Monday, March 29, 2010

At Home in Oxford

We left New York City on March 24 and headed off for England where John is beginning his doctoral studies at Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.  We had an overnight flight across the Atlantic, arriving in London early in the morning.  After walking about a mile to the customs and on to luggage pick-up we found our bus to Oxford without any problems.  Arriving in Oxford, we got a taxi to our room.....that was a bit of an adventure trying to get four suitcases and two carry-ons from the bus station to the taxi park.  Fortunately it wasn't a great distance away.

So, here we are at our flat.  The second window up on the left is our room. 
When we come in the front door we go immediately upstairs.  The thing is, we need to take our shoes off at the door, so it's a bit complicated!  It usually means that one of us waits outside the door while the other one sits on the stairs to take off their shoes.   Immediately at the top of the stairs is the bathroom which we share with three other men. 

Coming out of the bathroom are a few more steps up.  To the right is the kitchen which we also share with the three other men.  Straight ahead is our bedroom.  To the left you can see the banister that is a stair case going to three bedrooms upstairs.

The kitchen is nice and has a refrigerator, dishwasher (which we don't use since we don't have that many dishes and there doesn't seem to be any dishwasher soap anyway), a washing machine, a stove, a table and chairs, a kettle, a toaster,and pans and dishes, etc.

Our room is very large.  We have a bed, built-in bookshelves, a table and chairs, two dressers, and a wardrobe so we have plenty of storage space!  
And last of all, this is the view from our window.  The building across the street is pretty much a mirror image of our building.  To the left we can see the canal.  I walked along there this morning and found it to be a perfect place for walking.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mom DeValve's New Room

We have been trying to spend as much time as possible with Mom DeValve.  We got the idea...or maybe I should say resurrected an old turn Dad's study into a downstairs bedroom for Mom.  That way she won't have to go upstairs all the time.  She has a very nice bathroom downstairs, so putting  a bedroom in downstairs makes an ideal living situation for her.

John and I sorted through all Dad's books and belongings.   I've done a lot of cleaning, including the dining room chandelier which took about three hours because every string of crystals had to come off individually.  Then Laurie and her mom, Gail, redecorated the study.  They left the paneled wall and the "wallpaper" (which is really printed right on the drywall) walls as they were and Laurie and Gail painted the other two walls a light green.  They hung darker green curtains at the windows.  We removed all the bookshelves, the desk got moved to the living room, the computer is in the attic (anybody want an old computer?), and an extra dresser for storage was moved to an upstairs bedroom.  Laurie found a perfect bedspread to go with the wallpaper and the green walls. 
They got a new set of furniture:  a bed, a dresser, a wardrobe, and a nice chair that swivels.  A bookshelf from upstairs came into the room.  Now she has an absolutely beautiful room.  This room probably gets the most light so it is a very cheery room.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So Send I You

Since my parents were missionaries and since I am a missionary, I have heard a lot of missionary songs sung in churches all across America.  Some of them I enjoy singing and some of them I really don't like.

One that was/is at the top of the "Don't Like" list, was/is So Send I You by Margaret Clarkson.  It goes like this:

So send I you to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown.
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

So send I you to bind the bruised and broken,
O'er wand'ring souls to work, to weep, to wake.
To bear the burdens of a world a-weary,
So send I you to suffer for my sake.

So send I you to loneliness and longing,
With a heart hung'ring for the loved and known,
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you to know my love alone.

So send I you to leave your life's ambition,
To die to dear desire, self will resign,
To labor long, and love where men revile you,
So send I you to lose your life in Mine.

So send I you to hearts made hard by hatred,
To eyes made blind because they will not see,
To spend, though it be blood, to spend and spare not,
So send I you to taste of Calvary.

As the Father has sent Me,
So send I you.

There are parts of the song that are good, but I have always thought it was terribly depressing.  I mean, when that is sung at the end of the service, who is going to volunteer to go?  As a kid and then as an adult, I realized that being a missionary isn't EASY, but it isn't AWFUL, either!  Things don't always go right and there are deep discouragements and disappointments, but it is rewarding, too.  So whenever that song is announced in a meeting, I just cringe.

Then in January we were at a church in Virginia and they sang that song, but a different version of it.  This version goes like this:

So send I you, by grace made strong to triumph,
O'er hosts of hell, o'er darkness, death, and sin,
My name to bear and in that name to conquer,
So send I you, My victory to win.

So send I you, to take to souls in bondage,
The word of truth that sets the captive free,
To break the bonds of sin, to loose death's fetters,
So send I you, to bring the lost to Me.

So send I you, My strength to know in weakness,
My joy in grief, My perfect peace in pain,
To prove My power, My grace, My promised presence,
So send I you, eternal fruit to gain.

So send I you, to bear My cross with patience,
And then one day, with joy to lay it down,
To hear My voice, "Well done, My faithful servant,
Come share My Throne, My Kingdom, and My crown!"

As the Father hath sent me,
So send I you!

Wow!  What an improvement.  I wondered who had penned the lyrics for the 2nd song.  It is a much more realistic viewpoint....sure it isn't easy, but it's a privilege and therefore a joy.

So I did some research and you won't believe this, but the 2nd version was also written by Margaret Clarkson!  Come to find out, Margaret suffered her entire life with severe migraines and arthritis.  Her first words to her mother were, "My head hurts."  In addition to that, her parents divorced when she was 12...that would have been in the 1930's and would have been a very shameful thing for a child at that point in time.  As a young woman, she got a teaching job in the lumber camps in Ontario and that is when she penned the first version of the song.  She found herself alone in the wilderness, a devoutly religious girl in a world of rough lumberjacks, facing a life of singleness, and constantly in pain.  Later in her life, as God replaced much of her legalism with His grace, she realized the hymn was one-sided and re-wrote it to be a more biblical hymn that reflected the trials and the joys of the call of God on the lives of His children.  Margaret continued to be racked by pain her entire life, but she learned "that during long hours of solitude and weakness, repeating hymns and Scriptures...could help...withstand the ravages of pain."  It turns out that Margaret was a prolific writer who continued to teach school until her early retirement due to her illness.  If you would like to read more about Margaret's life, you can find her story here.  

I thought this story was a really cool example of how God changes our attitudes and our hearts when we let Him.  It encouraged me that if I have messed up, He is still working.

Perhaps you have never heard this song.  I don't particularly like this youtube version, but it was the best I could find.  I would encourage you to listen to it if you never have.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Books I've Read

Several years back a friend told me how many books she reads in a year.  I was astounded and wondered if I came anywhere near (I don't!).  But I started keeping track of the books I read and found that I average about two books per month.   I thought I'd share my list from 2009...the good, the bad, and the indifferent.  I don't know why, when there are so many books to be read, I read bad and indifferent books.  I just have this self-imposed rule that if I start a book I have to finish it....give it a chance, maybe it will get better.  There have been occasions where the book was so trashy that I quit reading it, but otherwise I pretty much always finish a book.  So here you go....hope you get some ideas for reading material for yourself!

January 2009
Serving God on the Christian School Board by Roy W. Lowrie  Obviously this book has a limited audience and I'm pretty sure you'd only find it interesting if you serve on a Christian School board.  But if you do, I highly recommend reading it.  It's short and won't take more than a couple of evenings to read.
Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser.  This was pretty good, especially since the main character was a third culture kid and a lot of it took place in France.  If you're looking for a good light read I would recommend this, but I would have to give it an average rating.

February 2009
The Persistent Journey by Eleanor Rowe  This is an autobiographical work by a friend of mine.  It was very good, but is published privately and so I don't even know if you can find a copy of it. 

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell.  This book is all about otters and was fascinating.  It got a bit long and boring in parts but overall was good. Apparently it is a movie as well.

March 2009

Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs is a book I highly recommend to anybody who is married or engaged or even dating.  

 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a pretty intense book, but I highly recommend it.  It deals with doing something wrong (or NOT doing something) that changes the course of somebody's life.

April 2009
 A Song I Knew by Heart by Brett Lott is the story of a mother and daughter-in-law who are left without their son/husband who is killed in an accident.  It is a modern day story of Ruth and Naomi and it was a pretty good book. 

May 2009
It Happened One Friday by Max Lucado is a good read, but you find yourself wanting to read it slowly in order to take in all the vivid word pictures he is painting.  It would be a good book to read now in these days leading up to Easter.

 Comes A Horseman by Robert Liparulo was a good book if you like intense action and thrillers.  I remember liking it pretty well, but I honestly don't remember what it was about, so I think it is one of those books that you can't put down while reading it, but it doesn't stick with you once you're finished.

 The Celebrity by Robert Elmer.  What can I say?  It was a feel-good book, but pretty dumb.

June 2009
 The Inklings by Melanie Jeschke was a book I had mixed feelings about.  I enjoyed the picture it paints of Oxford, especially since I'll be there in a few weeks!  The story itself was good, but some aspects of the plot got tedious.  The main characters, who fell in love, kept having the same misunderstanding over and over.  Once would have been a good part of the plot but it got old when it happened numerous times.

 101 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Paul Borthwick.  Uh, I was bored and this book was on the shelf so I read it because it was the best choice I could find.  I don't think I learned anything.  Maybe I already have a really simple life.  Maybe I am simple.

July 2009
 Levi's Will by W. Dale Cramer.  If you like books about the Amish, this is pretty good.  It is different than most as much of the story takes place outside of the Amish community.  It was kind of depressing, though.  I'm guessing a sequel is coming to tie up a lot of the loose ends.

August 2009
 Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay.  This was one of Oprah's Book Club books.  I don't know what Oprah was thinking (not that I really care what Oprah thinks!).  This book was awful.  It was horribly depressing.  Don't waste your time.

 Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.  I   HIGHLY recommend this book to anybody....women especially....who is too busy.  It is written for people who think they have to DO something and forget about their relationship with Jesus in the process.  This was one of the best books I read all year.

 White Orchids by Grace Livingston Hill.  Grace Livingston Hill wrote her books in the 1930's, so her books take you back in time to a more genteel day.  There is always somebody rich, somebody poor, a dear mother, an major misunderstanding, and a reconciliation.  If you want romance and a light, easy read and if you don't mind reading old-fashioned books, you'll enjoy a good Grace Livingston Hill once in awhile.  And they're always clean, even if they are a bit hokey!

September 2009
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore.  This book was excellent.  It's a true story of a very unlikely friendship.

 The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright.  This book is about a somewhat dysfunctional family and the letters the dad wrote to his wife each week.  It was an ok book, but not wonderful.  I can't give rave reviews about it, but I didn't hate it, either.

 Abduction by Robin Cook.  I am normally a huge fan of Robin Cook's medical thrillers.  But I HATED this book!  It was so weird.  But if you like science fiction, give it a try.  I don't like science fiction so that probably explains why I didn't like this book.

 The Secret by Beverly Lewis.  This was pretty good, but it seemed kind of less realistically Amish than other Beverly Lewis books.  There is obviously a sequel coming as the book ended in what appears to be the middle of the story.

October 2009
 Bryson City Tales by Walt Larimore.  This was a beautiful book, and is a true story.  If you like stories about medicine and/or about small towns this comes highly recommended.  I loved this one.

 A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishamel Beah.  This was another of my favorites of the year.  Not because it was easy to read or made you feel good.  On the contrary, it was very sad, but not without hope.  More can be found at this web site: A Long Way Gone.

Ponammal: Her Story by Amy Carmichael.  This is a very old book and no longer in print.  It is Amy's telling of an Indian girl who came to be Amy's right-hand "man".

November 2009

The Case of the Slave Ship Amistad by Mary Cable.  This book was very scholarly and difficult to read.  Truthfully, I liked the movie a lot better than the book!  The movie did a great job of helping me understand the book.  This is a story we should all know about, but unless you like history written in a scholarly manner, just watch the movie (but not with kids present!).

 13 Steps Down by Ruth Rendell.  This is a psychological thriller.  It was creepy, but I definitely couldn't put it down.

December 2009
 A Dangerous Silence by Catherine Palmer.  This was a Robin Cook wanna-be.  It was pretty good....kept me turning the pages, but not as good as most of Robin Cook's books.