Living in the Dark Ages

Today, we had a power outage. It was very strange — suddenly, around 10 am, with sunny skies, the power surged and flickered once or twice, and then snapped off.

Living in Western Washington, we’re no strangers to power outages. High winds, tree falls, flooding, ice on power lines; all these can (and do) cause power outages. But usually they happen in winter, and most often in the evening, when they are sure to be noticed. In such cases, you gather what candles and non-working flashlights you can find, gather around the dining room table for a game or a story, and go to bed early.

Our weather this Summer has been hot, and dry and calm, so when the winds picked up this morning, we were quite surprised. Our pretty green patio umbrella blew away and was destroyed, and one of the shed doors was wrenched off its hinges. Then the power went out.

I had been working on my Sunday School class (I write my notes and questions in MS Word, and do most of my research on the passage via the internet) and suddenly I was forced to revert to old-school methods. I felt a real solidarity with monks, living in the dark ages.

On the left, is a Bible presented in a strange form called 'print', and on the right is a quill and some parchment, which were used to record thoughts and ideas by primitive man.

On the left, is a Bible presented in an archaic form called ‘print’, and on the right is a quill and some parchment, which were used to record thoughts and ideas by primitive man.

It is surprising (to me, at least) how much of my life centers around work and entertainment, both of which tend to require electricity. I had planned to split my day between working on our church’s AWANA website and preparing for Sunday School, with maybe a movie thrown in in the evening. Without electrical power, I found myself at loose ends.

I zipped out to the Dollar store and shopped for a few things I needed for Sunday school, and picked up a few biscuits for breakfast (and, of course, a coffee for Kathy). We all caught up on our Bible reading. I read ten chapters of a Gary Schmidt book, What Came from the Stars aloud to Sarah and Kathy, and I developed my Sunday School class on paper. Eventually, the power did come back on (after six hours of barbarian life), and we celebrated by cooking a variation of our favorite Thai dish, Panang Curry.

There is just nothing quite like a good panang curry, for a hungry barbarian family.

There is just nothing quite like a good panang curry, for a hungry barbarian family.

In the evening, we drove to the airport to welcome back David, the returning prodigal, who reluctantly relinquished his life of luxury as a guest in California, in order to reclaim his rightful place in our family. After all, if he’d stayed away any longer, Sarah would probably have co-opted his bedroom as a craft workshop.

Hail the conquering hero's return!

Hail the conquering hero’s return!

Project 365, Day 241
Tim

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Sarah Cooks

It’s been a long week for Sarah. With Daniel heading to Bible college, Rachel and Joshua off at Union University, and David visiting a friend in California, the house has felt pretty empty. Of course, it wasn’t all suffering for poor Sarah.

We managed to – get pedicures, shop for dresses, go out to dinner, order Thai take-out, work through a weekend of Passport2Purity materials, and watch lots of movies.

Thanks for the makeover, Ally

Makeover with Ally

Beautiful new dress for Sarah!

Beautiful new dress for Sarah!

Beautiful 'old dress'

Beautiful ‘old dress’

Dinner out with my girl

Dinner out with my girl

Delicious food

Delicious food

Saturday evening David comes home, and Sarah will no longer be an only child. Whew. The pressure to be the only one doing the dishes, watering and weeding, doing chores and kitty responsibilities, is too much for one girl. Not to mention having to entertain her mom and dad and keep up a constant stream of conversation. Poor thing.

And tonight I realized I have been way missing a HUGE opportunity to exploit, I mean use, Sarah’s skills. This girl can cook (or at least prep) meals. She and David both took Cooking for a Crowd at co-op. Why haven’t I been taking advantage of these talented kids??

Chopping onions

Chopping onions

We're roasting veggies!

We’re roasting veggies!

Come on home, David, we’ve missed you!

Project 365 – Day 240
Kathy

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Weeding Girls

By Sarah

This week, I am an only child, seeing that Josh, Rach, and Dan are in college and David is in California. I’ve been pretty lonely. It’s been fun having Mom and Dad all to myself, but it is more fun when you have someone else to share them with.

But, don’t worry, because I have Tarah.

Tarah is such a joy in my life

Tarah is such a joy in my life

I’ve known Tarah since I was three years old, and we are still best friends. Tarah is so fun to be with, and I constantly find myself laughing when I’m around her. I am thankful that she is in my life.

We're always laughing

She's so fun to be with

So today, when she came over, Mom (of course) put us to work.

Weeding.

Let’s just say I’m not exactly enthusiastic when it comes to any sort of yard work. I don’t mind weeding too much, but I’d rather clean inside. When Mom informed us of our new job, Tarah jumped up and said, “Oh, I love weeding! I do it for fun sometimes!” So we went to work. Sometimes you need a friend to make a job fun. After a while of not-so-steady weeding and more talking, we finally finished.

Weeding around the beautiful flowers

Weeding around the beautiful flowers

Soon, David will be home, but for now, I suffer being an only child.

~ Sarah <3
Project 365 – Day 238

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Empty Beds and Empty Pillows

One of our favorite musicals of all time is Les Miserables. I first saw it off-broadway in Richmond, when I was in college, and later Kathy and I saw the show on-Broadway when we were living in Connecticut. We listened to the London cast CD, over and over, those first years of our marriage. When we finally saw the musical in New York, we sat in the sixth row and could actually feel the spray of Jean Valjean’s spittle when he knelt on the edge of the stage and sang (OK, it sounds gross, but it was really cool at the time, to be so close).

Possibly the actual Jean Valjean we saw, albeit younger.

Possibly the actual Jean Valjean we saw, albeit younger.

There is just something really special about sitting so close to the stage, for a show like Les Miserables. I think we really were about as close as that 1985 picture suggests.

We've come full-circle to bunk-beds in the boys room, now that Sarah has appropriated Daniel's double bed.

We’ve come full-circle to bunk-beds in the boys room, now that Sarah has appropriated Daniel’s double bed.

At one point in the story (spoiler alert!) young Marius survives a violent clash between the revolutionaries and the government, in which every one of his rabble-rousing student friends are brutally killed by soldiers. Returning to the cafe where they used to gather, he sings a poignant song about their loss:

There’s a grief that can’t be spoken
There’s a pain goes on and on
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone

Here they talked of revolution
Here it was they lit the flame
Here they sang about tomorrow
And tomorrow never came.

From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion
On the lonely barricade …
At dawn.

With the older three gone off to college, and David vacationing with his friend, Marshall, in California, we have a lot of empty bedrooms around here. This morning, as I stood at the top of the stairs, two of the three kids bedrooms were pointedly empty. It feels so strange for our large, noisy family to dwindle away. I wonder what it will be like, when they are all gone?

With David away, even the coveted front corner bedroom stands empty ...

With David away, even the coveted front corner bedroom stands empty …

One of my favorite Christian musicians, back in the 80′s, was Wayne Watson. He wrote a song entitled Watercolor Ponies, exploring the bittersweet paradox of parents wanting their children to ‘soar up with wings as eagles’, yet at the same time, wishing they could stay small. At the time, I hadn’t met Kathy, had no children — who knew I would all-too-soon understand what he was singing about? The third verse of the song expresses this:

But, baby, what will we do
When it comes back to me an you?
They look a little less
Like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watching
The children growing
Is mixed with a bitter cup
Of knowing the watercolor ponies
Will one day ride away …

OK, so maybe there is a reason some of the beds are empty -- maybe if we laid them flat, the kids would stay.

OK, so maybe there is a reason some of the beds are empty — maybe if we laid them flat, the kids would stay.

We still have four solid years left with David, and five with Sarah, until their ponies also ride away. I guess we should make the most of those years, and do our best to stay in contact with the older ones. Considering I talked on the phone with Rachel and Daniel just today, and with Joshua on Tuesday, perhaps we aren’t doing so badly.

Project 365, Day 237
Tim

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Bible College for Daniel

When I was a senior in high school, I was not very mature. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I was very much still a boy. A few months before I graduated, I was awarded a four-year Army ROTC scholarship, and I had been accepted to the College of William and Mary, so my next four years were all planned-out.

The problem is, I didn’t want to go to class. I didn’t care about learning, and I had only the haziest vision for my future. If only I had realized, I could have deferred my scholarship and spent a year working or doing some sort of gap-year program.

Or maybe something really cool like Bible School?

I spent the weekend driving down to California with David and Daniel. We dropped David off in Menlo Park, to spend a week with a friend he met through his Potters School classes. Then Dan and I pressed on to Murietta, California, where Calvary Chapel Bible College has their main campus.

Heading out from the hotel on the first day of school.

Heading out from the hotel on the first day of school.

This is a perfect opportunity for Daniel to try his hand at a Bible school while he decides what he wants to do — how I wish such an opportunity had come my way! How better to start off on the right foot in adult life, to spend a year or two getting a solid grounding in the Bible?

Calvary Chapel Bible College occupies a gorgeous campus in Murietta, about halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. They offer a two-year program that (eventually) covers every book in the Bible, in depth. I think Daniel will be very happy there.

Dan posing patiently in front of his dormitory.

Dan posing patiently in front of his dormitory.

Tuition, room and board are extraordinarily inexpensive, which is right down Daniel’s alley. This semester, he’ll be taking classes including Old Testament Survey, Missions, Prayer, Proverbs, John, James, Bible Study Methods. He’ll also spend about 7 hours a week serving in some capacity on campus (part of how they keep the costs low, and how they teach servant leadership).

The dorms are very spartan -- Daniel will have to learn to get along with a lot of guys in a small space.

The dorms are very spartan — Daniel will have to learn to get along with a lot of guys in a small space.

There are about 450 students on-campus this semester, with perhaps another 50 commuting. We are praying that Dan will make some great friendships — that he’ll find some really solid Christian men with whom to band together.

Palm trees and hot springs -- it's like college in paradise!

Palm trees and hot springs — it’s like college in paradise!

Everywhere you go, the lawns are lush, palm trees abound, and decorative stone walkways tastefully connect the buildings. The sense of peace and beauty permeate the campus in a way I’ve not seen anywhere else.

Three meals a day are served at the student dining hall.

Three meals a day are served at the student dining hall.

The meals are simple (one entree only, with a salad bar for those who don’t like the day’s selection) but plentiful, with seconds offered at the end of the meal for the especially hungry (e.g. boys well over six feet in height).

Looks like the library is one of the favored hang-out places on campus.

Looks like the library is one of the favored hang-out places on campus.

Compared to other universities I’ve visited, everything is on a small scale, but the facilities seem quite sufficient for the number of students on campus. It seems likely that students will be able to build close relationships and enjoy a high level of accountability, with such a small number on campus.

The coffee shop is clearly the social center -- I expect Dan will spend many happy hours there.

The coffee shop is clearly the social center — I expect Dan will spend many happy hours there.

I caught a ride to the airport with another family, but somehow forgot to give Daniel his car key (I had retrieved my suitcase from his car). On the same ring with his car key, Daniel had attached his room key and his meal card. Leaving campus, I left him homeless, immobile and likely to starve. I like my children to develop a high degree of resourcefulness, but I may have gone a little overboard.

We’re so excited to see what God does in Daniel’s life, this semester! We love you, Dan!

Project 365, Day 236
Tim

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The musings and ravings of a bloggart family