Thursday, August 31, 2006

A quiet week (with exciting news)

Here is Thursday night and this is my first entry for this week. I’m telling myself that it is because I was too busy. However, it is also true that I didn’t really have much to write about. So to-day is just a brief note on my week.

I will start with the exciting news. In my posting about our visit with Melissa in Kingston I wrote “We had several long conversations with Melissa getting caught up on her life and talking about her plans for school and – hopefully—some time soon - a wedding. We had been kidding her the fact that Chris was married in the year of our 25th anniversary and Kevin in the year of our thirty-fifth -- so she had to either get married this year (our 40th) or wait for another 5 years – anyhow – time will tell but she may break the pattern."

What I couldn’t say then -- because Alexander hadn’t made it “official” by proposing -- was that she was quite certain she would be getting married soon. Saturday she called and said that, on Friday, he had “popped the question” and given her a ring. Sunday or Monday she called to confirm a ”good news/bad news” plan for their wedding that we had talked about but it hadn’t been completely settled.

The good news was that they are planning to be married on September 7. The bad news is that this will be very small civil ceremony. We wanted to be there as did others in her circle of family and friends but, since Alexander’s parents who are in Sweden can’t come now—they wanted to be fair to every one and limit the participation to a couple of their friends to ”standup” with them.

The GOOD news however,(which is like Melissa to do things differently) is that she still wants a wedding with the dress, attendants, family & friends – a full scale celebration of her marriage. That they are planning for next summer. So she will be married this year close to our 40th but she is also breaking the pattern of “multiples of 5” by delaying the “ceremony & party” until next year. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about this event as time goes forward.

So we are happy that she is getting married and that her and Alexander can go forward having made this commitment to each other. We are sad that we can’t be there--- and we look forward with anticipation to next year (although I’m not to keen about being involved in what I know will be some ”tense” times as Melissa and her mother are working through the details f the “million” things that have to be planned. (Update - I don't mean that I think they'll "fight" about it -- they get along well -- it is just that there will be so many decisions and that creates stress)

--- I pray this is a step on a life long journey together and that as they walk together in their love for each other they will seek God and walk with him as well.--

Other than that it has been a fairly quiet week.

Monday morning I got a call from my Dad asking if I wanted to go golfing and we set a timeof10 a.m. When I went to pick him up he had a puzzled look and said he was waiting for my nephew Ken— so I said “Did you know you called me?” –and he said “Oh – I thought I had called Ken”. – So off we went and had a good round of golf.

Monday afternoon I prepared a bulletin article for next Sunday that had to be to Karen by Tuesday. I also did some prep work for the courses I’m teaching this year at Algoma University and Linda had started work at tearing up and replanting one of her flower beds.

By Tuesday I was heavily involved in the ”reconstruction” -

Our house is built on a gravel hill and this bed at the edge of our patio had very little top soil-with gravel and rocks underneath. She had dug down about a foot and wanted it filled back in with a better base and more topsoil. Lots of shoveling and mixing Tuesday & Wednesday but it now has about 6 inches of fine gravel as a base, topped by 3 inches of the old top soil mixed with half composted leaves and then topped with a equal parts mix of topsoil, cow manure and peat moss. I try to look at these day-to-day experiences to find spiritual applications. In this case I was reminded that in our efforts to fulfill the mission that Jesus gave us (Matt. 28:19) we don’t have to worry about the ”back breaking” work of preparing the soil. We rather have the easier job of planting the seed—God does the rest.

Tuesday p.m. I got talking to Len Roetman –we had talked briefly the previous Friday and it was his birthday so I had wanted to arrange a golf game with him & my Dad. We had done a couple ofyears in a row a several years back but we hadn’t done it for a while. The reason we started this ”tradition” was that my Dad and Len’s son Len Jr. Both have their birthday’s on January 13 – and that’s not so good a time for golfing here in SSM so it was a Birthday celebration for the3 of them and I just tagged along.

In any case – we arranged to go Wednesday a.m. (Len Jr. is working so he couldn’t join us. We had a great time. I had a good visit with Len which we haven’t had a chance to do for a while (click HERE for more on our connection with the Roetman’s)

To-day I had a number of errands to run, paid some bills and made a trip for the Red Cross to take a lady to her Dr’s appointment. I also learned that one of the courses I was scheduled to teach had been cancelled due to insufficient registration. Fortunately, I had been focusing more effort on the other course although I had done course outlines and set up a course website. It is disappointing to put effort into preparations and have the course cancelled but it is what it is.

We also "closed out" the final chapter of "Roger at Pinehill". The movers had come in to pack so Linda & I met Roger, Sandra and Jessical for a "last breakfast" at Sandro's on Tuesday morning. Wednesday evening we had a full house for the final session of the "Mayberry series" with coffee & cake following -- lots of hugs and tears.

Oh I almost forgot the other big news for the week was the birth of David Stewart Seeler on Saturday -- 2 weeks ahead of schedule but a fine healthy baby boy. Mark & Sharon and older sister Amy are overjoyed.

Well such as it is that’s been my week so far

God Bless

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Are you in a slump?

I’m going to try something new. I want to use Sundays to post some material from a series of Bible lessons that I have been presenting in a Sunday morning adult class.

For context I offer the following for consideration.

My desire in life is to know God and have an ever deepening and richer relationship with him – in other words to be a Christian because “Jesus is the way the truth and the life – and he shows us the way to find God. (John 14:6)

I offer these thoughts about my continuing quest to know Jesus and receive the “full” (abundant) life (John 10:10) in the hopes that it encourage others share in the rewards (Hebrews 11:6) of living as a child of the King .

The “Back to the basics” series” is based on the following observations

1. Christians are expected to grow continually in spiritual qualities and works of service (cf. “2 Corinthians 3:18 ...being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, 2 Thessalonians 1:3 … your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing; 2 Peter 1:8 For if you possess these qualities* in increasing measure,

2. However, our experience suggests that Christians will, at times, encounter “plateaus” or “slumps” in their spiritual development (Typical of all human endeavor)

3. To achieve a “breakthrough” when we are at a “plateau” “in a slump” a good approach is to go back and reexamine the basics and make any needed corrections or renewed focus in areas where we may have “drifted off track” (or not have gotten it right in the first place)

One of the more basic things that influences our growth as Christians is our view of “church”—Do we see it as a place we go or as something we are? It seems to me that we so often talk of “going to church” rather than emphasizing that God wants us to “be the church” wherever we are and what ever we are doing.

Webster’s English Dictionary gives the following definitions
1: a building for public esp. Christian worship
2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
3: a body or organization of religious believers as
3a: the whole body of Christians
4: public divine worship

In researching this lesson, I came across this description of the origins of the word church and how it relates to Biblical usage. It is from a group called Theophile International (I haven’t read all of their material so I can’t comment on their overall teaching but based on my other research I fully support this description of God’s view of the church)

What does church mean?

Etymology of the word "church": Middle English "chirche", from Old English "cirice", ultimately from Late Greek "kyriakon", from Greek, neuter of "kyriakos": of the lord, from kyrios lord, master.

This is very interesting. According to the dictionary the English word "church", originated from a Greek word meaning "of the Lord".

The Greek word "ekklesia", which is translated church, is a combination of the Greek word kaleo (which means to call) and ek, a preposition meaning out or out of. Therefore, ekklesia is properly translated as "called out ones".

So, while the common contemporary understanding of the word "church" is focusing upon a gathering, the actual meaning of the word is on our status as followers of Jesus. Within the context of His teachings that we are to be "in the world", but not "of the world", and that we are to hate our life "in this world", the application of being "the called out ones" is appropriate. The common usage which empowers the system of “churchianity” is not an appropriate interpretation of "ekklesia". For, the focus is not on the group, nor on the gathering of the group, but upon our status as belonging to the Lord and being called out of worldliness and self life.

One change in my basic thinking is that I now believe it is a mistake when we engage in discussions about what “our” church believes. I say this because I think this leads quickly to one of 2 “extremes” both of which I believe distorts God’s intention.

The first extreme is that we concede (by engaging in the discussion) that it is legitimate for us as human beings to identify a relatively short list of “belief & practice’ (doctrine & liturgy ) that “identify” us as a distinct “church’. To engage in this type of “denominating” of churches seems to be divisive and sectarian in nature rather than seeking to “be one as Jesus & the Father are one”(John 17:21-22) or to be seeking the unity described in Ephesians 4 .

The second extreme is to make the claim that we are Christ’s church and then use our list of beliefs and practices to define what people have to “believe & practice” for us to consider them to be a part of the church.
This logically leads to the position that ”only we” understand what God intended – but the “infighting” within various groups shows that even those who claim to have a corner on truth can’t agree on everything—and who is to decide which things we have to be “right” about and which one’s don’t matter.

There is another reason I believe we should steer away from discussions about ”what church do you belong to?” or “Why you should be a part of this church?”. I think that it is “ socially acceptable” to talk about “church” because it allows us to seem ”inclusive” and ”non confrontational”. It is less acceptable to talk about having a relationship with God & Jesus and surrendering ourselves to their will. (I don't know if this is true of other but I know it is true in my experience)

Soif I don’t want to talk about “church” what do I say if asked about “my”church?”

It seems to me that the answer is found in the original restoration plea of Campbell and Stone that we should be “Christians only” I think the best answer about a specific group of people who see themselves as a ”church” family” is to say “We are a group of Christians who are connected by a common love for and faith in Jesus”

Of course this begs the question of what do we mean by a Christian (that's another "basic" andI'llget to it eventually) but at least this takes us into the correct discussion of “relationship” rather than “rules”

In summary, we need to believe that we are the “eklesia” and that being "called" is God's work and God's judgement. We don't decide (define) the church we simply are (or are not) part of it dependent on our relationship with Jesus.

To me this is one of the “basics” that we need to ‘relearn” – Allowing ourselves to get sucked into a discussion about “which church is best” or “Why this church?” isn’t relevant –we need to get away from ”phamplets” describing “beliefs and practices” that differentiate (separate) us from others and get on with seeking how we can experience the “ones” (unity) of Ephesians .

(Note: This is NOT to say that I believe those things emphasized in the pamphlet aren’t true or important – it is just that reducing these Godly things to "phamplets" undermines the claim to that we are “just Christians” because most people will see it as a “creed” that “divides” us from others rather than a plea for unity by seeking Jesus through the word.)

If we believe (and I do) that there is only “one church”, then we simply need to encourage people to be disciples (Christians) and leave the “church” to God as a necessary consequence. And we certainly have to get away from using the beliefs of the group that we assemble with as the “litmus” test of who is a Christian and who isn’t.

As a closing note - (and I may well have missed something here because I’m still struggling with “What is post-modernism and what does it mean to Christians?) I’m beginning to think that the “post modernists” may have done what 150 years of restoration has failed to do – they have put the “kiss of death” onto denominations – they may be different in their thinking and they may have less of a passion for “a single truth” but it is clear that -- when they are “turned on” to “church” -- it is because they have been attracted by people who have a relationship with Jesus. They are not interested in joining a “church”.

Hope there was something here that makes sense to someone other than myself

Next week – I will revisit another “basic” that may remove obstacles to our growth.

God Bless

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Auf wiedersehen

Roger's last Sunday with us is to-morrow. His last "official duty" is the Andy Griffith class on Wednesday August 30. This posting represents the closing lines in the final chapter of the the book "Roger at Pinehill" ; a book which began in December 1995. This closing chapter started on June 25 2006 (see Changes at Pinehill -posted June 27 2006). Of course in September, (God willing) God will begin the sequel (Roger at Troy).

During the past week we have been saying “goodbye” to Roger & Sandra. Farewell’s to people you love are always painful and difficult. We try to sidestep this by saying that it is for the best, by celebrating the good times we have shared and by being happy for the new opportunities we will experience as a result – but the truth is that saying goodbye hurts.

The farewells started on Sunday at our monthly potluck when we presented Roger & Sandra with an afghan embroidered with their names and dates that that they were with us here. There was also a gift for Jessica although she wasn’t present – she was spending sometime visiting in Thunder Bay to get familiar with her new home. (Again I forgot my camera so the picture is from Thursday night).

Lloyd & I expressed our appreciation (on behalf of the congregation) for their (almost) 11 years of hard work and faithful service to the Lord at Pinehill. We recalled that the first weekend they were here. In December 1995 Sault Ste. Marie experienced a record snowfall and we had to cancel services – so his inaugural sermon was delayed. I guess they are leaving in September to avoid a repeat of this.

Tuesday morning Lloyd & Barbara and Linda & I had breakfast with Roger & Sandra at Sandro’s . This was Linda’s idea. I think she wanted to find out what we talked about so long almost every Tuesday morning for the past couple of years

She also gave them a wall hanging and welcome sign that she had bought (and failed to give them) as a housewarming present when they bought their house a few years ago. Now they will have something to "warm" their new home in Troy.

Thursday evening many of their church friends gathered for a farewell dinner at Giovanni’s (and this time I did bring my camera!!) It was an informal event although there were more gifts and we where able to honor Jessica as well. (She returned from Thunder Bay with the news that she was going to be rooming with Kyle & Anna which made her parents happy— for both financial and family reasons. )

The event was organized by Leona Devin and Barb King(somehow I didn't get a picture of Leona that night - this one was taken today at another event) .

Jack & Barb had become especially good friends with Roger & Sandra – Jack & Roger sharing a passion for hunting and other “fix up” projects around their homes.

Barb is a compassionate wise lady with a heart of gold and someone who is a good “sounding board” when dealing with the “people problems” which are part & parcel of the life of a preacher & his wife.

Most of the others who attended had had their lives touched in special ways through Roger’s ministry. I was asked to be “master of ceromonies” and rather than crying along with Sandra while trying to make yet another speech, I opened the floor to allow anyone present to comment. I didn’t take “minutes” so I apologize in advance if I miss someone or misquote someone but I wanted to share some of the comments that I do recall.

Kirk Smith had several comments. Now Kirk is very out spoken and sometimes people “cringe” when he says he has something to say -- but the reality is he speaks from the heart and says it like he sees –. always “authentic” -- . which is a good thing. There was some kidding around with Roger but beneath it was the encouragement of telling us how Roger had made a difference in his “life journey”-- encouraging his faith and introducing him to the Pinehill family. We pray that we can continue to grow together in this walk. (see the June 24 entry Wedding Joy for more about Kirk and his lovely wife Vicki)

Steve Rose commented on the fact that the thing he liked most about Roger was that he challenged him to think. Sometimes it made him angry, sometimes he disagreed but he never was left “in a rut”. ( Steve (in middle) & Jillena attended Pinehill for several years but now attend a church in Michigan closer to where they live - We were happy that they were able to make the trip across the border in the midst of a slow down by Candain customs workers to attendthis gathering)

In a similar vein, Ilse Herzog (see - near the bottom of - my May 28 posting for more about the Herzog’s) recounted a story from when she worked and had a boss that everybody “disliked” because he was always changing things, always challenging the “status quo”. However, when this person moved on she was in tears and told him “I never thought that I would be sad because you are leaving but I am”.

In the same way she had often felt that Roger’s approach was lacking, that she disagreed with him . However, she had also had many long conversations on spiritual issues and had been challenged to grow. So, her feeling about Roger leaving was the same “I never thought it would be true but I’m very sad that he is going” – (as an aside – growth at almost 80 years for a lady who has has been an example of faith and a knowledgable Bible student for many years is no mean feat and I felt humbled by this acknowledgement that we can all continue to learn no matter how long we have been Christians or how old we are)

My Dad recalled knowing Roger when he was “knee high to a grasshopper” and mused that he guessed that this “bratty little kid” had turned out OK . Barb Hotchkiss commended Sandra. Marion Long recounted her first experience in meeting Roger and making a comment -- that made for a good laugh as she recounted it. Something about Roger complaining that the bedroom at their house was very small and Marion responding – “Well what do you do in a bedroom anyway?” We’ll leave that alone -- which Roger said was the only response he could make at the time. for her work this what he says is very authentic and what he had to say was sharing in his journey – with its ups & downs – is encouraging to all of us.

For all of these comments – joking or serious -- positive or “spurring” -- there was a hearty round of “amen’s” which seemed to say that others shared the sentiment that was being expressed. I can only hope that Roger listened more to the “ encouragement to improve” than he did to the accolades - because he needs humility more than hubris (sorry Rog - I couldn’t resist )

Roger started his tenure here with a series on the sermon on the mount. I guess I should have been suspicious when he came back to that foundational set of lessons by Jesus earlier this year. One thing that Roger has done which has benefited many of us is that he has always researched and restudied each passage of scripture looking for a fresh approach and new insights in his sermons – rather than just dusting off a previous lesson—or using a sermon outline from someone else’s book.

He has encouraged us to be “Bereans”(searching the scriptures for God’s truth ) (Acts 17:11). He has consistently challenged us to seek to know Jesus – to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Most importantly, he challenged us to avoid the “comfortable pew” of tradition, to be careful about regurgitating the same answers to the same questions – which are often answers to questions that people weren’t asking or answers that didn’t make sense to people because they weren’t relevant to that persons’s needs and experience. As I said on Sunday “Of course he made mistakes (and even admitted to some of them); of course we sometimes thought he was wrong but that often led to an open loving dialog that brought us both closer to truth. (knowing the heart of Jesus)

How do you say “goodbye” to a friend and encourager? I thought of the phrase “until we meet again” and have used the German version of that in the title (influenced by the German heritage of the Herzog’s and Steve Rose –perhaps but mostly because I like the way it sounds. and the theme of "until we meet again)

I “googled” “until we meet again” to get the spelling and discovered a list of how to say has Goodbye in 450 languages.

I also got thinking about how did people say Goodbye in the Bible. My blogging friend Dee Andrews (click Here) recently ran a contest about trees. So I’m starting a contest on “Unique ways of saying Goodbye to friends who are “moving on” . I’ll “plagarize” Dee’ rules and include them in a later post. But for now just email your entries to . I’ll give a special prize (actually the prize is being acknowledged in this blog) for “Goodbyes in the Bible” I have dibs on David & Jonathan (1 Samuel 19 & 20).

Of course there is room for a category “songs of Goodbye” and I include these 2 as starters.

Happy Trails by Roy Rogers and Dale Evens –with alternative 1st verse

Happy trails to you, it's great to say "hello".
And to share with you the trail we've come to know.
It started on the day that we met Jesus,
He came into our hearts and then he freed us.
For a life that's true, a happy trail to you.

Some trails are happy ones,Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

God Be With You (Jeremiah E. Rankin, 1828-1904 William G. Tomer, 1832-1896)
God be with you till we meet again;
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus' feet;
Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
Neath His wings protecting hide you;
Daily bread still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.


God be with you till we meet again;
When life's perils thick confound you;
Put His arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.


God be with you till we meet again;
Keep love's banner floating o'er you,
Strike death's threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.


So to Roger, Sandra, Jessica (and Kyle & Anna)

- See you later, Hasta la vista, Caio, Sayonara, Auf wiedersehen

Go with God our friends and May God Bless you richly
Charlie & Linda

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Tour

Last week we took what will likely be our last road trip with the “BBB” for this year. The original purpose of the trip was to take my Dad to “the island” (Manitoulin) - the land of the “Haweaters” - for a golf game with my cousin Norris. It also turned out that our friends Dave & Maxine Bringleson were going to be camping at their lot on Lake Kagawong so we planned to spend a couple of days with them.

My mother was raised on Barrie Island which is just a short causeway away from being a part of Manitoulin. Linda’s maternal grandparents were both raised on the Manitoulin. So we have some “roots” there. Last year we were there for a Baker (my mother's family) reunion. The picture shows Dad with those of our family who were present.

When I was growing up a reference to “the island” was understood to be Manitoulin/Barrie Island. When Linda & I moved to Sault Ste. Marie (over 30 years ago) we soon discovered that we had to be careful when speaking of “the island” since most people here think it means St. Joseph Island (click HERE for a “virtual tour”).

We left here Monday morning (August 14) and made a short stop in Thessalon. Dad & I remained in the motor home while Linda visited with her mother. We were parked on the main street and I saw Marilla Mulligan walk by – so I called her over and we chatted for a while. Marilla is the daughter of Jack & Barb King who are very good friends from the church here. During the conversation she asked where we were headed. It occurred to me that here we were in this “bus” going on a trip to play golf— so I said we were taking Dad “on a golf tour”. We also saw and talked to Arliss Klazinga –Arliss is the daughter of Colleen Seabrook who is also a friend from church. We knew both Marilla and Arliss when they were growing up here in the Sault -- this is one of the advantages of having connections in a small town—if you sit there for a while you are bound to see someone you know.

Our first stop on the “tour” was at Richard & Myra Tallman’s. Myra is my cousin. Her brother Norris who lives in Ottawa was visiting and he had contacted my Dad to arrange the (3rd annual) golf game (They had met in Meaford for a game the previous 2 years). Wilma Lansdell, who I’ve mentioned before, is Myra and Norris’s sister . Their late father Clarence was my Dad’s older brother. Actually, I likely owe my existence to Uncle Clarence because he married Martha Robertson who was my mother’s cousin. It was at their wedding that my Dad met and fell for my mother and the rest, as they say, is history.

Richard& Myra “retired” to the Manitoulin in the late 80’s. to join their son Peter and his family who had purchased a dairy farm there. They severed a lot from the farm and built a lovely home on the hill overlooking “treasure island” on Lake Mindemoya . Peter (with Richard’s help) operated a dairy farm for several years until 2004 when he sold of the diary herd and went back to school to get his teaching certificate. The picture was taken at the Bringleson's on Wednesday afternoon when Richard & Myra (left)and Norris & Julie (right)came in to drop Dad off for the afternoon.

Anyhow – enough geography and personal history.

We arrived at Richard & Myra’s place on the north side of Lake Mindemoya ( on Hwy 551 between M’Chigeeng and Mindemoya) around 4. Myra had prepared a great turkey supper and afterwards we visited & played dominoes until bedtime.

Tuesday morning was the big golf game. Dad played with Norris & his wife Julie. I played with Peter and his daughter Emma. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your view) I forgot my camera so I don’t have any pictures – We enjoyed ourselves and I managed to find as many balls as I lost so, by my definition, I had a good game.

After lunch, we left Dad at Myra’s for more visiting and we headed off to Kagawong. The camp lot is about a mile & a half (2 km) off the highway on a narrow gravel road through the bush.

They had been hit pretty hard by high winds (maybe a small tornado) in early July.

There were several big trees down that had been across the road but they had been cleaned up so we had no serious problems getting in. We had brought our extendable pruning shears and I had to walk along and trim back some branches to make room for the BBB.

We got in and set up a couple of hours before Dave & Maxine arrived. Wednesday morning Dave & I did some cleanup work around the campsite.

Thursday morning Dave & I cleaned up a couple of big cedars that had been broken off by the storm. Linda did some painting to brighten up the “little house out back”. All in all it was a great visit. Pictures show Dave outside there trailer and Maxine withLinda

Dave & Maxine are long time friends. We met in the mid-70’s when we were asked by a visiting preacher to have Bible studies with them.. This developed into a close friendship and Christian fellowship.

Their children were close in ages to ours. We had many good times together as our families grew up together.

We helped them build a house on St. Joseph Island and visited with them many times while they lived there. We went cross country sking in winter and enjoyed times at camp at Goulais Bay in the summer. However, Dave’s work took him to Elliot Lake where he worked in the mines until they closed. He then studied for and wrote his tests to qualify as a stationary engineer. He worked in Thessalon, then moved to Cochrane and then Red Rock. When they moved away we still saw they once in awhile because Dave’s family is from the Sault and Max is from Manitoulin Island so they would be in the Sault fairly often. However, as their children married and moved to Southern Ontario and we were frequently away on long week ends visiting our kids – it seemed we rarely connected.

It was a blessing when we discovered they would be on the Manitoulin the same time as we were and we were so grateful for this chance to renew and strengthen our friendship.

Alas, all good things must come to an end so Friday, we picked Dad up and headed home. –

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The “I” of the storm

I’ve been “off the air” for over a week. I’ll talk more about “what’s been happening” as I catch up over the next few days.

Today is about a topic that has been running through my mind off & on for several months.

It seems that this year has been the year for us to experience (mostly the aftermath) of violent storms.

In March we saw first hand the devastating effects of Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast (Click HERE to see John Dobb’s “by the numbers” report from FEMA to get an idea of the magnitudeof that damage) However, it wasn’t just the property damage – it was people like the Kelly’s and Charlotte who lost almost everything they had and were forced out of their homes –- and they were among the “lucky ones” who weren’t injured, who had other places to go, who were able to rebuild and restore some semblance of ”normality” in their lives.

In July/August we saw and then experienced first hand the power of tornadoes that swept through Northern Ontario (see Stormy North and A “twist”of Fate)

Last week, we saw first hand some of the damage that was done by the first of those tornadoes and damaging winds as the first July storm swept across the Manitoulin Island (I’ll have some pictures from our friend’s camp in a later post). Just this morning we saw the reports of the devastating F-2 tornadoes in Saskatchewan. (see Tornado story)

This “taste” of ”damaging” storms has convinced me that I never want to be anywhere near the “eye” of F2 (or higher) tornado or a category 4 or 5 hurricane or an building destroying earthquake or any of those types of natural disasters that cause such wide spread damage to property and leave hurting, broken people in their wake.

This may seem like an obvious statement—after all, not many would want these experiences. My point is that without first hand experience it is difficult to really understand how destructive and how frightening these disasters can be.

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible -- (Is it possible to have 1000 favorites – because my favorite story seems to depend on the situation and circumstances –which I guess is an illustration of the richness of God’s revelation to us and the complexity and diversity of the challenges we encounter in life)

Re-phrasing - My favorites Bible accounts about storms are
Jesus coming to the disciples “walking on the water (Matt. 14:22-32) and
Jesus sleeping while the storm rages and then calming it (Matt.8:23-27)

Maybe I’m rambling a bit but my thought in all this is that it isn’t so much about “where is the “eye” of the storm ?” so we can get away or stay away from it. Rather it is more important to ask “Where am ”I” in the storm?

So some thoughts on that

One of the gifts we can give our children is to go where the storms have been (if the storms don’t come to us) -There they can experience the realities of finding God in the midst of the storm. They can experience the “ups” (trust in Jesus in spite of the storm) and ”downs” (sinking into the waves of despair) of faith. In those "ups" and "downs" they can see that, while God may not prevent pain, he can give us a way through it—if we trust in him ( (see John Dobb’s story about Jenelle & Emily and Alice & Christina for more on this thought).

Of course this can and should be done at home or anywhere by going into our communities and finding those who lives have been turned upside down by the storms of life— poverty, crime, addictions and the like. I just think that physical disasters allow us to develop faith and compassion which will let us better deal with the more “invisible “but nonetheless devastating storms—some of which are the direct result of poor personal choices.

(When we were raising our children I think we may have protected them from the storms rather than taking them into the “I” of the storm—I wonder if that was a mistake. If it was, I pray that God’s working in their lives has not been hindered too much by my failure to seethis then.)

I have ”mused” before ( see “Why not me?”) on the question of ”why” some people seem to experience one “storm” after another while other’s ( and I include myself here) seem to go through life just seeing the “fringes” of the storm or ”reminders” of the possibility of storms. Some wonder “where is God in the midst of all the pain and chaos of their lives?”. Others struggle with demonstrating faith in the midst of ”mild winds and small waves”.

I have been reading Philip Yancy’s book “Disappointment with God” (see for example Zondervan listing) and I think that he speaks to both these situations. It is after all a matter of “perception”. The real underlying “disaster” in all our lives is to “deny God”.

How we find faith and remain loyal to our God is the critical "struggle" of our lives?

I think it is just as tough (perhaps tougher ) to do this if we are “healthy, (relatively) wealthy and wise (by this world’s standards) as it is "easy" to “curse" God when we are in serious storms (as Job’s wife suggested that he do –Job 2:9).

For those who may havelost faith because you didn't see God inthe "storm"(or in the "calm"_ Yancy is a good place to go for some questions and help in rediscovering the Invisible God (another book he wrote).

If your life is (relatively” smooth and easy – then my advice is seek the “I” of the storm. Once you find God there (and you can)—he will stay with you –in the good times and the bad.

(Sounds like the “marriage vows”—for better or worse, sickness & health,etc.. This appropriate because as Yancy points out God’s greatest desire is that we love him “freely” even when he seems to be ”silent & invisible”)

God Bless

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A bundle of joy, Hot Water and New Beginnings

Well I spent a fair bit of time last week telling the story of our summer vacation. While I was doing that life went on. So to-day I’ll cover some things that happened here at home.

First – the “bundle of joy”: Bayleigh Elizabeth Lansdell was born 6:30 a.m. Friday August 4 - Her parents Kyle & Anna and first time grandparent’s Roger & Sandra are understandably proud and joyful about this. The picture of her with “Grandma” Sandra is one sent by Roger the morning she was born. Refer to my postings from June 27 (Roger resigns) and July 2 (Jessica’s graduation) for more info on the Lansdell’s and our connection with them.

Have you ever gotten into ”hot water”? – well this literally happened to us this week. Wednesday evening Linda noticed that the tile in our downstairs bathroom was lifting a bit. Thursday morning she checked and there was water seeping up from under the tiles. – we started tracing it and found that our hot water tank was leaking. So the rest of Thursday and part of Friday morning was taken up with draining and removing the old tank and installing a new one.

We used the dehumidifier to dry up the water that had seeped into the bathroom and into the carpet in the adjoining bedroom but there wasn’t a major “flood”. As with so many things that happen, we were very thankful about the timing. If it had been doing that the whole time we were away there likely would have been damage to the tiles and carpet to deal with in addition to the replacement of the tank.

So, we had the expense of a new tank; I got to brush up on my limited plumbing skills. (No leaks!!); Roger had the “pleasure” of helping me carry out the old tank and bring in the new one and we were “out of hot water” (well actually we had hot water again but it was inside the tank where it was supposed to be!!!

"New beginnings" come with mixed emotions -
This morning was Kyle & Anna’s last Sunday with us. Kyle was leaving this afternoon with a trailer moving their stuff to Thunderbay where heisentering the NorthernMedicalschool . Anna’s parents are taking her up on Tuesday. Kyle was taking care of the Lord’s Table and he did a really neat thing that was very powerful.(I didn’t have my camera or I would have had a good picture to go with this). Anyhow, he went up with Bayleigh (the new baby) in his arms. He talked about how he & Anna had prayed together and ”dedicated” the baby to God. Then he said he realized that as a father it was very difficult to say “whatever you want God take her for your service”. He then went on to read the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac and talked about how difficult it would be for a father to do that – even though in the end God provided another sacrifice. He then said – but God didn’t spare his own son who had been sacrificed for our sins and how he (Kyle) as a father now had a small idea of how much the parent God loves us- because he sent his much loved son to die on our behalf. The sight of that young father using this illustration to help us appreciate God’s love for us brought tears to many eyes as the reality of this truth of the illustration .

At the close of the service we had a presentation to wish them well and we prayed for God's blessings on them as they begin this new stage in their lives. They will be missed here but I am confident that they will be a blessing to those they meet in their new situation.

We are off on another short trip this week –leaving Monday returning Friday. We are going to the Manitoulin Island taking my Dad so he can golf with my cousin Norris and also to spend a couple of days camping with our dear friends David & Maxine Bringleson. I probably won’t be able to do apost again until next Saturday.

As a closing thought , I’ve mentioned before that Linda & I are doing a daily Bible reading from the “365 day Bible. The Old Testament reading recently was from Ezra 8:21-23. I think we might call this the “traveller’s prayer”.

21There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him." 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

How often do we fail to be ashamed that we depend on our own preparations rather than humbling ourselves before God and petitioning him for a safe journey?

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t do everything we can reasonably do to be prepared for our trips but I do know that I often fail to make the one preparation that is the most important.

Prayer –don’t leave home without it!!

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer Vacation – Part 3 – A “twist” of Fate

Wednesday (August 2) as we drove from Kingston to Haliburton, we heard reports of thunderstorms potentially severe for all of Southern Ontario – which is a large territory so we really didn’t have any reason to avoid any particular place. It continued to be very hot and muggy (HUMIDEX made it like 40C or 104F) and we thought a thunderstorm would be nice to cool things down and we always enjoy watching the lightening and listening to the rain on the roof of the “BBB”. And after all how severe could a thunderstorm be -- Famous last words!! (As an aside - some day I'll have to tell you about "Linda's" mansion in Madoc which we stopped to see on our way through)

Linda’s sister Stephanie wasn’t expecting us until at least Thursday and we planned to stop somewhere for the night.

We found Rip’s Sleepy Hollow - a very nice campground - about halfway between Haliburton and Stephanie’s. (The picture is from their website).

Our campsite was on a slope facing down to the lake with a nice tree on the site. (tree just left of center in the picture). To get it level, we had to put the front wheels up on the ramps that I made to carry with us. As we were doing that one of the campground attendants came by and Linda said that it was such a nice spot looking out over the lake that she hoped there would be a thunderstorm that we could watch. The next morning he came back and said - Well was that storm good enough for you!!

After supper, it had clouded over and we were laying on the bed reading with the windows open. Linda heard some thunder and got up to lookout the window. She said she heard a sound like a freight train and saw a wall of water coming across the lake. She closed the windows just as we were hit with the strongest winds and most torrential rain I have ever experienced.

It was swirling around the “BBB” and we started rocking back& forth -- enough that I started to get concerned about whether we might be lifted off the ground. However, within less than a minute the worst of it was already over (although I didn’t know it at the time). I was able to look out and see that the trailers one either side were still OK and my reasoning was as long as they’re not moving we are OK because we are heavier.

Around the same time we saw these guys in a trailer about 50 yards away come rushing out in their undershorts and go charging into the bush at the back of their trailer. We couldn’t see very well with the heavy rain and with the storm it was getting dark. The next morning we found out that a tree had come down just missing the corner of their trailer and hitting the one guy’s truck.

We also found out in the morning that another trailer- a couple hundred yards away had 2 trees fall on it and the lady was hit on the head – but no one was injured in the campground or as far as we know in the whole area.

We sat in the front seats and watched the storm (at more” normal levels rage on for perhaps 30 minutes. A couple of times it got more intense but nothing like that first barrage. Then as fast as it came it was gone (except for the rain which continued for quite awhile.

The power went off at the first of the storm and we could see the flashing red lights from the emergency vehicles on the main road about ½ mile away. We found out later that a stand of pines had been hit by a “real” twister” sending treetops all over the place and taking out 2 hydro poles. The emergency vehicles were there because the road was blocked by trees and downed lines.

Before the storm died down Linda called Stephanie on the cell phone and asked her how she was. She said “Not too good – we just had a big storm and “all” our trees have comedown. Linda said "I now we are right next door and we had it too" . Stephanie was obviously very shaken up. They have lived there for almost 20 years and never had any wind damage before this. Their power was out and didn’t get restored until Saturday morning When they heard the storm coming they headed for the basement. They were all fine and they had no damage to their house but they did lose 9 trees including 5 “multi-stem” cherry trees. – it was so sad to see such beautiful trees uprooted and destroyed but it was still better than losing a house or being injured.

As soon as the wind had died down , we started to see people going down to the beach to check on their boats and then we saw some people walking around the beach area with flashlights. Shortly after that the campground people came and knocked on our door to make sure we were OK – when we asked if there was much damage they said we lost a bunch of trees at the beach.

This was a very nice grove of perhaps 40 trees. (The before picture is fromtheir website -the after picture was taken from the beach - looking back towards the campground. You can see the "BBB" in the background (centre). Over half the trees were broken or uprooted – they came down in a “twisted” pattern so I think there was a small tornado there as well. (The tree that came down where the trailers where all fell the same direction which is characteristic of a straight line wind rather than a “twister”)

The tree that was right next to us was swaying pretty badly during the storm and I was worried it might come down and hit us but it stayed up and seemed OK. The next day we discovered that it had along crack below a fork so it was very close to breaking off.

The reports the next day (click HERE and HERE) confirmed that devastation of the stand of pines near us (at West Guildford) was caused by an F1 tornado. Just today there was a followup report that said that this storm resulted in at least 8 tornados – more than for any single weather disturbance to hit Ontario for at least 21 years. –click HERE -- and there we where right in the middle of it. We were thankful that we didn’t suffer any damage and that no one was hurt but I guess that will teach me to say – after being in Mississippi – you really can’t imagine what one of these storms are like unless you experience it and we just don’t have weather like that in the North.(snow maybe but no tornadoes or hurricanes—which is true of where we live but we had ventured into the Ontario tornado band and God decided we needed to see it first hand.)

Anyhow, Thursday morning Stephanie came by to see us and told us that it would be impossible for us to get to her place with the “BBB” because she had to maneuver her way around fallen trees with her Sunfire and, at times wasn’t sure she would make it through. She is a PSW (Personal support worker) and she was trying to get to see a lot of her clients since many of them are older people that can’t fend well for themselves. She was having difficulty getting to some of the places and in any case her ability to do much for them was limited because the power was off.

Later in the day she came back and took us to her place. They have a long narrow lot stretching from the road back to the lake. There was a nice row of trees along their neigborslane that provided anatural separation between the lots. The bulk of the trees fell from there into Wayne & Stephanie's yard. Wayne (Stepanie's husband) was starting to cut up some of the trees that had fallen so we helped with that for a while and then we all went back to the campground to prepare supper because we had power (from our generator) and a gas stove and water (in our onboard tank) .
By the time we traveled the roads on Thursday they had been cleared to allow for the Hydro trucks and other heavier equipment needed for repairs so I could see that we would be able to get there with the “beast”. So we did that Friday morning. The campground had a generator going to keep their water system operating so I filled my holding tank before we left.

The rest of Friday and much of Saturday I helped Wayne cut up downed trees and pile the branches. The roar of chainsaws was a consistent background sounduntil welefton Monday morning. The picture shows the piles of wood we cut and on the left one of three piles of brush that resulted)

(My friend John Sanders would have loved this because he had never operated a chainsaw until he went to Mississippi and he fell in love with doing tree removals. I enjoy working with a chainsaw but don't often get a chance so, while I would rather the trees had fallen, I did enjoy helping cleanthem up)

This turned out to be a “wrong place” (no one would think being in the sights of a tornado was the right place to be –would they??) but at the “right time” because we were able to bring cooking capability to a household that would have been living off cold food or BBQ for 3days if we hadn’t been there and we were also able to help with the cleanup. The other thing about this was that we ended up staying for a couple days longer and as Linda said “We got to know them a lot better than we would have in a “normal” visit.

Stephanie is the youngest in Linda’s family and there is 26 years difference in age. Stephanie is actually 6 months younger than our oldest Chris. It was a bit of a unique then when they were younger and growing up. A couple of times Chris and Stephanie were at the same social event and some of his buddies would ask about the “cute chick” he was talking to and he would say “that’s my aunt” and they’d say “Yeah – right!!”. Anyhow, Linda was away from home by the time Stephanie was born so they really didn’t spend much time together when she was young and then she moved away almost 20 years ago so Linda only got to see her a day or 2 at a time usually with a bunch of other people around.

This time they got to spend a lot of time being sisters and sharing the things that were happening in their lives.

We got to know her younger daughter Kelsey quite well. Linda worked with her to make several craft items which they both enjoyed. I played cribbage with her one afternoon and we played cards (something called 31 as a group one evening. They had a large number ofmonarch butterflies and one afternoon Kelsey hadone sitting on her hand.

The visit was good and oddly enough made better because of the storm. God works in mysterious ways. I got to know Wayne a little better as we talked while we worked. Their older daughter Sierra was working 12 hour shifts at a grocery store in Hailburton so we didn’t get to see her as much. I also missed getting her picture until Monday morning when I caught her on her way out to work.

So – What did YOU do on your summer vacation?
God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer Vacation – Part 2

At the end of my posting yesterday, we were enroute to Kingston to see our daughter Melissa on the second stage of our “summer vacation”.

While we were settling in at the *MART “campground”, we received a call from Melissa about her car. I had bought her an old “clunker” (1985 Dodge Omni) in 2002 and her mechanic was telling her that it was time to send it to the automobile graveyard. So that gave us another “job” to do while we were there. (I didn't get a picture of it this time but the one here shows it parked by the "BBB" when we visited Melissa in 2004)

Thinking about the situation with her car reminds me of 2 things --

First, as it says in James 4:13-17 we never know what will happen tomorrow and we need always to make our plans with the prayer that “If it is the Lord’s will we will live and do this or that”. We so often begin to believe that we are in control and that things will go as we plan. I am thankful for these gentle reminders that God is in control and that our primary mission is to honor and love him. Everything else we do needs to be seen in this context and always with the understanding that “his will be done”.

We didn’t plan to be dealing with the “death” of a car but it had to happen sometime and this was the "right time" because we could be there to help her work it out. It was also a case of being in the "right place" when needed since the car was registered in my name and I needed to sign the "death certificate" (paperwork needed to dispose of it).

Second, in his post for Friday July 28 John Dobbs (Hope Remains) mentions the “Prattville van”. We remember John Sanders driving us to work on our project in that van and his comment that they would likely use it until “the wheels fell off”. According to John’s report it seems it “died” around the same time. However, the real reason I mention it was John’s comment that “ We do not need anything new, just reliable people movers.”

Melissa uses her vehicle for trips around town for the “necessities” of living – going to school, shopping, doing laundry, going to exercise classes and the like. She didn’t want anything fancy but not having a vehicle after 4 years would be a challenge.

We arrived at he Kingston KOA early Friday afternoon. Melissa came out for supper. Saturday morning she came back out and we looked through the ads to see if we could find something “reasonable” that would get her around without having to spend a fortune.

We came across a single owner 1994 Ford Escort wagon that seemed like it might do. It was being sold “as is” so Melissa got the lady to agree to let her take it to her mechanic to check it over before she made an offer.

Monday morning we took it to Cosme Auto Services. While we were there we made arrangements to dispose of the old car (Melissa said she called it” Frederic”) and cleaned it out. It was a sad moment for Melissa since it was her first car and she had become attached to its peculiarities.

Who would ever forget their first vehicle. Mine was a 1955 Chev station wagon that was given to me by my Dad in 1961 – it had been rolled once so the body wasn't in great shape and it had engine problems but it was mine and it got me were I wanted to go (most of the time). Any first car stories out there?

Anyhow, it took a couple of days before the mechanic could check it over. Overall it was in good shape and the mechanic thought it should be OK for her purposes. It needed some work on the brake lines and exhaust and based on the cost of the repairs required to pass the “safety” check. Melissa made an offer and it was accepted. She hadn’t actually completed the deal before we left and I haven’t heard for sure but I’m assuming she is has “wheels” again.

It was sweltering hot the whole time we were there so we spent a lot of time inside the “BBB” with the air conditioning going. Melissa rented a car for the weekend since her’s had “died”. That was a good thing as well because “Frederic” didn’t have air conditioning and we would have melted if we had to go without.

We had several long conversations with Melissa getting caught up on her life and talking about her plans for school and – hopefully—some time soon - a wedding.

We had been kidding her the fact that Chris was married in the year of our 25th anniversary and Kevin in the year of our thirty-fifth -- so she had to either get married this year (our 40th) or wait for another 5 years – anyhow – time will tell but she may break the pattern.

We also got to visit with and get to know her friend Alexander a little bit better. He is from Sweden. They met 3years ago when he was in Kingston as an exchange student. Melissa has visited with him in Sweden and has met his family. We met him in 2005 when he was back for a visit. He was able to get a one year “work experience” visa. It is a serious relationship and they don’t want to be separated again so I guess they’ll have to figure something out before the year is up.

Alexander was supposed to be working afternoons but Friday they sent him home early so he could come back and do the early shift (6 to 3). He is the “cold line chef” for Pan Chancho CafĂ© & Bakery--which means he puts together the sandwiches. Anyhow, the switch in shifts meant that we got to visit with him more than we might have otherwise.

On Saturday we met him after work for a late lunch at Tir Nan Og . We spent that evening together, had a late (for us) supper around 7:30 so Alexander could get home to sleep before getting up at 5:00 for his shift. Sunday Melissa came out for brunch and, after Alexander’s shift we went to the Charleston Lake provincial park for a picnic and swimming (at least they swam –I went in for a short dip –mostly we laid in the shade and read. We had supper together at the KOA.

Monday evening theywanted tocook for us but it was too hot in the apartment (no air conditioning) so they brought the “fixings” and Alexander did the cooking in the “BBB”—we had a Swedish meal including a “cabbage pudding” (we would call it a casserole- with cabbage, rice and hamburger)- very good.

Tuesday at noon we had lunch with John Dorland and his wife Ruth. John is an old classmate of mine from my days at Queen’s. We had lost touch with each other until he contacted me in 2005 because he was coming to Sault Ste Marie to go cross country skiing. It was strange to discover that he was living in Kingston. Anyhow, we thought it would be nice to chat about old times. So we met at Chien Noir (The Black Dog) and had a pleasant lunch talking about our families and various people we knew.

Wednesday morning we packed up and headed for Haliburton – I and, as it turned out – we drove into the “eye of the storm” – but that’s for tomorrow.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What did you do on your summer vacation? (Part 1)

It seems like forever since I’ve posted an entry and I will be a couple of days catching up. Teachers often begin a new school year by asking students to write an essay about their experiences during the summer vacation . Later in life, we often have conversations with our friends describing our vacations. So if you’ll bear with me, I plan to do that here – in three parts.

In a recent adult Bible class Lloyd Hotchkiss spent several weeks showing the tight connection between the way human families function and the way the church (God’s family) functions. It is clear that family units have a big part to play in God’s ongoing work of restoring the relationship with his created beings that was destroyed by Adam & Eve in the garden.

Understanding how to build healthy family relationships will help us to build strong churches and vice versa. Jesus taught that we needed to put a higher priority on our relationship with his followers than on earthly families but he also reaffirmed the importance of strong families.

I mention families because both Linda & I come from large families (8 in my case and 10 in her’s). This vacation was primarily about family -- at least that was the plan. A couple of unexpected events intervened but they served – as is often the case – to provide an opportunity for richer family sharing than might otherwise have occurred.

We left home on the morning of July 25 and returned on Monday (August 7). It was a trip that might be classified as being in the right place at the right time and the right place at the wrong time – or something like that.

We experienced pleasant family visits, the “death” of a car, and a tornado (Yes that’s right –a tornado—but you’ll have to wait a couple of days for the details), However, after 2 weeks on the road, we (and the “BBB”) returned home safe & sound with many pleasant memories to fill our hearts.

Our first stop was Clear Lake camp. My sister Ruby and (most of) her family where there and we had a good visit.

Ruby & Art have three children. James and his wife January live in Waterloo. (They are in the foreground of the first picture -my sister Diamond & my Dad are in the background). Their daughter Eowyn (see second picture) is the oldest of 2 grandchildren.

Their second son Trevor lives in Toronto. He has recently met Sarah who was there with him. I think the relationship has possibilities since she appeared to survive the “inquisition” of all the aunt’s and uncle’s at a family dinner Tuesday evening. We played a variety of games in the evenings and we came to appreciate her “weird” sense of humor.

I’ve mentioned before that Art & Ruby’s youngest son Craig, his wife Jeri and their daughter Hannah moved to Papua New Guinea in May. That would be a bit of a trek for a family vacation so they understandably weren’t able to make it. For more information on their mission click HERE

Tuesday night we gathered at my (oldest) sister Goldie’s house. Goldie and her husband live year round on the shore of Bright Lake -- about 2 miles (3 kilometres) from the Clear Lake camp.

We had brought my Dad down with us. My brother Rob, Marilyn and their son Ken along with my youngest sister Diamond came down (from the Sault) for the evening and Goldie’s daughter Lori came by so there were eighteen of us there. (At last count including in-laws my Dad & Mom have around 100 descendents so it wasn’t really that big a family gathering).

(I think I may have mentioned this before as well but you may have noted the reference to the “family jewels” --the three ”girls” in the family -- Goldie, Ruby and Diamond.-- in the picture Ruby is on left and Goldie is on the right )

Art has just retired from his tenure as President of Great Lakes Christian College (in Beamsville Ontario) and he had also hit the milestone of entering his seventh decade in May (Linda says I’m crazy to put turning 60 in this way since it sounds even worse – however a mathematical fact is a mathematical fact and it doesn’t make any difference how you state it). Anyhow, the family here went together and gave him a gift certificate at Canadian Tire to use for one of the many home projects Ruby has lined up for him. (We also had 2 cakes - one for birthday and one for retirement)

Thursday afternoon we headed out and drove to North Bay and stayed overnight at Walmart (Oh boy – my favorite place – see my April 3 blog entry for an explanation of this)

Anyhow – to-morrow I will talk more about family and the “death” of Fredrick the car