Wednesday, July 26, 2006


A couple of whys.

Why me Lord? What have I ever done, to deserve even one, of the blessings I've known?

That is a line from a Kris Kristofferson song that Johnny Cash recorded. A wonderful trip like this has to make me think about such questions.

Barbara and I just spent a couple of days at a little hotel on the waterfront of Stavern, a touristy spot a hour or so drive south of where Julia and Viggo live. The Schnake's and the Larsen's (Viggo and Julia) had separate rooms and a lovely romantic time was had by all. We were in crowds of tourists and packed restaraunts and never heard an American word (except us) and the skies were not cloudy all day! Beaches, art, food, walks, etc. etc.

Just today Barbara and I rode bikes straight from Julia and Viggo's house to the nearest city of Tonsberg. A slightly challenging ride for a middle age guy with one good knee, but it was a blast.
We had dinner at a restaurant on the waterfront there and even knew one of the waiters (a friend of J &V). Julia and Viggo were at a missions conference, so we did this on our own. Barbara was exulting about how we weren't old after all, when a twenty something ultra tan blonde in biking clothes passed us going so fast that I got off my bike to see why it had stopped moving (well, I felt like I should).

Here is the other why: So I am sitting at a table just outside the hotel in Stavern, waiting for the others. It is one of the few smoking allowed spots, and a lady walks up and says something in Norwegian that probably meant "do you mind if I smoke". I gestured for her to sit. Then I realized that she looked amazingly like my Mom a couple of years before she died. She was about sixty, short, and overweight. She had a deep tan and the associated facial wrinkles from years of that and years of smoking. Her smile, her dyed blond hair, her cough, and even the denim pants suit that she wore all created an haunting resemblance to my Mom. We didn't speak, so I sat quietly and watched her smoke a cigarette with exactly the same movements that my mom had used.

So why, Lord? Why that particular reminder at such a strange spot and time?
I just couldn't think of a reason. Just like I can't think of a reason that I should be blessed with this wonderful trip and the friends and family that have helped make it possible and wonderful.

Grace. It has to be grace.


Friday, July 21, 2006


Deep down inside, I really believe that each and every moment of my life is important to God and is being used to draw me closer to him. This would include times like laying in bed with the flu, or enduring a coach class ride flight to Singapore, or a business dinner with exceptionally loutish business contacts in Newark, New Jersey. It even includes those moments when I am a selfish, insensitive jerk. God uses it all and it is all part of his perfect plan. That is not to say that I am hearing him loud and clear or even at all during some of those times. Even when I do hear, I often stubbornly refuse to believe or obey.

However, ocassionally, even I am not too deaf to hear God joyously pronounce "I love you Kent, more than you can imagine" There have been many such moments on this trip. I am with the woman I love so much, celebrating 25 years of a great marriage that is only getting better. I have cruised north of the arctic circle, sunned myself with Julia, Viggo, and Barbara on a big rock at a beautiful beach overlooking the Oslo fjord filled with sun drenched islands and boats of all kinds. I have hugged Julia after almost a year of not being able to. I have slept like a rock and eaten all sorts of wonderful food, as well as some pretty weird stuff just for fun.

At times I have genuinely enjoyed being a clueless tourist. For example, the latest faux pas: I was so busy trying to figure out how to use the coin operated bathroom that I failed to notice that I was entering the women's rather than the men's. It was empty at first, but I was so enjoying the seclusion of sitting in a toilet stall sealed like a bank vault (I think Norwegians are very secretive about defecation), that I failed to realize that the outer room was filling with women waiting for their shot at the toilet. I opened the door of the vault and stared straight into the eyes of 5 or 6 Norwegian women who were probably already ticked off that they had to wait!
All I could do was smile pathetically and say in English "looks like I got the wrong one". Someone said "It's o.k., but it was in the tone of voice you would use with a friend's toddler who has just broken one of your favorite possessions." Even so, I had to take time to wash may hands lest I be thought even more disgusting ! Just me and the ladies hanging out in the shopping mall ladies restroom.

Another time Barbara had spotted Reindeer on a nearby slope as we sat in the hot tub on the back deck of our cruise ship. She had been looking carefully for them since what had seen deer droppings in the port town that we had just stopped at. A French woman and her thirteen year old daughter were sharing the hot tub with us and seemed rather pleased that Barbara was able to haltingly converse with them in French. That is, they did seem pleased until Barbara tried to explain that we had known to look for the reindeer because of the droppings, which she called "merde". I wanted to chime in and shook my head excitedly saying "oui, merde". Well we knew that merde is closer to meaning shit than it is to meaning droppings, but we had to work with what we had. The girl and her mother had a look on their face that clearly indicated that all their doubts and fears about Americans were true after all! We repaired the situation enough so that they did not jump screaming out of the hot tub or avoid us for the rest of the trip.

Since we are on a fecal theme here (for those who haven't signed off already), I suppose I should mention the coin operated public toilet in downtown Tromso (another arctic port town). A couple of guys were servicing the men's side, but seemed o.k. with the idea of me using the other stall. What I didn't know was that the stall was totally mechanized and that the power was about to go out. I could read the operating instructions in Norwegian either. So the door wouldn't lock, the lights went out and I couldn't operate the flush, the sink, etc. Plus as I sat on the stool I tried to hold the door shut and kept thinking that maybe I could lock it by turning the handle. Barbara thought I was locked in and tried to pull the door open for me. I thought it was someone trying to come in, so we both pulled hard on the handle in a bizzare tug of war which I hope to never repeat. The lights came back on and at least I got my pant's back up before a Nowegian lady yanked to door open and began to say of a lot of very excited things in Norwegian. I think she was apologizing, but I can't be sure.

Really I have a lot of very beautiful stories to tell as well, but I cannot easily post photos from this computer, so I will save them for more normal travelogue type post sometime in the future.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Norway til July 30

For anyone who might wonder why no posts for a while, Barbara and I are on vacation in Norway. the first couple of days we were in Oslo and had a nice visit with Viggo and Julia and their Canadian friend, David. Then we rode the train for 7 hours to Bergen, fabulous scenery.
This afternoon we board ship for a 7 day cruise along the coast up the the far northern tip of Norway.

I may have a chance to post here and there.

May God bless you all.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Aging - Some Thoughts

When I was a boy, I felt as if everyone had always been just the way I saw them.  Of course they told me that they had once been little boys and girls, but I could not imagine how that “old” person in front of me could ever have been young.  My grandfather had always been a stern, gray old man.  My father had always been a big, loud, family man.  I had always just been me, a kid.

I began to realize that I changed rather quickly from little boy to teen to young man.  It took many more years before I realized that my parents and grandparents had grown older as well.  It was only recently that I realized I am as old as that stern, gray, old man who was my grandfather.   I am much older than the big, loud, family man who shepherded me through my childhood.  My dad was 41 when I graduated from high school.  I was 55 this year when my son Charles graduated.  

I welcome the idea of dying and going to heaven to be with God forever.  I dread the inexorable decay of my body as I grow older.  I embrace the lessons I am being taught. I cherish my bits of hard won wisdom.  I pray that this dying body will be an ever present reminder of this world, and the ways of the world, which will pass away.  It is my spirit, and the works of my spirit which God enables, that will remain forever.   In my heavenly home, I will be cloaked in a new body. It will be better by far than any I have had in this life.  I pray I will use wisely the brief time remaining to me on this earth.  I pray that I will join all of you, when we are finally home.

Age - The Pictures (cont.)

Kent age 54

My Dad age 54

My Grandpa age 56

Age - The Pictures

Kent age 34

My Dad age 34
My Grandpa age 32
Kent as a Teen

My Dad as a Teen

My Grandpa as a teen

Kent Age 5
My Dad Age