Thursday, July 26, 2007

Twice Blessed

How often do you become a grandmother and acquire a new daughter (well actually - daughter-in-law) within a 24 hour period? My sister Ruby was twice blessed in this way this past weekend.

Ruby and her husband Art have 3 sons – James, Trevor and Craig.

Their middle son Trevor is the main character in this story of blessings. The first of the "blessings" was his marriage to Sarah (Smith) on Saturday (July 21)

Trevor works in Toronto and has just moved into the house where he & Sarah will be living in Brantford when they return from their honeymoon in Budapest & Vienna – more about that later. I mentioned the emerging relationship between Trevor & Sarah in my post from August 9 2006 (click HERE and scroll down)

Their youngest son Craig and his wife Jeri are missionaries in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Their daughter Hannah is a seasoned traveler having spent her first birthday in PNG last July and her 2nd birthday (appropriately) in Canada on Canada Day (July 1). For more info about them see their blog by clicking HERE Also see the story of our “chance” meeting with Jeri’s parents (click HERE) during our trip west this spring

Craig was in the wedding party and that is part of the reason for the fact that Craig and Jeri are the source of the second blessing in this story – more later.

To complete the family, Art & Ruby's oldest son James and his wife January live in Waterloo and are the parents of Eowyn and Kiera.


Eowyn was the flower girl at the wedding. James and January were both in the wedding party.


(For more info about James & January see their blog by clicking HERE) (There’s an interesting picture of Ruby playing dress-up with Eowyn that might surprise some who know her and NOT surprise others who know her even better than most) -- I also think there is a connection between the names of James & January’s children and the fact that I came across January taking a quiet moment before the reception to glance over the latest Harry Potter book which was released on July 21. I say I think because I’m not heavy into the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter genre of fiction so I can’t say for certain that they are connected.

The double blessing for Art & Ruby is that the wedding on Saturday at 2:00 was followed on Sunday at 12:24 p.m. with the birth of their 4th grandchild Caleb James (brother to Hannah and son of Jeri & Craig).

To understand that this wasn’t exactly a coincidence – while at the same time seeing that God must have had a hand in arranging the timing, we have to go back to when Craig was planning his PNG mission. At that time Trevor was single with no prospects of marriage on the horizon. However, to be safe, Craig had it written into his agreement with his sponsoring congregation that IF Trevor got married he (Craig) would be permitted to return to Canada for the wedding.

Last May Trevor and Sarah “found each other” via a Christian INTERNET dating service. As her mother Deb explained at the reception Sarah’s parents and brothers were very apprehensive about this process and mentioned (as we had already heard from Trevor) that they subjected him to an intense 90 minute grilling the first time Sarah brought him to meet them. However, Trevor’s quiet manner and Christian commitment won them over.

By the time Craig left for PNG last June, he and James were laying heavy odds that there would be an engagement by September and sure enough plans to be married were announced in September (2006) and the wedding date was set for July 21 2007. Craig and Jeri then began to plan for a return trip to Canada. (and the US). Rather than Craig making a quick trip on his own they got agreement that they would return for an early furlough and then remain in PNG for an extended period before the next furlough. They also wanted to have a second child and wanted to have the baby in Canada during the furlough. The next thing we heard was that Jeri was expecting and her due date was July 21!! They, of course, were hoping for an earlier birth prior to the wedding and praying that the 2 events wouldn’t coincide – which was made more of a concern because Hannah had arrived precisely on the due date. Well, the day of the wedding arrived and still no baby. So there wwere a lot of prayers and they seemed to have worked in separating the 2 events – even if it was only by about 20 hours.

Linda & I accompanied by my Dad drove to Beamsville on Friday and attended the wedding in Brantford on Saturday. It was a beautiful day and we were pleased to be there.

All the usual things could be said - radiant bride, loving happy groom, beaming parents, -- and more but I’d probably get stuck on clich├ęs if I tried to describe the event. I will comment that it is good to see a couple who are both deeply committed to their faith in Jesus –that seems to give them a good foundation for a long and healthy relationship. I pray and believe from observation that they will focus on this common faith and not be distracted by any differences coming from their heritages – Sarah having been raised in a Baptist tradition and Trevor in the church of Christ. James, in his toast to the bride & groom, made, what I thought was, a very “poetic” reference to them building their life together - taking good things from each of their families and heritages and blending them into something that was uniquely their’s.

The reception dinner ran a little longer that one normally might have expected but it was filled with thoughtful toasts and speeches. Art had prepared a Powerpoint presentation showing Sarah & Trevor growing up and then growing together – this was well done. Sarah’s brother Erin sang a song that he had composed specially for them as a surprise gift. They had a different(for me at least) approach to having the bride & groom kiss. You know the old approach was to clink on glasses but it seems everyone has a different approach these days. In their case they gave out a “scavenger hunt” list – for example a coin minted in 1976. They would kiss if the item was produced and then kiss again if you could explain the significance of the item – in the case of the coin this was Trevor’s birth year (you may be able to guess the significance of the 1981 coin that was also on the list).

After the dinner there were plans for a special version of the newly wed game that Trevor & Sarah would play with 3 other couples – hosted by her father. There was a couple who had been married 4 years, a couple who had been married 25 years and Linda & I who have been married (almost) 41 years.

Because of the late finish of the earlier parts of the program this was abbreviated so we only had 2 questions where the wives gave their answers with the men not present and 2 questions on the reverse. I matched 1 of the 2 answers she gave and she matched both of the answers I gave – which put us in second place. The winners were the 25 year couple who matched all 4. I don’t know if we can draw any conclusion from this but it may be that after 40 years you can’t remember all the things you knew after 25 years of learning about each other.

Sunday morning, we planned to go to Port Hope to meet Melissa and do some wedding planning of our own.

It turned out that Jeri had started some mild labor and had gone to hospital at 3:00 a.m. They returned home at 8:30 just as we were leaving.

She started having stronger labor and they returned to hospital around 11 and the baby was born at 12:24. (Another thing about the timing was that Craig & Jeri are due to fly to Cheyenne in 2 weeks and the baby needs to be 2 weeks old before he can fly -- so despite some nail biting God worked it out in his own time.

(I know that Jeri is the envy of many mothers who have much longer and more difficult labor) but (in typical man style) I think that it isn’t the difficulties (or lack thereof) of the birth that counts -it is seeing that wonderful new gift that God has given you that really matters.
We had arranged for my Dad to go home Monday with my nephew Ken who was also down for the wedding so Dad was able to get to the hospital on Sunday evening and greet his newest (36th) great-grandchild .

We attended services in Ajax – with a small group meeting in a community hall and went on to Port Hope arriving in time for lunch with Alexander, Melissa and her friend Michelle.



We walked around Port Hope for a couple of hours, went back to the apartment to watch the soccer final – won by Argentina for the 6th time.

We hit the deli at the A&P to put together a picnic supper and drove (15 minutes) to the Coburg beach for supper. We had our wedding planning meeting over food in the park and went back to finish out the day watching a movie – the one about the guy who gets caught up as a character in a book – he can hear the author narrating the story as he goes about his life. (Can’t remember the name but it has Dustin Hoffman as a university prof who teaches about fiction and who helps the main character find out who the author is – it has a bitof a surprise ending but I won’t spoil it – I saw most of the movie although there were a few times I was resting my eyelids!! )

It was close to midnight when we got back to the Econo Inn. Monday morning we met Melissa & Alexander for a late breakfast at Tim Horton’s, transferred over 20 boxes of centerpieces, said our goodbyes and we headed home –leaving at11:30 and getting to Linda’sMom’s around 6 – we got into the Sault just before10 – and back to the yard work Tuesday morning.

I haven’t been doing much blogging so the following “odds & sods” are things I have put into my journal over the past few weeks.

Our friend Mike Case from church had major intestinal surgery in late June to remove what was thought to be a blockage. It turned out to be a malignant tumor. However, in a positive answer to prayer the surgeon was able to remove the entire mass before it had spread – and the post-op test indicated that he was completely cancer free and did not require further treatment(radiation or chemo). Mike is a gifted musician with a music store here in Sault Ste Marie and he is well known in the community as a giving caring person..

A few weeks ago my friend Dee Andrews wrote about the “Gains & Losses” she is experiencing as she and her husband move into a new house they had built after Hurricane Katrina displaced them from their prior home in Slidell La . and Neva lamented about the perverse peace in our world and points to a perfect peace

In early July I received an email from my cousin that talked about a “sharing ministry”that she has started over the INTERNET. If any ladywould be interested in participatingin this sendme an email(or leave a comment with your email) and I’ll put you in touch with her.


The following excerpt from her email explains what it is all about

“ I am into something that I am really excited about. I met a lady …(through quilting ) that so impressed me with her use of scripture. There was never any attempt at explaining what anything meant nor that anyone should feel as she did about them - rather, she shared what they had meant to her through the difficulties in her life. … I thought how I would like to be a part of a Bible study group who approached scripture in that way. One day it dawned on me that I was sharing quilting questions and tips on the internet - why wouldn't the same thing work with Bible thoughts. So I set it up and in just over a month am up to 24 ladies sharing in this way. There is only one rule - it cannot be a discussion of what we think a particular scripture means - only what meaning it has had to us personally in our journey… I really am hoping it will turn out to be a blessing to many people - it already is to me.


Well that's it for to-day.


God Bless

Charlie

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A tribute to a “Rose” (July 11)

It is a cool gray morning here in Sault Ste. Marie this morning. It has been dry and hot so the break in the weather is welcome.

The gray skies and cooler air seem to reflect my mood this morning. I am introspective by nature and often need to “act my way into a better way of feeling” to avoid getting into a blue funk. Even at that I have spent way too much time in the past couple of days doing mindless things –playing freecell for example- and letting my mind get hung up on “what if’s” – shoud’a, could’a, would’a thinking.

Yesterday afternoo I was in the midst of one of these “internal debates” with myself – avoiding getting on with a household chore that needed to be done -- when our friends Dave & Maxine Bringleson called to tell me that Bob Ekman had called them to say that Roseann had passed away. This was a shock to say the least because we had no inkling that she had any serious health problems. She was always positive and upbeat and joyful in her communications. It came as such a shock to Dave & Max that they didn’t ask about the circumstances of her death so we don’t know what happened.

After their call I found the following –email in my “inbox”

Subject: Passing of Roseann Ekman
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 16:05:20
This is to inform those of you that knew Roseann Ekman, that she passed away this morning peacefully in her sleep. If you wish to contact her husband, Bob, you may e-mail him at roseann_1@charter.net or mail at 15221 Russell Rd. N. Brainerd,Mn 56401

I hadn't corresponded with her for a couple of months but we receive bulletins from the church at Baxter (Brainerd) and had just gotten a bundle a couple of days ago -- through June 21 - and there was no mention of her having problems. (In one of those eerie coincidences, I had just finished looking at the bulletins and was thinking of Bob & Roseann at the exacttime that Dave & Max called. We had been through Minnesota on our way home and we had considered taking a side trip to visit them. However, we had decided that the extra day would make us too late getting home. Anyhow, I was in the process of looking at mapquest to confirm that that they actually lived were I thought they didwhen I got the call. This just goes to prove that we should take our opportunities to visit friends when we can because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

I posted an abbreviated fomof thhe followingtributeon the Berean Spiritlist

A tribute to a Rose

One of God's saints has gone to her rest. I first met Roseann almost 30 years ago when her husband Bob became the preaching minister at Pinehill just after graduating from Sunset.I never met anyone with the same passion that Roseanne had to learn about God's word and teach it to others. She truly lived by faith and was an example of the "salt, leaven & light" that Jesus called us to be.


Unfortunately, Bob’s time here at Pinehill was filled with difficulties. This is not the time or the place to get into the reasons for this – God knows our hearts. However, when they left here in 1981 it was under difficult circumstances.


We kept in touch for a few years but eventually we lost touch as they moved around spending time in Mexico and Oklahoma. We were blessed last September to have them come back to visit with us. We discovered that they had moved back north to Minnesota near their birthplaces (as I recall).

I mentioned them in several of my previous posts.

Click on the links to see these entries (scroll down because the references are in the midst of other things that were happening) I posted pictures of their visit last September, I talked about the connection between Roseann and John Dobbs with a picture of them together. I mentioned how Roseanne was instrumental in getting me started on the Berean Spirit list. I have kept in touch with her through Berean Spirit and through private emails ever since.

Roseann loved her husband and was loyal to him through many challenges in their life. She loved her family and her grandchildren and spoke often of them in her emails and conversations. She loved people and loved teaching about Jesus. She spent many hours with Bible correspondence courses and with group studies. I know she was working over the past year with those struggling with addictions.

She was my sister and my friend. I will miss her but I rejoice that she has gone to be with the Savior that she loved more than life itself.

As I sit here this gray morning my life is brightened and enriched from having known Roseann. Christians like her who reflect the light of Jesus into our lives t help me keep the gray from taking over and so my day today will be bright regardless of the weather.

I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians Chapters 3 & 4

12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


Goodbye Roseann “until we meet again”

God Bless
Charlie