Monday, December 27, 2010

Well Dear Friends, I am trusting that 2010 was not unkind to you and that as you say goodbye to it with its fine memories as well as with its challenges, 2011 will emerge with realistic resolutions and numerous encouragements for a life of contentment, hope and trust in the trustworthy One, our Father who is in heaven, and his son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Wreath

Almost universally the Christian church marks each Sunday during the Christmas Advent season in preparation for and in celebration of the birth day of Christ with the lighting of a symbolic candle. Yesterday, Nov 28th the Candle of Hope was lit.

Candles are arranged in Christmas Wreaths, usually four candles in a circle and one white candle in the center of the circle. The wreath itself is assembled with e
vergreen tree cuttings. Traditionally on each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day, one outside candle is lit until Christmas Day, the anniversary of the Birth of Christ, when the central candle is lit. Each of the four outside candles carries a symbolic meaning, hope, love, joy, peace. Three of the candles are violet in color and the fourth has the color of a rose. The Christ candle at the center is white.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Insignia of WWII Royal Canadian Air Force

Edward Richard Unruh, my dad fought to preserve us from outside oppression.This was particularly unusual given the family, heritage and town from which he came. His parents were immigrants from the Mennonite colonies of Crimea, Ukraine near the turn of the century. He was born in 1915 and in 1941 he was going to war to defend the freedoms upon which his birth country was founded and governed. Hepburn, Saskatchewan was largely settled by Low German speaking Mennonites who established a town of shops that provided all necessities and some amenities. Most families were farmers and most citizens attended church. Dad was slow on connecting with faith in the supreme being and perhaps that was one of the factors that resulted in his decisions to break with the pacifist conviction of his family and peers to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. While the town would support the war effort through prayer and labour, he would fight, albeit as an Air Force maintenance mechanic. He was a new generation Canadian and proud of his homeland.

My wife Christine and I spent two months in France in 2009 and our travels moved us to Normandy just before the D-Day anniversary. We stopped in Arromanches where we booked in at Room #6 in the Mountbatten Hotel. We walked the beach and toured the Musee that celebrated the accomplishments of June 6, 1944. This was the beach town to which the remarkable floating concrete piers and barges were floated by night across the English Channel from Britain and anchored well off from shore to create a docking area for great ships loaded with tanks and war equipment with which to mount the victorious assault against the Nazi German Army. Remains of some of the barges lie still visible in the crashing surf.

 On a rainy and foggy day we went to Juno Beach and the Canadian Museum that honoured the Canadian contribution. Veterans years earlier realized there was no monument to honour the Canadian War Effort so they began the recruitment of funds. The City of Courseulles Sur mere donated a former camp site for the museum location. The museum was highly informative about immigration, about WW1, about the 1929 stock market crash and economic depression and then the confusion about Germany and Hitler's intentions until it was necessary to declare war against him. From six thousand soldiers to one million by war's end, most were volunteers like my father. Forty-five thousand Canadian soldiers died. Museum guides were mostly young Canadians on duty for four months. At the Canadian Museum we met one guide, a 21 year old McGill student whose grandfather perished while storming this beach, and while he may have said it many times to visitors, he told us, " I would not be here had it not been for his sacrifice." I was very proud to be Canadian that day.

When the war ended, my father came home in 1945.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Uncle Les is gone

My Uncle Les Willems died yesterday. He was 87 years old. That's a long life. He had been unwell for some time. His wife Helen, was with him at the end just as she has been there through all these years, a one man woman for a one woman man. They have two sons Dean and Peter and grandchildren in both Britain and Canada. He resided in Ontario, the province I left twenty years ago to live in B.C. In all those years I have seen him and visited with him only on family occasions like my parents significant wedding anniversaries and then at my parents funerals three years ago (Mom) and two years ago (Dad). Uncle Les was a tall man. When we were children his height and his deep voice mesmerized my brothers and I. He had a quick wit and a good sense of humour. When I wanted to go to college, he traded a 57 VW Beetle for an oil painting that I painted of an old Russian peasant woman. He held on to that for many years, returning it to me when I was already a middle-aged man. He thought that I should now have that painting. The car was long gone. He was a man of faith, so leaving was not a hardship for him. We however know he is missing from our family. His nearest loved ones miss him very much.

Memorial Service held Wednesday, November 3rd at 2pm, at Tallman Funeral Homes 3277 King Street SS1, Vineland, On L0R 2C0 phone# 905-563-8223 .

Saturday, October 16, 2010


A write-off, bent frame etc
Three of my grandchildren pictured below were in their daddy's car when minutes ago, it was struck by another car - not critical, for which I thank God, but daddy and youngest taken by ambulance for observation. The other two have some cuts.

These three sweet ones are safe
Sunday news: All appear OK, sore and traumatized and we will wait to see their progress.
Wednesday news: The car is a write off. human body Scratches disappearing, and some bruises appearing.
Wednesday one week later: Everyone is AOK. They must purchase another vehicle. They certainly have confidence in the Honda because no door panel or hardware entered the passenger area.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Thanksgiving Day was a great day for my family and me.
Christine and headed for church at 9:30 AM, top up because the air was cool and damp. Great morning of music and a sermon. And then leaving the church we were welcomed by a sunny sky and warm air. Down went the top and we drove home stopping for a few groceries and a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.

Knowing that the entire family of children and grandchildren would be coming for a harvest dinner at 4PM and Christine would be spending the afternoon preparing, I suggested that I could take three of the grandchildren in early afternoon to a NUT farm, that's right, and we would pick up hazlenuts. So that's what we did. My daughter and her three children spent part of the day together going nuts among the nut trees.

And then back home, everyone showed up and we have had a fantastic family time together. A happy thanksgiving. Between dinner and dessert, we sat together around the dinner table and each of us took a moment to express something for which we were grateful. Even the smallest one had a reason and that was that she was grateful that she has a cousin with whom she can play. Then we went for a walk and came back for pumpkin pie smothered in whip cream. Hours of conversation and hugs all around and we shut down for the night. What a wonderful day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


The photo is two years old and the 4 boys contained in it are each 2 years older. I have grown a beard since then but the other three have not. They are my three grandsons. Two of them are brothers and the third is their cousin. I cherish these kinds of moments and this one in particular because it is visually captured. It happened on an August morning at a cottage in Tulameen. I had just retired after a career of service and I was finding it difficult to adjust to life without work and I was not reacting well to a cottage full of people and busy grandchildren. I am confident I did a good job of putting off my children from every wanting to do a family vacation again. Hopefully some mending has occurred since then as they see I have grown more comfortable with who I am now and more content with the grandchildren as children. I am not always grumpy. I love the intimacy and love and the touchy, feely stuff and joking and tickling and walking and playing together and seeing them grow. These boys are close to my heart. Can you tell?

Monday, September 13, 2010

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY but I am thinking of Mom and Dad

Yes, another one. As I did my walk this morning on this cool damp morning after a day of rain, I walked with a sense of my age because my clenched hands ache with the onset of a mild arthritis that is bothersome to my painting. I didn't stay on that thought long however. I realized that while I walked on the first day of my 68th year on earth, I was thinking of my mother who sixty-eight years ago laboured to give me birth. I was her first-born child. She was twenty-five years of age. Just beginning a life as a mom. She is gone now, leaving three years ago after finishing well as she could and then her mind clouded gradually until everything became simple and mundane and controlled by others. For those other caring people I will forever be grateful. Most of all for my brother Murray and my sister in law Diane who for love alone gave endless hours to care for Mom when Dad could no longer do that and we he needed to be encouraged as he toughed life alone until he was 93 years of age. On my birthday I have thought of Mom, soft blue eyes, devoted wife, lover of Christ, nurterer to three sons, fantastic cook, proud woman, contented woman, helpful to everyone, concealer of deep inner hurt that had a long history, determined and ambitious and industrious and surprised by successes that came as a result. The woman my father fell in love with and whom he adored changed involuntarily until she barely existed but he understood this process and loved her. He taught his sons about love so that we could come through adolescence, confusion and mistakes to a mature appreciation of our mother. And when she died he taught us again when he said, "Good night sweetheart. I'll be seeing you soon." Six months later he too slipped quietly from us in 2008. And I am experiencing a birthday at this season of my life and trusting still to leave a legacy of good memories for my offspring and grandchildren. May be 68th year be productive.

Day later Birthday Postscript: We gathered at my son Jeff's home. He and Gina prepared a great meal, baked crusted Halibut which he himself caught off the west coast of Vancouver Island, salsa, great green salad (courtesy of daughter Cari), glass of Ehrenfelser. For dessert, Christine baked an egg custard pie and a chocolate pie with whipped cream. Later, everyone sang happy birthday to me, grandchildren crowding in to give me cards and a present from the whole clan. The children ripped the wrapping off because I was far too slow at it. Inside was a portable painting easel, light, easily assembled, in a carrying case - could take this to France or Fiji. This was the kind of soft celebration birthday party that I like - only my son-in-law was missing do to work. Thank you my family.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Life is too precious.

My own life is almost spent. Sure I may have many years to live. Yet my energetic working years are done. The strong blond man of my high school and college years lives only in pictures seldom viewed by anyone. My children now in their own mid years don’t remember me in my youth. In their minds they have only grown accustomed to the ‘me’ with escalating limitations. Their children will always know me ‘old.’ Grandpa I am.

I am not complaining. This is life. It’s good. There are large measures of joy and satisfaction attached to this personal definition of life in Canada.

That’s why the wounded lives of Paul and Zabeth Bayne and their children Kent, Baden and Bethany trouble me so much. That's why the Court Case, the result of which will determine whether the children can come back to their parents or whether they must be forced to become adopted children to adoptive parents, is one of the most important events in B.C. right now. It is only one family of course. However, this single case forecasts the likelihood of an overhaul of the structure, protocol, personnel and policies of this beleaguered child protection agency. It is unthinkable that the Judge's conclusion might greenlight further injustices to more innocent parents and children as zeal and power without wisdom decides the lives of citizens.

The Baynes should not be enduring this broken family unit, the financial ruin, the daily tears, the eyes of three children filled with worry and doubt about so many things that should not harass a child in Canada. For the past year I have been writing a daily blog post advocating for the return of the children to Paul and Zabeth. A final court day occurs September 21. Then the judge will take some time to write and deliver his ruling. Catch it all at my GPS site. Today I wrote my 300th entry.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


On Sunday afternoon and evening of the 29th of August all of us, Christine and I and our children's families, all eleven of us went to the PNE, Pacific National Exhibition. This year it celebrates 100 years. And of course at night there was a dazzling show designed to that theme.

We parked for $25 per vehicle, did many rides and ate PNE food and paid PNE prices and toured the prize home and stood in lineups and played games and won stuffed animals, and watched fireworks and had a blast.

Friday, August 20, 2010


BC Ferry: Coastal Celebration The Coastal Celebration was the ferry we boarded at Tsawwasen on Tuesday at 10:00 AM. Christine and I and two of our friends were heading to Swartz Bay as seniors, which incidentally means 'FREE.' We left our car on this side got our tickets with $0.00 printed clearly and took our ride across the waters. We did not plan to get off and head to Victoria. Rather we were simply doing the ride there and back and enjoying the deliciously prepared buffer dinner on the return trip. As we were finishing the home bound journey we decided that it was only 12:00 PM and we could do another round trio and be back on the mainland by 3:00 PM. So we did that. What a great idea, a great meal and great day.

Coastal Celebration was built in 2008 at a length of 160 metres. It's car capacity is 370 including 32 semis. It travels at a maximum speed of 23 knots.
Vancouver (Tsawwassen) - Victoria (Swartz Bay)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Day

Two of my grandsons and I, Ryan and Jayden went for a long walk at Tynehead Park this morning. Just thought I would. Ryan is 6 and Jayden is 5. We had water and oatmeal bars along. We walked over bridges that span a little river that carries salmon and trout in the high water season. We walked through forests where there many hidden stories that we developed with our imaginations. There were branches to ride like horses. There were butterflies. The three amigos had a fun time. And small diet coke cans when we got back to the van and Jayden said, "Watch grandpa, this is the first pop can I ever opened." Pffft

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I shut down my theological mind occasionally to be entertained by fiction. Lost intrigued me.

First the affirmation. The final image of Jack’s eye closing, a reversal of the show’s opening moment six seasons ago, was perfect. The sideways storyline with Desmond gathering the characters to reclaim their memories of the island was warm and emotional. But here it comes. The show's ending was disappointing and contrived, maybe inevitably. Oh of course it was a jolt to learn that Jack Shepherd was in fact dead as were all the other Losties. They had been dead all along. The Oceanic air disaster was really the end of their lives. When the entire island story line that grabbed us for six seasons turned out not to matter, that was deflating. All the island particulars were insignificant. All the tumultuous action and story twists turned out to be disconnected from that final quasi-religious resolution of the plot. Life on the island had been a supernatural post-death test and everyone who mattered was destined to pass, except for Ben, who stayed out in the parking lot. The island had been a post death prep school for all who would eventually pass into the vivid white light of afterlife. A pretty good yarn.

Have you considered that LOST has not concluded at all? That it is continuing in a parallel dimension, a sideways universe that is running concurrent to our own. That is what real LOST fans are thinking.

My reality is this. “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

JJ and Me


Three of our grandchildren had a sleepover on Saturday night. The youngest of the three is Jayden, known as JJ and he is five years old.

On Sunday afternoon, his brother and sister were each occupied with their own activities. JJ came to my studio and I was sitting at my laptop. He came quietly to me and said, "Grandpa, can you come outside with me?"
I said, "do you want to go outside?"
JJ responded, "Can you play with me?"
I was so touched by the soft request.
"Let's go!" I said.

So we went outside, sunglasses on and started out for a long walk. As we walked we stopped to look at insects and we picked up anything that looked shiny or interesting. We headed for the hydro right of way in which spacious walkways have been constructed. I spoke to JJ about the hydro towers. JJ told me those are power lines. I asked him, "how do you know that?"

He said, "I just know it." I told him, "I am so proud of you."
JJ said, "I know a lot of things. I think that I'm a pretty smart boy."

We walked to the school yard and we did the swings and then I watched as he climbed and slid on the equipment. We continued our walk and talk and wound up at the corner store where I bought him a multi-coloured slushy. I had a coke.

The walk home was casual, conversational, and so much fun for us both, a man and his grandson. I loved it.

Friday, April 30, 2010


Our father died on May 1st 2008.

Murray, Neale and I instinctively remember him today. We each remember him frequently all through the year but on this day a couple of years ago, we said goodbye. It seemed at times he would always be here. Decade after decade in spite of aging, he was here. Even when Mom was no longer coherent and required the care of a nursing facility, Dad remained in his apartment looking after his own needs.

Our Dad was a small man and he raised big boys – too big right now. Thirty pounds too large. I speak for myself.

Dad gained a grade eleven education in the small prairie town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. Then he worked. He worked at many jobs and hard work did not worry him. He married his sweetheart when he was 26. Their love took them contentedly through 66 years until Mom passed away. In his twenties he owned a gas station ) filling station it was called) and he an Mom set up a coffee shop. He enlisted in the Canadian Air Force for the conflict of WWII, an uncommon act in a town of Mennonite pacifists. When the war was settled Dad moved Mom and me to Ontario for the advertised job opportunities. I was four years of age. Factory jobs were available and he tried several, finally landing with Anthes Imperial, a furnace manufacturing company. He stayed with this company for forty years. He was always on the assembly line, never in management. I remember that he often came home tired and hot. He would clean up and settle down with his newspaper, sometimes draped over his face as he napped on the sofa. He modeled a commendable work ethic that instructed his three boys for our passage through adulthood. Well into our own manhood one day, we asked him why he stayed at such difficult work for so long. A six word reply revealed the man. “I did it for my boys.”

Dad never took a leadership position at church. If he was asked to be on committees or boards he declined. He knew his strengths and limitations. He enjoyed serving but he chose service in the areas of his comfort and competence. Smart man. Private man. Honorable man.

We miss him so much. He was 93 years of age when he died. He had been without his sweetheart for six months. I am sure his heart could not take the loneliness any longer. But as always he didn't show his emotions. He never complained. Oh perhaps he complained occasionally about the imaginary neighbours above him who made unnecessary noise and the imaginary boys whom he saw climbing trees in the back yards four floors beneath his apartment in the dead of winter. But we didn't fault him for these wanderings. In fact I have been hearing neighbour noise and seeing unusual events for some time now myself.

In fact right now I see you Dad.
“Five years between each one of your three sons means that we each have differing memories of you at different stages of your life. But you were unchanging so there is much that we recall that is the same. You did stuff with us, whether it was baiting fish hooks or walking through a forest or taking us on a road trip. Dad, you loved the ladies each of us chose to be our wives. You treated each one as though she was your own daughter. You were proud of us and what we were able to accomplish in life. You let us talk and you listened to us. You had a wonderful natural sense of humor that enabled you to say a comedic line so dryly to crack us up. You laughed with us. You remembered each one of our children by name and you inquired about them – even the ones you never saw in real life because of your years, frailty and distance. We loved the lady you chose to marry too. It broke our hearts when she had to go. But you were strong. We will never forget you as standing beside her then, you said, “Good bye sweetheart. I'll be seeing you soon.” Through the years we always paid attention to what you said and we trusted your word. On this occasion you were right again. 'Soon' came too selfishly soon for us, but really, we know the timing was good and gracious for you. How we loved you Dad. We love you still.


(See Murray's comment below)

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Artist's Vocation is to be Respected

Yesterday, Robert Genn sent his second letter of the week. Twice each week I am a recipient of this artist's newsletters. They are informative and stimulating. Further, his online site permits free listing of my website and for a small price an even better exposure online. Thousands of artists subscribe to his service.

His sent letters provide opportunity for comments and these are always worth a read. I occasionally respond as I did today. Genn cited a letter written by an American teacher of art named Charles Brooks. It can be read in its entirety at this web location.

Today I wrote, "The letter is a classic and it was worthwhile for me to read it but perhaps not with the results you expected for me. Brook’s advice to the artist was to disregard what critics might comment about the artist’s idleness of life when the world outside the artist’s own creative world is troubled, and to dismiss from one’s mind all of those temporal cares in order to focus upon the authentic and legitimate task of controlling that material world briefly in order to see well and then to nobly seize the opportunity to create something that becomes a portion of one’s legacy to others.

As I read this letter, I projected the many unbearable life situations in which many artistic spirits find themselves today. This letter is written to someone in the almost idyllic North American culture where all one has to shut out is extraneous traffic noise or the rumours of wars on CNN. Yet internationally and even personally there are worlds of pain and hurt and destruction that are not easily dismissed in order to gain solitude for a creative moment. The letter caused me to reflect upon artists who have respected their craft so well that they did not have to justify it or even to find solace from a wild world in order to create. I think of the painters of the war experiences of our world, who like photo journalists today, recorded for us a material world coming undone, and faces of beautiful men and women dying, dead or fighting for freedom. I think of Vincent Van Gogh who early in his career tried to pastor the poverty stricken potato farmers and recorded their faces and gnarled hands because he could not ignore his world but found something to be treasured there. An artist is far more than a recluse needing affirmation for a vocation that doesn’t hammer nails or build empires. An artist’s vocation is not merely for the good times, or for the times when you can escape a bad world. It is for every world condition and that is why it is to be respected."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I am Golfing

Jeff and Tim and I took Ryan and Jayden and Kale out for some Par 3 golf at my Golf Course. Ryan and JJ and Kale are seven, five and five years of age so it was a slower than normal round. Par 3's were played by these little guys as Par 20's.

As for me, at age 67 I am hitting the ball consistently straighter and with better contact and control than ever in my life. All the backyard practice with plastic golf balls has paid off.

And.......... The Master's Golf Tournament week has begun and with that the return of the now notorious Tiger. It might make for a great story for Tiger to win but I would much rather see Mickelson or Weir or Els win this big one.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday Special Family Dinner

The Day dawned perfectly, a clear sky, sunshine later in the morning, the entire family showing up at my church so we could sit together in one long row at least one time each year. Grandma purchased T-shirts for the three grandsons, Ryan (blue), Jayden (yellow) and Kale (green) spring colors no less, and she sewed corresponding dresses and bought cute sweaters for the two girls - cousins, Kaylyn and and Kadence. The rest of us had to fend for ourselves. As we did last year, we made reservations at Northview Golf and Country Club for their Easter Buffet Brunch. Besides the good food there was a magician who made the rounds of tables and facepainting for the children. The afternoon finished with the girls watching a girlie kids flick and the guys (young and old) going to the nearby golf course where I have a free membership for four years, having done a painting for them and the T-B ox signs. A wonderful time. Little Kadence topped it off for me when she grabbed my arm and hugged me and said "My Papa!" and then she said, "hug and kiss" so we did it. Christine deserves so much praise for making this event like so many happen for us all, building memories of our family for our family.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Easter should be the most openly joyful time of celebration of the church year. Celebrated against the background of the shadows and darkness of Lent and Holy Week, this season truly becomes a living expression of the hope that God has brought into the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Since this hope of renewal and new life, both present and future, is at the heart of the Good News that the church is commissioned to proclaim and live in the world, every possible avenue of proclaiming that Good News should be utilized. No doubt that is why many traditionally non-liturgical churches are increasingly recovering the value of the various traditions of the Easter Season as a means of bearing witness to their Faith. Seen as Proclamation, the various aspects of worship during this season can become vehicles for God’s grace and transforming work in the world, and among his people.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It is Good Friday

“It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'!"

Tony Campolo is the man who made this phrase famous. In a classic sermon he tells the story of a white pastor preaching at a predominantly black church and finally catching on to the cultural speak that communicates the great news of Easter.
It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'!
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. It was Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, some are looking at the world and saying, “As things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change nothing in this world! You can’t change nothing in this world!” But they didn’t know that it was only Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, the forces in control now, them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, people are saying, “Darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere,” but they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Even though this world is rotten, as it is right now, we know it’s only Friday. But Sunday’s a comin’.”

The message builds to a powerful conclusion when the pastor simply shouts, “It’s Friday!” and the congregation responds, “But Sunday’s comin!’”

Sunday, March 28, 2010


This last week of Jesus’ life on earth, this Easter week is arranged by the will of the Father. It is what he wills. Last week we listened to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and while he asked to be excused from such an horrific death as a sin bearer disconnected from the Father, he qualified his request with submission to the will of the Father. He said, “not as I will but as you will.” Jesus is essentially saying that whatever the Father wants, he himself wants.

What God wants, is what I want.
That was so easy an attitude for me when I was a younger Christian and relatively unattached to people, to places and to things. When you possess little, and you are eager to be on your own and away from parental jurisdiction and you have a spirit of adventure that is eager to go anywhere It is comparatively simple to say to God, “What you want is what I want.”

But here I am today. I have finished a four decade career in formal Christian work as a pastor and an executive officer of a church denomination and numerous volunteer responsibilities in Christian organizations. Always during those years I was quick to say, “What God wants is what I want.” I have been married to Christine who has similar expressed that commitment to the Father’s will. With me she has prayed submissively, “Anything, Any time, Anywhere.” This shared obedience has developed our skills and connections and wisdom and experience and taken us to several cities to live and to work for God.

Now I have embarked upon a stage of life called retirement. During all the active working years Christine and I have seen our children married and our grandchildren born and all of them located within a five minute drive from our home, and we have accumulated stuff, property, house, cars, things. And now I have taken retirement to mean release from the myriad formal responsibilities of earlier years but not release from biblical spirituality and godliness of life. Nevertheless, when it comes to thoughts about whether to and when to sell our house, and where to relocate, and how to spend the remaining years of our possibly long lives, I know that I must say I want what God wants yet I don’t find submissively saying “Anything, Any time, Anywhere,” as easy as it once was.

I give you that personal anecdote simply to say here that the will of God is paramount in how each of us lives our personal lives and chart the course for our families with children who are still in our care, and it is paramount with how we do church and nurture our relationships and practice our careers in the marketplace or the Christian sector. What God wants is what I want, or more clearly, not my will but your will Lord.

So, the disciples knowing what Jesus wanted, went ahead of him into Jerusalem and met the owner of the animals and told him that Christ needs the donkey and its foal. This was what Jesus wanted so the disciples did it. It was what Jesus wanted so the owner gave the animals for Christ’s use.

Friday, March 26, 2010



And this is his swollen post surgery grin, painful and to bed early...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mazda-MX-5 Roadster My retirement wheels

This is my car - no! really!

Just another peek at it - well, OK it is a bit more stylized!

The Red one is mine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


If you look back to the previous post you will read that yesterday, Monday March 8th was ICE CREAM CONE DAY at my house. For that matter it was Ice Cream Cone Day at my brother Murray's place in St. Catharines, Ontario and at my brother Neale's place at Dorchester, Ontario or wherever they observed it seeing that Neale is a working man during the daytime.

ICE CREAM CONE DAY is in honour of my father Edward Richard Unruh. He died at age 93 in 2008 so had he lived a wee bit longer he would be 95 years of age. As it is he is a forever man. He was a man of faith. I remember that as a boy a western singer sang a song that Dad loved. Stuart Hamblen sang, "When you see me close my eyes, say Amen but don't you weep. I've got so many million years you just can't count them."

Of my own five grandchildren, he saw only one of them in person, the firstborn. Mom and Dad reached a point a few years ago after which they no longer travelled any distances, so they never made it west and my children as young parents could not afford to go east to St. Catharines where Dad and Mom lived. He never personally saw the other four great grandchildren here in B.C.

Nevertheless we celebrated his memory yesterday. It was a privilege. These five little twerps want to do it every year.

Pictured here are first, my Dad Edward, then Kale (5) and Kadence (3) and me, Papa. Then Kale, Jeff, Kadence and Papa. Following that, is Ryan (7) Jayden (5) and Kailyn (9) together with mommy (Cari my daughter) and Papa with a photo of my dad, Edward.

On the Photo is the inscription Edward Richard Unruh / Lover of God, Tina and Ice Cream.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Monday March 8 is my father's birthday. He is not here to celebrate the day. He passed away two years ago. On this day this year he would have been 95 years of age. Of course we were saddened by his death, but our mom, his wife and sweetheart had preceded him in death just six months earlier. Those were lonely months for him but he was always a pleasant and cheerful man. And he loved ice cream cones. He always had enjoyed them. So, following his funeral we all celebrated his memory with ice cream.

Tomorrow my brothers, Murray and Neale and their families will remember Dad with ice cream cones, and so will we here in B.C. My children and grandchildren will come over and I will scoop. I have numerous flavours and cones galore. One cone may not be enough even for the children, so a second is acceptable.

I can remember being ten years of age and my father taking me to an ice cream parlour and buying us cones, just he and me. We ate them as we walked down the street on the way home. As we turned a far corner, Dad was completing his cone when he said, "I think that tastes like more" so we turned around and went back for a second one. That spontaneous extravagance impressed me then and became a precious memory.

Throughout his years no matter whom he was with he might say, 'let's stop here and see if they have some ice cream," or "Do you care for an ice cream cone? I think I would like one." And he always had to pay. He insisted.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Both maternal and paternal sides of my heritage derive from a persecuted people group known as Mennonites who found refuge in Empress Catherine II's Russia and were permitted to establish themselves in colonies in Crimea. Stalin changed that. Researching my paternal ancestral tree has taught me that in every generation going back into the 1700’s, there was a missionary, a pastor, a church elder, a theologian/teacher. From a family of seven siblings living in Temir Bulat, Crimea in the late 1800’s my grandfather was one of three who emigrated to North America. Coming through the northern states to Saskatchewan where he settled with a new bride. In Hepburn, my father and I were born. I began my personal journey of faith when I was ten years of age. As I write in 2010, fifty seven and one half years have passed. I am more convinced today than I was as a boy that an exclusive trust in the Son of God is imperative. Further, the legacy of faith which I received has been nurtured far beyond a superficial institutional belief to something enduringly exceptional. I am convinced that I must leave my children and specially my grandchildren an example of faith and the prescription for making faith their own.

American recording vocalist Steve Green hit his stride during the 1980’s and one of his songs was ‘Find us Faithful.’ These lyrics speak my sentiments. I have linked two YouTube files where you can hear him singing this today, twenty-five years later, and also when he sang it as a young man. Of course the studio settings are a wee bit churchy and clichéd but appreciate this for the tune and the words.

Find Us Faithful - Steve Green
We're pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift though all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Repeat Chorus

* Steve Green sings it for the Gaither Vocal Band
* Steve singing it as a younger man when the song was first introduced.
* A link to Steve Green’s Web Site and Foundation

Steve Green (born August 1, 1956 in Portland, Oregon) is a Contemporary Christian music singer notable for his vocal range (tenor) and flexible solo style. Over his twenty-five year career, Green has been honored as a four-time Grammy Award nominee, seven-time Dove Award winner, has had 13 No. 1 songs, and has sold over three million albums.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


As Christine and I were saying goodnight to one another last night, she with her head resting on her pillow and me reclining on mine, with one hand she stroked the side of my face, silly little beard. As she moved her hand against me I could see in her eyes a look of pathos, a sadness at the different me she saw from when we knew each other as younger adults and new lovers. Her expression was so clear to me that I said, “I’m sorry.” Looking into her eyes, still so stunningly dark and alluring I said, “I tried not to change.” And then her understanding eyes began to tear up as she replied, “Me too.” “I know” I offered, “we tried for so long not to let it happen to us.” Both so happy with one another. Both complete with memories made together, both nostalgic and yet realistic, I said, “We’ll go the rest of the way together.” At which time, we both wiped some tears and then Christine said, “Oh stop it, you can talk like that when we are eighty.”

Sunday, February 28, 2010

We all believe; it is trust that we find challenging.
Doing is natural to us; depending on someone else is exceptional.
Answering comes easily to us; asking is more awkward.
Some life situations are unchangeable unless we trust someone who is trustworthy and can do more than we can and do it more effectively.

Those are some of the thoughts I have today as I reflect on something that I read. I preach at Richmond Chinese Evangelical Free Church this morning at the English service. Yes, occasionally I have an opportunity to do this once again. I thought that sharing some of the lessons God has been teaching me might be helpful to you too. I am preaching from mark 9:14-29 on the theme, “I believe, help my unbelief” which as you can remember is a prayer uttered excitedly and urgently by a father who was convinced that his son was infected with an evil spirit that caused the boy to be self-destructive, uncontrollable, irrational and non-communicative. The Canadian Olympic theme song refrain says, “I believe in the power that comes from a world brought together as one. I believe together we’ll fly. I believe in the power of you and I.” It’s an enjoyable song of solidarity but the power of you and I falls short when addressing the profound issues of life. While Jesus took three disciples, Peter, James and John to a mountain where Jesus was transfigured, the remaining nine disciples were challenged to cast out this evil spirit when the father brought his son for deliverance. The power of them blew it. They couldn’t fix the boy and the father was very disappointed. When Jesus returned, he reproved everyone’s unbelief but his prescriptive remark was, “all things are possible to one who believes.” That’s when the father prayed this prayer, “I believe, help my unbelief.” When later the disciples asked Jesus why they had not been able to deliver the child, he told them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” This is a transferable lesson to the many life situations which are beyond our ability to change or remedy or fix but All Things are Possible to One who Believes and Some Of These Situations Can Only Be Changed By Prayer.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


That's right. Make it two trapped squirrels in three days. Another grey squirrel but this time I was surprised to find it had no tail. Closer inspection showed that it had been a recent accident perhaps in a fight or some other unfortunate incident because it appeared like a fresh wound. My image here is a stock photo and not one minus tail.

in this case my squirrel might have succeeded in hiding as the second image demonstrates.

Another trip to Redwood Park to release squirrel 2, and now the cost has been halved, sort of. One trip, $80.00 for one squirrel. It's down to $40.00 per squirrel. The business plan is unfolding with each passing day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Squirrel Meister

I stamped his passport today. I have waited for several days. Today was the day.

A grey squirrel decided last week to make his home, his nest, perhaps his/her nursery in my garage soffit. I saw the squirrel entering a hole one day and knew I was in for a challenge. I tried boarding the whole and he chewed through the wood. I reboarded, and he simply chewed a larger hole up higher in the softer soffit wood.

I did my research, reading all I could online. I bought a havaheart trap and it has been waiting for him now for three days. Each day he came out in the morning, entered to look and taste the peanut butter and even took a couple of shelled peanuts. Yesterday I placed peanuts with shells at the entrance and today he took one on two separate occasions and then proceeded to take the peanut over the roof, along the fence, into the neighbour's yard and up into a tree at the back of their place. While he was gone I placed the peanuts behind the trap trigger plate so he would have to step on it to access the nuts. HE CAME, HE TOUCHED, I CONQUERED AND HE'S GONE.

I placed the cage with squirrel into my trunk, with a blanket over the cage to subdue the anxiety, transported him 10 kilometres to Redwood Park and let him go. If he returns he has to actually have a good GPS, be able to swim a small river or cross a busy bridge.

Now I have a cage. And I think that I will hire myself out. Do you have squirrel problems? Drop me a note. Perhaps I can help, for the price of my travel to set up the trap and to take the trophy away. Seriously.

Trap cost me $80.00 & made a round trip of 20 kms and have to buy some soffit wood - it was an expensive visitor.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I did it - my talk at the Surrey Art Gallery Association

Last night was a very enjoyable evening for me. One of those bucket list items. A chance to talk to art enthusiasts about my art story, my early youthful ambition to be a graphic artist, the divine interruption that started me on a path of altruistic service within the church community, the setting aside of art as a career, the revived aspiration that in retirement I would give my art another serious try.

I was honoured to be asked to tell my story last night at the Surrey Art Gallery Association. At first perhaps ten people were there and by conclusion twenty. I chatted about the 18 art pieces I had brought with me and entertained questions as we shared some food refreshments. These new acquaintances were very encouraging to me. I confessed that I am not sure who I am as an artist because my styles and brush strokes and mediums appear to change according to the whim of the moment. Nonetheless the comments I received helped me and affirmed me.