Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauty Is God's idea

 We are traveling to Nebraska this afternoon having left right after church. We went to the morning service with the car already packed so we could leave right from there.
I am blogging on the road taking advantage of a huge supply of data that is on our phones by way of tethering to my computer. I used Bluetooth to transfer the pictures I wanted from my phone to the computer like I always do.
At any rate I'm feeling rather virtuous getting my blogging accomplished while the miles sail by.
We get to spend a few days in Nebraska visiting our family there. I brought sewing and other projects and our anticipations of good times along. And a list of things I want to get done including the creation of Kristine's baby shower invitations that must go out by the weekend.

 This past week was full of store work. Monday I had the privilege of helping my bosses, (Hi Ruthie and Rosie) at a buyer's show in the city. We spent the day going from store to store in a huge mall-like place planning and choosing what we want to sell at our little furniture and gift shop in Hayward.
Especially at Will's we spent time memorizing the sights of beautiful things arranged in creative ways. It is at these times and places that I wonder if I should have gone in for home or store design. I really enjoy this job.
So it is fun to visualize these centerpieces and to find a place to enact them. I believe that our work should not only provide and bless us, it should also be shared with others. Perhaps a little thing like a table centerpiece is unimportant and even wasteful to some folks; but I'll bravely say here that beauty is God's idea and I love to make it for the people who will sit at these tables to eat, visit, play, and learn together.

Lately, we at Grace Bible have been learning through a series of videos on how to teach by Howard Hendricks. We sit around the cleared tables after Sunday lunch together learning and discussing ... and laughing. Howard, himself, is a fine teacher.  It's exciting to notice that we are making the education practical ... it is coming out through the preaching on Sunday morning.
It is also fun and exciting to see our little church group growing up and digging in. Church life is good. I'm not bragging, just praising the Lord for His goodness in giving us clear direction and work. No doubt, tests are right around the corner. We'll trust Him.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sunshine and Succulents

 Spring is in the air even though we had two degrees below zero this morning. It's the time of the year for some fresh table center pieces and for dusting bookshelves. New décor and gardening plans. If we can't have spring outside, we can have it inside and the outdoors will soon catch up and take over.
I wanted to do this project a month ago, but Wal-Mart had no succulents for sale then. Yesterday, finally. And what fun. The clay pots are nice too, but we already had the white glass planned, thus.
This afternoon when we clean at church we will arrange these as centerpieces for the dining room tables. 
And then we will wish we had a few for home décor. We'll get to that.

 Spring is important in many ways. Obviously, we could not have summer green and fall harvest without seedtime and new growth.
Easter is celebrated in the spring. The resurrection is integral to eternal life which is the most important part of our lives. We cannot fathom or measure how important this is, because we are short-sighted humans who have only begun to understand a small part of God's love to us in sending His Son for our redemption. Spring provides a glimpse if we will notice.
And we get to shut down the firewood mess, dirt, and dust. This spring when we can clear away firewood things; we'd like to apply a fresh coat of blacking to the stoves, wash the glass and add tiers of candles inside for summer evening or rainy day ambience.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We Promised

  1.     To decide to be thankful for each other.

2.     To value our marriage as precious. To be responsible to the matrimonial essence of it. We promised.  

3.     To nurture the love and respect that we need for each other.

4.     To overlook the lapses, his and mine.

5.     To never let go of hope or trust.

6.     To create a place for love to grow in our minds and hearts.

7.     To treasure the soft moments between us and bring them to the forefront when hard things threaten.

8.     To guard commitment for life as we would a rare and valuable jewel for that is what it is. Nothing transcends commitment when it is needed. Nothing leads back to trust and forgiveness as surely as does commitment.

9.     To trade our individual, foolish expectations in for honesty, willingly. It’s like opening the blinds to let the sunshine flood in.

10.   To remember that God made our marriage. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Thankful All Day Long

 ... let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
                                            Hebrews 13:15

                          My Thankful List
~ Sunshine pouring into the living room on a March morning.
~ The prospect of two cabin days coming up.
~ The end of winter viruses at our house.
~ Grown up kids. They're so much smarter than me.
~ Fresh ground coffee, a journal, and God's Word first thing in the morning.
~ My husband, who is racing against the approaching spring break-up to finish a logging job.
~ What cell phones do for our marriage.
~ For the most obvious: Our salvation through Jesus.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Rain in February

 The rain has been forecasted for over a week. We were all hoping that "they" would be wrong again. It's a month too early for spring breakup for the loggers. The "Birke"  (annual world class ski race) is scheduled for this coming weekend. Will the snow be all rained away? Will the loggers be cast upon spring breakup rations for ten weeks instead of the usual six?
    So as the rain pours down today, it smells like spring outside. The snow is melting quickly under the 50 degree onslaught of the downpour. 
   Ruger is unhappy and has finally decided to take cover in his doghouse. For unknown doggy brain reasons; he despises his shelter even though we have cushioned it and located it close to our own front door. Today after the rain had soaked through his dirty, long, winter coat he got down off his high horse and went in. Elv says he needs a bath. Yes, following his stand off under that deluge it is not a bath that he needs so much as a good dose of common sense.
    This family is rather grateful for our hearth today. We are all "suffering" with a bad cold thing. Sore throats and coughing and "general malaise" are agents to our suffering. 
   I find "general malaise" an interesting term. Looking up the definition of malaise makes me smile. "a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify." Mom taught me that what you can't specifically identify, you can safely deny. "Get to work and you'll feel better!" Such wisdom you won't find easily in today's preoccupation with self diagnosis, despite the vast amount of "information" online.
Sixteen inch walls make for an unusual place to do group pictures, but these children with their mutually fertile imaginations had no trouble finding it. I had just enough time to catch this photo before the dads ordered them off the window well with warnings about kicking the screen out and falling down outside.
   I knew better anyway. The screen is custom built for the window so it is made with metal screening and real one inch lumber. Don't try this at home is good advise but here at the stonehouse?  Well, as long as Grandpa or Marmee are  in on it, we can get by with a few special stunts now and again. Some of those opportunities will happen only once or twice because everybody grows up very quickly. I know this, too.

These two couples are our new ministry team for Grace Bible Church. They are already well loved and respected. We're thanking God for His goodness in affirming them and us with His definite call on their lives to this work, even before we commenced the process of choosing and ordaining.

   I have been reading Debbie MaComber's book called Knit Together. She says: Unfocused lives are complicated lives. We spend all of our time putting out fires we don't want instead of building the ones we do.
   I have done a lot of this and am working on making changes to simply work on the fire I want to be building today. I want to live our dreams today and continue to dream for the future.
     I asked the married children this past weekend what they expect to be doing twenty years from now. One of them offered the quick and true answer that what we are doing today is deciding for us what it is we will be doing in twenty years. Here's what she said later.
I've been thinking about mom's question about what I want to be doing twenty years from now. I do have some hopes and dreams. But it occurred to me that what we are doing right now and the choices we make today and tomorrow are what really determine what I will be doing twenty years from now.
So, what can I be doing today? Love my children and my husband. Support my church and pray for it. Make my home pretty and welcoming. Educate my children and teach them to love books and music and learning. Take better care of my bookwork and spending money. Enjoy my friends and family.
And many more things, but those are a few I thought of. Only God knows what the next twenty years hold!
  -Jenny Burkey
   Here's another one of the girls' later answer to my question.

I think I have more of a ten-year dream than a twenty-year dream at this point. In twenty years I could very likely be an empty nester. It's really hard to imagine life with the kiddos grown and gone, especially after a Monday morning of meltdowns. And there's a lot of variables in life as well. Who knows what's going to happen with employment, church, health, nation, etc. But I want a happy family serving Jesus in whatever capacity that may be, both in ten and twenty years.
                                                                                               -Charlotte Graber

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February Blahs and Other Adventures

 Even in the city there's beauty on a cold winter day. I noticed and grabbed this photo in Minneapolis last week on our way to set up for The Lake Home and Cabin show.
Setting up our booth in the convention center reminded me of Sugar on Snow days. It seems long ago and far away, those days of preparing for our annual living history event in Beaver Bay.
While Rosie boated in the bayou down south under the Louisiana sunshine; Ruthie and I enjoyed setting the stage for showing and sale of our furniture and sheds. Oh well, we get to share the fun around one way or the other.
To be honest, boating in the bayou wouldn't be my pick of enjoying the sunshine. What if we met an alligator or worse yet, a snake? So I comforted myself accordingly and had a great time working indoors where the crisp Minnesota wind couldn't reach us. The guys worked even harder than we did, and were taking a lunch break here, as you can see.

 This pink, hickory rocker is kind of cute. It is stained so the grain still shows nicely. Everybody but me said, "That's ugly!" when it came off the truck. But I could see it cozy-ed up to a huge stone fireplace on a braided rug under old, low-slung  beams darkened with the smoke of a thousand wood fires. Sure enough, it sold at the show and we're going to order more. The next one will be a darker red. Come in to Northwood Outdoor soon and order yours.

On a different note, our Sunday afternoons have been good times of sledding for the children out behind the church and a video seminar for the rest of us in the fellowship hall. We keep the coffee pots busy and the babies who need naps bouncing, the while. We're learning how to teach and speechify.
It's been a wonderful way to combat the blahs and learn something together at the same time.

On  other Sunday afternoons we play table games and visit till almost 5 in the afternoon, sometimes.

On still two other Sunday afternoons we've been trusting God to help us in choosing new leadership for our small group. Next Sunday will be ordination day.  We are happy to welcome Conroy Loewen and Dru Lattin as the new leadership team for Grace Bible Church. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Roses and Silver and Ordinary Winter Days

 Cold weather has returned after a couple of weeks of a January thaw. Amy removed a bucket full of ashes from the living room stove and Elv cleaned them out of the stove in his study. When this cold weather hit yesterday we started having trouble getting a good bed of coals and our fires were sullen and dyspeptic. Everybody came to the same conclusion at once remembering other winters. The fires are choked with ashes. Thus our stove chores today.
 This evening the living room fireplace is wonderfully warming  and pretty, the clean glass allowing us to enjoy the dance and glow of the fire.
Lance sent a picture to the family today of what he had determined was a wolf kill. A freshly taken deer mostly eaten with many tracks all around. Elv said a trash bag had been ripped open, too. The bears are all hibernating so wolves seem to be the logical conclusion. True Wisconsin winter.
The challenges of cold weather must be met with knowledgeable acceptance of extra chores, the need for extra wraps, and more time allowed to commute to work. But the sun shone brightly on our white world and while I pumped gas this morning in 2*F degrees, I felt its wonderful warmth standing where the wind couldn't reach me. Ah, the February sunshine.
   I finished a heavy pair of mittens yesterday that had been on my needles for two years. I hadn't touched them in that long and amazingly it took me only a few minutes to finish them up even though I had to redo the one thumb till I remembered how to do it again. It wasn't procrastination so much as having too many new and exciting projects.  Cold winter days make finishing some of them possible.
    Lisl found the stash of old silver plated table ware that I had in the china cabinet when she got home from Thailand. Among the delights of being home after eight years was this find and the fun of shining it. She lined the sink with tinfoil, laid the tarnished silver ware on it, poured in hot water and sprinkled a liberal amount of soda over it. In a few seconds the silver began to show up. It was an education for me. I didn't know that real silver is actually a very soft, mellow, yellow color. It glows warmly. We both gloated over it. She wants to use it and love it and care for it. So she shall. This old silverware was wedding gifts for Elv's parents from his dad's North Dakota relatives.
    Find a way to celebrate home making and to enjoy winter in your kitchen today.
    And one more happy thing for today. I dropped in at Lisl's after work today to pick up the Bosch mixer that we both use. Instead of the mixer which she was using she handed me a fresh-from-the-oven loaf of bread. At home, Amy had prepared homemade baked beans for supper. So we had baked beans and bread for supper just like old times.
    While Amy did dishes, I rolled the leftover beans and cheese into tortillas to freeze for Elv's lunch for days to come. Winter home making at its best.