Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unsticking the Stuck relationship: "Family Ties that Bind" by Ronald Richardson;

Are your close relationship "stuck".  "Family Ties that Bind", by Dr. Ronald Richardson, is now in its 2011-4th edition and has sold over 135,000 copies.  "Family Ties" is a systematic way to get un-stuck from all of our family of origin's messiness.  He dares us to understand why we are who we are without being powerless to become healthier both within, and with our closest relationships. 

Dr. Richardson forms powerful concepts to visualize how we link our families together.  He uses Family Systems theory from the Bowen Theory approach without using a lot of psycho-jargon.  The paperback is only 140 very readable pages.  He is wonderfully transparent with his own family "mobile" and shares how he has worked through his own relationship.  This gives the book some flesh and blood, far more than a text book or a mere "how-to". 

Family Ties That Bind: A Self-Help Guide to Change Through Family of Origin TherapyEverything begins with our own need for closeness and separateness.  As we understand our personal needs and move toward our own healthy balance we are able to identify the dynamic, everchanging forces at work in our families.  You will find that there is all families have messiness and not just yours.  You will see that all families are built on emotional relationship that spiral in and out, closer at times and farther away at others. 

Each chapter contains thought provoking questions and an exercises to find healthier ways to live together.  He teaches us the difference between thinking and feeling; the wonders and dangers of "triangling"; how to escape unhealthy roles and form healthy ones; what we can learn from birth-order; and ends with a step by step process to put these concepts to work.  The goal is not to cure but to improve personal relationships and lead a less anxious life in the process.

My introduction to Ronald Richardson was in seminary through his book, "Creating a Healthier Church". This applies Bowen theory to pastoral leadership and like this book shows that these concepts affect all corners of our lives. The concepts that he uses to create healthier relationship at home also apply to church, work, sports teams and any other situation where two or more are gathered. I strongly recommend this book. A more complete outline will be posted on my blog. Thanks from the "thoughtful pastor" for reading this review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Redemption and a brand old canoe

Zeno "buddy " King is a man in my life who has a post here.  He is an interesting person who has  introduced me to the joy of wooden boats.  I grew up in canoes and have been looking for one that matched up with the money that I had on hand.

A pastor friend named Richard Gillet had been looking for a canoe for me and got this one for nearly no money, was of good quality at its birth, and provided wood working challenge.   I am drawn to old stuff.  It is a part of my personality to find redemption in a form that I can paddle around.  This canoe has promise.
The boat had been upside down in a back yard for a number of years.  I still haven't found anything about its history.  Anyone know  about Perma Craft of Pleasantville New Jersey? I am guessing it was built in  the 1960's.  I know that Perma Craft moved to Florida in the late '70's and they made these boats for the summer camp trade.  The fiberglass hull is solid, with a few repairs, and the wooden gunnels and decks were trash.  The seats and struts are mahogony and re-usable.

The first job:
draw a detailed chart of the hardware, tear out all of the rotted wood, salvage what I can and  clean up.  I sprayed bleach on the mold and lichen and then used comet and orange degreaser to clean the heavily oxidized gelcoat. The inside had been painted with house paint and was the tough to get out. I scrubbed it with a wire brush for several hours.

The mahogony and all of the brass screws and bolts were re-used!  This saved a lot of money and kept the integrity of the boat's original design. .

 Next, I bought two 1x4 cedar boards to mill out the 2 piece gunnels.  I had to look hard to find anything clear enough to take the bending and molding that this would require.  I am still pretty new to the table saw but Richard got me started and it all came together after some experimentation.

I started fitting the gunnells in the middle of the boat and worked toward the end. The wood for the last 2 feet or so is added to the gunnels and planed even with the hull for the decks.  The inner piece was screwed to the outer strip with brass #8 wood screws.

I made a "Depth Gauge' on my cordless drill with a piece of duct tape.  My old electric drill has a counter sink bit and each screw went in with a little Tite-Bond II glue.  I still didn't get the screws lined up perfectly but they are solid and catch both pieces of wood and the fiberglass hull between.

I couldn't figure out how to get the vertical holes drilled without messing up the gunnels.  The holes had to be perfect and straight up.  I took a piece of scrap and drilled the hole in the proper place, then used the piece as a jig to hold the drill straight.  This put the bolts for the seats and strut in the right place.  I made the wood pieces a little thicker too.  They still bent well and added a little stiffness.  The original wood was probably ash or oak.  The cedar could use a little more heft.

The gelcoat on the outside was scarred but in better shape that I would have thought.  I sanded the gel to the cloth, added 6 oz cloth and resin in the worst spots and filled in the smaller spots with resin and covered with poly-wrap to help it cure smoothly.  Only one spot had broken the original cloth.  After paint, you won't be able to find my patches. I am going to mask the old stickers and paint around them.  They add a little character.

 The decks on either end were chiseled in like they were in the original design.  This part of the boat was on the ground the everything was rotten which made it hard to figure.  The cross piece actually had termites in it.  This one is made with a piece of decking scrap left over from a wheelchair ramp.  The boat is not symetrical and cutting the decks was a bear.  I got them close and then trimmed them until they looked ok.  I am still not happy with them but could not find anything 4mm that was water proof.

Check out the little brass plaque on the cross piece.  This is original and reads: "Perma Craft, Pleasantville New Jersey, official Boy Scout, Girl Scout, & YMCA Canoe".

Yours truly driving the last screw 
 The Final Analysis:    All that is left is to paint the hull and put two coats of spar varnish on the wood.  I still don't like the decks.  I want to re-do them in some hardwood marine plywood or something that matches the mahogony.  I am going to leave  the wood bright-no stain or paint.

I did some things right.  drawing a details pictures of where the wood pieces fit together, screw placement and other details.  Without this crude drawing I would have been lost after removing the rot.

The End Result-Ready for a shake-down trip
Everything has three generous coats of deck sealer-before installation and another coat afterword.  I used Gorilla wood glue on one of my "oops" and was very pleased with its strength.  The store was out of Titebond II or I wouldn't have bought it! This is the wood glue and not the foamy stuff.  It set quickly and took a bend in an awkward spot.  I used Zinser brand oil based white primer for the inside with good results.  I will probably paint over it but the stuff is tough and covered a  weird surface well.  The deck sealer needs to dry for a week before I varnish.

There are lots of little mistakes, usually because of impatience.  I work at odd hours and usually until I am interrupted. This is not the kind of project to rush.  Nothing is measured, it is fitted in place.  I am blessed to have a Buddy King's boat builder's strong-back with a center string.  This helped but it is not perfectly centered.  I did not leave much undone BUT, I did not pull off the keel.  It is pandora's box and might have created more of a problem and solution.  I sealed the edges with Dap and saturated it with deck sealer.  Time will tell whether that was the right decision.

I have two 2x8' portable benches that create work spaces
I spent about $75 total and probably 40-45 hours over 6 week's time and feel that this will be a first class paddle. I used my son-in-law's table saw and a box full of normal hand tools. My Stanley "Sure Form" shaper and 1/4 sheet sander got quite a work out too.  Having two drills saved many hours.  Last year I build two benches that match the saw which allow me to rip long pieces of lumber-they were a God-send. They are a part of my boat building in the future too.  My plan is to use Krylon for plastic for the outside but I haven't decided yet.  It needs a name too.

I finally got it into the water on a cool Friday in November 2012.  Lots of creaking until the pieces all settled in, one loose bolt-it needs a larger washer- but it paddled beautifully.  Paddling single,  it was much better sitting on the floor instead of the seats.  It wasn't as stiff as my old ABS plastic one but half the weight and elegent in its way.  Even in the wind it was quick and tracked perfectly straight.

 I am glad to have refitted this old soldier rather than buy a new one.  It was an excellent design to start with and It is mine-heart and soul. I turned every screw by hand and learned a lot for my next boat.  I did not make this a better boat but the boat made me a better person.  That is redemption after all, isn't it.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Feast: Corned Beef and Irish Soda Bread

St. Patrick wa a Britain, sold into Irish slavery and called of God to bring the Gospel to the Emerald Isle.  He was one of the greatest evangelists in Christian History.  We can argue over chasing out the snakes and many other items of legend but he was a true Christian leader.  Sadly, his day-March 17, has lost its zeal for the Gospel and become an excuse to drink ones-self blind.  What's a poor pastor to do.  Feast on good food for one thing. Remember to pray on the other.

Image: Front Cover of the book, "St. Patrick's Breastplate."Christ is made as real at the dinner table as He is at the communion table.  In a denomination that doesn't do Saint's days, food is probably the greater means of grace.  We American-ized the traditional meal this year.

The potatoes:Rather than boiled we oven roasted them with olive oil, salt, and  pepper at 350 for 30 minutes.  Perfect Pinch Italian herb mix was stirred in and the potatoes  roasted for 10 or 15 minutes more.

The cabbage: We steamed it rather than boiling it with the corned beef.  Olive olive oil, salt, and pepper was added but no bacon.  Seems like a situation that needs a little pork fat but Teresa and I resisted.  Tragic but fewer calories.

The corned beef: It was store bought, rubbed with its herb packet, baked at 325 in a glass dish with 1" of boiling water added.  It was 3 pounds and baked for 3 hours covered with foil. Very tender.

The traditional Irish Soda bread recipe comes from a bit on the Today show.  It is easy and  a keeper for more than St. Patty's Day.  The recipe is as follows:

Mix the dry ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda

Mix the wet ingredients:
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk (light is good)

1/2 stick of melted margarine

Mix the wet with the dry.  Stir in the margarine last.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 325 for an hour and then check it with a knife.  Mine took 75 minutes.

We all enjoyed the meal and the time together.  St. Pat's occurred on our vacation this year and we had time to hang out and cook. The meat was on sale for $10 with a total cost of about $15. Not much clean up too.  Four of us ate about 1/2 of it.  I will have some brisket stirred in my scrambled eggs in the morning.

Patrick's brilliance had nothing to do with Corned Beef.  It was his ability to use the Trinity to bring people into that real and saving relationship with Christ.  He met them  in their pagan beliefs and led them to be a people who would send missionaries all over the world and literally save the Holy Bible through a system of copyist monks.  Before the wars and strife, Ireland was a cradle of Medieval Christianity.  Sad to see it all lost on Guiness and leprechauns.

The reason for the shamrock on St. Pat's is because he used it to show the trinity through its leaves.  He also left behind his "Breast Plate".  This is a teaching hymn and poem that has impacted many lives over the centuries.  Here is a portion for your dinner table.  May Christ be real to you today.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.....
You can read the rest at:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

" Hazel's Recipes"; More than a Cook Book

There are only two things that I would go back into a burning house to get.  One is the brown Bible from my father that I have preached from for 20 years and the other a 2" thick assortments of recipes that my aunt bound for the family when Granny  passed away.  Some recipes were hand written on cards while others were scraps from boxes or labels.  Many were her recipes from memory and other were sent by friends and family.  All were stuffed into her recipe box.  She could find anything in it but I doubt anyone else could.
Granny's Quilts 

Granny Mitchell, my maternal grandmother, was a complex country woman that loved deeply and communicated much of that love through her cooking.  Her mind was strong to the end even though her wisp of a body was wearing out.  My aunt Margaret moved her in to a mobile home next door to her and cared for her for those final 10 or so years.  Her cooking slowed down but her recipes carried on.

My aunt was diagnosed with cancer shortly after Granny died.  Her parting gift was to take every scrap and every card out of that box and have it scanned then finger bound at the office supply.  She organized it loosely by category and included photographs of family , memories and quilt tops.  There are dozens of pages of family lists and news clippings about many things.  She also added a list of the people who contributed recipes and how they were related. Much of the value is that most of it is in Granny's own hand.
One of these Cookie Munchers" is me

 Scrap booking is quite the rage and there are so many techniques and materials available.  I find this a wonderful and healthy thing.  My life is better for this collection of recipes as other lives are better for the snapshots of time captured in a scrapbook.  This book is more than recipes it is a piece of my past that touches me deeply.

This isn't just a project that can be done, it should be done.

The leaf was in the box.  Margaret put it in.
I am so grateful to have this book.  The technology for this project has gotten much easier.  You don't have to

hire this done but the Office Depot and other places
have gotten the cost down.  Your family history is important to your present and your kid's future.  So many people in my life have passed away and those scraps of paper that capture the essence were tossed.  There are plenty of those scraps.  What is often lacking is the will to recognize and preserve what our loving family leaves behind.  Got a scanner?  Grab a hold of those old photos, poems, journals and recipes.  Archive them for your sake and for those to come.
I sit here wishing for one of her cinnamon rolls.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Easy woodworking project: Coat Rack for Creative Outlet

The upper hooks hold one jacket

The middle hooks hold a jacket or umbrella

I needed a coat rack.  My chairs always have one or two thrown over them. The space behind my door would be a good place but I couldn't seem to find one that fits or one I was willing to pay for.  I also need to make something  with results that I can see.  This rack is six 1/2 feet tall, can store two tiers of stuff and hide behind my inside door.  Also, it is made from scrap.  The only thing I bought was the hardware.  The total cost was about $20. 

The need to create is within us all. I wonder how much anxiety is caused by the fact that so much of our work has no touch-able result. Some people create with paint on a canvas while others create with paint on a house.   Regardless of your medium, sometimes we just need a creative project that has results in a short period of time.  Today this coat rack meets this spiritual need in me.  Silly perhaps but its done, I feel a sense of satisfaction and my sportcoat isn't wadded up on the floor.

Simple legs glued and screwed
Materials used:  A 2x4x8" ripped in half (or a 2x2x8').  Mine was a leftover that had been used.  I cut out the nail holes.  TitebondII glue, 4-1 1/2 inch sheetrock screws. four 2 1/2" by 3" hooks at the top and four smaller "coathooks" all from Walmart.  Leftover 'special walnut' stain and semi-gloss urethane-from my office table.

Tools used:  table saw, sander, drill, router with rounding bit, phillip's screwdriver.  With 2 ready made 2x2's and ignoring the router, all of this could have been done by hand with a miter box.  I have about 2 hours of work with additional time for the glue and finished to dry.  I used what I had on hand and only had to purchase the hardware.

Step by Step:
1. Ripped a 6' 2x4 in half.  A store bought 2x2 would be fine.  You could leave it at 5' and not bother with the second row of hooks.
2. used a rounding bit in a router leaving the top and bottom 6" square
3.  Cut the legs at a 45 degree angle with both angles in.  They are 12" on the long side-they must be precise.  Sand everything before assembly.
4.  Drilled the top of each leg for a 1 1/2" sheet rock screw.  The hole is counter sunk.  Drilling for a 1/4 wooden plug would be  fancier if you have the time.
5.  Square the leg with the bottom of the long 2x2.  Glue with Titebond II or other wood glue and screw it to the bottom.  If I were to do this again I would have molded the top of the legs with the router to match the long rod.  Be doubly sure the legs are square and let them dry-overnight is best.
6.  Stain then coat with 2-3 coats of urethane, sanding between the coats. Dry time on the urethane is over 4 hours on a rainy day.  The more you sand on the first coat the better the results.
7.  Install 4 smaller "towel hooks" in the middle-2.97 for  a pair at Walmart.
8.  Install 4- 4" or longer hooks at the square portion at the top.  These were $2 each at Walmart.
9.  Use well.

It matches my work table, keeps my office neater, and is almost invisible behind the door.  My creative urges have also been met with a project that came out well and could be completed in one weekend.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 Lenten Study "Christian Caregiving by Kenneth Haugk.

Christians care.  Some more than other and some in different ways.  We have different callings, gifts, graces and talents.  Our unique spiritual fingerprints are left behind when we give care in the name of Christ in witness to these things.  Many of us get very uncomfortable when an opportunity to care is presented.  "Christian Caregiving" by Kenneth Haugk tells the story of caregiving.

Christ taught by example and through story.  Haugk's story gives the reader techniques in a way that are caught rather than taught.  Through this a Christian disciple is empowered to take action in the everyday moments that need God's touch.  This builds the disciple and transforms the world in this most basic and defining function of the church.  

"Christian Caregiving" is the introductory course for the Stephen Ministries.  It is designed to bring the disciple into a deeper caregiving life.  This book is over 25 years old and remains a relevant workhorse of a teaching book.  Our church is using it as a Lenten devotional study with the hopes of having a Stephen Ministry forming later.  The book's 20 short chapters are focused and easy to read.  It is a teaching book for the student.  There are few bullet points, only the story that caries the reader to a conclusion requiring a decision to give care.   An outstanding book for pastor's, caring groups, and evangelism committees.  

For more detail on this book and our Lent 2012 study guide, go to http://geekfornonfiction.blogspot.com or email me at revavanhooser@gmail.com.  Again, this is a short course specifically designed for our group of churches.  All of our members and friends can call the office or check out our facebook page for more information also.  

The Stephen Ministries is a group formed on 1975, "for training and organizing laypeople to provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around your congregation." They have a complete system that is extraordinarily successful in doing this. For more information about forming a Stephen Ministry group and accessing their many resources, go to http://www.stephenministries.org .