With the back to school commercials in the media, the coolness of the evenings, the earlier and earlier sunsets. I look forward with all my heart, to the season of Autumn, and I reject with all my heart, the season that follows after; winter. And so I am conflicted.
Another leaves the nest this very day. It is time for the last of our brood to leave and make his way in this world. Micah is off to school this afternoon.
He has found a good landing space for now, and will be heading off to CLBI for the year. And God being God about these things, has undertaken to provide him with just enough money for today. The exact amount. It's turning into a great life story. The kind of story we all need, as we transition from our parents faith to our own.
So there are all these mixed up feeling happening here. Memories of when I headed off to seek my fame and fortune. Memories of each one of our other children as they left home for school, taking pieces of our hearts with them.
There are lots of good-byes in life, and some start the moment they leave the womb. This journey away is filled with excitement and a deep sense of joy when they do well out there. But there are moments too of loss and great empty spaces in our day to day lives.
Mostly though, it's about the joy. At least that's what I tell myself.
I was asked at the last and I'm glad to do it.
She's 79 years old and it will be a state sponsored event.
Her children are all gone,
Her love, he died three years ago.
She has no close family.
No obituary, no history.
A birth date and a death date. That's all they have. Nothing more.
Tonight I'm in the office doing some digging, trying to find, well, anything.
I find a friend.
We piece together as well as we can, a bit about her life.
God has been a part of her story in the latter years.
A cheerful gal who loves people and her flowers.
Who had children who are all gone.
Who was born under a heavy cross she bore all her life.
How do these people ever face life with enough courage to even attempt to create something beautiful. And try again and again when it fails?
I am amazed again at the resiliency of life. Her life.
And tomorrow I have the honour of helping with her farewell.
A very real change from death to life.
It will be grand, even if it's only a few of us.
Lightning, thunder, rain.
Then more and more it came.
The whole sky lit up like daylight.
And the thunder grew and grew and pounded the field.
On one particular close hit, I heard Micah scream like a girl out there in the Sun Room.
It was close.
Then came the hail. Pounds and pounds of hail.
Pea sized, marble sized.
Like a snow storm it came and you couldn't see through it.
And I was sick as I thought about how good the crops had been looking around here... till then.
The rain poured forth so much that it seemed the whole of the yard was running downhill.
The storm hammered us for some time. A solid half hour to forty five minutes.
Hail piled up at the corners of the house like snow.
We fell asleep with the thunder moving off into the distance.
This morning the damage is clear.
The hail was still piled up where we left it last night.
The garden was shredded. Cucumber plants now holier than I am. Tomato plants with all their top branches sheared off. We should still be ok with the fruit though. Lots of tomatoes beneath the tough leaves, and cucumbers are hardy souls themselves. We'll see if the lattice worked leaves can support them growing still.
And the close lightning hit has destroyed the internet radio, and looks like the router too. So that will all take work and money and time to get going again.
But none of it compares to what some of these farmers must be dealing with. It was such a full crop too.
We are glad for no injuries, no loss of life here.
God has been good to us again in that way, and I'm thankful.
But it was a rough one here in the field last night.
At least it isn't snowing here like it is in the Chilean desert, where it hasn't snowed in 400 years.
For a New Beginning
Change is in the air again.
The night temperature is dropping.
Fields are turning.
Quality of the light is shifting.
This is good and not so good.
Sometimes change is tough on the outer shell.
While the inner spirit is good and better even, than it was before.
In fact, the inner part of us can thrive because of the change.
While the outside of us hurts.
Change is like that.
Still the promise remains.
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
God is unchanging, in all the important ways.
If he says never, then he means the cosmic, eternal, never.
That's something you can remind yourself of, and something you can call Him on.
Whatever you may be facing this day, and this season.
Remember the promise.
It was in her home church, the Evangelical Free Church in Prince George BC. My grandpa did the wedding. It was an amazing day.
After that we were back at college for our final year, and I think, we enjoyed the year. These are a few photos from our first year of marriage.
(Because we lost our yearbooks in one of the floods in Winnipeg, I took these photos of a yearbook when I visited PRBI last month.)
I was always so stoic and she, well she was not. God knew what he was doing with us two.
She's always been a beautiful woman, and again, God knew what he was doing with us. :)
I remember it being a fun year. The challenges were that we had very little money and some days all we had to eat was a flavoured powder you added hot water to and you had a sort of soup. It also meant we didn't have a phone, which really frustrated other people much more than it pained us.
I remember grocery shopping, each item painstakingly struggled over by both of us. I remember she would push for a bag of chips for me, a favourite treat, and I would struggle over the few cents price tag.
It was also very cold that year in the Canadian North. I remember -50 centigrade and trying to get the old car started for a class I had in the city. Trying to warm up the car with a hairdryer... Mirrors snapped in the car from the cold. Even in our trailer, all the screws holding switch plates to the walls were frost covered.
But it was a great year, and God was so very good. And now we have stories to share. We learned about each other and ourselves and grew as individuals.
And then we graduated.
It's cool being married to the same woman for so many years, especially one who fits me so well.
So today I'm grateful to God for Lauralea and I'm ever so grateful to Lauralea, for saying yes and for sticking with me.
Life is good.
Ok, I give.
I've tried looking cool in the midst of the heat, but this humidity is doing me in. At least in my line of work.
Sweating when I'm meeting with people. It ain't pretty. Doesn't build confidence in my abilities when we sit there in pools of our own sweat to talk of life.
Drops of sweat running down my neck while trying to study or read.
You get the idea. Too hot to eat. Too hot to sleep. Makes people cranky, poor communicators.
If we could all just agree that we are going to sweat here, it could be ok. Like when I took my classwork in Chicago in the middle of the hot humid summers. Sweat, big sweat was to be expected. And we'd all be in it together. We'd all suffer the embarrassment of leaking all over the place. And we were wet.
But here we fight it.
I can't go to visits or meetings here in my speedos and wifebeater. So I am warm, and I sweat.
And it's getting old.
I know, in two months we'll be in snow. But that doesn't help me feel any cooler today, try as I may.
You can just disregard this post. I'm just wining a bit.
It'll all be gone soon enough.
Really it will.
And now that I am fifty, that's never been truer.
I do remember when I was six years old, thinking what it would be like when I was forty. I saw myself as a man with a family and work and a place to live and those kinds of things. I never thought about what it would be like when I turned fifty. So I sort of feel like this is new ground. Unchartered, if you will.
Yesterday was a good day. A simple sort of a day. No big parties, no big deals.
I took the morning as I wanted to do at 50, in retreat. I spent the time with God and we reviewed my life so far. It was good. He gave me some gifts and reminders of his love.
We looked ahead too and he reminded me of the potential of my work and opportunities with him. There is so much room to see this world changed when Christ is in the picture and given room to work.
It was a great few hours, a highlight to the day.
I enjoyed a nap in the afternoon and then played on my radio a while. Lauralea made a great turkey supper (Favourite!) and then we at Angel Food Cake with fresh rasberries.
Gifts and letters and cards were opened and I know that I am loved, even at 50. My sister and my mom called and we wound down the night watching The Hobbit.
Like I said, a good day. Graced even.
So now we are into another number for ten years. It will be fun to see where these ten end up.
The fun part is that I don't have much of an idea where they go physically, but spiritually it's going to be interesting.
As we enter this part of life my goal is to start to end well, and not lose my way after all these years. Not to get lazy or lost. Not to lose my passions or love for my family or God. Sometimes this is a challenge, but this is my goal.
So that was 50 then.
Not bad at all.
Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
This is the blessing.
Life is sometimes called a journey. Thomas, like any man on a journey, is looking for a map.
"How can we know the way to the place God is creating for each of us?" Is his question.
And in one sentence, Jesus sets everything in place.
He moves away from maps to relationship.
“I am the way” he says.
It’s not in a map but in a relationship that we find our way.
The way to the places created by the Father for our eternity.
Safe, blessed places in our Fathers home. Heaven.
They are accessible not with a map, but with a friendship.
The beauty of all our lives is that we are still alive and we have the knowledge that one day we won't be alive any longer. There is a clear sense for all of us if we are willing to face it, that things will come to a conclusion. We will all die.
This knowledge is a great gift from God, because it means that we have the opportunity to think about our future. We have time to consider our journey, our map, our chosen road.
Because we are still on this side of death, we have opportunity to consider the great truths of life, and the relationships we enjoy.
It’s good at times like this to consider our relationship with God.
It’s not a map we need, but a friendship, with Jesus.
And there it was, a large female Northern Flicker Woodpecker laying on the ground. Her body in convulsions and the red patch on the back of her neck was shaking violently.
I don't like these hard nature lessons. Death and violence is still death and violence no matter the species. I sat back down in my chair, knowing nature would take it's course but not happy about it in the least. I uttered a silent prayer, then realized I was praying for a bird outside my office window and how crazy was that, then I continued.
Moments later I started to hear a gentle bird song that I don't often hear. It grew in volume and I got up to look out the window again and I saw that there were four other Northern Flickers gathered around the stunned bird calling to her. She had somehow managed to get herself to her feet and there she stood staring off into the sky, not moving at all, just staring.
I watched as they called to her, encouraging her. It was a most touching sight as the community gathered around her, willing her to live.
Then they saw me at the window and two of them flew back to safety while the other two just stepped back a bit. I gave them back their privacy.
I sat reflecting on what I'd just seen and how good it was that even in the bird world they know the value of community and support and helping a sister along through a rough patch. Even the animals know these things! I thought.
Sometimes the animals are smarter than we are.
And I considered what lessons there are to be learned about the heart of Creator God, just through watching his creation.
I got up again after a few minutes, expecting the funeral cries to be nearly done. But when I looked to where the gathering had been, there was just concrete. I looked under the bushes and around the corner but no dead northern flicker. I looked for her mates and they were gone too.
Nothing left except for the powerful lesson of what community can do for you when you're hurting and wounded and stunned.
Let that be our lesson for today.
Sorry for that image, but the description does fit nicely.
It means we've been reorganizing our Internet work and cancelling subscriptions we have online so that we are not wasting money each month. I do miss Netflix and Rdio but it's part of life in the great rural world. More I miss not having face to face time with the granddaughter, but then I suppose I can't miss her as much either.
The guy in charge is trying his best to fix the problem but he's thinking we need a higher antenna now, to clear the neighbours new tree growth. That's not a quick fix in any part of the world, let alone this one.
So for now we'll take what God gives us.
Oh you say, you didn't know God does IT work?
Well I didn't either, but I do know that he gives to us according to our faith.
Last Saturday night after two weeks of pretty much no internet, then a dribble when we tweaked it, I was frustrated to the point of talking with him seriously about it. We had a good conversation about these things and I felt better nonetheless.
What was interesting to me is that since then, the speed of the internet here has been just about what it used to be. Oh it still can be fickle and it still loses pings, which weakens the signal, but there has been a marked improvement since Saturday night. So in my book anyway, God does the internet.
We'll see how things go now. Might be here, might be gone. We'll take what we get with grateful hearts. And Lauralea can keep beating you all at scrabble.