out the unwanted cement between the tiles, as the waters submerge parts of Manhattan far away. The election is just a week away. Work at Artmil is going well.

The scope of life here today is anything but small!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mowing the grass, other stuff

When my sister was here a few weeks ago, she volunteered to mow the grass, which was very overdue to be mowed in the midst of all the remodeling chores. The last time I tried to mow was many years ago, and it was more than I could do. I therefore tried to discourage her, telling her how strenuous/taxing it is to push the mower. But she did it with no problem! I then figured out that we have acquired a new mower that is self-propelled since those many years ago when it was so hard. Today I mowed both yards while Dennis sanded the bathroom walls. As soon as we paint in there, he can finish laying the tile in the shower and behind the tub, then we can grout, then we can move the tub and sink in and USE THE NEW BATHROOM!

In the meantime, fall has fell and I am getting ready to visit both families of our new grandchildren, first in Michigan, then in Colorado. I've just read the book called Wheat Belly and understand now more fully why wheat free works for me. Dennis did get the laundry room walls finished and painted yesterday, so we put up the cabinets in there before going to the symphony last night. In the second half, the symphony expertly played dramatic music from Romeo and Juliet ballet suites by Prokofiev interspersed with scenes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet performed by students from Richland High's drama dept. I was struck by how many of the lines from the classic balcony scene are now cliches in our everyday speech. It was impressive how they could deliver those lines without cracking up!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The remodel continues

Mimi and Chuck left ten days ago after a whirlwind two and a half weeks of near constant work on the bathroom and laundry. The plumbing and wiring and sheet rock were nearly complete, the tile floor was in and grouted, the shower more than half-way tiled and the new toilet was installed! We had many great meals together amidst all the work and miss them since they are gone!

It took me all last week to recoup from the prolonged fast pace. Dennis got the shower light installed and a few other things. We got one cupboard changed out in the kitchen. My old washer did prove undependable so we moved the new/used washer into its place Friday morning. We both spent the week getting stuff cleaned up and organized around home,  in getting caught up at work and in resuming our routine of church and bluegrass. Friday night, Dennis got another row of tiles laid in the shower while I drove around to Lowe's and Home Depot to find a new blade for the tile saw.

Today, Dennis had planned to finish up tiling the shower but then realized the sheetrock work needed to be completed first. We cleaned up the new tile floor, then taped a heavy plastic cloth all around the edges to protect the floor from debris. He took out the old window and installed the new one while I checked out getting a mirror framed with alder and shelving options. No pictures yet!

Monday, October 1, 2012

My washer dilemma

You may remember, if you perchance have read my posts this year, in February I had a dryer fiasco. Our old almond dryer died and we bought a used white dryer, got it home and couldn't get it to go. We took it back only to discover I had failed to push the start button! So we hauled it back home where it has worked wonderfully well ever since.

Well, now I have a washer dilemma. In our remodeling efforts of late, we moved the laundry room wall out a couple feet and the washer got hooked up in the new plumbing and worked fine. Then on Saturday it stopped working, with a tub full of rinse water. So tonight we bought a used matching set of white washer and dryer from someone moving out of the area. We thought we would replace both appliances, planning to find a new home for the faithful dryer, which will probably work 'forever'. We picked up the new-old white set tonight and unloaded them in the living room.

Then Dennis and I bailed out the water from the old almond washer in the laundry room with pitchers and buckets. After Dennis got the last of the water out with the drain hose from the back of the washer, we both thought we should check it again since he noticed that the hose had been kinked when he started. Sure enough, the old almond washer works just fine, and will probably work 'forever' just like the dryer! It had stopped because the kink in the drain hose wouldn't let the water out!!

So now we have two washers that work and two dryers that work! One is a matching set in white, which is the color of all my other appliances in the adjoining kitchen. But the other washer and dryer, in almond and white, are well known and very faithful. Such a dilemma!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


We've been remodeling our house since spring this year. Right now, our garage holds 8 windows yet to be installed, hard wood flooring for living room, hall & bedroom, two bathtubs, a bathroom vanity, toilet and two alder wood doors for the bath and laundry. (The monstrous jetted tub, free from Lowe's display floor, will go to the dump in time!) On the back porch, porcelain tile for another 800 sq ft sits ready for the kitchen, dining and laundry. The living room carpet is out, the kitchen has been rearranged, two large windows have been replaced and we have a new craftsman style front door of alder wood installed.

Almost a week ago, my sister Mimi and her husband Chuck drove up from Tucson to tackle our large bathroom remodel. After tearing out the old bathroom, Chuck and Dennis have now moved the wall separating the laundry and the bath to make the bathroom so that the bath will have nearly 14 more sq ft! This has allowed us to add a shower, the base of which will go in soon! After Chuck completes the plumbing and wiring, working often in the narrow crawl space under the house, the new wall will get sheet rocked. Then the floor will be readied for a tile floor before the tub, vanity and toilet go in. Dennis is tearing out the old doors and getting the ceiling ready for the sheet rock today.

In the meantime, Mimi helps with precise diagrams of where everything goes and both of us frequently sweep up or make runs to the hardware store. Arthur helps too, loading the demolition debris onto the truck. Mimi and I have enjoyed fixing delicious, healthy recipes to feed the troops. I took her to the Farmer's Market and Becky's Second Hand for great finds. We hope to get working on the quilt she has in mind for her bed out of lovely palette of Japanese batiks. It's been a great blessing to have them here!

Hopefully, next post will have photos!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blessings at Blue Waters

Just a few days after we drove home from Utah after a great week with our family of 13, we headed out in our truck and trailer for Moses Lake for the Five Suns Bluegrass Festival where the amazing Gibson Bros. were the main attraction.

Saturday night after those last concerts, we had begun to jam outside our trailer. Arthur was inside, drifting off to sleep. A tall man named Ken came over with his mandolin and joined us. After a while another guitar player joined in and then a bass player. It got too cold for me about 12:30 am but Dennis stayed out and chatted a while before he turned in.

That Sunday morning we saw that Ken and his wife, Nancy, were camping right across and down a bit from us. After we got everything ready to go, we joined them for a few gospel songs played and sung together. We discovered that all of us were planning to attend the festival at Blue Waters in two weeks where Foghorn Stringband would be playing. Their niece, Reeb, who plays with Foghorn, would be bringing her boyfriend, Caleb Klauder, who leads the band, to jam at their campsite so they invited us to come jam with them also!

We first saw Foghorn Stringband four years ago when they played at Sacajawea for the contra dance and for a concert Sunday morning. I loved their old-time fiddle/mandolin/banjo/guitar/bass music played sitting down and sung into one mike. It is such happy music that made one want to dance, so we bought one of their CD's. They tour the world and keep getting better and more in demand. They've gotten into Cajun music as well, which is also infectious in making one want to dance!

The first bunch of blessings of this festival was our getting away from Kennewick by 5:00 pm Wednesday eve. The Lord energized Arthur and me to shop, pack and load the trailer around a few hours at work. It was our third time going out with our trailer and where to put everything had finally come together in my head. The Lord equipped Dennis to get things tied up at Artmil, and answered many prayers for our capable staff in dealing with many situations while we were gone. Our home's old front door had been removed recently and the new door was in but not yet secure. Dennis boarded up the outside of the door opening before filling up our water tank, and we were off!

Then we were blessed when we arrived at Medical Lake and drove up the hill to the camping area. The first campers that we saw were Ken and Nancy, eating supper in front of their rig, inviting us to take the empty spot right next to them! After we got set up and ate a quick supper, we did a few songs together with Ken. He is retired and repairs instruments as a hobby. He jokes about MAS: mandolin acquisition syndrome.

By 10 am Thursday morning it was getting hot in the trailer even with the fan going, powered by our generator, so we drove ten miles into Cheney, where Dennis graduated from college with his BA in Art in 1977. Our former abode in Married Student Court has been replaced with a huge dorm building! Dennis found a music store (smile!) whose friendly owner sold a few guitars along with bicycles. Then we discovered a wonderful three story bookstore which was sadly going out of business. The EWU tees, hats and mugs were 50% off, so Dennis stocked up. Friday, when we returned to get tees for Arthur, we stumbled onto the Cheney city museum, filled with fine old quilts, local antiques, great photos and stories. Our last stop was at the Ben Franklin store where I worked when I was pregnant with Keith! We were blessed to find sturdy canvas chairs to replace our ancient and leaning webbed, aluminum ones!

Back at camp, we walked out up to our necks in the supposed blue waters of Medical Lake to toss a football to each other but the unblue stuff floating in the water made me not want to do that again! Another time we walked around the lake into the town where we stopped to admire lovely dahlias growing at the edge of a lawn. The gardener came out and gave us some onions she had growing in the midst of her flower assortment!

Friday eve, after the rousing concerts, Arthur wanted to watch the rest of his DVD show in the trailer before making his table into his bed. Dennis went next door to the jam with the Stringband guests and I finally made it over 45 minutes later, feeling pretty shy and nervous. Soon members of another band joined in and I was very out of my league, but hung in there until 2:30 am! This was a big blessing, me being willing and able to stay up that late, not to mention the great experience that playing with so many really good musicians and new songs provided both Dennis and me. We got very s-t-r-e-t-c-hed!

Earlier on Saturday we took in several workshops, which are always good for getting to know the band members better besides learning from their teaching. We were able to pick up the violin we'd had refurbished by a luthier in Spokane who was vending at the festival. Later, The Quebe Sisters Band concert was memorably outstanding-- see what I mean online! Foghorn played with their mentor, Dirk Powell. Dennis' favorite, the Josh Williams Band, closed out the evening.

Afterwards, at Ken and Nancy's place, all four Foghorn members and Dirk Powell plus another band of fiddlers filled up the space under their awning. We'd been invited again, but by the time Arthur was tucked in, Dennis was back under our awning with a wandering bass player named Mark. Soon we were joined by four fellow Tri-Citians playing fiddles and guitar, plus a mandolin player from Yakima. This gathering was an amazing and gratifying blessing, establishing a firmer bond with people we've known for years but not felt very close to. Once again, without a nap and with only five hours of sleep the previous night, I stayed with our fun group playing and singing until 1:30 am!

Sunday morning, Arthur and Nancy joined Ken and Dennis and me to play and sing some gospel songs together. Soon Foghorn stopped to say goodbye on their way to Saskatchewan to teach at a music camp. I assume because we were friends of Ken and Nancy, they hugged us good-bye as well! Before the last concerts of the festival in the afternoon took place we shared about our diet/ way of losing weight with Ken, who had asked about it earlier. Reeb's mother was there as well, chiming in her knowledge of nutrition too. We certainly were blessed by their warmth and friendship and look forward to seeing them at another festival next year!

We got home around 9 pm, very tired and very blessed. God keeps growing and blessing us in countless ways, but a few blessings got counted here!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Stellar Saturday

Saturday was super for us here! After breakfast all three of us worked at getting the staples out of the living room/hall floor. Arthur used knee pads like his dad and I leaned down from a rolling chair. (The living furniture had already joined ranks with the family room furniture earlier on Thursday, with Dennis' brother Alan and his friend helping move the heavier pieces. They also hauled the old gold carpet out to the truck, then Arthur hauled the pad pieces out there on Friday.)

After a quick lunch, Arthur helped Dennis add a load of branch trimmings to the truck before everything got tied down. We packed our instruments in the back seat with Arthur and took off for the dump outside Pasco. Our highlight at the dump was watching an old camper slide off the incline of a hydraulic trailer, with the back hoe operator quickly smashing it to smaller pieces after it landed on the cement. I imagined the satisfaction that man has in his job!

Then we were on to Sacajawea State Park to play in a circle jam for the Daughters of Pioneers luncheon. The day was supposed to be the high 80's, but instead we had light cloud cover and misting rain, so it was beautifully calm, cool and green in the park. We played under a canopy with three others to keep the rain drops off our instruments.

Beside this being relaxing and fun for me I was very encouraged by Arthur being part of the jam! He doesn't have his chords down but strummed the old 3/4 Harmony guitar quietly when others were soloing and louder when everyone played. He sings the words to three songs, so every time it was his turn, he had a song to sing and play with everyone playing along!

Next we were off to pick up fund-raiser Rainer cherries in west Pasco, then on to Richland to pick up Dennis's computer. The computer repair people at Alpha had fixed it again but recommend he take it up with Apple next time anything goes wrong since they feel it is a lemon and that Apple should replace it. The computer shop is in "antique row" so we feasted our eyes on the delights of two shops, only buying an LP, a CD and a VHS-- antique media!

Dennis had heard of a place called The Hub where local farmers and ranchers are bringing their produce and meat for sale. We found they also carry stuff from the delivery service food coop called Azure Standard, so had lots of good things to chose from, including curried cauliflower wraps and vegetable bistro soup which we took home for a delicious supper!

As I got supper on the table, I noticed the freezer was not cold enough to keep the food frozen. Now, for most people, having their refrigerator break down would not be happy news, but not for us! Our brown refrigerator is every bit as old as our gold carpet, we figure 25 years at the least, but it didn't seem right to give up a working refrigerator! After we ate, I happily took our meat over to the freezer at work and then checked out a couple places, amazed at the range of choices in refrigerators!

I picked up Dennis and Arthur and together we checked out two more places until the stores closed at 9 pm. We are getting narrowed down, will do a little more shopping before we buy. In our very cozy TV viewing area in the family room, we drank vanilla chai decaf and watched an episode of Monk's first season on Netflix before turning in. Such a fun day, and we even got some work done too!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chords and other adventures

Arthur is 17 now and more aware than ever of what is going on around him. After my discouraged and unsuccessful attempt to teach him how to play one chord on the guitar at the recent bluegrass festival, I regrouped. Armed with the encouragement from my happiness calendar that exhorts me to try something 8 times, I got out the ukelele chord chart bought a while back.

Arthur has had a uke for several years which he strums with great style. We've worked on ABC's and 123's for years too. Thursday, when I pulled out the chord chart, the Lord inspired me to bring those worlds together. I realized that music uses just the first 7 letters and numbers, so as we would focus on those  he would learn them out of order and every other way. We practiced writing and saying them, then I went to teach him G on the ukelele. But I soon realized that he did not really know what frets were, nor strings. So we pointed at them and said them out loud and wrote them out as words.

Next, I wrote 1,2,3,4 on our fingernails. One was on our left index finger, two on middle, three on ring, four on pinky. The chord chart shows the chord made with those fingers set on the strings at different frets. Then I showed him G on the chart and we built it one finger at a time. He did much better than he had on the guitar: he held the first finger in the right place right away! We'll work again this week, reviewing everything and adding as we can. This was super encouraging for me as well as him!

Arthur always helps me grocery shop and brings in the groceries from the trunk of the car for me. The trunk only locks when the doors are locked with the key fob. Yesterday, since it had rained, he was spiffily dressed in slacks, a long sleeved shirt, his bright red Kamiakin sweatshirt and driving cap. Dennis and I were getting ready to take him out for Saturday errands after we had told him it was time to go.

We gathered our keys, filled the water bottles and went out to the car, but no Arthur! He wasn't in his room or either bathroom. So we checked the basketball court, the trailer and the spare room, but no sign of him! This was getting serious!! He's not very good at hiding in that he always wiggles or giggles, but we looked everywhere twice. Then Dennis got in the car and drove around the block-- nothing. Arthur hasn't wandered away since he was four, so we were stumped! We prayed, searched behind the trees in the yard and were thinking we would have to call 911 when I asked Dennis if he had checked the trunk of the car. There he was! How thankful and relieved we were!!!!! His hair was dripping wet under his cap but he didn't seem afraid at all. We hugged him and told him how glad we were to find him!!! We are hoping he learned that you can get in the trunk and close it but then it gets hot and you can't get out by yourself so it is best not to do that again!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Andrew Murray, 1828-1917

So why write about this man who lived and died more than a century ago? Because he is a treasure, both what he has left us in his writings and the man himself as our example.

Back in the 1970's, we bought With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. Because at that time we were only familiar with an Arminian approach to Christianity, where one chooses to accept Christ and then endeavors to follow Him as well as one can, this book was over our heads. We just couldn't do what he was suggesting! But after the first decade of the 21st century, when we got acquainted with Henry Blackaby, many more authors started making sense. The writings of Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers and D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, all of whom understood Christianity from a more Calvinistic viewpoint, where Sovereign God is both the Author and Finisher of our faith in Jesus, became rich food for our hungry souls.

Early this year, I finally picked up that small, old paperback by Andrew Murray again, the pages so yellow that my pencil markings barely show up, and discovered that each of the 31 brief chapters was a gem! He explains the whys and hows of prayer so simply yet powerfully in the context of our union with Christ. There was no way I could hold onto it all with my mind, but my heart was gently and lovingly encouraged to view and embrace prayer as a privilege and so much more!

I eagerly ordered more of his books online, astounded at the number of titles he produced. After reading  The Master's Indwelling and Waiting on God, and starting Abide in Christ, I had to know more about the man who knew and wrote about His God so intimately, with strong exhortations made so encouraging and compelling. So I ordered a book, Andrew Murray and His Message about him that was written in 1926 by a man who knew and loved him well, W.M. Douglas.

Murray was born in South Africa into the fine, large, godly family of a Scottish missionary to that country. Andrew and his brother Charles were sent to Scotland, finishing in Holland where the Dutch Reformed Church was headquartered, to be educated for the ministry themselves, which they both desired. Andrew was 10 when he went, returning at 17 with his Master's Degree and ordination! Already his giftedness was apparent as a natural leader of men, as a compelling preacher and as someone who genuinely cared for others.

But he was never content to rest upon his natural gifts. He writes, "The first ten years of my spiritual life . . .I was a minister, I may say, as zealous and as ernest and as happy in my work as anyone, as far as love of the work was concerned. Yet, all the time, there was burning in my heart a dissatisfaction and restlessness inexpressible. . .Here I am knowing that God has justified me in the blood of Christ, but I have no power for service. ..Though all around thought me one of the most earnest of men, my life was one of deep dissatisfaction."

One day a missionary encouraged him by saying, "The desire God puts in your heart he will fulfill." After the years of struggling, the Lord brought him to a new pastorate in 1860. "God poured out His Spirit there in connection with my preaching . . . and a very unspeakable blessing came to me. The first Dutch edition of my book Abide in Christ was written at that time. (What a blessing to me that God would have led me to be reading that very book at the same time!)  "I had not then experienced all that I wrote of: I cannot say that I experience it all perfectly even now. . . .I can help you more, perhaps, by speaking, not of any marked experience, but by telling very simply what I think God has given me now, in contrast to the first ten years of my Christian life.

"First of all, I have learnt to place myself before God every day as a vessel to be filled with His Holy Spirit. He has filled me with the blessed assurance that He, as the everlasting God, has guaranteed His own work in me. If there is one lesson that I am learning day by day, it is this: that it is God who worketh all in all. Oh, that I could help any brother or sister to realise this!

"..... believe that He was working out your salvation. . . . . believe that the everlasting God is working out the image of His Son in you. . . .And remember that not one minute of your life should be without God. . . .No, no; in the Bible we read 'Your sun shall no more go down.' Let me believe that I am God's child, and that the Father in Christ, through the Holy Sprit, has set his love upon me and that I may abide in His presence, not frequently but unceasingly. The veil has been rent; the holiest of all opened. By the grace of my God I have to take up my abode there, and there my God is going to teach me what I never could learn while I dwelt outside. My home is always in the abiding love of the Father in Heaven. . . . ". These quotes are excerpts from pages 166-170, where he gives his testimony for the first and only time.

One of the most memorable facts about Andrew Murray that has blessed me a great deal personally was his ability to get along with and even make life-long friends of difficult, disagreeable people without ever compromising his beliefs. He was even able to diffuse and avert a war in the South African territories at one point! all by refusing to take offense, sincerely caring, intently listening, truly loving, overlooking wrong attitudes, bringing out the best, allaying fears, lightening with good humor, etc. He explained one time to someone who asked how he could do this, that he had noticed how God used Jacob and Isaac for his purposes even though there was much wicked and wrong in their lives. He saw that not even stubborn, wicked people can get in the way of God's plan and divert His love and purposes from them, so he, Andrew Murray, was following that example. Walking in the love of God was habitual for him, so extending that love to others was a natural outgrowth: he wanted to give what he had received! Seeing others as in need of love rather than as disturbing souls to tolerate is a powerfully pro-active way to face life, I'm thinking.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

With Keith in Seattle, March 23-25, 2012

Dennis was was very taken with the bathroom decor
at Cactus. See the last picture on this post for
details about this. My photo posting skills
are lacking so the pictures are not in chronological order.

30,000 square feet of antiques in a place near Safeco Field yielded this treasure of an idea. The "chandeliers" are built from wire tubes resembling tomato cages, with the wires splayed out at the top. Clothespins attach pages from a book to each wire to create softened florescent light, transforming the high ceilinged warehouse into a palace! The man who dreamed these up and built them had several more creative ideas gracing this vendor's large section of the place.
Monday evening we left the antique warehouse and drove back to the hotel to fetch Keith, done with his meeting, then found a Korean restaurant.

We took these while we were waiting for the delicious beef
with lettuce and sweet and sour chicken served with rice, sweet corn soup and tea.

Back at the hotel, Arthur enjoys mimicking Keith.
I couldn't resist capturing the guys hanging together,
each with their own Apple product!

We found a fabulous Mexican food spot
called Cactus for lunch Monday.
The food, decor and service was way beyond ordinary!
Not pictured was our tour of Pike Street Market and
Magic Mouse Toy Store with Keith on Monday morning.
It was great to get to catch up with Keith. We even did a
few songs together in the motel room!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wild Week

Last Sunday we drove to Seattle to see Keith who was there for business. We hung out with him when he wasn't busy and had a very pleasant time, then drove back to the Tri-Cities Tuesday morning.

Back at work, Dennis pulled an all-nighter Wednesday night working on a project with a tight deadline. Thursday morning he slept on the hour ride to Dayton for a 3 hour meeting, returning to work 1-6 pm on aforementioned project. Friday morning he left the house at 4:30 am and worked until 10:30 pm. Saturday it was 7:30 am to 11:00 pm. Sunday (today) it has been from 7:30 am till who knows when, with a four hour break to write and preach a sermon for church on a nice spring day with Julie and Loretta in the auditorium.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Arthur and I stayed occupied at work with a big fulfillment order of 4000 pieces working with a team of temporary help who came in and got it ready to ship out. Then on Saturday and Sunday (today), Art and I spent about 8 hours each day over at work helping Dennis some and getting the place back in order since the big order got done. Hopefully the project that Dennis has put so many hours into is being printed as I write this and perhaps our life will be "normal" again this next week!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Separating love from worship

We are born wanting to be worshipped. We want others to think we are wonderful because it feels good to be admired and paid attention to. It doesn't feel good to be ignored; we don't like it. So we do everything we can think of to be one of the worshipped ones. We perform well or go to great lengths and expense to look some way that we see gains approval or worship. We feel we will just die if we don't get those we value to value us with their worship. And we spend plenty of time worshipping others who meet our criteria as being worthy of our attention and approval. The people who worship us are not nearly as valuable as those we worship but everyone is changeably fickle. Often we are left in the middle, feeling terribly alone.

When He decides to begin to reveal Himself to us, we start to learn about the God of the Bible. In His very first commandment, He says he is the only one who is to be worshipped. And then we read that He loves us, enough to die for us. So we figure He is going to make us feel good, like when others worship us. But he doesn't worship us; He loves us. He knows we are in terrible trouble. The very fact that we desire to be worshipped indicates something is very wrong with us. The underlying reason why we are born wanting and needing so badly to be worshipped is because we are all messed up. We are trying to be god instead of the worshippers of God we were originally created to be.

So we keep reading His Book to find out what went wrong. We discover that when God made the first man and woman, everyone got along great. God loved them and gave them everything they needed, including heart-filling fellowship with Himself. They did everything He asked them and had a wonderful time with Him and with all the rest of the new creation. They worshipped God and loved one another. Everything was good; there was no shame, no right or wrong.

But when they were tempted to disbelieve that God loved them, when they were tricked into thinking that God was holding out on them, they disobeyed the only rule He had given them. Then their eyes were opened to a whole new world of man-wisdom, a place where a man worships other men or things instead of God (idolatry). But at the same time their eyes were opened to the new ways of man-fallen-into-sin, their eyes were closed to the wisdom of God. They lost His glory and so exchanged His goodness to them, His love and fellowship with them, for an idolatrous pretend-life that is really death. They were thrown out of the Garden and barred from re-entry by a flaming sword. God already had a Way in mind to make them part of His Kingdom family again but they didn't know it or see it. Their minds had become darkened, full of futile human wisdom.

Their babies were born like us, wanting to be worshipped, full of envy and strife, wanting to be the best so as to gain the most worship. In time, earthly kingdoms developed with the most powerful man in charge lording it over the others. Cruel tyrants ruled people as pawns with force and fear. Within the cruelest of all kingdoms, our Lord Jesus Christ was born, lived and died. When God raised Him from the dead, He had completely paid the ransom price for those who would receive His Spirit into their hearts and thus become new creations in His image.

These new brothers and sisters of our Lord were each one reborn into the former glory that had been lost in the Garden! They were the only ones in the earth able to worship and love God and love the people God placed in their lives. By the new birth into the glorious Godly wisdom now they could see others by faith as God had seen them. They could forgive just as our Lord Jesus forgave those who killed him because they had been reborn in His image. Many of them were killed just as cruelly as our Savior but their faith in Him kept them in peace in the midst of their martyrdom. They had been delivered from the man-lost-in-sin darkened way of thinking that made them desire to be worshipped and to worship anything but God. The chains of sin that had bound them to this selfish life of death had been broken. Now, the new and living Way of love was theirs, a Way filled with prayer to and praise for their Redeemer.

Because the concept of love had become so intertwined with feel-good desire for worship (idolatry) within the darkened ways of thinking of man-fallen-in-sin, a special term came into use to describe the kind of love God has for those He is redeeming. Only those who have been given the new creation Life of His Spirit are able to love God and other people with this same kind of love that God has for us. The Greek word 'agape', often translated 'charity', means an active choice, not motivated by feeling, to do the best for another. This is exactly what our Lord Jesus Christ did when he went to the cross. He did not feel like being cruelly whipped and crucified! He endured the suffering for the joy set before Him: gaining new brothers and sisters in His eternal Kingdom!

Only God's Spirit within us can make us able to love like He did and does. Only His power within can make us chose to do what love requires in the face of the natural feelings of our fallen flesh. Agape love can forgive when another does us wrong, not our natural inclination. Our natural inclination is vengeance. When another person receives some benefit, our natural inclination is envy. But with His charity filling our hearts and minds, we can chose to rejoice with the blessed person. And so on. Read 1Corinthians 13 for a full description of someone habitually given over to this supernatural kind of love.

This kind of love is the only kind that actually fills up the heart. An idolatrous heart is ever empty, ever hungry, never satisfied, always needy. But a redeemed saint who chooses to exercise the love power he has been given reaps a bountiful harvest of peace, joy and contentment as well as the myriad of other benefits of Kingdom life. Marriage was designed as a garden to grow the fruits of the Spirit, especially agape-style love.

So why do Christians get divorced and do all the other horrible things that non-Christians do? Some have forgotten (or never knew) the horrible sin-filled state that they were rescued from. We were all helplessly doomed to eternity in hell before our Father chose us for His Kingdom. He ransomed us so we would no longer be held captive by the power of sin. He gave us a new power that overcomes sin, the power of His love, agape. Nothing on this earth is more powerful. But because we are so used to our old, familiar sinful ways, we'd rather cling to them. The old idolatrous ways die hard since they are so ingrained in who we have learned to think we are. That is the very sad truth. But nothing amazes Him. When we see how repulsive clinging to this sin is, He is always ready to forgive and restore and re-empower us with His love. He does not love us because we are wonderful! He loves us because it is His nature to love and because He has chosen us for His own. He loves us because He Himself has made us valuable to Himself! The more we come to understand our new identity in Him, the less we are tempted to return to the old familiar ways of death.

God is the only One able to be worshipped because He is the only one without blemish, and because He is the only One who can handle worship. People do very well when they worship God because that is what they were made for. When people worship other people or cultivate being worshipped themselves, destruction always occurs because people were not thus designed. Worship does not replace love. Because God loves us, we can love Him and others. Children need lots of charitable agape love, not worship. As much as parents worship their children they destroy them, but if parents agape-love their children, their children will prosper. Same goes for spouses. Amen!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Artmil auditorium now decorated with 1920's art

The auditorium at Artmil now has three reproductions of 1920's art adorning its khaki walls. Two Fox prints and one by Ogden were scanned in, printed on canvas and presented here to look like the originals did 90 years ago, before prints were made for calendars, etc. Two tables hold another artwork from the same era that Artmil has reproduced in the same manner.