My Life Testimony – Pt. 2

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My Online Christian Magazine Interview – Pt. 2

Recently, I was interviewed by a Christian magazine regarding my life in Christ and the translation work that I have been involved with for over 17 years now. In this second article that includes portions of the questionnaire, I talk about my early dreams of being a missionary and how God used early experiences in my life to prepare me for overseas mission work. My prayer is that what I wrote will be a blessing to you, and be a testimony to the greatness of God who has empowered me to do His work.

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Q3: Since when did you start having desires to commit yourself to translating Bible?

In my article, “God Spoke Through People”, I wrote about how three significant people influenced me during my teenage years to think about Bible translation. I also remember a discussion I had with another student when I was in Grade 12. He asked me, “Why would you want to be a missionary to another country and culture? Why not just leave them alone. If they never hear about Jesus in their language and culture, then God will be merciful and let them into Heaven because they were innocent and ignorant about your Gospel.”

This was quite a challenge to my faith, but I told him that I really believed what the Bible says, especially in John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 3:22-24 and Romans 10:9-13. The problem as I saw it was that there were many people in the world who did not have this message written in their language yet, and so how could they ever really understand and respond to the Gospel Message unless someone helped to translate that message into the language of their hearts, their mother tongue language.

Q4: Before going abroad as a missionary, you and your family were on the road for quite a while, serving as pastor in some churches while taking different jobs in other places. Which were some of the most humbling/ insightful job experiences for you? How exactly did you see God working through your life? In what way have those experiences changed you compared to when you were young?

In my article series, “Who Am I?” the articles of #14-17 show how I went through three difficult pastoral positions in a row. First there was the year of church planting in Beaumont, Texas that was not able to get off the ground (and we experienced the death of our first child during pregnancy.)

Then the church in northern Alberta was rough, as the eldership was very tough on the pastoral staff. (I found out later that I was at least the third or the fourth pastor in about 10 years that the elders “had let go” for reasons that were not fully justified.) Then the church in Manitoba had key players that had no real desire to welcome newcomers and to grow, so I knew I could not stay in that environment very long.

I must say that there were some rough edges to my personality during this period though. I was still young, a bit arrogant and pushed for new ideas and change before the people were ready. Now as I look back, I can see that God had to reshape me as well, and he did that not through the church work as much as He did it through the other jobs that I took.

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While in Manitoba, I worked the night shift at a merchandise store (Canadian Tire), bringing new merchandise out of the back and restocking the shelves for the next day. It was quickly found out that I was a pastor of one of the churches in town, and they quickly gave me the nickname of “Reverend” or just “Rev.”

Some said this just to make fun of me, some said it with respect, but many of them would greet me when I came into the store by saying, “Hey Rev, how’s it going?” I do know that I was given more than my fair share of lowly jobs, and I believe that was because of me being a pastor. But through that period where I preached on Sundays, and then worked at night in that store, I learned a great deal more about humility and loving others who mistreated me.

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You may also want to read in more detail the “Who Am I? Part 16” (Aug. 6, 2011). For a year, the Lord had pulled me out of ministry as a means to help heal me from the wounds I had received from the previous churches where I had served. As I say in the article, when I worked on the construction project as a janitor, I literally crawled on my hands and knees up and down 18 flights of stairs for six months to strip off the floor wax and put on new floor wax.

It was during those six months that I drew very close to God in prayer and submitted myself to Him for Him to do with me what He wanted. The next year I was at a seminary in Illinois and that is where I found out about Pioneer Bible Translators, the mission which I have been a part of now for 17 years.

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My Life Testimony – Pt. 1

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My Online Christian Magazine Interview – Pt. 1

 Recently, I was interviewed by a Christian magazine regarding my life in Christ and the translation work that I have been involved with for over 17 years now.  I would like to share in a few articles the questions that I was asked, and what answers I gave to the editor of that magazine.  My hope is that what I wrote will be a blessing to you, and be a testimony to the greatness of God who has empowered me to do His work.

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Q1:  What kind of child were you and what did you dream of becoming at the time? How would you describe yourself as a young adult? Could you share one of the episodes in your early years that hint toward your future dedication to God?

Many people would describe me as a bright young child, and I was usually at the top of my class at school.  I was adventurous and independent from the time I was 11, always exploring the hills around Calgary where I grew up (a city of 3/4 million people), riding my bicycle for hundreds of miles inside and outside of the city.  I even loved to crawl through sewer tunnels.  (Read “Tunnels, Caves & Claustrophobia” )  I got into trouble with the police once, but that taught me the importance of honesty.  (Read “Caught by the Police” )

I was almost 12 when I first really heard the Gospel message about Christ at a big Youth Conference.  I had many questions, and then early in 1973 I was baptized and gave my life over to Jesus to be my Saviour and Lord.  (Read “For My Tears, Jesus Died” Nov. 18, 2010)  When I was 14, I heard a missionary speak at our church, and from that moment on, I felt that God was calling me to be a missionary myself one day. 

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Then when I was 16, I was in the Royal Canadian Reserve Navy for a year and the ship I was on docked in Lima, Peru.  I knew of a missionary family that our church supported and was allowed to go visit them for three days up in the mountains at Cuzco, Peru.  They were working at translating the Bible into the Quechua Indian language.  I was fascinated by this and knew that was what I wanted to do one day.  (Read “God Spoke Through People” to see how I was influenced to be a Bible translator)

To answer your question about an episode in my early years that showed my dedication to God, let me paste a paragraph from an article that was just published on Feb. 23, 2012.  This article called “Introducing Others to Jesus” is part of my Bible study article on John 1:35-42 where Andrew gets Peter and introduces him to Jesus.  Here is what happened for me in 1975:

“I still remember a special night in my life when I was about 14 years old and was still relatively new in my faith, only two years or so.  My parents took me on a weekend campout to attend one of their Square Dance rallies.  Some people brought their motor homes and campers; others put up large tents to sleep in.  The big dances for the adults were usually in the evenings, which left us kids free to hang out and have fun in the tents together.

Fairly early in the evening, one of the kids asked me something about me being a Christian, and I responded that yes, I did believe in Jesus and what the Bible had to say.  Well, this generated quite a few questions which I gladly answered.  If I wasn’t sure of the answer, I would take the time to search my Bible to find an appropriate answer.  This spontaneous evangelistic moment and small group Bible study went on through the night until about 3 a.m.  I had never felt as invigorated in my young spiritual life as I did during that night.”

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Q2: When was your first serious encounter with God? Was it the big conference that took place when you were 11, or sometime much later? Could you describe that special moment in details?

Let me expand on what I said above.  The article “For My Tears, Jesus Died” definitely tells about the beginning of God working in my heart.  I will add to that story here:

“Although there was much that was good about my childhood, in my elementary years (ages 6-11) I was not accepted by many other children (largely because I was so smart and liked to read books instead of going out to play sports) and I encountered many bullies who would beat me up.  My parents were busy, my other brothers were much older and not around in my school.  I felt very alone and in my childish perspective I thought that no one loved me.

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“And so in Grade 7, when I went to that Youth Conference, I was in the midst of over 500 young people, and yet I felt completely alone and unloved.  I had shed many tears over the physical and emotional beatings I had received from others around me.  Then I heard that song, that it was for my tears, my tears, that Jesus died.  WOW!!

“And so I thought, could there actually be Someone who really loved me?  And it was because of the truth about His love that I was drawn to God.  For almost 40 years now, I have known that love of God.  Even through all that we have experienced of difficult times, and the trials and tragedies of life, I have never doubted that God truly loves me.”

We Have Found The Messiah

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John 1:35 – 42

Introducing Others to Jesus

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). [1]

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Our last two articles have focused our study in on John the Baptist.  In this study, we will see the focus shift now from John to Jesus.  In this Gospel, we do not have very many words of John recorded for us, but here we see him repeat once more one of the most important messages that he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  (Read the last article to understand this expression.)

We do not know how long John the Baptist was preaching and baptizing out in the wilderness, but we do know that he had gathered some followers who were called “his disciples”.  Now it was time for John to introduce his disciples to Jesus.  And when he identifies Jesus as “the Lamb of God”, two of his disciples leave him to follow Jesus.

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That takes a lot courage and humility to pass the spotlight off of yourself to shine on someone else.  It could have been very easy for John to want to hold on to his followers.  But he didn’t.  Actually, it was his own followers who had trouble with this shift.  If we jump ahead to John 3:22 – 36, we see that John’s disciples were jealous of the new attention and success that Jesus was having.  But John’s response in verse 30 is, “He must become greater; I must become less.”

So two of John’s disciples decided that they wanted to become apprentice-pupils of Jesus.  This was the common practice of that day.  If you wanted to advance your knowledge about God and the Jewish Law and Old Testament teachings, you would look for a Rabbi (a learned teacher) and attach yourself to him as a disciple, more literally an apprentice.

These two men spent the whole day with Jesus.  Right up until the late afternoon (4 pm).  It must have been quite exciting to hear Jesus teach, for the very first thing that one of them did, namely Andrew, was to go out to find his brother and tell him that he believed that he had found the Messiah, the man whom God had chosen to save the people.

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The reaction of Andrew is quite a common response for many people when they first encounter Jesus and take Him as the Lord and Saviour of their lives.  There is an excitement and a burning need to tell others about Jesus and what He has done for them in their life.  For those of us who have known Jesus as Lord for a very long time, we may have forgotten what those early moments were like for us.

I still remember though a special night in my life when I was about 14 and was still relatively new in my faith, only two years or less.  My parents took me on a weekend campout to attend a Square Dance rally.  Some people brought their motor homes and campers, others put up large tents to sleep in.  The big dances for the adults were usually in the evenings, which left us kids free to hang out and have fun in the tents together.

Fairly early in the evening, one of the kids asked me something about me going to church, and I responded that yes, I did believe in Jesus and what the Bible had to say.  Well, this generated quite a few questions which I gladly answered.  If I wasn’t sure of the answer, I would take the time to search my Bible to find an appropriate answer.  This spontaneous evangelistic moment and small group Bible study went on through the night until about 3 a.m.  I had never felt so invigorated in my young spiritual life as I did during that night.

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As I reflect back on that night of sharing my faith with about 10 other kids crammed into that tent, I can also see in my mind the same kind of excitement that Andrew must have felt.  We actually do not know much about Andrew in Scripture.  He is kind of one of those silent disciples of Jesus.  But he will forever be known as the one who brought Peter to Jesus.  And we know from Scripture just how much impact Peter had on the beginnings of the early church once Jesus got a hold of his life.

So let me encourage both you and me.  Knowing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is a wonderful thing.  But introducing others to Jesus is what it is all about.  And who knows what God might do in the life of that person that we lead to Jesus.  Maybe that person will become a modern day Peter.  I pray that would be so.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 1:35–42). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

God And Me Through The Years

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The Plinky Question for this week is:
“Write one thought or sentence that summarizes each year of your life.”

This idea for an aricle caught my attention. I am now 50 years old, which seems to me to be a good place at which I could look back and survey the years that I’ve lived. I think this could be quite interesting, so let’s have a go at this and see what we come up with. What I will try to do is summarize my life in five-year blocks. I hope you also find this interesting.

Infancy

  • 1960: “It’s a boy!”  (Norman Craig Weatherhead enters the world.)
  • 1961:  Not much to say. (But wait until I become a linguist.)
  • 1962: “Guess what Mom? I can sink.”  (The day a lifeguard rescued me.)
  • 1963:  Little boys and puppy dog tails.  (The question was, who was chasing whom?)
  • 1964:  Droopy drawers and hanging out doors.  (Ask my mom about that one.)
  • 1965:  An early perfectionist.  (20 minutes to cut out the picture in kindergarten.)

Childhood

  • 1966: “I love reading!”  (Me, my Mom, and the Principal. Read the story here.)
  • 1967:  Canada becomes independent. (I rolled my centennial penny all the way home.)
  • 1968:  Sent home with a note.  (“You can’t tackle girls outside school and kiss them?”)
  • 1969:  Standing in the corner.  (“You mean I can’t speak out in class when I want to?”)
  • 1970:  Chased by bullies.  (Aha, that’s why I became a long-distance runner.)

Early Teen Years

  • 1971:  Grade Sixers Rule!  (It’s nice to start the school year at the top of the school.)
  • 1972:  God becomes real. (Read here how God first touched my life.)
  • 1973:  Born-again.  (I commit my life to Christ and am baptized.)
  • 1974:  Special leaders.  (Thank God for Youth Group leaders who cared about me.)
  • 1975:  Love for math.  (Doing 10th grade algebra in my 9th grade math class.)

Later Teen Years

  • 1976:  Love for running.  (All the way to Calgary city finals in the 800 m race.)
  • 1977:  Jesus and me in the Navy. (Read about my faith under fire in this story.)
  • 1978:  A high school grad.  (With honors and scholarships to boot.)
  • 1979:  Up the Amazon.  (My first short term mission with Teen Missions Intl.)
  • 1980:  Full-time missionary.  (18 wonderful/challenging months with Teen Missions.)

Young Adult

  • 1981:  Bible college begins.  (Alberta Bible College – what a great school!)
  • 1982:  Learning pastoral ministry. (Youth group leader and church intern. Crazy!!)
  • 1983:  The famous “Sandwich”.  (How I started dating Jill.  I even made the bread.)
  • 1984:  I graduate, Grandma dies, Jill and I get married.  (What a week!)
  • 1985:  Seminary in subzero.  (Canadian Theological Seminary in Saskatchewan.)

Early Married Years

  • 1986:  Summer missions with Jill.  (Last year Dominican Republic, now Mexico.)
  • 1987:  Celebrate with Jill. (Jill gets her nursing diploma and sings on stage.)
  • 1988:  Church  planter?  (A valiant effort, but a “dry well” in Texas.)
  • 1989:  Our bundle of joy.  (Eric is born. Bring on those diapers!)
  • 1990:  Pain in the offering.  (Not wanted at a church.)

Finding Direction

  • 1991: “Is he the father?”  (Glen is born – 9 lbs. 14 oz. and 23 3/4 inches long.)
  • 1992:  Ministry in the Prairies. (God uses a city boy in a country church.)
  • 1993:  God humbles me.  (Read the full story here.)
  • 1994:  Love for biblical languages.  (Hooray for Lincoln Christian Seminary.)
  • 1995:  Training to be a Bible translator.  (Studying linguistics in Dallas.)

Translation Years

  • 1996:  Churches support our ministry.  (Getting ready and set to go to the field.)
  • 1997: “But it’s not the swamps!”  (We moved to a small village in PNG.)
  • 1998:  An official alphabet.  (The first thing published in the Nend language.)
  • 1999:  Death in the family.  (My father dies; we visit family and supporting churches.)
  • 2000: Hard at work.  (Translation on the Gospel of Mark goes forward.)

Difficult Years

  • 2001:  Bible school in the Bush.  (Teaching Genesis to Revelation in the village.)
  • 2002:  The Diagnosis. (Eric has leukemia and we return to Canada.)
  • 2003:  Chemotherapy and photo ops.  (Eric chosen as cancer’s Spokes Kid.)
  • 2004:  A good year.  (Teaching at Western Christian College.)
  • 2005:  Management training.  (Preparing to serve in East Africa.)

Transition Years

  • 2006:  Family choices.  (Eric returns to Canada for Gr. 12; three of us stay in Africa.)
  • 2007:  Back to Canada. (We help the boys with college and getting ready for life.)
  • 2008:  Another diagnosis!  (A muscle disease hits Norm and walking gets tough.)
  • 2009:  Slowly and carefully.  (Jill and I take one short mission trip to PNG.)
  • 2010:  Finding solutions.  (Wheelchairs, walkers, and recliners allow me to do work.)
  • 2011:  A step of faith.  (Norm lives in Dallas for 4 months doing translation work.)

And so there you have it folks, my entire life in one page. I found it quite interesting to think back over all the years and consider what the highlights were for each of those years. As you can see, God or ministry work (either in North America or in overseas countries) was a big part of many of these years. Of course there have been some discouraging times and difficult times. But for the most part, I can just about say that I found something positive in each and every year.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed this overview of my life. Perhaps you may find doing something like this, writing out the summary of your life year-by-year, may turn out to be just as interesting and valuable to you as it was to me doing my own life history. In some ways, I think it comes down to our basic outlook and attitude in life. For me, I try to live by these words: “Giving honor and glory to God in all that I do.”

Speaking Words Of Praise

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The Plinky Question for this week is:  “Remember that one time on the bus, when…”

Oh yes, I certainly do remember.  My mom and I were going somewhere in town, and seeing as we did not have a car, we naturally caught the local transit bus.  I was the youngest of the four children, so it was not unusual that I was taking the bus alone with mom as my siblings were either in school, or were old enough to be at home alone.  So taking a bus was a part of life, and meeting people on the bus was also a part of life.

Now when we would get on the bus, mom would pay for the ride and walk down the aisle to get us a seat which would leave me to take my time to slowly walk down the aisle and greet people as I went along.  You might think that I am, and was, an extrovert, always greeting people.  But actually, I am an introvert who is, and was, fascinated by people.  And so I would “socialize” while at the same time I would “analyze” all the people I met.

This would take me quite a few minutes.  And on this particular day, since the bus was mostly full in the front, my mom found a place for us on the bench at the back of the bus.  By the time I had finally got to the seat and was about to sit down, the driver had to slam on his brakes for some reason.  Meanwhile, I had pulled my head down a bit in order to sit down, and guess what happened.  The sudden deceleration caused me to fly forward, but since my head was down and I was a small boy, I literally rolled like a bowling ball all the way up the aisle and landed beside a very surprised bus driver.

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Before I continue with this story, I want to interject a thought which I just read from the site “Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life which I get every day:

Nurturing the Fruit of Praise

Posted: 29 Aug 2011 12:00 AM PDT

Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36, NASB).

Praise is reshaping our lips (and our living) around the glory of God. We use our words for everything else. We practice speaking for work, for school, for interacting socially. We must also practice (and that sacrificially) to honor God with our words. The text speaks of the “fruit of lips that confess his name.”

Fruit begins in a blossom; then it takes time to become full-grown and ready for harvest. Fruit doesn’t develop quickly, but over time, given the right conditions—the right soil, the right moisture, the right amount of sunshine, the right amount of care, pruning as needed, just enough fertilizer—all this and more. The fruit of praise must be nurtured and cultivated in the garden of obedience.

–Taken from Power Praying (Hearing Jesus’ Spirit by Praying Jesus’ Prayer) by David Chotka

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Now back to my bus story.  What happened to me certainly caught the attention of everyone on the bus.  After all, it’s not every day that you see a little boy roll down the aisle like a bowling ball.  Everyone was so concerned and worried for me.  But hey, I was just a little boy!  So I quickly bounded to my feet, dusted off my clothes, and went down the bus for the second time and greeted everyone and said hello.

I wish life could have always remained that simple.  And I wish I could have retained that personality of mine of being a “socialite introvert”.  But life suddenly became hard for me once I entered Elementary School, where being “nice” to everyone is not always appreciated.  In fact, for a number of reasons, I became the laughing-stock of the class and was regularly picked on by kids both in my grade and from some who were older than me.

The result of this was that I painfully learned the lesson in life, that it was better to be quiet and not say anything to anyone.  The budding skill I had on the bus to be kind to strangers and say something nice to others was squashed in public school.  By God’s grace though, He came and found me in Grade 7 and I was able to use words of praise and thanks once again as I began my journey with my best friend, Jesus.

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But with regards to people, it took me a lot longer to relearn the skill and the joy that I had begun as a child to reach out to other people and try to bring a smile to their faces.  In fact, even into my middle 30’s I was not as tuned into people as I ought to have been.  And my narrow world of self-centeredness hindered me from really seeing and appreciating people around me.

It wasn’t until we lived in the village in Papua New Guinea for five years that I really learned how to sit down with someone for hours and talk about basically nothing.  But just being willing to sit there and let people talk, I was finally once more maturing my blossom of being others-centered.  And now I find it easy once again to say hello to strangers, and to try to leave them with a smile on their face.  One thing has changed though.  I have no desire to do any encore of rolling down the aisle in front of others.  🙂

Finding A Good Wife

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Who Am I? Part 8

This is now the eighth part in a 26 part series that I have wanted to share with all my readers.  That might sound like a lot of articles, but then I am trying to write out the highlights and key moments of my 50 year life span.  And this article is going to be a special one, as it marks a truly pivotal moment of my life, the decision of who I would marry.  The only other moment that was more important than this was when I was ready to turn my life over to God.  You can read that in the article, “For My Tears, Jesus Died.”

Everything else in my life up to this moment was a period of learning and growing and getting ready for this major life-changing decision.  Sort of like Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, I was going to change from being a child to becoming a man.  For a very long time, it was clear to me and to others that I would be wanting to find the right woman who would marry me.

In fact, I think you might say that I was chasing women from a very young age.  I can still remember the day in Grade Two that I was sent home early from school with a note from the principal to my parents.  I thought it was great that I got to go home early.  But I must say that my parents were not too thrilled to get this note from the principal which read:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Weatherhead,

I regret that I have had to pull your son out of school today and have sent him home with this letter.  I would like it very much if you could sit down with your son and talk to him about his behavior while at school.  Please tell your son that it is not appropriate for him to run after girls during recess, to tackle them down and try to kiss them.  Your help in this matter would be most appreciated.

Sincerely,

The Principal

Now thinking back to that moment in Grade Two, I remember going home with the note.  But I don’t remember if I got scolded and disciplined by my parents or not.  Gee, maybe my Dad even congratulated me for taking the initiative in developing male/female relationships.  (LOL)  Just kidding.  All I can say is that I took a healthy interest in girls at a very young age.

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Skipping ahead over many years, and many more interesting/funny/embarrassing stories which will have to wait for future articles, let me bring you up to the time that I was starting to date Jill.  You may remember the prophetic and funny statement my grandmother said to us, “My little Norman usually walks about three feet off the ground, and Jill, you walk about three feet under ground.  But as long as you two keep on holding on to each other, you will be fine.”

Actually, when Grandma said this, neither of us thought about being too serious at that time.  But God seemed to smile on our relationship and a short dating period (50 days) led to a short engagement period (5 months), and on May 11, 1984, we pledged our love to each other.  And as you can see from the picture below, we were on top of the world that day.

Now let me back up just a bit to give our story a little more context.  Even though our dating period was short, as I mentioned, we had in fact known each other for more than three years.  Jill had been a room-and-board person at my parents house for parts of 1979 – 1983.  She had become part of our family long before she married into our family.

So were we friends forever who finally got married?  Actually, no.  After I got home from my year serving with Teen Missions (read about that year here), I found that “some strange woman” had taken over my bedroom and I was relegated to the dusty basement room.  😦  Needless to say, I was not too impressed, nor happy about the arrangement.  And so I first got to know Jill as a rival in the family, someone to compete against, not someone to want to date or even marry.

But again, God did some interesting heart adjustments for both of us.  I thought I knew what I was looking for in a wife, but now that I look back, I know that I was being influenced by my culture.  It really is difficult these days not to be influenced by the bombardment we get through the media, modern advertising and such dominant cultural centers such as Hollywood.

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But thankfully, Jill stepped in twice to give me a subtle suggestion that the girl I thought I was interested in was really not a good match for me.  But being a guy, of course I missed the subtle cues.  (There are lots more to the stories, and I’m sure you’d love to hear them one day.)  But then Jill asked me one day if maybe there might ever be a chance that the two of us might want to date.

Well, then it really hit me.  Even though Jill and I had lived in my parent’s house together and squabbled like a brother and sister might at times, there was a common bond that kept us interested in each other.  Both of us had wanted to serve the Lord on the mission field one day.  And so we talked the same language: missions and missionary lives.

So finally, after 3 1/2 years of missed opportunities, Jill and I saw that in fact we would be a good match together.  And so I was able to realize what the writer had to say in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.”  And guess what?  I can still say after 27 years, that it was the right decision.

(Our 25th Anniversary Cruise Celebration)

Does It Really Matter?

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My Favorite Color

One of our family’s favorite and totally silly movies is “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”.  I must admit that it is a rather irreverent movie, but in its own bizarre way, it does have a peculiar sense of humor.  And one of our favorite scenes is when King Arthur and his knights come to the famous bridge where the keeper of the bridge asks them to answer truthfully three questions before they can pass.

All of them are worried.  One knight goes forward and is asked, “What is your name?  What is your quest?  What is your favorite color?”  He answers them all easily and correctly and is allowed to pass.  So then brave Sir Robin goes forward with confidence and gets the same three questions.  He answers the first two easily and correctly also.  But on the third question, he says,  “Blue….no red….AHHH!!!”  And for not answering the third question correctly, he is cast down into the endless chasm.  Bizarre humor, eh?

Now, does this silly story have anything to do with real life for you and me?  Haha, not likely.  And yet, at the same time, I have seen something in this story that touches a little too close to home for me.  The choice of what is my favorite color is a little more complex than you might think.  And as I ponder this question, I see a little bit of the “dark side” lurking within me.  Let me explain.

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In my family growing up, I was the last of four children.  As is often the case, being the last child I often felt like the others got the best of everything, and then I just got what was leftover.  And one of the things I thought about often was the dishes that we used at meals.  At some while we were young, my parents picked up a complete 4-person ceramic set of dishes with each set being a different color.

In many ways this was a good idea.  Everyone knew which set was his or hers.  My oldest brother Murray got the green set, then Blake got the blue set, and my sister Lorna got the indigo red set.  That left one set for me, and guess what color it was….yellow!!  Ugh!!  (Forgive me for anyone who does like the color yellow, but when I see a yellow car I think of it as a fat banana on wheels.)

So what was I to do?  When our whole family sat down to dinner, I would inevitably get my food served on to my yellow dishes.  But…. when not everyone was at the table, or if I was eating alone, I would slip my hand deeper into the cupboard and get either the green or the blue set of dishes.  This was my subtle rebellious way of getting back at both my siblings and my parents for sticking me with the yellow dishes.  : )

Now how silly is that?  And yet for some people, colors carry along meaning with them.  Red is considered a very lucky color in the Orient.  Purple is the color in many cultures for royalty.  Black is associated with darkness and evil.  White is also a lucky color and is thought of as the color of purity.  And for me, green and blue have somehow always been associated in my mind as colors of power and strength.  Whereas yellow I had thought of as the color of wimps.  And I definitely did not want to think of myself as a wimp.

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So now I’m 50 years old.  Now I am much more sophisticated, refined and mature, right?  Haha…. well, I would like to think that I am.  But every now and then, this old “dark side” of me wants to come out and demonstrate to all that I am mighty and invincible.  I have even given myself a powerful nickname.  I say, “I am the mighty hunter Namron!”  (It sounds like the mighty hunter Nimrod from Genesis 10:8-9, but all I did was turn my name around.)  : ) But being the last born as well as being the shortest of all the brothers, I think this created part of my need to “have to win”.  I must admit that I have had a competitive spirit for most of my life.

And this competitive spirit shows up when our family plays games.  Whether it is a simple game of Uno or a strategic game like Settlers, as much as I would like to gather around the table and relax with the family to have a good time, I have this unfortunate inner desire to “beat the pants” off everyone else.  (Haha… now wouldn’t that be quite the scene.)

So when we play a game that has game tokens, I tend to reach first for the green or blue token.  But I know how much Jill loves the color blue, so I try to always let her take that one.  But then I look at the green token and I still have the thought that this is a “power” color, so if I can choose this one, then I may have a good chance on winning the game.

Oh my, how foolish this all sounds, eh?  But then that is how tricky our hearts can be, which is what we read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  And the answer to that is: Jesus knows my heart, and He is able to cure my deceitful heart when I come to Him and ask Him to forgive me of my selfish human desires.  So what should I do when our family gathers next time to play a game?  I think I’ll reach for the orange token.  : )


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