Monday, April 30, 2007

The Irony Was Delicious

After a morning of driving, traffic jam and not seeing the Presbyterians, it was a full day of worship, meeting people, small group introductory exercises, seminars and keynote addresses. Add to the socially draining environment of hundreds of youth ministry people (cheery, energetic and extroverted, not that I'm stereotyping) and I was looking for some quiet.

So after calling home before dinner, I found myself near the end of the meal line and was happy to find a table where the people were about finished and ready to leave. Sitting there alone, ready for dessert, Spence called across the room to invite me to crowd in with him and his people (those Presbyterians we'd been looking for) but I yelled back, "I'M SICK OF PEOPLE!"

A woman at the next table gave a sympathetic murmur of agreement, but then suggested to me that I was in the wrong line of work. Agreeing, I sighed and responded, "Yes. My call must be from God."

After finishing my cake and coffee, I walked over to Spence and we revelled in the irony that I was sick of people at a conference focussing on community. I then walked the grounds for some alone time, calling it "looking for House". I plan to present with symptoms of demon possession.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ahead of the Presbyterians

The first leg of the road trip to the Princeton Youth Ministry Forum was fairly uneventful. There was some snow in the water in Buffalo and on the tops of the Pocono Mountains. We only got mildly lost twice and arrived at the Days Inn in Dunmore, PA for an evening of side-by-side wireless computing.

There's no sign of the Presbyterians that we were "racing"; but now is not the time for denominational bickering, not when our Canadian accents are going to be mocked in the days to come. Us hosers have to stick together, eh?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

All Roads Lead to Jersey

The focus of Canadian sports fans has been on New Jersey lately as the Raptors were taken to task by the Nets last night, and where the Senators and Devils are currently in overtime.

Also numerous colleagues and cohorts in (youth) ministry are preparing for an annual expedition to Princeton Theological College. This year I will be joining them for a week of continuing education as the lectures and workshops focus on "community".

Of particular interest is a series on "The Spirituality of Boys – Losers & Loners": Focusing particularly on early adolescent boys, this seminar examines boys’ encounters with loss and loneliness and how those inform their spiritual lives. Seeking to challenge the widespread assumption that boys lack both spirituality and an interest in it, this seminar looks at the distinctive qualities of boys’ spiritual lives and suggests ways for supporting them in ministry.

That, and I'll be keeping an eye out for Dr. Gregory House.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I was going to write yesterday about how much more I've been sleeping lately. With all the big questions finally settled about job and house (and all the late, fitful nights in the weeks previous), it was time to start paying off my sleep debt. I was in bed and sleeping shortly after 10:00 the last couple nights, which is rather early for me.

This morning, the kids were up at 5 a.m.; today has been powered by caffeine. Two cups of coffee with breakfast, a large chai tea through the morning's office hours, a large Tim's in the afternoon before a hospital visit, a Diet Coke while making supper and another coffee after supper before an evening meeting and I haven't been too jittery.

"What you doing? (x7)
I don't know what you doing because I've had too much coffee
I don't know!
Don't drink too much coffee kids."

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Sex in Church

In the anticipated follow-up to The United Church's response to Our Whole Lives curriculum a "think tank" has been convened to identify how we might move forward on presenting an integration of faith and sexuality that offers a positive, affirming message rather than the negative, fear-based diatribes that certain religious traditions loudly espouse.

I arrived last night, checking into the Delta Chelsea (again), with the prospect of a queen-sized bed to myself and no childcare duties. The anticipation of lengthy uninterrupted sleep was for naught. A fire alarm at 4:50 a.m. and the series of announcements over the loudspeakers telling "ladies and gentlemen to please stand-by" made it difficult to fall back asleep, but I managed.

In the morning as a brief history of the process thus far was offered, I found myself in the poisition where I could raise the voice of experience and memory. Some World Café discussion and an Asset Inventory raised some interesting points (again I originally typed "pints" ... hmm) but no clear direction has emerged.

After we adjourned for the day and went out for supper, I stopped by the Eaton Centre and bought some underwear. I managed to forget to pack some. The things you can get in the big city, underwear on a Monday evening?!

Chatting on-line, Michelle suggested that I could have gone commando, but that might make "Guess What's under the Alb?" even more controversial.

We Are Also Homers

In other news, amid all of our usual flurry of juggling schedules, Shelley and I became home owners (which nicely contracts to a Springfieldian "Hom-ers"). We toured through 8 houses in Strathroy and made an offer on one that seemed to best suited to our desire for a ready-to-move-in home (we elected not to go with the house that had the wet bar topped with Molson Canadian beer bottle caps as the bar surface, with some Black Label caps spelling out "Larry's Bar"; my name's not Larry). My superpowers as HandyDaddy are shockingly limited when it comes to actual renovation or home improvement.

We take possession in July so there will be a few weeks of painting and tweaking before moving in. Our new digs:
Apparently, we will have a view of Strathroy's "Running of the Bulls" from our backyard.

So, are we grown-ups yet?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On the Move

It is official. This morning I told the congregations here in Ravenswood and Arkona that I will be leaving in the summer.

Glencoe-Appin Pastoral Charge voted today to extend a call to me. Yes, it's another rural two-point charge (I originally typed "two-pint" ... how's that for typo?) but rural churches deserve quality ministers too.

Why the move? Professionally, I had come to a sense that I've done all that I can do here. It just felt time to move on. I could go on and on here trying make justification, but that would be for my own personal therapy than anything else.

Breaking up is hard to do and my voice caught in my throat on a couple occasions as I shared the news of my departure. But life goes on and so must we.

I've been blessed that the congregations have always been so gracious and understanding (and I'm not just writing this because some of them are regular readers here). I'm curious to see how far the news will spread and how quickly.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Scenes from a Party Day

Maybe a tribute to Don Ho, "Tiny bubbles..."
birthday bubbles

It's more polite to read the card first, before ripping into the presents.
card stock

And it's nice to see the kids haven't forgotten how to eat popsicles.
first popsicles 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

A bit of Ketchup

It's been a swirl of activity in the household here. Just a little bit of catch-up with a promise of more information in the days to come:

I had a surprising funeral for someone from the church, "surprising" in the sense that I think everyone was shocked to learn this person died. We just figured she'd bounce back the way she always did... And Shelley's great-uncle also passed away this week.

The schedule also included a double-Presbytery meeting, the Annual Meeting of the summer camp and retreat center leading into the "regular" Presbytery gathering of governance and good times.

We're also planning two birthday parties for Rei this weekend: one for some of her friends and one for her family. A wide range of activities and emotions, but as I said, more on this will come.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Arkona

In what is a local quirk, children growing up in the fair village of Arkona refer to this settlement as "My-Kona". It's a natural association to make: "Ar-kona" sounds like "Our-kona" and thus Mykona and Yourkona become words in the indigenous lexicon.

This morning, Rei attended the school readiness fair in anticipation of Junior Kindergarten. One of her contemporaries from church was also there and in passing spoke of "Mykona". Later this afternoon in the car ride home from the doctor (after having Kai diagnosed with another ear infection), Rei crossly blurted out, "Why did she say it was Herkona? It's everybody's Arkona!"

I guess our messages about sharing with others have gotten through.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


We hosted Great-Grandma's 90th birthday party this afternoon. After making some arrangements to use the church basement to host our function (which was an in-pulpit statement along the lines of "we'd like to use the church and will ask your forgiveness, as needed"), we prepared in the afternoon for the arrival of Shelley's family. Mind you, her parents have been with us since Friday and have been very helpful with kid-wrangling.

Rei shared toys fairly graciously. Although we hid her musical electric guitar in a closet, figuring it would cause more strife than harmony. Kai was very interested in his 7-month old first cousin once removed (that terminology never made sense to me); it's not often that he's not the smallest/youngest.

We had a photographer come and take some family portraits to commemorate the occasion. Even with 5 strong-willed children, we managed to produce some acceptable poses.

As for Great-Grandma, I think she enjoyed herself and the fuss we were making over her. You know what they say about 90-year olds... (actually I don't, but I'm sure it's quite witty).

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Compliments of CBC Radio 3, The Rheostatics at Massey Hall in its musical immensity is available. Yes, I can apparently re-live the evening in its 210-minute entirety (minus the non-rhyming intro).

You can't hear me "whoo whoo"ing during "Me & Stupid" after the line about "getting whaled/wailed on ginger ale" or after the tribute to Nick Cave in "My First Rock Concert" but I did. I'm looking forward to shouting "ALOMAR!" once more and rocking out to the incredibly uplifting treatment of "Self Serve Gas Station".
Isn't technology wonderful? Encore!

EDIT: Well, it's not so much the entire concert; much of the first set and one song of the encore (which still is an impressive hunk of music) with some of the banter excised. I guess I have to wait for Alomar at the Self Serve...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Face the Future

After much persuasion from Shelley, I've joined the Facebook. Exactly what I need: more opportunity for waste-o and extroverted on-line activity. Mind you, I guess this blog is pretty out there for people/strangers to gather all kinds of information about my life.

I guess we all just want to be known and connected to one another. Or we want to re-live high school and prove how popular we can be. Status: Kenji is cynical.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Shelley's parents returned from the sunny south today. Rei and Kai were excited to catch up with Grandma and Papa, telling stories, showcasing toys and displaying new-found leaping abilities.

With the first barbeque of 2007 (Shelley's folks were kind enough to provide the equipment; the universal replacement burner for our barbeque is not as universal as it claims to be) and some tins of Milwaukee Light, we can declare spring's official arrival – were it not for the snow gently falling.

Monkey See

Kai learned this from his sister:
Where she learned it from, I don't want to know.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week, Batman!

With the Risen Christ ushered safely and ceremoniously from the tomb, I emerge from my burrow of church work to take in the newly snowed-upon spring weather. Here's some of the happenings of the Holy Week that Was:


I spent a lot of time running around gathering supplies for the Good Friday worship service. It seems absurd to pay money for rocks, (like paying for bottled water...) but I loaded up at the dollar store for some polished "river stones". The liturgy I was using called for rose petals, but even before pricing those out, I knew that some tastefully small, artificial blooms, (also at the dollar store) were the more financially responsible option.

I also spent much time trying to track down a copy of "The Gospel of John". A Christian bookstore in London had it on VHS for $70 (yes, $70) but not wanting to be caught without, I *gulped* bought it in case I could find it anywhere else. A couple days later I was in HMV and was rooting through the DVDs and tada! found a copy for $17. Without any gulping, I bought the DVD featuring both the 2-hour version, the theatrical 3-hour version and bonus extras. I returned the other one, more financial responsibility.

I reprised my role as the disciple John at the Last Supper during a dramatic Maundy Thursday evening worship service with the Baptists.

Good Friday morning's worship featured the previously-mentioned rocks, flowers and DVD.

I went to The Swell youth worship service that night and found myself in an impromptu skit about sin. Apparently, sin is drinking and dancing and stepping in cardboard boxes.

The wintry weather forced a move indoors for the Easter Sunrise service and after a quick trip back home to see how the kids enjoyed Easter morning chocolate delivery, it was into the regular Sunday morning road trip to the churches.

Play Ball
In the middle of all that prayerful diligence, I managed to see that the Florida Gators won the NCAA tournament again. Ho hum. The game was rather anti-climactic as they dispatched Ohio State easily and efficiently. There was more tension surrounding the status of coach Billy Donovan and wondering how much product he uses in his hair.

In the big leagues, the Raptors clinched a playoff spot and steadily continue to climb the standings. It is a strange feeling to watch a Raptors game and expect them to win. Very strange; although I shouldn't be surprised, it is a season of resurrection.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Theological Reflections

As a pair of brothers came bursting into Monday School today, the younger (8-years old) asked me, "When people die, how does their spirit do their hobbies?"

I replied with, "I don't know; that's a very good question."

To which he responded: "That's what my mom said. She said I should ask you. You own the church. You know lots about God."

If only I actually did own the church and know lots about God, then the world would be a different place.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool

Every minister's nightmare came true for me this afternoon. I had a memorial service to conduct and upon arriving at the funeral chapel, noted that I forgot my Bible. Not a problem, there was one on-site; then I couldn't find my notes for the service itself. I rummaged through my bag, rooted through the car a couple times, hastily making mental notes all the while, fearing I'd have to extemporize and ad lib my way through it.

I called home and Shelley didn't see it anywhere. After a minute of heart-pounding fret and anguish, I called her back and had her email the document to the funeral home where it was printed and in my hands in a matter of seconds. To say I was relieved would be an understatement.

I guess this whole ordeal was cosmic payback for saying "Jackass" during the Children's Story in church.