Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why do you blog?

Having devoted the last couple to posts giving “excuses” for why I haven’t been blogging it occurs to me that my faithful readers might be asking “Why do you bother?”

(Faithful readers???? OK, OK—stop laughing -- there must be at least 2 people I could consider to be faithful readers –and if there aren’t – don’t tell me --I’d rather live with my illusions)

Anyhow, I thought I might try to remind myself why I do this.

When I first started “Whitfield’s journey” (See Trip to Mississippi) on March 3 2006, it was to keep family and friends informed of our adventures as we traveled to Mississippi with the “BBB” to help with “hurricane relief” work. I continued the entries for that purpose during our follow-on trip through Texas until we arrived home at the end of April.

At that point I was going to quit but as noted in my May 1 entry – “Changing gears” I decided to keep it up. Here’s what I wrote then (with some minor editing to correct some typos)

“ I have had some support for continuing this [blog] – but it will now be for a different purpose. When I started the main purpose was to keep friends and family informed of our whereabouts and activities [while traveling].

While I will continue to record “what’s happening in our lives” –I have found this to be a useful thing for myself – putting my thinking in writing and maybe once in a while getting some push back or affirmation from someone else. If you are reading God bless you and thank you for staying with it.

One other thing – Charlie who is the “I” in this blog. My life partner and wife Linda makes up the “we”. I usually know when I can express something as “we” and when it should be ”I” but occasionally Linda may disagree so to be safe if it is something “weird” that “we” think – it is probably me you should blame for the “weirdness.”.

As I look back – I have had several of my family and friends tell me that they use the blog to keep track of us.

I have also had a several good (mostly email) conversations that started through the blog. I have made friends with several other bloggers that I have met. Mostly due to JD –who is the blogging king as far as I’m concerned.

One other reason is that the time I spend writing helps keep me focussed on what’s important and (despite the fact that it seems I spend too much time thinking (writing) about stuff this focus actually does translate into actions. And so I think writing does keep me on track of doing the things I need to be doing.

I have learned from others and I hope that in some small way sometimes what I’ve written has helped others. So I do it for me – selfishly – but with the hope that my selfishness will flow good to someone else.

Speaking of blogs and blogging

I was humbled (but flattered) to find myself quoted by Bobby Cohoon ( in his October 22nd post.

My friend JD had carpal tunnel surgery and “The Hand” has become his trademark for this week. John has also taken to posting music clips from He devoted a big chunk of one of his recent posts to his favorite singer Chris Tomlin. You can find out more about Chris by clicking HERE.

JD also asks an interesting question about Church Architecture in his October 28th post and gives a partial response the following day. The question was

“If our “church buildings” reflected the heart and mission of Christ, what would they look like? (And we know that the term ‘church building’ is an oxymoron.)”

-- Coincidentally? I came across another blog (via Bobby Valentine) by Wade Tannehill that dealt with a similar idea in “A church without walls

Bobby been posting (click HERE for his blog) a series of articles starting on September 22nd that deal with our views about the meaning of the Old Testament. He presents a view that it is a consistent story of a loving gracious God who looks to his people to build relationship and who expects his people to love other’s – God is the great Redeemer – who provides the great command – to Love and expects his people to form a great society (relationship) of compassion, respect and love.

I limited my “Berean list” to 33 entries this week and with one “minor” exception on Sunday I kept within my self-imposed guidelines of how long I should spend on it (Sunday I used up more than my quota of time for the whole week by spending several hours composing a too lengthy response to a single question) . AH well.. I do talk too much at times.

It was a busy week. I got caught up on all my course work, gave a midterm and marked those tests. I (more or less) kept up with the housework and feeding Alyssa and I. I got some work done raking leaves in between the rain showers and did a number of other small jobs. (I did this self-portrait by putting the camera on a box and setting the timer. It doesn't do justice to showing the amount of leaves we get in our yard).

Anyhow, now my list of things I’m committed to for next week is at least manageable.

Yesterday I met my friend Russ for a coffee at Tim Horton’s – he is a great guy with a heart for service. We talked about a number of things including how different people see God and how that influenced their lives. Russ will be leading singing on Sunday – first time – and he is a little nervous about that. Thursday p.m. and again this morning (today my Dad went with me) I visited with Mary Seabrook. She is 95 and confined to her bed – heavily medicated – due to a hip problem. They had done surgery a couple of weeks ago but it didn’t seem to work out and there’s nothing more tobe done other than managing the pain. Mary is a lifelong friend of my parents and her daughter is a longtime friend who attends Pinehill. We continue to pray for Mary and her family during this difficult time.

This afternoon, I had a web-cam conversation with Kevin, Will and then Linda & I talked for quite a while. We have talked on the phone but it was great to see her smile. Another 10 days and I’m off to Aurora (Chicago) to meet up with Linda and help her finish out her week there looking after Hunter & Camdyn.

Well that’s it for now.

Maybe I’ll get back to more frequent shorter posts – or maybe I won’t – there are no rules about this.

God Bless

Friday, October 27, 2006


A while back I said I would post my weekly Sunday school lesson as a means of sharing with you some of my thoughts on our relationship with God. I haven't done so for a while because I was away and then -- well look at the last 2 posts -- if you don't know my excuses for being delinquent with this.

In my September 28 posting titled “Heritage” (click HERE and scroll down a little bit ) I included the "Introduction" to a series of lessons I’m (currently) calling “Foundations of Faith".

In that class (held September 23) I asked “What questions would you want to ask someone to establish where they were in their relationship with God?” .

To-day I present the answers given by this group of long-time Christians --

1. Who is Jesus? And what do you think about him? (we digressed to remind ourselves that, based on what Jesus said & did in the gospels we must conclude he is either who he says he was (Lord) or he was out of touch with reality (a lunatic) or he was simply trying to deceive (a liar). No other logically consistent possibility exists)
2. Do you believe in God?
3. Do you believe in the Bible?
4. Have you read the Bible and when?
5. Do you believe in an afterlife? (Is this all there is - we die and that’s the end or ??
6. Do you believe in good & evil?
7. Is the Bible important to how you live?
8. Do you believe in prayer?
9. If the answer to 2, 3, 5, 6 or 8 is no – Why don’t you believe?
10. What do you think will be the consequences of the way you live and what you believe? (or are there any consequences?)
11. Do you understand the covenants? (some thought this was too advanced for an initial conversation)

Note: There is no "ordering" of which questions to ask 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so on and I'm not sure that any such order exists? - Beliefs are a complex set of interelated thoughts -- not a "recipe" that has "steps 1 through n"

These are good questions -- and I think if we got through a session where we just listened to the answers and understood what was being said -- we would have a good idea of where we would want to start in terms of the “gaps” between their beliefs and yours (or maybe more precisely) what you understand the Bible to be saying about these things.

Next lesson, I will ask a different question --

“What are the things you would say to someone that covers -- as briefly as possible --what you believe is sufficient for you to have confidence that you have and maintain a “saving” relationship with God?

God Bless

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Why I haven’t been blogging – Part 2

Another week (and a bit) has flown by since my last posting.

While I gave up long ago keeping up with my prolific blogging Christian brother JD (click HERE) I have intended to do 2 or 3 entries a week. But lately if I’ve managed once a week I’ve been doing well. How come?

Last week I said the number 1 reason was my “addiction” to a discussion list that had siphoned me off and kept me from blogging. I certainly seem to have hit a chord with several other of my blogging friends since I had several empathetic responses and encouraging responses.

Interestingly, I heard on CBC radio this week that this is a real probem especially among children. So I did a search on this topic (using the INTERNET of course). There is a lot out there – my search with the words ‘INTERNET addiction’ had almost a half a million hits. One example is a New York Times article in December 2005.

There are sites dedicated to INTERNET addiction recovery – for example the Centre for Internet Addiction Recovery is devoted to this issue. I also found a test that you can take to check whether you are an addict. (Click HERE) if you want to take it.

While Linda might score me differently my results were well within the category of “normal usage”. It was a little reassuring to know that I wasn’t “clinically” addicted. However, I do think it is something I need to keep an eye on. With God’s help, I can keep from going over the edge on this.

If anyone has a serious concern about their level of INTERNET use I’d encourage them to do an honest assessment and if there is any possibility that this is “spinning out of control” seek help. God put us here to have an abundant life and I don’t think allowing anything other than Jesus to control our lives will give us that “richness”

So what kept me from blogging this week? (I’ll only do the top 5 this week)

Number 5. I swore off the INTERNET for the week to be sure I wasn’t addicted. Well, maybe that would be a good thing – but not true. I actually spent a lot of time working to catch up in my backlog of email (both personal and related to my teaching at Algoma U.) – and made a dent in it but there is still a lot to be done in that area.

My goal is to deal with all email as it arrives – either read and respond, delete as irrelevant or place in the “C-file” to be addressed whenever I have any spare time. I managed to do that with everything new that came in this week. I also made the rounds of several of my favorite bloggers and got caught up with the happening in their lives – JD & Dee in particular had several inspirational and challenging posts . I dropped by a few others using links from the Berean list and other blogs. I haven’t been to my friend Bobby Valentine’s blog for a while – maybe next week. I always enjoy reading his posts. He is very thoughtful and provides a lot of in depth challenging lessons based on his Bible study and research and they make me think and challenge me to grow.

I also “lurked” on the Berean list and made a few comments (39 for week) but mostly “one-liners” . I closed out my participation in a number of ongoing debates that just seemed to be going in circles. One of the principles I try to follow (but often fail in doing) is that in any discussion I seek to understand what the other person is saying before I begin “arguing” and trying to convince them I’m right & they are wrong. When I recognize that I’m just arguing and not listening – or if listening-- I see that we “understand each other” but just don’t agree – I will close off the discussion until such time as there is something new to be heard or said that hasn’t already been heard or said. At the end, however, I think my INTERNET “fixes” were in control and kept in balance – so yes I didn’t blog because I ran out of INTERNET time doing other things.

In the course of executing my email , list “lurking” and” blog browsing” I did come across several ”neat” things and some of those I shared with others.

One example was Chris Bliss juggling

Another was a video for kids making the case for intelligent design in the universe

I also listened to a couple of sermons by JD (click HERE) and Roger (click HERE)

I also got to download some pictures that my brother-in-law Art tookat the family gathering. I haven't gotten to mine yet. I'm including one of Dad with all his "kids" (I'm the good looking one of the guys - back row centre) and one of the group as we gathered to watch the Powerpoint Saturday evening. Dad has 70 direct descendents and 50 of them made an appearance at somepoint in the weekend.

Number 4. It’s Roger’s fault for leaving – Well not really but I just wanted to take a “pot shot” at him. I do have a number of service- ministry commitments.

I dedicated most of last Friday & Saturday to preparing a sermon and Sunday school lesson. I will get back to posting of those lessons - maybe this week.

I visited Mary Seabrook & Marion’s brother Dan in the hospital on Tuesday. Mary has now returned to the Davey Home. Wednesday was weekly Bible study and Thursday night I attended the kickoff of a film series organized by the Seelers called “Full Flame”.

Friday, I made a Red Cross runs to take a lady to the Y and then picked her up to take her home a couple of hours later (with side visits to Pharamacy and Credit union) There are a number of other people I need to be in touch with and visit if possible – but for a variety of reasons that has happened. – at least this neglect hasn’t been caused by too much blogging.

Number 3. I’m still alone – poor me!! I’ve had too many things to do around the house and I just haven’t had much to talk about on the blog. Well actually—Alyssa is here. We have had several good conversations about her school work and other things happening in her life. I haven’t done much extra household stuff other than the normal daily stuff that I would (or at least should) be doing even when Linda was here.

The highlight of my day has been Linda’s calls every evening. Sharing our days over the distance is a poor substitute for being together but it is significantly better than 40 plus years ago when we were separated for months due to school and the communication was by old fashioned letter. That time delay would be unbearable in today’s world. I’m counting the days until I leave to meet her at Chris’ in early November.

Tuesday was Chris’ birthday – and I forgot to call him until Wednesday – I had thought of it but without the “double” memory it didn’t happen.

The good news last night was that Kevin has gotten his proposal submitted and hopes to do the “defense” on October 31. If that is successful the purpose for Linda being there will have been fulfilled and for that we will thank God. It has been a difficult time for Kevin & Sarah – this big push on thesis work is putting a strain on their relationship. Hopefully, Linda being there can help them in that area as well.

Number 2. I had a whole bunch of yard work and other jobs to do. The leaves are falling, the motor home has to be cleaned out in preparation for storage. My friend Russ needs help with his brother’s place on St.Joseph island. All true – but it rained most of the week and I had a conflict on Thursday when Russ wanted me to go so I didn’t do anyof those things – so it hardly explains why I haven’t been blogging.

So the number 1 – UNO – TOP – PREMIER REASON that I haven’t been blogging is SCHOOL – What? School – Yes – I’m teaching one course and providing 2 reading courses at Algoma University and I had gotten seriously behind first with the family related items (trip to Beamsville for Partnership dinner honoring Art & Ruby) and then preps for family weekend on (Canadian) Thanksgiving to honor my Dad), further exacerbated by my week of “Bereanese” (see previous post)

So this week has been devoted to “catching up” on the class stuff. Marking assignments and preparing tests (for mid-terms next week and the week after).
So we’ll see what next week brings – My commitments are to the AUC classes, to “fall jobs” (yardwork, storing the BBB and helpingRuss) and “household routine”(I haven’t done the housecleaning yet but I did rememberto water the plants!!).

So maybe I’ll see you on the lists and blogs or maybe I won’t – It depends on how well I do in meeting those important commitments (and it goes without saying that service and ministry are always at the top – or at least I want them to be)

God Bless

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Why I haven’t been blogging?

I looked at the stats for my blog today and was amazed that there had been 40 visits –I know this time none of them were me going back to look at something or to get a reference for a new post so either 1 determined soul came back 40 times (which I doubt) or 40 people came one time (which I equally doubt) so it is likely somewhere in between.

In any case I thought I’d give you my top ten excus …. OOPS I mean reasons for not having been on the blogs this week.

10. Last weekend was the family reunion for the early celebration of my Dad’s 90th Birthday (but that only lasted until Sunday so that’s not really it)

9. Linda is away in Vancouver visiting Kevin & Sarah and helping watch Will while they work (True but anyone who knows even the slightest thing about us would expect that to mean more blogging not less)

8. Monday was my birthday so I decided to take the week off and just “veg out” doing only the bare minimum needed to get my teaching and household commitments. (Oh how I wish that was true!!)

7. I needed to get the “BBB” winterized and that took so much time I didn’t have anytime left for other things. It is true that I spent several hours Tuesday afternoon removing anything that might freeze and blowing out/putting antifreeze in the water lines – but thanks to my friend Russ Ward that really only took about 2 hours. I did spent another hour or so visiting with him and talking about some “church” questions that he had.

6. I had too many people to visit and talk to about things that needed to be addressed in my “elder” role at the church. Well I did spend an hour visiting Mary Seabrook in hospital. She had fallen with a broken hip last week and had surgery. At age 94, she is struggling in the recovery – and needs our prayers. But that’s hardly a reason for not having time on the blog.

5. Our preacher left and I have a whole bunch of things that I need to do because of that (Rog – if you see this – you will be happy to know that everything that goes wrong is still your fault). Well I do have a sermon and a class to prepare for but they are still waiting to be done so hardly can be used as an excuse for not doing something else.

4. Linda is away and I have had to take care of many household things that she normally does. Well –there’s several problems with this excuse – one there’s only me (and Alyssa) so there’s not that much to do. Two, Linda left lots of precooked meals so cooking isn’t an issue, three, I (at least sometimes) do the cleanup part anyhow, and four, it doesn’t take much time to stuff some bedding and towels into the machine and then go back later to move them to the dryer --Oh yeah –I’m supposed to fold them and put them away –maybe I’ll get to that later.

3. I got behind in my class stuff last week when working on PPT for Dad’s party and I have assignments to grade as well as class preps to do. Oh – but Tuesday class was suspended (Founder’s day) and I only had a small amount of prep for Thursday. And the assignments are still waiting …

2. I have some work to do to respond to a request to help develop a ”statistical process control” course for engineers that requires a fair bit of time. But wait – I didn’t do anything on it either.

So the number one top reason (and probably the only valid one) is that I got “addicted” to the Berean Spirit list. I had not been on it for almost a week and a half and I felt compelled to “catch up” – and not only that I kept putting in my “2 cents” on too many topics.

I know I can’t keep it up because there are too many other things that I need to be doing. Isn’t it interesting that the very things that help us be “successful” in life can also be our biggest enemies. In my case it is a combination of when I do something I want to dive in whole heartedly and participate to the max and (as I have mentioned before) my buffet style approach to just heaping it on because I always think I can handle more than is really possible.

This can be good or it can be bad – It really depends on which things I decide to leave on the plate (or discard) or whether I try to handle it all to the point it makes me “ill”.

May God give me the strength and wisdom to say No and keep my plate filled on to the point that I need for nourishment rather than this unhealthy striving to always do more – which often ends up with many things (important things left undone or done poorly)

My friend John Dobbs who is also on the list told me I should “pick my battles” -- and that is good advice. I will heed it … tomorrow!!!

To give you a hint of how badly I lost the battle here are some excerpts from some of my 38 entries to that list between October 10 and noon on October 13.

Friday 1:39 p.m. “I don't have a lot time to pursue this now so I'll try this "small" clarification/question”

Friday 12:16 a.m. “And I've got no spare time -- I guess I'll have to take a sabbatical from the list for a few days - Do you think it will survive without me? :) :)”

Thursday 10:31 p.m. “Well I'm back into this again.”

Thursday 11:22 a.m. “Aaaagh! I know I know I promised -- maybe this time I'll mean it and keep it.”

Thursday 11:14 a.m. “My OCD has me needing to go through the entire list after a week away” ..
Thursday 10:47 a.m “ Now back to my promise not to discuss this anymore unless I see something new that I haven't seen before”

Thursday 10:29 a.m. “I'm ranting -- but I can't help it”

Thursday 10:02 a.m “I'm sorry -I can't help myself -- I think I need some addiction counselling!!!”

Thursday 9:41 a.m “Enough said about … (at least for me)

Thursday 9:02 a.m. “p.p.s This is my absolute last word on this -- I promise (he said with his fingers crossed!!)

Thursday 8:34 a.m. “because I've devoted a lot of time in the past couple of days …reading what you good folk have been discussing on this list --I need to get off this list and move on (the other things in my life)”

Wednesday 9:33 p.m. “I'm a little late with this response -- I've been gradually tracking this thread back to where I last left it and I have been hesitant to comment before I got to the end but …”

To my family & friends - I hope to have "recovered" sufficiently to do a post about the "big party" last weekend sometime next week. Art has already sent me a bunch of pictures.

To Wilma_ I know I still owe you an answer about accessing the list.

To JD, Bobby, Dee and any of my other blogging friend who may have dropped by my biggest failure is not so much that I wasn’t putting anything on my blog but I also wasn’t coming by to “get nourished” by yours.

I think I need to find a chapter of BLA (bloggers and listers anonymous) and beat this thing before it starts to ruin my life. Well I don’t think I’m really that bad –after all I can quit this any time I want to … I just don’t want to yet – :0 :)

All kidding aside I think there is some truth to the possibility of becoming addicted to this form of communication and discussion and while I’m not there – and I don’t think I ever will get there – the “close encounters of the worst kind” have given me at least a sense of the battle faced by those who are addicted to much more damaging and hurtful things.

You’ll know I’ve really lost it when I start my blog with “Hello my name is Charlie and I’m a blogaholic” ….

God Bless

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pictures, Pictures & more pictures

Well I’ve finished the big Powerpoint project. 170 slides ranging over a century from pictures of my Dad’s parents around 1900 to a picture of Elijah my Dad’s 3rd great-great grandchild born in August of this year.
Starting from Mom & Dad as the 1st generation, they had 8 kids (2nd generation) from which there have come 25 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren (with 1 more due in November) and 3 great-great (5th generation).

I managed to get at least one picture of each of the ”direct descendents” and most of the spouses or partners which is a total that is near 100 (without counting my niece Megan’s 3 step-children). I haven’t counted but many (most) of the slides have 2 or 3 pictures – some have 4 or 5) so I suspect there are well in excess of 300 different pictures. A lot from my sisters and brothers, a lot I scanned from my parents photo albums and quite a few from my own archives.

Sometimes I fell asleep ”swimming” in pictures. Near the end it was like looking for a needle in a haystack because I had gone though with a list of the names and I knew who I was missing – the challenge was to find someone who could get the required pictures to me. But a few panic emails to my niece Karen, my brother John and my sister Diamond took care of it. There are still a few pictures I would like -- my brother Elwood atmy parents store at age 15 wearing his "store" uniform (white coat & "boat shaped" hat) for one -- but I don't have time to go looking for it and it hasn't popped up.

I don’t even want to think about the hours that went into this but even at 6 minutes/slide it would be 17 hours – I know some took a lot longer than that between searching through albums, scanning pictures and then figuring out where to put them (and replacing poorer framed shots with better ones that came with another batch. I suspect I spent closer to 40 hours than 20 -- and that doesn't include the time my siblings spent collectingpictures and sending them to me

I worked on it almost non-stop while at my sister’s place last weekend. I joked that some people knit or do needlepoint while visiting – the Powerpoint was my version of “needlepoint”. It was helpful to be doing it when others were around. Ruby & Diamond (my younger sisters) were especially helpful in commenting on composition and I was able to tap into Art & Ruby’s large reservoir of family pictures to fill in some gaps and I kept Art busy scanning and emailing me pictures all weekend (kind of funny to have the 2 of us sitting less than 10 feet apart with our laptops(wireless) sending messages back & forth. I would like to say that in all of this I kept my balance and didn’t get overly focused but I have to confess that I missed some of the visiting that went on around me and it certainly placed some stress on my relationship with Linda because she has a million things on the go getting ready for the weekend and getting packed for her month as the “international” touring grandmother.

But its done- well maybe I’ll do a little fine tuning but only if there’s nothing else to do - yea right :) :)

The partnership dinner honoring Art & Ruby for their many years of service to the school was a great event. (Picture shows the members of both their families who were present including 2 of their sons, Art's Dad, his 2 sister's , Ruby's Dad, 2 sisters and 2 brothers along with spouses and Sarah - Trevor's finance).

There is a humorous story involving Art's sister Donna, herhusband Mike and their shoes -- which my Dad took by accident from the house prior tothe dinner but I don't have time to tell it right now.

Art has been president over the past 10 years. Ruby is a super organizer and was often in charge of the food prep and service setup for these types of large dinners. They have been “house parents” for a large number of young people who attended the school including many of their nieces, nephews and “grand”-nieces & nephews. We had a good opportunity to meet with and renew acquaintances with a number of Christians that we have met over the years.

One of the best things about the family “birthday” weekend is that Melissa & Alexander are here. Chris Tammye & the kids will be here later today. It will be a short visit but it is the greatest thing to have them close and to be able to share in their lives. We are headed back out to Camp Wakonda this morning so Melissa & Alexander can check it out as the location for the “wedding celebration ”next” year.

Melissa & Alexander arrived yesterday afternoon and have to leave tomorrow so he can get back for work on Sunday. They will miss most of the family thing but hopefully can be there for first hour to at least get to say hello and introduce her new husband to her aunts & uncles & cousins and their offspring. Poor Alexander. He comes from a small family – one you can count on your fingers (with maybe a couple of toes thrown in) and this is just the Whitfield side – Linda is the oldest of 10 and there are almost as many on that side as on my side. We spent a couple of hours last night going over pictures of Melissa growing up and Alexander was overwhelmed with the number of relatives that showed up in those pictures and the number has probably doubled in the last 10-15 years.

Yesterday was Alyssa’s birthday so Linda made her a cake. Her & her twin Michael were born 18 years ago. It has been a nice thing to get to know her better as she stays here while attending university during the week. It is neat to see Linda extend her “nuturin, mothering” talents to listen to Alyssa chat on about what’s happening in her life.

Anyhow – I have to run – I expect to have more time in October to get caught up on “blogging” and get back to the discussion list – I know it will be lonely around here without Linda but maybe having to look after all the household things that Linda does it will turn out that I have less time for this than I think. We’ll see.

God Bless
Charlie (& Linda -she may do the writing but she is very much a part of what is written)