After supper (well, after we got Anders to try some of his food), we went out for a quick play in it. Anders did some sledding down the small rise behind our house in a make-sift sled (Rubbermaid tote). Nils came and joined us for his first romp in snow--he wasn't sure what to think. He did a ride with Anders in the "sled." We're taking advantage of it while we can--most likely it will be gone by mid-day tomorrow.
I love nice, gentle snowfalls with big flakes--especially at this time of year as we enter the Advent Season. I know that it was probably spring when Jesus was born and not winter (the shepherds were probably out during lambing season); but after growing up in the Midwest, snow helps make it feel like Christmas (I'd have a terrible time living in the South).
But snow, as Isaiah says, reminds us of how white Jesus will cleanse our dirty rag of a soul from sin. And a gentle snowfall is a fitting reminder of how God chose to enter the world--quietly, unobtrusively as a newborn baby, out of the way in a feed trough. And for some reason, the snowfall makes everything feel peaceful--which is why Jesus came: to bring peace back to a fallen, chaotic world.
For the record, the last few days have been around 6 degrees Celsius/Centigrade (that's about 43 Fahrenheit). We have had to scrape frost off the windshield a couple mornings. Last year this time (on Christ the King Sunday), the church had to cancel because of snow. So, we'll see what the winter brings. We're good either way.
My family & Beth's family have always done wonderful meals at Thanksgiving. So, if any of you read this please don't take offence when I say that this was one of the best meals we've had--it was all spot on for my palate. It was a blessing, too, to be a part of their family as they went around the table sharing what we're thankful for (which we just touched the tip of the iceberg on that, or course).
Beth and I both worked today, so it doesn't seem like the Thanksgiving we're used to (of course it's not--especially since Canada celebrates in October). It's one of the first big holidays that we've been away from family for (Christmas is going to be hard to be away as well, of course). And not that anyone can replace our families or become substitutes for them, but we're becoming surrounded by family here, too. Jesus said that it's not our biological family that we'll have the deepest, most meaningful relationships with, but our brothers and sisters in Christ (those with whom we become part of the family of God with when we acknowledge Him as our Father and become His children by following Him). Of course it's a bigger blessing when our biological family is included in our spiritual family, but God does put us in relationships no matter where He takes us--indeed, God is a God of relationships (He longs to bring us into relationship with Him & with others; God Himself exists in relationship in the Trinity). So I'm thankful for all the people God has brought and is bringing into my life. And He is good. All the time.
- Watching Nils walk--especially when he's scuttling toward me with a gleeful expression, rushing to give me a hug
- Listening to Anders sing praise songs
- The soft warmth of my wife's skin
- The dark, damp smell of the forest
- Clear, cloudless nights full of shimmering stars
- Discovering ocean life with the boys
- Watching Nils "dance" to music
- Listening to Anders use his imagination when playing with his Star Wars figures
- Those deep, meaningful conversations when the Spirit connects you with someone
- The beauty of a majestic, snow-capped mountain peaks
- Cuddling with my family
- Moments with Jesus
So, for my grandfathers (and the many others both now and throughout history) who both served their countries to secure the freedoms we have and secure the liberties of others who were under oppression, I pause to give them honour and to pray for peace in a world that does not need any more destruction brought about in it.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Coincidentally (if you believe there are coincidences), today is also the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. There are more martyrs in today than at any other point in history.
Let we forget.
The picture is of him opening his first present at breakfast this morning (Star Wars figures--Beth bought them, not me; she thought it might be good if he had some things that Anders has so they can play together and learn to share). That's all for now. It's late. I'm tired and I have to be ready for church in the morning. So stay tuned for pictures of the party. Good night. (Sleep well, Nils. I love you, son. May God continue to keep you safe as you grow, and may you discover His great love for you.)
I met him today. I only first saw the truck last night (though, apparently he had been there since Monday night). He had run out of propane, so he couldn't cook his food (and I presume it was his heat at night as well). He came to ask for money to get some more propane. I got his story in the process. He was let go from the job he had at the government liquor store a while ago. He's hoping to get a job at the nursery by church when the poinsettias start coming in in a couple weeks. It's just him and his dog, down on their luck.
Of course, the fact he had worked at a liquor store put up a red flag--but it still seemed like I should help him. I'm never sure how to deal with the homeless or others who need help. Of course, I want to help them, but I'm never sure whether I should give that person with the sign on the street corner some money or not. I'm not sure whether I can trust them to actually use the money for food or whatever they say they need. I want to make sure they're good stewards with my money.
Of course, it's not my money, is it? And I'm not commanded to make sure they're good stewards. I'm told to help those in need (without much evaluation as far as I can tell). Sure, discernment is needed--which is why my dependence upon the Holy Spirit is critical.
I did end up giving him $20 (US--which won't go as far here now, but it'll buy a tank of propane; it was all I had, too). I probably should have gone with and paid for the propane so I could make sure that's what the money went for. But I felt it was the right thing to do. It was hard to say no to him, after we've been out of work and people took care of us. And I connected him with a guy from our church for a few days of work. And I prayed for him--which is the best place to start, I think. Actually, I think talking to him was the best place to start. It's good to put a face on homelessness.
The American side of the Arch is inscribed with the words "Children of a Common Mother;" the Canadian side, with the words "Brethren Dwelling together in Unity." Within the portal of the Arch on the west side are the words "1814 Open One Hundred Years 1914" and on the east side, "May These Gates Never Be Closed."
I had invited people to bring pictures of people who were now with God. During communion, I placed the bread and the cup at tables where they were surrounded by the pictures; the people were invited to partake of the Lord's Supper in the communion of the saints. During the message I invited people to share stories of how people from their cloud of witnesses helped them fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). I started with sharing about my grandfather, Paul Wenell, and how he taught me to work hard, love life (he was a joker) and make time for family and faith. He would always read the nativity story to us at Christmas before passing out presents (reminding us of what the greatest gift we could receive is). He went through a painful battle with cancer without fear because he knew that his true home was in Heaven.
Even now, though All Saints Day is past, take time to remember people in your cloud of witnesses and how they have helped you fix your eyes on Jesus. And let it inspire you to be a witness yourself, leaving a lasting legacy in the faith.
Yesterday afternoon in the few hours between me coming home from church and going back for stuff in the evening, we took a quick drive over to Blackie Spit for some wildlife viewing and kite flying. There was a nice breeze that made it super easy to get the kite up. (Under his cold-weather-gear, Anders is wearing his Spiderman play costume and frog boots)
We then did a quick drive to Crescent Beach on the opposite side of the peninsula for some ocean fun. Nils loved being in the water. He would have gone for a swim if we would have let him. I think it's mostly the joy of stomping and splashing.
In other big news, Nils is walking. Sort of. Last night, Beth and I sent him back and forth between us for a while. He was doing 6 steps on his own. He hasn't really done too much else without a little encouragement from us, but he's almost there. You can watch a video of him in action on Beth's blog (click the link on the right).