Chicago

Right about this time most years I travel down to Chicago for a gathering of pastors who work in the context of Evangelical Covenant Church.  And so tomorrow at 4 am I am leaving home for the 12 hour journey there. Field, Edmonton, Seattle, Chicago.

We will take workshops, worship together, share ideas, build relationships, and take pictures of Chicago. It is a beautiful, photogenic city. (See Here,  or here,  or here,  or here.)

Hopefully this year they won't have the Blizzard of the Century, like they hosted for us last year. That was also the first time I ever experienced snow thunder.




Wildlife Society

I think this morning started about 8 am when the doorbell rang. It was someone needing to get into the church and they were having difficulty. Eight am this morning felt like five am on normal days. It's my Thursday morning, Youth Wednesday night, hangover morning. You know, thick tongue from communicating with 12 junior high boys, eyes that won't focus from keeping track of everybody the night before, and a groggy mind from carrying maybe too many details. Its usually a rich trade off. I get to hang out with the wildlife society, and some of them speak into my life at deep levels.

But the new twist last night was that I got to do the study with 12 junior high guys.  We talked about anger and so I gave them a demonstration of what it can look like when anger takes over. :) It seemed to position them nicely to listen.

So, it isn't clear yet, but I have hope that the fuzziness should clear up before long.
Today is an office catch up day, and Moms Of Preschoolers is happening here today too, so at least I'm not alone.

That's a good thing.

I miss my dentist.

It is not lost in me that my dental care for the past ten years has been quality grade A, number One work done by a caring friend, Dr. Linea Lanoie. I will forever be grateful for how she made dental work a regular part of life for me and took the fear out of most of it.

I grew up with terminally bad teeth no matter how hard I would try, and because we were not that well off, most of my dentists were little old men who couldn't speak or understand a word of English, and who didn't want to use more pain deadening freezing than was absolutely necessary. So dentists for me were always associated with a freak show, involving pain.

Until Linea came along.
I sure miss her these days.

I got in to see a dentist today because of the pain in my mouth. It's nagging and troublesome and I'd like to be free of it. But after pictures and an $120 exam, he couldn't find the problem.

He did find other things that need attention in the next three visits, to the tune of nearly $700. Which I don't doubt. But I left $120 poorer and the pain still there.

I have to decide if I will continue down this road. I nearly used up my $1000 a year dental plan in one day, and I understand that in Alberta the fees are not regulated so you are encouraged to shop around.

But thanks to Linea, I wasn't freaked out about going.

She made a difference.



A winter morning in The Field.




Over three years ago we moved to this field as a part of my work. For me, it's resulted in a stronger sense of connection with the land. The rhythm of the seasons continues to shape our days.

A winter sunrise in the field.


Taking time to grow the soul




There has been much work these days and keeping my spirit healthy has become a bit of a challenge.

I'm trying to keep my inner life growing and vital, because without that I quickly become ineffective. And there is nothing as lame as a shallow spiritual director.

Tired.

Fresh Strawberry Jam


Lauralea made some strawberry jam today.
So I couldn't wait.
A bun, some butter, and her fresh strawberry jam.

Perfect on a frozen day.

Teenagers are people too

During the past year or two we've been down one staff member at church so I've stepped in to provide care and programming for our young people. That hasn't been a big ordeal for me, mainly because I love spending time with them and sharing life with them. They are amazing, passionate, easily distracted, loud,  hungry for love, lonely, dealing with changing bodies, people. And I love them.

Sometimes God will show me their insides. Sometimes when I'm thinking of them or praying for them, or even watching them act out from across the room, God will show me their hearts. The truth is that in those moments of deep exposure, my breath is taken away. The deep personal rejection they deal with, the pain from parents who are in crisis, the struggle to be normal and to not stand out for the wrong reasons. The utter aloneness they feel sometimes, and the fear that those feelings have come to be a regular part of their lives is like looking into the abyss.

Sometimes God just peels back the thin veneer of one of these kids lives, and I am staggered.  Then in my staggering response I bring them back to God for his attention and love.  I carry what I've seen in my heart and I check up on them and I pray for them again and again. But I'm never quite the same, for what I've seen.

I know that this is a critical time in their lives. A part of growing from children into adults is the part where we learn to hide or disguise our pain. We find distractions that are unhealthy for us or we dull the pain, so we can live. Soon after those years we become experts at hiding our pain, or decorating the disfunction so it looks normal and we blend in.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why Jesus always loved the young ones best.  I'd have to agree with him there. The younger ones are honest and forthright and if you have integrity, they will want to learn from you.

And that's the deal breaker for many of them. Integrity, or the lack of it, will send them running in the other direction. Lecture at them, tell them one thing and do another, be dishonest, and they start to shut you down. And honestly, that's refreshing.

Probably if you see them as another life form or you think that teens = trouble, or if you think you can change their lives with a good lecture, I'd encourage you to make friends with one, and just listen to them. Ask them questions and listen. Don't tell them things unless they ask you. Maybe, just maybe you will catch some of what they have, and they have a lot to offer.

There are so many good opportunities to be involved in young peoples lives these days. They don't require much expertise. They just need to be loved, and treated honestly, by people who can look at them and see real people.




Naught but dust

At night as I lay in bed unable to find sleep, I was staring out the window and I saw streaks of light in the southern sky. I remembered that the Quadrantid Meteor Shower is just winding down.

I thought, there are these tiny pieces of dust and they hit the atmosphere and burn up in a flash of glory. From a distance they look big and spectacular, but really they are small and rather insignificant, until they hit that atmosphere. Then its a few seconds of glory.

And I thought how that's the human condition as well. We look to burn brighter than the rest, because somehow that gives us value and meaning. The truth is we are naught but dust.

But somehow, dust and spirit, hopes and dreams, when valued by the One that made us, take on a different tone than the depressing thought that we may be nothing but dirt.

And even old rocks become precious gems in the masters hands.


And His work can be beautiful.





It's official, I'm a Ham. (I now have proof)

...and now I have the papers to prove it.

As I've written before in this space, I started on this project back in 1986 when we lived in Aylmer Ontario and I headed off to a local Amateur Radio club to see if I could find some new friends, and maybe even get my own license.

A local guy, older, crusty, smoked like a chimney, High School math teacher, took me under his wing and helped me get set up with at least a receiver and an 80 meter dipole antenna, so I could start listening. And listen I did. early in the morning before I left for work, and often in the late evenings, I would crank up the old radio and catch the ONTARS checkins on 3755.

I still have that old Heathkit HW-12 radio and I'm still using the dipole he got me started on. But life, work, family, all took up so much of my time that I just set it aside for a while.

"A while" turned into 25 years, and last year, spurred on my a few ham friends in this church here, I set aside vacation time to focus on the study and preparations for the exam. A 100 question test, drawn from 1000 possible questions, I set myself to learn electrical theory and practical radio practices.

On December 5th I wrote the exam and passed with a 97%, probably the highest I've ever scored on any exam in my life. I passed with Honours.

What with all the Christmas mail in the system, it took a while to receive my papers from Industry Canada, and every day I'd be the first to the mailbox to check if my license had arrived. Well, it finally did arrive, and is proudly posted in my room.


I have been awarded call sign VE6VOR, which is a good call sign because it's easy to say, and to repeat and has a nice mix of consonants and vowels. :)

Victor Echo Six, Victor Oscar Romeo is already on the air operating locally on 2 meters, but my next ambitious undertaking is to get on the HF bands, -Shortwave. So I am gathering supplies as time and mostly money allow. Antenna wire, transmission cables, and of course a radio. The local guys are helpful and willing to lend me a radio for the time being, once I get an antenna up in the air.


So maybe all that just to say that even after 25 years dreams still can come true. A bit of work and effort if you want it enough, and there you go, something new can happen.

What are your dreams?



73, (Amateur Radio code for Best Regards,)
From the field.





The power of music on memory

Last night I was tossing and turning a bit the way you do when you know you need to be fast asleep already and you're nowhere near sleep. So I reached over and turned on the radio to Easy 101, an easy listening formatted station I like that broadcasts out of Tillsonburg Ontario.

As the one smooth song from the late seventies was ending, the beginning rhythm of another song was starting and even before I was sure what song it was, I felt myself being transported back in time and space to the late spring in 1987 in SouthWestern Ontario. Like a time machine those musical notes took me out of my bed and dropped me in a car heading to London Ontario with Lauralea and a back seat full of friends heading out on a hot humid pre-summer day.

The sun was bright, the windows were wide open, the radio was on, and then people began to sing the Chris de Burgh song, Lady In Red.

I kid you not.


After that I just got up and made some toast.
It's easier than all the time travel.


Crankin it at the office

Yesterday was to be my day off, but by 10 am it was clear that it wasn't going to be a day off, so the day was spent working.

This morning I woke up at 6, all by myself, (That is meant to read, without my alarm) and couldn't find sleep so I got up and headed off to the office.

And so here I am, gettin it done. My easterly window is facing a beautiful sunrise and I walked to work without a coat because it's +1 out there, and it's beautiful.

Oh and did I mention, the music is cranked in here.
Right now, listening to this:





So if you got called in to work on your holidays, hey, I feel your pain.
And if you are already gettin it done, well you're in good company.

Have a good day.