The Peg Leg Blues

My friend Greg Hewlett has put together the most astounding bit of political activism I have ever seen. The issue is detailed here and here. In summary, insurance carriers claim to cover prosthetics, but they typically don’t follow through on that claim if the prosthetic takes advantage of modern technology.

But that’s all a bit dry. Here’s Greg telling it like it is. Spread the word!

Little Readers

This is a familiar sight at our house:

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Two little rumply-haired boys in robes/jammies reading together on the couch early in the morning. It is one of their favorite things to do. It is also one of Mommy’s favorite things for them to do, because when engrossed like this, they are at peace with one another. No cross words, bickering over a toy, or whining to me about what evil the other has just done.

But there is also humor within this picture. Please note that both boys have a Magic TreeHouse book: this is a recently-discovered series in our family, and the children have been getting every book they can find out of both the city and school libraries. Which is understandable for Abigail and Jonathan, because, well, they can actually read. Words, that is. And Treehouse Books are definitely reader books. There are not a ton of pictures to help tell the story if you can’t figure out what the funny-looking symbols all over the page mean. Personally, I’d have a hard time enjoying these books if I was not a reader.

But Nicolas doesn’t agree with me. That precious boy of mine can’t read a single word, but he LOVES reading TreeHouse books. In fact, he tells me that he’s “read” eleven TreeHouse books now. Really. And he believes he has. Every time Jonathan picks up one, Nicolas chooses one for himself. Unless of course, as he tells me, he’s “already read that one”.

It’s so cute. He wants to be just like his big brother, and “read”. I, feeling sorry for him (thinking he cannot possibly be enjoying the process of patiently running his chubby finger underneath every. single. word. in. the. entire. book. – which is what he does in order to finish reading it, mind you) offer him countless picture books off our shelves, and he politely declines, saying he’d rather read his TreeHouse book.

Until this past weekend…when Jonathan began the first in another series of books which we own: the Hobbit. I wondered which TreeHouse book Nicolas might choose to read from while sitting next to his big brother. But the four-year-old calmly reached into the same grouping of books from which Jonathan had selected the Hobbit, and settled down comfortably with his own volume: none other than Fellowship of the Ring.

Onesimus

I’m hoping someone out there can help me understand something. In light of this:

You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.
Deuteronomy 23:15-16

Why did Paul give up Onesimus to his master (see Philemon 8-16)? Was it to make restitution for the theft which appears to have taken place?

A Rebellious Son

I was listening to Deuteronomy this morning when a phrase caught my ear.

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Now look at what Jesus has to say about his accusers.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.
Matthew 11:18-19

Jesus was not merely being insulted. He was being called a rebellious son of Israel, worthy of death! Now what about that reference to wisdom? Interestingly, the only other place the phrase “glutton and drunkard” is found (other than the parallel passage in Luke 7) is in Proverbs.

Hear, my son, and be wise,
and direct your heart in the way.
Be not among drunkards
or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Proverbs 23:19-21

So what deeds of Wisdom is Jesus referring to? Let’s back up in Proverbs a bit.

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
Proverbs 9:1-6

It seems to me Jesus is accusing his accusers of chasing folly rather than embracing wisdom by mistaking the feasting and mirth of the kingdom for gluttony and drunkenness. I’m guessing we have a similar problem in the culture of the American church today.

A Fully Operational Bathroom

Well, dear Readers, I hope I am not boring you with my minute by minute accounts of our work around here, but the progress that we have made on the house the last few days is so exciting. On Wednesday morning, in our third bathroom, none of the bathroom “appliances” worked. The toilet had died, the sink was out of commission due to a leak which was damaging the vanity cabinet, and the shower was as it was when we purchased the house, that is to say, minus knobs for turning on the water (but the previous owners did leave some handy dandy vice grips affixed to the stems),

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and potentially installed incorrectly – we were awaiting the plumber’s test to see if there was a leak below the house, which was a devastating possibility. Despite our knowledge when we purchased it that the house had some need of TLC, the original inspection had not revealed that the shower might actually be unusable; if after testing, the plumbers discovered that it leaked under the house, all the tile would have to be torn out and redone, either a really major project, or a really major expense. So we awaited the verdict on the shower with some nervousness.

While we could certainly live with a nonworking bath for some time (after all, when we first moved in, we only had one working bathing place, and one working toilet), the combination of the mess in front of us along with the anticipation of actual overnight houseguests who were soon to arrive, spurred us on to want to fix the room up as best we could. As we told you on Wednesday, Jay tackled the toilet first.

After our plumbers gave us the glorious news late Thursday that actually the little shower was just fine, no leak, no problem, Jay set about to figure out how to attach knobs to the 1965 piping. Our plumber would have done it for $450, including parts, by replacing all the piping and valves in the wall (and leaving a nice hole in the wall to boot) but we were already paying them so much money for things we certainly had no business doing ourselves, that Jay wanted to try to do this job himself. He succeeded, with some unconventional methods, in getting everything working properly, so instead of the vice grips which had been left, we now have shiny chrome knobs. How fancy – well, compared to the vice grips.

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Jay also installed a nifty extender to allow the shower head to be moved appropriately into various positions for people of differing heights. On Saturday, we all visited Lowes and found a pretty faucet to install in place of the nonworking and very corroded original one.

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For about an hour, Jay sawed and fought with stubborn piping underneath the cabinet, and complained about rust particles in his eyes from time to time, but finally emerged triumphant: he had replaced the shut-off valves and hookups to the faucet underneath, and as the finishing touch to the sink, put in this lovely fixture.

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I love the porcelain “hot” and “cold” knobs!

So on Saturday evening, for the first time since we moved in last September, Abigail was able to shower in her own little bathroom. She was so excited, especially because it felt “cozy” (read “it is very, very tiny, perhaps the tiniest shower ever built”), and because she could bring the showerhead down to a ridiculously low level, exactly even with her 8-year old height.

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Now, because I am who I am, I feel the need to insert the disclaimor here that I don’t feel children need to enjoy a bathroom of their own, even if they are the only female sibling among three brothers. I have had conversations with many a person who insisted their children of different genders should not have to share a bathroom, and been admittedly horrified about such statements. It would appear that along with our general affluence that we seem to enjoy as a nation, we have somehow come to expect a number of things related to our and our children’s quality of living which are totally unnecessary. But that is really a topic for another blog, now isn’t it? And, perhaps you may think it’s all well and good for me to comment on not needing extra bathrooms for our children: after all, I am the mom whose daughter has that third bathroom!! But, I digress…..

When we set about looking for homes closer to school, a third bathroom, let alone one for Abigail per se, was not on our list of wishes – the idea never even crossed my mind. But this house ended up being the right price in the neighborhood we really liked…..and as you are learning, no one else wanted to deal with its host of “little” issues!! The split fourth bedroom and third bath it offered were appealing both for our daughter as she grows older and perhaps desirous of some more privacy than her three younger brothers are often wont to give her, and because we knew Abigail’s room would double as a guest room for any visitors, whom, we surmised, might enjoy the little bath off to themselves too. All in all, it has worked out beautifully, and we feel it is a huge and unexpected blessing.

Saturday night we were able to share that blessing with our very first real overnight house guests (not including some sweet little friends of Abigail’s who have been here for sleepovers). Here they are…come to stay at House of Horne: the famous Bloggys!!!

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What fun we had visiting with them. They were of course perfect houseguests, and left the bathroom cleaner than they found it. Jamison is just that way, you know!! We were so delighted they could stay with us, and thankful for their visit which helped to prompt such a major fix-up of the little bathroom’s functioning parts. While we have aspirations of texturing over old wallpaper, and painting the room a much more appealing shade of something than what is currently on the walls (this brown glaze with beige trim was used in several places throughout the house – same as was in the entry originally), we are so glad to have a functional and usable bathroom. Hooray!!

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Children’s Artwork in Home Decor

I see great articles in magazines about personalizing your home’s atmosphere – there are so many ways to do this, and make a beautiful home that is (to me) more appealing than the picture-perfect, professionally-decorated, periodical-worthy spreads we tend to drool over. Don’t get me wrong – I can use lots of help and advice with decorating my home, and sometimes wish my budget allowed for professional guidance, but, as a sweet and highly encouraging friend of mine says “Where is the fun in that?”

Anyway, I’ve seen various references to using children’s art as decor in the home, and know that using things our children have created certainly qualifies as personalizing our space. Most of us with children have more than a few masterpieces our progeny have put forth. Admittedly, I don’t want to frame and hang all of them, or even the majority of them, but I have for the first time, put one behind glass and displayed it in our home, and I like the result. I want to share it with you even though photos don’t really do the project justice, IMHO, and even though the walls around the display remain unpainted, etc, etc….

I needed a piece to fill the largest compartment in our living room built-ins (have I mentioned that I LOVE having built-ins in our new home? This is new territory for me) and I had no pieces tall enough to do justice to the space. My sis-in-law suggested hanging something – we talked about a tole tray as an idea – but my budget won’t allow for one of these right now, so I set about looking for something close to free, and happened on a painting of Abigail’s that I like, and an old frame from which I had removed the original picture, hoping to use it in a different setting. Last Thursday, with the children in tow, I popped over to our nearby Hobby Lobby for help. Within 15 minutes and for just $4 I had a custom mat cut to work with the unusually-sized artwork, and the non-standard-sized antique frame, and the entire piece put together and finished out with the proper hardware so that we brought home a ready-to-hang picture. It fits well in the space and helps to personalize the display in the built-ins too. Abigail is very pleased, to say the least. Here is the finished product:

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And here is the view of the set of built-ins. Keep in mind that since they are recessed, it’s nigh unto impossible to take a photo which shows everything and still looks straight and balanced, but believe me when I tell you that the picture is nicely hung within its little section on the wall. We are enjoying this space so much, and love the feel it contributes to our living area.

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Updates on Stuff Around Here

Today has been full of both ups and downs. First the downs:

Little Josiah woke with a 101+ fever, thus rendering him yucky-feeling and rather clingy for much of the day. Mommy wonders if she too has a touch of whatever he has, but either way, she has been less clingy. She is however, rather in need of a bath since her last shower was 48 hours ago. Unlike manly Jay, she was not willing to shower in the cold last night, so she has patiently awaited the return of the working gas hot water heater. The boys were sad that we could not attend our anticipated playdate with friends this morning due to the need to wait for city inspectors to approve the large repiping job our plumbers did the past few days.

But…on the upside:

A very friendly lady inspector arrived during the first half of the 8am to 5pm service window, and after looking everything over, quickly signed off on the job as well done (this means hopefully no more time or money invested on that part of the house!), our plumbers arrived not too long after to restart the furnace and hot water heater, Josiah took a good long nap, and tonight, for the first time since moving into our home, we enjoyed GRILLED MEAT because we now have a gas hookup for our grill. Here is a picture of us sitting down to one of the children’s favorite meals: hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob!!

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Also, I am so happy to report that the toilet in the third bath is fully operational after Jay’s diligent work (and he can tell you this 3rd toilet was NOT the charm – heheh!). Actually, it was operational yesterday, but we were too busy having fun at our end of school picnic last night to report on such things here.

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Replacing the toilet meant going with a taller, more modern version than the 1965 one we pulled out (notice how I casually use the pronoun “we”), and after installing the new potty you can see the old wallpaper which is now exposed…

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…when they textured over this wallpaper however many years ago, they could not reach the area behind the original tank. So, I get to add “learning how to texture walls” to my list of new skills. I am thankful that this spot is in such a small and somewhat hidden area as walls go.

Clean Water

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches with his fold bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food, does it become holy?’” The priests answered and said, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If someone who is unclean by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.”
Haggai 2:11-13

A basic principle taught by the clean and unclean laws was that death spreads. Call it the Transitive Property of Death. To be unclean was to be ritually dead, unable to worship, unable to approach God. Touch an unclean object, even hidden within a cover, and the uncleanliness spread to you. Leviticus 11 teaches this in detail.

And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Mark 5:25-29

Shockingly, when Jesus came on the scene, the exact opposite happened. Death had no dominion. Rather, life spread in abundance from the person of Jesus, even if he was covered by a garment. The woman with the flow of blood was permanently unclean (Leviticus 15:25), like a leper. So her healing was not merely medical, but rather made her fit to worship again. Whether the woman or a leper, whoever Jesus touched became clean. If their uncleanliness was due to an infirmity, then the infirmity yielded to the new life of Jesus and was healed. We see this pattern over and over in the Gospels, and it completely turns the entire framework of clean and unclean on its head.

Think Inside the Box

All my (adult) life I’ve dreamed of finding a quality box wine. It just makes more sense, as it allows lower product and shipping costs as well as an open storage time of a month or more. Lo and behold, this past month I have been thinking (and drinking) inside the box.

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