First Snowfall

We had our first snowfall of the season tonight. I discovered it as I was calling the family to the supper table (it was raining earlier, so I thought we may get a little ice overnight, but I wasn't expecting snow this early). As of the posting (it's probably been snowing for almost an hour and a half), we've got about an inch or so (2.5 cm).

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.



Don't worry--they're not of me. The boys were having a good time in the bubbles (mostly).

Our Backyard in November

So I took this picture today. Honest, I did. There's a few more blooms in progress, too. Mind you, it's a mum, which is a hardier, cold weather plant (our coleus has succumbed to the frost). But I'm still in awe that it's almost December and we have flowers in bloom outside.

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.


Thanksgiving Dinner II

We had our second Thanksgiving Dinner tonight (well, third if you count the Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner back in October). It's a couple who are both in their second marriage; he's originally from America. She was born in Germany to Ukrainian-Polish parents, but grew up in BC. One of her daughters is married to a guy from the Dominican Republic. We were quite the group.

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.


Happy Thanksgiving, America

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family in America (sorry we're not there to break in your new house, April & Wilder). Some friends from church had us over tonight for a Thanksgiving meal & another family is having us over tomorrow (no, there's no holiday here in Canada--we had our Thanksgiving in October). We miss you all and are extremely grateful for your friendships (and prayers!). Blessings to you as you reflect on all God has given you. May your list of things you're thankful for be unending (and your praise as well).


Things I Cherish (the short list)

  • 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


Monkey Walk

I tried to get some pictures of Nils walking this morning. The problem was he was too quick for the flash--he would get to me (and not be in focus--or fit in the lens anymore) before the flash would go off. He's still keeping his arms up in the air--the pictures don't do justice; he really looks like a monkey--especially with the wider leg stance because of the diaper between his legs. You may be able to spot some of his bumps, bruises and scars on his face from walking tumbles. He also really loves his brother and will try to be with him as much as possible,mimicking as much as possible (we're encouraging him not to pick up tantrums and such).



In Canada, we're celebrating Remembrance Day today (akin to the US's Veteran's Day, of course). I think it is mostly an overlooked holiday in the US--just a day off from school and the banks are closed. It seems to be a little more meaningful here. Poppies were around in the States, but here they're almost ubiquitous right now. And they started coming out in full force three weeks ago. The Canadians have a special pride over their part in the World Wars--which I think is largely overlooked. So poppies are on everyone's lapel. The symbol of the poppy on Remembrance/Veteran's Day comes from a poem entitled In Flanders Fields that a Canadian named John McCrae wrote while fighting in Belgium amidst a field of poppies (it's printed on the $10 bill in Canada):

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.

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.

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.

More Birthday Pictures: The Party

Gordon and Frances and Cherie (all from church) came over to celebrate Nils' birthday last night. Of course, Nils was spoiled more than he needed to be.
The adults enjoyed playing with the toys as much as the kids (maybe more so).
For some reason, Anders got some "big brother" presents, too. The ribbon was actually one of his favourite parts of the evening.
Beth made Nils a bang-up Curious George cake (a pumpkin cake with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting). You can tell he was thrilled. She actually made individual ones from cupcakes for him and Anders. Mmmm. That's good monkey.


Happy Birthday Nils

Nils turned one today. It's been a long journey over the past year. He was just over 2 months old when we first flew out to BC to candidate. As frustrating as he can be when I'm trying to put him to bed or when he's awake in the middle of the night, he's a lot of joy. Especially right now. He's venturing out, taking steps when he wants to (usually to one of us or to stairs that he wants to climb or something else he's very interested in). He's making a lot of different noises (some sound like he's on the verge of talking; he also likes to vibrate his lips). He's developing his personality. He sometimes just runs to me and starts laughing--he's full of laughter.

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.)


Without a Home

There's a homeless man in the parking lot at our church. Well, kind of homeless. He does have a camper on the back of his pickup truck that he's living in.

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.


Boundary Markers

The Peace Arch on the border between Surrey, BC, and Blaine, WA.
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."

Taken from our car, driving back into Canada yesterday.

For All the Saints

November 1 was All Saints Day (aka All Hallows Day); we celebrated it in church this past Sunday. Pastor Bruce was away, so I was in charge of the service. I had been to an All Saints service in seminary, but that was the only one I've been to--and I definitely hadn't led a service before. Yet, I felt it was important to do (as we go through the church lectionary and the church calendar).

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.


Flying High & Walking Short

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).