Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

An Early Christmas Highlight

Yesterday in our 4th Grade Sunday School class we had a small Christmas celebration.  The week before during the singing time K, one of our special needs girls said, "We're supposed to sing Christmas carols," so we decided to have a time of Christmas carol requests.  Shube came in to play the piano and we were rollin'.  During the first song, K made her way to the front to do some signing to the songs.  She was right next to me.  At one point, she leaned close to me and said with a huge smile on her face, "We're both wearing red today."  All the kids were having fun, but K especially so.  As I looked into the class of about 40 4th graders and 7 or 8 adults, the smiles were huge and we all enjoyed K enjoying herself.  She requested Jingle Bells and we all dove right in.  We sang lots of traditional carols: Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, etc.  We finished with a roaring rendition of Rudolph, requested by K!  The teachers in the back sang out all of the "like Monoply" and "like George Washington" tags.

I prayed at the end of our singing, thanking God for the gift of Christmas and the gift of songs that worship him and allow us to enjoy each other.  Is there anything that makes someone enjoy themselves more than seeing someone having a great time?  That was the gift that K gave us yesterday (and has given us often.)  This is the body of Christ.  God has created all kinds of people to give us joy and to bring him glory.  K certainly did both yesterday.  She gave all of us an early Christmas highlight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Gammons Christmas Letter

In the spirit of the Great Recession, we hope that you'll accept our Christmas letter in this very informal, yet frugal electronic media.
If it's difficult to read, click to enlarge.

Lark Rise to Candleford

Amanda and I (and at times, just Amanda) have been enjoying the BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford.  We have borrowed Season1 on DVD and only have a few episodes left.  It is the story of two small towns in England in the late 19th century.  Lark Rise is the lower class hamlet, while Candleford is the larger, wealthier town.    The main character, Laura, has moved from Lark Rise to Candleford to work with her mother's cousin, Miss Lane the Postmistress.  Laura struggles between the new joys of Candleford while seeking to stay true to her home in Lark Rise.  The stories focus around issues of class, politics and romance.

It is a show that we can watch and enjoy by ourselves, but don't feel like we need to shield the eyes and hearts of our children from.  If you're interested, check it out from your library or try and find it on Netflix.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Catch a little glimpse of what it's all about with this fan made trailer.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Does it get any better than this?



I posted about this after Thanksgiving and you can read Gregg's post here, but I wanted to revisit it. In my mind there are not too many things that I enjoy more than being outside next to a fire. Winter, spring, summer or fall, a fire is an amazing thing. I have enjoyed many memorable camp fires.
  • Camp fires at our church summer camp growing up: Once the kids were all in their tents, the counselors would come out and have a camp fire. We'd sing, pray and chat. This is where I learned to love "the church". I got to know people who were older and found out that they struggled with problems just like I did.
  • Fire at the new house on Lake Huron: When I was in college, I brought a few of my guy friends up to Alpena. It was early April. We went out to the house that we had just bought on Lake Huron. They were in the process of remodeling it. All of us took off our clothes and swam in the lake. When we got out, there was a huge fire of scrap wood by which to warm up.
  • Guys' Weekend fires: I get together with some friends from college every year. Each year we debate what to do. The top priority on the list is always a fire. There is something about a fire that loosens our tongues to share what's going on in our lives. It is the time at which we catch up on what has happened during our year apart.
  • Fires in our backyard: Now we have fires regularly in our backyard. Matthew is usually the one who sticks closest to me during this. It's a great place to hang out with the kids. Ben and Caleb are usually playing football or baseball. Molly has just begun to join us. I look forward to many more.
Do you like a fire? Do you have memories of some of your best ones? Share them in the comments.

Sick as dogs, snow up to our arm pits and no Vikings game

Sick as dogs
For the second or third time (depends on how you count) in the last couple of months everyone at the Gammons house was sick this past week. First Lucy, then Matthew and Molly, then Ben and Caleb, then Amanda and on Saturday it was me. It involved various combinations of vomit, diarrhea, fever and headache. Thanks be to God, we are all now fairly healthy.

Snow up to our arm pits
This weekend we got dumped on. Saturday while I was laid up, Amanda was out shoveling the drive. She was able to keep up with half of the driveway so that we could at least get out. For some reason we decided to get Papa John's on Saturday night. As soon as I left our driveway, I knew it was a bad idea. They hadn't even plowed our street. Thankfully, I grew up in Alpena and have driven in that kind of mess a time or two. The main rule is whatever you do, DON'T STOP. When you stop, you get stuck.

I was feeling better by Sunday morning so Ben and I finished the other side of the driveway and the end where the plows dumped the whole street. Our neighbor waited to do anything until Sunday and it took him hours to go through all of it, even with his snowblower.

No Vikings game
Mom gave us tickets to the Vikings vs. Giants game for Christmas. We prayed on Saturday night that I would feel better so that we could all go to the game. Then the Giants got stranded in Kansas City on their way to MSP. They postponed the game until Monday night. No problem! That actually was great. Then on Sunday morning the roof of the Metrodome collapsed. If you haven't seen the video, watch it.


They moved the game to Detroit. I called Mom to see if she wanted to meet us there. It's a twelve hour trip for us, but she said it was really bad weather there. It would have been a fun road trip, but not if we had to drive into what we just had. We are supposed to get a refund for our tickets so we'll see how that goes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Small Delights

Our friend Teresa, just recently posted of how a cup of tea is a small delight for her. It got me thinking of the many small delights in my day.
  • Matthew saying "Bub-bye Daddy," every morning as I leave for work.
  • A hot cup of coffee at work.
  • Cozying down under our down comforter when the house is cooling off.
  • A fire in the back yard.
These are the mundane, everyday blessings that are often overlooked. How about you? What are the small delights in your day?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Payoff

Sometimes when I'm working with the kids and it's a lot more work than if I were doing it myself, I wonder if and when all that trouble is going to bear fruit. Well this was what has been happening this winter at our house.



I've only shoveled once so far. I'll have to do the real wet heavy stuff for a while yet, but I am very excited that my shovelers are working. So far they are enjoying it and thinking it's fun.

Caleb -1 Tooth



Caleb is definitely getting older. I tried to pull on it a little bit, but in pure Caleb fashion, he went to the bathroom by himself and emerged a few minutes later minus one tooth. He was very excited, so excited that he almost broke down. Those of you who are introverts know what it's like to be so excited you almost cry, right? Amanda said she could definitely relate. We'll celebrate his 7th birthday at the end of this month. Things seem to be moving very fast at the Gammons house.

The View Out Our Back Door





Last week we woke up to a few friends in our back yard. Matthew, of course, was the most interested. After he watched for a while, he and I put our coats on and sneaked out to get a closer look. Before we got too close, both of them ran into the neighbors yard. Matt really like to see their white tails flap back and forth.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy 4th Anniversary Gammons Fam Blog


Today marks the 4th anniversary of my first post on this blog. The picture above is from that first post welcoming you all aboard. Thanks to all of you (or should I say both of you) who have been reading this whole time. It has been a good conduit to keep up communication with those of you who are far away. It has also been a good way to meet new people, especially at church. Someone subbed in my Sunday School class a couple of weeks ago and said, "Did you go to Calvin College?" I said, "No, but I worked there." I then asked her how she knew any of that. She replied, "Oh, I was on your blog once." Kind of funny.

Whether you've been here from the beginning or this is your first time, welcome. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hymn of the Week: Thanksgiving Hymns

Every Thanksgiving we pick the same hymn, Come Ye Thankful People, Come. You can read previous posts about that hymn and why we've chosen it here and here. This year we also sang another hymn of thanksgiving for the week before. Now Thank We All Our God is a hymn that I have only sung a few times. It is a great one though. This week in church we focused on the thing that all Christians have of which to be most thankful, our redemption in Christ. When we sang this song and Ben and Caleb both looked at me and smiled, it was a great affirmation that something, albeit something very small, is actually sinking in.

As you and your family gather around tables this Thanksgiving, I pray that you are not only thankful for the many material blessings that we all have, but more so, you are thankful for God imputing your sin to Jesus and imputing His righteousness to you. If you are not yet thankful for this, I pray that God will give you the gift of faith and thankfulness for it.

Hymn of the Week
Words by Martin Rinkart
Music by Johann Crüger

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Snowmen in November

Only in Minnesota can you use a leftover pumpkin for a hat and a gourd for a nose on your first snowman. This was from last weekend.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Attempted Stay-cation

Last week I had Veteran's day off, so I took a Friday off in hopes of having a four day weekend. The plan was to stay home, get some things done and make take a trip to the state capitol. Starting last Monday though, our family was hit with one of our annual pandemics. Every child in the period of a week, threw up at least once. Most of them vomited more than once and most of them did it in their beds at least once. Needless to say, we spent the weekend doing laundry, renting a rug doctor, lighting candles, eating saltines and drinking 7-Up.

We were so tired of being in the house that on Friday, Matt, Ben, Molly and I went to St. Paul and stopped by the capitol. We didn't go inside though. We decided to save that so that Caleb could go with us another time. The rest of the time we spent doing puzzles. We did a 100, 300 and a 500 piece puzzle along with a couple of really small ones. I told Amanda that the differences between our house and a nursing home were very minimal this week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quotes: Hypocrite

Is it okay for me to put quotes here that aren't my from my kids? I think so. Hey, it's my blog.

Last night at church I was talking about a passage in Matthew where Jesus refers to a hypocrite. I asked if anyone knew what a hypocrite was. One of the girls raised her hand.

"My mom is sometimes a hypocrite. Because she asks me to make my bed but doesn't make her own."

AWESOME! That's why I like teaching second grade.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Summons

This poem was read at a meeting I just attended. I appreciated its spirit.

Summons
by Robert Francis

Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.
It made me think of the kind of relationship that I want with my boys. What thoughts were brought to your mind?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Details



From Halloween


From Halloween


From Halloween


From Halloween


From Halloween
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Halloween 2010


We had a great time out last night. The kids all looked fun and we hardly spent any money on their costumes. WIN, WIN. It was a beautiful night for trick or treating in Minnesota. Any night for trick or treating in Minnesota where you don't have to wear a winter coat over your costume is a beautiful night.
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Hymn of the Week--Jesus I Am Resting, Resting

Either you're resting in Jesus or you have no rest at all. Isn't that the way it is? I long to rest in Jesus and cast my cares to him. For who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Hymn of the Week
Jesus I Am Resting, Resting
Words by Jean S. Pig­ott
Music by James Mount­ain

Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.

Refrain
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.

Quotes: Like Brett Favre

Today is Tricia's birthday!  Happy birthday, Tric.  38!  When Ben found out this morning he said,
Whoa!  That's like Brett Favre!
MATTHEW LUDTKE / AP

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Read Alouds--The Sign of the Beaver

Tonight we will finish our second read aloud from this year's curriculum list.  The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare has been a thoroughly enjoyable book.  It is the story of a thirteen-year-old boy who is left in the Maine wilderness after he and his father had built their house and begun to settle their land, while the father goes back to get his sister and mother.  While his father is away he meets an native boy named Attean.  Matt and Attean become friends and teach each other much.  Matt learns the most as Attean plays host to the forest and teaches Matt how to live in his country.  We have raced through this book because the boys have liked it almost as much as I have.  We have tried to get to bed earlier so that we can spend as much time with it as possible.

The book addresses many very interesting themes.  Published in 1983, it tries to paint a picture of the native people as knowing more about the country into which the white men were coming than the white men who came.  It also deals with the displacement of the native people because of over hunting.  Interestingly enough though, as I searched for more info on the book, native people are pretty critical of her handling of their culture.  She uses the word "squaw" a number of times, which I didn't know was seen as a derogatory term.  She also has the native people call themselves Indians, which apparently they wouldn't have done.

As with any picture of a culture written by someone outside of the culture, it appears that Speare has made some missteps.  I certainly appreciate that she has attempted though to address issues that need to be addressed.  The coming of the white man, in most ways, was no gift to the native cultures.  As we look at history it is important to be carefully critical.  As dominant cultures, we need to understand that mistakes were made.  It is less important to pass judgment on our predecessors than to work to not repeat their mistakes in our own time.

Read Alouds--Secret of the Andes

We have begun our home school curriculum read alouds for the year.  The kids and I are really enjoying them.  As I've stated before, we use the Sonlight curriculum read alouds.  We are only doing the read alouds and Ben's and Caleb's readers from Sonlight this year, not the rest of the Sonlight stuff.  This year's lists are focused on American history.  History was my minor in college and I took a lot of American history.

The two books that we've read so far are both Newberry award winners.  I think if you just went through and read all of the Newberry award winners to your kids, you'd be doing pretty well.  The first book, Secret of the Andes by Anne Nolan Clark was a gem.  I love a book where the words are as important as the characters and the plot.  Clark paints the landscape of the Andes mountains and the Inca people with beautiful words.  The story is one of a young boy who is raised as a llama herder with only his older tutor in a hidden valley.  He knows that there is something very special about his life and the golden plugs in his ear lobes.  He must discover the path that the Great Inca has laid out for him.

It was interesting how Ben especially picked up on the difference in the religion of the Incas and our faith.  When the older man would talk about how the Great Inca had made the sun and how they worshiped it, Ben would shake his head.  I didn't take a lot of time to do a comparative study, but it was interesting that the boys were recognizing differences.

I love that all of the books that we've read lately have been so well written.  Children's books should only be distinguished from well written adult works by their subjects and maybe some vocabulary.  As the boys get older, even these distinctions are disappearing.  I would recommend Secret of the Andes to anyone who is interested in a good story of Peru or for anyone interested in simply a good story. 

Read Alouds--The Borrowers Afield

At the end of the last edition of the The Borrowers we found Pod, Homily and Arrietty having to flee their home because then had been "seen."  The Borrowers Afield, traces the adventures of the the three as they find a new home in the great outdoors.  They meet some new friends and find that they can survive in a way that Homily never thought possible.

It is another adventure that all of the kids loved.  Mary Norton's writing is interesting and very descriptive of her characters and their settings.  I would recommend both of her books that we've read.  I think we'll be done with the Borrowers for a while now though.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Some pictures I've wanted to post

I've wanted to share these for a while.  We've had an amazing fail weather wise.  We have spent as much time outside as possible, trying to bank all of the vitamin D we can for February.

Moll

Boys

Lu

Lu2
I love this last one. Even though it's blurry, Lucy looks so pretty. The sweater is one that Shirley knit for Amanda lo so many years ago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Scripture memorization vs. Biblical literacy

Can you recite Romans 6:23 and Romans 3:23?  Could you give a brief summary of what the book of Romans is about, who it's written to, and who wrote it?

Which is more important?  Oh, come on.  They're both important.  But we put a pretty good emphasis on scripture memorization (at least our church does.)  But I think we put very little emphasis on biblical literacy.  I would biblical literacy as knowing the overall metanarative of the Bible as well as general knowledge of the content of individual books, passages, chapters, etc.

Why is biblical literacy important?  I think in today's world, we are much more apt to have a Bible available in moments of need.  When someone is struggling with self righteousness, wouldn't it be good to know that the book of Galatians is pretty much all about self-righteousness?  When someone you're struggling with depression, wouldn't it be great to be able to point to a few psalms of lament?  (I can't do this off hand.)  How about when you're looking to pray in public, wouldn't it be good to know where a couple of good prayers are in the Bible.

That's just half of it.  The overall metanarative is the most important.  If we want to know the main character of the Bible (God), then we need to know how he is revealed in the overall story.  We would never go the the Lord of the Rings and read one thing about Frodo and use that as what we say about him as a person. 

My question, is how do we teach this?  How do we teach biblical literacy to our kids?  Teaching our kids 100 memory verses is pretty straight forward.  I don't want to teach my kids 100 Bible stories that tell them to have courage like David or wisdom like Solomon.  I want them to know that God is a covenant God of steadfast love.  I want them to know how that is revealed in different ways throughout the Bible.  Tough, huh?!  What do you think?

Hymn of the Week--Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

Our small group has decided to adopt the Hymn of the Week.  So, I'm not sure what this means exactly except that we are hopefully all singing this together this week and will sing it again when we get back together.  This week's hymn is an amazing one, telling of who our God is.  At church we often sing the new version by Bob Kauflin.  I like them both.  I love the piper organ rendition below.  Enjoy!

Hymn of the Week
Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Words by Walter C. Smith
Music by John Roberts


Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prayer

We're studying prayer on Wednesday night at church with the 2nd graders.  I'd love to be able to show them this video.  If this dog was for sale, I'd be buying.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Beautiful Day


Back in May when tickets went on sale for games at the Twins new ballpark, I knew I wanted to take the boys for their birthdays in September.  It's a good thing I was thinking ahead.  Tickets for the whole season have been sold out for a long time.

We had a wonderful day yesterday.  It started with Matthew's birthday breakfast at Cobblestone Cafe.  He is such a sweet person to be with one-on-one.  Then later in the morning, we headed downtown, parked for free about 8 blocks from the stadium and got there early enough to find our seats and talk with the usher.  (What a job!  He looked about 65 or 70.  He works at 60 of the 81 home games.)  Our seats were great, first row of the upper deck.  They also came with a hot dog and pop.  Not bad for $22 a piece.  It was a pretty slow game until the Twins went on a tear in the 6th and 7th inning and scored 5 runs.  Twins won 5-1.  The stadium was really nice and it was great to be outside, although a little cool yesterday.  All in all, a wonderful time was had by all of the Gammons boys.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Update

It seems as if my writing here has waned in the last season. This is a positive space for me. I have worked to keep it only that. The positive have been the routine, i.e. HOTW, Read Alouds, camping, and some of my philosophical rants.  With the return to Fall, comes a return to greater routine.  I welcome it.  Here is a beginning of Fall update.
  • I recently turned 34-years-old.  I always remember growing up and thinking about how old I would be when it was the year 2000.  Twenty-four always seemed so old.  I don't feel old+ten years.
  • I ate breakfast with Benjamin this morning for his birthday.  He is turning 8-years-old.  We have been eating breakfast together on his birthday for four years.  I distinctly remember being 8-years-old.  Mrs. Rhabi's class, birthday spankings, writing stories on the paper where you could draw a picture on the top half.  Ben will remember these days.
  • Amanda began her third year as the official teacher of our two home educated kids.  She has a first and a third grader.  Transition was a bit of a challenge, but they seem to be off and running.  We went for a date the other night and spent some wonderful, much over due time together.
  • Lucy is sitting up by herself and we are trying to train her to crawl.  She is the most independent of all of our kids.  She is a smiley and sweet little thing.  She was up from 2AM-9AM a week ago.  She is getting all four of her top teeth.  She had a couple days of not feeling well and not being very sweet.  Thankfully, she's over that now.
  • Matthew is having to come inside.  He lives and loves being outside.  I think the winter will be difficult for him.  He will turn 5-years-old next week.  He loves his brothers, but he and Molly are best friends.  He is growing and beginning to look a bit like a clown on his little bike.  Maybe this Christmas will bring a big kid's bike.
  • Caleb is lamenting having to review the things he learned in math last year.  He was so looking forward to charging ahead in that  area.  Unfortunately, they are reviewing counting to 10.  He only rolls his eyes.  He will get to the meat of mathematics soon enough.  He got Uncle Joe's half-sized violin in the mail from Gigi yesterday.  When we got it out of the box and he was able to hold it this morning he was all smiles.  Lessons from Mom will begin soon.
  • Molly, almost 3 and a half-years-old, is still a joy to have around.  Like her dad she is at times governed by her belly: grouchy when hungry, emotional when tired.  She loves sitting and reading books or asking anyone available to read them to her.  Pink is still her favorite color, but has begun to be okay with purple, white and some other colors in her pallet.  She is a tough girl, not to be outdone by her brothers or to be left behind.  A skinned knee or even the most recent road rash on her face from a fall of the quad, only mean a brief cry before she's back at it.
  • I am teaching second grade on Wednesday night at church again this year.  Amanda is venturing into 4th grade Sunday School team leading.  She will do the logistical work behind the scenes and I'll do the Sunday morning stuff.
  • Having finished the epistle of Philippians, we are reading Galatians and celebrating God's completely undeserved favor on us in salvation.  We are working to put effort (unmeritorious effort for sure) into keeping ourselves in the love of God.
We hope this Fall finds you celebrating Christ's grace to you.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hymn of the Week--Wonderful Grace of Jesus

We're reading through Paul's epistle to the Galatians now after dinner.  Paul's pretty upset with the church there.  They want to add things like circumcision to the gospel.  I went to the hymnal looking for a good one about what the gospel is really all about.  I think this one get's it pretty right on.  Who doesn't love to sing that chorus too?  The Cathedrals do a great job of this one in the video below.

Hymn of the Week
Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Words and Music by Haldor Lillenas

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Refrain
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!



Moralism

My mom had a question about "moralism".  This was my response. 

Moralism is making actions the most important thing.  God doesn’t love us or not love us because of our actions.  Sin is a battle that is fought because of our love for God and because we want to become more like him.  It has no affect on our relationship with or to God.  We ARE righteous.  We ARE saints.  Not because of anything that we have or have not done, but because of what Christ did on our behalf on the cross.  Moralism put s all of the focus on us and our actions. 

In this situation moralism leads to legalism.  For instance, when sin is the most important thing in the life of a body, then lots of rules are put in place to avoid sin or the appearance of sin at all costs.  These rules become what makes one a Christian.  A Christian is a person who goes to church, reads their Bible and prays, stays married, votes Republican.  A Christian is person who doesn’t drink, doesn’t cheat on their spouse, doesn’t wrestle with doubt.

When I read the Bible, a Christian is someone who believes the gospel (1 Cor. 15) and that is effective for him, loves God and wrestles with sin on a daily basis.  A Christian is a person who struggles with murder, drunkenness, adultery, gossip, and all other manor of sin.  Someone who is given over to these (Rom 1:18-32) is not a Christian.  But I don’t think that is most of the people that Bob referenced in the article, nor is it a judgment that I would like to make as to when someone has been given over to their sin by God.

Just some thoughts.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why We All Fall

I read this article from MinnPost the other day.  It is from a blogger that used to go to our church, Bob Hayton.  He focuses on why prominent preachers fall, but I think it is true of the sin in all of our lives.  I think he makes a great argument for grace.  This is the kind of thing I have often been frustrated by in my own life and in the lives of many of the Christian communities of which I've been a part.  It's a good ten minute read.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hymn of the Week--More About Jesus

Amanda didn't know this one.  I remember it from way back.  It's not a very common one but I like it.

Hymn of the Week
More About Jesus
Words by Eliza E. Hewitt
Music by John R. Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

Refrain
More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bev sings "The Love of God"

For Dave. Enjoy everyone!

Hymn of the Week--Ivory Palaces

We're getting back into the swing of things for Fall.  That means HOTW.  This is my mom's all-time favorite hymn.  It's a very different melody, but I like it too.  Check out the video of George Beverly Shea singing this hymn below.  It's from 1962.  He doesn't look a day over 75.

Also, check out the girl at 1:38. I don't think she's going to go down front at the end of the service. HA!!

Hymn of the Week
Ivory Palaces
Words & Music by Henry Barraclough

My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
And myrrh their texture fills;
Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
With joy my being thrills.

Refrain
Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.



Moralism: What do we teach our kids?

Most mornings, Amanda reads some scripture with the kids and goes through a devotional called Keys for Kids.  I grew up reading this publication.  It's put out by CBH Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It's on the radio too.  This morning Amanda said it was "completely moralistic."  Today's lesson was about not smoking, drinking and gambling.  I had to check it out.  I went to the website and Amanda was right.  It's all about not experimenting with sin.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you think you need to try everything for yourself-even sinful things? You can get into a heap of trouble if you do. It's dangerous to experiment with drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, or other things that can hurt your body or your mind. It's dangerous to experiment with stealing, cheating, lying, disobedience, or any other sin. Listen to your parents and other responsible adults. Above all, listen to God and leave sin alone.

Now, don't get me wrong.  It would be sin for any of our kids to start smoking, drinking or gambling.  But this discussion has to be nuanced a little bit more.  And, in the battle against sin, the only power to kill sin is in the gospel.  When I grew up I was very focused on my own piety.  I was a complete pharisee.  The outside of my cup was clean, but the inside was full of all sorts of sin and self-righteousness.  At dinner, we are reading through Philippians.  Last week we read the following from Philippians 3.
[2] Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [3] For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— [4] though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: [5] circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; [6] as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. [7] But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ [9] and be found in him,  not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—[10] that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, [11] that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:2-11 ESV)
We talked about the word imputation.  How when Christ died on the cross our sin was imputed to him and his righteousness was imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  When God looks at us, he credits our faith as righteous, not a righteousness that is our own, but Christ's righteousness.  This was the part that I missed growing up.
[30] And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, [31] so that, as it is written,  “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
(1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV)
Philippians is great because just after Paul talks to them about their righteousness being found in Christ, he tells them to "press on to toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  We work or course.  We kill sin of course.  It is really us doing that.  But that is not where our righteousness is found.  That is not where our salvation is found.  Our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.

I want to fight against teaching my kids that if they do certain things and don't do other things then they are right with God.  Unless through faith, they come under the righteousness that is in Christ, they are hell bound.  Once, through faith, they have submitted themselves to Christ, then through the power of the gospel, they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. 

The whole book of Galatians is Paul blasting the church there for adding anything to the gospel.  If we teach our that following certain moral laws (whatever they may be) somehow is part of justification, then we are in trouble, Paul says accursed (Galatians 1:9.)  Moralistic parenting is too easy.  It's much more difficult to paint with grays and not just blacks and whites.  With the help of God, we'll have a much larger pallet from which to paint the picture of the Christian life for our kids.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Do you know your candy bars?

What a great quiz from Mentalfloss!  Take the candy bar quiz here.  Post your score in the comments.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Family Worship

Matthew Henry:

    If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family-worship the most valuable of our family-comforts...A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance, to be left to your children after you.
From Donald Whitney's book Family Worship.

ht: TheResurgence Blog

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

U.S. News College Rankings

I just got an e-mail from my alma mater, Taylor University, about their fourth annual number 1 ranking by U.S. News and World Report.  To quote the e-mail,
For the fourth year in a row, Taylor University is the number one Midwest University in the category Best Regional Colleges in the newly-released 2011 U.S.News & World Report survey, America's Best Colleges.
My pet peeve about both this survey and how colleges report the findings is that from reading this e-mail you would think that Taylor University is number 1, at least number one in the Midwest.  Right?  Wrong.  There is also a listing of National Liberal Arts Colleges.  Many of Taylor's competing colleges are on this list.  For instance, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan is number 101 on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list.  Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, is number 55 on the National Liberal Arts Colleges list.

From U.S. News & World Report

From the e-mail again,
While a number of Indiana colleges and universities received high rankings in various categories, among the four primary regional and national rankings (National Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges, Regional Universities and Regional Colleges), Taylor was the only Indiana-based school to achieve a number one university-wide ranking. Additionally, Taylor was one of only two Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) member institutions to achieve a number one ranking - regionally or nationally.
"One of only two Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) member institutions to achieve a number one ranking - regionally or nationally."?  Come on.  They don't state, like I did above, that many other CCCU schools are ranked higher than they are.  What do you think?  Is the way that Taylor and other institutions report these findings misleading?  Is it U.S. News that's misleading?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Camping and the Vikings

I know the photo is terrible, but it was a great moment.  This weekend we pulled the PUP 15 minutes from our house to Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park.  It is an Anoka County park and I would highly recommend it.  Our site has water and electric and tons of space.  The usual state park sites are close together, usually don't have water and aren't very private.  These sites were the opposite.  Our site was shaded and backed up to a tall grass prairie/wetland.  We couldn't even see our neighbors.  The reservation site was also very easy to use.  When you put in the date you want, it brings up a map of the camp site with the available sites.  There are trails for biking and a nice little beach on the lake.  My only criticism is that there is only one bathhouse for the whole campground and the roads are paved.  But with water at each site, we made do.  If you're looking for a camping spot in the Twin Cities, I would highly recommend this spot.

We had a great weekend of simply relaxing.  Amanda said that it was one of the first weekends that we did absolutely nothing.  The weather was great.  We did have some intermittent showers, but it was no big deal. We brought our little TV so that we could watch the Vikings first preseason game on Saturday night after church.  (I know, really roughing it.)  When we're enjoying times like these, Amanda and I say to the kids, "This is livin'!"  That was certainly our theme for this weekend.  We're looking forward to a few more weekends at home, the State Fair, our annual Door County trip with Shube and the gang, and then a September camping trip South along the Mississippi river with D&J.  Summer's slipping away.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Read Alouds--The Borrowers

We've finished all of our home school read aloud books for the year so we are on to some that my mom has passed along.  We just finished The Borrowers by Mary Norton.  It's a great book about little people that live in the floors and walls of a house.  All is well until a young boy comes to live at the house and the borrowers' daughter is "seen".  All the kids loved this book.  Apparently it is the first in a series of books about the borrowers.  Maybe we'll have to investigate the others.

Skol Vikings!

Amanda took the three boys down to Vikings training camp today.  I am so excited for them.  I hope they have a great day, see some good practice, and maybe even get some players' autographs.  The picture above is them waiting in line this morning with the rest of the Vikings faithful.  I'll post more pictures throughout the day as Amanda sends them to me.


UPDATE:
They're in.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lucy Ruth

Shube has written songs for each of our kids.  Here are the kids singing the latest installment.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quotes: Short Day

Because of a storm rolling in this morning, the skies got really dark.  Matt's response:
It's gettin' night.  That was a pretty short day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Camping and a bike ride


We camped last weekend at Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain, MN. It was a great park. We've been there before, (It's right by Brad's house.) but we've only camped there one other time, pre-PUP. We liked the big sites and all the things to do at the park. The staff driving around on Saturday afternoon with an ice cream truck didn't hurt either.

We took a bike ride on Saturday afternoon. I hadn't ridden my bike much prior, so going for a 6 mile ride pulling two kids in the trailer, may have been biting off more than I could chew. The picture above is about half way.  The three in the middle were the ones pedaling.  The others were the ones riding.  It was fun though. We're looking forward to our next camping adventure soon.

Wilco at Austin City Limits

This is my second music video in a row. I will get back to posting fun stories about the kids and the life of the Gammons family soon. Until then, enjoy this Wilco video from Austin City Limits. I especially love the guitar solo at about 25:30. I'm no guitarist, but it's pretty fun to watch that dude. It's great how even when he is totally jammin' out, you can still tell that he has the melody in mind.

Watch the full episode. See more Austin City Limits.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dancing in the Mine Fields--Andrew Peterson

I especially appreciate when art depicts both the good and the fallenness of our world, the beauty and the ugliness, the here and the not yet.  I saw this video today and I think he does a great job of that.



I am so thankful that God gave me Amanda with whom to dance, minefield or not.

The Quad


When we were up at my mom's house, Alex and I went to the sports store to pick up something fun for the kids to play with.  Alex is always wanting to make our time at my mom's special.  He's either bringing something fun from home  (This time he brought their Power Wheels John Deere Gator and another assortment of fireworks.) or trying to get us to buy or rent something.  I really appreciate that about him. We came back from the sports store with an electric quad.  The kids have all really enjoyed it.  Amanda sent me the above picture of Lucy's first ride on the quad.  Thanks Alex, for pushing us to do fun spontaneous things.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Little Brother

Photo by Gulf Coast Business Review
 I haven't always been a husband.  I haven't always been a father.  I haven't always been even an employee or a friend.  But I've always been a little brother.  If you're not a little brother there are some things about this relationship that you simply wouldn't understand.

My brother Joe's wife Carrie posted yesterday that Joe had been written up in his local paper as one of the top area business people under 40-years-old.  When I read the article, I felt like I was in third grade talking with Tiffany Billeau and telling her that I was Joey Gammons' brother or in high school leveraging my little brother currency with Joe's friends in the main commons or at a political rally in Grand Rapids getting to do security because I was with the boss.  I felt proud to be Joe Gammons' little brother.  I live a long way from my older brother.  I have for the past 6 or 7 years.  I miss him and his family.  I miss the day-to-day little brother quality of proximity.

This is a feeling with which Caleb and Matthew and both Sammy's will all be very familiar.  It's a good thing to be a little brother.  It's not always easy, but good.  If you're a little brother, you know what I mean.  Congrats, Joe on your continued success.  Even from a couple thousand miles away, I'm still proud to be your little brother.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quotes: Paint

We're painting the girls' room upstairs.  It was originally blue and we're painting it pink.  After the first coat Caleb had his doubts.  He said to Amanda,
You can still see blue under the pink.  You should have painted one coat of white and the then two coats of pink.
It's so much fun to see how each of the kids different giftednesses show themselves.  I don't know many six-year-olds who notice things like that and then even have words to articulate it.  Caleb is definitely an artist on the inside.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Molly

Some of my favorite pics of Molly from the last few months

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quotes: Amish

Amanda and the kids were picking Uncle Gregg up at the airport this afternoon. When Ben saw an Amish girl he said,
"For Heaven's sake, what's she doing on an airplane?"

Breakfast with Molly



Molly and I got to have our first birthday breakfast out this morning. It's pure joy. I look forward to many, many more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ben



(Insert 9000 words)

To Alpena and Back Again

My mom came to our house at the end of June and then took the boys back to her house for a few days by themselves.  They had a great time with just Gigi.  We followed the weekend of the Fourth.  We pulled the PUP (which added two hours to our already 11 hour trip).  We were glad though once we got there that we had it.  The boys slept in it by themselves every night.  Alpena is a great place for boy adventures.  We had lots of fun there playing with cousins, hanging with Tricia and Alex and my mom and just being together as a family.


From July

From July

From July

From July

On the way home, we hit Mackinac Island and stopped by Sault Ste. Marie to meet up with Amanda's dad, his wife and her grandma and grandpa.  It's been too long since we saw her grandparents.  They hadn't met Molly and Lucy.  It was great to see them, ride the Rhino and watch the big ships go through the river.  Our time was too brief.

From July


From July

It was a great vacation and other great celebration of the first ten years of our family.  You can see all of the pictures here.

Happy Birthday, Molly Pearl

Today, our little girl turns three-years-old. Amanda said last night that it was amazing how time has flown. Molly is an amazingly sweet little girl who everyone seems to love to be around. We love her as our first little girl and uniquely as our Molly Pearl. Happy Birthday, pearl girl.