Christmas Letter 2013

HarrymanChristmas 2013

As I sit down to write this letter on December 19 (earlier than usual for me), we have over a foot of snow on the ground. The experts are predicting much snow this winter and they have a good start in fulfilling that prognostication. Underneath that blanket of white lies the remains of the previous year’s activities: a garden never properly prepared for winter, leaves left unraked, flower beds never completely free of weeds, cracks in the driveway never filled in, and a host of other plans and projects in varying stages of fruition or frustration. All of our failures and omissions have been completely covered in a merciful mantle of beautiful pure white. It looks like we will be having a white Christmas.
This reminds me of a promise in Scripture: Isaiah 1:18. “Come now, let us reason together”, says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us remember that He came to save His people from their sins. Where we have failed in our duties, He has fulfilled them for us. Where we have transgressed, He has paid the penalty for us. Where we have become marred and incomplete, He has covered us with His righteousness so that all will see His glory in us. Just as my yard’s imperfections are covered with brilliant white snow, may God’s mercy blanket us all with His provision of forgiveness and righteousness in Jesus Christ. May we all have this type of white Christmas.
Perhaps the most important family news in this letter is that our 6th grandchild, Micah William Auerbach was just born on December 16, weighing 8 lbs 13 oz and seeming healthy. Amanda is doing well and Jeff was her support and stay through the birth process. Micah is a very good-looking baby and sleeps a lot, but not usually at night. All the other grandkids were excited to see their new little brother. Yes, they plan on having more kids, God willing.
In the interest of saving my space and your time, I will condense the usual family narrative into summary form as follows:
Bob: currently unemployed after nearly 30 years in Emergency Medicine, planning on doing some urgent care starting in January. Getting old fast, stopped running due to knee pain. Highlight of year was 7-day Grand Canyon rafting trip with Margie led by a creation scientist from Canyon Ministries to celebrate our 35th anniversary. Other notable events: John Bunyan Bible Conference, Ocean City (NJ) Bible Conference, Rockwood Acres Family camp (thanks to all you Clemens), family reunion on the Outer Banks (thanks Mom!), trip to Creation Museum with Auerbachs. Still teaching Sunday School and gardening.
Margie: Active as ever. Still teaching her “Titus 2” Bible Study and doing some pottery. Doing some public speaking on behalf of our local Care-Net pregnancy center regarding premarital abstinence. Home schooling Sam and doing some tutoring on the side. Caring for grandkids. Margie now owns a 37 acre property ½ mile down the road toward Jeff & Amanda. She is currently renovating the house (with the help of contractors) and we hope to move in by Spring. Our stone house is currently for sale. Anyone interested? She also oversaw renovations on our cabin in Lewis County, making it much more attractive and comfortable.
Lizzie and husband Mike still homestead out in Yelm, Washington. Lizzie raises multitudes of animals and sells, milks, or eats them. Mike works as an electrician. They are happy in their agrarian lifestyle. L. spends time working at a fish hatchery and is paid in salmon. Mike can reportedly fix any motorized vehicle so they have an interesting fleet of “pre-owned” conveyances. L. recently rescued a sick dehydrated dog and called me for medical instructions. I believe she is up to 5 dogs now.
Gabrielle: Working at Jefferson County Children’s Home and impacting troubled youth. Taking online courses for Master’s degree in Psychology/Family Counseling from Liberty University. Had role in local production of “Oliver”. Loves to sing and play our baby grand piano. Sings in “worship team” at church. Lovely young lady with glowing personality and a pleasure to have her here at home. Recent trip to Toronto to see “Le Miz”. Still waiting for Mr. Right.
Isaac: Sophomore at Grove City College north of Pittsburgh. Career plans still unsettled, but looks like a business emphasis, perhaps in the food industry. Very interested in a young lady named Alexandra. They will both be arriving in a couple of days. Broke his eye socket while playing rugby. Doing fine. Got his own set of wheels this year. Would not allow any food in car. (You should see his room when he’s home!)
Nathan: First year at Marion (Alabama) Military Institute. Nate has decided that military life is not for him, but is still considering his options for further education and/or career. By his own testimony, Nate is “a stud muffin”. On vacations he works as a boy toy for Hollister at the mall, smiling big to bring in the customers. He says he wants to build things and does have a knack for things mechanical, but where that leads him remains to be seen. He will be visiting Lizzie for 10 days after Christmas.
Samuel: Ninth grade homeschooler. Piano going well. Playing some Chopin, Beethoven, and Schumann. 2nd dan black belt in Tae Kwondo. Getting tall, voice changing, etc. Well-mannered, smart, helpful, tender-hearted, and good-looking kid. Still subject to hissy fits concerning proper use of colon and other punctuation issues. Plans on career in law enforcement of some type. Little kids seem to be in awe of him. He’s fun to have around.
And that is the news from Watertown. We pray all is well with you and pray for a healthy, joyous, and fulfilling New Year for you and your loved ones. Have a blessed Christmas. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Bob and Margie Harryman et al.

Chapter 1- sober

Please remember to pray for my new Titus ladies who have just finished chapter one and have had 8 days of quiet time. You may remember how hard it was or still is to put God first. They are doing great and already getting the importance of first things. Still it is a struggle and the world is stacked against us.
It occurred to me that Titus has morphed over time and there is more to chapter one than just what is written in the book. Some of you who are teaching others will know what I mean. I thought I could do a summary of what I have added to each chapter and you all could comment/share resources or ideas which would enhance the subject.
So in addition to the book:
-google “Father’s Love Letter” and read it. I wish you could have heard us go around the circle taking turns reading each sentence. The more we read the more we were struck dumbfounded by the Father’s love and our voices became full of wonder and joy!!
-sing along w “10,000 reasons” by Matt redman and don’t forget that God-glorifying music is only a click away
-start a page in your q t notebook that is titled”reasons to praise God” and add to it whenever you come up w another reason
– start another page in your q t notebook called ” prayers from the Bible” and add to it as you find them. Don’t be afraid to adapt them for your use, inserting names and putting them in your own words

That’s all for now. I am prayerfully trying to catch up w how my Titus ladies are doing but there are 200 of you and some of you I have not seen in years! Save me time and update my contact info and more importantly tell me how you are spiritually. Are you in a good church? Are you having your daily q t? Is your spiritual fruit plentiful? How is your marriage and your children? Are you feeling isolated or overwhelmed? Are you looking forward to the return of our precious Savior?
All comments come to me privately and are not seen by anyone else unless I approve them. In JESUS, Margie

Ocean city bible conference

So here is some good news for all who homeschool or have preschoolers or have empty nests: the best vacation ever is right here in ocean city,nj! Gabrielle, Sam, bob and I are attending this conference and we are having great fellowship and GREAT teaching and worship. There are people from all over here so don’t think you live too far away right now( unless you are Melissa, or Catherine, or Julia). It is reasonably priced and it has nursery for under 3yo. I cannot tell you how the singing and preaching have encouraged me and brought us right to the edge of heaven, how it has been a time to focus on Jesus! If you all come next year we can have a Titus reunion here. Google it and start saving! Love, margie


It has fallen to me to deal w the trash. It smells and although the family notices, no one volunteers to go to the dump. We had decided when we moved to Watertown to save money by not hiring a garbage man and instead recycling all we could, burning the burnables, and bagging the few things that didn’t fit in either category. On this particular smelly day, there were 2 boogie boards waiting to go to the dump plus the usual recycles. None of that smells and usually there is no urgency w the trash. It can pile up for some time! When it had reached critical stink and I began loading the sequoia, I discovered the truth. A bag containing burnables had slipped behind the boogie boards and had missed the scheduled burnings. It had contained meat wrappers and it now contained masses of maggots! So many that they were spilling out of the bag onto the floor in piles of slime and wiggling grossness! Oh, I screamed and almost vomited! But in the end I had to deal w all of it. I cannot describe how disgusting and difficult it was!
But now that I am 2 weeks removed from the event and can remember it w out feeling my stomach move up to my throat, I am beginning to wax philosophical about how to prevent maggots from happening. Don’t neglect the garbage!!! Garbage happens; deal with it! In our personal lives, sin is part of living in a fallen world. Why are we surprised when we suddenly discover sin in our life or those around us? Even before it gets to the stinking stage we know that garbage exists. Deal w it before it begins to stink and it will be so very much easier! 1 jn.1:8,9 says,”if we claim to be w out sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
We all have sin. Uncover it by confessing it and exposing it to the Light of the world. May our God give us courage to deal w sin before it makes a stinking mess! Anyone out there want to share about sin in your own life that needs confession? We could pray for one another:)
Note- all comments come to me privately and are not seen by anyone else’s eyes until I approve them. I could even change names to protect the guilty if you want:) lov

1 Peter 3:4 “Modified”

This is Bob’s commentary on 1 Peter 3:4. I thought it was brilliant!!

When you do a makeover, do it on your heart, where it will do the most good.

*Instead of plucking your eyebrows, try plucking out sin and bitterness.

*Instead of applying makeup foundation, cover yourself with the adornment of grace.

*Instead of lipstick, let gracious words adorn your lips.

*Instead of applying mascara and eyeliner, let your eyes see what God sees.

*Instead of perfume, let the sweet aroma of godliness and gentleness surround you.

*Instead of fashionable or provocative garments, clothe yourself in acts of charity and love.

*Instead of shoes to die for, die to yourself and walk in the steps of Jesus.

*Instead of dangly earrings, let your ears be attentive to the words of the Christ and the words of your husband.

*Instead of piercing your body to hang jewelry thereon, let the word of Christ pierce your heart, mind and soul.


Questions and Answers…

Q? I don’t know your full story, but it sounded like you might be speaking on abortion tomorrow? After sharing my prayer request about it, I just wanted to make sure I didn’t say anything in a hurtful way. Honestly, the whole process of abortion bothers me, but what stood out to me most this week was reading the stories of the women who experienced it. It sounded like such an awful experience and I’d love to know how to come alongside people who’ve been through it in a compassionate way, rather than taking a stance that makes people feel judged.

Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful email. It has been a big help knowing you are behind me and praying for me. You have walked for the most part the straight and narrow path (as have Amanda and Gabrielle )and you may not have an “exciting” and “dramatic” testimony like those of us who have walked on the dark side for so long. Your testimony is about the faithfulness of God toward the upright and the good fruit and blessing of following Him; it is no less miraculous a salvation. I say this to remind you that you have much to say and offer;don’t let fear of offense inhibit you. Your response Monday was totally appropriate. You want to come alongside w compassion? Ask,”How do you feel about it now?” Everybody can talk about their feelings. Surveys show that 9/10 of the women who have had abortions deeply regret them. Even unbelievers. It’s Romans 1– the law written on our hearts. We don’t need to debate right and wrong with women who have had an abortion. There is a time to debate morality w people who are considering abortion and w lawmakers but I sense that is not your calling. You are called to come alongside w compassion. Don’t worry;you don’t come across as judge mental. If someone does confess to you a sin, lead them to Jesus. If they are already a follower, assure them that abortion is not the unforgivable sin. We just try to meet needs as they are exposed to us.

Estate sale

While I was iMississippi one of the huge antebellum homes on Church Street in Port Gibson was having an estate sale. It was fabulous! Room after room of valuable antiques, the acquisitions of a lifetime, a long lifetime! I lost count of the sets of china, the crystal, the 4poster beds and bureaus and sets of sheets and rugs and chairs and paintings! Room after room after room up to the ten ft ceilings for two floors! That was amazing enough, but the attic! The attic was full of cedar wardrobes which in turn were full of clothes! At least 30 identical wardrobes were lined up side by side. I was told that the lady of the house had two wardrobes delivered each week so her husband wouldn’t know how many she had bought. She was definitely a collector! I was really tempted to start buying some chairs, beds, wardrobes, rugs, teacups. Couldn’t I send Bob pictures, put the treasures on hold, and rent a u-haul to pull home behind the Sequoia after nate’s graduation? I could even rationalize a spending spree because everything was 50% off that day. So the $6000 beds were “only” $3000! I probably will never see such things again at such a price. But did I NEED any of those things? No. Our house is more than full of family treasures. I would just be buying because we could. I was reminded before I took out the visa that our treasure is not here on earth and not in the quantity and quality of stuff. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of buying and collecting for getting’s sake like the woman whose stuff we were all pawing through. Someday my stuff will be laid out for redistribution; I can’t take any of it with me to heaven. What will people know about me and, more importantly, about my Savior when my stuff is laid out on tables?
I bought 2 pie pans and a sweater for $3 and called it a day