Thursday, July 31, 2008


"Twelve percent of statistics are made up on the spot."

My Father's Death

Since I was only three years old when my father died, my memories of him are a combination of the few photographs we have of him, along with a few mini-video clips in my mind. I can't recall the sound of his voice, and that makes me sad. I wish I had more to work with.
The memories take place on the farm we lived on until he died. I recall a time we were in the sauna. I would have been about two. I was sitting in a small tub, splashing water and he was singing a silly song in Finnish, called "Ukko Noah", which means, "Old Man Noah". I also remember a ride out to the garbage dump in the woods behind our farm. Our German Shepherd, Wolf, went down into the valley and I was afraid for him, and my dad called him back.
I remember when a mangy old stray tomcat came to our property and tormented our barn cats. My Dad shot it off the barn (they did things like that back then), and my sister, who was five, took it by the tail, swung it over her head like a lasso, and tossed it into a puddle. This made me and all the kids in the neighbourhood laugh hysterically, for some reason.
The other vignette occurred when our dog, Wolf was hit by a car. He was badly injured and in the ditch. It was a hot summer morning, and I remember walking on the gravel driveway in my barefeet, wearing only my pajama bottoms (I was three). I remember he sent me in the house. Then he shot Wolf. (You'd think he always walked around with a rifle).
The final memory I have is of his funeral. I don't recall the moment when my Mom told us he had been in a car accident, although she did. I don't remember visiting him in the hospital for the month before he died. They had to tell my mom through an interpreter that he had died, we were such new immigrants. At the funeral, I remember touching his face in the casket. It was so cold.
That's sad, isn't it? Only a handful of memories of someone I should know so well.
I think children should go to funerals, even if they're very young, because it helps them to understand death.
This may seem like a strange custom, but Finnish people take pictures at funerals. I'm actually glad of that because it helped me have closure about his death. At around age nine, I was having a few dreams that my Dad was still alive. I wanted it to be true. I didn't care if he had left us, I just wanted him to be alive. At that age you start to understand the permanence of death.
The fact that I remembered touching him, and that we had a picture of me in my Mother's arms, with my sister standing beside my Father's open casket (in a sense, our last family photo), helped me accept the truth and finality of his death.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Anti-War Poet

The 1997 movie, Regeneration, (sometimes called Behind Enemy Lines), is set in a psychiatric hospital for shell-shocked and insane soldiers during WW1. It's also about two famous anti-war poets, Sigfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Wilfred Owen admired Sassoon almost to the point of hero-worship, but the focus of this movie is mostly on the life of Wilfred Owen and the development of his poetry and its' encouragement by Sassoon. Owen is generally considered a greater poet than Sassoon. Owen is in the hospital for shell-shock. Sassoon is sane and brave, having received the iron cross for bravery, but because he wrote a pamphlet criticizing the war, he is hospitalized and encouraged to recant or stay in the sanitarium for the entire war. Neither Sassoon nor Owen is particularly opposed to all wars, since they both enlisted, but they feel this one is hopeless and needlessly prolonged.
We are so accustomed to people protesting against issues, that it's hard for us to really understand how controversial it was for these men to speak out against war during these times, even in free countries. This was at a time when according to Owen, the thinking was "It is great and glorious to die for one's country."
Owen, as a soldier, was not a pacifist, but he did see the horrors of war and wanted the world to wake up. He wrote about trench and gas warfare. At one point in the movie, as the men are arguing about whether they should even be fighting at all, Dr. William Rivers challenges them angrily, "And what if everyone believed like you? Do you think the Germans will just go home?"
Owen wrote a poem from the perspective of a recently killed soldier, and another where he talks to an enemy soldier, that in other circumstances, they may have had a beer together.
Sadly, Wilfred Owen was killed in the war, at age 25, one week before the armistice. The news of his death reached his hometown just as the bells where ringing in celebration of the end of the Great War.
The most poignant scene in the movie is at the end, when news of Owen's death reaches Dr. Rivers. In the letter is a poem of Owen's, which he reads aloud. It is based on the Biblical narrative of Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac.

The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac, the first-born spake and said, 'My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt offering?'
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son,
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by it's horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

You can also google Wilfred Owen, and hear his poems narrated to music and pictures. The above poem is very powerful heard this way.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Terrorists in Canada

I bought the book, The Lightning File, by Eric Wright, because I know the author personally and have enjoyed reading his non-fiction books. I was pleasantly surprised at his first attempt at fiction. I read it in 24 hours. I know that a lot of work goes into writing a novel, but the fact that I couldn't put it down was meant as a compliment. It is fast-paced, intriguing and intricate. You wonder if they'll be able to foil the terrorist plot and make the connection to drug-money laundering. Josh needs to break a code to solve the mystery. His marriage problems and the femme fatale with whom he has a mutual attraction play into the story as well. The fact that it's set in Toronto with familiar landmarks makes it more interesting. The potential and actual terrorist scenarios he proposes in the book seem plausible and terrifying. His research of Welland Canal and the Darlington Nuclear Plant is well done. I'm sure 'someone' else has already considered these things as well.

John Paton

The book John Paton, by Benjamin Unseth is a missionary adventure. He lived from 1824 to 1907. I know he's admired in many circles for bringing the gospel to many islands in the South Pacific, but the impression I got from this book was that he seemed to be satisfied with "conducting worship", and was pleased if the natives simply behaved during it. Then he was surprised when they continued their headhunting and cannibalism. It doesn't seem to me that he actually preached the gospel, so there was no real change in their hearts, and therefore, in their lives.
No doubt, the missionaries who went to those islands first, were brave, and many gave their lives. Paton himself was threatened and hounded and cursed by a particular chief.
When Paton dug a well and provided water, the men saw this as a miracle. They had been trying to talk him out of it, telling him that no one ever heard of anyone digging a hole to get rain. They were afraid they'd be in trouble when a man-of-war arrived and they'd have to explain that he was buried in the ground trying to find rain. They knew they wouldn't be believed. They were also impressed when a death curse placed on him failed. Over time, many were converted and went to their former enemies to share the gospel.
One funny thing: He was in Tanna first, where the cannibals ate the bones of those they killed. When he went to Vanuatu and found mounds of human bones, he asked how they got there. The men were offended and said, "We are not Tanna men! We don't eat the bones!"
Captain Cook always said that when he went to a new island, he always hoped the missionaries had been there first. Understandable since he was bludgeoned to death by the natives on the island of Hawaii.

Exploring Infant Baptism

The novel, "Is it Well With the Child?" by William Oosterman, explores the issue of what happens to children who die before they know right from wrong. It does this by telling the story of a four year old boy who died, never having been baptized. The small community is shattered and hardly knows how to comfort the parents, who most feel, were wrong not to have baptized him. With the give and take of dialogue, Oosterman examines this theological issue from several viewpoints. Their Catholic housekeeper admits she took the child and had had him secretly baptized in the Catholic church, which then asks the question, "Is it the outward act itself, however it was done, that matters?" This family was not Catholic.
Although I agree with the reasoning and appreciate the Scriptural arguments he puts forth in defense of the idea that all babies who die go to Heaven, I disagree with his ultimate conclusion. The Scriptural arguments are rather vague, and where Scripture stops, we must stop. I don't believe we can know, and must instead leave it with God. As Abraham said, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" It's not my idea of right that matters, but God's, who has all wisdom. Think for a moment: even Adolf Hitler could have been a cute baby and sweet little boy, but God knows all things, even the future of cute little babies.
The reason I must disagree with his conclusion, is that the ramifications are not logical. If it was automatic that every baby who died before birth, or children who died before they could repent, went to Heaven automatically, then the logical conlcusion would be for Christians not to be opposed to abortion, because the babies would go to Heaven, whereas if they lived, they may or may not. I cannot see the logic in that. "Shall we do evil, that good may come?"
Is there no advantage then, to children of believers? Of course. They have the opportunity to hear the gospel in many ways and can see it lived out in their parents' lives. But it must be their own faith, not their parents. When we stand before the Judgment Seat, we will not be hanging onto our mother's apron strings. It's like a turnstyle, you go through one at a time. God has sons and daughters, He doesn't say He has grandchildren. Yet, parents often feel they have to "do" something for their children, but they cannot. Even the concept of Child Dedication is, to me, just a holdover from infant baptism. It makes the parents feel good. Who are they dedicating? Are they not dedicating themselves to raise this child in a Christian home? Would they not have done that without a ceremony with the child in a fancy lace gown? Of course, any true Christian would. Yet, I know many who stand up in front of a congregation and promise to do just that, but then they never actually do it. We made no such public proclamation, and yet we did it. What's better? Jesus asked the same thing. He said one son said, "Yes, Father I'll do it, but didn't do it, and the other son said he wouldn't do it, but then repented and did it." It's better to obey than sacrifice. (But I digress).
I know the author, and I generally agree with him on most things, but not this time. Sorry, Willy.

He Spoke in Parables

This book by Gordon Keddie is a very helpful book in preparing Sunday School lessons. After explaining the purpose of parables, Keddie explains and applies twenty-six parables. They are very powerful ways of teaching profound truths, and Jesus was the Master. They talk about things common to most cultures, like farming, or weddings. They are earthly stories with a heavenly message. He also warns against looking for more in them than there is. Unless it says specifically that this=that, it's best to be watching for just one main lesson. Some parables use contrast to teach, i.e. the Unjust Judge, while others use comparable ideas, like the prodigal son.
Our problem is rarely that we don't understand parables. Our problem is accepting what is being taught. For example, in the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus is teaching that as the owner of the Vineyard, He can pay the workers whatever He likes, because it's His to give. The implication is that even if a person is saved right before they die, like the thief on the cross next to Jesus, they are promised Heaven, just like the people who have served God their whole lives. We rebel against it only because we forget that we don't work for our salvation; it is all of grace.

Submarine Ride

When we were on a Caribbean Cruise, on our stop in St. Thomas, I went on a two-hour submarine ride. My youngest daughter is claustrophobic, so my husband took the girls on an aerial car tour (not my cup of tea, since I'm afraid of heights).
Of course, my camera took that moment to break, so I have no pictures, but if you go to you can get an idea of what the sub looks like and the kinds of things you see.
I know that most people would be more interested in the fish and coral, because they are beautiful, but for me, the submarine was the attraction. Being able to see the underside of the surface of the water as we submerged, and resurfaced, with the varying degrees of light, was amazing. We descended to 80 feet.
The crew consisted of the Captain (sub-driver) and another sailor who was the tour guide. He said, "The first thing they taught us in sub-school was to close the hatches before we dive. If I have to open them again while we're down here, I'm not coming back. That thing about 'women and children first' only applies to surface vessels."
If I wouldn't have looked like a fool being by myself and grinning, I would have done it. I was so happy. But instead I just looked out the window and jumped for joy on the inside. If I had a 'bucket list' of things to do before I die, a submarine ride would be on it. Of course, if someone could arrange a tour in a nuclear submarine, I'd be forever grateful.

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me

1. I'm a book addict.
2. I eat an egg every day.
3. I'm fluent in English and Finnish.
4. I'm afraid of heights, and bees.
5. I took a ride in a submarine.
6. I once stowed away on a ferry.
7. I'm good at target games (archery, laser quest, arcade shooting games).
8. One day, I hope to go to Papua New Guinea.
9. I've had coffee every day since I was five (except when I was pregnant).
10. I'm working on seven inspirational romance stories at once.

Dreaming is Free

If money was no object, I would build a personal library, modelled after the one in the House of Commons, in Ottawa. It has two levels that line a circular room, with bookshelves that come into the centre of the room like spokes. The centre is a sitting area. Directly above the central area is a domed, stained glass ceiling. It has beautiful woodwork. If it was filled with my favourite books, as well, I'd be in my happy place.

SuperHero Attribute

If I could have any attribute of a superhero, I'd choose to be able to breathe underwater, so I could explore the ocean's mysteries.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Taste of Eternity

Richard Baxter was a Puritan Pastor in England from 1615-1691. He wrote many books, which were, essentially, a collection of his sermons. The little paperback, Aim High, is a paraphrase and serious abridgment of his much larger book, The Saints' Everlasting Rest. He writes, as most Puritans do, with headings, sub-headings, and about 10 points under each sub-heading, so that by the time you get to the last point, you almost forget what he was trying to prove.
Although it is verbose, even this abridged version gives you perspective about the brevity of this life in the light of eternity. No one could doubt the pastoral heart of Baxter, or his own love for the Saviour. An eleven year old boy who was dying, asked to have some of Mr. Baxter's book, so that he could "read a little more of eternity before I go to it."
The first five paragraphs of Chapter One are so moving, I've copied them and want them read at my funeral, whenever that may be. (It follows this blog).
They are written from the perspective of a soul newly arrived in glory and reflecting on the journey and the destination he almost missed out on. I can't read it without crying. Sadly, in this day of spiritual illiteracy, few will take the time and energy required to read any of the Puritans, especially the more intellectual writers, like John Owen. But this little volume is well worth the effort. Believers are missing out on great comfort by avoiding their rich heritage.

"From heaven's height the soul surveys the Promised Land. Looking back on earth, the soul views the dreary wilderness through which it passed. To stand on Mount Memory, comparing heaven with earth, fills the soul with unimaginable gratitude, and makes it exclaim:
'Is this the inheritance that cost so much as the blood of Christ? No wonder! O blessed price! Is this the result of believing? Have the gales of grace blown me into such a harbour? Is this where Christ was so eager to bring me? O praise the Lord! Is this the glory of which the Scriptures spoke, and of which ministers preached so much? I see the Gospel is indeed good news!
Are all my troubles, Satan's temptations, the world's scorns and jeers, come to this? O vile, nature, that resisted so much, and so long, such a blessing! Unworthy soul, is this the place you came to so unwillingly? Was duty tiresome? Was the world too good to lose? Could you not leave all, deny all, and suffer anything for THIS? Were you loathe to die to come to this? O false heart, you had almost betrayed me to eternal flames and lost me this glory! Are you not ashamed now, my soul, that you ever questioned that Love which brought you here? Are you not sorry that you ever quenched His Spirit's prompting or misinterpreted His providence, or complained about the narrow road that brought you to such a destination?
Now you are sufficiently convinced that your blessed Redeemer was saving you, as well when he crossed your desires, as when he granted them; when he broke your heart, as when he bound it up. No thanks to you, unworthy self, for this crown; but to God be the glory for ever!'"

Anniversary Trip

My husband and I usually like to get away without the kids once a year around our anniversary. This year we stayed in downtown Toronto for three nights. Our hotel room had been recently renovated with modern brown and white furnishings, a bowl sink and large shower stall in place of a tub, a 42" plasma T.V. and an I-POD docking station on the clock radio (not that either one of us has an I-POD).
It also had a king sized bed. The good thing about sleeping in a king sized bed is that you can sleep all night and never touch anyone. And the bad thing about sleeping in a king sized bed is that you can sleep all night and never touch anyone. My husband says we'll never get a king-sized bed for our house.
We ate at a variety of places, including a hot dog vendor, Dunn's Famous Deli, Shawarma King, for falafel and tabouli, Big Daddy's Crab Shack for crabcakes,lobster, king crab, scallops, shrimp and catfish,(Yum) and Bistro 333 for steak and salmon.
We attended a Toronto FC soccer game against Montreal Impact. This was my second game and his third. It's impossible to get regular season tickets. It's incredibly popular, more than they anticipated. It was an exciting game and we had great seats, but the game ended in a tie, which meant that Montreal advanced in the Champions League. It was the only time in all our 22 years that my husband and I wore matching clothes, but then, we matched most of the people in BMO field as well.
The fans who sit on the south side are known as the Red Patch Boys and they stand throughout the game. They chant,"This is our house!" They are very loyal, but they're not very good sports. They throw things on the field, like a shower of streamers on the opposing side player when he's trying to take a corner kick. They shouldn't allow that. They don't allow it in the English or German leagues. The longer they let them get away with stuff like that, it will just embolden them to be even rowdier, and there'll soon be Hooliganism, and people won't want to bring their families there.
If a player from the other team goes down, they chant, "Dig a hole, and bury him."
One funny thing that happened: in the first few minutes of the game, a player from Montreal kicked the ball and his shoe came off. They began chanting, "Tie your shoe up."
The weather wasn't great, lots of rain, thunder and lightning, so we didn't go to Shakespeare in the Park as planned. We would have gone the next night, but the MLS All-stars were playing against West Ham United, and soccer trumps Shakespeare every time. We couldn't get tickets to that (I love West Ham almost as much as Aston Villa) so we stayed in and watched the game on the big screen and then went out for dinner afterwards. The All-Stars won 3-2 and a Scarborough native, DeRosario scored the winning goal.
We shopped at the Eaton Centre, and of course, spent a few hours in the World's Biggest Bookstore, feeding my addiction with 2, no 4, okay, 6 new books. My husband even bought one and read it while we were away.
It was nice to sleep in and spend time together as a couple. We love our kids, and we like them, too, but we plan on being a happily married couple long after they've moved out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Husband Store

This was a funny e-mail about what women look for in a husband. Does such a place really exist?

A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the store ONLY ONCE !

There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch . ... you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband . .

On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 - These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads:

Floor 2 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.

"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:

Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with the housework.

"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!" Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:

Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.

Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!

My Jonah Moment

"Do you want to make God laugh? Tell Him you have plans." Anonymous

The Old Testament Prophet, Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh to preach. He refused and fled by ship to Tarshish. You know the rest of the story. A storm came up, they discovered it was because of him, he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish for three days. After he was expelled, he went where he was supposed to go.
Seventeen years ago, we were looking to buy a house. There were some things I wanted in a house, but one thing I didn't want was to live near our church, because the area is a little rough. I said, "I WILL NOT live near that mall or have my kids go to that school."
Never say never. I think God said, "Oh, really?"
Guess where we ended up finding a home? Guess which mall I shop at and which school our children attended for a few years? Yep, on a quiet street right near our church, where I said I'd never live. We've been here since. Is this my dream house? No, but it is our home. I'm content with my life, and happy to be living near the church where we serve.
I haven't always been content. I think I went through my mid-life crisis early, at age 30, but I've since settled into the place I'm called to be.
God didn't put me where I wanted to be, only where I needed to be.

Monday, July 21, 2008

CarolynT Band

My sister-in-law has her own band where she is the soloist. She is very good and has played in many venues, including the Jazz Festival. She sings R&B, Funk, and jazz as well. Here are some pictures of her, as well as her website and you tube videos. She was on Breakfast Television and sang two songs.
Her website is
Her youtube videos are found at
It's nice to have someone famous in the family.

Spanish Words

This is another funny e-mail about the differences between men and women.

A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.
House" for instance, is feminine: "la casa."
"Pencil," however, is masculine: "el lapiz."
A student asked, "What gender is a computer?"
Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun.
Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.
The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computadora"), because:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other
computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.
The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("el computador"), because:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on.
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves.
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half
the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you
had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oldest Daughter's Baptism

This past Spring, our 17 year old daughter was baptized. It happened to be 23 years to the day when I was baptized in the same church. We were very happy. This is what every Christian parent prays for: the day when all you've taught them, is not just their parents' faith, but their own.
Our daughter made a profession of faith when she was young. She was attending a Christian school where they heard the gospel every day. One of the teachers (Miss T.J.) was giving her testimony. She said she always went everywhere with her parents, but realized that she wouldn't automatically go with them to heaven.
I knew nothing about what was said in school or the impact it had on her, until late that night, after she'd been in bed for a while. She came out and told me what her teacher said, and with tears in her eyes, said, "I want to serve God my whole life."
With children, you need to be careful about 'decisioning' them, because they naturally want to please. The fact that God worked in her heart and then she told me, showed the genuineness of her conversion. Some years later she struggled with the assurance of salvation and I told her it's like a child crossing a busy street with their parent. The parent doesn't count on the child's hold of him for security, but the parent's hold of the child. It's not how much we love God that matters, but how much he loves us, and that is the most secure place to be.
The evidence of a changed life followed: she had a concern for the lost, a desire to do what God wanted with her life, and a sweet disposition (except for the usual hormonal fluctuations as a teen, and a stubborn streak she inherited from me).
The day she was baptized, many of her friends, and ours, came from out of town and from sister churches. She had a few rows of pews filled to see her get immersed. She is now working as a counsellor at a Christian summer camp for inner city kids, and loves it. She's going into Social Services in the fall.
After the baptism, we had thrity people over for dinner. The weather forecast was bleak, but we prayed about it, because our house is too small to host such a gathering indoors. We got a beautiful day and ate out on the deck and in the backyard.
Because it was early spring, the yard wasn't at its' best and our deck hadn't been refinished. The old me would have freaked out about it, not to mention feeding thirty people, but I just reminded myself that no one really cared about those things, and that they were here to celebrate this happy event with us, and that life was made up of moments like these. (I am getting mellower with age).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Future European Language

I've received this joke by e-mail a few times, and have forwarded it to many people as well. I've always been amused by language humour, and this one is the best.

Future European Language
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.
The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where! more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.
Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ze fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

The Pros and Cons of Interracial Marriage

When I was a little girl in Northern Ontario, there were few visible minorities. Once, at a cottage, we had gone by boat to the convenience store. Another boat pulled up with a mixed couple in it. He was black, she was white. They had three adorable little boys. The Dad had no shirt on. He was gorgeous! When we told our families about what we had seen, they said,'You shouldn't marry them.' I remember thinking that there didn't seem to be anything wrong with marrying them. The only reason I stared, as a kid, was the novelty,the Dad's looks, and the cute kids. Anyway, fast forward. When I was twenty, I moved to Toronto. It was my first real exposure to visible minorities, having grown up mostly in the Finnish community.
I met my husband at our summer job in a hospital. He is from Jamaica. We were attracted to each other. The only thing I cared about was whether or not he was a Christian. I think the fact that we both grew up in Canada makes a difference, too, since we have a similar culture. If one of us was a new immigrant, there would be some issues and we would probably approach things differently. We were married two years later. That was in the mid-eighties. Toronto is very multicultural. When we were dating, I would say there were only five incidents; comments, looks, discrimination, etc. Nothing since. In fact, no one bats an eye now. There are many mixed couples in Toronto. As a problem, I would say that considering where to travel is an issue. South Florida and the Caribbean are okay for travelling, but my husband is not willing to go to the southern states because of the anticipated reactions we'd rather just avoid. As for us, race has never been an issue. Before we were married, a friend asked me, 'Aren't you worried that when you two argue, you'll call him a name?' That shocked me, because I guess that's in her mind. She saw him as a black man, I saw him as a man. I said, 'If I get mad at him, it'll be over what he says or does, not who he is.' We have several cultures in our family. We eat Jamaican food, Finnish food and everything else. Our family gatherings are louder with the Jamaican side,and more subdued with the Finnish side, and somewhere in between when we're all together. About our kids, people often ask what we tell them when they ask if they are black or white. We tell them they are mixed. We even gave it a name: Finnaican. When our oldest daughter was young, she used to tell people she was half Finnish, half Jamaican, and half Canadian. So she didn't understand least she knew who she was. We have two beautiful daughters. They have had very little racism to face in their lives; a great deal less than my husband or mother-in-law faced when they came to Canada in the early seventies. We have been happily married for over twenty years. Race is not an issue in our marriage. We only deal with the usual stresses and conflicts in marriage. We have since had many more interracial marriages within our family. I guess we broke the ice. Our family members don't seem to have a problem with it. There were adjustments at the beginning of our courtship, but they've since been supportive. Overall, I have no problems with interracial marriages. I think there are more important things in which you need to be compatible, like faith. Externals are not an issue.
(This was originally published on

Response to the Movement to Make HPV Vaccine Mandatory

As the mother of two teen-aged daughters, I am appalled at the mere suggestion of a mandatory vaccine. This is too much, even for Canada, where our government is not averse to telling its' citizens what they should do. As a nurse, I am not at all opposed to vaccines. As an oncology nurse, I have seen cervical cancer and penile cancer, both caused by HPV, so I am not naive. My children have been vaccinated against all childhood communicable diseases. They have even been vaccinated against other things that can be acquired as a matter of course in social circles, such as Meningitis. But HPV doesn't just happen, you have to go out and get it. It is also easy to avoid. Some have said that parents refuse this for their children because they're afraid to talk to them about sex. I, personally, have spoken to my daughters, 15 and 17, about sex and about this vaccine. They have told me they don't want it. Cost is not an issue here in Canada, as the government is currently advertising and promoting this vaccine free of cost for a limited time. However, my Doctor told me they were thinking of making it mandatory. That made me very angry. They can't even compel parents to immunize their children against communicable diseases (you can enroll your children in school without vaccinations as long as you sign a paper saying you decline on religious or ethical grounds), which led to a severe outbreak of measles in a private school where most of the parents do not agree with immunizations. How then,could they think to compel parents to agree to give this vaccine to prevent something that is dependent on behaviour? My Doctor offered it, which I suppose she is entitled or required to do. I discussed it with my husband and daughters, and we refused it, which we are entitled to do. If our government EVER compelled parents to agree to give this vaccine to their children, it should be fought it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
(This was first published for

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Favourite Place

These are some pictures of Desbarats Lake (pronounced Debra) in Northern Ontario where I grew up. I have very fond memories of this place. There's not much to it, and it's quite rustic compared to what people in Southern Ontario expect from a cottage, but the million dollar view can't be beat. It sits at the foot of a small bay in a small lake near Sault Ste. Marie. My aunt and uncle used to own this cottage (they call them camps up North), and I spent most of my childhood summers there. I was sad when it was sold, but then, after a few years, it was on the market again and one of my friends bought it. He and his family live in the States, so they don't get up there too often. For the past few summers, we stayed there for a week. It was so relaxing. No phones, no TV, no internet. Just reading, writing, sauna and swimming, campfires, stargazing, and visiting friends in town. One of our friends flew his float plane in for a visit. (See FLYING).
The only downside is the outhouse, which was not a popular concept with the girls. They've never been happier to come back home to indoor plumbing.
We brought our nieces with us and so all four had similar experiences there to my teen years. My oldest daughter even learned to drive on the same camp roads I did. It was kind of strange, but nice.
The girls learned to waterski, and I went tubing, much to the shock of my family. We can't go this summer, so I'm sad. We're having a stay-cation instead.

Heights and Bees

Another thing you probably didn't know about me: I'm afraid of heights, and bees. I'd rather give birth than climb out onto some ledge. Once, at a retreat, I actually got up the courage to attempt a rock-climbing wall. This was a very big deal to me.
I made it to the top, only to find a hornet's nest at the top. Two fears for the price of one.
I'm surprised I didn't panic. I repelled down -- which was fun once I discovered how secure I had been all along--and lived to tell about it.

Oncology Nursing Conference

In May, my friend and I travelled to Philadelphia for an Oncology Nursing conference. It was amazing. There were 7,000 oncology nurses there. It was so cool to be in a place where there were so many people with that common link. The classes were very good and I racked up about 40 hours of continuing education in four days, which I need to maintain my Oncology Nursing Certification. There wasn't too much time for sight-seeing, since our classes started at 6 a.m. and finished at 9 p.m. (a typical nursing conference). In order to get free meals, we'd go to the extra classes put on by the drug companies. We'd have a Melanoma breakfast, a Nausea & Vomiting lunch, and a Breast Cancer dinner. Yep, only nurses could keep eating while people are talking about nausea and vomiting.
One evening there was an "awards" ceremony for some outstanding oncology nurses. The MC was Loretta Swit, who played a nurse on MASH. She said she didn't mind if they made fun of her character, but she made them keep their hands off her nursing. That was something I noticed even as a little girl. I thought, "I don't really like her character, but she's a very good nurse."
The city of Philadelphia was very nice, full of historical sites: the first hospital, the first university, the first penitentiary, the first library, the first Black church, most of which were founded by the very busy Benjamin Franklin. We saw his tomb, the cracked Liberty Bell, and Constitution House, where the Declaration of Independence was written and the Constitution was signed. We also went to the African-American museum and did a bus tour. I saw the Rocky Steps, but didn't run up them because a) the bus didn't stop, and b) who runs?
Near the conference centre where we stayed, there was a place to eat in a converted train terminal, called the Reading Market. So there was a Reading Railroad and a Pennsylvania Railroad Station, like the Monopoly Game. We tried the famous Philly Cheese Steak sandwich, which wasn't bad, if you added hot sauce.
We also attended the Tenth Presbyterian Church, where the late James Montgomery Boice used to preach. I had heard him preach when he was in Toronto a few years back.
Overall, I'd go back to Philly, if I had more time, because there was alot to see and the city was very friendly and welcoming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where are the Nurses of Tomorrow?

When my daughter graduated from highschool, they announced the future plans of the students. Out of 58 students (it's a small school), 54 were going on to post-secondary education. The surprising thing was that no one chose nursing as a career. Not one.
Why is that? Nursing is now exclusively a four-year university degree program. It is a highly respected profession. People have a high level of trust in nurses. It is a well-paying job, with salaries ranging from $52,000 to $90,000 per year. There is flexibility of hours, which is great when you have a young family. There is a great deal of variety in the type of work you can do, from research, teaching and management, to bedside, community or international nursing.
I have never regretted my decision to become a nurse. I love it. I have been able to be home with my children when they were younger, by working casual hours around my husband's schedule, to working full time again when they were older.
It's a fact that within the next ten to fifteen years many nurses will be retiring, just when most of the population is also elderly and in need of care. The nursing schools are not keeping up with the staffing vacancies, and it's only going to get worse. At each provincial election you hear the same promise to hire more nurses (because people don't come into the hospitals for the good food and the comfortable beds). Where are they going to find these nurses?
We are right to wonder who will be there to care for us when we are elderly.
I would add that the quality of nurses who are graduating today is not what it once was. There are several reasons for this. Some nursing programs don't even give students the opportunity to rotate through all the specialties: maternal/newborn, paediatrics, psychiatry, and medical/surgical, so not only are they unprepared to work in the real world, many aren't even ready to write the R.N. exams. They graduate with little clinical experience and a woeful lack of proficiency in basic nursing skills. Yes, time will improve that, but many won't stay in bedside nursing for long, because they feel their degree should take them to better things. Another nurse commented the other day, that her student was offended when she was asked to give a bedbath. That tells you something about these new grads.
I won't even start with the college vs. university debate.
I train many nurses who are only months away from graduating. I also train new staff. Many can't organize their time with a full patient load, they lack clinical nursing skills, and worst of all, they have no critical thinking skills. They can recognize an adverse symptom like high BP or low oxygen saturation, but they don't know how to draw conclusions about what it means, what to do about it, when to report it, or how to chart it.
It's not all bad news, though. With the mergers of the college and university nursing programs, some are producing quality students. The first few years of a new system always requires some tweaking until things settle out, and some of the poor students who went through their nursing education at that time were 'victims'.
An unfortunate thing that happened at the same time, was that the College of Nurses of Ontario decided to change the RN exam from multiple choice questions exclusively, to a combination of multiple choice and short answer. This was thrust upon a graduating class who had been schooled exclusively in multiple choice exams. The result, as you can imagine, was disastrous.
The next year, they went back to multiple choice exams, and planned to re-introduce the combination exams in a few years, to a graduating class who has been prepared in that way.
How do we convince more young people to pursue a nursing career? Neither of my own daughters is interested. They are pursuing social work and law. And that's fine, too. No one should be a nurse who doesn't want to be. It's not the kind of job you can do if you're heart's not in it. And you wouldn't want to be the patient of a nurse who shouldn't be there, either.
That said, we need to inform highschool students that nursing is a legitimate, well-paid, highly respected profession worth pursuing. We need to support those who pursue it, and not say to them, "Wouldn't you rather be a Doctor, instead?"


Our oldest daughter graduated from highschool. She'll be off to University in September to study Social Sciences at MacMaster. We're very proud of her. She won an award for being an athletic scholar. She was involved in sports, drama and the worship team.
She also received a scholarship for "recognition of a personal committment to excellence, industry, leadership and Christian virtues." That's my girl!


I hate tattoos. I always said, "There's nothing more stupid tham a fad that will never pass." A permanent fad is an oxymoron. Can you imagine still having an afro or a mullet, a pet rock or a mood ring? Yet, once you have a tattoo, you have it for life. Who would want a daily reminder of their foolish youth? Tattoos are an irrevocable act of defiance; external, yes, but different from hairstyles or clothing choices.
Calling it body art doesn't make it more appealing. It's also considered a high risk behaviour for hepatitis and AIDs. The needles may be sterilized, but the inks are often mixed with heavy metals, and they are not subject to food and drug regulations since they are not ingested. It also can mask early detection of skin cancers.
A poster in a plastic surgeon's office said, more than 70% of people who get tattoos end up regretting it. And you can't just erase them; the removal process leaves large scars.
I also know of people who have become Christians and have regretted the fact that they bear symbols of their former life.
Do you like a particular band? Buy a poster. A sports team? Buy a jersey. Do you like flowers? Plant them. Do you love your Mom? Tell her.
I don't want my name on my husband's arm; I want it in his heart.
John Piper says it well in his book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die,
"One enslaving fad follows another. Thirty years from now today's tattoos will not be marks of freedom, but indelible reminders of conformity."

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I'm a nervous flyer. I'll do it, because it's the fastest way to get to where I'm going, but I don't like it. You'd never know it to look at me though, because I don't make a scene. What good would it do?
Everytime we fly, I say the same thing to my husband: "I don't know how this thing stays in the air." At which point, he begins an explanation of the mechanics of flight; air speed, flaps, wings, etc. and to which I reply, "It makes no sense to me. I just hope it stays in the air until it's time to land." Thinking he's just not explaining it well enough, he approaches with something I'll understand; submarines. "It's like the bow planes and stern planes on a sub." I say, "That explains how it can rise or descend when it's in the air, but a plane doesn't have ballast tanks that can be filled or emptied."
Undaunted, he starts explaining how it's like putting your hand out of the car window on the highway, and how it's easier or harder depending on which way you put your hand or how fast you go." (I guess I have been listening).
At which point, I protest again, which proves I'm stubborn and unteachable, since we'll only have this exact conversation again on our next flight. It also proves I have the most patient husband in the world for putting up with me.
Anyway, this is a picture of our friend with his float plane. He built it himself. It's a two-seater, just barely, and he uses it to fly into secret lakes in Northern Ontario, to fish. He flew it to Desbarats lake when we were there.
He is one of my husband's Finnish fishing buddies, and he has offerred to fly them inland to fish. In his pre-cancer days, they would portage, but now my husband can only fish in places that they can get to by truck and/or ATV.
How did I respond to the offer?
"I didn't nurse you through cancer to have you die in a plane crash." Don't I sound like a nag?
But I've been up close to this plane. It feels like it's made of pop cans; thin ones. And didn't an Ottawa man die just this week when his self-built plane crashed?
Am I just transferring my own fears onto him? Maybe. But just because I'm irrational doesn't mean I can't have my way. How's that for logic?
My husband tries to bribe me with the insurance money I'd get, which makes me wonder how sure he is of his ride. I say, "Nope, you're worth more to me alive than dead."
So they fish the old fashioned way, in a boat, or on terra firma. The firma, the better.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Favourite Comedian

I don't care much for too many stand-up comics because they're usually pretty crude. But Steven Wright is my favourite. He's funny looking and he delivers absurd one-liners in a monotone. He's the only one who can make me laugh out loud. (Usually I just shake).
There's a Finnish proverb that says, "Your character comes to light in what inspires you to laugh." So what does this say about me?
Here are some examples:
"I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second."
"I installed a skylight in my apartment...the people who live above me are furious."
"I went to court for a speeding ticket. I pleaded insanity. I said, 'Your Honor, why would anyone in their right mind park in the passing lane?'"
"I was in the supermarket the other day, and I met a lady in the aisle where they keep the generic brands. Her name was 'woman'."
"I have the world's largest collection of seashells. I keep it on all the beaches of the world...Perhaps you've seen it."
"I'm writing an unauthorized autobiography."
"My friend Winnie is a procrastinator. He didn't get his birthmark until he was eight years old."
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time."
"When I think about the past, it brings back so many memories."
And my favourite,
"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it."
Want more? Check out this website:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Christian Attitude Toward War

The book, The Christian Attitude to War, by Loraine Boettner was a fair examination of this topic, even addressing the views of Pacifist Christians and conscientious objectors. "Individuals who desire peace at any price, soon find there are others who are ready to take unfair advantage."
He looks at compulsory military training, blindly obeying government, the Old and New Testament teaching about war, and the idea that military and police forces are based on a similar principle. He also addresses the use of deadly force and the concept that "they do not bear the sword in vain."
Just as no one would advocate abolishing police protection in our cities, or anarchy would result, the use of armed forces is similar, protecting the borders of our country.
He also asserts that the two primary reasons why the U.S. has not been attacked (this was written in 1985), is her favourable geographical location and her recognized ability to defend herself. I would add that the same is true for Canada, except that our ultimate defense comes from our big brother to the south (should they be so inclined), and the aggressors of the world know that.
His thesis is this: "War is justifiable, of course, only when all favourable efforts to avoid it have failed. But when a nation is invaded, its people killed or threatened with slavery worse than death, and property destroyed, it has no alternative but to resist--by any means and at any cost. To fail to resist under such conditions is both immoral and un-Christian. The priceless principles of religious and civil liberty for ourselves and for those who come after us are more important than life itself. Quite plainly, there are some things worse than war."
His explanation of the teachings of Christ are very clear. The idea of turning the other cheek relates to personal injustices and individual attitudes to them. A person has a right to sacrifice himself, but he doesn't have the right to sacrifice others. "I am not to turn my wife's cheek, or the cheek of the weak and defenseless whom I am called upon to protect." He adds that going into the firing line is in very truth turning the other cheek--letting the enemy smite our cheek rather than that of those we love.
Jesus also gave instructions for soldiers. He told them to do their duty and not to abuse their authority. He didn't tell them to quit being soldiers.
I agreed with his view before I read this, but I found he was able to articulate them much better than I could.

Half An Empty Nest

My oldest daughter has gone away to work at a summer camp, as a counsellor. Then in September she's off to university (out of town). And she won't even be 18 until November!
I moved away from home at age 20, and I still wasn't ready, but then, I was a bit of a princess.
When I came to live and work in Toronto, my sister said, "And don't expect me to do everything for you, like Mom does. You'll have to do your own laundry, cooking and cleaning."
"Do you won't wake me up with a back rub and tell me my coffee's ready?"
Yep, it was a different wake up call, altogether.
I don't worry about the decisions she'll make. Her character is pretty solid, although she'll make her own mistakes, like we did. I only fear that when she's off to university, after having had a Christian education and a job at a Christian camp, it will be a culture shock. We really have sheltered them from the big, bad world out there, and I cringe at the thought of what she'll encounter.
All I can do is pray, and send her off to make her own way.
I was quite tearful for a week or so before she left, wondering if there were any last minute things I needed to tell her, "Don't trust guys. They'll say anything." You get the idea.
But now she's gone, and I'm surprisingly okay with it. I've only sent her two care packages, talked to her three times on the phone (she called me), and sent a few e-mails. I'm letting go.
We still have our other daughter at home, and she's quite enjoying the exclusive parental attention. I'd like to believe that she really wanted to spend quality mother-daughter time with me at the mall, and it wasn't just for my debit card to pay for her purchases.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How To Watch Soccer Like A Girl

Disclaimer: I don't necessarily do this myself.
During international soccer events like World Cup or Euro Cup, follow these simple rules for your viewing enjoyment:
Step One: Be sure to see the game from beginning to end. As you watch the national anthem being played, scan the players faces, to decide who to keep an eye on throughout the game. During World Cup '06, Schneider winked (at me) during the national anthem, and Germany became my new favourite team.
Step Two: Choose the team with the most good-looking guys, and cheer them on.
Step Three: Don't turn off the T.V. until the game is over and the players have exchanged shirts. You know why.
Now, as I said earlier, I don't necessarily do this myself. I watch soccer because it's The Beautiful Game. The players don't fight like they do in hockey. It's overall, with few exceptions, a gentleman's sport. The athletes have to be fit to run for 90 minutes. They have amazing skill and it's exciting to watch.
I even understand the rules of the game, with the exception of the new off-side rule. (Do the linesmen even understand it?)
But if I did want to get more viewing enjoyment out of each game, I would consider implementing the above steps.
Oh, don't be so shocked! Do men watch women's beach volleyball because they understand the signals they give each other? You know, the one the camera zooms in on? I rest my case.

Ten Years Cancer Free!

In June, my husband celebrated being cancer free for ten years. Praise God! He had osteosarcoma of his femur (like Terry Fox, but he didn't require an amputation). It was a very difficult time for him, and our whole family, as the girls were only 6 and 8 then. But God spared him, and me...
Now it's just a bad memory. He had chemo and surgery, replacing his entire femur and part of his tibia, as well as a new hip and new knee with titanium. The man of steel. They also removed a few muscles. He rarely uses his cane, except for long distances, although he should. There are a few long term effects of the chemo as well, but it's really hard to complain. He has his life, and his leg.
We had a big party five years ago to celebrate his milestone of 5 years, which coincided with his 40th birthday. He doesn't complain about ageing either. He's happy to see the few greys he's gotten, every year is a gift he wasn't expecting.
So, this year he didn't want a party. He actually doesn't like to call attention to himself. But I had to do something to mark the day, so I sent him a bouquet of fresh fruit in a soccer ball bowl. He works for the city, so he was glad I didn't send him flowers, which would have been embarassing.
I'm so glad he's in my life, instead of just my memories.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Five Places I Have Travelled

1. Finland. Born there, went back when I was four and thirteen. Haven't been back to the "old country" since.
2. Caribbean cruise twice.
3. Florida, Fort Lauderdale area. Drove up to Disney.
4. Philadelphia, for an Oncology Nursing Conference.
5. Within Canada, as far east as Quebec City, for my fortieth birthday, as far west as Regina, Saskatchewan. I've never seen the Rockies or the Maritimes.

Five Jobs I Have Had

1. Convenience store clerk for three years in highschool. My starting wage was $2.15/hour. Does that make me old?

2. Nurse's aide in a chronic care hospital during summer throughout college. Very heavy, hard work, but I met my husband there, so it was worth it. (No, he wasn't a patient...He was in housekeeping throughout university. I always tell people he swept me off my feet).

3. General medical unit as a new registered nurse for five years before I had kids. Good overview of nursing. I learned to work hard and get organized. Don't know why I stayed there so long...This was where I realized I wanted to work with the oncology population.

4. Chemotherapy Day Unit. Three months of agony. Assembly line nursing, over 130 patients per day, it was all a blur to me. I even developed heart palpitations because I internalized my stress. I hated to go to work, for the first time in my life, so I got out of there as soon as I could.

5. Current job: in-patient oncology. I have worked on a unit with autologous bone marrow transplant patients, malignant hematology (leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and blood disorders). Now I'm on a unit with surgical, medical and radiation oncology patients. The best job in the world. I hope I never have to leave. It's a great unit, generally healthy patients in for overnight surgeries or chemotherapy, so dealing with death is rare. I've had more than enough of that. It has great hours (no weekends).