Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thoughts on Health and Eternity in a Letter to my Friend

Dear Friend,
Andrea and your mother both mentioned that you were meditating upon eternity, it's value, it's glory. When I was really sick I was also. Wishing for that heavenly place and seeing all the world as nothing in comparison
I was just reading scripture so I thought I would pass on what I am meditating on tonight.
Rom. 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
I looked up Matthew Henry so as to understand how Christ "lived unto God," making no assumptions simply because He was always living unto God as logic would dictate. Out of curiosity I looked to see if there was more depth of understanding.
Matthew Henry says,
He rose to live unto God, to live a heavenly life, to receive that glory which was set before him. Others that were raised from the dead returned to the same life in every respect which they had before lived; but so did not Christ: He rose again to leave this world. Now I am no more in the World,
John 13:1, Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 17:11, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thing own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
He rose to live to God, that is, to intercede and rule, and all to the glory of the Father. Thus must we rise to live to God: this is what he calls newness of life.
My thoughts on the passage and MH's explanation:
I find that now that I am well and can engage in life and relationships I am beginning to be swept up in the cares of this world as if eternity is far off and hard to be understood. And here I had such a keen understanding just a short while ago. Christ maintains His view of eternity always. All in the present, though we plan and toil, is towards that end. Nothing that we do here fits us for heaven. Only Christ's continual work in us has merit.
We will share in His glory. It is set before us also. Unfathomable and humbling. The nature of understanding spiritual things is that it derives a greater degree of humility. It is impossible to be proud of our good graces. Anyone who is, is graceless indeed. What could possibly compare to sitting with Him in glory? Or even now knowing how He works, how He worked in us and continues to work here on earth, and working along side Him until we meet Him in eternity.
We rise to leave this world also. Everyday we do. Everyday we are a day closer. Every day we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our confidence is that the God of heaven rules and superintends over all we would leave behind. He is our confidence.
Should we stay a while longer, we too will intercede and rule over our homes. Our jurisdiction for the time being. We rise and we live unto God. That is our witness. Whether we rise a little, or are restored to full health that we may do quite a lot it is all done in newness of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are the benefactors no matter what the circumstances.
In Christ,


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dear Dad, You'll Never Believe What We Did While You Were Gone.

Dear Dad,
This is a chocolate cake. My plan is to eat all of it in one setting right out of the pan. It's a reward. Because we have been working on a project while you have been gone and it's finally complete.

It all started with a bout of highly caffeinated impatience from which I was suffering. Or maybe it's the fact that I've been sick for so long and I am anxious to get out and do something. It seems I've crossed that threshold  where I can not only do stuff but I can push myself a little without terrible ramifications, though there are still some.

I went out back to dig around just a little to see if I could figure out what was wrong with the septic system. I figured a shovelful at a time wouldn't hurt me and would give me a chance to see how much I could do. I told myself I'd shovel a little today, a little tomorrow, take it easy, and see if any leaks or roots turned up as the cause of our problems. Maybe a simple fix was all that was needed and we could put off the installation of the new $5000 system.

Day one ended up looking like this. I discovered a broken 4" elbow, part of the connection from the lead pipe to the drain pipes. I also discovered that our leech field is 10" ADS perforated corrugated fabric wrapped gravel-less pipe buried about two feet below the surface. 

The pipe looked alright for the most part so I kept digging to see if I could find some obvious catastrophe and the source of the problem. No roots really. 

There was fabric in the ditch here and there. We had no idea what the fabric was for. Andrea did some research and found it was a sediment shield and was there also to facilitate the creation of a bio mat. The fabric encased the pipe. We only discovered this after I had scraped the bio mat off the pipe along with the fabric. The fabric was ripped anyway and then of course once the mat was removed the perforations were exposed and everything seemed fine. 

Unfortunately the pipes were stuffed full. Congealed. Apparently that is due to oils going down the drain which obviously had nothing to do with us. So, that explains the weird noises. 

We were guessing the pipes predated the last owner. At this point we decided to look on the bright side and consider how well they'd work if they were empty. I think that was mom's idea. So without thinking about it and by her contagious optimism we committed ourselves to the repair rather than what Andrea was previously calling it, "septic reconnaissance."

It never occurred to me to consider how difficult removing the pipes would be. But then again we weren't considering removing them at this point and probably because there is always a solution if not two or three to any problem. I still had not found the end of the pipe anyway so I just kept digging and left tomorrow's evil until well, tomorrow.

I think at this point we started talking about "all the money we could save" fixing it ourselves which I now know is the near equivalent to "Hey y'all watch this." I am pretty certain that years of consumer product marketing in America have permanently altered the state of women's neurological receptors which are now highly susceptible to an uninhibited dopamine release by these 6 seemingly harmless words. Mix that with our optimism and there was no turning back. 

I kept digging. Twenty feet. Forty feet. Um, the fence was now in the way. So we cut it. Another problem to solve at another time

Into the trees I went and finally I found the end at about 60 feet from the lead pipe connection. 

Everyone had to sacrifice. Poor pups couldn't dig for worms. At least not these ones. 

The yard was a mess.

We worked out a system Mom, Andrea and I. 

And then we had to figure out how to clear the pipes. High pressure washing doesn't work on pipes this size. We discovered that the pipes were in 20 ft lengths at this point. They were connected with spliced couplers but they had not been secured. The same with the reducing coupler at the beginning which connected the 4" PVC to the ADS pipe. I surmised that the clay back filled the pipe in some spots. The very end of the pipe had no end cap at all. 

So since they were in 20 foot lengths I had this idea which I thought was great and in the end wasn't totally stupid. We'd empty the old pipes into a big square hole at the end of the 60' run by lifting them up one at a time. You know, just like an outhouse hole or something. Then bury it. It was a nice plan. It didn't quite work that well but it worked in part. That's something like 100 gallons per 20 ft. and as it was clay and congealed matter it was impossible to lift the pipes. 

We eventually conceded we'd lost and decided we'd just get new pipes but that came later. There was this matter of getting the pipes out of the trench because we were planning on using the trench again. Why dig a whole new trench when one was already dug up? But if we did dig a new trench since the soil was all used up there was also this matter of just leaving the old pipes buried in the old trench which seemed very much like sweeping a mess under a rug, only to the 10th power. We've been planting flowers recently beautifying the property and I have this notion of having a wedding someday in the back yard. I'd been picturing folding chairs, guests mingling, and a dessert table which just didn't coincide with what now seemed like a burial ground but worse. 

We spent a day trying to figure out a removal plan until we were completely exhausted and laughing to spare ourselves from crying. Ropes, pulleys, levers. There is something about a woman which causes her to think it's easier to do things by hand. Everything is within her immediate control. And then there is something about reality which men seem to understand far better in times like these. But you're not here, nor is there a truck or anyone to drive the tractor. 

We decided to go out to dinner and think about it some more. I think at this point we were near delusional as we sat staring out the window as all the ranch trucks in this small country town drove by taunting us. Then mom had an epiphany. We'd just use the Honda and pull the pipes out. So we headed to Tracter Supply bought some rope, boots, a red bandanna (because I was starting to officially feel like a farm girl) and headed back home. 

I was yelling "yehaw" or something like that when Chas came by on his horse. I made him pinkie swear not to tell you what we were up to. He was riding with a cowboy who thought it was utterly incomprehensible that we have a tractor sitting here and yet we were digging it all up by hand and had just used the car to pull the first pipe out of the ditch. I told him that I knew how to operate a shovel and a Honda but that I didn't know how to use the tractor yet. It made sense to me but he just stared. 

Chas rode over later to see what sort of non-sense we were up to which is when he confirmed what most seemed to only subtly imply when they heard what we were doing.  "Ya'll are a bunch of craaazy women." Then he mentioned that he'd have a small landscaping backhoe in a week or two. After all that digging it sounded like a good idea. 

I had emailed ADS to see where I could get new pipes and prices since my local calls had not turned up anything. Lowe's was obliging as long as I purchased 100 pipes. As much as I like being in business, I am fairly certain that I have confirmed a septic business is no where on my list ambitions. 

I received a call from Jeff, a wholesale ADS distributor. He asked me if I was a contractor and I told him no but that I had just dug up my back yard and couldn't find new pipes anywhere. He was a bit shocked and asked me to repeat myself. I told him I had been laid up for a while and apparently too long because my ambition was far exceeding my sensibility. He thought I was a doll called me "sweet heart" and told me he was going to help me out and sell me some directly. That was so very nice of him. 

So, he said that he could get them to me but that they would come on a semi-truck. This of course posed a problem since our drive won't take a semi and we have the Honda here. I thought perhaps I could just meet the semi at the exit down the road. But three 10", 20 ft long pipes really wouldn't fit no matter how creative I think I can be. Chas told me to borrow a truck. But then it dawned on me that pick-ups aren't that long either. (Hi Chas.) I didn't want to borrow his truck.  I didn't feel up to driving a truck and trailer. Still kinda wonkie in the head from being sick or maybe it was all that digging. Turns out ADS is just an hour away. Good to know for future reference. 

So it was time to think outside of the box and it occurred to me that somewhere downtown like the lumber store for example, just must deliver bundles of lumber to homes around here. The bundles get to their store somehow. Certainly by semi-truck. If Jeff thought I was a doll maybe someone down there would too. So, I put on some make-up and headed down there with my out of the ordinary request. But on the way I thought I would stop in at Ace Hardware first and ask them so I didn't have to double back.

I talked to Richard the manager. He was more than happy to oblige for a small delivery fee. I put him in contact with Jeff from ADS. In the end they found that Ace had an old ADS account and now Richard will be stocking ADS products. It worked out great for them. Both were happy to help me out with wholesale prices on the pipes, coupler and end cap. They even delivered for free. If only I earned a commission on all the future sales. You're welcome Canton, Tx.

We had to wait a while for the pipes to arrive, so we set up camp. A 5 gallon bucket in the sink for retrieving dishes and hauling them outside. Since we haven't roughed it since we were kids this was kinda fun. Washing dishes outside. I used the bottom rack of the dishwasher as a drying rack. 

Buddy made himself useful. 

I was going to buy one of these because a strange pioneering intuition seemed to be setting in. But then Andrea found a local laundromat perhaps because she could see this project was beginning to cause lasting even perhaps permanent effects. 

I met a sweet older lady while there. She wasn't able to carry her basket and so I helped her set up and then we visited while we waited. 

I started cutting a new trench in the meantime and even got out the ax to cut a root and to gratify my desire to be a pioneering woman. One root was satisfying enough. 

Cutter and Cricket brought their dad over with the back hoe and he dug a new ditch since the soil in the old ditch was used up. While he worked the three of us made a daisy chains out of grass blades and clover blossoms. I think by far this was the best day on this project as we had an interlude of chasing chickens just to see what they would do and collected eggs while never lifting a shovel. 

And then we got the idea to lengthen the line 40 feet. Why not? It was actually too short considering length, width, x usage etc. We could add the old pipes to the end of the new ones. They still weren't totally clear but again, tomorrows evil belongs to tomorrow and the new pipes weren't here yet. 

At this point the project became officially satisfying. It no longer seemed like a temporary fix. It could last us years. Maybe it was the excavator making short work of what was left. Or the extra money in my pocket. Or realizing I could do what I wanted without restriction. I called Moody's and had a load of sandy topsoil brought in. Now we were really moving on the project and it was a bit exhilarating.  

So we waited for the new pipes to arrive and camped out a bit longer. 

Mom and I repaired the elbow.

Then it rained and filled our trench. 

So we decided to drain it. We used the water pump from the camp shower and the battery from the Honda. 

We hooked the hose to a rake to keep it off the bottom. 

I tied a rope to a 5 gallon bucket and raced the pump. I won. And then I laid in bed for two days, payment for my pioneering zeal and inability to determine my limits. A bit disappointing but Chas would be back by the end of the week anyway to finish it up so there wasn't anything to do but wait.

We back-filled a bit and leveled the ground. We laid down some new soil then the pipes. The new pipes came fitted with socks. I had purchased fabric from Lowe's so we used that on the old pipes.  

Chas is amazing with his machine. He has better moves than a ballerina. Pivoting, turning,  and spinning. He covered it all over with the new soil. We had just the right amount. 

In the end we spent under $700 dollars. 

We capped it with the native soil. 

Now we need to fix the mower. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Second Great Embarrassment

Karl Marx was a mediocre writer, but his reference to a great philosopher has been quoted and re-quoted: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
If we could laugh off current evangelical scandals, our situation would not be so dim—but we cannot. Historians lecture on the Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) and the Second Great Awakening (1800s), but in our time we could mutter about the Great Embarrassment (1987-1991) and the Second Great Embarrassment (2006-present).
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Christian Art

or most people, Christianity and art no longer resonate as a glorious pairing. It's a sad and sorry truth that even as Christians, we've largely lost our respect and reverence for "Christian art."
Wandering through Western Christendom, in which artists are currently arting, I've sampled just about all the flavors of Christian creator and Christian consumer. The too-sugary-sweet, message-is-master types. The respect-me-at-all-costs-hard-bitten types. The ironic. The naïve. The truly talented. The posers. The Christians who can't tell a story without an altar call and the Christians who write as if all of reality fits into that one guilt-ridden moment when Cain was busy slaying Abel—giving man's sinful nature the last word. And of course, there are also those Christian artists who don't want their art to be "Christian" at all. (And the Christian consumers who feel the same way.)
Despite the vast confusion of taste in the kingdom, and the proliferation of art of varying quality, we share one profoundly common bond: Everyone is insecure about the branding of Christian art. Everyone worries about being labeled cheesy—even the cheesiest people I know. Some artists delude themselves into thinking that they aren't, and others attempt to divorce their faith from their creations with a secular firewall.
Many actually believe that they are building something that has never been built before, like they are the first to stand against the raging tide of schlock and do something worthwhile. They are in pursuit of Christian art, but, you know—good this time.
As Christian artists and Christian consumers, it is all too easy for our eyes—particularly (but not only) the eyes of the young—to look ever sideways. Is this cool? Is it cool enough? We get embarrassed by a movie celebrating life and grieving over abortion carnage and bemoan the state of Christian film. Why? Because of the camera work? Because of the acting? Maybe. But more likely because we believe a worldly lie about our own branding.
I come to you with strange news. Brace yourselves. There is a hundred times more schlock and garbage in unbelieving art than in ours. More terrible camera work. More bad acting. More mindlessness. More soul-lessness. More pitiful lyrics. More misery. not to excuse our own inadequacies (which are all too real), but we should stop fearing the snarkiness of those performing worse than we are.
Need some confidence? Take a look beyond our own pop-frothy moment.
Christian art? Are you kidding me? Christianity has produced the greatest art of all time. Get some swagger, people, because we're undefeated. Did a culture of atheism bring us Handel'sMessiahBach? What faith fed the Dutch masters? Give the cathedrals a glance and then find me better architecture. Have a listen to some American spirituals. To the blues. To gospel. Our brothers illuminated manuscripts (and don't you forget it). Narnia. Hobbits. Folk songs. Symphonies. Through the history of the Christian church there runs a wide and roaring river of artistic glory, feeding believers and unbelievers alike.
Now before you start pointing to some of the unbelieving masters, watch me cheat: all beauty is God's. All truth is God's. All goodness is God's. Even those who hate him are made in his image, and if they, by grace, craft glory, we should thank them very much for their contribution and swipe it.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meditating On Future Life - John Calvin

WHATEVER be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life.

 This life, though abounding in all kinds of wretchedness, is justly classed among divine blessings which are not to be despised. Wherefore, if we do not recognize the kindness of God in it, we are chargeable with no little ingratitude towards him. To believers, especially, it ought to be a proof of divine benevolence, since it is wholly destined to promote their salvation. Before openly exhibiting the inheritance of eternal glory, God is pleased to manifest himself to us as a Father by minor proofs, viz., the blessings which he daily bestows upon us. Therefore, while this life serves to acquaint us with the goodness of God, shall we disdain it as if it did not contain one particle of good? We ought, therefore, to feel and be affected towards it in such a manner as to place it among those gifts of the divine benignity which are by no means to be despised.

 Were there no proofs in Scripture, (they are most numerous and clear,) yet nature herself exhorts us to return thanks to God for having brought us forth into light, granted us the use of it, and bestowed upon us all the means necessary for its preservation. And there is a much higher reason when we reflect that here we are in a manner prepared for the glory of the heavenly kingdom. For the Lord hath ordained, that those who are ultimately to be crowned in heaven must maintain a previous warfare on the earth, that they may not triumph before they have overcome the difficulties of war, and obtained the victory. Another reason is, that we here begin to experience in various ways a foretaste of the divine benignity, in order that our hope and desire may be whetted for its full manifestation. When once we have concluded that our earthly life is a gift of the divine mercy, of which, agreeably to our obligation, it behoves us to have a grateful remembrance, we shall then properly descend to consider its most wretched condition, and thus escape from that excessive fondness for it, to which, as I have said, we are naturally prone.

Wait Til It's Free - Support the Project

My friends Colin and Emily Gunn are busy about another project. This time their focus is Obamacare.

Wait Till It's Free (Teaser Trailer) from Wait Till It's Free on Vimeo.

They are less than $5000 away from their goal with 8 days to go. Visit the Kick Starter Page to see how you can become a part of this important project.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

He Must Be Repentant

True repentance is the result of an accurate understanding of the significance  and gravity of sin, coupled with an overwhelming desire for the remission of that sin through the person and work of Christ and a turning from sin and dead works to faith and obedience. Jeremiah Burroughs, in his book Gospel Remission, gives us a portrait of true repentance as only a Puritan writer can. In describing the penitent believer's attitude toward his sin, Burroughs writes:

Oh, I see the angry countenance of an infinite God against me, whose eyes are a flaming fire looking with indignation upon me! I see a dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty hanging over me! I see woe, misery, and destruction,  pursuing me! I see blackness of darkness and desolation even surrounding me! I both see and feel the woeful accusations of a guilty conscience within me, condemning me, continually grating upon my soul and terrifying me with dreadful visions of eternal miseries to betide me! I see the chain of black guilt and horror on my soul, that I carry with me wherever I go! I see the bottomless gulf of eternal horror and despair with the mouth of it wide open to swallow me up!

This type of imagery is anything but familiar to those of us who are used to trafficking in the seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, best-life-now drivel of our day. Seldom do we hear about the "black dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty" anymore. However, this is how the repentant sinner thinks about sin.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Luther on Praying for Piety in Marriage

[My] dear son and daughter, you need not consider praying for a pious spouse a disgrace, For you do not consider it a disgrace to ask God to give you a sound hand or leg...Now a pious spouse is as necessary as a sound hand or leg. For if a husband or wife do not turn out well, you enjoy few good days or hours and would prefer to have a paralyzed hand or leg instead. -Martin Luther, What Luther Says

Monday, September 09, 2013


One of the better memories from 1941

Ladies Pre-War 1941 Columbia Cruiser Bicycle

From a time when bicycles made you feel like you were soaring.
Every time you ride this bit of nostalgia, you'll be on vacation.
$99 opening bid