Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Little Project For Our Traveling Brother

Before Jonathon left, he made one request of me: that I keep him updated with words from home. I had an idea in mind of what I would do, but needed another brain to help it come about. Cosette and I got together and wrote the plans for a music video. This was the result :)

(the video is best when viewed in full screen :)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spafford Update

The room smelled of sweat and echoed with the sounds of the men's "Keais". In that room on the night of February the 21st, nine individuals filed in to witness the test that would earn Jonathon and Austin their purple belts. Having achieved all 30 of the required moves, they knelt down to tie on their new belts. Jonathon was using the purple belt that mom and dad had purchased for him 13 years ago...he'd now officially earned it :)

Austin fell asleep on his bed while reading John MacArthur's Book on systematic theology...(a preacher in the making perhaps ;)
Jonathon and Dad had long been anticipating the Shepherd's Conference on the week of February the 27th. A few of us went to go see them and a small group from our church off on their flight to LA. Although Austin was not able to make it this year with the guys, he arose extra early each morning so as not to miss a single session, live streaming the messages from the computer in our living room. He sometimes even skipped out on a karate class to listen to one of the messages going on at that time.

The guys came back wonderfully refreshed (and a wee bit exhausted) from the five days of solid teaching, worshipful singing, and Christian fellowship! Knowing that Paul Washer is one of my favorite speakers, Jonathon purchased three of his books and had them signed by none other then Paul Washer himself (It took four days of trying before Jonathon finally tagged Paul Washer down amongst the crowd of 5,000 men). These three books were my birthday present from my amazing brother!

I am afraid that I got way too spoiled on my birthday this year leaving me wondering at how a person can be so blessed by so many dear people. Grandma and Grandpa were visiting a few days before my actual birthday, and I had the wonderful privilege of going out with Grandpa for lunch! The very next day, Kayleen took me to a tasty little Thai restaurant. Wednesday was the date of my actual birthday upon which mom took me to a little breakfast cafe called "The Kitchen Table". 

Our dear little Annie had quite the experience one sunny Saturday afternoon as she was riding her bike around in our cul-de-sac. She slipped on some moist moss and her last memory before fully gaining consciousness was of Jonathon holding her in the car as they made their way to the ER. 
The diagnosis was a split chin and a slight concussion. The doctor's remedy: very little TV, reading, homework or activity. But good luck to anybody trying to keep Annalise on the couch, unoccupied for any longer then a single day. Her energy seemed to quickly revive and the doctor's orders were a little harder to follow that second day on the couch :) She has now completely bounced back and you could hardly tell her face had received any more then a small scratch!

We set aside a day in late February to help some friends prune their apple orchard. The day before had been bright and sunny leaving a glimmer of hope that the following day would be the same. Saturday came and we worked from ten to five in the evening in the pouring rain!

The inviting scent of smoke from the burning stove inside wafted through the chimney. The smell of cider cooking on the stove hurried our job along with the anticipation of soon cupping steaming mugs of cider in our hands. 
A bowl of soup and a loaf of sourdough bread were the perfect finishing touches to an already perfect day, made even sweeter by the company of friends and the sweet conversations had around the dinner table :)

Perhaps I have developed the webbed feet Washingtonians are characterized as having, or maybe I just have Washington in my DNA, but that day, as the fresh spring rain came down from the sky in heavy downpours, it just seemed that we were having the perfect weather for the kind of job we were doing. 

The snowfall on March 6, 2017 :)

As for the weather here of late, it has been full of surprises for us this year. Who would have thought that there would be a time in early March when Leisel would have another day of canceled work at the Hockinson school district :) Mom reminds me that she hasn't seen a year like this since 1995 when the snowfall in March made her wonder how she would possibly make it to the hospital in time to deliver me :)

Sunday morning, we all said our goodbyes to Jonathon as he got on his first ever international flight. His work at HP has brought him to Malaysia for the duration of two weeks...we're all eager to get him back but excited for the opportunity that he has to visit there :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Is Genesis History?" Movie Review

(I was asked by a friend to review this film, "Is Genesis History?")

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

"Is Genesis History?" is a very fascinating documentary giving clear proof that the intricate designs that we see in our universe could only have come about by the hand of a grand Creator. Nothing that we see could have happened by random chance. 
"Nothing in the world makes sense except as seen in light of Genesis..." 
Could the Grand Canyon have formed over millions of years or could it be proof of the flood described in Genesis 6? How else could canyons with perfectly flat layers have been formed without any signs of erosion in between the layers? The flat layers are proof of a rapid sedimentation that would have taken place in a matter of hours or days, rather then the millions of years that evolutionists claim. It only could have been through a rapid catastrophic process. "Not by a little water over a long period of time, but by a lot of water over a very little time."
Why is it that we have never found concrete evidence of transitional life forms? We have never seen one kind turning into another, only variations within each species.
The theory that small random changes over millions of years can explain all forms of life that we see today is logically impossible.
These systems are too complex to be acknowledged as mere chance. 

I would highly recommend this film to anyone desiring a deeper understanding of the scientific facts behind creation.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Winter Retreat

It has been a tradition these past five years for a group from our church to head up to Government Camp on a three day winter retreat at the beginning of each year. This usually involves a time of special fellowship, teaching from the Word, activities in the snow, and some really late nights :) 
This year, Chris and Melinda organized this trip, graciously sharing their first valentines together to be with all of us :)

There were twenty available spots to fill, so between Chris and us, we were able to get enough people to sign up to make the trip possible. Only days before we were to leave though, five of the people had to cancel at the last minute. It was a bit of a disappointment at first, but 13 people ended up being the perfect number for this little trip (there were more opportunities for fellowship, a more relaxed schedule, and more food for the rest of us ;) 

Monday afternoon, a caravan of three cars made the two hour trip up to Mt. Hood. Arriving there before the cabin opened up, we decided to make a stop at a Mexican restaurant in town.   
The Big Bear cabin was just as cozy as it could be. Decorated in a very woodsy, log style it was just the right space to comfortably accommodate our group. The guys all piled into the loft upstairs, and the girls occupied the downstairs bunks.

The weather was a wee bit chilly up there so we all bundled up a little bit extra.
That first morning, Chris woke up mid-morning to check on the cars only to find that one of the parked vehicles had slipped back two feet!

We really kept no schedule at all during those three days...which was just fine with everybody. Tuesday, we didn't even begin our hike around Mirror Lake until 3 in the afternoon, which was due in part to the freezing weather. 

When we did finally get our act together to go, most everybody opted to just walk the few miles around the lake instead of skiing.

The view of the snow capped mountain was spectacular!

Along the way, we came across a good-sized igloo that someone had made...

We all came home refreshed and ready for dinner :) 

In the evenings after dinner was finished, everybody gathered together on the couches, some bundling up in blankets, and Will gave two wonderful messages from Galatians 5.

Ten in the evening was usually the beginning of a very long and wonderful night which didn't usually end till 1 or 2 in the morning :) You'd think that everybody's energy levels would have started to decrease as it wore on into the the early hours of morning, but it usually ended up having the opposite affect :D

We took time first thing Wednesday morning to get the cabin back to it's original state and all of our bags packed and loaded up. There was freezing rain precipitating from the sky at Timberline lodge, so we decided we'd stick around the area. There was a little coffee shop in town where we settled down for some fellowship and games. 

At two in the afternoon, Chris suggested we make our way back home, but it really seemed too soon to end this wonderful trip! There was enough time for one more stop to Burgerville to enjoy the remaining hour of the Winter Retreat 2017 :)

...Till Next Year!!!!

...A special thanks to Chris and Melinda for the planning and preparation that went into this this trip and made it all possible! I know it was a blessing for all thirteen of the people that were privileged to make it on the trip! ;)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Happenings of February

True to his word, Dad has kept up with doing a school field trip with the kiddos every month. On Friday, we headed down to Camas. Our first stop was to be at a little cafe called, "The Lakeside Chalet".  The lady was more then happy to see our van pull up as we were the first people to brave the icy roads to her restaurant that morning. (Camas actually got hit pretty hard with ice that day, and one of the hills had been blocked off because of its icy conditions)

Ania had a serving of biscuits and gravy, ham and hash browns that could have fed a king. Austin's two pancakes, eggs, and ham was not quite sufficient to fill the stomach of a growing boy so he helped those of us along who did not quite have the same eating capacity :) Annalise managed to lick her plate clean, as well as aiding anyone else who had an extra scrap or two :)

The place of our final destination was the Georgia Pacific Paper Mill. They don't actually give you tours inside the paper mill, but they have collected many fascinating artifacts that they are setting up in a little display room. There is some amazing history there! The Mill has been around since 1883 and was founded by Henry Pittock. (I don't mind bragging a little bit that Jonathon worked on two of the paper machines for the mill; Upgrading the control system for "Mike", and rebuilding the core machine for "Ike" :)

There is a rumor that our next field trip will be somewhere in the vicinity of the Pittock Mansion :)

Mom and I decided to make it a little bit of a lighter school day for the kiddos. What a better way to finish off a wonderful day then with a tea party...and more food :) A tea party is after all the perfect opportunity to practice the manners that we've been reviewing this month.

Mom and I began to notice that among the subjects that we had covered with the kids, we had neglected an etiquette course. So one week, we wrote up some fun rules and tried grading the kiddos at meal times :) Of course, chapters from, "Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners" added a fun touch to the schooling. 

Saturday, we had the privilege of attending another lovely Coder country dance...always a wonderful time and fun opportunity to dress up :) ...though we hadn't been warned beforehand that it was going to be a full-body workout ;)

After much practice, Austin has mastered the 30 moves that he needs to receive his purple belt. Come Tuesday evening, all of the family will gather to watch him get tested...and kicked in the stomach as he has told us is customary :)

What else do the Spafford's have on the agenda for the month of February? Well, a couple of us are going up to Mt. Hood with a group from church to stay at a little lodge for a couple of days. During that time, we will do some cross-country skiing, plenty of games will be played and relaxing at the cabin :) Pastor Will is preparing a message to give each evening while we are there.

We always begin our morning school subjects by first reading a devotional. This snippet from Jame's Smith autobiography was the most recent one. I thought it was a very thought provoking article...something not just to think about at the end of the year or the beginning of a new one, but at the close of each day...

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)

On the last day of this year, I wrote in my diary as follows:
"Through the richest mercy, I am now brought to the close of another year, let me therefore ask you, my soul--What are your improvements this past year?

Is Christ more precious?
Do His work, righteousness, and blood, appear inestimable?
Do you see more of His suitability, and feel a stronger attachment to Him?
Is His glory dearer to you, and His honor more precious in your sight?
Do you feel more devoted to Him, and find greater pleasure in His service?
Do you lie lower at the foot of the cross, and is Jesus more lovely in your eyes?
Are you more humbled before God under a sight and sense of your sinfulness?
Is your temper, disposition, and will--more subdued by grace?
Does grace reign, and sway its scepter over all your powers?
Is sin more hateful, death less fearful, and Heaven more desirable?
Is the Bible more prized, and are you better acquainted with its contents, living under the influence of its holy precepts?
Is holiness and entire devotedness to God more sought after?
Are you seeking to live nearer to Jesus, to trust more unreservedly to Him, and to leave all your concerns in His hands?
Are you more earnest in your desires to be made useful to His flock and family?
Are you more prayerful, more given to meditation?
Is it your one grand desire and aim, to crown Jesus Lord of all?

Speak, my soul--what answer can you give to these very important questions? Speak as in the sight of God, as though you were placed before the tribunal of the Most High God! Let the Holy Spirit, who searches all things, be your witness that you speak the truth, and nothing but the truth!"

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Home for the Holidays!

The weather predictions were forecasting snow and there were certain members of the family that were praying very hard that they would be right! The temperatures began dropping causing the precipitation to turn to snow. There were no complaints when Leisel's school got canceled and Dad and Jonathon had to stay home from work due to icy road conditions. They even got a breakfast out of the deal.

By Sunday, the roads were quite clear and it seemed that we would have no trouble making it to church. The trouble began afterwards when we were supposed to take a meal to some friends up the Washougal River road. It is a little colder where they live, and our 15-passenger van didn't take well to their icy driveway and steep incline. We it began sliding back and landed in a small ditch, Dad directed everybody out of the car. We awaited the arrival of a tow truck that would be available to tow our van out on a Sunday afternoon. 

Our annual Christmas party was the center of all of our activity that first week in December. Three days before, the house was cleaned from top to bottom. Mom worked at making  170 dinner rolls and the rest of us worked at making five different desserts and four hearty soups. Mom can attest to the fact that mixing 50 cups of flour into dough is no easy task. 

When the guests began to arrive at 6:30 Friday night, we all relaxed in the company of dear friends. 

Dad fit in our third school field trip into the busyness of the Christmas rush. Early on a Saturday morning, we made our way into downtown Portland to visit Powell's bookstore. Each student was given some money to spend on any book that they chose. Austin could hardly limit himself with all of the military history books available there. And of course Annie and Ania found their knack in the Charles Dickens section of the store.
The trip ended with a most satisfactory meal at Pieology for some custom pizzas.

We got to experience what Leisel called "Christmas caroling at it's finest"...the snow had left a nice layer on the ground and the chilly air made everybody bundle up just a little bit extra that day. We'd learned from our past mistakes not to try driving the van up icy hills. Instead, we would get out and trudge through the snow on foot before making it to the different nursing homes :)

Sunday the 12th, Hillcrest Bible Church held a Christmas service. Some people played special music,  and throughout the evening, different scripture passages were read as well as the singing of a number of carols. Dessert following the service brought with it a wonderful evening of Christian fellowship.

With the threat of more snow, we weren't sure whether the weather would hold out long enough for us to make it to the showing of Polar Express at the Imax. Though the weather outside was biting cold, we enjoyed a lovely time at the Theater. 

Our traditional baking was carried out in the usual manner: everybody divided into teams, piled into the kitchen, and began the baking process. Whether or not there was much taste testing done that night, I cannot say.

Grandma and Grandpa were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday evening, only a few days before Christmas. Their plane took off on time, and even made it to the Portland airport, but due to the heavy fog, they were unable to land. The pilot made the decision to circle around and fly back. The next day, Grandma and Grandpa had to make the choice whether or not they wanted to venture out again. A few persuasive calls and texts from their grandchildren eventually did the trick and they made it safely Thursday evening.

Christmas Day we were to celebrate Christmas in the best possible way... in the house of God and with His people. Pastor Will had prepared a Christmas message for our gathering together Christmas morning. After we arrived home, it wasn't long before everyone had piled into the living room. The long process of stockings and presents commenced with many squeals and "thank-yous" from everybody.

Mom and Dad's gift was saved till last. In the first box, there were hats and scarves for both of them, They were made in the wonderful land of Ireland. The next gift was an Alaskan calendar. Everything was going according to Jonathon's meticulous planning, even down to  the brochure falling out from the calendar pages.  Mom and Dad were shocked. Come May, Dad and Mom will be headed off on an Alaskan cruise.

Austin had set aside 10 dozen eggs for our Christmas eggnog (even though it only takes 21/2 dozen) with a sign in front of them warning people not to use them. Along with the delicious eggnog, we enjoyed a fantastic Christmas meal. Although the baker of the Christmas pies was given a most terrible time when it was discovered that she had left the sugar out of the pumpkin pie.

Some of us had been long awaiting a trip to Aurora, Oregon. It is a small historic town containing 17 antique shops.  We only made it through 8 that day. Of course, antique shopping would not have been Dad's ideal picture of a perfect day, but he happily took his family and made it an all-around special day. The shops were still fully decked for the holidays and Christmas music was playing in every shop.

Most of us walked away without purchasing anything that day. But there were certain members of the family that added a great deal to their antique collections. Austin rejoiced at finding a WWII backpack that he declared was "the only one in the family that had seen D-Day". Jonathon finally found some records that would play in his 1912 phonograph! A collection of Charles Dickens books was found to be too irresistible a deal to pass up. 

We ended our little excursion at a delicious little bakery to satisfy the coffee cravings the travelers had been experiencing all that day.

We all felt like this was a rather productive Christmas break. Dad had a chance to make more progress in his shop. The promise of seven hope chests began to materialize as a load of 75 cherry boards were picked up and loaded into the shop.

We began the garden prep for summer. Leisel and I made a trip to the International Coffee Roasters of Portland to salvage a truck load of burlap from the dump. There was something about working out in the crisp winter air, keeping warm by taking loads of bark chips back and forth to the garden that felt just perfect!

We never did get our white Christmas. But something about this year felt extra special. There was something about the snow on the ground the days leading up to Christmas that made things feel more like Christmas. Each evening we curled up on the couch for an episode of Bleak House and a healthy portion of dessert. We stayed up till one in the morning practically wearing out Kayleen's new game of Avalon. We also enjoyed a  sporadic trip to downtown Camas to window shop and a visit to the Vancouver Mall to enjoy the Christmas decorations.
Candles and cider always provided the perfect atmosphere for a night at home. 
We all look forward to seeing what the Lord has for us in this new year and pray that the celebration of Christmas continues everyday of 2017!