Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Armstrong Archives (35): The World’s Longest Freshwater Beaches

Monday, July 11, 1977 Dear Mom and Dad,IMG_1483Wednesday we left for Canada, crossed the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron and traveled up Highway 21 to Sauble Beach, a seven-mile sandy stretch known as IMG_7666“The Daytona of Canada.” It was rainy and cold most of our stay there, but we enjoyed having the beach to ourselves and exploring Sauble Falls, Owen Sound (on the Georgian Bay) and resting. Friday we came back as far as Grand Bend and stayed until Saturday afternoon. It was sunny, warm, and wavy there, and IMG_7677we really enjoyed swimming and playing in the sand. Aaron came back with a much expanded vocabulary…”donuts, beach, Burger King (with much emphasis!!), sand, sea gull, fries, chocolate (ice cream)…junk, trash, chips…” you can tell he was exposed to many unusual taste treats. In fact, we were all ready for some non-greasy home cooking when we got back.IMG_1607Aaron now says about 530 works, and I’m having trouble keeping track! He also can count to five, but never on request, and announced “Poot…pot” the other night, giving me enough advance warning to get his diapers off before he sat on the pot. He was just as pleased as we were with his first successful attempt at using the potty chair!

Well, got to go. Thank for letting us visit this summer. It seems to create more havoc than pleasure with little ones involved, but maybe we can get you to visit some down here too, which might be more restful for everyone. Alan’s next real break won’t be until Christmas: December 24-January 1st (just a week). Maybe someday we’ll be “rich” enough to stay at motels instead of descending in a wave of commotion!

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June 1, 2013 commentary on this entry: If you’re interested in a great place to have a family-friendly summer beach vacation and don’t live too far from Ontario, Canada…think about Sauble Beach! It is still a warm and very beautiful place to visit!

Sauble_Sign“At over seven miles long (11 km), Sauble Beach is said to be the second longest freshwater beach in the world after Wasaga Beach. A unique phenomenon of sandbar deposits building out along the Huron shore keep the beach at Sauble very shallow and warm.” (Wikipedia)

“Welcome to Sauble Beach! Voted the #1 beach in Ontario, it is one of the crown jewels of Bruce County.” (Sauble Beach website)

Our Four Turn One: Nature…Nurture…BOTH!

GIlesIf you’ll indulge a grandma’s enthusiasm…this week Aaron and Carlie’s son, Giles, celebrated his first birthday. He’s the last of our crop of four 2012 grand babies to turn one.Judah with a rock  I couldn’t resist sharing pictures of the quartet. Here’s Judah, Mike and Grace’s one-year-old,  and I want you to notice that they’re both bare-chested and holding…what else? A ball and rock. 🙂  Amelie and hand bagI love the contrast between our rough, tough baby boys and our little gals. Here is Jon and Linda’s Amélie. What does she like? Books and purses, and she’s usually got one or the other with her. Soft, pink and white, all smiles and love!IrisAnd how about Carl and Kathy’s daughter, trying to give her mother the hint that she wants to go outside for an outing? Irresistibly cute and coy. I mean really, it can’t be all in the nurture, can it? Hormones and pink are different, aren’t’ they?The Legend of QuadriviumAnd so, the adventures continue!  Oh, and I think I mentioned to you that Stork carrying new babyCarl and Kathy are expecting a new baby—a boy—come September, Amelie and Baby 2but have I mentioned that Jon and Linda are expecting another baby too? Alan and I are in our glory!!

“Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children are their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6). (I trust this applies to old women too! 🙂 )

Jim Samra’s Book on Learning to Listen for Guidance from God

God told me who to marry, where to work, which car to buy…and I’m pretty sure I’m not crazy. That’s the title of his book…and isn’t it great? I heard about this book while listening to my son Jonathan’s March 13 “GodTalks” program 2011-JimSamra1-5x7with Dr. Jim Samra (http://www.aqueductproject.org/godtalks?page=1). Dr. Samra got his BS degree from the U. Michigan in engineering and then worked for Texas Instruments in Dallas while earning a ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary. Eventually Jim went on to obtain a PhD from Oxford University. This track record would give you the impression Jim’s neither crazy nor stupid. BUT, as I listened to his interview with Jonathan, I realized that here is a man who experiences guidance from God just the way I do, so I immediately ordered a copy of his book…since I have often been accused of being crazy and don’t have academic credentials to uniformly combat such allegations.DSCN9265At any rate, if you feel like God leads you very specifically and want reassurance that you’re not crazy, or if you would like God to lead you but feel like he doesn’t answer the telephone when you call, then please consider reading this book. (I just noticed there are 7 new copies left on Amazon for $5.58 [and less for used], or if you live in the GR area, I’d be happy to lend you my copy.) 41LeZQ7FuNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_In a nutshell, what does Samra say? Hey, it’s just under 200 pages and a very engaging, quick read, so I truly hope you’ll take the time to soak it up, but one of my favorite take-aways is the point that God is our father…a good father. If you are an adult and have a good father, just think about him. Does your dad force you to obey him? Does he feel honored when you ask for advice? Do you think he tries his best to give good advice when you ask him? Then, how much more does our perfect, all-wise and all-loving Father desire us to come to him for help? I talk to God day and night…sort of have this running conversation with him, and I’d be utterly lost without the sense of peace that comes from feeling like God is providing grace and guidance in response to my earnest pleas for help. (Yes, I also search his Word, ask for counsel from wise friends, etc. too. It’s all covered in the book.) If you’re wishing for a best friend and someone wise enough to help you figure out life…why not try God? Honest, it won’t make you crazy!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

The Romance of Northern Europe (1): A Brief Overview of our Cruise

IMG_1157Alan and I just returned from a couple of weeks cruising the Baltic Sea on the Emerald Princess, Alan and Kathi on Cruiseinvestigating all the fascinating ports on their Northern European itinerary.  IMG_1859 We visited 8 ports, & I took thousands of pictures of our incredible tours, a few IMG_1931of which I hope to share with you each upcoming Tuesday during my next  IMG_0214“Travel Tuesday” series. We visited the Den Gamle By in Aarhaus, Denmark, Tallinthe gorgeous medieval city of Tallin, Estonia…that I knew virtually nothing about Oslo Ski Jump…but then places like Holmenkollen, the ski jump in Oslo, which I recognized Oslofrom Disney’s Norway movie, along with this ship from the Viking Museum! 🙂 BerlinBerlin is a vibrant city and especially precious to us because of our German IMG_1427 daughter-in-law, but I think for sheer opulence, we were most amazed by St. IMG_1291Petersberg, the cultural capital of Russia and home to some of the world’s  IMG_2317grandest palaces, most exotic cathedrals, Rembrandt Abraham's Sacrifice 1635and world class museums such as the Hermitage, with its gallery of Rembrandts. HelsinkiBecause of our “Finnish” connection, we visited a lake cottage when we were in  Finland  Helsinki and enjoyed a quiet respite, getting to know a sweet Finnish family. Vasa MuseumIn Sweden we visited Stockholm’s Vasa Museum and their famous  city hall,Stockholm City Hallwhere the Nobel prizes are awarded every year. After the cruise ended, we spent Cope Harbora little extra time in Copenhagen and enjoyed some of its special charms, The Little Mermaidincluding the famed “Little Mermaid” statue in the harbor Tivoliand the splendid Tivoli Gardens, which I’ve heard about “forever”…but also some Cope Botanical Gardenslesser known (to me) attractions such as the world’s oldest glass house in their Russia Caviarbotanical gardens. All told, we tasted a lot of new dishes, enjoyed many new Vigeland Sculpture Parkexperiences, read several books together and on our own, learned a lot, DSCN8904and in general had a royal time! Best of all, we came home deeply refreshed St. Issac's Cathedral (albeit with bad colds) and with expanded spiritual vision. IMG_2433 Plus, we have renewed courage for the work before us! DessertIf this sounds as appealing to you as it was to us, I hope you join us for my IMG_1093upcoming “Tuesday Travel” reminiscences and reflections on the cruise!IMG_2354“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2)   “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)

Memorial Day Thoughts

Shared by Brian Wilsom“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” -G.K. Chesterton

With a son in the army, planning to head off to South Korea soon, I am acutely aware of the sacrifices our veterans make to insure our safety and especially grateful for all that soldiers do around the globe to keep their citizens free from oppression (hopefully…I do not appreciate aggression against others in any form). If you know a vet, I hope you thank him today!

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” -Elmer Davis

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums.” -Arthur Koestler

“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” -Michel de Montaigne

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Narosky

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” -Cynthia Ozick

In his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln spoke of America’s obligation to repay our debt to those who died in service to our country when he said,

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

“I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” —Titus 2:1-5

(Picture shared by Brian W. on facebook. I don’t know the original source.)

Rise Up, My Love (34): Of Roses and Lilies

Rose of Sharon WhiteSong of Solomon 2:1 “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” These two flowers have some profound similarities and some striking differences. First, both are white and fragrant.  What ecstasy must have filled the bride’s heart as she found herself no longer ashamed to be seen.  No more did she cry, “Look not upon me, because I am black!” (1:6) Now the song of her heart is, “I am white!”  I am pure, and white, and fragrant to the one who loves me so! Lily of ValleyAlso, both flowers were wild, growing on the lonely plain and in hidden valleys.  The bride saw herself not as a gorgeous flower in the courts of the king where all might admire her; she pictured herself as a fragrant treasure hidden in obscurity, Rose redwhere her lover alone would find and enjoy her. What a picture for us!  Oh, that we might be pure and holy before Him, exalting not in the world’s admiring gaze, but in keeping ourselves for the Lord alone, where He may take pleasure in us. Isn’t it true that most Christians do not thrive best in the palaces of the world, IMG_4032but alone and apart in obscurity…growing in grace, and learning of Him? It is at Christ’s feet that we grow beautiful, and although we may always be unknown to the world, isn’t the pleasure of our Beloved more satisfying than all the accolades of the world?  Some say, “But, how can I give up the pleasures of the world and IMG_4027the praise of men?”  It is like asking, “How can I give up eating sawdust in order to enjoy feasting on a fine dinner?”  One will never know until one is willing to leave the distractions of the world to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Lilies whiteI’ll never forget sitting in a huge auditorium one frosty December evening listening to the celestial voices of soloists singing Handel’s Messiah. I remember thinking to myself how thrilling it would be to go around the country singing God’s praises before huge audiences, many of whom might never be willing to attend a church but might be reached with the gospel through hearing these magnificent Scripture passages about the birth of Christ set to music. I wondered what it would feel like to be so gifted and famous. It occurred to me that it would be wonderful, but I realized then and there that I would not trade such an exciting and amazing career for my own quiet little home and loving family, and I determined to ever and always be grateful for whatever obscure role the Lord called me to play in His kingdom. 7 Poolside flowersLittle did I know then that years later I would not only meet, but would become dear friends with one of those incredibly gifted soloists. I’m now editing this section of my devotional, and you know what? I just got off the phone with this beloved sister in Christ, who is a single woman and feeling deeply lonely. She IMG_7770just had to put her precious dog to sleep…her constant companion for the last fifteen years. She said she cried herself to sleep the first night and just kept praying for the Lord to help her feel Him holding her in His arms. Glamorous lives lived in the public eye, even if they result in fame and fortune, are extremely IMG_7731difficult. Don’t grieve for the grass that looks so green on the other side of the fence, and don’t long to be a rose if the Lord has created you to be a violet. Please, just be grateful for the way God has made you, and be content to bloom wherever you are planted. blue-roseThe rose and the lily also have two striking differences.  The rose of Sharon was a tiny plant, eking out a singular existence in the desert-like wilderness of Sharon. It survived in the most difficult of circumstances with little but sand and rocks for nourishment and only the rarest times of refreshing rain…a lone spot of life and beauty amidst so much barrenness.  Conversely, the spectacular lilies grew in great colonies in the fertile, protected valleys.  This can be a great encouragement to believers.  Whether we feel small, lonely, and isolated, or whether we feel like just one of a multitude of flourishing Christians in a very fruitful area (and for many of us—like the bride—we feel a little like both from time to time in our lives), still we are the Lord’s beloved, set apart for Him, and IMG_7739lovely in His eyes.  May we always rejoice in being where and what we are, and may we learn contentment, knowing that we are His.  “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:10-13). Lilies and Roses

The Armstrong Archives (34): Milk Allergy and Final Exams

May 17, 1977 We have really good news on Aaron—Praise the Lord! After $200, eight trips to the doctor, and about 20 tests…it appears that he’s allergic to milk! What a relief. We don’t know for certain, but his iron intake has improved, and in two months we’ll probably be able to tell for certain. Are we ever relieved about that!

Well, Aaron is totally out of control, so I’d better stop and put him to bed. This is Alan’s last week of classes, and Friday we’re going out to dinner. Went to the park Sunday afternoon and saw five goslings with their goose and gander parents.

Monday, May 23, 1977 Another of many infamous sits in a waiting room, but luckily Aaron is at home sleeping instead of creating havoc. Spring SkyThe weather has been simply gorgeous lately! Alan had his last unit exam Friday, and we spent the afternoon in the Huron River Park, wading, swinging, sliding, and watching the ducks. It was a marvelous change of pace and gave me a real taste of summer vacation!

Alan has begun a new schedule so that he can study seventy-four hours a week (instead of his usual sixty-some). At this point it’s a little hard to imagine that we can actually survive such a schedule, but I’m sure we will. I think Aaron may suffer the most, and he responds by calling for “Daddy” but acting very aloof when he discovers that Alan is ready to play. Campus WSUNot too much has been happening here. Aaron and I play outside for an hour or two every warm morning, and he helps me a lot around the house. We are getting to know most of the children and mothers…and most of the nooks and crannies around campus.

How are plans coming for your trip to Mackinac Island? You don’t believe in slowing down gradually, do you? Wish I could go with you; probably twenty-five fifth graders will keep you hopping! How many chaperones are going too? When is Dad done? Are you playing tennis yet? Are you playing or watching the market these days?

Tuesday afternoon, May 31, 1977 A moment of peace before seeing the doctor. Alan studied all weekend, but Aaron and I had fun! Saturday we babysat Linda and Harold Curtis’ two boys (8 and 10) at their house. We went to a carnival, made a birthday cake for Gary’s 8th birthday, and in general had a great time. The boys are so good to Aaron, and he loves to visit their house.

Then on Monday we went with the same family to Toledo, Ohio, to see the zoo there. Aaron was delighted with all the animals, and he’s beginning to recognize some of the animals from their pictures. When he saw the anteaters, (his first real-life view) he started making the slurping sound that I pretend is the sound an anteater makes when he eats. Aaron got mighty tired and finally fell asleep in the little museum, though only for a half an hour. Japanese Weeping CherryThis morning we went to a Japanese girlfriend’s apartment for green tea and a special Japanese dessert made from red beans (but very sweet). Kaoru and her son Makoto are also early birds outside, we we’ve gotten to be quite good friends. IMG_0493When’s your last day of school, Mom? Alan has his comprehensives this Thursday and Friday, and then Saturday night I’m taking him out to dinner!