Saturday, July 25, 2009

500

My 500th post on this blog. I'm thinkin' that's a milestone!

I've seen this "landmark" coming and was wanting to make something for a giveaway, but I haven't been physically able for the last month or two to do any crafty work, so maybe at another milestone.

On the way home tonight from our chapel ice cream social, our family sang one of my favorite hymns. As I savored these dear words, I thought that I would share them with you as the focus of my 500th post. After all, milestones are both for taking a look back and a look forward. This hymn covers all of that for me.

He leadeth me, O bless├Ęd thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.


I enjoyed this story I found on cyberhymnal.org tonight:
As a young man who recently had been graduated from Brown University and Newton Theological Institution, I was supplying for a couple of Sundays the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. At the mid-week service, on the 26th of March, 1862, I set out to give the people an exposition of the Twenty-third Psalm, which I had given before on three or four occasions, but this time I did not get further than the words “He Leadeth Me.” Those words took hold of me as they had never done before, and I saw them in a significance and wondrous beauty of which I had never dreamed.

It was the darkest hour of the Civil War. I did not refer to that fact—that is, I don’t think I did—but it may subconsciously have led me to realize that God’s leadership is the one significant fact in human experience, that it makes no difference how we are led, or whither we are led, so long as we are sure God is lead ing us.

At the close of the meeting a few of us in the parlor of my host, good Deacon Wattson, kept on talking about the thought which I had emphasized; and then and there, on a blank page of the brief from which I had intended to speak, I penciled the hymn, talking and writing at the same time, then handed it to my wife and thought no more about it. She sent it to The Watchman and Reflect or, a paper published in Boston, where it was first printed. I did not know until 1865 that my hymn had been set to music by William B. Bradbury. I went to Rochester [New York] to preach as a candidate before the Second Baptist Church. Going in to their chapel on arrival in the city, I picked up a hymnal to see what they were singing, and opened it at my own hymn, “He Leadeth Me.”

Joseph H. Gilmore

And for your listening pleasure, here are a couple renditions of He Leadeth Me.



Monday, July 20, 2009

Thoughts on visiting the Creation Museum

Here are some observations about visiting the Creation Museum, based our on first trip there.

The Museum



One of the things that impressed me about the Museum, something which is actually typical of Answers in Genesis, is the way they bring complex scientific arguments to the average person in a manner that is easily understood. There is a vast array of scientific evidence that supports a Biblical model for Creation and that does not fit with the evolutionary model. At the Creation Museum, a portion of this evidence is presented in a way that is very digestible. At the same time, there is a huge amount to "digest," and I would definitely recommend planning at least two days at the Museum.



Indoor Highlights

The centerpiece of the Museum is the Walk Through Biblical History. It begins on the main floor winds its way around to the lower floor. The website suggests planning 2-3 hours for the Walk Through. You could also break it up into two sessions, though that would break up the continuity. There is an exit midway in case you realize you need to leave the Walk, and there is a bathroom about 2/3 of the way.

The Walk is an interesting mix of display types. There is a great deal you can read; there are realistic life sized models, both stationary and animated; there are videos, both to stand and watch and to sit and watch; plus more I'm not recalling to mind at the moment. The Walk takes you through the 7 C's of History - Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation. These C's are repeated often throughout the Museum, so the Walk is a good place to gain some familiarity with them at the beginning.


miniature of the ark

The Planetarium was a highlight for us. You need to purchase separate tickets, but it is well worth it. The Created Cosmos show was my favorite (there are two, and we saw one each day). One word of caution, though - the Created Cosmos show involved a lot of traveling through the universe, and it really feels like you're traveling! Gracie (6) leaned over to me a couple times to ask if we were "outside now." She and Stephen (2) were a bit unnerved by the Created Cosmos and spent a good bit of the time hiding their heads. They were fine, but I thought I should give a heads up for parents with young children that while the Created Cosmos was my favorite, it might not be a favorite with the little ones.

Each day at noon and three, there are special presentations in the Special Effects Theater from various scientists and speakers. The first day we were there, we thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Gary Parker's presentation on fossils. The second day, in the interest of fitting everything in without feeling like we were rushing around, we opted out of the live presentations. Wish we would have had more time!



Also in the Special Effects Theater is a fun show called Men in White. It covers some of the basic evidence/reasoning in support of creation in a format that is fun and entertaining.

On the lower floor is the entrance to the Dinosaur Den, a display full of dinosaurs that Stephen especially liked. They are life sized and quite impressive. The Dinosaur Den doesn't take very long, but is a terrific part of the Museum.





Outdoor Highlights

The grounds at the Museum are wonderful. They have an extensive botanical garden, several bridges, and a lovely gazebo overlooking the lake. I took many pictures of the grounds. The water lilies are especially lovely.




Also outside is the Petting Zoo. They have a zonkey and a zorse (zebra/donkey and zebra/horse mixes), a camel, goats and various birds, rabbits, and even a wallaby. Not a huge petting zoo, but fun and interesting.



Food

There are several food venues at the Museum, with a wide variety of food. There are also tables and chairs both inside and out where you can eat. You can take food from any venue anywhere on the grounds, so it would be no problem to get food from a variety of places for your group. Also, they welcome folks bringing in their own food. We brought a picnic lunch the first day, and the second day we had fabulous Hawaiian burgers from one of the venues at the Museum.


Lodging

This was our first trip to the Museum, so I have a limited amount of knowledge about lodging nearby. However, I can tell you about where we stayed this time and where we're planning to stay next time.

We stayed at the Oak Creek Campground. As I mentioned in my first post, a friendly resident of the campground helped us find our space since we arrived after dark, and she showed us where to place our tents so that we had the best chance of not being flooded in case of rain. I have to admit, that made me nervous!

The campground only has four tent spots, as it is primarily an RV campground. There are many folks who leave their campers parked there year round, and others who are parked there indefinitely while they do construction work, etc. So while in the following adorable picture, it looks like we're camping in the middle of nowhere, on the other side of that gravel road are campers and trailers parked cheek by jowl. Truly.



The Oak Creek Campground was not bad. It had a pool, a decent bath house (that is about 1,500 feet from our tent spot), a laundry room where I took care of washing the lamp fuel out of Grace's backpack/clothes, a game room, and a little store. The folks with whom we came in contact were, for the most part, nice and friendly.

Some things we would have preferred to be different -
We would have thought it lovely if there had been some grass in our area, if the bathrooms had been closer (I was so thankful for the port-a-pot Dad and Mom Smith brought), and if there had been equal to or less noise than we hear outside at home. And really, those things did not make it a miserable experience. We still had a fabulous time. But if we could've changed a few things, that would be our list.

As we exited the highway on our way to Oak Creek for the first time, we noticed a sign for Big Bone Lick State Park. Our curiosity was instantly raised, because we've had great experiences with state parks.

We drove over to Big Bone Lick Wednesday before we went back to our campground, and decided that we definitely want to camp there on our next trip to the museum. It is grassy, spacious, and quiet. The bathroom is more central, too! The is also a miniature golf course, a bison herd, a museum, hiking trails, and other fun looking stuff. I'll be sure to update after our next trip and report whether it's really as wonderful as it looks.

I hope my musings will be helpful if you're considering a trip to the Creation Museum. I highly recommend it as an educational experience, a spiritual challenge, and a motivator to become more firmly grounded and to help our children be more firmly grounded in Scripture.

Our Trip to the Creation Museum

Last week, Dad and Mom Smith took us to the Creation Museum. They not only paid for almost everything, they also bought us a five year family membership to the Museum. So you'll be hearing more about it in the future!

If you're not familiar with the Creation Museum, it is a 70,000 square foot museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The motto you see scattered throughout is, "Prepare to Believe." With a variety of displays and multi-media presentations, the folks at Answers in Genesis bring the Biblical account of Creation to life in a whole new way.

We arrived at our campground Tuesday night after the campground office had closed, but a helpful "resident" guided us to our campsite and gave us tips on where to put our tents so that they would not be flooded if there was rain. With light from the van headlights and a propane lamp, we erected all four tents and got everything set up. I think it was 1.30 by that time, but I talked the adults into a game after we got the Blessings settled. Mom Smith chuckled and remarked, "You just need to have the whole camping experience, don't you?" Oh yes.

Tuesday, we got a bit of a late start - that happens when you play Racko until the wee hours of the morning. We also had a delicious bacon and eggs breakfast that Mom Smith whipped up for us on the campstove. We didn't arrive at the Museum until around noon. But we crammed in everything we could before we have to leave at 5.30 to pick up Maggie at the kennel. There is so much to see there!

Wednesday, I got up shortly after 7 and got things rolling a bit earlier than the day before. Amazingly, we got our whole camp site packed up, ate breakfast, and were on the road in time to make it to the Museum by 10.30 - only a half hour after opening! We had a more relaxing day on Wednesday, and filled in some of the gaps that we missed the first day.

We took so many neat pictures that it was hard to pick ones for collages. So I ended up with seven collages!

Camping:


The boys:


Mostly girls:


The "grown-ups"


And some miscellaneous pictures from both days mixed together:






We had a great time, and were sad to leave:

Monday, July 13, 2009

In the Night

The following is from an email that I wrote to my parents, who are two of my closest friends, tonight/this morning. My intent was to pour out my frustrations and doubts and to entreat their prayers. But I think that God has taken my struggle and turned it into something He can use. It is likely the most raw piece of myself I have ever posted on this blog...

Unable to sleep, I found myself at the computer checking my blog reader.

Laurie posted this recitation of Ps 145 on her blog tonight - it's truly a wonderful recitation.

But as I sat here at 3'something in the morning watching it, when he got to vs 16, the tears started and I just can't seem to make them stop.


14 The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
16 You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.


My broken, aching heart cries out - - What about my desire? Am I not a living thing? Do I not fear Him? Am I not calling properly? I pour out my heart before Him. I cry to Him. I bow down. I AM bowed down. When will I be raised up? When will I be saved? When will He open His hand?

Ps 30.5
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Weeping may only last for the night, but the night seems so long. So dark. So full of anguish.
This particular night in a greater night has been one where I have had to fight exceedingly dark thoughts. I hate it when those thoughts intrude. I hate my doubts and impatience. I long to trust.


And then He takes me to Ps 31:

PSALM 31
A Psalm of Complaint and of Praise.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.

Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many-- terror on every side!-- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God."
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!
O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm, "I am cut off from your sight." But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.
Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!




2 Peter 3.9 - "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you...."


And I return again to:

PSALM 131
CHILDLIKE TRUST IN THE LORD.
A Song of Ascents, of David.

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.

And:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:4-9)

And now, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." (Psalms 4:8)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Summer Poem

Summer Days

Winter is cold-hearted;
Spring is yea and nay;
Autumn is a weathercock;
Blown every way:
Summer days for me
When every leaf is on its tree,

When Robin's not a beggar,
And Jenny Wren's a bride,
And Larks hang, singing, singing, singing,
Over the wheat-fields wide,
And anchored lilies ride,
And the pendulum spider,
Swings from side to side,

And blue-black beetles transact business,
And gnats fly in a host,
And furry caterpillars hasten
That no time be lost,
And moths grow fat and thrive,
And lady birds arrive.

Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why one day in the country
Is worth a month in town--
Is worth a day and a year
Of the dusty, musty, lag-last fashion
That days drone elsewhere.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894

No offense to my friends in town, but I heartily agree with Miss Rossetti! And for the record, I'll say that my favorite seasons are Spring and Fall, but I thoroughly enjoyed this poem, and do have a special love for Summer.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Walk on the Katy Trail



A couple of Saturdays ago, our chapel had a Father-Family event in/near Augusta, MO. Those who are bike-riders rode along the Katy Trail from Dutzow to Augusta, and those of us without bikes met in Augusta and walked along the trail there. Once the bike-riders arrived, we headed up the hill to the town of Augusta. We stopped by Augusta Wood, a delightful shop owned by friends of ours, when went to the park for a picnic lunch.



Mom Smith also met us at the park in Augusta. It was the first time we saw her after the folks' trip to N.C.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Laminin

This gets to the core of me every time I see it. It's even better in the context of the rest of Louis' talk, so if you can, get hold of a copy of the DVD How Great is our God.



He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:13-20

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Katie's B-Day

I'm thankful my hands are finally letting me get a post done about Katie's birthday! I've been very slowly creating collages over the last week, and am glad to get to post them.

About 8.00 on Katie's birthday morning, we got a call reporting that a customer (for whom we had installed a water softener and filter in February) had water all over her basement). It turned out to be not our fault at all, but Jonathan had am unexpected two-hour round trip to her house, plus some time to diagnose the problem and help her clean up some of the mess. So we had some extra time at home that morning before leaving on our planned trip to the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The kids read, played carpet ball, got pedicures from Aunt Beka, played with blocks, etc. It actually turned out to be a lovely morning.


We departed for the Gardens around noon, and stopped on the way for a lunch treat courtesy of Aunt Beka and Uncle Eric (in absentia). Then we headed for the gardens! It was a very hot day (the time/temp sign I noticed on the way home said 100'), and all things water were a decided hit. Despite the heat, I think we all enjoyed our outing very much. Here are some pics:




Katie had requested ham for her birthday dinner, along with corn and peas and the most important cake and ice cream. Beka, Georgia, and I got everything ready for her birthday dinner the day before: ham (in loads of butter and brown sugar) that cooked in the crockpot while we were gone; pasta salad with peas, corn, and cheese; and applesauce. I'd also done the cake the day before. It was delightful to come home and have everything ready!

And then, on to the cake, ice cream, and presents!

It was a fun day for everyone. Katie thoroughly enjoyed being the Birthday Girl, especially sharing the day with Aunt Beka and The Cousins.

Grandpa and Grandma Smith were out of town on Katie's birthday, so she got to enjoy another birthday-ish evening last night. It was a good thing she needed to open presents from the Smith g'parents, because it reminded me to pull out what Papa and Gramma Byrd had sent weeks ago (oops!). It was great to catch up on Dad and Mom Smith's recent North Carolina vacation, and Katie loved all her new presents.