Rethinking Theological Education with the Nigerian Methodists

Planes, cars, and vans shuttled fifty plus theological educators and church leaders in the Methodist Church Nigeria from all across Nigeria to Calabar on January 11, 2015 for a retreat on “Rethinking Theological Education in Methodist Church Nmcn-boardigeria for Effective Ministry.” The first of its kind, the retreat sprang from the vision and passion of the recently-established Board of Theological Education for the Methodist Church Nigeria. This Board, created by action of the last General Conference and appointed in 2014, is chaired by Archbishop Mike Stephen and directed by the Very Rev. Dr. Chinonyerem C. Ekebuisi. Both men gave excellent leadership in planning and hosting the retreat. I had the privileged assignment of serving as the primary presenter in six workshops. In addition to my six workshops, there were twelve other men and women who each gave a presentation that challenged the cadre of theological educators to higher levels of mcn-attendee-0excellence in educational ministry to the church.

Aligning with the theme “Rethinking Theological Education. . . ,” my workshops covered these topics:


  1. Three Dimensions of the Fully-Formed Leader
  2. Theological Education Curriculum and the Three-Dimensioned Leader
  3. Four Behaviors of a Good Faculty
  4. How to Construct a Course Syllabus
  5. Orality in Theological Education
  6. The Levels of Learning and Character Development

The heart of my presentation called for the Methodist institutions to posture themselves to produce “fully-formed leaders” who will show evidence of growth and maturity along these lines:

Theological Reflection deals with the mind. Theological reflection begins with the mastery ofmcn-attendee-5 academic content, and moves to an application of the wisdom gained from such knowledge. It is the ability to see present realities in the light of biblical truth and theological constructs. Our ability at theological reflection progresses from the beginning stages of understanding Scripture until we give constant evidence of thinking theologically.

Community Engagement. Figuratively, this second dimension of leadership development focuses on the leader’s hands whereas theological reflection deals with the head. Leaders are more than intellectuals; they lead a community toward desired goals. These leaders engage the community in problem solving, in goal achievement, in world changing. These leaders give biblically sound sermons, offer solid teaching, engage in effective evangelism and mission, provide programs within the church and community that engender transformation, and help establish shalom in the society. The Christian leader seeks to bring about the peaceful and restorative Kingdom of God in today’s world.mcn-attendee-4

Personal Formation. Leadership calls for more than theological reflection and community engagement that deal with the head and hands, respectively. As important as these dimensions are, we must attend to a third dimension that focuses on the heart—personal formation. Personal formation might also be called “spiritual formation,” “spirituality,” or “personal character.” Personal formation begins with our commitment to Christ as our Savior from personal and inherited sin. We choose to maintain a consistent walk of obedience to the Spirit as he unfolds God’s purposes for our lives. This walk shapes our character and enables us to embrace values that reflect God’s divine character.mcn-attendee-2

I applaud the Board Chairman Archbishop Stephens, Board Director Dr. Ekebuise, Secretary of Conference Bishop Opoko and all other participants for the vigor with which they have embraced the challenge to focus and improve the theological educational ministry of their church. They realize the importance of well-equipped, spiritually-formed men and women who can assume pastoral leadership in the church. They have signaled a commitment to marching forward with the improvement of campus facilities, revision and refinement of the academic commitment, and the elevation of instructional performance.mcn-attendee-1

Join me in prayer for the Board of Theological Education of the Methodist Church Nigeria as they lead in this critically important task. The needs will challenge resources. They will call for the best efforts. They will require wisdom and the “mind of Christ.” I am confident that this group of theological educators can rise to meet these challenges. May God “add grease to their elbows!”

Additional Pictures from the Retreat

mcn-ekebuisi-easley-stephensDirector Ekebuise, Presenter Easley, Chairman Stephens

mcn-easley-igwe-maxeyDr. Ray Easley, Bishop Chikwende Igwe, Dr. Gary Maxey

presentation-bishop-stephensArchbishop Michael Stephen

presentation-1Comfortable Conference Room at Marian Hostel, Calabar

presentation-study-groupWork Group Hard at Work!

mcn-choistersPhoto Fun with the Choristers!

Coping with the Difficulties of Life

“As I chanted my Hindu mantras I visualized white light flowing through my bloodstream. It made me feel centered and balanced. I had learned to draw in the white light that I visualized coming from some source above me, and with the sound vibrating through my body, the light traveled through me causing a sensation of calm alignment.”1 Could this testimonial have come from the Apostle Paul? Is this the way he found peace in the difficulties of life?

Paul’s Plan

Indeed not! Shirley MacLaine’s new age mysticism did not parallel Paul’s plan. His practice as detected in his letters contained five components.

      Contentment with Current Circumstances. Paul did not turn from tough times. He was content with anything (Philippians 4:11,12). This contentment was not a fatalistic capitulation to life’s difficulties. Paul believed his difficulties would produce ultimate good: other Christians’ faith would grow as they saw him overcoming, an unbelieving Roman soldier would confess Christ, or young preachers would proclaim more boldly the gospel (Romans 8:28; Phil. 1:12). Paul’s contented acceptance of difficulties resembled the poise of the mighty eagle spreading its wings against the howling wind.

      Trust in a Personal God. Paul’s faith rested in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–not in some impersonal Divine Power of Cosmic Consciousness. His child-like faith radiated, “My God shall supply all your needs. . . “(Philippians 4:19)! When things got tough, Paul knew God would supply on time. This trust grew from a conviction that God who had started a redemptive work within believers would finish it (Philippians 1:6, 2:13). God’s unlimited reservoir of strength stood at Paul’s disposal.

     Focus on the Living Christ. The focus of Paul’s desires was Christ–not his problems. Paul endured imprisonment for Christ’s sake. The chains merely adorned the ambassador of Christ. Paul measured his self-worth and his circumstances in life, not by who he was or what he could do, but by his devotion and service to Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 12:8-10). He joyfully faced all things so that Christ would be exhalted.

    Reliance on Christian Community. Support from believers figured meaningfully into Paul’s plan. Companionship with Timothy, Titus, and others provided two benefits: (1) their prayers saved Paul from hopelessness and defeat (Philippians 1:19), and (2) their emotional and material support comforted Paul when in conflict or opposition (II Corinthians. 7:5-7; Philippians 2:19-30; 4:18). Imprisoned in Rome, he urged Timothy to bring his books, coat, and come before the winter set in–he desperately needed Timothy.

      Use of Focused Prayer. Prayer brought Paul’s needs into contact with God’s resources. Prayer opened the jail at Philippi, brought strength to cope with the ‘thorn in the flesh’, and produced spiritual maturity (Philippians 1:9-11). Paul’s prayer was not a mystical meditation but a conscious communication with the personal God.

Modern Approaches

Modern self-help approaches differ significantly from Paul’s plan. A common focus of these approaches is on one’s inner self.

      Positive Thinking. Norman Vincent Peale popularized positive mental attitude in The Power of Positive Thinking. The ‘magic of believing’ beckons the immense powers of the human mind to imagine a condition into reality. Think earnestly, intently about deep desires and they will come about.

     Meditation and Relaxation. Dr. Herbert Benson’s plan for meditation (The Relaxation Response , 1975) contains four essentials: (1) a quiet environment, (2) a mental device, (3) a passive attitude, and (4) a comfortable position. Using a mental device–a special word, sound or phrase, often called a mantra, this form of meditation seeks to empty the mind in pursuit of inner calmness and union with cosmic consciousness. The Christian form of meditation seeks to fill the mind with active thoughts of Christ.

     Channeling and Crystal Healing. Channeling occurs whenever a person permits a spirit entity to communicate special messages to the mind. Kurt Leland (Menus for Impulsive Living, 1989) received instructions on living impulsively from a spirit called Charles. The “menus” Charles gave Mr. Leland promised to bring magic back into his life–a plan for living gained through channeling.

Shirley MacLaine championed the use of crystals as a method of bringing calm and balance in life. Crystals may be worn as jewelry around the neck or rubbed over the body to absorb bad energy. They also serve as utensils during psychic rituals such as channeling. One practioner positioned a quartz crystal at each of the four corners of the bathtub to focus energy into her body while she bathed. Supposedly, crystals contain the ability to focus psychic energies to bring inner healing.

Who is Right?

James Thomas’ book, The Seven Steps to Personal Power, 1992, epitomizes the proliferation of modern self-help approaches. The steps seem simple: (1) Claim the power within, (2) Create what you need, (3) Create emotional balance, (4) Set your heart on change, (5) Go with your inner voice, (6) Know the power within, and (7) Connect with the Divine.

Simple? Maybe. Biblical? Not really. The focus is egocentric, not Christocentric. I prefer Paul’s plan: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

1 MacLaine, Shirley. (1985). Dancing in the light, New York: Bantam, p. 8-9.


One Hundred Years Ago Tonight!

The Christmas Truce 1914! On that notorious Christmas Eve, christmas-truce-1914German soldiers lifted their voices in song that spoke of the hope of Christmas, “Silent Night, Holy Night!” The sounds from the war weary men wafted across “No Man’s Land” to the alert ears of British soldiers. At first, they responded with a taunting rendition of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” As the night hours gave way to the breaking of Christmas Day, the hardened commitments of soldiers on both sides of the blood soaked and death filled battlefield gave way to a basic human need for peace and tranquility.

Calls from each side invited the other to join in no-man’s land for a time of peaceful human exchange. Thus began the “Christmas Truce of 1914.” Twentieth Century expert, Jennifer Rosenberg gives an interesting account of this moment in human history:

“On Christmas Eve, many German soldiers put up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Hundreds of Christmas trees lighted the German trenches and although British soldiers could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out what they were from. Could this be a trick? British soldiers were ordered not to fire but to watch them closely. Instead of trickery, the British soldiers heard many of the Germans celebrating.

Time and again during the course of that day, the Eve of Christmas, there were wafted towards us from the trenches opposite the sounds of singing and merry-making, and occasionally the guttural tones of a German were to be heard shouting out lustily, ‘A happy Christmas to you Englishmen!’ Only too glad to show that the sentiments were reciprocated, back would go the response from a thick-set Clydesider, ‘Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o’er eat yourself wi’ they sausages!’ [6] 1

In other areas, the two sides exchanged Christmas carols.

They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The first Noël’, and when we finished that they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs, ‘O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘Adeste Fidéles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.[7] 2

The Christmas Truce

This fraternization on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas was in no way officially sanctified nor organized. Yet, in numerous separate instances down the front line, German soldiers began yelling over to their enemy, “Tommy, you come over and see us!”[8]3  Still cautious, the British soldiers would rally back, “No, you come here!”

In some parts of the line, representatives of each side would meet in the middle, in No Man’s Land.

We shook hands, wished each other a Merry Xmas, and were soon conversing as if we had known each other for years. We were in front of their wire entanglements and surrounded by Germans – Fritz and I in the centre talking, and Fritz occasionally translating to his friends what I was saying. We stood inside the circle like streetcorner orators.

Soon most of our company (‘A’ Company), hearing that I and some others had gone out, followed us . . . What a sight – little groups of Germans and British extending almost the length of our front! Out of the darkness we could hear laughter and see lighted matches, a German lighting a Scotchman’s cigarette and vice versa, exchanging cigarettes and souvenirs. Where they couldn’t talk the language they were making themselves understood by signs, and everyone seemed to be getting on nicely. Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill! [9] 4

Some of those who went out to meet the enemy in the middle of No Man’s Land on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day negotiated a truce: we won’t fire if you won’t fire. Some ended the truce at midnight on Christmas night, some extended it until New Year’s Day” (Rosenberg,

One hundred years later, we have lived through the bloodiest century in human history. Current events around our world suggest that the blood shed, racial strife, and ideological warfare will only intensify.

Can we find the courage and willingness to pray that God would inspire people and nations on all sides of the conflict to come together in a moment of recognizing that we CAN HAVE PEACE when we embrace the Prince of Peace–He whose birth we celebrate today. Happy Birthday, Jesus! And Please Help our World!


  1. Lieutenant Kennedy as quoted in Brown, Christmas Truce 62.
  2. Jay Winter and Blaine Baggett, The Great War: And the Shaping of the 20th Century (New York: Penguin Books, 1996) 97.
  3. Brown, Christmas Truce 68.
  4. Corporal John Ferguson as quoted in Brown, Christmas Truce 71.


Brown, Malcolm and Shirley Seaton. Christmas Truce. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1984.

Winter, Jay and Blaine Baggett. The Great War: And the Shaping of the 20th Century. New York: Penguin Books, 1996.

Nigeria: Happiness Amidst Heartache!

The two weeks spent here in Lagos, Nigeria have passed so very rapidly as my days are filled with consultation and assisting the Provost and administration at West Africa Biblical Seminary (WATS). I am staying in a guest house provided by WATS and walk to and from campus in the morning, at lunch time, and then in the evening.

The walk takes me down Osobola Avenue for about one-quarter mile. Fortunately, it has not rained one single day during my time of trekking! Also, fortunately, the walk takes me by the homes filled with children! Lots of children. And HAPPY children, at that.

For example, last week a group of seven boys and girls, all siblings, came up to me to give greetings and to touch my white skin! When they saw that I had a camera in my iPhone, they begged, “Snap us, snap us!”

My photographic propensity kicked in and a photo session ensued. I then turned the camera to video mode and asked, “Can you sing for me?”

You can hear their answer! Spontaneously, they broke out in song, without any consultation. One youngster started to sing, “Happy birthday. . .” He was immediately interrupted with the older ones leading, “If You’re Happy and You Know It!”

An amazing moment! You can see parts of the street–not paved and cleanly swept. Not a lot of luxury and comfort along Osobola Avenue. By American standards, not much to make children happy. I don’t see any electronic games on the Playstation! Sticks and improvised toys obviously capture the imagination of these dear children.

They’re happy. They know it! And they were proud to let others in on their secret.

Here’s a question for consideration and discussion: What makes for real happiness? What makes for happiness in the midst of the heartache caused by such social turmoil as Boka Horam?

Gotta get to the auditorium for a meeting with the administration and staff. Will watch for your comments.


Popcorn Popped–House Restored!

Hasn’t been quiet as simple as popping popcorn, but the Ole Farm House is virtually restored! While some small details still remain, I now pronounce that the house is restored into a home where popcorn and Dr. Pepper can spontaneously appear on the dining table for any unexpected guest. Just come on by and enjoy!

Thank the Lord for his gracious protection and provisions across these four and one-half months. We’ve had no injuries during the hundreds of hours of very demanding physical labor.

Here is the list of tasks that have been completed as a part of the restoration project:
  • New electrical system from meter base to outlets and light switches.
  • New waste and freshwater plumbing from faucets to sewer drain.
  • Easy Water’s “Iron Shield” to oxidize the iron and filter it before entering the plumbing.
  • Pella replacement windows to provide protection from the cold north winds that will blow this winter.
  • Drywalled ceiling to replace the deteriorating lath and plaster that had stood the test of time for 86 years.
  • New paint throughout that creates a fresh homey ambience for the family.
  • New appliances from the laundry to the cooktop and oven–they all now work properly. Come on by for a home-cooked meal!
  • New master bathroom and laundry-bath.
  • Solid oak floor from the front door to the back closet–a far cry better than the old dirty floors on which I worked for the past four months.
  • New knotty alder hardwood cabinets from Wyatt Cabinetry and Custom Woodworking shop in Forsythe, Missouri. Because we worked against a July 26th delivery deadline, they shipped the cabinets without drawers and doors. These will come later. Thanks to Jerrad for accommodating this rather unusual sequence.
  • Exterior paint on the north side of the house–will get to the other sides in the fall.
  • Repaired and painted the dormer gable and window on the east end of the roof.
  • Moved two storage rooms of our household belongings into the house.
This afternoon, I fly to Lagos, Nigeria for a month of academic consulting at West Africa Theological Seminary. I will be working alongside Provost William Udotong and the faculty, administration, and staff there ( Dianne will stay home and gather the garden produce as it come ripe–we have an ear of sweet corn just about ready to pick! She will be canning green beans, tomatoes, and corn while I work with the dear people at WATS. I return from Nigeria on August 30. Thanks for praying for us during this time.
You may be unfamiliar with the plans that Dianne and I have been following for the past year–leading up to our move from Mississippi to Indiana. If so, check out the blog update that I posted last November: This may answer a question or two that you have.
Enjoy the pictorial montage below that highlights some of the recent developments.
Before and After

Installing cabinets from Wyatt Cabinetry
Popping the Corn!

I’ve got TONS more pictures to share but have run out of time. Must get my suit cases packed for the flight to Nigeria. Thanks for following Dianne and me in your prayers as we have trekked across the past four and one-half months. It’s been an interesting journey that really has just begun.

Thanks a million to my brother, Keith, who has been here for the past couple of weeks giving me invaluable help. He deservedly has his hand in the popcorn bowl!

Take a careful look at Psalm 103–I’ve memorized the first eleven verses. And know that we are still leaning on the three promises found in Exodus 33.14, Isaiah 41.10, and Luke 12.32.

Be blessed.


Not Streets of Pure Gold, But. . .

The new hardwood floor in the Ole Farm House definitely feels great on the bare feet–a far cry better than walking on the old floors as we have been doing since mid-March! I have just finished installing 1000 square feet of beautiful pre-finished oak floor. The floors now wait for our living room and dining room furniture to be moved in from the storage unit. Dianne and I are also ready!

In March, a neighbor friend told me of some oak flooring that he had purchased from Lowes in Carmel at a very good price. “I think they will be willing to sell you the more of this wood for the price they gave me,” he proposed. “I’ll call them and ask if they would sell to you for the same price. They are trying to liquidate their inventory.”
At that time, my need for hardwood flooring was three or four months away. I had just begun ripping out walls and running electrical circuits. Where would I store 1000 feet of finished oak flooring during that time?
“Sure,” I responded, “call them and see what they say.”
In a couple of days, Jack called to tell me that the people at Lowes/Carmel said they would sell to me–just come on in. As it turned out, I purchased this flooring for $2.50 per square foot which was one penny above their actual cost!
I hauled 89 bundles of the floor in the big red Ford pickup and stacked it on the front porch until installation time. Three or four days before I was ready to lay the flooring, I moved it into the rooms and opened the bundles for the wood to acclimate to the room temperature and humidity.
Tuesday, July 19 was D-Day for flooring installation. My brother, Paul, loaned me a floor air nailer. I had contemplated renting one but told Paul, “I don’t think I can get all the floor laid in one day” (just wanting to economize on rental costs!). Paul responded, “I think you will do good to get that floor laid in a week!”
Was he ever correct! Five long, grueling days of sorting boards, arranging them is appropriate rows, slamming the rubber mallet against the air nailer, sawing around door trim and corner posts–that’s what this past week was all about.
The joyful thing is that the flooring work is now finished! Both complete in installation and final preparation of the wood surface for use. Finished!
This coming week, I will set cabinets and install the oven, cooktop, dishwasher and garbage disposal. The cabinets will arrive in stages from the Wyatt Cabinetry and Custom Woodworking shop in Forsythe, MO.
We will also be able to move some of our living room and dining room furniture into the new space. I can do the finishing touches on wall and window paint as time permits.
The Gordon Easley family reunion takes place this coming Thursday through Sunday here in Greenfield. Actually, some of the activities will be held here at the Ole Farm House. Dianne and I are excited to welcome our family to the new home–even though it is not totally finished. All nine of my siblings will be present. We will have a lot of catching up to do during those days.
Then next week, on August 4, I fly to Lagos, Nigeria for four weeks of work at West Africa Theological Seminary. The time has arrived for me to devote some of my energies elsewhere other than on the Ole Farm House. Remaining tasks will have to wait for a later day.

As I worked alone on the flooring last week, I kept thinking of the promise Jesus gave his disciples as recorded in John 14: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (English Standard Version). The Heavenly Father is preparing a place where He can gather all the family together for one GRAND REUNION! My work this summer has just been a microscopic reminder of that spiritual reality.
Oak flooring or streets of pure gold (Rev. 21:21)! Doesn’t really matter if the Family is together in the presence of our Father.
Have a blessed week.

Making Choices: Colors and Cabinets

A LOT has been happening here at the Ole Farm House–long hours of joyful and satisfying work. We are beginning to see the end of the renovation of the interior of the house. A couple of items we’ve had to deal with in the past two or three weeks pertains to paint color for the interior walls and cabinet style and shape.

Choosing Paint Colors

At this point, we’ve decided on a five-color scheme throughout the house. The picture to the right shows the Home Depot color chips for these five colors. We will use white on all the ceilings. Semi-gloss brilliant white will go on the window, door, and base-board trim. I understand that the trend today is to paint ceilings something other than white. We’re not going to follow that trend this time!

Not sure that we like the top color–kind of a taupe greenish brown. The Home Depot paint department calls it “Pebble Clay”–very descriptive for helping one to know the color, I know. But that’s its name! It looks good in a room to itself. However, we have positioned it adjacent to the wall in the dining room. See the second picture–I took this late at night after I’d finishing painting.

The lower portion of these two walls is new bead board painted an off-white called “Oyster”–again another very descriptive paint name! The bead board will trim with a chair rail that I’ll paint the same as the window trim. Presently, the window trim has only a primer coat on. Eventually, I get to the finished coat then install white faux wood blinds.

It seems to me that the upper wall color on the right side of the dining room what a bit too much yellow or brown in it. Seems to me that a lighter shade of green would work better in blending with the left side. What do you think? Any opinions or advice?

Choosing Cabinets

We made the circuit in shopping for kitchen cabinets–Home Depot, Lowes, Mennards, Kline Cabinetmakers, and Wyatt Cabinetry and Custom Woodworking. The choices of style, colors, materials, and price range almost as broadly as Americans’ opinion on what to do to solve the national debt debacle!

Don’t want to take the time to bore you with all the shopping details. I will just cut to the chase and tell you that Wyatt Cabinetry and Custom Woodworking in Forsythe, Missouri “won the contract.” Their motto, “If you can dream it, we can build it,” reflects the action that owner Jerrad Saffle has demonstrated. He has given us personal attention to the particulars that we wanted by helping us know that whatever we wanted, he could do. We aren’t just buying cabinets out of a box, so to speak. Furthermore, Jerrad’s prices were very, very competitive.

Let me just add this short commercial: If you’re needing cabinets, give Jerrad a call and tell him that Ray Easley told you about him. His phone number is 417-546-1600. I don’t get a commission–just want to pass along a word about a good vendor that I’ve discovered.

Working from my pencil sketch, Jerrad computerized the kitchen layout and emailed back to me the exact layout with dimensions and components for me to verify. Hopefully, the sketch will be dark enough for you to read and understand.

The 3D perspective drawing Jerrad provided helped get literally a “bird’s eye view” of the kitchen. The island in the middle will contain a 36″ gas cooktop on which Nana Dianne can prepare those scrumpious biscuits, eggs, and “Nana Jam” for the grandkiddos.

The appliances will be delivered from Lowes this coming Saturday. The cabinets should be ready for delivery by the end of this week or the early part of next week. With family coming to town and to the house on July 29th, I have still a lot of work to get done.

Yesterday, I started laying the oak hardwood floor. Gotta have that finished before the appliances and cabinets arrive–that’s my project sequence.

Dianne has taken pictures of the new floor going down. If I get time, I’ll upload those for another update!

Or I may just keep on laying floor–not lying on the floor! Have a good day.


Replacement Windows: Out with the Old, In with the New!

Two weeks ago (yep, it’s been that long ago which shows how far behind I am on the blog update!), our Pella replacement windows arrived from Lowes. Thirteen vinyl double hung windows with low E-glass and Argon gas filled for high energy savings awaited installation.

Last winter, I stood with my brother, Paul, in the fridge house inspecting the prospect of renovation. Paul said, “You’ll need to put replacement windows in here–these old wooden sashes are way beyond the point of restoration.” He continued to explain what these windows were and how they are installed. “Once you get the hang of installation,” he remarked, “you can do one window in about thirty minutes!”

“Humm,” I thought. “Thirteen windows at thirty minutes each would be six and one-half hours. Not bad!”

Now the time had finally arrived for me to get the work completed. I followed Paul’s instructions by completing these Six Easy Steps to Replacement Window Installation (no, that’s just my made-up check list, nothing official from Pella! Actually, I have ten steps in my list):

1. Remove the small trim around the inside of the window that holds the lower sash in place. Use a putty knife to gently pry the trim loose. Be careful not to break this trim as you will be replacing it after the new window is set in place.

2. Remove the lower window sash. If a rope counter weight is attached, cut the rope so that the window can come fully free. Set this sash aside for disposal or some other worthy project.

3. Remove the small trim between the lower and upper sash. This trim will be nailed in a groove along the sides and top of the window. Use a screw driver or chisel to pry the trim out. Don’t worry if the trim breaks. That’s okay because you will not be using these pieces.

4. Remove the upper window sash as in step #2.

5. Using a paint scraper, clean the outer stop trim of any paint chips. This outer trim is the piece that held the upper sash in place and kept it from falling out of the window! This trim will be the piece that holds your new replacement window in place.

6. String a bead of siliconized caulking around the inside edge of this outer trim.

7. Set the new window in the opening by placing the bottom of the window on the old window sill and pushing it against the outer stop trim coated with siliconized caulking.

8. Fasten the window in place with large screws on each side of the window. The window will have the screw holes bored. Screws come with the window.

9. Spray a small amount of foam insulation in the cavity between the new window and the old window frame. This will be critical in keeping winter winds from seeping into the house. Make sure the cracks are all filled with the right amount of insulation.

10. Re-nail the trim removed in step #1 tight against the new window. This adds another point of security to hold the new window in place and gives it a finished look.

Repeat these steps for however many windows you have.

What about the thirty minutes per window? Well, actually, I was about 10 hours installing the thirteen windows. I guess 45 minutes for my first effort at installing replacement windows is okay.

I am happy that task is competed. We will see how these windows perform later in the year when the winter winds begin howling down from Canada. Will the Argon gas, the low E-glass and the vinyl frames keep the cold out?

Remind me next April and I’ll let you know!


Restoration: From a Coon’s Den to a Master Suite!

While a “coon den” might be a tab bit overly dramatic for describing the Ole Farm House before we took ownership, we saw definite evidence that racoons had been living in the house, both in the attic and the back rooms that have now been renovated as the master suite. I started the month of June with the plumbing system installed and ready to take on new bathrooms. During the three weeks since my last update, I have virtually completed three key rooms: the Laundry/Bath, the Master Bathroom, and the Master Bedroom with adjoining walking in closet.

Just take a quick photographic glance at the progression of restoration–from a coon’s den to a master suite! While taking this glance, think about the notion of restoration!


The space through the stud wall will become the laundry room and half bath–we’re calling it the “laundry bath.” This area had been the original bathroom for the ole house as well as a very narrow, long closet. I removed an interior wall, two windows, and one door to create this room.

Grandson, Jacob, gave me invaluable help in placing tape on the drywall joints.

Having never laid porcelain floor tile of this nature, I used the telephone to consult with my brother, Paul, and a new friend, Jack Holland, regarding the intricacies of floor tile.

The FIRST piece of tile goes down. Just wish I could have laid the LAST piece first and hence have avoided all the knee-killing work! Seriously, I enjoyed the challenge of doing something new that will last for a considerable time and give a radiant beauty to the spots where coons had . . . well, pooped!

Master Bathroom

Originally, we had purchased a three-piece fiberglass tub surround to place above the bathtub. It would have taken only a couple of hours to have installed the surround. However, we decided that this restoration project deserved something more substantial and classy. I set about the task of placing porcelain tile on the two walls above the tub. This took considerably longer that I had allocated for the bathroom but has already proven itself to have been the right decision.

Since this picture was taken, I have finished painting the wall to the left of the toilet. All that remains is placing the floor trim around the base of the wall and installing the replacement windows. These should be coming into the local Lowes store in another 3-4 days. We have already begun using this room, as it is MUCH larger and more convenient than the bath/shower in the RV!

Master Bedroom

Last night (June 26), we slept in our regular bed–taken from storage and set up in the new bedroom. This is the first time since February 15 to sleep in our own bed! This also signals the progress that we’re making on the restoration.

Throughout the month, I have quoted Psalm 23 numerous times to myself as I worked alone. I’ve especially pondered the Psalmist’s phrase, “. . . He restores my soul. . .” There’s that notion of restoration which implies that something has deteriorated and exists in an unsatisfactory state. I guess you could say that this is simply descriptive of human life–we all encounter those periods of life where we need restoration.

The Great Shepherd is all about restoring the life of those who follow him!

Just wondering–does life around you feel like a coon’s den? If so, invite the Good Shepherd in for a renovating restoration. He’s a MASTER at restoration.

Headed to that comfortable bed for a night of restoration. Goodnight.


Setting Goals and Planting Seeds

Goal setting and seed planting share a common theme: they both impact our future. Today, Dianne and I set a goal and planted some seeds.
Goal Setting. Rather ambitiously for sure, I told Dee that my goal by the end of this week is to have both bathrooms finished so that we can move appliances, toilets, lavs, and vanities into these rooms. They could then be very helpful as we continue living in our RV.

I need your advice or opinion regarding the flooring for these rooms. We plan to use Porcelain tile called “Montagna Belluno” sold at Home Depot. We are going to use both the 16″ and 6″ sizes. What do you think about this style of floor for a bathroom. Is porcelain the right stuff to use? What about the larger squares (16″) as opposed to the smaller 6″ squares? Does one size work better or last longer? Thanks for any insights you care to share. They will help us reach our goal for the week!

According to two tile installers that have counseled me, I will need to put down 1/2″ Durock on the subfloor before laying the tile. As you see in the accompanying photo, the subfloor of the ole farm house appears to be in rough shape. However, it is very, very solid and should provide a solid foundation for the tile flooring.

Planting Seeds. Planting season is like the future–neither will wait for you to get ready. We concluded today that NOW is the day we must get our garden planted if we intend to have any produce in the future. Bryan and his children had gotten a start on garden planting a couple of weeks ago. However, we had many more seeds that we wanted to plant. Late this afternoon, just as the sun made its final turn toward the western horizon, we set about planting. Here’s the list as best as I remember (Dianne’s got the official planting roster):

  • Five mounds of cucumbers
  • Six rows of sweet corn
  • One row of okra
  • One row of carrots
  • Three rows of lima beans
  • One row of flowers (not sure what kind)
  • Six rows of peas
  • One row of squash
  • One row of zucchini squash
The soil appears to be in perfect condition for gardening. Just the right amount of moisture. The rich top soil made a welcoming bed for our seeds. Can you find the seeds in this picture? If so, what kind are they?
Hey, fifteen hours of work today and I’m bushed. Good night because I’m headed to bed–getting ready for the future! You do the same!