I Can Say Whatever I Want To

I heard a comedian on a news interview I happened to click past tonight say in regards to his act, "Don't bring your kids. I'm not a teacher any more--I can say whatever I want to." It seems to be a common North American attitude. We have freedom of speech; therefore, we can do what we want. Freedom has become our ticket to irresponsibility.

We have freedom in Christ. But freedom brings great responsibility (echoes of Spiderman saying "with great power comes great responsibility" ring out). Freedom in Christ means that we are no longer slaves to sin (or the Law), but have freedom to choose to follow Christ--responsibly. Freedom exists with boundaries--otherwise it's not freedom, it's just risky behaviour.

As parents, we give boundaries. We tell Anders he has the freedom to play in front of the house as long as he stays right in front of our place and doesn't go beyond the crack in the pavement that is just a few feet in front of the driveway. He has the freedom to play within that area. If he doesn't respect the boundaries, he runs the risk of getting hit by a car.

We just don't get freedom. Isn't it odd that in free countries we have as many laws as we do? We just need responsibility. You can say whatever you want, yes, but that doesn't make you more of a human being.


Everything's Coming Up Roses

Okay, the roses aren't in bloom yet, but the title went well following the last post.

After church today (and eating some leftovers at church), we walked across the parking lot, across the road to Darts Hill Garden Park. It's actually a private residents owned by the Darts, of course--well, just Mrs. Darts, Mr. Darts passed away a few years ago (I suppose it would be irreverent to say "pushing up daisies"). My understanding is that they donated their place to the city, thought Mrs. Darts still lives on site. Today was the one day each year they have it open to the public for free. That's the house behind Beth & the boys in the first picture. (Notice how Anders' sunglasses are just a little too big--he insists on holding them on his face; and Nils got a good nap--you may notice him snuggled in well to his Mamma.)

Being across the street from the church, we see the place all the time, but this was our first chance to actually see inside. It was our second straight day of sun--after several days of rain. So it was nice to be outside. It was about 18C, so a bit cool in the shade, but wonderful to soak in the sunlight.

While most of what was in bloom was several varieties of the same several species of plants, there was just a rainbow of colors in bloom throughout the park. It's amazing how many colors God created--a wondrous variety of hues, some so vivid that you couldn't paint it if you tried.

A rainbow in the sky is a promise of God's love for us--that His desire is not to destroy us, no matter how decadent we get. I think there's a message in the colors of creation as well. I'm not sure there's a promise there or anything specific Even if they just serve as a wonderful reminder of how majestic, amazing and awesome (in its original sense) God is, then I think they've served their purpose, haven't they?


It's Not All Rosey

My tendency when blogging is to focus on the fun and exciting things or wax philosophical. We all know life isn't that way.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm here. Tonight at youth group I only had two students there (we've only had 4 so far, and I knew one would be gone tonight). It's easy to get discouraged. There's more kids out there, but we're competing with work & sports schedules and other things. I know I'm doing other ministry in the church as well, but sometimes I wonder if it's worth it. [Okay, if you're from church and reading this, don't freak out and wonder what you've done--there's more to come.]

And of course, I know it is. In the few short weeks we've had youth group I've seen some growth and interest in the spiritual journey. And I know it will take time (we're basically starting from scratch in some ways). I can't just show up and expect huge crowds just because I'm here--if there was, I guess the temptation would be to think that it was all because of me. It's a good humility builder (like I needed another one). I need to build relationships and convince people that youth group is important for their walk (even if they're getting built up elsewhere--it's important to be a contributor as well as receiver). I need to just be incarnate (if I can properly use that here) with the people for a while. I need to show people that I care about them.

But knowing all that doesn't mean that it doesn't get frustrating at times. It doesn't mean that I don't get down on myself. So this is just a reminder that our lives are normal--even if they don't look that way on the blog. Life does have mountains and it does have valleys--but most of the time we're thriving (nay, existing) on the plains. It's not what our experiences are; it's how we handle them. We're called to be faithful, just as He is faithful. Stay the course, even when the trail is rough (after all, He did call us to the narrow path--not the wide, easy one). It's not about the rewards we may get in the end; it really is about the character we develop (it's not just a nice axiom that our parents toss out at us when we go through rough times). It's about persevering. And sometimes persevering sucks--at least at the time. His yoke may be easy and the burden light, but, hey, let's face it, it's still a yoke and a burden that we have to carry. But we don't carry it alone. Yokes aren't meant for one ox--they're for a pair. And our teammate is Christ, who has plenty of experience with shouldering burdens. And He offers to help with ours. Amen to that.


Don't Rush the Calendar

Just yesterday we received a package from Mom that she sent for the boys for Easter (it was sent March 27--arrived April 23; that's probably not too bad for having to go through customs and Canada Post). A gentleman from our church was here when it came so I shared with him how Mom was frustrated at how long it was taking and that it might arrive in time for next Easter. He reminded me how I had shared on Sunday (it's good to know people do listen in church) that it was the third Sunday in Easter on the church calendar and that we stay in Easter until Pentecost at the end of May. So it's all good. It arrived during Easter--just not when Mom wanted it to.

I had actually talked in church about how the church calendar is set up so we don't rush on to the next holiday like the rest of the world, but that we revel in the markings of time that God has set aside for us to celebrate and observe. So, don't put away your Easter decor yet. Remember that He is risen. He is risen indeed! Don't rush on to . . . well, there's not much coming up. I'm sure stores have 4th of July (or 1st of July here) items out there already. Stay in Easter. Don't forget where we've been and where we're going.


On a Clear Day You Can See to . . . Washington

It rained this before breakfast and was cloudy through the morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon. So, after naptime was over, we headed down to the beach at White Rock (just a mile south of us). The tide was out, so we were able to walk out a way on the sand, jumping across tidal pools. When it's not overly hazy, you can see across Semiahmoo Bay to Washington--actually, you can see parts of Washington on almost any day. So the first picture is the bay. The second picture is looking back into White Rock (it's mainly
a retirement community or very wealthy).

Anders and I went out and explored the tidal pools for a while (Beth and Nils came down and watched some skimboarders [see her blog] and went back up and checked out a couple of shops). I think if you're there at the right time, there's a lot of sea life to find, but at the end of the ebb, it's quite dead. The sea gulls have picked over the shells pretty well, the only crabs were dead ones (or parts of them)--really the gulls and some sea wood was the only life out there for the most part, though if you dug in the sand you'd find some worms and such (the casings make their homes obvious). But we did find a couple good shells (that the gulls hadn't broken) and Anders loved digging in the sand. We thought ahead to bring Anders rubber boots with, but it didn't much matter--he splashed water up past his knees.

We met Beth and Nils up on the promenade and had some cheese and crackers for supper (I think we were the only ones not eating fish and chips). We ran over and to see the First Nations' totems that were donated in honor of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) which we hadn't seen before. We sat to eat about 6pm and there were still a couple of hours of sunlight left. It's nice to be on the western end of a time zone in the spring.

It's a new life. We never thought we'd live within a couple miles of the ocean and an hour of the mountains (we haven't gotten up there yet). We miss the sunsets of Iowa (along with plenty of other things--mainly people), but you can't spend all your time pining over what God has taken you from when there's things He has taken you to. There's maybe some analogy with the tide there--how things are left behind when it goes out, but it eventually comes back in and brings new life in with it. I'm not going to try and sift that one out. It's just good to know God is with you wherever He takes you and that His creation is always amazing--whether its the prairie or the ocean, the forest or the lake.


Differences Pt. 1

Okay, here's the beginning of my list on how life in Canada is different.
  • Metric System: this is an obvious one. But it's not completely metric. The roads are laid out in square miles (so 50 km/h doesn't give great idea of how long it'll take to get 50 blocks away). And some food is packaged in lbs. but some in kgs. Milk still comes in gallons.
  • There's no Aldi (this won't mean much to most of you if you're not part of the Aldi crowd, but we've spent the last 8 years of our life shopping at Aldi for the cheap, pack-it-yourself food that we've grown to enjoy and thrive on the cheap prices of. Especially when dairy products and poultry is so expensive)
  • French Fries go with vinegar (unless you're having poutine in which they come with gravy & cheese and are a meal in itself--truly. We've seen a place in the food court where the combo is some fries that comes with a hot dog. Seriously, the hot dog is the add on).
  • Sports: hockey, curling, rugby and lawn bowling seem to be more prevalent than baseball & basketball.
  • Prime time starts at 8pm. Which is actually quite nice for those of us with young kids.
  • The phone book includes information on what to do in case of earthquake or tidal wave.
  • Politics. The Canadian TV (the prime time comedy sketch shows) seem to be based on the political news of the day, but it seems that no one really cares that much about politics here--at least, not as much as in the States. Frankly, I don't understand the whole system yet, even though I've read Canada for Dummies. I get some of the gist, like the PM, MP and all the different ministries. I know there's a slough of parties--more than just 2 main ones.
  • Money. Well, not money itself, but how everyone pays for everything. It seems its either cash or a bank card--credit cards seem fairly rare. And I'm still not use to using my bank card. The machine you swipe it through says "chq" instead of debit."
  • Oreos. They suck here. There's no other way to say it. And any Nabisco product is under the name "Mr. Christie." It's in the same white triangle in the corner of the package, but it says Christie instead of Nabisco. They seem to make some foods healthier by removing high fructose corn syrup, and most taste good or even better, but they haven't gotten Oreos down.
  • Squirrels. Some are grey, but most are black. I've spent most of my life with the brownish-red ones and some with grey ones, but black squirrels are new--kind of scary actually.

Evening activities

Tonight while I was getting the grill ready for supper, Anders decided to go for a little trike ride on the basketball court behind our house. I thought I'd get in the trees in blossom since you've already seen Anders on his tricycle. You can still pick him out--he's the little kid in the safety gear on the trike, not the older oriental kids playing basketball. I also turned around to get a picture of our house from where I was taking the picture. The big window behind the grill is our dining room (not really a "room" but it's the area the table is in). The other big window that juts out is where the "living room" is. Right above that is the boys' room. The little window on the side (that is right next to the neighbour's little window) is the guest room. So if you visit, that's where you'll be--and you know the view from the room now, too.


Popcorn Poppers and Little Suckers

Yesterday for a snack Anders wanted popcorn. Again. He had some after church while they were waiting for me to get done with a meeting. After his rest time he wanted it for a snack. "The church popcorn." Which was all gone. So he helped me pop some. Once it started popping he just started laughing and telling how silly it was.

Nils is our little sucker. We really don't think he's teething yet, but he likes to put everything he can in his mouth. My nose and Beth's chin are his favorites. He had a Well-Baby check-up at the clinic today with a couple immunization shots. He's right around 13 pounds (apparently its just produce, meat and cheese that's weighed in kg--human measurements usually seem to be in pounds and feet). But he's getting bigger--I've noticed putting on his diapers that they don't fasten in the same places anymore.

And that's our Olive-Finger Monster.


Tell Me the Old, Old Story

Lately, Anders has really been into Bible stories. We've been reading them quite frequently. He's put aside the Muppet Show for Veggie Tales. Through the course of a day, he'll occasionally start singing "Zaccheus was a wee little man"--and we'll keep repeating the sycamore tree line over and over once we get there. He also has a version of Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho that he'll sing as we walk along. We're also playing Bible stories--mainly David and Goliath. I'm usually Goliath and have to say "Who will fight me?" like the giant pickle does in the Veggie Tales version. The Old Testament stories we seem to share with children are often violent ones. It's hard to avoid your child picking up on those things--not that we're trying to make him a complete pacifist, but he really has no need to know what a gun is. In fact, until recently I don't think Anders even knew the word "gun." He just referred to it as a byue-byue (based upon the sound he makes for it). But there are good morals in those stories and he's learning.

The other day he was reading a lift the flap Bible story book that FarFar & FarMor had given him and had to get the DVD case of Josh & the Big Wall to compare to the Jericho (or Jerica as he says) story in the book, because they were the same. It's encouraging to have him take interest in them and see how he gets them and picks up on them when he hears one in church or Sunday school. It is a wonderful blessing to discover faith through a child's eyes.


He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

We had a very nice Easter. It rained through the night, but had stopped by the time we woke up and stayed clear the rest of the day. We had a very nice worship service this morning--until there was an odd disturbance after it ended. We don't even know what it was really about yet, so I won't go into any details now.

We had some people from church over for dinner after church--some of the people near us who have become surrogate grandparents for the boys. Some of them don't have kids/grandkids, so I think it's been nice for them as well.

The ladies are Connie, Cathie and Sue. And that's Connie's husband, John. We're used to being with family on Easter; it was good to have some new friends over to keep us company.

Oh, and here's one of Anders searching for his Easter basket this morning:

That's Chewbacca Tommy he's holding. Tommy was a gift from Cathie (in the picture above) a week or so ago. Anders added the Chewbacca name himself. Notice the glasses hooked on the shirt collar. Very stylish toddler.

And here's one of Nils, just cause I know you want one. Standing has become one of his favorite positions. He's getting anxious to be mobile.

Anders meets the Bears

The Berenstain Bears were visiting the bookstore in the mall down the street yesterday (well, just Brother & Sister Bear), so we took Anders down to meet them.

He was friendly to them at first, but after a while they began to freak him out. Nils, however, enjoyed their fuzzy fur--it was almost difficult to get him unattached.


Monkey Puzzle Tree

Here's one more picture a the Monkey Puzzle Tree that we walked by on our way back from the park this morning. You can see the trunk a little better. That's all. I just like the tree.

New Life

I'm not sure what today is called on the Christian calendar. We've just gone through the dark days of Maunday Thursday and Good Friday with services at church (though they were some of the warmest, sunniest days this week here--we started the week with snow and 0º C and are now at sunshine and 20º C temps--that'd be about 32 to above 70º F). I know I've heard of a special name for today--something like Silent Saturday or Dark Saturday--but it escapes me as to what it is. It's been harder to focus on the suffering and darkness of Holy Week this year. I guess I'm looking ahead to Easter too much. I think the weather effects that. If it's dark and gloomy out, it's easier to focus on the suffering--but much harder if there's sunshine and warm weather.

And Easter is all about New Life. I'm a product of that. At Springtime, it becomes so much easier to see that when it's all around you. Here's some pictures of the new life around us. May they let you focus on the New Life that Jesus gives as well.

Egg Hunt

This morning I went into church as soon as I could and came back about an hour later so Beth could go to softball practice with the church team (first day of practice). Anders and I walked down to a park a few blocks away during that time to go to an Easter Egg Hunt that the Salvation Army was putting on. It seemed like quite the swarm of children when they said "Go." It was a nice community outreach event. They passed out info for their children's programs as well as a card that shared the story of the Easter Egg.

Anxiously awaiting for the hunt to begin.
And he's off!
I think he's got one! (They're the little shiny-wrapped chocolate eggs so they don't show up well in the picture)

A satisfied egg-gatherer (for the most part), complete with cheezy "I'm-smiling-for-everyone-back-home" grin


April Showers Bring . . . Snow!?

We awoke this morning to discover this outside:

It continued lightly falling for a few hours. I'm guessing that by 10am there was about 2 inches/5cm on top of the grill. A lady from church called to tell Beth that this isn't normal (we've been hearing that about all the weather since we've moved here, it seems). Indeed, the meteorologist said that there's never been snow on April 2 before in the Greater Vancouver Area. By lunch time it was starting to melt, so Anders and I decided to take advantage of the nice spring snow:

Our Snowman creation

Anders' snow angel
Tubing down the hill behind our house (we didn't have any sleds with--heck, we had to dig through the winter Rubbermaid tub to find stuff to wear--so we used the Spiderman water ring; it worked well).

The ducks didn't seem to mind too much.
Yes, those are dandelions poking through the snow. If we had wandered further we could have gotten pictures with daffodils, magnolia or cherry blossoms in the snow.