Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Life’s a game – Tag you are it.

I don’t really think of life as a game but we certainly can have fun & play games as part of our life.

One of the blessings and curses of the INTERNET is the ability to easily send things to many people and from this was born the email chain letter. Some of these are obvious scams, some are nuisances and some can be interesting. No matter how interesting they are it has been my general principle to ignore these things and I have made it a point not to add to people’s information overload. I have almost always rejected the plea to forward them to the four or 10 or 100 of my best friends.

If it was something that I found interesting and thought might interest someone else I have removed the “forward or else” or ”forward and get rich” part of the message and sent the body to a few folks who I thought might be interested.

I say all this to explain that I’m (sort of ) breaking that rule in to-day’s post.

One of the popular email chain’s is to play tag -- in some fashion -- the person tagged has to supply some information and respond to the one who tagged them and then tag some others.

The math of this and the 5 degrees of separation rules suggest

a) if this was followed pretty soon every person on the INTERNET would have been tagged at least once and
b) you would likely be tagged many times and run out of people to tag.

(You know I can just hear Wilma saying – there he goes again analyzing everything to death—why don’t you just get on with life Charlie!!!)

Anyhow – as I mentioned last post, I was ”passively” tagged by Bobby Cohoon in his blog last week (by that I mean he didn’t get in my face by sending me an email –he left it there for me to find when I came by) and so I’m going to do the same thing and see who I hear from.

Similarly in October Glenn Zeigler "tagged" me on Berean Spirit and I’ve been “it” sincer then and it’s about time I tagged someone else ...

I like this approach ( instead of using email to get in someone’s face) and so I'm posting my responses here (and for Glenn on the Berean list). I believe that those I've "tagged" are looking at the blog fairly regularly. To the “tagees”- respond if you wish and tag othersor not- its your choice.

If you do choose torespond, you can do so in the comments or by sending me an email – I only ask that you give permission for me to post your responses if you do respond.

I’ll do it Bobby’s tag first .

Here are the rules:
1) Grab the book closest to you

2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence
3) Post the text of the following three sentences
4) Name the author and book title
5) Tag three people to do the same.

1) This was a bit of a challenge because I was in my “office: -- sitting on a chair in the living room with the laptop and I didn’t think there were any books close by. I had gone looking at the pile on my bedside table and picked up Philip Yancy’s “Where is God when it hurts?” but as I came back I realized that there was a book on the coffee table. Kevin & Sarah gave it to me for Christmas,

2) page 123 is a picture with the following caption “Honeywell Model 316 Kitchen Computer” The description is on page 122 and the fourth sentence of the description says “The H316 came with just 4K of memory”

3) Sentences 5, 6 (there is no 7th) are “Not a single person ordered a Kitchen computer from Neiman-Marcus, which isn’t surprising. After all, who wants a 68kg (150 lb) monstrosity in the in the middle of the kitchen, when a stack of recipe cards could do more, take up less space and cost about 25 cents (vs. the US$10,600 price tag for the Model 316)?

4) It is called “The computer” and is an illustrated history of computing by Mark Frauenfelder.

5) I think I’ll tag Wilma Lansdell, Roger Lansdell and Art Ford

Now for the longstanding tag from Glenn

Things you may not have known about me.....and may not care!

A) Four jobs I have had in the past:
1. Gas pump jockey (for my parents as a youngster)
2. Field hand - cutting, baling and putting hay bales into the mow
3. Grounds crew - mowing grass and cleanup at Abiliee Christian )
4. Crane driver in a steel mill (actually worked as a "hooker" (Yes I've heard all the jokes about this job title) I attached the hooks on the crane cable to ladles but got to drive it when the regular guy was on break.

B) Four movies I would watch over and over: This is a tough one - I like a lot of movies

1. The passion of Christ (although I'd wouldn't want to do it to often -- it might desensitize me to the reality of how brutal his death was) (interestingly I'd also like to include Mel Gibson's early movies -Mad Max and Thunder Dome? -- who could forget Tina Turner belting out "What's love got to do with it?)
2. Dancing with Wolves (or almost anything with Kevin Costner)
3. Cascablanca (and the Bogie Hebburn one on a tugboat - I forget the name)
4. McClintock -- Linda & I still get a kick and can get a laugh out of repeating the chief's line at the end of the big fight scene "Whiskey gone - we go home now") (of course I could likely watch any of "the Duke's" movies over and over

Of course there's a gadzillion other movies -- Dr.Zhivago, any of the Jack Ryan movies starting with Hunt for Red October , Die Hard, Lethal Weapon series and the list could goon. -

Just a small addition -- Ones I'd never watch (and certainly not twice are the modern horror moves - the Halloween. Scream genre although Victor Price in the Pit & the Pendulum is one I could watch again and again. (Enough - just shows you I have broad likes and have few "all time favorites"

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Thessalon, Ontario
2. Abilene TX
3. Sarnia, ON
4. Cleveland, OH

D) Four T.V. shows I love to watch:
1. Numb3rs 2. CSI (any and all)
3. American Idol (just to see Simon's reaction to the really bad ones' - why do they apply?)
4. Andy Griffith show (Don't we wish we had writers to figure out how to deal with all of life's problems)

E) Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Jarabocoa -DR
2. 6 Flags- St. Louis MO (and at least a half a dozen other theme parks in Florida, Ohio and Ontario)
3. Phoeniz AZ
4. Pascacoula MS (well not really a vacation but wouldn't have trade it for anything else)

F) Web sites I visit frequently:
1. Algoma University www.algomau.ca (for email)
2. John Dobb's"Out Here Hope remains" http://johndobbs.wordpress.com/ and several other blogs - Dee Andrews, Bobby Valentine, Bobby Cohoon are near the top of my hit parade.
3. Berean Spirit (Yahoo groups)
4. Google www.google.ca

G) Four of my favorite foods
1. Pizza (bacon, sausage & mushroom)
2. Turkey Dinner with all the fixins'
3. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
4. Steak from the grill with baked potatoes and corn on the cob

H) Four places I would like to be right now:
1. Heaven
2. Pascagoula, MS (for the God Thirst project)
3. with my children & grandchildren (which is 3 places at the sametime)
4. anywhere warm with a "surf & sand" beach and a mountain nearby

I) Four friends I think will respond: 1. Leona Devin 2. Myra Tallman 3. Maxine Bringleson 4. Russ Ward

RETURN DIRECTIONS: Now, here's what you're supposed to do... and, while its your choice it can be fun,

Copy my response into a new email, Hit forward, delete my answers and type in your answers.

Then send this to the people you want to tag and COPY the person (me) who sent it to you. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about those who know you.

Remember it is your choice whether to respond and whether to tag others BUT I would really like to hear from you.

God Bless

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Life’s a journey?

I’ve been on a theme about life for my last three posts so I thought I’d try for one more (at least).

If you have followed “Whitfield’s journey” for anytime at all, you may have learned a few things about my persistent struggle with “getting things done”. For example, see my post for July 12 about “Living by the Nike creed

I used to complain I had a “buffet table” approach to taking things on –my “ayes” (saying yes to new things) exceeded my “chewing ability” -- so I often end up long “to do” list that has things that keep getting pushed aside by other things. I used to be a fan of the saying “If it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would get done”. Also there was a real tendency to put more priority on things related to my job than on the projects Linda & I had agreed should be done around the house. I’d say I would do it soon but there were always other things keeping me from it.

This “buffet” approach to making promises was combined with another part of my personality that often got me into trouble. I love planning work. I love thinking about projects and how the problems might be solved -- but there are 3 things about projects I have trouble with—starting them, keeping them going once started and finishing them.

I’ve mentioned before my friend Terry Miller who I met as a consultant over 10 years ago. He taught me that as long as I looked at life as managing priorities on an impossibly long to do list, I would be frustrated, stressed and leave a bunch of clutter of unstarted or half done or poorly done work in my wake. -- – and he explained how to get out of that trap by managing commitments (learning to say make promises that you could keep by knowing what else you had on your plate and only taking on new things if there was ”room” to swallow” them.

He also reminded me that in managing and planning commitments there should only be (at most) 3 important things on your list at any time. You needed to start each day by making sure you knew what those things were for that day and then Do them (remember the Nike creed- just do it)

He taught me these things but it is hard to break a lifetime of bad habits and so making these changes in approach often became another “to do” on that impossibly long list. (although I did gradually move more and more into asking “Do I have the capacity to do this in the time it needs to be done without breaking a previous promise?”). Things would go smoother for a while – but like an addict I often fell off the wagon and ended back up in the same old mess – which would prompt a call to Terry to have him remind me once again that it was my choice to be that way and I could choose to change it.

I say all this to put the rest of this story into context.

About 5 years ago I finally got started on a project to put laminate flooring in our front hall and because it wasn’t that big a job and because once started it was pretty difficult to ignore and put it aside we worked like beavers for a several weekends and got it (almost) completed - remember what I said about “finishing”. The floor was completed but there is a ¼ round to put along the edges. I said “I have to get something else done so we’ll put that aside for a few weeks”. Well, weeks went into months and months into years and the ¼ round sat there up against the wall in the dining area. Every so often there would a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder that this still needed to be done and I’d say yes – as soon as I get time. In my defense, -- and although it may be indefensible -- I will say I did take on and complete a lot of other projects at home during that period despite the fact that this one just never seemed to make it to the top of the list.

Well as I mentioned at the beginning last July (2006) I spent some time really focusing on the “Just do it” approach and as 2007 started I promised myself that this job was going to get done and even though it took 2 weeks rather than one - I did it – I finished it Friday night and Saturday I finished it right by cleaning up and putting the tools away – one job done.

Hurrah!! – or at least that’s what you would think – but finishing means now I can start something else and that leads to thinking about the impossibly long list of things I might start on and the equally long list of things I said No to because I was doing this – and I started feeling depressed again.

This led me to thinking (maybe your don’t see the connection) but it led me to thinking about the saying that “life is a journey not a destination.”

There were 2 parts to this.

First – if life is a journey not a destination, why did it matter if I stuck to my guns and got this little job done rather than meandering off into whatever side road interested me. Second – if life was a journey not a destination then why did it matter which thing I picked to do next.

Yeah I know – kinda weird thinking but that’s where I was yesterday. Spinning my wheels at the side of the road because I couldn’t decide whether it mattered which way I turned the wheel when I got back on the road.

Well –for today I’ve concluded that as much as it is a catchy phrase and much as the underlying idea may be that we need to “stop and smell the roses” rather than speeding towards someplace we want to get to by our next birthday --- the reality is that “life is a journey not a destination” has many flaws as a philosophy of life.

If it’s the journey that counts (and therefore the destination doesn’t matter) what about this example?

If I turn left following the smooth road and beautiful scenery and end up out of gas in the middle of nowhere instead of turning right and enjoying a fine meal and comfortable bed -- I think the the destination matters even if the road to the right was rough and the scenery was ugly. More to the point – I believe our life’s journey needs to be shaped by our eternal destiny – and I believe that’s a destination that really counts.

So may I suggest “Life’s a journey with a destination” or “Life’s a journey to enjoy as long as it is a journey to the right destination” . Mark Seeler spoke in our assembly this morning. He talked about living the Christiana life in a way that leads to the hoped for destination. He talked about our attitude toward becoming more loving on that journey with a destination and suggested that a 3 step process could help us reach some “milestones” along the way. “Just do it”, start small (pick a one thing and make it a habit) and start with those closest to you.

And so I’m happy to report that I have made on small step in my journey that I think was in the right direction. I have another project for this week that I hope keeps the momentum going . If I can build success in “just doing it” when it comes to “fix-up, clean-up” projects – maybe, with God’s help, I can do more with changing those things that need to change to keep me heading along His road – and I can enjoy the scenery because life is a GOOD journey if we have our eyes on the right destination.

It was a full week. Linda is still suffering with her “dry socket” from having her tooth extracted and had to go in to have it “packed” every day for 3 days last week. It had been doing better until this morning – she came home from services with it aching again and had to take more painkiller.

I did take sometime yesterday to “surf the net” – I listened to sermons by Roger (click HERE) and John Dobbs (click HERE). John has been working on a project called “God Thirst” that kicks off this week. Check it out here GOD THIRST

I spent sometime on the Berean list (I’m up to January 21 so I’m gradually catching up after getting way behind over the Holidays). For the cat lovers among you, (and even if you don’t love cats it is still neat) someone on the Berean list pointed out this site called Cat Scriptures (Be sure you scroll to the bottom toget the story about why he started this – and to access the YouTube video)

I was “tagged” by Bobby Cohoon who was writing about the ice storm in Texas (Click HERE) and at the end he had this surprise .

Bobby wrote "Well, I have been tagged again. This time a little bit different: Here are the rules: Here is how it works: 1) Grab the book closest to you 2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence 3) Post the text of the following three sentences 4) Name the author and book title 5) Tag three people to do the same.
…I am going to tag:Charlie Whitfield what is the book up there in Canada?"

(Bobby –if you read this post I’ve fixed the spelling of my name – If you are going to tag me the least you could do is get my name right :) :) )

Normally I don’t respond to these things (or even when I think I will they end up as “buffet table” casualties. I don’t want to make a promise but I think I will be able to “JUST DO THIS” to-morrow or the next day.

If I do I will also respond to a long overdue tag by my friend Glenn -- By the wAY, he has started a blog of his own which you can check out at LIFE NOTES

God Bless

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Snow life

It is -24C (about -10F) outside in the early dawn as I sit and watch the eastern (actually southeastern) sky turn red. There is a nice blanket of fresh snow and it crunches when you walk. All of this I love about winters in Sault Ste.Marie. I’m not so crazy about being cold, or about driving in snowstorms. The skiers (downhill & cross country) and snowmobilers and ice fishing folks are in their glory --

However, Linda & I aren’t into snowmobiling or icefishing. When our kids were growing up we used to go cross country skiing regularly and did some downhill but haven’t done that for several years. Some might think that for us “snow life is no life” but in balance life is what you let God make of it and God is good.

My attempt to make a play on words reminds me that the other day we saw one of those church signs with a “catchy phrase” . Sometimes these are funny and give me a laugh – sometime they are fairly mundane. This one said “Sign Broken Message Inside”. Now I understand what the intent was but the more I thought about it I wondered about the ethics of telling a lie to try to grab people’s attention. Surely churches of all places need truth in advertising. Obviously the sign wasn’t broken – it was working fine.

I like watching for church signs with a "punch" and I have seen some pretty funny signs that made a good point with humor. But my memory failed to come up with any recent favorites so I thought I would google for “funny church signs” to see if I could find one. I didn’t see anything that leapt out at me – Maybe the best signs are original and haven’t made their way onto the lists.

But, believe it or not there is a whole “industry” out there dealing with church signs – books for sale and the like. But what amazed me was that at least one blogger has made it his “life’s work” to critique these signs. See Crummy Church Signs and Critical Analysis of Church signs -- Personally I wouldn’t let a small thing like a bad sign consume me but different strokes for different folks.

I also discovered that the sign I was talking about wasn’t original so I guess the preacher at the church on Wellington street uses one of these books - I guess this explains why when we were traveling we would often see the same sign in different places.

Back to our life - Linda’s tooth extraction resulted in a “dry socket” and she has been in severe pain. She is now going back to dentist daily to have a packing put in. Hopefully it will heal soon.

I worked on my small trim finishing project again yesterday. I’m down to fitting small pieces in doorways and it is a real challenge requiring “cut & try” techniques. I prefer projects where I can get visible results without a lot of “picky” fine detailed work so it isn’t really much fun – Maybe that explains why I put it off for so long!!!

We had a chance to do a "webcam" visit with Kevin, Sarah & Will last evening. It had been a while since we had done this . Kevin had had to reformat his computer so he had to redownload Live Messenger before we could start -- but it is great to be able to see them as we talk to them.

Other than that life goes on – maybe I should have titled this one (consistent with the last 2) “Life in the SNOW Lane” but I think that is too corny even for me.

I have bounced around in blog land a few times this week. Some of the things I saw follow

Dee Andrew’s asks some of life’s most important question such as “Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?” in her Wind Vanes Chronicles post for January 22 (click HERE)

One of the biggest blessing and best memories of our trip to Pascagoula last year was meeting Robbie Wood. He has started a blog (click HERE) and tells a poignant story of how his father’s refusal to help him get a driving licence contributed to his fall into alcoholism. His story is a compelling testimony of what can happen when we turn our lives over to God.

Well “daylight’s burning” _ I have a long list of things to do today – and I hope to get at least one of them done!!

God Bless

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Life in THE Lane

Last post I talked about my Dad and his 90th birthday. The Sault Star had a headline last Saturday about him titled “Life in the bowling lane” -- This had led to the title for my post -- which might been– in to-days’s way of speaking “Life in the fast lane – NOT”.

This week as I was clearing snow from the driveway I was thinking about how much my Dad had influenced my life and how blessed I was to have a father who had helped me find a relationship with our heavenly Father.

It came home to me that many have not had this type of guidance and example. This lead me to think that we all have different relationships with our parents and we all are at different places in our relationship with God.

Most parents we have desires and hopes for their children and most children are strongly influenced by their parents (or someone who fills the role of a parent). I also came across a blog entry by a mother who was hurting badly because here son had chosen to turn his back on God – abandon his wife & children and life a selfish, self-centred “prodigal” life.

At the risk of oversimplifying this complex relationship between parents and children I see four possibilities

1. Godly parents – Godly children

2. Godly parents -- “prodigal” children (by this I mean those who spurn the inheritance of righteousness that God can provide and choose to serve other gods – pleasure, money, etc. and this may include "good" people who are very successful using the standards of this world)

3. “prodigal” parents – Godly children

4. “prodigal” parents - “prodigal” children

Now ultimately, it is God’s determination – not mine - where we are in this picture as parents and as children . My task both as a parent and as a child is to seek God in faith and receive his gracious righteousness that comes not from my efforts but from the sacrificial work of our Savior .

The other thing that is true is that this is not a static picture. Our relationship with our parents can (and will) vary significantly over time. There were times when I went my own way despite my parents wishes, there were times when I thought my father was “out to lunch” and there were times when his example left an impression on me when I would have been better off without that example.

Equally, it is true that the strength of my relationship with God and my commitment to loving Him and following his guidance has varied – and still does to some extent.

So this list of 4 possibilities is most useful when we step back and look at the “big picture”. When we are on a journey sometimes we take a wrong turn or have to make a detour that gets us a little off track. But if we show our trip on a map of the country, this “blip” wouldn’t even show up – it would show we were on the right road heading for our destination. On the other hand if (as happened in the movie “Dumb & Dumber”) we turn around and go the opposite direction for several hundred miles we could see clearly we were not going the right way.

So what’s my point?

One thought is that regardless of the road taken by our parents the important thing for each one is to seek THE road that leads to righteousness. We don’t want to be in the “fast” lane, or the “slow” lane, the “wealth “lane” or the “self” lane –we want to be in THE lane – Jesus said “I am the WAY (lane), the truth and the life ‘ .. that leads to the Father.

It is wonderful if we have parents who show us the way but God is ALWAYS there and we can find HIS way even if we don’t have that example. On the other hand, all the example in the world of faithful parents has no value if I choose to go a different way. We each choose and we each arrive at the destination that results from our choices. So,first & foremeost, I want to be in THE lane that leads to life.

Another question that came to my mind was “Why is it that children of Godly parents sometimes fail to follow that example and take a different direction?” and “How is it that children of “prodigal” parents can find thier way to a strong relationship with God?” To this question, I don’t have an answer to that satisfies me.

However, I am more and more convinced that the road we choose is the result of the people who influence us --- and so either we have been influenced by some part of our parents choices or someone else has provided that influence. I think more & more the key question isn’t “What road or you on?” but “who influenced you to choose that road?” –Understanding that question can be a start to then asking “Are you sure that their direction is the one you want to follow?”

Well – it has been an interesting week. Winter is here for sure. We had freezing temperatures and about 6 inches of snow. I was out clearing the driveway twice. This morning it was around -20C (below 0F). Tuesday was a bright crisp 10C day – if every day in winter were like that I’d think winter was great. I have been walking almost everyday and when you get going it is enjoyable –especially when you can hear fresh snow crunch underfoot.

One of the things I didn’t mention when talking about my Dad’s 90th is that he has congestive heart failure which requires him to take “water” pills and to watch closely for fluid build up. He had ended up in hospital the week before his party and had a session with a nurse who specializes in dealing with this situation.

One of the things she wanted him to do was weigh himself each morning to allow early detection of fluid buildup – before he got so congested he couldn’t breath properly. Linda went out and bought a digital scale with large numbers and we had an interesting time figuring out how it worked and getting it set up in alocation were he could do those daily measurements. I think it is going OK but I will be there later today to check it out and see how it is going. I’ve talked to him every day this week (except yesterday) and saw him 3 or 4 times).

Yesterday was a quiet day. Tuesday Linda had a dental checkup and cleaning. While there they discovered a loose bridge and Wednesday she went back to have that checked further. The dentist discovered that one of the anchor teeth (very back) had decayed and it had to be extracted. This means that she no longer has an anchor tooth and so the bridge can’tbe easily replaced. She has had a fair bit of pain and so has been resting a lot. Yesterday we spent a quite a bit of time watching TCM (Turner Classical movies) including A couple of Neil Simon films – The Odd couple (Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathieu) and Barefoot in the Park (Robert Redford and Jane Fonda). Both are light hearted and entertaining and we enjoyed that a lot.

Wednesday afternoon I started a small project that had been “on the shelf” for about 5 years. We had installed “click lock” laminate flooring in our hallway and we had ¼ round to put around the edges – which hadn’t got done at the time and ended up on the “backburner”. So I started fitting this. I have about ¾ of it cut and hope to finish it to-day or early next week.

Yesterday, I had a coffee and conversation with my friend Russ Ward. We talked about ways of serving others as part of our “mission” and ways to involve children and youth in those efforts. May God work good as we pursue some of the ideas we discussed.

I also did a little bit of visiting and talking in the “virtual” world of the INTERNET. I am into January trying to catch up on the Berean list.

Here are someof the things I came across

Bill Williams at the Spiritual Oasis pointed me to Neva - from Texas (click HERE ) who has a great blog. One of her posts contributed to my thinking about “prodigals”. In her post for January 19 she discusses the idea that worship means “blowing kisses” to God and that it is about God not about “entertaining” ourselves.

Bobby Valentine writes about his adventure relocating from Milwaukee to Tuscon and having his pipes freeze and bust the first week there. (click HERE)

I came across and shared an article in Christianity Today called “King Jesus” (click HERE)

John Dobbs (click HERE) continues to share about the work in Pascagoula and an exciting project called God Thirst (see his Thursday January 15 entry).

Well – I’m past my deadline for getting back on the road -- hopefully in THE lane. Later my friends and may

God Bless you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Dad - Life in the Fast Lane?

January 13 1917 seems to have been a rather uneventful news day. The only major event that I turned up by “googling” that date was the stranding of the USS Milwaukee on Samoa beach during an effort to free a stranded submarine. The big news was about WW1 and the use of submarines and the debate about whether the US should enter the war – which happened in April 1917.

However, for my family this was a very important day. It was the day Mervyn Howard Reynolds Whitfield, my father, was born to Howard and Robena (Cann) Whitfield. He was the 7th of 9 children and to-day is the only surviving member of his siblings.

Saturday January 13 2007 Dad celebrated his 90th birthday. I mentioned in an earlier postings (in September and October) that we had a early family celebration of this event on (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend October 7-8). I posted a couple of pictures and a short description of that event about halfway through my October 21 post (Click HERE)

The birthday celebration this year started on Friday afternoon.

I have to back track a little to explain. After my Dad had been retired for several years, a golf course opened in Livingstone Creek about a mile and a half( 2 km) from where my Dad lived at Maple Ridge (10 km east of Thessalon on Hwy 17). Dad, who was always active, decided he would give it a try and so at age 70 he took to the links.

About 6 years ago, after he had moved to Sault Ste. Marie, he met Don Holmberg and Bob Vachon on the Maplewood golf course and they became golfing buddies.

In the fall, Don and Bob asked him if he wanted to start bowling with them and so at about age 84 Dad started bowling 3 afternoons a week from September to April.

Thus it was that Bob Wooley who operates the bowling alley decided to have a cake for Dad and invite the media on Friday afternoon celebration. The response was overwhelming. MCTV News came and had blurb on TV about this event. The Sault Star reporter showed up and Dad was front page news Saturday morning (click HERE) . The local on-line news service http://www.soonews.ca/ posted an article and video (click HERE).

The picture shows Dad with his teamates Doreen, Dody and Don M. in the Friday seniors league. (Don Holmberg is on another team and I didn't have a picture of him. BobVachon has stopped bowling and went south this year)

Friday night 22 members of his immediate family took him for dinner at North 82. The group included 7 of 8 children and 6 of their spouses, 5 grandchildren and a couple of spouses/dates and my niece’s step-daughter.

My sister Ruby, her husband Art and my brother Lawrence had come from Southern Ontario and my brother John and his wife Diane had come from Thunder Bay.

Saturday night a similar number but slightly different group of family was present for the picture shown above.

Saturday, on his birthday, the family hosted a “come & go” reception at the Little Rapids Community Heritage Centre.

The building originally was a one room school house and 5 of my Dad’s 8 children went to this school for at least a portion of their school years. It is located about 3 km from the farm that my Dad & Mom owned in the 40’s and where I was born in 1944.

The party was well attended with approximately 150 visitors (in a building that had capacity for about 70 maximum at any one time).

The big surprise was that my brother Elwood from Arkansas had decided at the last minute to come. He drove 20 hours non-stop from Little Rock to be here.
He had been “home” for the family reunion in October and we didn’t expect him to make the trip again—especially in winter. However, he made the trip safely and joined the other 7 of us so that all 8 children were present.

The family photo shows left to right Charlie (me) and Linda, John & Diane, Jason and Diamond Rancourt, Lawrence, (his wife Lily was unable to be there), my Dad (sitting), Ruby & Art Ford, Goldie & Morris Whitehead. Elwood & Shirley, Rob & Marilyn. In Morris' defence before those who know him start saying that it is typical for him to sit while Goldie stands -- he is recovering from hip replacement in December and can only stand using a walker.

I should also brag that Linda made the did the decorations at the hall including designing and making the 90 poster. (Anyone need to borrow this -- It would also work for a 60th event.). Of course my sisters and others did a great job with refreshments and other preparations.

My Dad was born in Thessalon Ontario and he lived in the Thessalon (North Livingstone/ Maple Ridge) area until 1997. (when he was 80). That year he and my mother Jean moved to a nursing home in Sault Ste. Marie. Following her death in 1999, he moved to an apartment on Shannon Road where he still lives. His apartment is about a 5 minute walk from our house. We pick him up to go to church services and visit frequently to help out with minor problems. Linda’s friend Kim comes in every couple of weeks to clean his apartment. My sister Diamond visits to check on his meds. My brother Rob and Marilyn have him over for meals often as do we on occasion. Linda sends him a plate of food once in a while but he still has a strong desire to live independently and look after himself. He does have some health problems and we think it will soon be time to look for assisted living facilities but that’s for later.

When my Dad & Mom were married in May 1937 they stayed at my grandparents farm in North Livingstone where my 2 oldest siblings were born. Around 1940, they moved to a farm (5 km west of my grandparents’ farm) just off the Chapleau Hwy (129) on what is now called the Ingram Road. They remained there until 1952, when they moved their family to start a general store on Hwy 17 at Maple Ridge. There were 7 children by then. The youngest of my brothers, Lawrence, was born in 1956.

While on the farm Dad worked at many outside ventures to supplement the meager farm income and meet the needs of a growing family. He cut firewood and delivered it to town. He worked in the bush camps in winter cutting logs and pulp wood. In the late 40’s he started a school bus service and he continued that operation after moving to the store through to around 1958.

By 1964 many of the family had left home so the store was sold and Mom & Dad and the 2 youngest moved into a house right behind the store and they remained there until 1997 when my mother’s health required them to move toa nursing home in Sault Ste. Marie.

Following the store, Dad became certified as a carpenter and worked in house construction and renovations for several years. In the late seventies, he took apposition as by-Laws enforcement officer for 4 townships along the North Shore. His major duties were building inspections and dealing with errant dogs. This was a partnership with my Mom who did the paper work and arranged appointments and often traveled with him on his rounds. He retired in 1982 but continued to do a lot of cabinet making for family and friends in between his travels to the west coast, Texas and Florida, visits with family and trips to Meaford and Manitoulin Island to visit my Aunts and Uncles who lived in those places.

All in all, Dad lived in Thessalon Township for 80 years and in only 4 residences all within a 5 km radius of his parents home. – with the exception of some winters he spent working away in Meaford before he was married.

Well, that the facts don’t measure the man. The title “Life in the fast lane” is NOT a description of his life. It came to mind as I read the Sault Star headline “Life in the bowling lane”. But even that title is misleading. As Dad said in his interview it isn’t about the bowling - it is about the friends he has made and the sharing of time with other people that he loves most.

My Dad is a quiet unassuming, hardworking individual. He has been a Christian since his youth. The building for the North Livingstone congregation sat just across the road from his parent’s home on land donated by his father. He & Mom were ”pillars” in the congregation until they moved to Sault Ste.Marie. He remains faithful in attendance at Pinehill. Dad has served as an elder at the North Livingstone (now Thessalon) church for several years.

He isn’t perfect but his love for family and for God have been obvious through most of his life. Neither he or my mother were able to go to High School although, as my Dad likes to recount, my Mom dearly wanted to go on to be a school teacher but it just wasn’t possible in that day and place. Mom had a strong desire that her children get an education and she was supported by Dad in carrying this out. All eight children completed high school. 6 of 8 have university degrees and 2 of us have doctorates.

He has 8 children, 25 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren (with one more on the way) and 3 great-great children. Many of these have "inherited" his commitment to serving God. My sister Ruby and my youngest brother Lawrence both served in the mission field and this service has continued into following generations. My parents built a strong legacy of love and I am honored to be their son.

I had prepared a PowerPointfor the family reunion and I modified it for presentation at the party on Saturday. Dad had given us a bit of a scare having been in hospital with some heart problems for a couple of days in early January. However, he has bounced back, and as you see him bowling, the words in the last slide seem to sum it all up.

“He golfs, He bowls, like the energizer bunny he keeps on going.”

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, January 11, 2007

January 2007 and it’s Winter in Sault Ste. Marie

It may seem odd to be mentioning that it's winter in my first post for a New Year –of course its winter – after all this is Northern Ontario- the home of winter fun (click HERE) . But 2007 is different.

Despite a “promise of winter from a major storm at the first of December, it warmed up and the rest of the month it rained – and Sault Ste. Marie had a green Christmas. Now that isn’t all that unusual – it has happened several times in recent years but what is unusual is the temperatures and the lack of ice on the lacks and the ability to make snow at the ski hills at Searchmont. – we have had record breaking warm weather (see Environment Canada report HERE) and a decided lack of the white stuff.

As I mentioned before we were in Aurora (near Chicago) over Christmas with Chris, Tammye,Hunter & Camdyn (the picture was taken Christmas eve). It was more like late October or late March there. 2 years ago we enjoyed ice skating on the pond near Chris’ house. This year we played street hockey in our shirt sleeves (it would have been rather damp trying to skate on open water!!)

The only snow we saw was at the snow-making display at the Musuem of Science & Industry (MSI). We visited the museum January 2 with Chris & his family along with Melissa and Alexander. They arrived on Sunday in time to ring in the New Year with us (along with some neighbors across the street) – they had a long 12 hour drive from Kingston (Ontario) through heavy rain from Port Huron to Aurora. We played some games and had the party hats and noisemakers as it hit midnight Central time -- for us it was an hour late as we are used Eastern time and are in synch with New York and the Times Square celebration. So we said Happy New Year and quickly went off to bed.

By the way, the U-505 exhibit (at MSI) showing a German submarine captured by the US in 1945 is quite good – both in providing some WW2 history and in describing the technology of submarines at that time. Lots of other neat stuff there as well.

There was a special display of Christmas trees decorated in themes for many countries around the world. I took this one of Linda in front of the "Canada" tree - you can see the hockey sticks but there were beavers, maple leafs and many other Canadian icons represented.

But I digress – back to winter. We arrived home late Friday (January 5). It was in the 50’s (12C) when we left Aurora and it was still in the 40’s (4C) when we crossed the mighty Mac around 6 p.m. When we drove across the bridge it was green!! (or at least brown) – no snow banks, no ice –no sign of winter – nada.

We have been coming across that bridge into Sault Ste. Marie at this time of year for over 40 years - literally dozens of times and there are ALWAYS snow banks - even if the ground wasn’t covered with snow.

These spring like (or fall like) conditions persisted through the weekend and I was beginning to think that our decision to stay home rather than go south this winter was going to be OK. I mean why spend all that money traveling when you can bask in warmth at home.

But Monday morning that changed – we got winter with a vengeance and had about 8-10 inches over the next 2 days. (see See Sootoday story). In addition yesterday morning the temperature had dropped into the - 15C range (near 0F). It has warmed somewhat today and it will be above freezing this p.m. with some possibility of showers over night – the forecast shows it clearing and getting somewhat colder (-8 to -10) for the weekend.

So it’s winter in Sault Ste. Marie – I guess but it seems that we may be hard pressed to prove it by the weather. I know – I know that’s just asking for 10 feet of snow and 2 months of -30 weather – so to hedge a little –I don’t really believe winter has disappeared from our vocabulary – global warming or not.

My last post was the morning of New Year’s eve. I have already mentioned that Melissa & Alexander made it there safely (and returned home safely on the 5th – same day as we left). Tammye & the kids were fighting some type of flu-like illness when we left --- thank goodness we escaped without contracting anything. Chris had been quite ill Wednesday & Thursday. In any case after having a housefull of guests – they likely were happy for some time to themselves although I’m sure it left them feeling a little lost with the house emptying out.

After New Year's Day, we finished “phase 1” of the basement construction project – framing along the back wall and then framing in the walls for a bathroom. After the initial “learning curve” things went relatively well – although I confirmed that using screwnails to assemble makes it a lot easier to correct mistakes than when you use nails!! Besides its easier to let the power drill do the work rather than crushing your thumb with a hammer.

My brother Rob was asking if it would withstand inspection by Mike Holmes -- because if not he would say "tear it out" -- wellI suspect it might not meet his criteria but I think it will last for many years and will be a big improvementon what was there.

The weekend was very busy – I had a sermon and class Sunday morning and a class Sunday evening to prepare for. Mostly those seemed to go well – although I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for Sunday evening and that discussion got a little off track –

Then Monday I had to start preparing for my first class at the university on Tuesday night. I did keep to a “quasi” resolution and went for a walk each day Monday through –Wednesday (as well as exercising cleaning the driveway Tuesday & Wednesday mornings) -- yesterday I didn’t make it. But intend to do so today.

All in all it has been a full week so far although I didn’t do a lot yesterday. I did put some fuel additive in my truck and take it for an hour drive on the highway hoping to clear up a problem with “missing” – hoping it was in the fuel injectors. I haven’t driven it much this year and it has sat for long periods.. This fall it started having this problem with running rough – if the injector cleaner doesn’t work I guess I’ll have to break down and take it to my mechanic. We also discovered that we have a hole somewhere un the back fender of the car and the back seat got soaked when we drove to Aurora in the rain. I guess its time to think about replacing this 11 year old vehicle – it has over 240,000 km (150,000 miles) so it has done well.

I haven’t taken the time to do much blog browsing and I am way behind on email and my lists discussions – but “it is what it is” – I live each day the best I can -- that was in part the theme of my “New beginnings” lesson on Sunday drawn from Acts 2.

I did note that Preacherman (click HERE) - - he is at home continuing to recover from his 2nd encounter with Guilliame-Barr syndrome -- has 3 short posts raising good questions about Suffering (December 22) , Who we are in Christ (December 30) and Praying for God’s will (January 6 2007). The discussion in the comments is very interesting -- pointing a to a need for personal Bible study and coming to our own understanding of these matters.

A little late but we (Linda & Charlie) wish you all a very Happy & prosperous New Year.

God Bless