Thursday, February 2, 2017

60 and counting

Today I celebrate a milestone birthday - 60! Over the last few weeks I have been looking back over those years and decided to write this post encapsulating my journey. The most important  aspect of the trip is an awareness that God is sovereign over all things. There are a few significant turns in the journey over which I had absolutely no input or control. Other turns were by my own choice, some good and some bad, yet in all of them God ruled sovereignly. My trust is settled in God who is merciful and gracious, and I am thankful for the life He has blessed me with. I have broken this post into 5 year segments, to highlight significant events in each segment.

1942-1957

My journey begins almost 15 years before my birth when the Canadian Army drafted my father and sent him to Jamaica with the Brockville Rifles.

In his memoir (unpublished), he recounts his adventures in Jamaica; one highlight is a full-pack climb to Blue Mountain Peak (7400 ft). He wrote that he was determined to reach the summit so that he would be able to tell his children of his accomplishment. He fell in love with the island and, after completing his theological studies, returned to Jamaica with our mother in 1952, settling in Prospect District, St. Elizabeth. Their home had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but this was not a sacrifice to them as their childhood homes in Ontario were the same. They had been married 9 years but had no children, and shortly after arriving adopted a 4-yr old girl from the German community of Seaford Town.

Over the next 7 years my mother gave birth to 5 children, with the first living only a few hours. I am the 3rd of those 5 and the only child not born in Jamaica.

1957-1962 (Birth to 5)

My parents returned to Canada on furlough every 4 or 5 years to report to their supporting churches and raise additional funds for their mission work. I was born on their first furlough and returned with them to Jamaica in the summer. I have many wonderful memories of those early years and even today when I hear wind rustling through trees I am reminded of that house.

1962-1967 (5 to 10)

Furlough in Canada where I was placed in 1st Grade, likely because I was a reader. This should have meant that I would graduate 12th grade in 1974 at 17, a fact that will figure prominently further along in the story. Returning to Jamaica, we moved to Anchovy, St James, and attended St. James Prep School in Montego Bay.

1967-1972 (10-15)

Another year long furlough (6th Grade), then residence in Montego Bay at Felicity Drive (by the gully). Final year at St. James Prep, Cornwall College (2 years), Fairview High School (1 year).

1972-1977 (15-20)

Furlough was delayed a year as we moved to Kingston while another missionary family took their furlough - attended Calabar High School. Returning to Canada I should have entered 12th grade, but was held back. This was probably the most significant decision up to this point in my life over which I had no control. Had I graduated from high school in Canada, there would have been no reason for me to return to Jamaica with the rest of the family. That would have completely changed the entire direction of my life. I am beyond thankful that my parents made that choice for me.

Returning to Montego Bay and Cornwall for my senior year, with the 15 minutes of fame (loved every second of it) that came from my role as Mr. Squeers in Cornwall's production of Smike - the Musical. Had my first date with Gloria when she was visiting with her folks - Pelican Grill for banana splits.

Tennessee Temple University (Chattanooga, TN) for a semester (they asked me not to come back!). Home for the spring of 1976, while my parents prepared to leave Jamaica after 24 years. Canada for the remainder of the year, summer near Hamilton, and fall in Kitchener. Began corresponding with Gloria via snail mail and the occasional phone call.

1977-1982 (20-25)

Toronto for a year, then returned to the US to go back to TTU for a semester. Transferred to Northland Baptist Bible College (Dunbar, WI), where Gloria was, returning to Chattanooga, after one semester. We were married in Wisconsin on June 9, 1979, and enrolled at TTU for the fall, dropping out after a few weeks with no plans to return.

1982-1987 (25-30)

Both of our daughters were born and we returned to TTU to finish our degrees thoroughly enjoyed the college experience.

1987-1992 (30-35)

Both of us graduated (90 & 91) and treated ourselves by returning to Jamaica as our graduation present to ourselves. Had a wonderful trip and returned the next year on the first of 5 trips with large groups. Moved to Lakeland, FL, to be near Gloria's parents.

1992-1997 (35-40)

Worked a number of different jobs in FL from sales, to software training, to pizza delivery, and a stint as a night auditor at a hotel. Heavily involved in the church we were members of, in teaching, music, and drama.

1997-2002 (40-45)

Left FL for Columbia, SC, to attend seminary with the intention of going to Jamaica as missionaries. Worked for a computer firm as a trainer and served as a Music Minister with a very talented praise team and fantastic choir.

2002-2007 (45-50)

Served as the Executive Director of a small ministry based in PA that sponsored a deaf school in Jamaica. Also served as pastor of a church and interim pastor of another, and went to work as peak season help at UPS.

2007-2012 (50-55)

Resigned from the pastorate and returned to a sales career, just as the economy began to struggle. Major failure there! Continued with UPS and joined Columbia Charlotte Shuttle.

2012-2017 (55-60)

Continue to work at both jobs. Very thankful to enjoy both jobs and the people I work with.

2017-? (60 and on)

My goal is to start and finish 2 large personal projects: 1) writing a book - I have written a few blog articles on the theme of Monergism vs Synergism. There are a number of additional articles on that theme I would like to write and there may be enough to constitute a book; 2) compile a list of 100 Hymns for Worship. The premise for that number comes from fact that there are 50 Sundays in a year, excepting the Sunday for Easter and Christmas. Four hymns per Sunday is 200 hymns, so each hymn would be sung twice a year. There are so many great hymns spanning almost 500 years of writing, that I expect to leave out many wonderful songs.

These projects will mean that I will spend less time on Facebook, so will be trimming my friend list a little. We also have a granddaughter who brings joy to my heart and have already made up 2 silly songs for her.

I am blessed beyond my worth with the family and friends God has granted me. My father lived into his 93rd year and my mother will celebrate her 95th in a few days, so I have fairly good genes, if only I hadn't worn them out in the knees. I look forward to the continuation of the journey.

3 comments :

Jim Peet said...

Please don't drop me from your friend list.

J. Brian McKillop said...

Since the check is in the mail, you're safe!

Michael said...

I'm interested in your hymn project. I've been thinking about a similar project myself, trying to compile a list of 50 or so hymns that every Christian should know. Not necessarily my favorites, but hymns that are significant, high quality, and used across many orthodox Christian traditions. Really I'd like lots of Christians to do this. Compare all the lists and see which songs appear most often.

My dream is for the English-speaking church have more of a common "songbook," for lack of a better term. I live in a highly transient area, so this is a regular struggle in my context. It might seem unimportant, but if a visitor doesn't know any of the songs you sing on a Sunday morning it is hard for them to participate in the worship.

So for me hymns are the logical foundation of worship. Singable, timeless, and (hopefully) more universally known. Build your foundation with hymns, and then use good modern stuff to augment. Build a service with music that spans centuries. Try to repeat every song/hymn enough that the congregation can really learn them.

I have no problem with modern Christian music, but by its nature it's more provincial and varied from church to church. There can be no common songbook built around only modern music, since new songs are being created everywhere all the time.