Wednesday, May 31, 2006

UNICEF Boxes History??? (I hope not !!!)

I heard on the CBC news tonight that Unicef is cancelling (after a remarkable 50 years) the Halloween Orange Box campaign in Canada ...

I for one mourn the loss of the little cardboard boxes that appear on our door step each Halloween ... Our three children have been proudly wearing their UNICEF boxes tied around their necks each year (for Rebekkah last year was the year she became a "grown up kid" when she FINALLY got her own UNICEF box - I'm sure she waxed eloquently at age 6 about "waiting my WHOLE life to wear the UNICEF box" ... no one said she isn't prone to the melodramatic !!).

Each Halloween we prepare a bowl of change to be duly dropped in the UNICEF boxes that come our way - admittedly, where we live we don't see lots and lots of boxes, but the ones that arrive are loaded with pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and even loonies and twoonies ... Each small donation is worthwhile ... each small donation can make a difference when added to the many others from across the country.

It's too bad only 3 million dollars are raised each year - it's a worthy cause (anything that helps children in our world is a worthy cause) ... and having organized several penny drives in my day, I know the work involved in rolling pennies - but at the end of the day, rolling pennies and accumulating them together can mean a fair bit of money is raised for a good cause ...

If offering health and life to a child half a world away isn't a good cause, I can't imagine what is ... I hope UNICEF will reconsider ... I hope Canadians, like those who take the time to read my BLOG will help UNICEF consider reconsidering ...

Let's speak out and push to have the ubiquitous little Orange Boxes remain a Halloween Institution for another 50 years - and let's make sure they raise MORE then 3 million in pennies ...


Monday, May 29, 2006

Is anybody out there ????

There have been moments lately when I've thought about wrapping up this Blog site and it's sister site - "minnedosa united" and shutting them down. I've wondered if anyone is really reading these entries, and whether anyone really cares ...

Then this weekend, on the floor of the AGM for the Conference of Manitoba and North Western Ontario of this United Church of ours, I learned that my musings and rantings are being read. Many, many people came up to me and thanked me for the updates on our Congregational experiences since the fire, many many people have come up and expressed and appreciation of my thoughts and my writings here and at the sister site ... It was humbling and more then a little awesome ... There really are people out there in cyber space who have been reading my blogs - WOW !!!

Today I have a huge mix of thoughts and musings that I would like to put here - but I need to order my thoughts a bit ... the weekend at Conference was inspiring. I spent more time at my table group this weekend then I think I have cumulatively in my career in ministry. It was an inspiring group of people - diverse in location, age and background. Good questions were raised - good dialogue followed (our facilitator did a FINE job !!!). It was a good place to be and to learn, listen and laugh ... isn't that the point of table groups??? Listening to one another, learning from the life experiences we bring to the table and being able to laugh in the fullness of life ???

I have some notes on potential "blog entries" that came to me over the course of the weekend ... (when the thought came, I took out my pen and wrote on paper - the laptop stayed home for a break for both of us ...) ... over the coming days I will offer my thoughts and reflections on some of the conversations that came both on the floor and outside this weekend ... I went to Conference with trepidation and I have come home recharged and encouraged.

The many comments of support. The hugs, the hand shakes, the smiles from people who expressed their horror at the fire we've experienced here in Minnedosa, and who in turn offered their love and support has been inspiring to say the VERY least ... and hearing Lynette Miller and Linda Murray offer their reflections on their ministry as they prepare to enter the new potential of retirement reminded me and inspired me of what ministry is about (they were awesome).

So, today I'm tired ... but I'm excited ... before me lie three months of sabbatical and reflection ... and a call to ministry ... Today is a very good day ...

thanks to all for listening - thanks to all for the support and encouragement ...

peace and joy to you all,

Saturday, May 20, 2006

7 & 12 ... The Birthday Weekend ...

Today our "baby" turned 7 ... hard to believe that it was seven years ago that Mag woke me up through the night by calling from the bathroom that her water had broken ... But it is ...

That day started quickly and somewhat harshly ... at about 4:30 am, Mag went to the small bathroom that was in our bedroom and by 9am we had our third child - our second daughter ... Rebekkah's delivery was fast and she was a HUGE baby ... but she was and has been very healthy.

It has been a busy seven years ... we marked her first birthday waiting to move to Minnedosa after being fired from Sharon United in Langley ... unlike Hannah and Sam, Rebekkah has spent her formative years on the prairies. She is a BC girl by birth only ... Nursery School and Kindergarten have happened in Minnedosa - like the other children of Minnedosa, she watched on February 12th as her Church and Nursery School burned down ...

Now our little baby is slowly becoming a big girl ... she can read, write and ride a bike without training wheels or a parent running along side ... She started her life in a hurry-up sort of way, but has become a wonderful young lady, who like her sibs fills our lives with joy and meaning ...

And tomorrow, our eldest - our little baby boy turns 12 ... TWELVE ???? Where has the little baby I used to sing to sleep gone??

It seems like yesterday that Mag spent two days in the hospital as they tried to initiate labour ... then when it finally started it seemed to take forever ... But in the early morning hours of May 21st, Samuel Elliot arrived in the United Church Hospital in Bella Coola ... he was helped along with doctors and nurses who had been gathered and were employed by the United Church, and the first person he met that night (before the RCMP showed up to meet him - don't know if that bodes well for his future ...) was the organist from the United Church ... Sam was and remains our Mission and Service boy !!

I remember the next morning, going out to the garage and telling our friend Wendy (his God-mother and one of our dearest and most cherished friends) that I was going to see my son ... I was proud of him that day, and with each passing year I find myself more and more proud of him. There are moments I don't like him much - but I will always love him and I will always be cheering from the sidelines as he accomplishes whatever he sets his mind to ... He's a mouthy, smart, and incredible young man - and tomorrow he turns 12.

My mind still reels at that ... where did the last 12 years go ??

The last year has seen a huge change in him ... he's growing up ... he has a journey ahead of him, but he'll turn out okay ... and we'll continue to love and cherish him ...

I'm proud of all three of my kids, and I think they are all great young people ... I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in life and where they will go ... This weekend we can look back on a long and windy road while we look ahead a road that continues to wend its way forward ... and with Sam, Hannah and Rebekkah accompanying us it will be a good journey ...

Happy Birthday to my two Birthday Babies - you make me proud to be your dad ...

... and I look forward to sharing many more birthday weekends with you (and Hannah too)!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Back in the Headlines ...

Must be a slow news day in West Man ... Today's Brandon Sun has a headline that reads: "Donors Help Church." and with it is a picture of yours truly ...

The article that follows highlighted the unofficial fundraising that we are undertaking ... I say unofficial because no one has said we're fund raising yet. In time, as we move closer to turning sod and knowing what it is that will replace our building, we will begin raising money to help make the vision move from paper to reality ...

So far it has been quite a journey ... In the hours after the fire we recieved (and continue to recieve) offers of hymn books, choir gowns, pianos, organs and a variety of other objects from sister Churches all over Canada.

We've opened emails, letters, cards and notes from all over and often there are donations to help us in our rebuilding project ... The meaningful ones to me are the ones with a little note that says why the donor is sending his/her gift ... Watching one of the choir members last week bring Mrs Comrie a five dollar bill out of his wallet for the rebuilding brought tears to my eyes ... Those gifts are very meaningful. The card in a child's writing ... the gift of a young boy ... every donation - will make a huge difference in the long run ... They are the widows' mite that Jesus praised so highly in his ministry. They may not seem like much, but they are - to the giver and to us the reciever.

So, like the head line says - Donors DO help the Church ... every penny, every nickel, every dime sent to help us in our rebuilding WILL help us achieve the dream that lies ahead ... one frost February morning, we were robbed of something that is irreplacable, but in time we will rebuild something that to coming generations is as meaningful as what once stood on Main St here in Minnedosa ... and that dream will come as a result of the work and donations and effort of many, many people ...

The work has already begun - as we continue along our journey all we can say is: THANKS.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sticks and stones ... and words ...

Remember the little ditty: "Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me ..."??

I know mom was trying to be helpful when she taught it to us - but really, can we say that words are NOT hurtful?

I've watched in the life of my children the power of words, both those spoken and those withheld. There is a piece that many parents encounter that says - "If a child lives with ... she will develop ..." It's a series of statements that remind us of the power of words, and the profound impact they can have on the lives of our children.

As parents we are careful to nurture and encourage and build up our children. We protect them and try not to belittle nor humiliate them.

I remember reading a parenting book that said over and over, "Never say - 'you're stupid', when criticizing your child. Always direct your criticism at the action, not the child. Instead say "that action was kind of silly ... but I still love you ..." I remember reading that and thinking - "wow, what a great concept ..."

I love my children, but I don't always love some of the things they do. But what is important is making sure that they know when they are appreciated and when you disapprove of their actions. I will always love my children, but there are moments that I don't really like what they've done ... expressing our disapproval needs to be done with care and love ...

Likewise, expressing our support and our encouragement needs to happen too. If we never praise our children (or our partners, or our friends, co-workers and so on) what kind of example have we set?

I read a story this week that reminded me of the power of words ... It seems a man was heading down to the coffee room at work and he passed the office of a co-worker that he hadn't spoken to for quite awhile. He passed the door and thought - "I should see if he want to join me for coffee ..."
He stopped and backed up an said - "Hey, you wanna join me for a coffee?"
The co-worker was surprised and looked startled, but said "sure ..."
They went for coffee and had a lovely time chit chatting about nothing in particular. They laughed and told each other stories and jokes before they went back to work.

The next day the first man was visited by the co-worker. The co-worker confided in his refound friend how much the offer of coffee meant to him ... he went on to explain that he was sitting in his office contemplating opening the office window and jumping out ... his life had taken some bad turns and that very morning his wife had walked out on him, leaving him utterly alone.

The co-worker was deeply wounded and feeling utterly unloved and unappreciated. He sat watching the clouds pass on the horizon and had come to the conclusion that no one really cared ... he was about to open the window and leap when a head popped in the door way and said simply: "wanna join me for a coffee?"

In an instance care was offered - simple words were spoken and a life was altered ...

In the life of a child, offering words of care and support can mean the difference between a love filled with nurture and love and a lonely life bereft of these things ... In the life of our friends, co-workers and neighbours, words of care and support can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

I learned in the Native Tradition the value of simple words like "Thanks ..." and how potent a single word can be ... It's too bad that sometimes we choose to say nothing at all, or worse we simply forget ...

May we in the coming days remember that sticks and stones AND words can hurt or heal ... and may we have the courage to be a healing people:

If A Child Lives With. . .
by Dorothy Law Nolte (altered slightly)

If a child lives with criticism. . . . . . . .he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility. . . . . . . . she learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear. . . . . . . .he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with jealousy. . . . . . . .she learns to feel guilt.
If a child lives with tolerance. . . . . . . .he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement . . . . . . . .she learns to be confident.
If a child lives with praise. . . . . . . .he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance. . . . . . . .she learns to love.
If a child lives with approval. . . . . . . .he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition . . . . .she learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with honesty. . . . . . . .he learns what truth is.
If a child lives with fairness. . . . . . . .she learns justice.
If a child lives with security. . . . . . . .he learns to trust in himself and others .
If a child lives with friendliness. . . . . . . .she learns the world is a nice place in which to live

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


On the advice of a trusted and much appreciated friend ...

I've withdrawn the previous post for today ...

As Buddy on Night Court used to say: "But, we're feeling much better now !!'

Friday, May 05, 2006

The aggravation of computer problems ...

This week the AC adapter on my laptop packed it in ... in and of itself, not a big deal. If I was living in somewhere like Toronto it would have been an easy crisis to resolve ... but in rural Western Manitoba, it became a major hassle.

It meant I was limited in my computer access and unable to cruise the net, blog and do my email easily. Fortunately, I live in a wonderful small town where many people will still go way above and beyond to helpa neighbour.

I have been into the Library three or four times a day to check email and do "computer stuff". I could have gone cold turkey, but the withdrawal symptoms would have been too hard to face.

In reality, I could and did survive without computer access at my fingers. I hauled out my OLD lap top that has served me since I was gifted it in 2000 (it was a 5 year old computer then) - and it helped me do the funeral service I presided at this week. But, the victims' impact statement we are preparing on behalf the church was stuck in my new laptop, and had to wait ... I spent more time in conversation with people, I spent more time out and about in the community, I spent more time reading - all in all it was an okay break from the key board.

The other notable contribution to the week came from Dany Hamel, owner and operator of Minnedosa's Hamel Computer (a business on Main St). Dany and Sandy (his wife and business partner) called right away to order a new AC adapter, and Dany let me charge my laptop in the store, then in the evening loaned me his AC adapter to keep me online ... Talk about service. If there was a reward for exceptional business service Dany and Sandy would have my vote.

Hopefully on Monday the new adapter will arrive and I will be able to carry on ... For now, I will enjoy the chances I get to go online ... and I will appreciate what a treat it really is ...