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The First in the Deck Series

Our most recent DIY experience through the process.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Gotta love a new beginning, right?

Peppermint Shortage

Just a funny afternoon.

Coffeyville, KS

I loved this experience so much that I had to write about it. Then, through e-mails it spread to Coffeyville itself.

Photo Restoration

I had a lot of fun with this "old school" photo. It turned out too cool to not blog about it.

Kitchen Remodel (part one)

This is the first of a nine-part series documenting the remodel of our 50-year-old kitchen in our 100-year-old home!

Spiritually Gifted: To be or not to be?

I have been listening to Bott Radio Network for some time, though it's important to note that I don't always agree with what is being taught on the station.  As a matter of fact, sometimes I find that what is being taught is in direct conflict with scripture.

First, I don't mean to write this to discredit Bott Radio or any of the programs on it.  If you're reading this, I don't discourage you from listening to the station, as I, myself, still listen to the station and do enjoy it.  I stand firm to say that I believe Christians, like all people, can and will be wrong from time to time.  We're not perfect.  Though, in speaking our positions publicly, we allow ourselves to be corrected and thus are able to grow in our knowledge of Him, in an "iron sharpens iron" fashion.  I welcome responses to this blog in the same manner and only hope that we, as Christians, can always retain the high standard of respect for others even during times of discourse.  Let us strive to be a people impossible to offend.

So, in that light, I'd like to point out what I believe to be an incorrect teaching that aired today during my lunch hour.  The message was delivered by Ron Moore from South Hills church, located just outside Pittsburgh, PA, about spiritual gifts and and their validity in the modern day "post Apostolic Age."  His spoken message followed very closely to the written one on Bible.org about the same subject.  That message can be found here: http://bible.org/article/speaking-tongues  It's extremely long and makes this blog look quite short-winded in comparison, but in case you desire to read some opposing arguments, I've made it easy to find a prominent one.

Ron says, "There are no apostles today."  He later insinuates that there are no prophets today.  This is implied when he states that prophets related the mind of God to people, and that they wrote the Bible.  He follows this with, "If there are prophets around today then this book (Bible) is not closed.  We believe this book is closed.  God has given us everything He needs us to know."  The bible.org article even went as far to mention Revelation 22:18.  It's placement in the argument would suggest that anyone who may either prophecy or claim divinely revealed knowledge would fall into this snare of trying to add to the Bible and thus adding to himself the plagues recorded in it.  This thinking is very problematic from a biblical standpoint.  If God doesn't give divinely-revealed knowledge, then He must not speak to us.  Unless, of course, when He speaks to us it fails to contain any useful information.  So, they're suggesting that God is silent, unless He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible.  But, that doesn't line up with God's character and His ability and want to have a relationship with us.  He desires to relate and to commune with us.  Certainly, it takes no time at all to find a biblical example of God speaking to someone.  The suggestion that God is limited to speaking to us unless a printed Bible is in front of our faces, makes him no more powerful than any other dead author.

Here, I will inject an assumption.  I think that the catalyst to this message being given was in answer to, or perhaps in reference towards, certain Christians making the insinuation that the attainment of spiritual gifts are a direct reflection of the status of said Christian.  Let me state implicitly that spiritual gifts are no more a reflection of our "status" as a Christian than the amount of money in our bank accounts is a reflection of how much God loves us.  So, I would agree with Ron if this were the point that he were making.  However, it's not his point.  His point is to discredit certain spiritual gifts that he apparently does not have.  His preferred method of discreditation is to deny that they exist by making a case for why they are not necessary.  He misrepresents 1 Corinthians 13 to say that "completeness" has come and thus certain named spiritual gifts have "passed away."

Let me say that it's unfortunate that there are some Christians who do treat the speaking of tongues as some acquired rite of passage.  Though, in my experience, there are infinitely less of these particular Christians as there are those who treat the acquiring of knowledge (number of books read, number of college degrees acquired, leadership position, theological training, etc) with the same degree of pretentiousness.  Still, I apologize for tongues-speakers everywhere if that vibe has been given whether purposefully or not.  And, for the record, not all Christians with the gift of speaking in tongues think that it is required evidence of being "filled with the Spirit."

Back to the subject, Ron defines 'tongues' as a "known language previously unlearned so that those in the audience can understand the message", using the day of Pentecost as the end all/be all concerning the definition of the use of tongues.  Though, he complicates his own definition when making his next point, that the use of tongues is not to be preferred over regular language.  Paul made this clear in the context that people should be able to understand the words that you are speaking to them so that they may know what is being said.  The obvious problem here with Ron's definition is that if Paul is referring to speaking in tongues (which he is) and noting that it's a good thing (which he is) but also saying that people listening won't understand what is being said (which he is), this means that Ron's definition of speaking in tongues is already irreconcilably flawed.  Paul's definition of speaking in tongues would not have lined up at all with Ron's since Paul makes it clear that the purpose of tongues must not always be so that foreigners understand the message as Ron suggested to be the case.  Note that Paul never condemned speaking in tongues, but rather clearly recognized it as a good thing while conceding that it's not always appropriate or preferred in the context of giving instruction to a crowd.

Later, while still trying to reinforce his suggestion that speaking in tongues is not preferred, Ron makes it out as if Paul in Corinthians 14 was saying that praying in tongues is "not worthwhile, not fruitful".  Yet, in that very chapter, Paul encourages all men to speak in tongues while also wrapping the chapter up with the instruction to NOT forbid speaking in tongues.  Surely, Paul would not be instructing the church to maintain a fruitless pastime.  He's not.  The context proves that Paul was referring to speaking in tongues not being fruitful in certain given situations, nameably when presenting instruction to a crowd.

Ron, like everyone else on the subject regardless on which side of the debate they lie, references 1 Corinthians 13 as support for their argument.  I suggest you take a moment to read it yourself now.

Have you read it?  Good.  The discourse ultimately hinges on our interpretation of "completeness" found in verse 10.  Gift believing Christians think that completeness hasn't come yet and that Paul is referencing Heaven and our perfected, resurrected bodies, not to mention being in the presence of the Creator and the Bearer of all knowledge.  Those Christians, like Ron, will point to the canonical Bible as the completeness to which Paul referred.

Personally, I find the belief that "completeness" has already come to be illogical and quite obviously incorrect when stepping back and looking at the larger picture presented to us by the story of creation.  We are nowhere near complete.  The earth is nowhere near complete.  Sin is still prevalent.  Death is still certain.  At best, one could make the argument that completeness came when Christ died.  However, it doesn't benefit Ron to argue this since spiritual giftings came AFTER Christ's crucifixion.

To illustrate my understanding of Paul's idea of "completeness" in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 I'll explain my take on faith.  I have faith that there is a God, the Creator, the one spoken of in the Bible.  I have never seen Him.  Therefore, my belief in His existence is one of faith.  If He revealed Himself to me in full, I would still believe in Him.  Only, now I would no longer believe in faith, but I would believe in knowledge.  As a matter of fact, 'believe' is no longer an appropriate word, rather 'know' would be more appropriate.  By God revealing Himself to me, my faith has passed away and been replaced with knowledge.  In other words, I don't believe in faith that two and two equal four.  I know it does.

In this light, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 makes much more sense.  Taken with the context of all creation, it makes much more sense.  I can't make sense of Paul referring to "completeness" being when the 66 books of the Bible were officially canonized.  Everything around us is still incomplete, and, like Paul put it, we're still like children who are unaware of the immensity of the truth of who God is and what He has for us in this life and for all eternity.  We do not have ALL knowledge.  We do all things "in part" because we still live by faith since we have not seen.  I would like to see a teaching on just that alone from these same people who claim it to be the case.  Because, I can't find anywhere else in the Bible that refers to the completion of the canonical Bible as the "completeness" referenced by Paul in 1 Cor 13:8-12.  I missed that verse where Paul said, "As soon as we're done with this thing there won't be any more supernatural gifts, so go heal the sick, unless you're one of the billions of people reading this after we got done, in which case, you can pray for them, but don't expect much."

It's troublesome for me to hear teachers denying the authenticity of spiritual gifts.  Clearly, they were prevalent in the Bible which they don't deny.  But, they use very little and quite trivial "evidence" to supposedly prove these things no longer happen now.  What I find most troublesome is that they put God in a box and replace His creativity with methodology.  Jesus didn't heal people the same way twice.  Why not?  I can only guess that it's because there is no method or equation to God's healing.

Aside from that, by denying that God gives gifts such as healing, prophetic words, tongues, etc. it inherently claims that anyone with these gifts must be faking it, or worse, supernaturally powered by the devil.  Though, irony is not lost, when those who deny God's supernatural activities don't hesitate to apply those same supernatural activities to the enemy, as if God can't but Satan can.  Hmm.

Thirdly, by denying these gifts and in turn denying entire denominations of people who believe God still gives them, teachers sow separation, confusion and disharmony into the body of Christ.  Ironically, Ron uses 1 Corinthians 12 as a basis for his message.  He means for it to show that the gifts of the Holy Spirit "always bring unity".  I would whole-heartedly and without conviction disagree with Ron.  It's clear in 1 Cor 12 that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in fact, did NOT ALWAYS, bring unity.  As a matter of fact, 1 Cor 12 doesn't claim that it does.  It proves the opposite.  Paul was writing to the church of Corinth who apparently had many members who had been given different gifts.  Paul is explaining to them that the gifts do not represent levels of importance and that no gifts are to be lorded over others with different gifts and that ALL gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed out according to His will and that ALL are equally important.  The bible.org article attempts to make out that the Corinthians were misusing tongues and that this was the only reason that Paul was presenting written correction.  However, it's clear that MANY gifts were present in the church of Corinth and that the correction they were receiving was that they had incorrectly applied a status or spiritual worth to each of the different gifts.  They had done what people do best and forgotten that they were undeserved gifts from the Holy Spirit and instead were viewing them as earned trophies.  They had forgotten love for one another as well.  I picked up in both the article on bible.org and in Ron's message the insinuation that the presence of spiritual gifts and the lack of love were related.  Though, that's confusing correlation with causation.

Though Ron cites 1 Corinthians 12 to make the "unity" point that can't even be found in the text, he misses Paul's glaringly obvious main point to the church of Corinth (and thus to us today since God's Word is living) that just as there are different parts to a human body and all are useful and necessary, so are the different members of the Body of Christ with their different gifts from the Holy Spirit both useful and necessary to the entire Body.

I feel that God is speaking directly to us here today on this issue and saying to us (through Paul to the church of Corinth) that we are not to think that the distribution of gifts from the Holy Spirit is a reflection of our importance in the body.  Furthermore, we are to recognize that being different parts of the same body, we should "give honor to each part", "have equal concern for each other", and have "no division" of the body.  The hand shouldn't want to be the eye.  The eye shouldn't want to be the hand.  Likewise, the hand shouldn't tell the eye that it should be a hand, or vice versa.

To post Doctrinal statements about "why we don't believe sign gifts are still to be the practice of the church" or to preach messages aired all over the world about how we don't believe that the Holy Spirit distributes gifts like He used to isn't at all edifying to the Body of Christ and specifically sows discord and division in the body.  This is the very thing that Paul was addressing in 1 Cor 12.

I enjoy listening to Bott Radio Network and I will continue to do so.  I will potentially enjoy listening again to Ron Moore on another subject.  However, it's always good to listen and test all things against the truth and safety of scripture.  And as a last note:  God is not some long ago dead author.  He's much more powerful, willing and able than what our experience (or lack of) gives him credit for.

Audiophilistic Moment

I love music and I do thoroughly enjoy a good quality artistically-composed song.  At unexpected times this love stands out to me and I'm reminded of it all in a wave of rushing emotion and a super-heightened appreciation for every minute sound within a recording.  The ebb and flow of the melody carries with it my full attention for mere minutes, however my concept of time sort of melts away as my internal clock pauses it's relentless ticking to match the tempo of the song.  Then, the song ends.  A new one begins.  The atmosphere changes with it.  And, I find myself wondering why the composer only made the tune to last five minutes.  Though, I suppose our emotions are just as fleeting as the timeframe of the average modern song.  Thus, there's seldom a need to carry on longer than the 4-5 minute standard.

My sound set up at work includes a single computer speaker attached to my work computer on which I play my mp3 collection via Windows Media Player.  Since I only brought in the one speaker, as opposed to the pair, I'm only hearing the right channel.  Sound quality was obviously not my goal, but rather I wanted a simple and inconspicuous set up so as not to attract any potential new prohibition of music in the offices.

Today, I was caught off-guard.  I was listening to Ryan Adams' 'Night Birds' from his 2005 album entitled 29.  This isn't an album that I have given much play, but a certain song caught my ear and I wanted to hear it better.  So, I pulled out my headphones and plugged them into the stereo output of the single speaker.  The song truly came to life as I was able to hear both channels and a nice bass response while also having the opportunity to increase the volume to my eardrum's desire.

The next song on the album was 'Blue Sky Blues'.  It was this song that inspired me to write this blog.  It's mostly compiled of a piano and Ryan Adams' voice, but also adds some very subtle horns, a few almost imperceptible wind sound effects, and some gorgeous stringed accompaniment on the chorus.

It's songs like this that inspire people like me to become audiophiles.

God Fearing Man

A few weeks ago I took a short road trip to Lebanon, MO, to pick up some hardwood flooring that I found for sale on Craigslist.  On the trip, I flipped through an old CD case of ours that has remained somewhat untouched for years.  I pulled out all the CDs that didn't have any writing on them and decided to go through them to figure out what they were.

One of those disks was full of Ben Harper's music.  Through the CD swap, it had managed to stay in the 5-disk player even after the trip.  Several weeks later, I would happen upon this disk and inevitably find inspiration for this blog.

I found myself listening to Ben Harper's "God Fearing Man".  And, unlike in my younger days, I actually made a point to listen to what Ben was saying rather than just tap my foot through a song, oblivious to its message.  In the song, he sings, "Tell me, what gives one the right to say their God is better than anybody else?  Don't we all have a right to find God for ourselves?"

I'd like to take a crack at answering Ben's questions here, despite the fact that, in all liklihood, they were only intentioned to be rhetorical.  In the first question he poses, he correctly makes it known that we don't all serve the same God.  The opposite (that all religions worship the same God) is a common misconception among non-Christians.  While it sounds nice to say, even wise perhaps, that all those religions have much more in common than they would like to admit, it really only betrays the speaker's lack of knowledge of any of the religions to which they refer since they are all mutually exclusive.  So, kudos to Ben for recognizing that.

Let's go back to answering that first question of "what gives one the right".  The short answer is God.  God instructs us to share the good news.  The good news is who God is, who we are, what He did for us, and the eternal implications of all of it.  So, we're supposed to tell others about God.  For that matter, if He were truly a part of our lives, wouldn't He normally come up in conversation?

Ben is specifically asking about one telling another that their God is "better."  I gave kudos to Ben for recognizing that people in different religions do not worship the same God.  However, Ben, undoubtedly, is leaning on the politically-correct philosophy that no one should discuss God, so that everyone is allowed to "find God for ourselves."  This is blatantly unbiblical, as previously mentioned about God instructing us to go out and preach the good news.  But, it's really quite popular.  It's become such a violation of accepted social norms to tell anybody about God.  And, non-Christians are not alone in the application of pressure to keep quiet.  Plenty of self-proclaiming Christians also feed the big shutup machine.  Bottom line, society and its hush hush policy of all things God is an obvious trade for the respect of people from the respect of God.  Rather than risk offending a person, our silence disrespects God and willfully rejects what He has commissioned us to do.  We are respecting the creation rather than the Creator.  Romans 1:25 - "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator..."  The irony of Ben Harper's song is that it's entitled and repeats throughout the song that he's a "God fearing man", yet touts this philosophy that is steeped in the fear of man, instead.

To illustrate the big picture and to make an important point I will use the following very common scenario:

Two Christians, Matt and David, are talking at a coffee shop.  David makes it known in conversation that he is having sexual relations with his long-time girlfriend.  Matt points out that it's wrong for David and his girlfriend to be doing that to which David replies that he knows that it's wrong but that they have plans to marry at some point in the future.  Matt asks what measures David and his girlfriend are taking to help keep them living right and accountable.  David reiterates their plans of marriage.  Matt congratulates David for his plans, but asks about what would happen if David were to die tomorrow having been living in sin.  David replies that he believes in Jesus and is saved and doesn't believe that the loving God he worships would send him to hell.

Ben Harper may have been referring to a Hindu or Buddhist telling a Christian or Muslim that their God is better, or vice versa.  But, I tend to think from the collective statements that he makes in the song, that he's referring to anyone telling anyone anything about God, specifically when they disagree on the issue being discussed.  I don't believe that Ben was limiting the possibility to inter-religious discussions.  Ben would say that Matt is telling David that his God is better than David's.  And they are both Christians, right?

The first of the Ten Commandments applies here.  We are not to have any other gods before Him.  I would like to establish that David believes in a different God than his pal, Matt.  My evidence is that David believes in a loving God, but his god is neither just nor holy.  (Forgive me if I'm messing up the capitalization here)  The God of the Bible is loving, sure.  But He is also just and holy.  He cannot let sin go unpunished because He is holy, just and perfect.  To do so would be unjust.  Thankfully, He sent His son to be punished in our place, however, what are we instructed to do?  Repent from our sin and ask for forgiveness.  Repent means to turn away from.  When Jesus was brought the woman accused of adultery, he saved her from the death that was certain to come from her accusers, but he then said, "Go and sin no more."

So, David is purposefully ignoring the knowledge that he has, turning a deaf ear to the Holy Spirit, justifying his sin rather than seeking forgiveness, and altering his image of God to suit his desires.  What David has done is to create his own god.  And, he worships that one in God's rightful place.  This may even fall under the second Commandment which is to not set up an idol, graven image, or likeness.

In summary, it's not that one person's God "is better" than another's.  It's that there is but one God.  He is the Creator of all things, the Truth, the Life, and the Way.  There is no other.  So, we worship Him with our lives, or we don't.

Now, this may sound harsh or "judgemental" or both.  Am I suggesting that our proverbial David is bound for hell?  No.  I'm in no position to make that call, nor do I want to be.  God has immense grace for us (THANK GOD!).  But, with knowledge comes responsibility.  When David, empowered by the Holy Spirit, overcomes his flesh and recognizes his sin, he should repent from it and make changes to his life to help him make better choices.  David may not know that he is sinning with his actions right now.  His relationship with God and, thus, his knowledge of who God is, may not be developed to the maturity level to know or recognize hos actions for what they are.  God has grace for us during this growth (again, THANK GOD!).  But at some point, as we grow and learn, which we all do, we do learn what we should and should not do and we change our behavior according to the decisions we make to obey God or not.  Our walk with god is not static.  We're either growing closer or drifting away.

Ben's lyrics would have it that we can't have this discussion or countless others for that matter.  But, I fear God more than I fear those who may read this.  He wants to know us and He wants us to know Him.  I find no real value in "finding" God on our own versus having a loving, God-fearing man or woman tell us about Him.  If God intended for us to all discover Him with no help from others, He wouldn't have encouraged us to meet together nor would have commanded us to share the knowledge that we have been given with others.

No thanks, I'm good.

I ran across this photo today when I hopped on Pinterest for a minute to possibly gain some creative juices for a project that Jodi will be starting soon.  My Pinterest search didn't result in any good ideas, but displayed some messages like this one.  Which, got me thinking.  And, as you know, I like to think out loud.

This button is being sold on etsy.com.  And, i think to myself, it's sad that anyone should feel this way so strongly that they would purchase and wear this out in public.  Though, I suspect that there are a growing number of people who not only feel this way but also feel emboldened enough and secure enough to declare it in writing on their person.

A few months ago, I watched a video on YouTube entitled 180Movie.  It was put together by Ray Comfort, who I believe is a preacher somewhere.  It prompted me to look him up and I was able to download a 45-minute message of his called Hell's Best Kept Secret.

In this sermon, he points out that while churches in the US truthfully claim thousands of salvations every year, they can only account for a small percentage of that number as new members of churches.  I think that it was around 10%.  So, even though people are getting saved, they are either not finding a church home or they are finding one but then falling away from regular attendance.

I believe that Ray hit the nail on the head, when he attributes this phenomenon to the fact that more and more churches these days are failing to properly deliver the gospel.  Many churches and individuals simply leave out or fail to go into detail about the law and the penalty of sin.  And no wonder, it's a more popular message when you're only sharing the positive side of the gospel (Jesus loves you, He died for you, He wants to give you salvation, you'll get to go to heaven, God is love, etc.)

What is not getting communicated enough (or at all, in some cases) is that if you have sinned even once you are a sinner.  You have no righteousness.  And, you must pay the penalty of death.  One sin separates you from a perfect and holy God.  Yes, He is loving.  But, He is also just.  A loving God lacking justice would not really be loving at all.  His holiness does not allow Him to overlook or ignore sin.

Perhaps, comparatively speaking, we may be pretty good people.  However, the only comparable that this loving, just, and holy God uses is Jesus who was perfect.  He doesn't use other people as comparables.  And, compared to Jesus, we are ALL filthy sinners.

Thank God, He sent His son to live a perfect life and then die the worst possible death so that He could freely give to us His own righteousness.  But, God created us in His image.  Which is to say, that we are eternal and have free will to choose Him or to deny Him.  There is no third option.  And, He will honor our decision and give us what we have chosen, whether that be eternity with Him or eternity apart from Him.

I see hell as an eternity separated from Him.  But, think about that.  We are told in much detail that God is love, patience, peace, light, joy, hope, etc.  Imagine an eternal life where there was no love, no patience, no peace, complete darkness, no joy, no hope, etc.  Imagine that none of these things were possible.  I believe that the fact that we can experience these things here on earth is because God is all around us showing us evidence of Himself.  But, that's the only reason that we can experience them.  If we were separated from Him, these experiences would be impossible.  So, instead of an eternal life it would be more aptly named an eternal death.

It's this fact that is getting overlooked and understated with new Christians.  Because of this, they either never get involved in a church or they quickly fall away from "the faith".  Because, while they did make "the decision" to accept God's gift, they never fully understood WHY they needed it in the first place.

Too many churches are telling people that to experience love, joy, peace, etc. they need to accept Jesus as their lord and savior.  And, while a close relationship with Jesus does, in fact, provide these things in increasingly greater amounts, it's actually not necessary to have a relationship with Jesus to experience them.  God is all around us showing evidence of Himself which means that we can experience His attributes even while we are denying Him.  An atheist can fall in love and experience joy.  However, if we all die.  And, if at that point we have still denied Him, we will certainly never experience His attributes ever again.  We'll only experience what existence is like without Him.

The church, trying to step away from the "fire and brimstone" paradigm, has made the failure of excluding this part of the message.  God's grace IS that He saved us when we haven't deserved to be saved.  BUT, He saved us FROM something.

This button reminded me of all that.  It simply states that the wearer isn't in need of salvation.  But, since ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ALL are condemned.  Our righteousness is like filthy rags.  We ALL need His righteousness.

Back to Eden (part three)

Part three of our Back to Eden gardening style adventure, was the planting!

I must admit that we did some major procrastination on getting our seeds for two major reasons.  The first was the fact that this year spring came way earlier than expected.  Everyone was pretty thrown off by it.

The second was that we didn't have the slightest clue as to where we should get our seeds from.  We finally were recommended Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds by the owners of a small natural foods market, Wild Root Grocery.

We headed out there attempting to make it in time for a lunch that they serve, but we arrived and made it to the restaurant minutes after they were done for the day.  This was due in combination of allowing just enough time to arrive at the very end of lunch hours and getting lost from taking a shorter path that happened to not have any signs of any kind, including road signs.  You definitely have to leave pavement miles before you come to Bakers Creek.  Luckily, a woman offered to make us some cinnamon rolls despite the bakery being closed for the day.  Mmm.  And, WOW, they were large.  Thanks, Debbie!  So, we ate cinnamon rolls in the sun and enjoyed the day.

Then, came the seed buying.  This was a little overwhelming.  As you can see from the photo, there are seeds galore.  We stood before about thirty varieties of tomato seeds and finally made our decision, only to find out moments later that we had just been looking at the overflow of the real tomato seed section that housed well over a hundred varieties.

At the end of the day, we had purchased a blackberry bush, a raspberry bush, a bag of Yukon Gold potato seeds, about 25 strawberry plants, and lots o' seeds including tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, 3 varieties of lettuce, sugar snap peas, green beans, and a lot more that I can't think of at the moment.

It was a lot of fun and I was very impressed with what all they had built out there at Baker's Creek.  It's a neat little village that was well worth the drive.

Once again, I have made a little video using time-lapse photography for your viewing pleasure.  Check it out at this YouTube link.

Deoin Bedell


Members of our church have maintained a long-standing tradition of organizing meals to be brought to couples in the church who have just had a baby. They did it for us when Lyric was born in 2007 and it was a huge blessing. For two weeks solid, we didn't have to worry with the daily task of deciding upon and preparing dinner. It was brought to us ready to serve by a new face every evening.

In 2006, we were still relatively new to our church and didn't know too many people yet. Jodi volunteered to make dinner for the Bedells who had just had their beautiful baby girl, Nia Rain. This was when I officially met Deoin Bedell. We showed up to their home with a big batch of Jodi's Italianized version of Rasta Pasta, a meal I discovered I loved on my first date with Jodi at the Rasta Grill in Downtown Springfield, MO. Jodi made it far better, though, substituting garlic, olives and other Italian spices for the Caribbean Jerk spice found in the Rasta dish.

We've been friends ever since and helped each other along the way with whatever creative projects we had going on. Between the four of us (our wives included), we've invested financially into joint business ventures, invested creatively into each other's art, and have taken turns being a catalyst to the others for progressing our desired goals.

Recently, Deoin had almost completed a song entitled This Is My Life. With his idea for a music video storyboarded out, it hardly took any time at all for us to see its conversion from an idea to a finished product. Deoin also sought the help of my wife, Jodi, to add a needed vocal layer to the chorus.

Both the song and the video turned out great and can be seen in full HD video on YouTube by either searching for Deoin Bedell or clicking this link.

Please support this local Christian music artist by purchasing the song from CD Baby for only 99 cents at this link. And, look forward to the full album This Is My Life coming soon.

Back to Eden (part two)


The second part of our gardening adventure was to put down the covering. We chose to use un-screened wood chips from Springfield Recycling Center. They were $5 per yard which equates to $15 a truckload. They also have screened wood chips which gets out all the big chunks and leaves much smaller wood chips that will break down and compost much sooner. They run $12 a yard. We decided that it was so early in the season that the larger chips would have time to break down before next year and we were afraid that our covering would break down too soon if we used the screened. We'll see how our decision turned out next spring.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the covering is what protects the garden and the topsoil underneath. It acts as a fairly decent weed barrier, too. How it protects the garden is pretty simple. Have you ever moved a pile of leaves or even a pile of construction scraps or a pile of virtually anything that has sat undisturbed for a few weeks. You'll notice that when you do, it's always moist underneath. The dirt is always dark and rich in appearance. The reason for this is that it was protected from the crazy environment.

Think of the wood chips to the garden just as our skin is to our body. Our skin protects us. If not for our skin, our bodies would dry up and die. So our gardens go. If they are exposed to the air, they will dry up and the top soil will erode away with the wind and wash away when it rains.

However, if you cover your garden with wood chips, the wood chips retain moisture for the dry periods, keeping your soil moist and rich, while also diverting excess water away when it rains. And, every time it rains it composts and breaks down those wood chips a little bit. And all that organic material acts like a compost tea with all the nutrient-rich tea flowing down into your garden. Your plants will thrive on it. Also, it keeps your soil from becoming compacted. The wood chips evenly spread out your weight and keep the ground from becoming compacted and unworkable. And the plants that grow in it will keep it nice and aerated.

It's been a couple weeks now since we put the covering on. Sorry for the belated posting of the video. I actually put the video together the next evening, but have been preoccupied with other projects. But, here it is. And now all we do is wait until it's time to start planting!

Back to Eden


Jodi and I recently watched a documentary online called Back to Eden. They have the documentary available for viewing directly from their website. In short, they convincingly show how to garden in a more natural, less toilsome way without the need to till, water, or struggle against dug in weeds.

Yes, it does sound too good to be true. But, feel free to watch the video yourself for all the details on why this is NOT too good to be true.

We're thoroughly convinced and have already begun the process to build our new garden using the methods that the documentary demonstrates. We'll be documenting our progress success throughout this season with some cool videos, photos, and blogs. Come back here to this blog for updates on our garden. To start things out, we've already created a cool time-lapse photography video for your viewing pleasure.

This video shows us going through step one, which is to wet three layers of newspaper and layout over the desired garden plot. It's important to overlap all the connecting edges since this will be necessary to suffocate out all the growth underneath it. This newspaper will itself break down and compose the first season, but not before it's killed everything growing under it. Once the newspaper was down, we placed roughly three to four inches of composted horse manure. This stuff was great. It was already composted so it was pretty much unrecognizable from just regular dirt. I got it from a local horse ranch for $20 a truckload. Two truckloads was enough to cover our huge garden plot which measures 22' x 41'.

We all were able to pitch in and knock it out over the course of a few days. It made for a fun video and I look forward to making a lot more. We've already begun the second step, the covering, and will have it completed soon.

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