Monthly Archives: January 2013

Forging new paths

Yesterday two incidents reminded me of change.

I have newly come into a responsibility working with our museum here in town.  As such, I contacted the chair of the museum board.  The idea was to just sit and hear what was expected and where we were headed as a board.

The willingness was there and the time was available.  The discussion was profitable but there was within the chatting a sense of the past hindering the future.  Where there were disappointments with such things as volunteers and financing, there was a desire for better but a realism that could hold them back.    That mourning of the past and excitement for the future was very real.

The second group was planning a youth event related in part to drug and alcohol.  This event has run for the last three years.  Not a long history.  A whole new scenario was put before us.  Requiring a new way of thinking.  Last year’s schedule was to be completely thrown out.  A new schedule required more flexibility.  At first those who had been a part in the previous few years could see only the turn in the road and not the destination.  After much talk, the old was affirmed.  The great thing was that the new achieved the same purpose, just in a different way.  After 1 1/2 hours of discussion the group was ready to set aside the old and try something new.

Old and new need not conflict.  Each can be a fulfilment of the purpose for the life of the institution or event.  Paths may exhibit gravel at one point and asphalt at another – the real question is whether they continue in the same direction!

Start the day with prayer

So, yesterday a Facebook and text message arrived in front of me.  A friend asked if I would like to show up at a prayer time this morning at 6:00.  At the church. 

Well, I was going to be at the church anyways, so what is a few hours earlier.  Of course, when winter light doesn’t appear until 8:30 . . .

At the same time, I have been working (said in the positive sense) on understanding and applying prayer in my life.  In October I spent a week of personal retreat – one day especially devoted to prayer and fasting.  I also picked up, at that time, a startlingly green notebook (which I can’t lose) to use to journal prayer requests.  And I started to pray for “the fives”.  Each month I pray specifically for those in leadership in ministry (I started with five – and renew the list each month – right now the list is over 15 and growing). 

So, the idea of prayer was not out of my mind – in fact, quite there.  On Sunday, our Associate Pastor asked for people to show up for prayer the next day at 6:00 in the morning.  Six people showed.  And they decided to also pray on Thursday at 6:00.  I think there is a movement about to happen here!

The format was simple.  Assign a prayer request to each person.  Not a lot of explanation, just pray!  Then, the whole group prayed out loud together until things died down (and they just do!).  Then go around the circle and assign new requests.  Today we prayed for church leadership, other churches in town, for our community, for the rural municipality around Kindersley, for missionaries, for those sitting in the circle.  In 40 minutes we covered a large amount of prayer points.

God loves to hear from us.  And in turn we will hear from God.  I wonder what the coming days and months will hold?

On serving on a board

I have volunteered recently to work with a group of people.  This group follows after a personal interest of mine – preservation of history.

One of my graduate degrees focused on archival work.  The opportunity was given to me to be employed while taking my schooling.  All I had to do (and did) was itemize the group of papers that had arrived in the provincial archives.  Following that, my next place of employment allowed me to help gather and work with the archives of the institution and denomination.  After several years, I was also given the opportunity to serve as president of the provincial archival society.

For almost two decades I have quietly laid aside the active part of this passion for history.  Of course, anyone who listens to my sermons or probes my understandings will run across “story”, which is most often related to understanding and applying history.

Now, I am back into the fray of history. 

This time the entrance back seems to be more related to administration than research and study.  The museum was looking for board members.

Serving on a board is different than researching.  The first thing that I have done is visit with the manager of the museum, and contact the chair of the board to get some sense of this particular board.  And last night I read the last three years of minutes.

I am surprised by the opportunities, and yet inclined to think that more could be done.  Having served on boards for years, I realize the culture of the board needs to head outward and not in a maintenance mode.  I’m interested to see where this board will go.  An adventure, to say the least (or the most!).

Common Culture

When I talk to people I am constantly translating. 

First nations culture is different than my culture.  Relationship is vital and time is not as important.  I remember preaching at church services where start time was 1:30 – OK, more like 2:00, when everyone had arrived.  Or talking with those in an Asian culture where community is first consulted and always in the back of your mind.  Shame is placed on families, not just on the individual.

Imagine the time that is required to develop a deep relationship.  Imagine the energy that must be consumed.  Imagine the resources that must be available.

Now, imagine a culture that is similar to your own.  Time, energy and resources are quickly allocated to other than mere understanding of each other.  I think that was one of the reasons that my marriage to Jill was so successful.  Yes, we had our differences, but I knew they were differences.  I didn’t have to read between the lines or check out whether I was on the same page.

So, in courting this time around, I realized that a common culture would alleviate the time, energy and resources factor.  After a few days of someone finishing your sentences and finding that mind reading seemed to be the order of the day, I became comfortable with exploring the future rather than spending all my time on mining the past.

Being over 5o, I am much more open to time being outside of chronology, of energy being focused and resources being well used. 

Common culture is not a bad thing!!

Over the top

When someone falls 60 feet (20 meter) from the sky, what usually happens?  No parachute.  No net.  Just sand at the bottom (and somewhat packed at that).

You can hear the story of Nick Gilbert and how God preserved him.  The story was related in our church service yesterday. 

Nick is not an imported speaker.  He is one of our congregation.  His story is taken from a real life adventure while he was quading in Idaho.  Not too long ago. 

And he lived to tell the story.  He’s walking and talking and hugging his kids.

Check out the story here:

Funeral Season

This time of year seems to be the time for funerals.

I have officiated at two funerals in the last two weeks.  Both have been joyous celebrations.  Both quite different.

My Aunt Etta was known for her “whoop” when she got blessed in the middle of a church service.  Sylvia Walde was known for her quiet hard working approach to life that saw her service baking buns for those who were weary in life.

The interment service for Sylvia included a testimony of one who had walked with Sylvia for over 40 years.  They met in the 1960’s and had kept up a friendship from then on.  That is a great testimony in a mobile day and age where we tend not to commit to friendship. 

I have found in such cases that the church service does not demand a great “sermon” on my part.  The eulogies and tributes have preached far more than the words I might want to say.  In these cases I prepare a summary of life and a pointed thought on death.  I tend to think that we carry away from a funeral a few things said in an easy to understand, easy to remember way.

Yesterday’s funeral for Sylvia Walde was a reminder of godliness practiced in amongst daily farm chores, raising children and blessing others.  Simple life, simple focus, simply inviting!

Check First

I suppose courting can come in all sorts of forms.  As I mentioned previously, one of the first areas I considered was character.  If there is no depth, there is nothing to be mined as you spend a future together. 

My first inquiry regarding character always relates to the core.

I don’t believe that two people are just two pieces of physical, flesh and blood, things.  Human beings are more than just animal carcasses.

Humans are more than just triggered electrical signals that result in action and reaction – and perhaps emotion and motion.  There is a center to a person that I call the spirit of that person.

I want to relate to that other person’s spirit.  In the deepest friendship of marriage, there is a need to push beyond physical action and related emotions.  The spirit needs to be a part of the equation.

Our spirits are only at their best when they are connected with their creator.  Unless two people join in connection with God, they live in a “less than” equation.   There will be less than a united delight in their union.

Therefore in courting, my first point in a character reference is to look for someone who has a first love found in Jesus.  How exciting when you come across that type of innocent intention – that type of desire that finds truth and beauty and happiness in God – and then spreads that love out from their core.

I love it!!

Reference Check

I suppose as you get older, you begin to realize that other people know people who know the people you want to know.  As a director of admissions in a post secondary school, one of my most important sources of information on students was their references.  With the reference in hand, I could gain a fair insight into whether this person would be a good student and gain from their experience at the school.

I was first introduced to the thought of courting Cynthia by her sister, Connie.  Her husband has been a very good friend of mine for almost 20 years.  I had sung at Connie’s father’s funeral.  I had even been to Christmas meals with the extended family.

So, when this courting thing with Cynthia continued to go forward, I was able to chat with Connie, one of her sisters and her mother.  Their review on Cynthia was positive, while recognizing the agonies she had experienced in the last eight years.  Another friend (who had known Cynthia for over 30 years) also gave her thoughts.

Of course, I had my own “reference” going back 30 years.  I had coached a trio that Cynthia sang in.  At 19, she was young, forthright and a hard worker.  I have to add to that the whole beauty of her voice was attractive.  Although she may have felt differently about me, I found her on the “good” side of my personal assessment scale.

As I am in the over 50 age bracket, before I got heavily into this courting thing with Cynthia, I did some checking.  Back when I was a teen, the checking might have been based more on looks.  This time around it was based more on character (although she has beauty about her!).  She had also been warned by her sister that I was eligible – and had her own preparation that needed to be done.

To be continued . . .

On alder courting

Yesterday I had one of those conversations.  Doesn’t happen often.  In fact, sure not to happen often.  Prompted by the internet age.  Yet related to old age.

A lady phoned me who had relatives that once lived in Kindersley.  Their last name was Baker.  She figured maybe I was a relation.  She had tracked me done through the internet.  As I researched a bit last night, I found I probably was – back about 3 – 4 generations ago.

In the midst of our genealogical discussion she mentioned a relative (an uncle, I believe) that had been widowed in the last few years.  Apparently around my age.

She was going to forward to this uncle the URL for my blog (which merely means she would tell him to check out my blog).  She had seen my rather personal comments on the death of my wife, Jill.  They had given some sense of forward movement that she felt her uncle needed.

As I thought on this, I began to think that perhaps what I have experienced could help others.  This has been in the back of my mind,  but a little too far back to touch.  Yes, I blogged, upon my wife’s death, to work through difficult times.  But now I’m wondering . . .

I have purposely not talked much about the next step in my process of widowhood.  Maybe because I didn’t realize that our society seems to have a disconnect with alder courting.  We have sessions on grief counseling, on financial management, on retirement – but I’m not so sure we have come to a sense of alder courting.  We do well helping young people form relationships and date.  But the literature for “old” people is not quite as abundant.  With a proliferation of divorce and the inevitable death of spouses, those over 50 who are dealing with alder courting is rising.

“Alder” is merely another way of saying “Elder” or “Older”.  We have Aldermen (or persons!) in government.  So, I start by calling this “alder”.

“Courting” is another way of dealing with the process leading to marriage.  I have blogged previously on this.  I laugh when I mention the term – seniors get the idea – younger people don’t even know what I’m referring to or they just call it “so high school!”

What has it looked like for me to go “alder courting?”  Might be interesting reading!!

A little off center

One of our church furnaces has been sounding – too much “sounding.”  The noise became quite obvious these last few days – even with the furnace room door closed.

Apparently the furnace fan motor finally burned out.  The repairman found that!  Along with a shaft on the fan that appears to be a bit off center.

As he explained – the motor goes at quite a speed in order to power the fan.  When the fan goes even slightly off, or the cage for the fan is not quite fastened tightly – the fan can start to shake.  After a bit of shaking, it rattles and then it rolls (vestiges of a song here!!).  Soon the motor is fighting the fan. 

The fight ended today with the motor burning out.  Now we will get a new fan and fan cage.  And a motor.  And all should be well.

At least, well enough that I won’t be listening for that horrible screeching that I heard so loudly the last while!!