Dad's 72nd Birthday. Part 1.

We went to bed with snow.
And woke up with more.
That's just how we roll up North.
And so,
8-10 inches later,
it was time to play.

King of the castle.

Driveway hockey.

Coco Butters stayed outside for all of a nano-second.
She's got issues.
Spoiled brat.
 Maddie, the only grand-daughter,
stayed inside and baked, keeping Grandpa and Coco company.
Coco assumed the position.
Grandpa's right hand little fluff ball,
ready to snuggle at the drop of a hat.

As you might imagine,
all of a sudden,
things like birthdays
and making great memories
take on a whole new level of urgency and importance.

Today was an extra special day in that
we were together as a family,
celebrating Dad's 72nd birthday.

I grew up in Northern Ontario,
and one of the best gifts our family was ever given
was the gift of the Brideau family.

While they're technically of no relation,
they actually are 100% family to us.
God's good like that;
to give the gift of lifelong friendship.

Ron and Cindy are my mum and dad's very best friends.
(And wouldn't you know it that I forgot my camera
so these are courtesy of Lenny's phone. Dog-gone-it)
They've done life together.
It's beautiful, really.

Their kids,
Rene and Nicole,
are like a brother and sister
to Lenny and me.
The original eight.
I suppose we could write a book full
of a lifetime of Northern Ontario stories.

Lenny fishing and getting a hook caught in Nicole's ear.
Countless camping trips as families.
Forts in our backyards.
SkiDoo rides and toboggan hills.
Backgammon and Cheetos.
Maple syrup making.
Building things.
Fixing things.
Playing at the farm.
Serving together at Camp ABK.

OH, and there was that one time,
in church,
when Rene and I decided it would be a good idea
to light a match.
I mean, why wouldn't we?

And it smelled like fire.
So much so that everyone was trying
to figure out where the smell was coming from
and should we evacuate the building.
We slunk down in our chairs,
wishing upon a star
that we wouldn't get caught.
And as luck would have it,
there just so happened to be
a birthday party happening outside.
What in the world are the chances of THAT?

And so,
just by the hair of our chinny chin chins,
we escaped the wrath of both fathers.
And ... we didn't burn the church down,
so that was a plus.

It was a decade later before anyone ever knew!
We would have taken that story to our graves
but it was just too good a story not to tell,
so finally, in a moment of weakness,
I let the cat out of the bag.

And then there was today.
We all met and had a very long lunch together.
Catching up.
Lots of laughs, because that's what we do.
Ron told corny jokes. Because that's what he most definitely does.
Long hugs and hard goodbyes.
It was a vivid reminder that
we are ultra rich in meaningful relationships.
And I don't take that for granted.
Not one little bit.
 A few summers back, camping in the beauty of Northern Ontario:
I so desperately wanted time to freeze time today.
There was just so much more visiting to be had.
I wanted an hour with each of the kids;
just to hear their stories, hear their hearts.

But alas, the time came to part ways.
And that was hard.
Very hard.

Simply because miles and miles - oh, and countries - separate us as family.
Simply because we don't know what the next
few months hold.

Nicole, Ron and Cindy and kids
drove 6 hours to be with us for those three hours.
How's THAT for love?
They'd drop anything to be with us in our time of need.
Because that's what family does.

And they needed to see Dad, too.
They needed to hug him.
And be with him.
They needed us,
just like we needed them.
Love does that.

So that made the goodbyes hard.
Knowing that we're not daily together in this mess.

But guess what?
Cancer can do a lot of things,
but it cannot rob us of knowing we're loved.
And that we're not alone.
And God is good in giving us family to hold us tight
as we face the next day.

I've tucked those hugs deep inside my heart.
I needed them today.

We might not drive the fanciest car.
And we might not have the biggest house.
But I could stack our dear friends and family
a mile high and never lack for
those that love us.
For those that are in this with us.

Today was a beautiful reminder that
together really is better.

Ron, Cindy, Nicole, Peter, Rene, Alison, Justin, Eric, Desiree, Dakota, Dylan, Alexandra, Little Rene, and Olivia,
you have our hearts.
Thanks for being there today.
Together really is better.


I'm definitely in the stack. Continuing to pray for the Lord's glory in your midst.

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