Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happiness isn't... Blogging

My last 2 posts – (the latest one over 6 weeks ago!!) dwelt on the theme “Happiness is ..”

The title for this is intended to be a little “ironic” (if that is the right word) because I will start by saying

Happiness isn’t having time to keep up with my blog posts because if it was I’d be prettymiserable and I’m not.

Most of October and all of November have been a blur.

First I am teaching a course at the university which consumes 12-16 hours/week. Then there are the fall cleanup things – leaves to rake, winterizing, etc. that need to be squeezed in.

My Dad had a cold and then some problems with pain in his side that resulted in 2 consecutive weekends at the ER.

At the same time Linda was experiencing a recurring dry cough that eventually required (the 3rd weekend in a row) a visit to the ER to be diagnosed with atypical (“walking”) pneumonia.

I spent 2 weeks –more or less full-time doing wiring for our addition at the church building(it was a big celebration for me when we got the “rough-in” successfully inspected on November 18.

In all that there were many good things to celebrate and be happy about most notably

Our trip last weekend to Kingston to attend the Fall convocation at RMC where ”Dr.” Melissa was granted the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Sciences. (I hope sometime to devote a post to this event along with pictures - also see my Wednesday, September 17, 2008 post)

And this weekend we are in the process of doing something a bit unusual.

For many years there have been 2 relatively small congregations of similar beliefs meeting separately here in our city. At the initiation of the smaller group we agreed to merge the "2 into 1.We met with them this mornng as they said farewell to their meeting and tonight “we” meet the first time at the Pinehill building as a new combined group. We pray God’s blessing on this work that as one larger group we can better serve Him and the community here.

Well that’s all I can squeeze in for now – I wanted you (if there is still anyone checking) to know that I’m still alive and indeed Happiness is ..NOT having enough time to blog or do FACEBOOK (although if it goes on for too long withdrawl symptoms may catch up to me)

God Bless

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happiness is ..part 2

Happiness is having many things to choose from each minute of the day … and making the right choices!!.

Last post I talked about finding happiness and peace –no matter what our circumstances are. This is something God promises to Christians as they turn control over to Him and become centered not on the things of this world but on His gifts of love, hope and relationship.

We were visiting Chris and family in the Chicago area last weekend and I saw an article in the Chicago Tribune about Dr. Martin Seligman who is promoting a (relatively) new concept of positive psychology and has a website titled “Authentic Happiness”.

An excerpt from his website states “His research has demonstrated that it is possible to be happier — to feel more satisfied, to be more engaged with life, find more meaning, have higher hopes, and probably even laugh and smile more, regardless of one’s circumstances”.
This should not be news to Christians because it is uncannily similar to the promises we find in the New Testament about what we can experience when we place our hope in Jesus. It appears that, through studies, he has shown that Jesus was right when he said “having food & raiment” we can be content and that happiness doesn’t come from possessions. (treasures on earth).

Now we could debate whether there is a conflict between my claim that this ability to experience authentic happiness is part of God’s gift to Christians and Dr. Seligman’s assertion that it is something psychologists can teach to anyone (through a process called “positive psychology intervention”) and perhaps I will come back to this another time. Suffice it to say that for me these type of study results strengthen my faith that God was behind what Jesus taught.

However, no matter the foundation upon which you build your conviction that “Be Light hearted and happy” is a fundamental principle to living meaningful, peace filled lives – I think we all realize it is not always easy to experience this on a day-to-day basis.

And that one of the things that continually fights against my ability to live in the “peace that passes understanding” is my tendency to become over committed.

I’m there again (overcommitted that is)—

Last week, a long time friend of the family and Christian lady Phyliss Wright passed away and we attended the visitation and funeral. She was the daughter of Nelson and Annie Bailey. Her grandmother Edith Bailey (nee Cann) was my grandmother’s sister – let’s see I guess that makes us 2nd cousins. Annie (her mother) was a Hotchkiss and one of 3 Hotchkiss siblings that married 3 Bailey siblings. These were large families so there were many nephews, nieces and cousins at the funeral many of whom are part of the church families that grew out of our grandparents roots in North Livingston (now Thessalon) church of Christ.

During the week, Linda was also recovering from 2 weeks of having a bad cough (cold) and my Dad became ill with a cold (we hope these weren't connected but it is possible). Anyhow, we needed to spend extra time with him. As a result I was unable to get back to help with the building project and I won’t be there again this week. However, work has been progressing and the shingling is now complete.

In addition, as mentioned, we took the last weekend off to go visit Chris, Tammye , Hunter & Camdyn. Putting everything else aside to make that visit was part of living by the rule of not letting urgent things crowd out important things and what, in this world, could be more important than sharing life with your children and grandchildren.

Chris usually has a project lined up for us to do and this time I helped him replace the storm door going out to the deck. It is good working with him —I have become better at doing things together – although I still get a little “bossy” and "impatient" with others– just ask Linda about that.

We also had some great time sharing at the kitchen table, time at the park tossing a football and a special time with Hunter doing the same thing in the back yard, a special time with Camdyn Saturday evening with Hunter was at a sleepover and Chris & Tammye were out to a wedding reception.
We also had a family visit to Catigny on Sunday afternoon. (this is a real great place within 20 minutes of Chris’ place) and is where the pictures were taken)
Following is an excerpt from their website:
Cantigny: Robert R. McCormick's Gift to the People of Illinois

Located in Wheaton, Ill., this sprawling, 500-acre park is where families wander through nature, get lost in history, play golf at an award-winning
course, attend a big band concert, tag monarch butterflies, make a snow globe, take classes, introduce children to the age-old custom of afternoon tea, attend a wide variety of special programs and events --in short, spend quality time together. In addition to vast formal gardens and picnic and camping grounds, Cantigny offers two history-rich museums: the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the Cantigny First Division Museum, fascinating for children and researchers alike.

Bottom line is that after the unexpected things that cropped up last week and then taking 4 days off means that I am backlogged on some of the other projects and commitments I mentioned in the last post. This means I have had to “re-prioritize” and some of the things that are important have had to take aback seat while I focus on the most urgent items -- and other less important things(like blogging and facebook need to be set aside – well reduced anyhow – complete withdrawal can be dangerous to my sense of peace and well-being :) :)

I keep saying that I want to do a review of "The Shack". That seems to be more distant now than it was before. John Mark Hicks has written a series of posts giving his views on the Shack which I have skimmed and will need to put into the background until I have do my own review – if you are interested you can find the first of the series by clicking HERE

Well I need to get at the important things that are waiting for me (It was rainy yesterday when I started this – it is a bright, crisp, sunny fall day today --- and it is my birthday. Just another day in the 23375 (give or take a day or 2) that I have lived so far. Today I have lived (if I did the math correctly) .004% more days than yesterday – that surely is something to celebrate!!)

God Bless

Friday, September 26, 2008

Happiness is …

I have been trying to get back to posting at least once a week and so far it isn’t happening.

I have at least 4 major projects that are consuming my time

I am teaching the adult class Sunday mornings, I am spending 2 days or so a week helping with the addition at our building and I’m teaching a course in Systems Analysis at Algoma University.

Of course life goes on and there are many day-to-day household tasks that need to be done and sometimes are getting neglected. So it is no surprise that I’ve not had much time for “NET surfing” – visiting with my friends in discussion groups, on blogs and via Facebook.

Speaking of the building project, we have been kidding our chief planner Lloyd Hotchkiss about “raising the roof”.

We are using mostly volunteer labor and with a wall height of 14 feet it was a bit daunting to think of putting up the trusses “in place” so Lloyd came up with the idea of assembling the roof on the ground and then lifting it into place with the crane.

Lloyd is shown here after completing the rigging before starting the lift.

It worked amazingly well – although we learned some lessons about the need to do better measurements of “what was there” rather than depending on the design plans.

I'm the one one the left holding the rope to help "steer" it into position

In the last picture, I’m the one looking out the doorway (the one that I originally had framed at the top of the wall –see later in this post )

I have built up a long list of topics I’d like to write about – things like my thoughts on The Shack, some ideas on how building buildings might relate to growing churches, sharing some ideas from another forum on how generational differences affect our relationships.

However, I’m resisting the “buffet table” and keeping closer to biting off what I can chew.

To-day I want to share some recent thoughts on happiness. Some may remember the ongoing “Happiness is ….” Sayings by Charles Schultz the creator of the Peanuts comic strip. In fact he published a book called “Happiness is a warm puppy” One of the ones I remember best is Linus saying “Happiness is a thumb and a warm blanket”.

One (out of about 400) of my favorite Bible passages is found in Philippians “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”. About 2 weeks ago I came across a blog by Silas Shotwell where he discusses (in his post for September 13) this idea of being happy in all circumstances. He discusses the Preface to the “The Little Book” which is the simple statement “Be Light Hearted and Happy”. I have posted this above my desk in a renewed effort to let the Spirit have fuller reign in my life and to fuller experience the fruits of letting Him reign in my life.

It does help keep things in perspective when life closes in. When things happen that seem depressing and might put me into the dumps – seeing this statement and thinking about all the blessings I experience each day remind me that I need to “Rejoice” – not rant and rave about how bad things are. However, it isn’t always easy and I also struggle with the balance – The Bible says to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice”. How can I be happy and light-hearted while”weeping”?

Linda has had a really bad cold the past 2 weeks and it has been depressing to her. If I go around all “Pollyanna-ish” it seems to lack sympathy and understanding for her circumstances. How can I be light hearted and happy when she is feeling so miserable?

As mentioned, I have been helping with the construction of the addition tour church building – I’ve made my share of mistakes. One day we were roughing out a wall on the ground and I put the opening for a doorway in the top – fortunately my friend Len who is overseeing the framing work noticed it before we sheeted it in and was helpful in tearing it apart and doing it right.
I have always had a hard time “moving on” when I mess up. I tend want to re-hash "why?" and often try to "rationalize" my stupidity. If I just say -- "well no matter" and I am lighted hearted and happy” - am I diminishing the cost and effort that others had to put in correcting that mistake?

This morning I came across the story of DQ in the blogpost by Wendy my “down under” INTERNET friend – As I read about DQ I thought he seems to personify this life principle of “Being happy in his skin” no matter how difficult his life may seem.

I do want to avoid making my happiness be based on comparing my circumstances to others whose circumstance may be worse. We likely all have heard the saying “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.”. I wonder if it is a good idea to use the fact that there is someone worse off than I am to “shame” myself into being happy. I think we need to base our happiness on knowing that we have peace in Jesus – not because we perceive that we are in better circumstances than someone else.

However, the fact is that keeping this note of encouragement in front of me has helped me be more positive about life and spend less time worrying about the problems we encounter. I want to face those things with the attitude I will do what I can to overcome and I will leave the rest to God – and because He is there I can “rejoice always”

Well that’s it for to-day
God Bless

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yeah Dr. Melissa –

I am thrilled to announce that, as of approximately noon yesterday (September 16), there is a newly minted Dr. (Ph.D.) in the Whitfield family

Yeah Dr. Melissa – Mom & Dad are very proud and very happy for you. ( This picture of her with her grandfather taken when she was home in June is one of the most recent I have. I hope we will have one of her graduation - with the hood and all in a few months)

A couple of weeks ago I received the following notice by email from Melissa who, up until yesterday was a (civilian) graduate student at the Royal Military College in Kingston

(The notice is slightly edited – removing the French version and scientific units since I don’t have the proper character sets and they came through garbled)


TRANSFER OF POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBS) FROM CONTAMINATED SOIL TO KEY PLANT SPECIES IN REALISTIC FIELD CONDITIONSImplications for the application of phytoextraction as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) remediation strategy.

Melissa L. Whitfield ├ůslund Candidate PhD, Environmental Science
Supervisors: Dr. Barbara A Zeeb & Dr. Kenneth J. Reimer
16 Sep 2008 9:30 hrs SB4301, Sawyer Building, Module 3
The uptake and translocation of PCBs in plants was researched over three years in a field trial of PCB phytoextraction. The soil was contaminated with a mixture of Aroclors 1254 and 1260. The study species were Cucurbita pepo ssp pepo cv. Howden (pumpkin), Carex normalis (sedge), and Festuca arundinacea (tall fescue).

Plant and soil samples were analyzed both via gas chromatography electron capture detection (GC-ECD) for total PCB concentrations and via gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) for individual PCB congener concentrations.

For pumpkin plants, the PCB concentration was observed to decrease exponentially within the shoot as distance from the root increased. This pattern, and the preferential mobilization of two pentachlorinated co-eluting PCB congener pairs (93/95 and 105/127) in pumpkin plant shoots, suggested that the primary PCB transfer pathway was root uptake and translocation. The PCB concentration in pumpkin plant leaves and stems increased significantly from 5.7 and 3.9, respectively, in year one to 10.1 and 9.3 , respectively, in year two. These high shoot PCB concentrations were maintained in the third year. In both years two and three, the lower parts of the pumpkin shoots achieved PCB concentrations that were greater than the soil PCB concentration. This had not been reported previously in any part of a plant shoot for PCBs. Therefore, pumpkin plants are excellent candidates for further PCB phytoextraction research.
Relatively high PCB concentrations were observed in sedge and tall fescue shoots (concentration of 20 and 39 , respectively, were observed in year 3 of the study). However, the primary transfer pathway of PCBs from soil to these shoots appeared to be soil particle contamination. Application of a sand barrier between contaminated soil and growing shoots was found to significantly reduce the shoot PCB concentration of both species and the PCB congener pattern in the plant shoots was found to be nearly identical to that of the soil. Therefore, these species may not be appropriate for phytoextraction. However, their interception of soil particles may make them good candidates for groundcover of PCB contaminated sites in future phytoextraction applications.

KEYWORDS: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phytoextraction, bioaccumulation factors (BAFs), uptake pathway, phytoremediation, field study
Melissa is our youngest and I suppose will always be our “baby”.

Many of my posts about our journey through life have focused on our children and grandchildren.
The entire family is mentioned in the posts about Melissa’s “re-wedding” in September 2007 (CLICK HERE and HERE). Interestingly her thesis defense occurred a year and a day after the “re-wedding”
Another post featuring Melissa is our summer visit to Kingston in 2006.

I need to say that while I am boasting and swollen with a special pride and a special joy about Melissa’s accomplishment it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are especially proud of each of our children

(Those who have read “The Shack” by William P. Young may remember the phrase “I am especially fond of … that is often used by “Papa” (his personification of God). The point being that God loves all in a special way without that “specialness” meaning that any one person is more important or more deserving of love based on their “performance”

I’m sure that I failed many times in communicating this aspect of God’s love to my children but as I grow older I begin to understand more and more what it means and I pray that as I seek to let Jesus live more fully in me that I will be able to show that type of love in my relationships with my children and with others.

God Bless

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


This will be a short post—mostly I hope to let my faithful readers (maybe one or 2 of you!!) know I’m still alive.

When I wrote in June that I wasn’t going to be “OCD” about writing I wasn’t really intending that it would be a month or more between posts on a regular basis but it almost seems like it has worked out this way.

Of course the earlier part of the summer was consumed by travelling back & forth to Thessalon as Linda had the opportunity to care for and be a companion to her mother during her final weeks on this earth.

I may have said this before, one day as I was driving the 95 km (55 miles) from home to “home” (my sister-in-law’s driveway where we had the BBB parked) I thought I haven’t driven this road as many times in a short period for almost 42 years since the summer before Linda and I were married. I was working in the Sault and she was at home – having completed her nursing training in June - helping her Mom and preparing for the wedding. Of course the road has changed a fair bit with many more passing lanes and sections of 4 lane – none of the long lineups caused by a slow moving vehicle towing a camping trailer so the trip is faster and safer. (especially since I was no longer an impatient 20 year old who wanted toget home to see his girl or who was rushing because he had left late and needed to get to work.)

Anyhow, we came home after the funeral and dived right into making preparations for the long August weekend . We had a family reunion (my family) precipitated by the fact that my brother Elwood and his wife Shirley had come from Arkansas. I copied the following account from my facebook “wall” where I reported that I was “fed up” by Tuesday.

“My brother Elwood and Shirley from Little Rock, my sister Ruby and Art (Ford) from Beamsville and my brother John and Diane all arrived in Sault Ste. Marie Thursday evening. We had a full weekend of visiting and eating. (John & Diane brought Linda a lovely bouquet of yellow roses in memoryofher Mom)

Elwood, Shirley and my Dad were at our house for dinner Thursday and they stayed with Dad. Ruby (my sister) and Art stayed with us. John (my oldest brother) & Diane parked their T@B trailer at my niece Megan's place.

Friday morning my Dad, four sons (John, Elwood, Charlie & Rob) and one son-in-law (Art) went golfing at Root River.
Friday night we had 18 people at our house for a BBQ -- which was interesting when I discovered that my BBQ wasn't working -- Thank goodness for the grill in the oven!! S

Saturday afternoon there were 16 of us at (my sister) Diamond's camp near Searchmont and Monday there were (about) 20 of us at (my sister) Goldie & Morris place at Bright Lake

10 of us went to Amici's for lunch on Sunday and also were at the monthly "birthday's & anniversaries" event at church in the evening.

It was great!!”

The only one of my siblings that wasn’t here for the weekend was the youngest my brother Lawrence (far right in this family picture taken almost 2 years ago when we congregated on Thanksgiving (October) for an early family celebration for my Dad’s 90th.

Since then I’ve been busy helping with the construction project at the church building. We are adding a new entrance to accommodate a lifting device to make our facilities more accessible for the aging and those with physical handicaps and preparing for the course that I’m scheduled to teach in September as well as teaching an adult class each week at our Sunday assembly. I’ve been reviewing the purpose and meaning of the Lord’s table.

We made another trip to Thessalon on the 10th -- to visit with the family of the late Heb and Margaret Weir. We grew up with this family. I was baptized at the same time as Norman – the oldest son – who now lives in BC and was back for one of his rare visits east. The (I think) youngest daughter Arlene is one of Linda’s “adopted” daughter/sister’s and they have maintained a close relationship even though Byron and Arlene and their family had to move away for employment reasons in the 90’s.
On Monday Linda also had some business to take care of related to her mother’s estate.

To-day we go on the road again. This time to my nephew (Mervyn) Lee Whitfield’s wedding in Kitchener on Friday. We hope to visit with some friends in the area on Saturday and then go to Kingston for a short visit with Melissa and Alexander –and then take a few days travelling home in time for me to start teaching after the Labor Day weekend. I guess this is an early anniversary trip (it is September 3) since labor day is early this year and we won’t be able to take our “traditional” weekend trip closer to the actual date. .

I’ll close with a reference to this post by Dee Andrews about the Whisperings of God (May 18) which I’ve had floating around in my files for several months.
God Bless

Monday, July 28, 2008

Martha Alfreda (Armstrong) Goodmurphy (June 5 1924 - July 22 2008)

The obituary (as it appeared in the Sault Star and the North Shore Sentinel) (The picture of Martha and her oldest child Linda was taken in September 2007)

Goodmurphy (Armstrong) Martha Alfreda
Peacefully in her sleep at the Algoma Manor, Thessalon on Tuesday July 22, 2008. Martha Goodmurphy in her 85th. year, wife of the late Arthur Goodmurphy and dear friend of Merlin Trivers.

Dear mother of Linda Whitfield (Charles); Terry (June); Frank (Sally), Carol Morris (James), Dan (Kim), Joe (Diane), Theresa Seabrook (Jim), Arliss Bizier (Michel), Erin and Stephanie Kletke.

Dear sister of James (Murdena), Verna Goodmurphy (late Kenneth), Lee (Vi), John (Norma-Jean), Edna Beharriell (Les), Marjorie Barager(Carl), and the late Max, Marion Goodmurphy, and Donelda Ingram.

Also survived by 28 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren, Predeceased by great grandchildren Magdalena Szalai-Goodmurphy and Stephen Urry.

At Martha’s request there will be no visitation and a private funeral. Interment in Maple Ridge Cemetery. Donations to Thessalon Hospital gratefully accepted.


Martha was born and raised in the Kynoch and Dayton areas. She was married in June 1943 to a young man who was about to be shipped overseas. She lived for 60 years on the small farm on North Livinston Road (near Thessalon) where she & Arthur moved around 1945 when Linda was a baby after he returned home from the war with an injured arm. They raised 10 children there. Arthur died in May 1995. In the fall of 2005, Martha gave up the house at her farm (now owned by her daughter Theresa) and moved into a rented house in Thessalon where she lived until she suffered a heart attack in February 2008.

The limitations imposed on her activities by severe congestive heart failure required her to move into the Algoma Manor (home for the aged) in Thessalon) in March 2008. Shortly after the move she was confined to a wheel chair and required assistance for most activities of daily living. This was a difficult transition for a woman who was fiercely independent and used to doing what she wanted when she wanted to. Martha never really accepted this situation.

The past 2 months:

After making an emergency trip back from Vancouver when her Mom was hospitalized again in mid-May, (see earlier posts) Linda spent (at least) 3 days each week living in our motorhome (which was parked in my sister-in-law’s driveway) so she could be near her mother to provide care and support. For Linda and her brothers and sisters, it was very difficult period as they watched their mother disappear into a sea of confusion, pain and anger. There were moments when the “real” Martha surfaced and we enjoyed her humor and her smile but often the pain, the medication and the frustration of her restrictions consumed her. She is at rest and it is a blessing.

The funeral:

Her funeral was a private event for “her family” (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and their spouses /partners. Our son Christopher along with Tammye, Hunter and Camdyn came from Illinois. Melissa and Alexander came from Kingston. Kevin, Sarah & Will were unable to travel the long distance from Vancouver but they were connected – Sarah called us on the cell phone as we were driving to the cemetery—without knowing anything of the timing. I don’t have an exact count but there were well over 50 people present As Arliss said at the interment – “This is a pretty big crowd for a private family affair”

The funeral was followed by a lunch at Arliss’ house that included the “aunts & uncles” and some of the closest cousins.

Martha’s “church roots” were in the United Church and she had been attending their services during the period she lived in Thessalon. Unfortunately the minister that she had known for several years had retired and was unavailable. As a result the funeral was conducted by Charlie Martin the minister at the Thessalon Bible chapel who was known by several of the family.

The funeral was very much a family affair – Martha had picked 3 hymns. “I come to the garden alone”, “God will Take Care of You (Be Not Dismayed)” and “Jesus Savior Pilot me” These were sung (on tape) – The garden by Linda and Terry and other 2 solo by Linda.

The scripture readings were selected by Linda as reflective of her mother’s attitudes – Colossians 3 “Work as unto the Lord” and Romans 12:18 “In as much as it is within you live at peace with all men”

As the “ranking” son-in-law I wanted to do Martha’s eulogy and my offer to do so was accepted by her family. The text of the Eulogy follows and includes a poem written and read by Jamie –Theresa’s son. Jamie was raised in a trailer right beside his grandmother’s house and was very close to her.

At the end Linda read a short letter “To my family” that her Mom had left in the lockbox -- It was 2 short notes - one written in 1995 after their father’s death and one written in 2002 just before her open heart surgery. It was poignant and expressed her desire for her family to remain close together after her passing.

Her granddaughter Kylie had arranged for a piper to do “Amazing Grace” that the graveside – It was a perfect summer day—a little cool with some clouds and the haunting music allowed us to say goodbye with gratitude for her gifts to us and with thankfulness that she was now at rest.

(The text of my eulogy and Jamie's poem were prepared independently and without knowledge of the letter. Charlie Martin who had only moved to Thessalon 3 or 4 years ago said in his remarks "hard-working, honest, tough" are what I heard about the Goodmurphy's when I moved here. I found it interesting that her letter contained the line "I may have seemed hard at times with my rules of life "Don't lie, don't steal, Don't hurt others" . It seems clear to me that her commitment to raising her family by those rules is reflected in Jamie's poem, in the eulogy and in Charlie Martin's comments)

The eulogy

Mom & Grandma – A good woman worth far more than diamonds
Prepared for the funeral of Martha Goodmurphy July 26 2008
by her son-in-law Charlie Whitfield

Our mother, grandmother and great grandmother Martha has passed from this world. She will be missed and the sense of loss will be with us for sometime. It is right and natural for each of us in her family to grieve - in our own way and our own time.

But for now, I want to look beyond our sorrow and remind us that “Mom – Grandma” is still here – she lives on in each of you who have had your lives shaped by who she was and that is a living legacy that will endure.

A little later I will be asking if any of you have something to say or if, during the talk you want to add something to a story, just speak up while it is fresh on your mind.

It is impossible to mention all the memories that we could use to paint a picture of “Mom-Grandma” as she lived through her 84 years. I will try to give a brief snapshot as I share some memories and a few stories that I collected as I’ve listened to your conversations over the past few days.

I first attached myself to this family some 47 years ago when I started dating Linda so I have been a part of the family longer than some of the younger children. Of course, I was only an (almost) daily fixture for about 2 years and then I moved away. A couple of years of close contact and many (short) visits can’t compare to living with Mom every day for 17 or 18 years while growing up. So it is really Linda, Terry, Frank, Carol, Dan, Joe, Theresa, Arliss, Erin and Stephanie who experienced the “full force” and full measure of their Mom’s personality.

I know she loved them deeply - she loved them with the fierce love of a mother bear for her cubs – prepared to go to the ends of the earth to be sure they were cared for, aggressively protecting them , and occasionally swatting them to keep them in line.

And I know they loved her in return – even in the midst of the frustration that they sometimes experienced when she insisted that they should do it her way. As they grew and as they learned, her values and her characteristics shaped their personalities and became a part of the fabric of their lives.

To the grandchildren (and great grandchildren) I’m not going to tell you the “facts” about Grandma. If needed, You can ask your parents. Rather I will share some stories about Grandma that describe who she was. As you listen to these stories I’m sure you will recognize some of her traits that live on in your parents (or grandparents) – as the saying goes “the acorn doesn’t fall that far from the tree”.

My personal memories are like a kaleidoscope - so many that it is hard to pick any one to talk about
But as I thought back , there are a couple of strong memories that I have of Martha from that period when I became a fixture around “Hungry Hollow”.

One thing I was impressed with was that there was almost always lots of food—it wasn’t fancy – just meat and potatoes, garden vegetables and homemade bread and when the crew came to the table it often seemed like a horde of locusts had attacked -- but most of the time Mom had made enough that there was something left for breakfast and for lunches.

Another thing that I remember about “Mom” was her passion for the farm – her cows and the way she knew it was time to go to the barn at 2 in the morning to help birth a calf.

But the most enduring memory for me – formed over the many years and it is one that is often mentioned by others in the family --was her impish mischievous nature that to me is best captured in a picture of the Armstrong family where a young Martha is instantly recognizable with her “silly little crooked grin” and the upside down guitar. At times she clearly was marching to a different drummer.

In time I came to recognize that the “crooked smirky grin” meant one of 2 things

EITHER she had just thought up some grand scheme that she was about to make happen and she likely expected you dive in and help her – no matter how impossible or “weird” you thought it was.

OR you had said something that she didn’t like and you would might soon experience a “Martha “ retribution that would leave your ears (and maybe other parts of you) stinging .

As I was thinking about what could be said today to describe “Mom-Grandma” I was reminded of a reading from Proverbs 31 that begins with

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.

If you want to read the entire passage it is found in Proverbs 31 verses 10 to 31.

This reading describes many of “Mom’s” great qualities and I will illustrate them with stories that I have gathered as I have sat and listened to the family talk over the past few days. I hope these stories show her as she was – not some idealized perfect woman but the real picture of our Mom and Grandma that each of us carries in our hearts, one which reveals not only the good qualities but also shows a few of the rough edges. I hope listening will fill our hearts with laughter and maybe some tears.
Proverbs says

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Linda often mentioned how her Mom would spend time at the sewing machine putting together clothes for the kids and one of Linda’s earliest memories is of her Mom working at the sewing machine while listening to the news about the succession of the young Princess Elizabeth to the throne (which happened in 1952 when Linda would have been 7 years old)
It says that this good woman shops for the “best yarns and cottons” but, as Terry and Frank said, “Mom was a woman who was a product of the “dirty thirties” – she had a distrust of banking and always wanted to pay cash for everything she bought”. Because she had very little money in the early years the “best yarns and cottons” were often replaced by the material she got by tearing apart hand-me-down clothes. Linda says that she often thinks of her Mom when she hears Dolly Parton’s song “Coat of many colors”

But as time progressed and Mom exercised her uncanny ability to accumulate cash, she spent less time at the sewing machine and spent more on “store-bought” clothes. “Mom” became somewhat impetuous in her buying – she would see something she wanted and she would get it and it had to be the best – She had done without for too long and so when she could have something she wanted the best.

She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.

I’m not sure what this may bring to mind for each of you but I included it because of a story that Linda told me as we were reminiscing about her Mom”.
She told about a time her Mom & Dad were at Maple Ridge store and discovered a group was gathering to board a Sunshine tour bus – likely on their way to a farm tour somewhere. “Mom” decided they should go so they asked the group to wait – drove home- threw some clothes in a suitcase, left some money on the table for the kids and headed off. This may have been the first of several such tours including one to Europe.

Now I’m sure they brought back things to give to the kids but, for me, the exotic surprises were “Mom’s” stories about the trip. She had (shall we say) an active and vivid imagination. She would observe something – maybe a couple of kids walking along alone crying and she would turn it into a story of intrigue and mystery that could amaze you – and she would be adamant that she had seen the whole thing.

She traveled to Florida with our family one Christmas in a motorhome we rented and came back with a repertoire of tales about that excursion – It may have been that trip that planted the motorhome bug in her mind, so we shouldn’t have been surprised (although I probably was) when she went out a few years later and bought her little “home on wheels” – I think Terry still has it parked at his place.

Anyhow, I overheard Kylie talking – with less than full enthusiasm - about the whirlwind trip to Alaska that Mom made with Theresa’s family in the confines of the “little tin can”. One of the stories from that trip speaks volumes about the way “Mom” approached problems. Apparently Theresa heard some squabbling in the back between her mother and the 2 young teens – Jamie and Kylie. Theresa said (I’m sure using her most calm and sweetest voice!) “What’s going on?” Well “Grandma” was squabbling with Jamie because he had opened a window trying to relieve the stifling heat. She was sure it would give her an earache. A little later, Theresa looked back and seeing a whirlwind of stuff blowing all over the place, she asked “What ‘s going on now?” Grandma replied “ I opened the other window – If I’m going to have an earache, I might as well have one in both ears!!

She looks over a field and buys it, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.

I’m sure this one fits. As a young bride she saw an opportunity and purchased the small farm on North Livingston Road that came to be known as “Hungry Hollow”. Later she bought a house and had it moved to the farm to replace the ramshackle old house that was originally there
As her family grew up and moved out on their own she “pushed” Dan into buying the adjacent property where Joe & Dan built their houses. Finally, she fulfilled her dream of her family owning land all the way out to the highway – when she bought the farm where Erin now lives.

And as for gardens, I’ve already mentioned, the Goodmurphy’s were famous for the gardens they grew – and the children remember the sore backs and aching knees that came from hours of planting, weeding and picking. I know I spent more than a few hours helping Linda with those chores.

Sometimes she was impetuous in her buying decisions. Terry told me that they had for a time gotten out of farming and had no cows but one time she saw these two jersey cows. She had to have them so soon they were back in the milking business.

Grandpa Arthur wasn’t known for his patience and fine carpentry skills (although he could do more with a chainsaw and sledge hammer than some I have known who used typical tools). According to Arliss and Theresa when “Mom” decided she wanted some changes in the house such as adding the patio doors, she made the necessary purchases, called the boys (mostly Joe, Dan& Erin) to do the work. She would then haul “Dad” out of the house on some pretense. Once he came back, saw the patio doors and said “Those weren’t there before were they??”

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started, she senses the worth of her work, (and) is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.

I’ not sure “Mom” was eager about rising early –I seem to remember her voicing a few complaints -- but she was up early and she did work hard long days keeping the family going. Of course, she expected (even demanded) that her kids kick in and help. I know you all worked hard at “home and hearth” under your mother’s watchful eye – guided by her (sometimes shouted) instructions and the occasional swat on the back of the head if her directions weren’t getting the results she wanted fast enough. Reportedly, Erin, when he was thinking of getting married, told his mother that he couldn’t find the right ring. When she asked “Why?” – he said “Well it has to match the dent in the back of my head made by your ring!!
Dan told this story that illustrates her diligence in keeping an eye on her children. When he was young his mother always told the kids – “Don’t go past the gully – there are caves back there filled with bears and they’ll get you” When Dan became brave enough to explore past the gully, he came back and told his mother “I don’t know what you’re talking about – there’s no caves and no bears there that I could see.” “Well”, she says “I had to do something to keep you in my sight!!”

Arliss and Theresa told a story about how “Mom” deciding to move the piano from the living room to the basement. So She, Erin, Arliss and Theresa hauled it out the back door, down the steps, wheeled it around the house, in the front door and started down the basement stairs. It got stuck! Several trips in through a basement window to apply soap and a little more elbow grease got the job done!!

“Mom” being a good homemaker was always looking out for the health of her children. This past Wednesday night Kylie , Theresa and Arliss were laughing about a time when Dan came in and his Mom offered him a slice of a real nice looking chocolate cake . As soon as he bit into it, Dan sputtered “What on earth is in this anyhow?” –it turned out that “Mom had read that cayenne pepper was good for you so she had added a healthy dose of cayenne pepper to the cake .

I think Chris and Melissa (and Kevin if he were here) will recognize this trait because I know Linda “inherited” it. Carol said that the thing that she most remembered was her Mom’s ability to know when one of the kids did something wrong, or was in trouble or maybe just needed her to reach out and touch them. She said that when she was at home she couldn’t put anything over on her Mom and when she moved away she would be thinking “I should call Mom” and the phone would ring. The first words would be “What’s the matter?” or even more strange she would be trying to call and get a busy signal—hang-up and the phone would ring and it was her Mom. Yes “Mom’s” sense of premonition or sense that something was wrong was very strong.

She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.

“Mom” was like a mother hen – her wings opened to protect whatever walked through the door whether a stray cat or one of the many nephews and nieces that lived nearby or a friend that one of the kids brought home – if they needed mothering, she mothered, if they needed food, she fed them and if they needed a “kick in the rear” to straighten them out she’d give that too. But there were limits – if you lied to her or broke her trust, she would not hesitate to say (using words that were a little bit stronger) “There’s the door don’t let it hit you on the behind on your way out”.
“Her children respect and bless her;

A story Martha often told about Joe illustrates this point. When he was a youngster he scrimped and saved his money. Really too young to do this alone, he took off one day and walked to the store to buy his Mom a vase that he had seen her admire. Even though there were times that she frustrated and infuriated – she was always loved and respected by each of her children.

(At this point I asked if anyone had anything to add but there was no response although several times during the presentation someone added something to a particular story)

Jamie read his poem he had written (accompanied by Kylie for support)
Friendly neighbor, loving soul
We all bathe in your afterglow,
I can’t say where your journey leads
But the path you chose was true indeed
You loved us all and spoke the truth
Shared the memories of your youth
I always liked to hear you laugh
Rest assured we’ll all miss that
You always stressed love and respect
A greater teacher I’ve never met
Oh Grandma how you loved to talk
And sometimes left us all in shock
We never knew what you might say
But we always knew we’d love the way
Your heart would melt around young kids
And yours raised theirs the way you did
With undying love and sacrifice
Wisdom, pride and sound advice
I can’t express what you meant to us
Because words could never say enough
I know we all must say Goodbye
But you’re the first to make me cry.

(This poem was written by Jamie and is on the cover of a CD of family pictures scanned from the original prints by Theresa)

As I said at the beginning, it would take hours to cover all the stories that I know could be told but I hope that what we have shared today have described who Mom-Grandma really was and that we will leave here with memories that will keep her alive in our hearts for a lifetime to come.
I will finish by reminding us of Martha’s hopes for her family. Many of her children have said that their Mom was known for doctoring her kids and her cows and anyone or anything else that needed doctoring – sometimes the remedies were harsh mustard plasters or horrible tasting concoctions but she almost always had something to try.

When she was growing up in a dirt poor family it wasn’t even thinkable for a young woman to do anything more than get married and raise a family but if “Mom” could have waved a magic wand and gone on in school she likely would have become a Doctor. Her substitute dream was to raise 10 children. The results of her fulfilling that dream are in this room today.

She often told her children to “stop and smell the roses” and she also wanted each of them and each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren to dream and to work hard to pursue their dreams.

So to all here who are the living heritage of this complex many faceted woman – remember her ability to dream and pursue her dreams . Dream as she did, work hard at accomplishing them - when you are disappointed, learn from your experience, avoid looking back in anger or bitterness – Dream new dreams and keep looking forward in hope.

Each time you get together as part of this family, I want you to see her there, sitting in her rocking chair, leaning forward listening to the chatter, smiling contentedly and whispering the words inscribed below the picture of her family on the headstone in Maple Ridge Cemetery where she will soon be laid to rest “

“My life, my pride, my happiness”

Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Message)

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing. She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day. She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden. First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. She doesn't worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks. Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive. Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:"Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!" Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Rocky Path

This picture was taken by Will (with a little bit of coaching by Grandpa --pretty good for a 4 year old!!)

I started this post almost a month ago. I’ll give the reason I choose the title a little later. It almost seems prophetic because our journey has experienced some twists and turns during the past few weeks.

On Saturday morning May 10 – the day before Mother’s day, Linda and I were awakened by the cell phone ringing. We had gone to the Anmore Campground on Friday evening and we were hoping to spend Saturday at Buntzen Lake Park with Kevin & Will (if it wasn’t raining).

However, the phone call was from Linda’s youngest sister Stephanie who was calling to say that Martha (Linda’s Mom) was back in hospital and not doing well. She was in serious distress with congestive heart failure – receiving morphine for the pain. It seemed quite possible that she would not be alive much longer.

We discussed our options and concluded that we should return home as quickly as possible. We spent the rest of the morning packing up and saying goodbye to Will & Kevin. (Sarah was working so we didn’t get to see her before we left.

We pulled away from the curb at Kevin’s around 1:00 p.m. PDT and we pulled up at our curb in Sault Ste. Marie at 3:30 EDT (12:30 PDT) -- over 2200 miles (3500 km) in 96 hours ( 4 days). We traveled to Moses Lake WA (Walmart) on Saturday – made Bozeman MT by Sunday night (Walmart again – same one we stayed at on the way out), Bismarck ND on Monday (KOA – also a repeat from the trip out) and Ashland WI Tuesday (Walmart). We were on the road (almost) dawn to dusk every day – although one of the beauties of traveling with the BBB was the ability to pull over and rest every couple of hours – and we did take a longer break around midday. Still it was a tiring -- and thankfully uneventful – trip.

After a brief stop at home - check mail, water plants, send email to say we were there, -- we continued the remaining 90 km (50 miles) to Thessalon and mostly we have been here ever since. I went home for a couple of days last week, Linda came home Friday afternoon and Saturday – I went back home Tuesday this week -- so we have gotten most of the spring cleanup of leaves out of the flower gardens and some of the other work at home. It is a little unsettling not being able to plan “what’s next” and it has been stressful for Linda working to find ways to help Martha be more comfortable. I am learning a bit of what “living one day at a time” really means.

One of the “silver linings” of this situation has been visiting with people I haven’t seen for years. I suppose it is a fact of reaching this point in our lives that many of our old high school acquaintances have parents or friends in the home for the aged and we have enjoyed getting re-acquainted. I sat for much of the afternoon visiting with Linda’s brother Terry – something I haven’t done for many years.

Well – that’s a brief slice of what’s been going on in our lives -- now back to the original post.

The title came from a walk around the seawall at Stanley Park in Vancouver. The path is fairly smooth but there are many rocks on the beach below.

I am always impressed by the “rock artist” who takes the chaos of the rock strewn beach and makes these great rock figures.

I choose the title because it seemed to be a metaphor that applied to my life. I walk mostly on a smooth path. I often see chaos around me (and sometimes it intrudes into my walk) but the question always is – “Will I just walk by or will I like the rock artist help restore – in some small way - some order from that chaos?” I pray that my eyes can be open to those opportunities to create something good from the rocks on or beside my path.

I'm including some other pictures of the walk - it was the last opportunity we had to spend a day of "R&R" with Kevin, Sarah and Will before we had to return home.

Linda & Sarah on the beach watching Kevin & Will playing

Linda looking at the flowers and sharing something with Will .

Kevin & Sarah enjoyed some time together while Grandma and Grandpa played with Will

The other motivation for mentioning the “Rocky path” is the irregular nature of my posts over the past few months.

When I started this mean of expressing myself and keeping friends and family posted on what was going on in my life –I made an effort to have something to say about each day because many of the bloggers (John Dobbs in particular) that I became familiar with and used as “mentors” seemed to post every day. However, not everyone who blogs maintains a daily schedule - some do weekly posts and some post when the “spirit moves them”.

But even those that have a schedule seldom are 100% consistent in the frequency of their posts. Many of the ones that I visit regularly often post every day. But even in those cases, I observe “dry spells”. Circumstance such as travel, illness or just lack of inspiration cause gaps in the postings.

Lately my lack of consistency in writing is matched only by my lack of consistency in going by and seeing what others have written today.

After a year or so of blogging I found that a commitment to doing a daily post was a growing source of frustration and I started thinking more in terms of once a week and the occasional special blog about some special event. Even that goal has been elusive – In 2007 I managed 34 posts – slightly less than 3/month and only 8 so far this year which is less than 2/month. Part of the slowdown this year has been a venture into using FACEBOOK. While I don’t spend a lot of time with it –it is one more thing in the “virtual” world that needs to be balanced with the rest of the journey.

So why am I boring you with yet another discussion of my failures to blog very often? (Maybe some would be thankful that I’m slowing down !!! I know Linda still thinks I spend too much time at the computer – and that may be true – finding balance between the various things available to us is a daily challenge. But I digress.)

My reason for mentioning this inconsistency in posting is that I see my reaction to that reality as a sign of how I have been changed in some small ways by the work of the Spirit over the past 4 or 5 years.

Throughout most of my life – as I have I have mentioned before-- I have had a tendency (some might say obsession) with making more commitments than I could ever possibly meet and then being frustrated and upset when my efforts to juggle things resulted in important things being ignored as I tried to keep ahead of the urgent. I lived by the credo “If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done”.

Part of the journey that I have written about in these posts has dealt with “making real” something my consulting friend Terry Miller taught me about 15 years ago – and something Jesus taught over 2000 years ago. Paraphrasing (both of them) – the lesson is

“Know what’s important; concentrate on getting those things done each day; Don’t make promises to do something unless you know you can keep it WITHOUT breaking some other promise you have already made”

In terms of pragmatic change brought about by this principle, more recently I have been trying to live by 2 mottos

– the Nike creed “Just do it!” (so when something needs to be done, don’t talk about it “just do it
– “to-day is the first (and maybe last) day of the rest of your life ”- I want to spend some time each day acting as if it was the first day of my life (what would I be doing if this situation was brand new and I was just starting) and I want to do something each day that I would do if I knew it was the last day of my life.

So now – even though I am aiming at least one post a week and I have a desire to get by and visit with a circle of perhaps 10-12 of my favorite bloggers – some daily – some weekly; I no longer feel driven to meet that aim – it isn’t a commitment (promise) that has to be met – and despite what I get from those visits that enriches my life if it doesn’t get done during the time I spend “writing and making the rounds” so be it. There are other “first things” and “last things” I need to be doing.

And I more than ever realize that the most important thing – both first and last and in between – is in that “real world” of daily interactions (some electronic) with family, friends and strangers especially those encounters that provide a better understanding of the presence and power of Jesus in this world.

God Bless

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tragedy -- John Robert Dobbs

I have been away from blogging for several weeks and I am working on a post that explains my absence but I wanted make this brief post to express my sympathies and ask for prayers for my dear friend John Dobbs, his wife Maggy and their extended family and friends.

His 18 year old son John Robert was killed in a traffic accident yesterday day 3 days before his high school graduation.

I met John in 2006 when we were in Pascagoula Mississippi doing Katrina relief. We became friends quickly and he helped me to get started with my blogging.

We also met Maggy and came to love her. We met his son John Robert a couple of times and observed him leading singing in the services but we didn't really get to know him very well.

John (JD to many) is a prolific and insightful writer and his words of encouragement and exhortation have meant so much to me in the time I have known him.

Our friendship has deepened as we kept in touch through blogs, discussion lists and email. I know he was proud of John Robert and loved him deeply.

My hart is broken for John & Maggy -- When I read about it on the Berean spirit list and went to tell Linda both of us were in tears.

John & Maggy - we love you with the love of the Lord and we pray that through this time of pain and darkness God's light and God's peace will lift you up and you will feel the comfort of his love.

A mutual "internet friend" Wendy Cayliss from Australia expressed much of what I would want to have written so I'll just point you there if you want to read more about how I feel.

John in his Hope Remains blog gives the basic information about John Robert's death.

What more can I say -- May God be with you and keep you my friends

God Bless

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Well we have arrived and are settled in for a while – actually we have our RV parked on the street outside Kevin’s house. It works well but we will be moving to an RV park for at least a few days later in the week.

So in the words of Elmer Fudd we are "westing" in the west after 2200 miles (3400km) of living like a turtle with our home travelling with us.

After a warm day of rest in Miles City we traveled on through Montana – had snow overnight in Bozeman (Walmart)

Wednesday we pushed through into Idaho

– getting through the Lookout and 4th of July Passes.

(The picture was taken just west Lookout pass looking back up towards the summit ).

There was lots of snow on the side of the roads through the mountains but we got through it all without any serious rain or snow -- and that was a blessing.

We spent the night in a campground on the side of a mountain about 25 miles east of Coeur D'Alene looking at snow out of our window.

The campground was set back into a north facing ravine and just a few hundred feet up the slope the snow was still quite deep.

Out in the open in front of the campground looking over Lake Coeur D'Alene was quite pleasant (although a little chilly) Thursday morning)

The highlight of the climbing is the 10 mile long hill climbing up out of the Columbia River valley. We chugged along at 30 miles per hour the whole way up -- I guess it was good that it wasn’t in the heat of summer this time. We did climb that hill in July 2004 but then were weren’t towing anything – and that makes all the difference.

I almost broke an ankle getting out of the RV to take this picture at the overlook on the east side of the Columbia River valley. I was part way out the steps when I realized I had not changed into my “outside” shoes – I tried to stop - lost my

sandal - fell off the bottom step and was hopping down a slope in my sock feet getting pricked with thistles – yelling :OW, ow, ow!!” – my loving wife expressed her concern by laughing her head off – I guess you had to see it to see the humor – I sure wasn’t laughing but then again I wasn’t hurt either.

We arrived in Seattle Thursday evening and had dessert with my nephew Evan and his wife Angie. They had just returned from a 1st anniversary delayed honeymoon in Ireland and filled us with stories of their adventures in the emerald isle.

Friday we finished the journey to Coquitlam and have been enjoying our time especially with Will – he hardly missed a beat and took to us right away even though it had been six months since we saw them last at Melissa’s wedding.

It has been (relatively) cold since we got here – it even snowed on Friday night. To-day is the first day in the “double digits” 12-13C (low-50’sF). We enjoyed Sunday morning services at South Burnaby and spent Sunday afternoon at the Greater Vancouver Zoo. Yesterday we enjoyed Will while his parents worked.

To-day I have had some time to get caught up on a few things – although there is a mountain of email sitting in the inbox that needs to be processed – mostly reading material and some” junk” but it all adds up.

I am fairly current with my discussion lists and I’ve also been dabbling with Facebook and I’m still wondering if I can keep it in balance. So far I’ve had to pick and choose who to interact with and how much. I find it is more like meeting

people in the mall – sometimes you just nod and go by – sometimes you stop and say “hello” and sometimes you have a longer visit – maybe even sit down for coffee. Blogs generally are more like dropping in for coffee and a chat.

Speaking of blogs I did make a quick stop at a number of my more favorite blog sites – This report only scratches the surface of those I would like to spend some time with --

For you popcorn lovers Dee Andrews gives the definitive answers.

Neva is back blogging after her recent surgery and asks “Are Christians hungry for God’s food the way newly hatched baby birds are born hungry”? Or do we let our appetites become distorted by the things that Satan and the world have to offer?

Bobby Cohoon challenges us to speak with our actions in a post that includes this admonitions

Sure we are to preach and teach, but we are also to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the gospel— if necessary, use words.” What is your most powerful preaching your words or your actions?

My niece Lene tagged me back in February – but I think she forgot to tell me (or else I missed her tag) – I just was at her “Snuggles ‘n Squishes” blog

Here are the Rules: Post the rules on your blog, and then give your answers. List one fact about yourself for each letter in your middle name. Each fact must begin with a letter from your middle name. If you do not have a middle name, use your maiden name(or create a middle name).Once you are tagged, update your blog with your middle name and your answers. At the end of your post, tag one person for each letter of you middle name. Leave them a comment on their blog telling them that they have been tagged, and that they need to come read your blog for details.

This could be difficult for me because I have 2 “middle” Clifford Franklin (for a total of 16 letters) so I guess I’ll cheat and use the short form Cliff from the first one (As an aside my full name is Charles Clifford Franklin – my mother used to say I was named after 3 of my uncles – but I’ve also heard (and suspected) that there was a connection to my grandfather’s political views – if you are unfamiliar with the CCF party in Canadian politics you could research it)

C – Well that’s the first letter of my “main” name - I also answer to Charles but please don’t call me “Chuck” or “Chas” (not sure why but those nicknames don’t appeal to me)

L – That’s easy L is for Linda the love of my life.

I – well maybe is for IT (Information Technology) which is what I did for 30 years plus in my business career

F- OK now it’s getting tougher – I’m NOT fair – although I have blue eyes and my hair (what little is left)can become quite light at the end of a summer in the sun. Facts might be a good one – I’m analytical by nature and always want to have the facts before I make decisions – although I tend to err on 2 sides – ‘paralysis by analysis’ – missing the boat because I wait too long or “jump to conclusions” without looking at all the facts that are available.

F – (again) – Fortunate – I had the fortune of being born to Godly parents who instilled in me a strong sense of love for God and I have been fortunate to have a great wife – great kids and good health in most of my immediate family – God is gracious and I know his love is there even when things aren’t so good but I am grateful for the fortune I have in the world and the great fortune that waits in eternity.

Who to tag? I don’t think I’ll tag anyone in particular. If you are inclined to be “tagged” please do so—I’d appreciate you leaving a comment telling me that you did so.

God Bless


Monday, April 14, 2008

Warm at last

As I write I’m sitting in a KOA in Miles City MT where the temperaturehas soared above 80F (26C) to-day. Quite a change from a week ago when we were still dealing with freezing temperatures overnight. And there is NO snow—I suspect that there is still some snow on the ground at home.

But it has been a bit of a challenge getting to this point. We spent 3 days last week organizing, cleaning up on personal business, loading up the “BBB”, instructing our house sitter and all the things needed for the trip.

Tuesday night we went to Thessalon to have dinner with Linda’s Mom at her sister Arliss’ place. Wednesday night we attended services and said “farewells” to our church friends.

Thursday morning I did the car hookup and we were on the road – we had to stop in Sault Michigan for gas and to take on provisions – didn’t do that before we crossed the border because of all the restrictions on meats and fruits. So it was after noon before we were really on the road.

We kept hearing of serious winter storm warnings to the west and we hoped to get clear of Duluth before it hit. We almost made it but in hindsight we would have been better to “go to ground” in Superior.

We had just climbed the bluff going south out of Duluth on I-35 when the storm hit and it came with a vengeance-- by the time we traveled the 20 miles to Rte 210 it was very bad – fortunately there was a Casino at the exit and we were able to get off into the parking lot.

On top of that – for some reason somewhere after Superior, my car braking system had triggered and stayed on (and the warning light - wireless transmitter didn't turn on). So I had dragged the car with the brakes on for a while –the hubs were really hot when I stopped– so in a way the storm at that time was a Godsend because if I had kept going might well have done serious damage or even caused a fire. It doesn’t appear to have done any permanent damage although I think the rotors are warped and will need to be replaced.
It was a wild night – windy – and the plows in the parking lot clunking and “beeping” as they backed –plus furnace kicking on & off at a steady pace so we didn’t get a lot of sleep. (I forgot to take any pictures Friday morning with all the activity checking the car brakes and digging out of the snow banks but this one taken in Brainerd late Friday gives some idea of the amount of snow).

However, we survived and around noon on Friday it had cleared enough that we ventured on to Brainerd MN – for a WALMART night.

Saturday we drove in sunshine heading west across Minnesota to North Dakota. (210/10)

The snow extended as far west as FARGO and people were still digging out as shown in this picture at the Frazee Rest stop.

At Jamestown , the snow was gone and we hiked around the WALMART parking lot before pressing on to Bismarck where we stayed at a KOA— electricity, showers and INTERNET !!!

(Another lesson learned here – the instructions are to pull the accessories power relay fuse on the car when I’m towing because I have to leave the key on in the accessory position to avoid locking the steering. I thought maybe if I had the radio & heater turned off it would be OK to leave the fuse in – well I guess I was wrong because I arrived in Bismarck with a dead battery – and discovered I had left my battery charger at home.

I got a boost from the campground owner and borrowed a charger to charge overnight – yesterday I pulled the fuse and last night I ran the car for 15-20 minutes just to be on the safe side. There’s just too much mechanical equipment involved in this rig to avoid having some problems – or maybe I’m just to dumb and not careful enough to do things right – whatever the reason Linda was a little discouraged about these mishaps – hopefully we will get them out of oursystem and things will be smoother from here on out.)

Last night I flushed the antifreeze out of the BBB’s water lines and filled the hot water tank, and put some water in the fresh water tank – so we are now completely operational – and self-contained for showers and other such mundane things.

With the down day and INTERNET I decided to visit some friends in “blogland”

DeeAndrews asks ”What’s your favorite food” (April 14), gives a wise quote from Thomas Carlyle about sticking to the job at hand (April 11) and provides a lovely story (from 28 years ago) about her son when he was 10 called “Close to an Angel” (April 9) .

I was startled to find that my friend Neva – Dancing in the Light had surgery last week for a spinal cyst – that thankfully was benign and removed successfully – Praise God!!

I dropped by John Dobb’s Out here Hope Remains – I hadn’t been there for a long time and he is such a prolific (and excellent) writer that I need to go back and spend several hours to even begin to mine some of the morsels of wisdom he leaves there to “chew on”. One post that caught my attention was an “Open Letter to Miley Cyrus” encouraging her to remain true to her values as she moves into young adulthood as a star. There might be some wisdom found there for any father who is bringing a young daughter through the early teens.

Well – a closing thought

Yesterday we enjoyed great sunshine and a hike in the Painted Canyon of the North Dakota Bad Lands.

We had planned to attend services somewhere on Sunday but circumstances didn’t work out -- however – we did feel a strong sense of praise to God and wonder at his majesty as we meditated in the great cathedral of His creation.

What we missed was the encouragement of sharing our worship with other Christians.

I was reminded as we sat and looked out over the ruggedness of the canyon and the "burning hills" (lightening starts underground fires in the lignite) of the 8th Psalm

Psalm 8
1O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;

you put everything under his feet:
7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

We hiked to the bottom of the canyon about a mile round trip -- it was easy going down but it took a few rest stops on the way back up .

At the top we were treated with a herd of buffalograzing in the parking lot .
God is good
God Bless