Yearly Archives: 2014

Frenzical Freezing Fire

Have you ever gotten to bed after midnight only to wake up about four or five hours later with the lights flickering, flashing light in the room, a crackling sound, the smoke detector beeping, and soon to hear the cry of “Fire! Fire!”? That’s about what happened to me Tuesday night…

I got to bed late Tuesday night due to an encouraging conversation with one of my siblings, so I was quite sleepy and was sound asleep in seconds. I had set my alarm early so I could shovel out the driveway if necessary, as they were calling for snow and freezing rain.

As I related in the first paragraph, I woke up – not to my alarm (I had long ago slept through that) – but to the smoke detector at 6:30. My initial reaction was to think that we must be having a power cut, because that smoke detector is connected to the wall power and beeps whenever the power turns on or off. But in the few seconds it took me to wake up a little more, I realised that it was making one long solid beep. Furthermore, the light in the hall was flickering, and a strange yellowish flashing light was filling the room, along with a strange crackling sound.

Suddenly Jonathan rolled over and sat bolt upright in his bed. That’s unusual for him – usually he sleeps soundly and wakes up slowly. At this point my still three-quarters asleep brain began to register that something might be seriously wrong. When my brother suddenly jumped out of bed and dashed out of the room, I followed suite, noticing a little more clearly the flashing light in our second-story bedroom. Glancing out the window in another room, Jonathan said urgently, “There’s a fire out there!”

Soon the cries of “Fire!” had just about everyone awake in the house. At this point, the power had cut, and the rush down the stairs soon had me about half awake. Standing out on the balcony, we could see the fire.

In order to appreciate what happened next, I have to tell you what was actually going on. What had actually happened was that due to excessive amounts of snow and ice, a tree had fallen on the power line going to our house and the neighbours’, putting enough pressure on the line to break its joint on the main line, but not enough to totally separate them. The result was that the electricity was jumping the gap between the wires, creating an unforgetable light show.

Someone (I don’t know who) said to call 911. Having only been awake for some 45 seconds, Yours Truly was none too genius, and said, “Don’t call too fast – it might just be fireworks!” I guess I was somewhat justified in that only few weeks ago the police got called on our neighbours for possible domestic violence because they set off a couple firecrackers early in the morning.

Still, setting off fireworks in the ditch between the road and a patch of forest under the powerline would warrant an investigation in and of itself, and, fortunately, my advice was not followed. Sadly, the sparking stopped too fast for me to be able to get any pictures. Happily, the sparking didn’t start a fire anywhere else.

The firemen arrived within 10 minutes, and in view of the fact that Sherbrooke Hydro trucks were so badly tied up they had to call in workmen from an hour away, Hydro Quebec arrived surprisingly quickly. By shortly after noon, they had our power up and running.


As I made my way about my electro-free morning, I realised that I sometimes get power outages in my spiritual life. When I fail to be connected to my source of energy and joy – Christ – it is certain that when conflicts arise, and struggles come, I will not have the strength and power to meet them head on.

Just as a house without power is unable to function normally, I am unable to function as God desires if I am not looking to Him for my strength and joy. One of my favourite hymns reads,

“Oh soul are you weary and troubled – no light in the darknes you see? There’s light for a look at the Saviour, and life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Autumn gone by

As Stephen mentioned in the last post, we already have snow on the ground here in Quebec and we’re expecting more! I’m sure there are some who would rather winter had held off a little longer, but I am one of those who is happily bidding farewell to fall and welcoming our snowy season. It is not that I don’t like autumn – far from it! But I do love winter too! (My favourite season changes as fast as the seasons change. 🙂 ) The freezing ground is certainly simplifying taking care of the cows outdoors and keeping those animals significantly less muddy.

The autumn season was a busy one. Most of the activity has been around home, however. Bringing in the garden, canning and freezing fresh produce, raking fall leaves, butchering the final batch of chickens, getting the turkeys in the freezer, (we broke our record with a 42 pound bird!) preparing for and buying laying hens, getting ready for butchering our 20 month-old steer, beginning on Christmas projects, practising Christmas music, all that while keeping up weekly Sunday meetings, monthly men’s meetings and monthly Sunday afternoon services at the nursing home.

Yet, despite all the busyness, there were still opportunities to take pleasant excursions. In September, Daddy and Mommy took short trip in the White Mountains together.

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The end of the same month, most of us went out for an afternoon with our cameras to catch some colourful photos. Jonathan’s made use of his new polarizing filter to catch a starburst on the sun!

But now, fall is behind us and snowflakes in the air put us in the mood for baking Christmas cookies. Already some are in our accessory freezer also known as coolers on the balcony. 🙂 The squirrel, however, must content himself with the remains of summer’s sunflowers.


We look forward to celebrating the birth of our Saviour and are hoping for a nice, snowy Christmas!

Sliding Civics and Accent Accidents

What good weather for accidents it is! We finally have our first few inches of snow: and what with fairly warm temperatures and freezing rain this afternoon, the roads have become skating rinks for automobiles. And to make things worse, it’s the first real snow in the year, so many drivers haven’t yet switched to winter tires – which increases the danger of driving on the already slippery roads.

Shortly after lunch, we saw signs of an accident on the other side of the street. After investigation, we determined that the driver was uninjured and awaiting a towtruck. The towtruck arrived and pulled his Honda Civic out of the ditch without much difficulty. The car was sufficiently undamaged that he was able to drive off – still spinning his tires!

Unfortunately, the sander made his run of our street during this roadside rescue, and had to pass around the rescue operation – which left an unsanded, slippery trap for any other road users. So it was no great surprise when only an hour or so later, a Hyundi Accent landed in the ditch about the same place. This driver too, escaped bodily injury, though they did tow this car away for repairs. No doubt if you live anywhere further up North, you have either seen or heard of an accident due to failure to put snow tires on – or even been involved in one! As I consider these accidents, however, I realise that many people around this world resemble the many drivers who have procrastinated putting on their snow tires. Many people, who have heard the Gospel message, have failed to place their faith and trust in Christ. They say, “Oh, I will get around to it,” and put off considering eternal salvation. But even as they say that, their day comes when their souls are required: thus their entry into the afterlife is summed up in that fateful word – unprepared.

But then there is another class of people on this globe, and that is people who have not heard the blessed Gospel message. These are those, who, as it were, did not know that the snow was coming. Why is this? I believe it is at least in part because Christians across our province, country, continent, and globe have failed to proclaim the truth. We have seriously lacked in our duty of “preach[ing] the gospel to every creature.”

It is high time for Christians to awake and proclaim the truth of God’s Word. It is high time for us to stop being ashamed of the Gospel and to stop setting our affections on things on the earth – to hold fast the Gospel and to love others by telling them about the Saviour who has died for our sins.

Behind the family photo

So where was that photo taken after all? Yes, it was in Canada. If our 4-acres with a few cattle and poultry constitute a small farm, it was taken on a farm. And that it might have been shot in our barn was a good guess. The hay bales certainly give that impression and the lighting does look rather like what one might find in a hay loft. However, when we did our family photo, the outdoor temperature was only slightly above freezing and the barn wouldn’t have been much better – definitely not warm enough for the babies.

We had discussed several different backgrounds for the photo when the suggestion of hay bales came up. Of course the problem with that was the outdoor temperature. But then “someone” made a wild suggestion…


Yes, we really did haul thirty or so hay bales into our living room! And “someone” didn’t get in trouble for creating so much mess. (But I did have to help clean up. 🙂 )

The concept actually came to me during the summer when I wanted to take a picture of our barn for a project. Stacking up a huge pile of hay bales in front of it would have taken a long time and work and furthermore there were already wrapped bales in the way. But the beauty of still photography is that what you think is in the picture does not necessarily have to be what is really there. It all has to do with the angle. When using such tricks, though one has to be careful not to call the resulting photo what it isn’t really.

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(I didn’t ask the cat and calf to pose – they just did it on their own.)

On the whole, I think this has been the most interesting of our family photos!

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

A Family Photo

We’ve been looking forward to taking a new family photo this year. And of course, we wanted to have both babies in the picture! Such a special family photo needed a special setting or background. In the Appalachians would be nice, but hiking with babies could pose a challenge and there might be a lack of smiles by the time we arrived at the “perfect” place. A backdrop of Quebec’s brilliant fall colouring would be beautiful too. But unfortunately, the taking of this photo was delayed until autumn’s brilliance was all but gone and the weather was hardly suitable for a photo session. So in the end we chose to do something a little simpler.

Can anyone guess where this was taken? (Shh… to those who already know.)


Dirty Drains – A Dishwashing Dilemna

After a morning moving wood and ripping a DVD one day last week, I was quite prepared to settle down to a “normal” afternoon of school work. Oh, and some music I had not gotten around to that morning. A more or less relaxing afternoon studying stoichiometry or the negative effects of sociological law sounded appealing, and I would enjoy a quiet afternoon. Or so I thought.

I quietly hummed as I began the normal routine of lunch dishes. As I began rinsing, I suddenly became aware of a problem – the sink wasn’t draining correctly. Nothing daunted, I pulled the plug up higher, hopefully allowing a clearer passage for the water to flow. Nothing happened.

A little puzzled, perhaps, but hardly worried. Must just be the negative pressure generated by having the plug in the other sink. I pulled that plug out. Still nothing happpened. At this point, I began to put my intellect to full use.

“Hmm,” I said, “I think we have a problem.”

Genius, right?

“Hmm,” I said a little louder, “I think we have a serious problem.”

Little did I know how right the word “serious” was.

“What’s that?” asked my mother, who happened to be walking through at the time.

“I think,” I said, rapidly forming the obvious hypothesis, “the drain is blocked.”

At this point Elizabeth walked in, and we were pretty quickly involved in what would become the biggest plumbing repair project in which I have ever been involveed.

Most sink drains have a section of pipe underneath them designed to catch residue that might come down, known in my vocabulary as a P-trap. Thankfully, ours was no exception. The obvious first step : clean out the P-trap.

Removing the P-trap valve resulted in the discovery of several things : Firstly, one place where our problem was not. The moment we opened the P-trap valve, the water poured out very nicely. There was virtually nothing in the P-trap – that is, except a drinking straw.

Unfortunately, this meant that the problem lay further in, and deeper into the unknown, un-navigated heart of the plumbing works’ dark depths. For that, we were convinced, the ideal weapon, er, tool, would be none other than the snake. A snake, as it is known, is a long, flexible, metal coil designed for penetrating deep into drainage pipes.

So out came my father’s 20 foot snake. After navigating with some difficulty the curves of the tube, we successfully determined that the blockage was more than 20 feet down the pipe. This posed a serious problem, because not only we did not have a longer snake, but there are no clean out valves along that pipe to insert the snake into.

After some deliberation, we decided to reconnect the loose ends, pray very hard, and try once more to plunge the sink with the toilet plunger. Um, yes. Sometimes a desire for a clean life is interupted by the painful necessity of using messy tools.

Evelyn, who had joined us at this point, stayed downstairs to listen and see if the water flowed down. Elizabeth went upstairs and began hooking things up. Yours Truly began some clean up, and soon headed upstairs to help with plunging.

After trying a few times, we felt discouraged. It didn’t seem to be working. Finally, I suggested plunging very hard rapidly several times in succession. With little hope of succes, but trusting in the Father of Success, we plunged. And – no, no – or wait – yes, YES!!! It was draining! Praise the Lord!

As I washed the dishes – around 4:00 – I realised that all too often my life becomes like a dirty drain. I settle into the normal routine of life, doing the right thing; cleaning the surface dirt from my life, and dumping it all down the drain.

Sooner or later, however, the troubles begin to build up. Because if I fail to be regularly cleaning my heart out by God’s Word, the filth of pride, envy, covetousness, bitterness, anger, and dishonour begin to build up. And eventually, it begins to cause problems in my surface life.

I wonder how often as Christians, when this happens, we just open the P-trap and fail to allow God to do the painful work of cleansing the depths of our hearts. As I wrote above, sometimes a desire for a clean life is interupted by the painful necessity of using messy tools. I am reminded to ask myself, Am I constantly asking God to search me? To cleanse me? There’s a beautiful hymn that reads,

“Search me, O God, and know my heart today;

Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray.

See if there be some wicked way in me;

Cleanse me from ev’ry sin and set me free.”

May God help us to seek cleansing always and only from Him.

A little reflection

   “Wilt thou go with this man?” ~ Genesis 24:58

   As I read this chapter of Genesis, I again marvelled at Rebekah’s response to this question.  Abraham’s servant, in meeting her the evening before was persuaded that she was the one for his master’s son.  God had made that abundantly clear to him.  Rebekah’s father and brother had given their consent to the union, but requested that she stay with them a while longer before leaving.  When the servant pressed for a speedy departure, however, they called for Rebekah.  If she chose to go, she would probably experience the greatest change in her entire life.  She would leave the security of the house where she had dwelt all her life and the routine, quiet job of tending sheep to live an unpredictable nomad’s life in a tent, never having a piece of land to call “home.”  As a shepherd girl, she had perhaps never experienced the seasickening motion of a camel ride.  The long trek across miles of unknown terrain with no company but the strangers met the evening before would be tiring with no familiar face to greet her at the end of the journey.  The very climate of this far-off place could well differ vastly from what she currently knew.  She would leave behind all that was familiar to her: all her friends, her family, those who thought like her, talked like her, believed like her.  She would leave them behind to go live in a place where she knew no one and where no one but her proposed husband and his aged father believed in the God Who was sending her there.  Yet Rebekah didn’t hesitate.  “I will go.”

   There is so much that she didn’t say.  She had only just met this servant the evening prior and had no proof beyond his own word that he was who he said he was.  She could have cross-questioned him to find out more about him and his master.  She could have asked to know more about Isaac and what he was expecting of her.  She could have refused to go unless Isaac came for her himself.  She could have requested time to think about such a big decision.  She could have demanded that the servant explain how the various obstacles she would face could be overcome.  But she did none of these things.  “I will go.”  It was simple.  God’s will for today was amply clear and she chose to act on the light He had given for the moment.  The unknown future she left in His hands.

   Am I like Rebekah?  When God says, “Will you go?”, do I raise all kinds of objections and refuse to move unless my path be lit further ahead? Or do I say simply and unreservedly, “I will go.”?  When God says, “Will you stay?”, do I argue and explain why my plan for my future is better than His?  Or do I answer in submission, “I will stay.”?

   “Wilt thou go…?”

Another new arrival

Our little cattle herd no sooner shrinks but it grows again. Our two milk-fed calves had only been in the freezer a couple months when we were approached with the exciting possibility of buying yet another calf.  At seventy pounds, Short Ribs is big for a Jersey calf and as full of energy as his adopted older sister.


Did they ever look alike at that age!


Hershey at 1 day old:


Short Ribs at 1 day old:


Evelyn and I both had to admit that one of the biggest differences we see is actually the photography quality. Practising is paying off!

And there are a couple other new barnyard critters…


Snowball and his adopted daughter Tidbit!

Young animals are so much fun!

Precious little ones

Our Sunday afternoons are so much fun with all the little ones around! The R_____ family with their baby and two-year-old are such a wonderful addition to our group.


And of course my own niece and nephew are often around to love! Elizabeth delighted the residents of the GCH when she joined us in August. Thank you Nathanael and Samantha for sharing your photos with us!

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And we finally got a family photo of Nathanel, Samantha and Caleb…



How time flies!

Summer has sped away and autumn is upon us. I wrote at the beginning of July that this summer has not been quite what we expected. This is all the more true now. Toward the end of July, my grandparents were involved in a car accident which, for my grandfather, necessitated a rather lengthy recovery period away from home. My grandmother moved down from Montreal to stay with us during the month it took my grandfather to recover in the Sherbrooke hospital and rehabilitation centre. Though this car accident was far from a desirable situation, it did allow my grandparents to meet their newest great-grandchildren and we all enjoyed the opportunity to interact with our grandparents more and to learn some shorthand from Grandma.

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Though not fully recovered yet, Grandpa is doing much better and he and Grandma were able to return home at the beginning of September. Amy also, is doing much better. The doctors’ best guess at what was going on with her was that she had an ulcer which, left scar tissue blocking her intestine. A series of “ballooning” the scarred over section has widened the intestine such that she can now handle finely chopped solid food – much to the delight of a very-tired-of-a-liquid-diet Amy! And she is finally putting on weight and acting herself again. Praise the Lord!  It will probably take a few more “balloonings” before she’ll be really back to normal, but is a great relief to all that Amy is no longer going downhill.

Despite all the unexpected happenings this summer, we still had opportunity to take a few family outings. Given how far behind I am in updating, I’ll just blitz through the events…

July found most of us taking a Saturday hike up Mt. Ham. It was a pleasant walk and though the view from the top was dimmed by haze, it was very beautiful.

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The following day, my family went down to a picnic and an afternoon of fun activities in New Hampshire.

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Meanwhile, I, who stayed behind to milk the cow, joined Nathanael and Samantha for an afternoon in Orford Park. enjoying and photographing the beautiful scenery… and wildlife! Though frogs are not my prefered photo subject, it was interesting to catch the reflection of the lake in its eye.


The end of the same month took most of my family on yet another hike – this time Mt. Moosilauke in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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Sunday fellowship times are such a joy as we get to know each other better, encourage one another in the Lord and witness spiritual growth. Recently we had the wonderful opportunity to join together as a brother took a public stand for the Lord through the waters of baptism. It was certainly a unique baptism – the water being a stream the family had dammed up to created a pool. The cold muddy water didn’t shake J’s determination to be baptised! How beautiful to see a young man publicly committing to the Lord.

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And finally, a few random photos of other events and activities…



Well, that about covers our summer… Or does it? What about all the little ones whose presence we are so enjoying? But I think they deserve a separate post…