Author Archives: Stephen

Wedding Live Stream

I appologize for the delay; somehow I must have gotten busy! For now I’m just posting one angle of the ceremony, as there is the possible potentiality that someone might perhaps maybe be considering working on compiling all the angles into one clean video… 🙂

Hmm… Something just struck me: if a picture is worth a thousand words, then at 60fps X 60 seconds per minute X 90 minutes… I should become a videographer!

MiEl Wedding Day!

Codename MiEl was underway. In case it hasn’t yet been mentioned elsewhere, this codename has been in general circulation since David F pointed out that taking the first two letters of Michael & Elizabeth’s names gives you the French word for honey (miel).

We started the day even earlier than the day of the rehearsal. The first van load was on route at 7:00 7:10 7:17, with most of the guys aboard. It dawned a beautiful, sunny day, perfect for spirits and photos alike!

Since I wasn’t there, I’m not too clear on what was happening at home, though looking at my mother’s camera gave me a few thousand words-worth about that subject. In any case, if events were following their normal course, chances are that the ladies were a good deal more busy than we were… and that’s saying something!

For some reason (whose purport will be left to the fancy of the reader’s conjectures), I did not take any photos during this period of time. We had some last minute technological setup to do, and after placing the cameras for the live stream, Jonathan checked to ensure that everything was running smoothly. To our utter consternation, the website on which the live stream was to have been hosted was returning a 503. For security purposes, port 22 is not open outside that LAN, meaning that SSH tunneling was utterly impossible at our location.

In short: It wasn’t working.

Elizabeth was one of the only ones left at home at this point, so we called her up and had a good old-fashioned heart to heart talk; Jonathan and I rattling off commands, passwords, and code snippets, she returning output. The funniest part about it (in after sight only!) was probably that while James was taking the groomsmen shots, my phone was inside Jonathan’s suit on speakerphone, and in between smiles and changing positions, he kept on saying what command to type next.

In the end, it was Robert Staddon who resolved the issue, offering to host it on their family blog. Since we were streaming through RTMP to YouTube, this was a matter of minutes to implement. An emergency e-mail was sent out to those who had considered watching the livestream directing them to the new location, and everything went forward.

The ceremony proceeded smoothly, including a time of blessing from both sets of parents, and, as you may have noticed in the post on the rehearsal, they also did the lighting of candles, symbolizing how their old lives have now been united into one inseparable flame. For obvious reasons, I again failed to take pictures, but thankfully, my mother got a few during the ceremony!

The ceremony was hosted at the retirement home where we frequently minister, and one of the blessings was that many of the residents and staff who would have been unable to attend otherwise were easily able to come to the wedding!

Directly after the ceremony, we had another photo session, which was then followed by the marriage supper lunch.

It so happened that the first time that Michael met our family was at the New Hampshire FEW (mentioned very briefly in this post). At that point it was Sincerely Yours who introduced himself to Micheal, having heard that he was knowledgeable in American history and politics. One memory is firmly fixed in both of our memories – sitting on the couch at the S family’s place talking about the American Constitution.

In keeping with these momentous beginnings, after lunch, Michael delivered a wonderful revamp of selected sections of the Constitution which apply to the establishment of a new family.

Obviously, the groom beeing a beekeeper and the bride beeing an expert cake decorator, the cake was made to match…

At the couple’s request, confetti was taboo… but bubbles weren’t! The children (well, maybe older “children” too…) had lots of fun blowing bubbles at the couple as they left the premises – and at each other, depending on the wind direction.

The couple drove away as Mr. W. started off the rousing hymn “To God be the Glory.”

Then followed the cleanup which invariably, though unfortunately, follows the exercise of the nuptial art.

Several of the families who had been at the wedding came back to our place for supper, which, for the extrovert writing this post, was for the most part a relaxing time. After supper, some people had a game of Dutch Blitz outside, while others fellowshipped inside.

Meanwhile, Michael and Elizabeth opened their wedding gifts! I guess this avoided an unfortunate eventuality of the border guards deciding to open them on their behalf.

The tent was put to use right away!
A beekeeper’s gift to a beekeeper

Michael and Elizabeth, we are thrilled to see how God has led you two together! May your love for Christ and your joy in God grow exponentially as you seek His face together!


The observant reader knows that to date, the most frequent poster on our blog has been Elizabeth. And some have perhaps wondered whether our blog will now wither into oblivion or whether some other courageous person, though perhaps less skilled, would attempt to fill her shoes.

Though I can make no guarantees going into the future, I at least thought it appropriate to make a post concerning the rehearsal and another, later to come, which will treat the marriage itself. I apologize in advance for the diminished quality of some of the photos; many of them are simply snapshots from my phone. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, and the quality of the pictures has declined by 50%… I guess my pictures will at least be worth 500. 🙂

After a time in the Word and prayer over breakfast, most of us left for the premises where the wedding was to take place. Upon arrival, we all became as busy as bees. William and a couple of the Staddons immediately set to work setting up tables, while David set up the chairs.

There was also a crew creatively redecorating the pool table, since we had been requested that it not be moved.

Meanwhile, Nathanael & Jonathan were working on setting up the technological equipment for amplification and live streaming respectively. Though there were a few bumps along the way, including a computer that refused to start, the trial run of the live streaming system went so beautifully that it almost seemed too good to be true! (More about that in the next post…)

Sarah, along with a most willing helper, was working on the dessert table. (Hmm, I wonder how large a commission he charged?)

Time flew. But we were grateful that everything went quite smoothly (thanks to the ladies’ great planning!), and although lunch was a bit late (I remember), we were pretty much ready right on time for the rehearsal. We did three dry runs of the wedding, though Yours Truly skipped out on the last two to go get the pizza for supper. Don’t worry, the couple to be married was not wearing the same costumes on the day of the wedding, and her real bouquet looked significantly better than the makeshift prop!

Would you guess that this is a pool table? 🙂

Supper time at last! Imagine the feeling of frustration driving 20 minutes with the smell of 18 hot pizzas wafting from the back seat of the car… Good thing they didn’t count them when they arrived!

We were all so grateful to see the hand of God working so providentially to make everything come together! In spite of multiple transportation issues with our American friends and some technological issues, it was thrilling to see how closely everything went to what was planned!


I always find it amazing how hard it is to find time to do the things which one enjoys.  My schedule, sadly, seems always to be packed with things that I must do (though many of those things I certainly enjoy), leaving precious little time for those enjoyable things which cannot be justified as necessity.

One of those things is skating.  If I had time, now, I suppose I would build a skating rink out back, and if I had time, why I suppose I should be one of the best skaters you ever knew.  But I don’t have time, and consequently, the last time I recall having skated was shortly after the beginning of the Old New Year, and I far more closely resemble the Proverbs 24:16 man than I do the world’s best skater.

But, thankfully, Christmas vacation has rolled around once again, and just as we did last year, we attended an event for New Year’s which started out with skating and a hockey game.

Following an animated tournament (nothing on the level of the Montreal Canadiens or the Pittsburgh Penguins), we spent some time skating around fellowshipping, playing tag, and even making a suspender train!


Then only two days later, we went out skating again, this time close to home with some of the Staddons, who were visiting for a couple days.  It was a beautiful day, and although it was a public skating path we went to, it was not extremely crowded.  The time afforded many more opportunities for wonderful fellowship with dear friends.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. – Proverbs 27:17

Every thing beautiful

Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away – actually, Germany – there was a sleek, shiny, stainless steel dishwasher.  This was a special dishwasher – he had not one, not two, but three racks for washing dishes.  And he just knew that he was made to wash dishes.  One day, as he was sitting in the warehouse waiting for someone to come in and buy him, he was pondering his life purpose.

“I just know I’m made to wash dishes,” he thought.  “My beautiful water sprayers, my perfect hoses, my sleek and fancy dishwashing racks – yes, everything about me says that I was made to wash dishes.  My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is to wash dishes.  But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted.  What is my maker thinking?  Why did he fit out me so perfectly to wash dishes then leave me on the shelf like this?”

“Patience,” a voice answered him.  He hadn’t realised that he was thinking out loud.  “Patience,” it said again, and this time he recognized the voice of Aldert, an older dishwasher sitting on the shelf in front of him.

“Every dishwasher is sold sometime,” Aldert continued.  “The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose.  He always puts them to his purposes in his time.  But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect people for you, you must be patient.  Who knows, you may be taken to a home where you will wash more dishes than any of us – but you must be patient.”

Watler sighed.  He believed it was true, since almost all the dishwashers who had been there before he was were gone, and even some of the ones that had come in after him.  He sat back and waited.

Then one day, I heard strange voices talking.  They were talking in German, but here is a rough translation of what they said:

“I think it’s the dishwasher on shelf A52,” the first voice said.

“Why are we supposed to ship a single dishwasher off to North America?  Usually we ship in bulk from the warehouse down south, don’t we?”

“Yes, but they ran out of this model in North America, and someone ordered one, so rather than waiting for the whole shipment, we’re sending one solo.”

The voices were growing louder, and suddenly two men appeared in front of Watler.  They glanced him up and down, checked model numbers and other worthless jargon, and finally inspected his fine stainless steel front, and checked that his beautiful racks were all in place.  Then they packaged him up, and loaded him on a truck.

“Hooray!” thought Watler.  “I’m finally going!  I wonder if I’ll be at my home tomorrow.  I was made to wash dishes, I just know it.  And finally, finally, finally!  I’m going!  I’ll be washing dishes soon!”  A tear of joy escaped from one of his pipes.

For the rest of the day, Watler was excited.  He was at last going to the home where he could wash dishes!  He just knew that the master builder had meant for him to wash dishes – he could feel it in his buttons.  But imagine his disappointment when the truck stopped, dropped him off in another warehouse, and left him there for not one, not two, but three days!

At the end of the third day, Watler’s pipes were boiling.  He was made to wash dishes, and someone who didn’t know better had left him in the warehouse as though he had been nothing but a sink or garbage can.  Suddenly, though, the words of Aldert came to his mind:

“The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose.  He always puts them to his purposes in his time.”

Then, when he thought things couldn’t get worse, they did.  Someone came and picked him up, and started bringing him toward the ocean.  Then he descended into a dark, stuffy hole, and was dumped next to a supercomputer on one side, with a server rack on the other side.  What boring companions! But in this dismal hole, packed beside worthless junk that was made to do nothing but process bytes that you couldn’t taste and bits that wouldn’t wash off, Watler truly learned the secret of contentment.  He learned to trust that the master builder truly did have a plan for him, and that in his perfect time, everything would come together as it ought.

To tell Watler’s whole story would take far too long, because even after that long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, there were more lessons in patience.  But probably the most trying lesson in patience came the day that Watler was sitting in the living room of the house of the person who had bought him.

“At last!” he thought, nearly crying he was so happy.  “At last, the waiting is over!  At last, I’ve arrived!  And look at those stacks of dishes!” he gloated.  But instead of putting him to work, the family simply unpackaged him, flipped him on his back, and left him sitting there helpless for a whole day.  If he hadn’t learned patience yet, he would have been fuming again, but instead, he thought,

“I’m made to wash dishes.  And I know that at the right time, in the right way, the master planner will make everything right.”

Finally, he was installed.  The installers weren’t very experienced, and it took them nearly a day, but Watler didn’t mind.  He was being installed in a brand new kitchen with lots of dishes around.  Finally, he was being loaded.  And at long last, he was started.  But once again, tragedy struck.  Only half way through his cycle, suddenly, he was brought to a screeching halt.  Someone had pushed his power button!  For half an instant, he wondered if it was all a big mistake, but then he remember the words of Aldert – “…you must be patient.”

After a few hours, he was started up again (of course, he remembered where he was in the process), and was allowed to finish his first batch of dishes in peace.  He went to sleep that night a very happy and fulfilled dishwasher – with many dishes promised to be coming his way.  As he dropped off, he thought,

“So this is why!  The master dishwasher maker sent me to this home, knowing that I was specially outfitted to wash lots of dishes.   Truly, his plans are best!”

Happy dishwasher

A happy dishwasher


Now let me telll you part of this story from another perspective…

How many of you guys like plumbing?  I mean, really like plumbing?  I must confess, I’m one of those happy individuals for whom the sight of water pouring out of the top of a drain pipe isn’t a terror which brings to mind dark imaginations of hours of fighting with filthy tools down dark holes.  That being said… it’s still not my absolute favourite thing to spend my evenings on.  However, when it comes to installing a dishwasher on plumbing that has been out of service for some 6-7 years, sometimes you have no choice…

It all started around 6-7 years ago, when our dishwasher broke down.  Our serviceman declared it irreparable, and thus it stood, unused – except for a variety of unconventional usages, such as storing dishtowels, hiding anniversary gifts, pulling parts off of, and even hiding the dishes once to make them look like they were already done.  (Believe it or not, this was actually a good faith joke, not naughtiness.)

Whatever the case, when we came to do the kitchen renovation which the faithful reader has already ascertained that we were recently doing, one of the items on our agenda was to replace the dishwasher.  Now, you have to understand that I hate dishwashers.  Or rather, I love washing dishes. But even I had to admit that this dishwasher, if nothing else, looked nice – because I also happen to like the looks of stainless steel kitchen appliances.

Bringing the dishwasher over

Bringing it over

So at it went we!  We had left a hole so that it could simply slip into the “peninsula” (an outlying section of counter attached to the rest only by one end) once the plumbing was connected.  We hooked up the plumbing and wiring with no major issues, et voilà!  It was ready to roll. Or… so we thought.

We turned it on, and nothing was leaking, so my father started attaching the back panel, and I attached the front panel.  We marveled at the silence of this silver coloured monster which was steam blasting our dishes.  All was well until it came to its first drain cycle.  Suddenly, someone noted an unprecedented aquatic accumulation in front and to the side of the silver monster.  A quick job with a screw driver sufficed to remove the front panel, revealing water under the whole dishwasher. My father was equally busy moving out the back panel, revealing water underneath at the back as well.

We quickly deciphered from various telling signs that this water came not from the pure source of our well, but rather from the drain.  We conjectured that it was probably spilling out the top of the drain pipe, since there appeared to be traces of water pouring down its sides.  A minute’s worth of patience was sufficient to confirm the hypothesis: when the dishwasher commenced its next drain cycle, water instantly spewed from the drain pipe at a prodigious rate.

Being the geniuses we are, of course, we turned off the dishwasher.  For those who still wonder at this step, please consider that though our kitchen was well sealed, it was not intended to be a fish pond – especially not with the remains of everyones’ suppers floating around in it.  The whirring silver monster made no complaint concerning its unfortunate halt, patiently waiting for us to resolve the issues and allow it to resume its happy occupation of cleansing the dishes.

The first thing to do at this point was relatively clear: clean the P-trap.  Happily, there was a cleanout valve at the end of drain pipe.  I quickly opened it, not sure what to expect, and narrowly missed getting hit in the face with a stream of a thick black soupy liquid.  Unfortunately, the freezer, floor, walls, bookshelf, garbage can, and desk underneath were not so blessed.  (Neither were my hands, for the record.)

Those who read my previous plumbing post may remember our famous snake.  It was the tool for the moment.  It quickly showed us that the pipe was blocked for about 15-20 feet with what I call “6 years of accumulation of 3 trillion bacteria, sitting down there laughing at us.”

Dirty floor

Actually, this is after the first cleanup. It was worse than this.

Several hours, several handwashings, and several discussions as to how to clean out the pipe later, we finally managed to get it unblocked enough that my father could send down some baking soda solution, followed with a heavy dose of vinegar – which effectively cleaned out the pipe, and allowed us to resume the dishwasher’s cycle.

More cleaning

Treating with baking soda and vinegar

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.  I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.  And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)

It was striking me as I thought over Watler’s plight that it is actually not unsimilar to the plight that many of us find ourselves in from day to day. We just know that God wants a particular thing for our lives.  We know that He has designed us for a given purpose.  That purpose may be marriage, a family, a ministry, or a thousand different things.  We look at our hearts, we look at our skills, we look at who God has made us, and we wonder, just like Watler,

“My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is [xyz].  But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted.  What is my Maker thinking?  Why did He fit out me so perfectly to [xyz] then leave me on the shelf like this?”

Aldert’s exhortation actually rings true for me.

“The Master does not make a person to no purpose.  He always puts them to His purposes in His time.  But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect place for you, you must be patient.”


The late afternoon sun streams through the window. Dripping water tells of the warm breeze melting the snow on the roof. Slowly, the snow on the driveway turns to wet ice; soon the ice will vanish utterly, giving way to the bare gravel. The snow will melt – in not long, the grass will be showing: spring is here!

I like spring. While some see mud, I see the most beautiful gems possible – precious drops of water. While some see nothing but dirty snow, I see signs of new life. I hear birds singing new songs; I see buds bursting into life; I see glories of God’s creation displayed all around. While some choose only to look at the dingy, brown grass and the old leaves from last year, I choose rather to see the awe inspiring beauty of the sun shining through the end of an icicle, a drop of water hanging precariously from its tip, until it finally splashes down to greet its cousins in the puddle below.

A beam of sun, a red maple bud, the chickadee’s song, the warm, cozy breeze; all speak volumes to me of the beauties of the new life which is mine in Christ. For even as some choose to look at the residue of winter storms lying on top of old snow, some choose to look at the residue of past sin in their lives. Even as some see nothing but dead grass and mud, some look at their lives and see nothing but dead works and pride.

But I have chosen a different outlook. I have chosen to see the Son beaming into my life, showing His graceful face and warming my heart to His Word. I have chosen to see the fresh shoot of green grass; the fresh life of new joy in my heart. And the mercies, new every morning, bursting out of their fresh buds of love. And instead of looking at the painful holes in my life, I have chosen to draw every precious drop of sap from the springing waters of salvation.

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

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.

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.

Happy Father’s Day!

“A child is like an axe. Even if it hurts you, you still carry it on your shoulder.” (African Proverb) I think my father had more like a chain saw in me. I believe fathers are one of the most powerful forces in our culture. And how grateful I am for my father! How much I owe to him! He has instructed me faithfully in God’s Word and been a good example to me of a godly father.

Daddy, thank you so much for the time you have invested in my life. I am so grateful that God gave you to me as a father. I have been inspired by your persistence in becoming more like Christ even when the going is difficult. I have been encouraged by your perseverance in what is right even when the pathway is hard. And you have carried me on your shoulder – giving me higher glimpses into the truth and ways of God’s Word.

Because of your good example in your daily walk with the Lord I have come to love the Lord as my Heavenly Father. You have pointed me to Him for answers to questions, solutions to problems and strength in the hour of temptation. Thank you!