Cara and Kathy were roomates, back in Cabell 303 days ...

An Early Taste of Spring

Today we had the privilege of a visit from some old friends from our college days. Tod and Cara moved back to the area a while ago, but we haven’t had a chance to see them since they returned. It was very kind of them to graciously drive down from North Seattle to spend the day with us.

Cara and Kathy were roomates, back in Cabell 303 days ...

We had a lovely vist with Cara and Tod, talking about churches and photography and showing off our children. With the weather so Spring-like, we took them down to Sunnyside Beach in Steilacoom, which was a big hit with the kids (especially since Nancy and her kids were there).

Frozen yogurt at Black Bear and a delicious meal of stew and fresh Mesa Manna rounded out the day magnificently.

Rachel also had a lovely visit with her friends, Sarah and Jenny

Sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s — it hardly seems possible that just two weeks ago we had eight inches of snow on the ground. Then again, this is Washington.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of cold sand on bare feet in February.

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Use your phone to read the Bible

and He Will Have an Abundance

As I do most years, I started 2012 with some recycled goals, and a few new ones. It is sometimes helpful to have a fresh start on old goals — like Bible reading, for example.

Last year my goal was pretty modest — to read at least one chapter a day. The focus was on sustainable daily reading — I usually read two chapters, but didn’t remember to read every day.

Use your phone to read the Bible

YouVersion is a great Phone App for reading your Bible!

This year, I decided to try something a little more ambitious — Professor Grant Horner’s Reading Plan. Kathy was using this plan, and she often thinks it would be more fun to have me join her in such things, so I agreed.

Professor Horner

Grant Horner, the designer of the "10 Lists" reading plan

Horner’s plan operates on a principle of ten lists — you end up reading ten chapters a day, repeating some (like Acts and Proverbs) much more often than others. It takes me about 35 minutes a day to read through the day’s selection — if you’re very familiar with your Bible, you may be able to read it in less time.

On day 13, I came across this passage in Matthew 13:12:

Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

I’ve never really liked that verse; it seems patently unfair to me. But as I began to think about it, in context, I understood that it is referring to those who seek knowledge of God with an eager heart. Such people (who already have an understanding of God) will be given even more, to the point of abundance. Others, who don’t value their knowledge of God, will lose even what little they have. Jesus is explaining a spiritual law every bit as critical to our understanding as the law of gravity.

Another plug for my favorite phone app

As I’ve been working on this reading plan, I keep expecting to reach a point where I begin to dread the work of the reading — or where I begin to begrudge the time spent. After all, last year I read my Bible nearly every day, and I spent far less time at it.

Instead, I am discovering that my love and eagerness to read the Bible is increasing, the more I read.

Today, I was reading Matthew 25 (I started the plan late, and I’ve missed a few days, here and there) and I came across almost the exact same words I found in chapter 13 — this time, in 25:39:

For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

This seems to me to be a profound truth — God rewards those who diligently seek Him, as is promised in Hebrews 11:6.

I read the plan on my phone, where the YouVersion people have it waiting for me each morning. If you haven’t started a reading plan this year, it isn’t too late to jump in on this one!

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Ancient foes?

Catching Up

One of the problems with our blog being out of commission for so long, is that our life did not stay on-hold. Instead, it rushed onward with little regard for the lack of proper recognition. As everyone knows, if an event isn’t recorded on the blog, it didn’t happen. For that reason, I will try to recap.

Perhaps most significantly, we brought home not one, but two kittens. No, I can’t really explain how that happened, although I suspect that a blow to the head may have featured prominently. Miri (five months) and Misty (two months) have settled into our home as if they have always ruled here, graciously allowing us to serve them in various capacities. I must say, it is pleasant to have the pitter-patter of little feet around the house again, even if it is of the four-footed variety.

Although they first were not the best of friends, the two kittens alternate between chasing each other as ancient foes, and napping together as bosom buddies. They survived their first visit to the veterinarian, and have accustomed themselves to our chaotic household as much as is possible.

Ancient foes?

So much for bitter emnity.

The second interesting thing that happened in January was a sudden snowstorm. Here in Washington, we mostly keep the snow on the mountains (where it belongs, according to many grown-ups). It is not unusual to have an entire winter devoid of any significant snowfall in the lowlands, especially as close as we are to the Puget Sound. Last year was like that — I think we received only an inch or so. Very disappointing to kids.

In January 2012, however, it was a different story.

Death-defying sledder

The kids lost no time in putting together a sledding party, at a nearby golf course.

When this year’s snow arrived, there was much rejoicing. We had as much as 8 inches of snow one day, and another inch or two the next. If it weren’t for widespread power outages, the storm would have been even more appreciated, as schedules and plans were canceled, and families hunkered down.

Sarah and Julia

Sarah really enjoyed having Julia visit.

We were powerless for only about 90 minutes, and were able to host some friends overnight — it was a festive occasion from our perspective. (Not so fun for those who went 4+ days without power, losing freezer food in the process, heating stones on their outside grills and then wrapping & putting them in beds, just like in Little House on the Prairie.)

Of course, after a week or so, everyone is done with the snow, and expects it to melt away (which it, being Washington snow, properly did). I have to chuckle when I compare it with memories of Michigan and Connecticut snows, which turned to ice and became a near-permanent part of driveways and sidewalks, for months and months.

As always, it is impossible to reflect on a month gone by without mentioning how blessed we are by our Lord Jesus. God is so good to us, in so many ways. We have been mostly healthy (apart from the sore throat and cold that is stalking us this week) and much happier than we deserve. Thanks to a bonus from my employer, we were able to pay off all our Christmas debt, and we are looking forward to Spring with joy and eager anticipation.


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Kathy and Caden


Today was another AWANA Wednesday, and I awoke with a wicked sore throat. I texted my Prayer buddies: “I’m blessing you with my absence, this morning.” I could barely swallow the hot ginger-honey tea Kathy made for me — how could I handle being ‘on’ for AWANA this evening?

Our whole family is involved with AWANA at our church again this year. AWANA stands for ‘Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed’, based on 2 Timothy 2:15:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Joshua is Games Director, Rachel and Daniel are Sparks Leaders, and David and Sarah are Truth & Training club members. Kathy and I serve as Directors of the Truth & Training (T&T) program.

Kathy and Caden

It is hard for me, partly because I really throw myself into it. As a fairly extreme introvert, I’m often very tired after exerting so much social energy for the kids and the other leaders. Council Time, at the end of the evening, is my opportunity to teach from the scriptures for about 20-25 minutes; I’m always racking my brain for something to teach that won’t go over the kids’ heads.

Often I write skits, which are presented by some of the most dedicated student leaders, who seem to enjoy the challenge of memorizing the lines and acting out the roles I invent, with less than an hour to practice.

The All-Star Cast

The AWANA Players

This week I showed clips from the Gospel of Matthew (Visual Bible), but I didn’t think I would have the voice to do the additional explaining that seems necessary for 3rd – 5th graders. On top of that, I knew we would be missing some leaders for Handbook Time, and I dreaded having to substitute for one of them, with my throat feeling like it did.

Kathy posted on Facebook, and voila! I had three volunteers, who pitched in and listened to verses as if they were veteran T&T leaders. My good friend and nemesis Tung even agreed to handle the Council Time teaching, which was a huge relief.

One of the best things about serving in AWANA these past few years is that it has really stretched me in leaning on God for help. Rather than trying to do things in my own strength, the Holy Spirit routinely gives me the inspiration I need to come up with something fresh and compelling for Council Time. It was good to be reminded that God can easily bring others to stand in the gap for me when I fall down.


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Not my actual website

Three Weeks of Bloglessness

I should have known. As soon as I made a New Year’s resolution to blog every day, I knew something would go wrong. I made it eight days, and then Kathy made an innocent request:

“Why can’t we change our blog theme? Can’t we upgrade our version of WordPress so we can change the theme? I hate having to wait for you to change the background and graphics …cause you’re so busy, dear. “

Right then, I should have told her what I tell my work customers, when I don’t want to do something: “That just isn’t technically feasible at this time.” But, then, she wouldn’t believe me anyway.

Or I could’ve said, “Tell you what. Here’s a thousand dollars to forget about upgrading.” I would’ve been way ahead, in terms of the cost of my time.

But I was naive and I agreed to do it. Oh, wait; one minor problem, if I upgrade WordPress, I’ve got to upgrade PHP and MySQL. OK, no big deal, I did that — so far only a few hours lost. Then I upgraded our blog, and sat back to enjoy the rest upon my laurels.

Not my actual website

For about 10 minutes, until the website went down. And stayed down. And wouldn’t come back up for more than a few minutes at a time, no matter how I cried, cajoled, fussed, and opened trouble-tickets with my hosting company.

It seems the increased resource utilization of the new versions of PHP and MySQL were just too much for my little server. So I upgraded the server — still no luck.

Eventually, I moved to another hosting company and built a new server from the ground up. Along the way, I learned a lot about the CentOS variant of Linux, about Postfix, and Spamassassin. I learned to perform a variety of sysadmin tasks I had never needed to bother with, as a snooty programmer. You, of course, have now learned more about these topics than you ever could have wanted.

Unless you’re a nerd. In that case, you’re probably saying, “You fool! Why didn’t you just limit the Spamassassin settings to one child process, and set MaxSpareServers in Apache to something reasonable, like 5?

Please feel free to identify yourself in either camp, in a comment. Altogether, I spent at least sixty hours (unpaid, of course) doing all this.

But now, I think the blog is up, and hopefully up to stay. If only I thought it was worth it. I hope she likes this plain, white background…


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