Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Sunday morning Roger announced that he & Sandra would be leaving Pinehill in September after almost 11 years of full-time service as a part of the Pinehill work.
(Roger is the "ugly" guy in the suit marring an otherwise lovely picture takenSaturday after Vicki & Kirk's wedding)

They are going to Troy Michigan. I think the old cliché “our loss is their gain” best sums it up from my view point This added to the sadness (for us) and joy (for them) that we were already feeling because knew that their son Kyle & his wife Anna would be leaving in August to move to Thunder Bay to attend Medical school AND their daughter Jessica would also be leaving to attend Lakehead University.

I have spent a lot of time in the last week in discussions with Lloyd about the process we will follow to address these needs. The first step is a congregational meeting on Wednesday evening to obtain suggestions and ideas about what to do and to begin selecting people to take charge of various things that need to be done. I have also spent a lot of time on the telephone receiving and making calls to people who I felt might have strong feelings about this situation so that I could listen to and understand their concerns. I’m not by nature a good listener – I’m more inclined to move quickly to problem solving so this has been an exercise (with Linda’s help) of trying (again) to make it more of a habit to follow the Stephen Covey principle of “seeking first to understand rather than to be understood” . Those who I have talked with are the ultimate judges of how successful I was but it seemed tome that in general I did manage to do more listening to what others thought than “telling” them what I thought.

Their leaving will affect the preaching, teaching (Roger with adults, Kyle with the youth and Sandra in the children’s classes) and other areas of where they are active. It will also have a large impact on our singing because the whole family is musically talented. Overall it will have a large impact on our efforts to serve Jesus and proclaim the gospel to others – even though we have many others involved in ministry efforts.

We have capabilities within to do most of the things that were being done – but we certainly don’t have the capacity to maintain the quality and energy that Roger and the rest of his family were providing. It will be a big hole to fill and we will need to remain committed to each person doing their part to keep us moving forward in our journey of faith as we figure out how to fill these holes.

Roger, Sandra Kyle and Jessica stayed with us for a few days when they moved here from Alabama in 1995. Over time they have become an integral part of the fabric of our lives and when they leave there will be a big hole . However, we believe that God has been at work in this and that they have been called to go to serve him in Troy and we must continue our calling to serve Him here in Sault Ste. Marie. (The picture of Jessica was taking (almost) 3 years ago on theoccasion ofKyle & Anna's wedding.

Roger,s mother Wilma is my first cousin. – so technically he is a “first cousin once removed” – however my parents both came from large families and I have more first cousins than I can ”shake a stick at” so that relationship isn’t the reason Roger & I developed a deep friendship. In fact, Roger & I both have similar blood relationships with many of the congregation and sometimes that relationship can present obstacles to our desire to be united in Christ regardless of who we are. Sometimes when you are a preacher or an elder in a situation where there are blood relationships – those related can be seen as receiving special treatment—or the inevitable “family feuds” can spill over into our relationship with each other in Christ

Roger is a bit over 15 years younger than I am and I never really knew him until he joined the work here at PineHill. He grew up as a ”preacher’s son” in places like North Bay Ontario and the Bayview congregation in Toronto. His father Clyde baptized Linda during a series of meetings held in Sault Ste Marie in the early 60’s and he officiated at our marriage in 1966 so we do have a long connection with Roger’s family- aside from Wilma being my cousin. Clyde & Wilma are retired and live in Meaford.

Sandra’s parents are from the south (Oklahoma or maybe Texas) and had moved to Ontario to work with the church in St. Thomas. They are retired now and live in the Beamsville area.

Kyle is very active in sports as well as being strong academically. – he played hockey & football while in high school. Last year he graduated from Harding (magna cum laude as I recall ) and returned to the Sault when his application for medical school fell through. We have employed him as a part time youth minister since last September and he has generated some good results with the small “core’ of kids that we have here. He met his (now) wife Anna while in high school. She grew up in a Christian family from a different “heritage” and we have enjoyed having her in the “church family” for the past year. Anna & Kyle are expecting their first child in late July so they'llhave their handsfull as he movesonintomed school.

Jessica is a very lovely young ladyand has been a leader in the teen/youthgroupfor several years. She has done wellin school- president of the student body -- and worked part-time for several years. This yearshe invested in herowncar and has been "proudly" chauferring" her parents andothers to services - at least someof the time.

Roger has been the preacher at Pinehill for almost 11 years. Serving as a the “minister” always has its challenges and rewards and his years here have had their share of both. I believe (with allowance for our human frailties and foibles– he handled the challenges in a Godly fashion and handled the success with grace and humility. Others may see it differently and such is life in churches.

(I think that the absence of challenges is a clear sign of an absence of effect teaching and preaching – the real issue is not that “problems exist” but rather how do we handle them. We are called to love and to possess a certain hope through our an obedient faith in Jesus ( Gal. 5:6; I Cor. 13:13, John 14:15).

In my view, churches can fail in 2 extremes – they can have a sense that loving means not challenging tomake changes regardless of what they believe and how they live (which violates the idea that love is acting in the other person’s best interests)


they so focused teaching people to know and obey commands that they lose sight of the overriding importance of love (See I Cor 13:4-7) and faith (trusting God to keep his promise of grace when we fail to obey). What seems tome is better is for us to accept that when we fail to love – to obey – to trust - we accept that failure – and find a way to move on in spite of our weaknesses and differences – united in our common commitment to Jesus. -- allowing God’s spirit to continue his transforming work in our lives and thanking God for his grace & forgiveness.

Well as often happens I’ve gone to “preaching” and that’s not really the purpose here.

To the Lansdell’s - I am glad we have some time before we have to say “Farewell”. “May God bless you richly each day as you prepare for and then embark on this new phase in your journey of faith.

To those of us who remain – we need to do what we can do but always remember

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Cor. 13:13)”

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wedding Joy

To-day Vicki Muhlholland and Kirk Smith were married at our building.

We first met them about a year ago. Our preacher Roger (Lansdell) had started a Wednesday evening series over the summer based on the Andy Griffith show (see http://www.barneyfife.com/) Roger & Sandra invited their neighbor's Steve & Shelly Slawson and they came to "check it out". Shelly invited her friend Vicki. She & Kirk and her mother Patricia also started to come. In the fall, they all started attending our services and over time they have become a part of "the family".

Early in the year they approached Roger and asked if he would marry them. He has studied with them about God's purpose in marriage and how they need to let God be the creative force in building a solid marriage. To-day they have begun that journey of faith together and we pray that they will be one "until death do them part" (poor english I know!).

Roger conducted a very nice ceremony. His son Kyle who has been serving as our part-time youth minister sang the songs. The first song was "I will be here" by Steven Curtis Chapman (a song I confess I'd never heard but I thought was very powerful).

The third verse seemed to speak to me in my marriage and I said to Linda afterward that I would very much want that to be always true in our lives -- but I also realize that I blow it a way too often. It goes ..

"I will be here...When you feel like bein' quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to cryin'
Through the winnin' and losin' and tryin'
We'll be together'
Cause I will be here"

Vicki's girls Kendra (left) & Katie were in the wedding party. They were part of the reason Linda started her class during the sermon time and are now part of the group we refer to as "Linda's kids".

Kirk's son Kyle (not a good picture due to the backlight from the windows but it's the only one I got!) was also a member of the wedding party. He lives in Michigan but is spending the summer here. We have enjoyed meeting him and having him at services for the past few weeks.

After the wedding there was a lunch catered in the church basement and we enjoyed visting with Vicki's father Larry and her aunt Kathy. It turned out that Linda knew Kathy from when she was working and they enjoyed catching up on what was happening in each other's lives.

Anna (Kyle's wife), Kyle, his sister Jessica and Sandra are sitting across from each other at the first table.

It was an enjoyable time and brings back memories of similar events in our lives. Yesterday - 5 years ago -- in 2001 our son Kevin and Sarah were married. Happy anniversary to them!!
God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Friday, June 23, 2006

A beautiful morning

As I sit looking out over Linda’s garden in the moments before sunrise I am reminded again of the beauty and tranquility of God’s creation. It is a cool morning – 5 deg C (41deg F) but clear and promising a very nice summer day.

Soon things that need to be done will press in on me. Soon the realities of what we humans have done with God’s “good” creation will press in on me and challenge the Spirit in this job of producing this fruit of joy peace and soon in my life. But for now I will simply watch the sunrise, listen to the birds and commune with my God as I pray and prepare this entry.

The last few days have been busy. I did my first run as a Red Cross volunteer driver taking a lady to the Group Heath Center for a procedure and then picking her up to return her home 2 hours later. Tuesday I vacuumed and cleaned out the car so it would be a little more presentable for a stranger. We also made reservations for a few days camping at Point Des Chenes for when Tammy & the kids are planning to be herein July.

Wednesday, I replaced a solenoid on my truck in hopes of resolving an intermittent problem with getting the starter to “kick-in” . The battery terminals had some corrosion so I decided to clean them as well—and in the course of doing that one of the cable terminals broke off. I got a replacement part from Canadian tire, rigged it so I could get the truck started and then took it to Art Taylor’s garage yesterday to get it properly installed since that requires a special crimping tool. I also took the car in to have them see if they could fix the leak that has returned despite two prior(expensive) repairs. They didn’t find anything- although they tightened all the clamps and didn’t charge for the work. I now have to wait until I fill the tank and the leak occurs and then take it in so they can see exactly were it is coming from. (Maybe I’ll get lucky and the problem will just go away!

Wednesday (June 21) was also Melissa’ birthday—can’t believe that my “baby girl” is 28 but she is. We tried calling her several times (early morning and in the evening) but only got the machine. Turned out she was in Toronto planting her pumpkins (a whole other story that I might talk about another time). When she called last evening she had just gotten back and was tired, dirty and hungry – and anxious for bath, food and bed.

Wednesday evening we enjoyed a ”webcam” audio/video conversation with Chris & Camdyn and then with Kevin & Will. Kevin had to do an upgrade to MS messenger so we text messaged back& forth a bit while he was doing that. Will had discovered the “emotions” figures and so we had some fun exchanging various “smiley” faces and other pictures until we could get the video up & running. It is such a great thing to be able to see & hear them in this way.

Linda was out being “nanny” to the twins for a couple of hours yesterday and I spent a couple of hours with Lloyd Hotchkiss discussing things we needed to be doing in our role as elders for the Pinehill church.

Tuesday through Thursday I spent a quite a bit of time preparing for an ADnet Board Development session which was held last evening. I was working with Tom Marinelli (via email since he is in Toronto) to develop the agenda and a presentation on our assessment of the Board’s effectiveness and some suggested approaches to improving our ability to meet our obligations as a board. Last evening I presented the material and facilitated a “brainstorming” session on “what can we do to make things better?”

For me it was an enjoyable evening since I haven’t had much opportunity to do this kind of work lately and I like doing it—although it also reminded me why I retired because it can easily become stressful and I can easily “over commit” and end up under extreme pressure at the last minute trying to juggle doing “10 things at once”.

Enough of the “mundane” things about ourdailylives

Have you observed the number of times in Genesis 1 that “God saw that “it” was good” (vs. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) –And then very good (v. 31) – this was highlighted for me in the Creation song that Linda was teaching to her Sunday morning class last fall -- I haven’t been able to discover the source and so I hope that my putting it here doesn’t violate any copyright’s . It is sung to the tune of the song about the days of Christmas (On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me .. and a partridge in appear tree)

The creation song

(Tune: The twelve days of Christmas)

Oh God made the world for us in only seven days
and the Lord saw that what he made was good

On the 1st day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Light to light the earth
and the Lord saw that what he made was good

On the 2nd day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Skies so very blue,
Light to light the earth and the Lord saw that what he made was good.

On the 3rd day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Land and sea and plants
Skies so very blue, Light to light the earth and the Lord saw that what he made was good.

On the 4th day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Sun and moon and stars;
Land and sea and plants; Skies so very blue, Light to light the earth
and the Lord saw that what he made was good.

On the 5th day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Fish and birds that fly;
Sun and moon and stars; Land and sea and plants; Skies so very blue,
Light to light the earth and the Lord saw that what he made was good.

On the 6th day of creation, the Lord God made for us: Animals and people;
Fish and birds that fly, Sun and moon and stars; Land and sea and plants;
Skies so very blue, Light to light the earth and the Lord saw that what he made was good.

On the 7th day, God rested from all the work he did; it was very good:
Animals and people; Fish and birds that fly, Sun and moon and stars, land and sea and plants,
Skies so very blue, Light to light the earth and the Lord saw that what he made was good

God Bless

Charlie & Linda

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wild About the Bible

Saturday June 17 was the big day. For the past 2 months we have been preparing for a children’s activity day. Sharon came up with the theme” Wild about the Bible –.

We wanted, in a way that would capture the imagination of the children, to instill an excitement about the Bible & Bible things.

We also wanted to help them to have confidence in the truth of the Bible accounts that include miracles (the story of Balaam – Numbers 22-24) while acknowledging that people use these accounts of miracles along with some of the difficulties with translation (use of the word unicorns in the KJV) and the more exotic prophetic visions (the wheels within the wheels of Ezekiel) to claim that the Bible is full of myths or, as Erich von Daniken claimed in his best seller ”Chariots of the Gods”, the Bible stories are records of aliens visiting earth.

The teaching material was based on a book by J. Stephen Lang called “Talking Donkeys and Wheels of Fire: Bible Stories That Are Truly Bizarre!.

Linda & I (really Linda) had Grades 1 & 2 and introducing these somewhat “philosophical” concepts at that age requires creativity, which - if I can brag a little -Linda has in abundance. (The picture shows Linda with Jacob, Katie & Tammy)

She decided to stay away from the “ET” question and focus on the true story of Balaam as an example of God’s power & love for his people.

She also dealt with the issue of unicorns in the KJV by reading the passages (one at a time) in KJV and then in NIV. She then asked the kids if they knew any words that sounded the same but meant different things (the technical term is homonyms). They came up with things like read & red, right & write and she covered about 10 or so of these “sounds the same” words to make the point that it is something difficult to understand meaning without context and that , while it is a different issue translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek also resulted in some translating difficulties which don’t take away from God’s truth but do require us to be cautious in using isolated words and passages to draw conclusions about “truth” vs .”myth” vs. “speculative interpretation”.

One of the more creative things Linda did was to get a copy of the Irish Rover’s song that “speculates” that the reason there are no Unicorn’s today is that they didn’t come on to the ark when Noah called the animals. She used the song to introduce the segment about the Unicorns.

It was a fun day. We had 16 children in total ( would have liked more) -- of which 7 were kids that had not been coming to our Sunday school (and 9 who had).

Linda had invited Riley to come. When Travis & Tracy dropped him off they brought the twins. We gave them a tour so they could see what Linda & I had been doing in the classrooms.

We did teaching and crafts from 9:30 to 11:45, had lunch (hot dogs and chips) and then Kyle took them out for a number of activities including the “water balloon” toss which ended with a “water balloon” fight—it was a hot day and those that got soaked seemed not to mind it at all.

I know that I will miss someone but I do want to mention the people who worked so hard on Saturday (I’ve already talked about the many people who helped with the cleanup and redecorating of the classrooms to provide a brighter and “friendly” environment).

Sharon Seeler coordinated the materials and supplies and got it already to go- despite having to deal with Mark’s heart attack in the previous 2 weeks. Doris Ann Ray (with help from Randy) set up the jungle “ambience” that greeted people as the came through the door. She also made the “Balaam and the donkey” with the place for a face so we could provide each child with a picture to remind them of the day.

Barb & Vicki were on the registration table, Vicki took pictures and helped with other: logistical” things. Steve was there helping as well.

Sandra, Shelley, Linda (& Charlie), Marilyn & Rob, and Kyle taught the various classess. Doris Anne helped Kyle with the crafts and had a crafts table available after lunch for any that preferred not to be involved in the outdoor activities.

Verna, Cora and several others helped with the lemonade and cookies for break and helped with serving lunch. Lloyd, Roger & Randy ran the BBQ’s to cook the hotdogs.

It was tiring but the reward of happy smiling faces and children’s laughter made it more than worthwhile. Jesus tell sus that we need to become like little children to enter the kingdom – and we certainly need to bring the children to Jesus feet so they can learn of him and retain that passion for staying at his feet for the rest of their lives.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Friday, June 16, 2006


The rest of the week has been relatively uneventful. Thursday morning I went golfing with my Dad and Lloyd Hotchkiss. Did some yard work and other household stuff in the afternoon. Today (Friday) I did some cleanup work in the yard and catchup on the household accounts. Linda spent the day preparing for the Children’s activity day on Saturday. I was the “researcher” looking up things on the INTERNET when she wanted a picture or in one case she was looking for “homonyms” (words that sound alike but mean different things).

This afternoon I went to do the final orientation to allow me to act as a volunteer driver for the Red Cross - taking seniors to& from doctor’s appointments, shopping, etc. and earlier this evening I went to help with final preparations for the Children’s day to-morrow. Linda is helping baby sit Tracy’s twins.

Anyhow – Monday I wrote about a bunch of “bad things” that were happening to people I know. Quick update: Mark Seeler is home—the tests didn’t show anything that required surgical treatment – the heart attack was very mild and he is recovering quickly – expecting to start back “light duty” at work next week.

Mrs. Ward is still in hospital with what has turned out to be gall stones rather than heart attack.

A couple of birthdays this week leads me to the topic of celebrations because June seems to be a particularly busy month in our family. To start Linda’s Mom celebrated her 82nd birthday on June 5th.

We were there on June 3rd to help her celebrate (just before we left to go to Aurora for the week).
Linda's sister Carol is on the right. Carol and her husband Jim celebrate their anniversary in June as well.

June 14 was my niece Debbie’s birthday.

In addition to going out for a family dinner we had a celebration for her at the church after Bible Study.

June 15 (Thursday) was my nephew Ken’s 25th birthday. That evening we went to his parent’s (Rob & Marilyn) place for supper to help him celebrate. (I forgot my camera but there is a picture of Ken with his parents and his sister in a post “A birthday & some anniversaries” a couple of weeks ago.)

Ken cooked the meat on the BBQ – a little unusual to have to cook your own birthday supper but he did a great job with the steaks and chops. My Dad and Jack & Barb King were also there. After dinner we enjoyed watching a DVD of some of my parent’s home movies from the 60’s which Barb hadn’t seen before. In addition to showing Rob& I & Dad as we were 40 years ago it had pictures of Barb’s mother and grandmother in that same time period. Lots of laughs and lots of memories.

June 18 is my sister Diamond’s birthday – I won’t mention her age but the youngest in our family (Lawrence) turned 50 in May (see earlier posting called “A birthday & some anniversaries”).

June 21 is our daughter’s Melissa’s birthday. This will be a special celebration for Melissa because yesterday she took and a passed her “orals” (comprehensive examination) about her knowledge of the area she is researching for her Ph.D. in environmental sciences. “All” she has left now is to do her research, writeher dissertation and defend it but still this was a major milestone. Of course her Mom & Dad are bursting with pride.

June 23 is our son Kevin’s 5th anniversary. He & Sarah were married in the chapel at Balls Falls Ontario on a beautiful June day. They now live in Coquitlam BC where Kevin is pursuing a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology. Sarah called today to tell us that they had taken our grandson Will for a consult with a dental surgeon about a broken front tooth. Their dentist had recommended that it either be extracted or capped. However, the dental surgeon thought it was best to just leave it and keep an eye on it- which was a big relief to them & to us – the idea of a 2 and a half year old having a general anesthetic wasn’t very appealing. We are grateful that our prayers have been answered this way – at least for now.

Of course my favorite June celebration comes this Sunday – Father’s day. It really doesn’t take a special day for me to realize how much my children care for me but it is still a neat thing to receive those special calls.

The question that these celebrations and special days brings to mind is whether we realize that every day is special - or has the possibility of being special if we are placing our trust in God. "This is the day the Lord has mad. I will rejoice and be glad in it" Psalm 118:24

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Daily living (June 12-14)

So far this week we’ve been concentrating on projects around home.

Monday Linda finished up removing leaves and other debris from the back garden. Speaking of the garden we came home to lovely blooms on the rhodies and to lilacs. – they bloom late in the shaded area of our back yard. It is a lovely time of the year to sit at the table that we’ve put in the middle of the picture window which looks out over the back. – for breakfast or lunch.

I cut the grass and then got up on the roof to blow the “fallout” from the maple trees off the gutters. We have had an incredibly heavy amount of a yellow “fuzzy” pollen from one type of maple and then a snowstorm of keys from another. No one around here can remember anything like it in recent memory. While I was up there I trimmed a bunch of branches from the trees overhanging the roof (which took a lot of Tuesday morning to cut them up into bundles for pickup with the trash next week).

I had my truck towed to the garage to get the steering fixed. (I mentioned June 1 tthat it had broken down) – it turned out that it was a tie rod ends that had let go. Ended up that in addition to 4 tie rod ends, it needed a ball joint and new brake pads/rotors all around – the bill was north of $1500 – Ouch. I intend to sell it soon since we really don’t need to have 2 high cost vehicles on the go.

We also spent a fair bit of time on the phone talking to Roger about the situation with Nick and his girlfriend Tammy. Roger spent the whole day with them at bail court and then was back Tuesday a.m. before it was resolved.

Late afternoon I dropped Linda off at the grocery store , picked up my cable modem and then came back to help finish the shopping. Monday night I did some preliminary checking to confirm that my wireless bridge could be “seen” throughout the house from the planned location in the basement.

Tuesday - I had coffee with Roger before he went back to court. Dealing with the realities of losing a skirmish to Satan is always difficult – how to be the most support to Nick & Tammy was high on the agenda.

When I got home I was back doing yard work when the cable guy came and did the installation for the high speed INTERNET.

I made a trip to the police station to pickup my police check and dropped it off at the Red Cross needed to allow me to be a volunteer driver to take people to Doctor’s appointments. I stopped at Staples to pick up a router to allow me to connect my desktop and wireless bridge to the modem. (Actually, I was in a hurry and I ended up getting a switch and had to go back later to exchange for a router and to return the NIC card I had bought for the desktop and then discovered I didn’t need – for someone who is supposed to know about this stuff I wasn’t very efficient with my preparations!!).

Late afternoon I had a meeting at Sault College with Peggy Storey and Tom Marinelli (by teleconference) to discuss the agenda for a board development session for ADnet. I dropped Linda off to look for annuals for her planters and then stopped on the way back to help finish this and bring them home.

I spent a fair bit of time during the evening (until after midnight) connecting the components and configuring the desktop and laptop to set up a LAN and to get the INTERNET connections working. It was fun doing this since I hadn’t done any “hands on” IT stuff for quite a while.

We had an email from Sharon Seeler saying that Mark was home after having a procedure done in Petoskey – she says he is recovering and very glad to be home.

Wednesday: This morning Linda took me out to pick up my truck. When we got back she moved her flowers into the planters and I trimmed the shrubs in the front.

This evening we went to a family dinner to help celebrate my niece Debbie’s 50th birthday. We also had a small party for her at the church building after Bible study. I’ll try to include more about that - with some pictures in my next post.

Well – a busy week so far – lots of variety – nothing earth shattering but lots to think about as we focus on a daily walk with God – whether trimming trees, setting up networks or prayerfully seeking to help repair broken lives.

God Bless
Cahrlie & Linda

Monday, June 12, 2006

Living by Faith

I believe in the God revealed in the Bible and I believe the Bible is the source of God’s truth for our lives. I have faith that God will keep his promises if I place my trust in him.

Having said that many things happen in between faith and the reality of our daily lives that require me to daily “let go & let God” and some days that commitment to faith doesn’t even last until I’ve gotten out of bed (I think there’s a story about a prayer that end’s with “I think I’m going to really need your help today because I’m just about to get out of bed”)

I had a good week last week with my grandchildren – spent a lot of time on the deck watching them play in the pool and with their friends. Of course they often had small problems where grandpa had to intervene and help them – As you watch them play and think about what lies ahead in their lives you wish that you could be sure that they have only good things – that you could shield them from the drugs and pornography and criminal behaviors that a selfish “me” oriented society will put in front of them. Of course I know that is impossible -- what I need is the faith that let’s me pass on God’s wisdom to shape and guide their behavior.

Last week seemed like a week of reminders that faith isn’t a “vaccination” against bad things.

On Wednesday, Richard H. (see story about their anniversary a few weeks back) had a very unfortunate incident where he hit the accelerator rather than the brake while maneuvering out of a parking spot. Before it was over he had had an “encounter of the worst kind” with 5 parked vehicles. This was devastating to him as he had a very good driving record and he couldn’t understand how this had happened. While he was thankful that no one was hurt, when I talked to him Sunday he was still struggling with all the concerns that flood in and make it difficult to just let it go and move on with trust in God to work it out for good.

Friday, Mark Seeler experienced a heart attack – he seems to be recuperating but it reminds us all of our mortality. Mark had been a big part of getting the classrooms fixed up and was planning on more work around the building later on. His wife Sharon is spearheading the Children’s activity day planned for the 17th. We praise God that this wasn’t more serious. We pray for the wisdom to see ways to help them through this and that God will bless the plans for Saturday despite this setback. but we have to admit that it makes us wonder Why? …

Saturday, Florence Ward (Russ’s mother) also experienced a heart attack, She is one of these “ageless” seniors who never quits – always wanting to do something to help others
Then , we found out yesterday that Barb Hotchkiss has to have major surgery as soon as a slot is available in London Ontario.

Finally, on top of all that, Nick – who had been overcoming his past addictions and criminal behaviors and building a relationship with Jesus through faith -- was overcome by his demons and is now in custody for cocaine possession. How it hurts when we see people fail – can we understand that his failings are similar in nature to our own lapses – a lack of faith – albeit – the consequences may be more severe. We pray that he won’t give up on Jesus and that we won’t give up on him.

The gap between what we know is true about God’s love and care for us and how we behave in the face of life’s realities is real and sometimes very large – thank God for his grace, which helps us through these lapses in faith and for the renewal and the strengthening of faith that often comes as a result.

Well on to another week. I’m hope to have my high(er) speed INTERNET access set by tomorrow evening and that may help me be a little more regular in making these entries

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lucky or Good or…?

When we were working on the class room project we discovered that Mark Seeler has a number of sayings that he likes to use. Early in the project he had cut some door casings too short for the door he was working on. When he got down to the last door he was out of long pieces and he thought he would have to splice it together out of shorter pieces but it turned out the last door was enough shorter that the one he had cut too short was just right for it. He said “I’d rather be lucky than good anyday. Now when it comes to working on trim he is very good but that doesn’t take away from the pleasure we feel when something we did that seemed to be a mistake works out in the end.

In any case, I was reminded of this saying this morning. We are in Aurora Illinois “grandparent-sitting” with Tammye & the kids while Chris is away on a supervisory training course related to his new job as a Sergeant on the Aurora police force.

This morning while we were having coffee on the deck before Tammye left for work I said “So do you have any repairs or fix-up projects that I could do for you while I’m here?”. She said that their oven still wasn’t working. When we were here in February Chris said he thought it was the ignitor but he had gotten a new one and put it in and it still wasn’t working.

Now I am fairly good at troubleshooting and repairing appliances as long as it doesn’t get too deeply into the electronics. However; I don’t have much experience with gas appliances. So I started to look at it. Without getting into too much detail the first lucky move was that I decided to pull it out from the wall to see if I could see anything there. It turns out that these appliances are generally designed to be serviced from the front so I might not have done that if I was “good” with gas. The second piece of luck was that when I saw there wasn’t anything back there I decided we might as well clean the floor before putting it back. The third piece of luck was that while I was doing that I found this little small plastic handle that Linda looked at and saw writing that said ”Off when down”. The 4th piece of luck was that there was an envelop taped to the back that had a schematic showing how the oven igniter worked and showed a picture of an oven gas shutoff valve that had a small handle to turn it on and off.

I located this valve by removing the oven drawer and sure enough the handle was missing. It is a spring loaded valve so it had closed which explained why the oven wouldn't light. The tough part was that it in the back corner at the top. I could barely get my hands on it and I couldn’t see it and touch it at the same time.

If I had been “good” I probably would have disconnected the gas lines and removed the part but I really didn’t want to do that. So I came up with this scheme of using a loop of fishing line to pull the valve out so I return the handle to the slot in the valve. After about 5 tries, 15 minutes later I managed to drop the handle into place. The oven is now working fine and so I say along with Mark “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.”

We made good time on the trip yesterday despite a slow start --We left house shortly after one and pulled out of the US side of the bridge plaza onto I-75 an hour later(This is a distance of less than 5 miles we usually expect it to take 15 to 20 minutes. The US border checks had traffic backed up well over half way across the bridge although once we got there we were waved past with very little delay. We arrived here 8 hours after we got on I-75 which is about 30 minutes less than average so it worked out. Probably most of the time was gained because we didn’t stop to eat – we grabbed some wraps at Subway and took turns driving while the other ate. But the other thing was that the usual traffic jams along the south end of Lake Michigan and on the Tri-state didn’t materialize.

The expanded I-Pass lanes at the tool booths really seem to be helping on the Tri-state. Of course the incentive of charging twice as much for cash as that for those using the I-pass transponders has really increased the use of automated toll collection which means a much smaller number of vehicles that need to even slow down . For us out-of towner’s it has doubled our cost to use I-294 & I-88 but we have little choice unless we want to spend 3 hours in stop & go traffic .instead of 45 minutes on the toll road.

So were we lucky on the trip or not? I’m not so sure—in fact I wonder sometimes what luck really means – when things don’t work – even when there is a strong ”causal” relationships to our choices or our “clumsiness” we blame it on “bad” luck. When things go well we may either take credit because of our “brilliance” or we may say it was ”good luck” or we may credit it to God's looking out for us. What do others think – Do you feel lucky?

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another week

Well we are (more or less) done with our classroom project. There is some trim left and we need to clean it up after that is done. Linda has really added her decorative flair to making these rooms look bright & cheerful places to be – they were pretty dungy & grungy when we started. I’ll put up some pictures eventually.

We went to Thessalon yesterday to help celebrate Linda’s Mom’s 82nd birthday which is actually on Monday. Two of Linda's sisters, their husbands and some of the grandchildren and great grandchildren were there as well. Only a small fraction of the total crew since Linda is the oldest in a family of 10. I was recruited to hang a hummingbird feeder and several wind chimes that hadn’t gotten done since the move to town last fall,

We are doing a presentation on our Pascagoula mission for the young people this a.m.

We are off to Chicago area (Aurora Ill) to stay with Tammye & the kids while Chris is off on a course. We will be back on Saturday,

That’s all I have time for now

Cgod Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Life is full of surprises. This seems to have been particularly true of my life over the past couples of days – Of course it was also full of a lot of predictable things too but that’s not as much fun to write about.

If you have been reading (Is anyone reading – I wouldn’t mind some comments – even if you hate what I’m saying? For a while I could display the location of visitors and that at least gave me some idea but I have had to remove that because the person providing the software could no longer do it. I have tried to make it easy to comment by allowing anyone to comment but I would ask that you NOT use the anonymous option – I like to know who’s “out there” – Well enough whining about what I want and lets get back to the surprises. )

If you have been reading , you may know that Linda & I have been working on this project to redecorate several classrooms in the church building along with several other people.

Surprise 1: We were there working Tuesday morning when our friend Russ Ward showed up to work at installing trim. He was expecting Mark Seeler to be there and he was surprised when Mark wasn’t there. He went ahead anyhow and finished off several runs of molding around the ceiling – with a little help from Linda & I.

Surprise 2: We were there putting up a wallpaper border in one room – a surprise to me. I’m a project manager in a former life and I know that nailing down scope and preventing scope creep is critical to getting things done on time and within budget. Linda is very creative and she isn’t done until it looks right – which means we ended up painting a lot of things I hadn’t counted on and doing things like borders and curtains that she didn’t know were needed when we started. That’s OK because my job was to help her get the rooms done to her satisfaction so “scope creep” wasn’t a major priority (although I do grumble about it a little).

Surprise 3: Another in this series of surprises came Tuesday evening when we dropped by to put up some window decorations and discovered that Mark Seeler was there working wondering what had happened to Russ. Obviously they had communicated well on the day but somehow missed on the time, So again Linda & I helped a little between doing the things we were there to do.

Surprise 4: Roger & Sandra are doing the painting and other decorations in one of the rooms. . We had pre-painted the trim before it was installed leaving only a small amount of touch-up to do later. Since we were nearly out of paint Roger had gotten another quart to paint some bulletin board frames. He used that quart to do touch up on the baseboard in “their” room – and he got an unpleasant surprise. It turned out that the tint was off and the touchup stood out like the proverbial “sore thumb”. This morning I went back to the paint store to get that remedied. (since I was the one who had originally made the purchases). (They admitted that the color was off and replaced it with the correct tint) and Sandra re-did the touch-up this evening after Bible Study. – so the baseboard is now 100% complete.

Well – building projects are always full of suprises so not much new here – a couple of other unrelated surprises – one good – one not so good”

Wedding photos – 15 years later. Linda had discovered a film a few months ago that had “exposed” written on the outside. We had put it aside intending to take it to be developed but for whatever reason hadn’t done it. This week she had another film to get developed and we happened to remember the “mystery” film so we took it as well. I went to pick them up this morning and you might imagine my surprise when I discovered it was pictures of Chris & Tammye’s wedding taken in November 1991. As best we can tell it must have been from Tammye’s camera and was accidentally left in a drawer here in the rush they had getting ready to leave for the Dominican republic – No not on their honeymoon. They were married on November 9 and left November 11 for a 2 year assignment as house parents in a residential school for trouble (North American) teens. There was a picture of Linda’s Dad who had passed away in 1995 and Tammye’s Dad who passed away several years ago. Quite a nostalgia trip ---

Vehicles that break: I wasn’t to pleased with the fact that I had a gas smell and a warning light (Check engine) on the car. I took it in yesterday and it appears that there is a problem with the gasoline "evaporation" system. This is supposed to a closed systems that maintains a vacuum to avoid fumes from escaping into the atmosphere – I have been fighting this problem for over 2 years and have had the tank replaced and other work done – and spent a fortune. Latest work was done last fall and I hoped that was the end of it. It now appears that something else has failed in that same system or that one of the previous repairs didn’t last very long – Makes you want to cry. As if that wasn’t bad enough to-day I had gone to pick up Dad at the store - where he had gone following his Wednesday p.m. bowling and when I was going into his parking lot with the truck I heard a loud “clunk” – When I got back on the street I had a severe “wobble” in the front end. I was able to get home by driving very slowly – There is nothing obviously broken but I suspect that a broken universal joint in the “drive shaft” that transfers power to the front wheel.

I hope there are no more surprises on this front for a while.

A couple of closing notes.

Linda went back to the dentist today to allow them to try (for the 4th time) to fit a replacement dental bridge that has been in progress since January. And it FIT!! –she was relieved about that. The bad news is that they had just sent the metal framework to be sure it was right – they now have to add the ceramic covering and bake it on – hopefully nothing goes wrong in that process.

I have mentioned Mark & Sharon Seeler before (Mark I’ve mentioned above) They sent this note out to-day “Please keep Kurt and Roxy Picker in your prayers at this time. Kurt is the minister at Grace Chapel Church of Christ in Atlanta, GA (which the Seeler’s attended before moving here last fall – CW). He and his wife were seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last night while traveling on their 30th wedding anniversary in the North Carolina area.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda