Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: grandchildren

The born loser

Monday evening, in preparation for the following day, I placed on our dining room table an envelope containing a bill payment on behalf of one bookkeeping client and a cheque that I received from another client. They were exactly the same size and the thought crossed my mind that I might just pick up the two of them together and drop them in the mail slot at the Post Office. “That’s ridiculous,” I thought,. “I’m not that careless.”

We left early the next morning, stopping at our children’s home to pick up our granddaughters. I stopped at the Post Office in the next town, dropped the envelope in the mail slot and then drove to a branch of our bank. I reached for the cheque to deposit it — it wasn’t there. I looked on the floor of the car — it wasn’t there either. Okay. Maybe I am that careless.

We had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us and cousins of my wife were expecting us at our destination, so we motored on. After we got to our destination and met the cousins, I stepped outside to use my cell phone and called the post office where I mailed the envelope. The lady who answered laughed when I asked if by any chance a cheque had shown up in their mail bin. “Yes, it’s right here, waiting for you to come and pick it up.”

I was more relaxed now and enjoyed the rest of the day. The three ladies, that includes my wife, went fabric shopping; we visited a museum and a library and had a couple of meals along the way before returning home close to bedtime.

This morning I went back to the post office feeling sheepish and retrieved my cheque and immediately deposited it in the bank where there is no more danger of losing it.

Yesterday taught me three things, or better said, reinforced three things I already knew:

Our granddaughters are growing up. They are 15 and almost 13 and quite mature. There was a little commotion in the back seat for a few moments while we were driving home, but nothing Grandpa and Grandma needed to check up on or involve ourselves in.

Canada Post employs some pretty friendly and helpful people. Even if one of them did find my predicament humorous, she  did her best to console me that I’m not the only one who has ever done something like that.

And, I am just as capable of losing things as anyone else, and not nearly as careful as I would like to think I am.

Reflections on turning 75

I remember the exact moment when I realized I was edging into the senior ranks. It was in 1992 and I was explaining to a younger friend how things had been when I was a boy. All of a sudden there was a little voice in my head saying, “Wait a minute! What’s going on here? It used to be that only old people talked like that.”

Twenty-five years have gone by since then; there’s no use trying to deny it any longer — I am officially an old codger. Today I am 75. And I am not 75 years young — I am not going to play that game. According to Moses, “ The days of our years are threescore years and ten.” By that reckoning I am five years past my best before date.

I have accumulated a ton of stories and anecdotes and some of them are even interesting to my grandchildren. My hope is that they will remember some of those stories in later years and realize that there are life lessons to be learned from the experiences told by the older folks. Lessons like the following:

The good old days weren’t always that great.
• Does anyone today remember tuberculosis and polio? There were epidemics of those diseases, and many others, when I was young.
• Does anyone remember dust storms that reduced visibility to zero and seeped into the best sealed houses? When I was a boy, most farmers had one piece of tillage equipment, a one-way disc harrow. They used it for seeding and for summerfallowing. The soil dried to a powder that would travel with any breeze. Today’s tillage equipment and farming methods conserve soil moisture and nutrients, making possible crop yields that were unthinkable years ago.
• Volunteer fire departments in small towns did their best, but they were untrained and under equipped. A grocery store in our town caught fire, someone rang the bell on the town hall and soon the volunteers were on the scene with the town’s fire equipment. In their rush to fight the blaze, they got the fire hoses tangled up. By the time they got them untangled it was too late.

New doesn’t always mean better
• Teachers are better trained, schools are bigger and better equipped, the curriculum is constantly being upgraded. Illiteracy rates have exploded, store clerks haven’t a clue how to make change if the computerized till breaks down, and people don’t know what country Ottawa is in.
• Thalidomide was used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. Thousands of babies were born with missing or malformed arms and legs. Thousands more did not survive. Seldane was a marvellous new non-drowsy antihistamine. It caused me to have heart palpitations, a few people died — it is no longer available. My wife was prescribed Vioxx to treat her arthritis. She had heart palpitations while taking the drug; it also is no longer available.
• Time was when most people went to church on Sunday. The Word of God was read, moral principles and respect for others were taught. Of course there were a lot of half-hearted Christians and outright hypocrites in the churches. But has abandoning the churches made our world a better place?

Weather changes
• There is no such thing as normal weather, at least not where I live. When I was five there was a blizzard that closed roads for days and almost buried a passenger train — the town people carried food out to the train until it could be dug out. In the early fifties southern Saskatchewan had summer temperatures up to 105° F and winter temperatures down to -50° F . I don’t believe we have ever experienced those extremes in following years.
• Saskatchewan is more familiar with drought, but in the past five or six years we have had a series of summers with much higher than average rainfall.
• Forty years ago there was a suspicion that the Soviets were using nuclear tests to manipulate our weather and cause unusual storms. There were serious scientific attempts to explain how this could be done. Years of living here have convinced me that every year brings something we haven’t seen before and yet it is all part of the normal weather cycle. There is no need to look for a human cause.

There were frequent nuclear bomb tests in the late fifties when I was in high school. The media kept us informed when the cloud of radioactive dust would pass over our area. One morning Jack Dosko came to school and reported: “ The nuclear fallout passed right above us in the night and this morning I saw little pock marks all over the windshield of Charles Kennedy’s pickup. I wonder what else we will find.” Sixty years have passed and I still see windshields like that. I think it has something to do with our gravel roads.

Let’s not get too excited when we hear scare stories. This too shall pass.

Marriage – is it still a good idea?

Time was when almost all young people saw marriage in their future, and expected that marriage to be a lifelong arrangement. Times have changed — most young people today are wary of committing to a long term arrangement. Some may long for a more stable relationship than the one they are now in, but doubt that they can find a partner with the same longing. And then there are those who do not want any kind of arrangement with someone of the opposite sex.

Pat of the reason for the change is that a large portion of the young people growing up today are not acquainted with anyone who is in a stable and happy marriage relationship. They don’t even know that such a thing is possible.

My wife once worked with a young lady whose marriage had fallen apart. When she married two years earlier she had meant every word of the vows she made and looked forward to that ceremony being a stepping stone into a blissful future. The young man may have made promises, but at the dance after the reception he disappeared for awhile with another young lady. On his wedding night! Evidently the promises meant nothing to him. Can you even call that a marriage? That may be an extreme example, but it reveals an all too common attitude among many who go through a marriage ceremony. Is it any wonder that young ladies are wary of young men making promises?

But what are the alternatives? A young lady from a good home moves in with a decent, considerate young man. Both expect this to be a long term arrangement. All goes well until the young lady announces that a baby is on the way. The young man is just not ready for that level of responsibility and he disappears. Commitment and responsibility do not seem to be part of the vocabulary of a large part of today’s society.

Making a marriage work is not easy.  Marriage infringes on our freedom; we can’t both do everything we want, the way we want. Some of the things that once seemed important to me are simply not compatible with this new reality of couplehood (not really a word, but it says what I want to say).

If we enter into marrige thinking only of the short term benefits, it won’t take long until it looks like there may be more benefits on the other side of the fence. It’s not fashionable today to think of the long term, but we’re all going to get old and then we might begin to realize that we have missed something. My wife and I will celebrate our 44th anniversary in two days. We have lived through many trying times that could have torn us apart, but now the victories won in those struggles bind us together.

We are fortunate to have united with a body of Christian believers with a strong belief in the sanctity of marriage. A few marriage breakdowns do occur in this church, there are a few homes that could be labelled dysfunctional. But the success rate of marriages among our brothers and sisters in this church is astoundingly better than in the society around us. There is strength to be found in such a setting where the principles of a happy home are consistlently taught and lived.

It may happen that someone witnesses the happiness of our homes and joins the church, hoping to find this same happiness. Hoping and wishing aren’t enough. The adjustments are often painful. The former self-centred and shortsighted priorities have to be abandoned and replaced by new priorities, seeking the happiness of another person rather than my own and keeping my eyes on the long-term goal.

As the years go by, I am more and more certain that marriage is still the best arrangement for the happiness of mankind and womankind. After all, it was instituted by our Creator, who lnows better than we do where to find true happiness. When the children have grown up and married and are now trying to teach their children the things that we hardly knew how to teach them, the picture looks sweeter and sweeter,

Thanksgiving meditations

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.  Members of our congregation  will be gathering at church this evening for a big Thanksgiving meal, joined by relatives of some members who have come from a distance, and some of our neighbours.  There will be lots of visiting and a time for singing and testimonies after the meal.

What do we have to be thankful for?  Last Saturday my wife and I drove to a town 300 km south of here to take part in the celebration of the 60th wedding anniversary of one of my cousins and his wife.  Their children got together in thankfulness to plan an informal gathering to honour them, and many friends, neighbours and relatives came to offer their congratulations.  Homes such as this are the building blocks of a stable community.  What does the instability of so many homes today mean for the future of our society?

On the way home, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s in Moose Jaw where Chris’s sister Rose and her husband Butch joined us for an hour long visit.  These two ladies are the only members of a family of six who are still married to their original spouses.  I suppose Butch and I could take a little bit of credit for that, but not much.

Chris was 17 when we got married.  Rose was 15 when she and Butch were married.  An unbiased onlooker at that time  probably would not have thought of Butch and I as promising material for a long-lasting relationship.  Nevertheless, here we are, forty some years later, still happily married and enjoying watching our grandchildren grow up.  Much of the credit for this must go to our wives, but how did they catch something that their other four siblings still do not seem to understand?

Perhaps it was a determination to have a better home than their parents provided for them.  Yet it is one thing to see clearly the mistakes made by our parents and want to avoid them and quite another to avoid reacting the same way our parents did when in the heat of the conflicting emotions that come in real life.  This requires a deep-seated conviction in the heart.  There has to be a commitment and a vision that an intact home is more important than my feelings of the moment.

The prevailing wisdom of our time is to follow wherever our feelings will lead us.  True happiness, we are told, is only to be found in satisfying all the desires of our heart.  Of course, it usually does not work out very well, but there is always the hope that the next time things will be better.  Meanwhile, young people are growing up who have never known a stable home.  The very idea of marriage seems an unnecessary risk, since they have never seen a stable and happily married couple.

As Christians we can stand back and criticize the wickedness of our world.  It is right and good to expose the flaws in the prevailing beliefs in our society.  However, what does that do to help those who are caught in the midst of the morass of modern thinking about morality and do not even know there might be a way out?

If we are going to rescue anyone from this morass, we need to start where they are without criticizing them for not doing what they did not know it was possible to do.  We need to teach the family values given by the Word of God, not as a list of rules and regulations, but as the way that will lead to true and durable happiness.  Our own homes need to be examples of mutual forbearance and forgiveness.  If we appear to be claiming to have model homes where there is never a hint of disagreement or strife, others will shake their heads at our hypocrisy and turn away, seeing no hope of a better way for themselves in our example.  However, if we can testify of the grace of God in leading us to humble ourselves and seek reconciliation with our partners when things have gone awry, a light of hope might begin to dawn in their hearts.  Our society will continue to unravel unless the young people growing up today get a glimpse of the better way shown by God’s Word.

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