June 2014

It is unbelievable to me that it has been only seven weeks since we packed our bags and naively headed home for our annual visit with our family and friends. Now that I have been back in KL for almost a week, I am finally beginning to feel that I am on top of things once again.
During a brief nine days in Ontario, I went non-stop and accomplished all that I had set out to do and then some. Once I had the car on the road and figured out how to drive a standard again, It was a real treat to be able to attend a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” themed wedding shower for Sarah, my nephew Jesse’s new bride. Sunday was a full day touching base with friends at WLA, a lovely BBQ lunch with Sara and Milan to reclaim the keys to our condo and a family visit during which we at least were able to acknowledge my brother Lawrence’s upcoming 65th birthday.
I am well aware of the debt that I owe to a group of women who have encouraged me and supported me in prayer throughout our time here. I treasure the opportunity to spend a weekend with them each June at the Ladies Retreat. The setting at Team Ranch was beautiful with plenty of activities for everyone. The giant swing was a big hit for the more adventurous of the group but others enjoyed horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, skating, volleyball and sitting quietly in the midst of creation.

Ladies Retreat Crop

The theme this year was “The Voice” and Shelley led us through a wonderful study of the Voice of Truth, Power, Goodness and Love. The Voice who hears and responds to my voice as I approach Him with my confessions, my requests, my pain, my pleas for others and my adoration and responds with forgiveness, guidance, provision and healing. I am so prone to listen to the voice of the Lie that leads to confusion, doubt, deception, temptation shame and isolation and was encouraged and strengthened by this reminder. It was great just to have some quiet time that didn’t involve running from one task to the next.

With the banking details all up to date, our medical records located, the car back to Aylmer, and the condo cleared and prepared for a new occupant, I packed up one more time to head back home. I was very grateful for a round trip via Calgary which meant I had two more days with Greg, Liz, Russ and Dave. Lots of fun spending a day with Russ and creating a barricade to protect him from his favourite activity, racing to the stairs and seeing how far he can get up before you can catch. Found the perfect T-shirt for our little Epic Dude.


Epic DudeLeaving Greg and Liz behind and returning to KL has been incredibly difficult and I struggled to begin to pick up the pieces of life here. But life goes on and there are friends to see, courses to pursue, visas to obtain, trips and training to organize and work to be done and even in all that there is a measure of healing. I look forward to seeing how God will lead in this upcoming year



My children made me a father. I don’t mean that they came into the world and my name was entered into their birth certificate in the appropriate place. That was true also; but that is not what I mean. I mean that through their influence I grew into the role. I became the father they needed. This is why:

They trusted me. Trust is a huge motivator; much more effective than fear. Fear causes you to close down; to seek the most available route out of trouble. Trust causes you to grow to meet your children’s (often unrealistic) expectations. You want to be larger, not smaller. You want to give more, not less. Their innocent trust in your abilities drives you to develop those abilities. Their trust in your character drives you to refine and purge that character. Their trust in your wisdom drives you to research and understand the issues that concern them. A child’s trust is not something you can mess with. You have to earn it.

They loved me. I so do not deserve that love. I am tough-minded and even cruel on occasion. Life has often kicked me in the face and I have fought back. Hard. I can be unforgiving and relentless. But my children loved me. And I wanted to be worthy of that love. I took their rebuke and disappointment in me and turned it into lessons for improvement. I confessed my unworthiness and sought to be more worthy. I dug deep into my faith and asked God to show me what needed to change. My children’s love for me transformed me into a better man, and continues to do so.

They respected me. This is the ground of a man’s being. His children’s respect will drive him to heroics of self-sacrifice. Men who lose the respect of their children lose the better half of themselves. My children may not have agreed with every decision I made, but I ran every decision through this filter: Is this worthy of my children’s respect? Not their agreement; not their compliance. Those are different issues. But everything you do has to meet this standard or it is a non-starter. My children have their own priorities and concerns and they do not perfectly align with my own. But I know they respect me, and I am determined to live a life that is worthy of that respect to my dying breath. Their respect influences my behaviour. Always has.

My children made me a father; made me a better man. But here is the icing on that cake: their lives bring me great joy! They are no more perfect than I am. But they all live lives that are worthy and uplifting. They are all ruled by kindness and consideration. They all understand the value of relationship and are not slaves to money or superficial consumerism. They care for others, and they care for each other. This is the sweet legacy of having tried to be the father that my children needed me to be. My children made me a father, and that has been the greatest joy in my life.

Liz and Russ

“Sometimes life takes us places we never expected to go and in those places God writes a story that we never thought would be ours.” Our family has had its share of ups and downs, as has all other families. No couple can raise three children in such a tumultuous age as ours and put four parents to eternal rest without heartache. We come home to North America each year knowing that we will face our share of whatever our grown children and their children are going through, and determined to be a closer part of their lives, at least briefly, so that we might share in their joys and their burdens.

This year our time in Seattle was unexpectedly early and lengthy, a blessing that was a result of our reassessment of our course load for our Master’s degrees that will reduce our burden by six courses each. We enjoyed the additional time in a beautiful part of North America, and had the rare privilege of looking after three of our grandchildren for a week while their parents enjoyed a well-deserved and long overdue vacation in Hawaii. Having the opportunity to get to know these three adorable children a little better and walk/ride/drive them to school daily was to us like winning the lottery, minus the money of course. Though we greatly enjoyed all that we did, we had a lot less energy by the end of the week!

Flying on to Calgary in a gorgeously clear sky over the Cascades and the Rockies brought us to the other two grown children, Dave and Liz, and the lives in which they are engaged. Liz and her husband have one son, a dear fellow with a happy, inquisitive nature and a fearless thirst for adventure. He was due to have a little brother in October, but the baby was stillborn at twenty one weeks into our daughter’s pregnancy: his little heart succumbing to a congenital defect.

The families rallied around, as good families do at such times, and our daughter was well-supported and cherished through this difficult time. Her own character is strong and resilient, the heritage of a loving home and a capable and caring mother. As devoted Christians, we are of the conviction that a loving God arranged for us to be home at this unusual time in the year for us so we could be present to help out wherever we could. It would have been unbearable to be in Malaysia while our daughter and her husband were going through this. Jon flew up from Seattle to be with his sister and show his support as well. Though overwhelmingly sad, this loss was tempered by the evident love of all for the little life that was lost.

We also found comfort in the joy that Liz and Greg’s little toddler, Russell takes in life. He is crawling fearlessly and standing with support. Soon he will be walking and falling over the place. Seeing the world through his eyes was a great joy. Dave was facing an unexpected slowdown at work, and was doing his best not to be anxious about his job. Yesterday his company landed an enormous contract for a reservoir outside of Calgary that will see them right through the winter. The two of us snuck in a few brief minutes at a local driving range with a promise to get in a least nine holes next time we are home. Our evenings were often spent in family meals around Greg and Liz’s dining room table eating the finest barbequed beef that Alberta could produce, Greg’s parents joining us on occasion.

Now I am sitting in the airport lounge at Calgary airport, nursing a soy latte and trying to put into words what the last month has been like. Living in Malaysia has been a tremendous adventure and it is a much appreciated opportunity to serve God and do some good in a part of the world that needs the expertise and skill set that Pam and I possess. But a month like we have just been through reminds us that there are more things to our life than service, no matter how significant, and whatever we do now and in the future must include our families in a meaningful way. We don’t want to be visitors in our children’s lives; they are too important to us.