Thursday, November 30, 2006


7-3 to the Avalanche. The worst loss of the season. It was just one of those nights.

I'm sure Kim feels really bad for me. Go here and here for the background to that comment. Speaking of comments, make sure you read them on these posts. The battle of the sexes! Sort of. I may have made an unfair comparison but Buggy ... well, you'll just have to go see for yourself!

Monday, November 27, 2006


A Grandfathers Thoughts on Sudden Infant Death (SIDS)

A Guest Post by John K.

Kadence : June 27 - November 15, 1999.

I am thinking of the bedtime episode with the 23rd Psalm. Kadence never met my own mother, her great grandmother. I am confident they have met now. I can picture them sitting together in heaven and Kadence telling her, Hey, Great Grandma, you know what? Grandpa said the 23rd Psalm to me just like you said to and guess what! It worked! It reminds me of the importance of passing our faith from generation to generation. In the Anglican church I attend we close every service with this: Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen. It is from Ephesians 3:20,21. From generation to generation. As has been said, Christianity is always one generation away from extinction. Keep the faith... pass it on.

We went in to the apartment to get a few things in preparation for the memorial service. Jon and Jen had not been back since the night at the hospital, so everything was just as it had been left the night of that panic trip to emergency. The high chair was in the kitchen. There were three different Bibles, each open to the same passage. There was a Strongs Concordance open on the table, and a couple of textbooks. Jon had been doing his Bible school homework at the kitchen table; an essay on Ruth, the story of the bond of love between a daughter and mother.

* * *

There is some question whether someone should clear out the babys room before Jon and Jen return to the apartment. They think it may be too painful for them to see her things. Having walked into her room, I dont think so. Even with the initial lump in my throat, I found it somehow comforting to be among her things. To see her change table, her crib, her dresser with the coloured knobs, her outfits in the drawers. To strip the room bare as if there were some terrible secret, something to hide, I think would not be the right thing to do. It would be like the closed off wing of a Victorian mansion where the insane relative was kept. It will be good, I think, for Jen to see Kadences things once again, and to tidy them up herself, in her own time.

* * *

Its not supposed to be like this. Its tough when its not supposed to happen. I have lost both my parents, but that was different. They were supposed to die, eventually. Yes, there was sadness, but not the overwhelming grief there is now. When one loses parents, one has many memories to look back on. Those memories are something that cannot be taken away. With a tiny baby, just beginning life, the memories are still in the future. They havent happened yet. They have been stolen even before they occur.

* * *

It hurts so badly when your own child is hurting, but this is worse. Your own baby is in pain because she, herself, lost her own child. The pain is doubled.

* * *

From time to time, black thoughts creep into my head; dark thoughts of blame and fault. These are thoughts that dare not even be thought, let alone written. Kadence is gone; let healing begin. I keep thinking, It didnt have to happen. And yet it did, and it cannot be changed.

People say that only time will heal the pain. Why doesnt time just jump forward so I could be over the anguish.

* * *

The Bible talks of God comforting us in our troubles so that we in turn can comfort those in trouble themselves. Thats alright for some troubles, but for this? Is that the reason for all this? Surely not! That would be too cruel.

* * *

How selfish is my grief. Do I mourn for Kadence or for my own pain?

* * *

Why? Why Kadence, child of Christian parents, grandchild of Christian grandparents? Is it because as Christians we are supposed to find it easier to take? Is our faith supposed to make this easier to bear? Is that it, God? If so, its just plain cruel.

* * *

I have asked the question over and over again. Why? What was the point?

Oddly enough, this is the question upon which I now, in a sense, dwell the least. Its not that I know that some day I will have the answer. It is that when that day comes, I will no longer have the question. I will not even have to ask it. When I see her again, the question will be gone forever from my mind before it ever comes to my lips. I think of what was said by the prophet Isaiah,

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. (Isaiah 65: 24)

* * *

My trust in the sovereignty of God has been strengthened through all of this, not lessened. The sovereignty of God had been a mere phrase of dogma, a teaching of the church, a concept to which I subscribed. Yes, there had been times in my life when it came close to home, but nothing like this. Here I have had to think about it, analyse it, wonder about it, wrestle with it. Faith has been tested, and it has been made stronger. This has been the refiners fire.

* * *

Kadence : June 27 - November 15, 1999.

A cadence is a rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds...

Just as a beautiful sequence of notes falls with pleasure upon the ear bringing peace to the soul, joy to the heart and a smile to the lips, so did Kadence come into our lives.

But just as a beautiful note flares brilliantly and then fades into silence, she did not linger nearly long enough.

In a classical symphony, as one movement fades into stillness, we wait quietly, expectantly, for the next movement to begin. But here there is no next movement, at least not in this world. The music has ended before it has any right to do so. We sit, dumbly, waiting for more, but there is no more. The performance has ended. The musicians are putting away their instruments even before the applause has begun. We are shocked, silent. We are not ready for this. But thats all there is. This is, truly, an Unfinished Symphony.

* * *

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil of fade -- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by Gods power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

(1 Peter 1: 3-9)

Sunday, November 26, 2006


A Grandfathers Thoughts on Sudden Infant Death (SIDS)

A Guest Post by John K.

Kadence : June 27 - November 15, 1999.

We were blessed to have Kadence for the weekend before her death, Friday and Saturday nights. Memories of her are more recent and real. Sunday we took her to church, and it was the best I had ever seen her. She was so bright and alert, babbling away during the hymns and choruses, looking all around and smiling at everyone she saw. Everyone could not help but smile back at her. She had a nap during the sermon, but as one friend said, tongue in cheek, “She may not have been the only one.”

Friday night she had slept in another room. Saturday night my wife said she would feel more comfortable if we moved her playpen into our own bedroom, so we did. Kadence was a little restless during the night and I found I heard every little fuss and whimper. At about two oclock I could not sleep so I got up and went into the spare bedroom. Still, I could hear intermittent cries coming from our room, even through two closed doors. I lay awake until probably about four oclock, feeling guilty for leaving Kadence in Evas care, so I got up and went in. Eva had Kadence in bed with her, but the baby was still fussing and not sleeping. We tried offering her a bottle, but she did not take it. I thought the husbandly thing to do was to let my wife get some sleep so I took Kadence into the spare room with me. I tucked her in, lying on her back beside me in the double bed, with the covers under her arms (she always liked her arms free, so it was no good to try to cover them, she would just throw off the covers).

When I was a little boy, I remember my mother telling me that if I couldnt sleep, to recite the twenty-third Psalm from memory. She always said that I would be asleep before I got through it twice. Funny, as much as I like the more modern translations of the Bible, the twenty-third Psalm just sounds better in King James English. I lay down beside Kadence in the dark, gave her her soother, gently placed my hand upon her tummy, and began to recite softly;

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

By the time I was finished, she was asleep. I didnt even have to say it the second time. I suppose that because she was so tiny, she didnt need the full dose.

* * *

It is Friday night, the night before the memorial service. I am sitting in my study staring out the window. People are passing by, walking, jogging or walking their dogs. They dont seem to care. Dont they know what has happened? Dont they know there is grief here? Life has no business going on as normal. I am thinking about what I have written; about tucking her in that last night with her arms over top of the covers when suddenly I can visualize the scene so clearly. I can see here little face and shoulders above the blankets and her little pink sleepers. Its as if Im right there. And it hits me, God! Kadence isnt here. She wont be with us anymore. I curse myself for all my intellectualizing. For all these words Ive written. What business have I, feeling pain. It is Kadence who is gone. She wont be with us any more, ever. O God!

* * *

C.S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed:

There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in... Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.

We were extremely thankful for peoples presence and calls. Even if it felt awkward and people didnt know what to say, it was nice having them there. There were times when we merely sat in a circle on chairs in the living room, no one speaking for minutes on end, but I am still thankful for their being there. It would have been unbearable to be alone. People sent notes with names mis-spelled. People stammered, not knowing what to say or how to react or how we would react. It didnt matter. The mistakes were somehow most precious of all because it showed people willing and wanting to help regardless of appearances. The faux-pas made it seem almost more genuine. I will try to remember that if I ever have the opportunity to comfort someone in a similar position. One might think, I should leave so they can be alone, or, I wont call because I dont know what to say, or, Theyve probably had too many calls already, but that is not the case. A grieving person needs the company, and to know that others are caring, even if they cant say so.

* * *

Christians say, I will pray for you. Non-believers say, I will keep you in my thoughts. What an incredible difference there is between the two! How sad not to know the power of prayer. Even though the heart is in the right place, and those thoughts are much appreciated, that is all they are; thoughts. They are so ineffectual, compared to the mighty power of a believers prayer.

Who will ever know the effect in all of this of the prayers of our brothers and sisters in the faith. As excruciating as the pain was, what would it have been like if not for those prayers; some of them from people we did not even know. People came up to my wife in the mall, saying, Were praying for you. Psalm 124 begins: If the LORD had not been on our side ... I wonder… what would it have been like if He weren’t. I think of it often.

Free Grace

I have listened to the White Horse Inn radio show for years. I hear Indelible Grace clips on the show from time to time. They played this one a few weeks ago and it fit the theme very well. If you don't yet listen to Indelible Grace or the White Horse Inn, why not? Go get 'em!

1. You children of God,
by faith in His Son
Redeemed by His blood,
and with Him made one
This union with wonder
and rapture be seen
Which nothing shall sunder,
without or within

2. This pardon, this peace
which none can destroy
This treasure of grace
and heavenly joy
The worthless may crave it,
it always comes free
The vilest may have it,
it was given to me

Chorus: Free grace has paid for all my sin
Free grace, though it cost so much to Him
Free grace has freed even my will
Free grace to the end sustains me still

3. It's not for good deeds,
good tempers nor frames
From grace it proceeds,
and all is the Lamb's
No goodness, no fitness
expects He from us
This I can well witness,
for none could be worse
(Repeat chorus)

Bridge: Sick sinner, expect no
balm but Christ's blood
Your own works reject,
the bad and the good
None ever regret it that on Him rely
Though guilty as Saul or Jonah or I
(Repeat chorus)

©2001 Detuned Radio Music (ASCAP).

Lyrics: Joseph Hart (1712-1768) Bridge: Matthew Smith

Friday, November 24, 2006


A Grandfathers Thoughts on Sudden Infant Death (SIDS)

A Guest Post by John K.

Kadence : June 27 - November 15, 1999.

Monday November 15, 1999

It was nine oclock in the evening and I was alone in the house when I got the call. It was my son-in-law, Jon. He sounded worried, but the full impact of what the call was about did not strike me.

Can you meet us at the University Hospital emergency department, he asked.

OK, I replied, Whats up?

Its Kadence. Shes not breathing. The paramedics are here.

Alright. I said, and started to stammer some questions, but I must have begun to realize that it was urgent, so I cut myself off and said only, Im on my way.

The first thing I did was say what a pastor of mine once called an arrow prayer, asking for Gods protection over her. Then I started to scribble a note to my wife, Eva, on the back of an envelope, not knowing quite what to say, and in too much of a hurry to try to tell the whole story. After a couple of false starts, thankfully, I heard her coming in the door. I spluttered out something about having to go right away, that there was something wrong with Kadence, and said, without hesitating to try to explain, Lets go! Once we were in the truck and on our way, I told her what little I knew.

It is about a half-hour drive from our house to the University of Alberta Hospital. The further we drove, the more I became aware of a knot of fear and worry in my stomach. As we pulled up to the emergency entrance, I dropped her off and then went to find a parking spot. When I reached the emergency department after parking the truck, the receptionist directed me to a small room over to one side. I entered. Everyone was in tears. Theyve lost Kadence. they said.

* * *

I had prayed often that God would watch over my granddaughter, to protect her and set his angels around her to keep her from harm. I can only accept now that He has done just that. We may never know from what harm He has saved her. We can only trust that He knows.

* * *

Jen had come in after teaching her dance class. As she did every night, she went into the babys room to check on her. As she did every night she touched the baby gently. It was to check to make sure she was breathing, although of course she never expected she wouldnt be. It had become an almost mechanical motion: the touch, the smile, the kiss. But this time was different. It took a split-second to realize that it was so. It took a split-second for the thought to register, No, shes not breathing! Still not comprehending, she rocked her baby gently with her hand. Kadence felt lifeless, like putty. Picking her up, Jen saw that she was blue. It was a feeling of utter shock and despair and unbelief. A groan escaped her which was not a scream, not a cry for help; just a groan of realization of something which was too unthinkable to be realized. Jen told me later that as she held her baby she knew it wasnt her. It was her tiny little body, but Kadence wasnt there.

A question for atheists: What is the difference between a living body and a dead one? Certainly it is not chemical or physical. Every atom and molecule that was there an instant before death is still there an instant after, so whats the difference? If there is no God, if man does not have a soul, what is the difference? It is a question I dont suppose many atheists have considered at any great length. It is a question for which I cant imagine them having a very satisfactory answer. Satisfactory even for themselves.

* * *

Sometimes, I think, it is as if God has two wills; an active will and a passive, or permissive will. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, we must accept that nothing happens outside of His will. Sometimes, though, can we say that He doesnt actively cause things to happen, but He allows them? We dont know why, but in faith we must assume that He has a good reason.

* * *

I cannot fathom how someone would cope with this, not having the hope that we have, not having a faith. I thank God that there is a Heaven. Equally, I thank Him for giving me the assurance that there is such a place, and that Kadence is there. Some things exist whether we know them or not, and whether or not we believe in them, but is nice to know for sure, isnt it? God, in His grace, has not only given us eternal life through Jesus Christ; He has given us the knowledge and assurance of that life. We dont have to go through this life in suspense, wondering what lies ahead in the next. What a wonderful and thoughtful thing to do; not only to provide for us, His children, but to give us that comfort as well.

I thank God for Jesus. It is only because of him and what he has done that it is possible for Kadence to be in Heaven and for us to join her there some day.

* * *

Will we recognize Kadence when we get to Heaven? I dont know. It may be that she will recognize us, rather than the other way around. A pastor friend told me this: Let it be your prayer that she be the second in line to greet you when you get there.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



  • I recommend the whole 1 Corinthians series at Covenant Life Church, but I particularly have to refer you to an excellent message by Jeff Purswell on 1 Corinthians 5, "Protecting Church Purity." Part of his text is the "New Lumps" passage, thought that's not the only reason I thought it was great. I love the fact that they have several men preaching the same book series - even a guest in the case of Jerry Bridges!
  • Years ago I came across an article by Richard D. Phillips called, "The Biblical Pattern of Reformation" (I can't find the article online, but if you want it I can email you a Word doc). It really changed the way I read my Bible. I recently found a series of four messages by Phillips at the Oklahoma Conference on Reformed Theology (free MP3 downloads). Jeremy Weaver recently posted on a new book by Richard Phillips on the same topic. Highly recommended - particularly if you think "Reformation" is not a biblical category!

My two older children are involved in a regional Bible quiz meet on Friday and Saturday in Ft. Saskatchewan (North-East of Edmonton). My wife is the coach of our little team. I have been delighted to see the diligence of our team and the growing team spirit, not to mention all the Bible memory that will serve them well in the future. At the first meet, the kids were very impressed at the gracious spirit the teams had in winning, losing and encouraging. There will be about 300 young people at this meet and they are quizzing on memory work from the book of Acts.

Coming Up:

My friend John Kivell sent me some reflections on the death of his granddaughter that he wrote at that difficult time seven years ago. This journal is very moving. It reminded me of C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed when I started reading it. In fact, John quotes from Lewis' book, though his observations are very original and personal as you will see.

John asked me if he could guest post these thoughts on my blog. I encouraged John to start his own blog to post this because I think his writing should be available on the 'net in his own space. However, he's afraid that it might lead to too much writing. No problem, John; if you post as infrequently as I do, blogging hardly takes any time at all!

I know John hopes that these thoughts won't just be a cause for moving our emotions, but that they will be of some comfort and assistance for any readers that might have had a similar loss. Stay tuned - part one of three will be coming very soon.
A New Addition

We finally got a kitten yesterday. I'd been dragging my feet for ages, but I was outnumbered.

Here it is:
Oh, wait - wrong picture (when you see the right one, you'll understand the confusion):

Our friend Roy, the dad of the home we got the cat from, called the kitten Sylvester. I thought that was a perfect name. Turns out the cat is a she. We can't have a male name now, can we? I don't know if we've settled on a name yet. I've been told it's "Princess Arjumund." That's a modern literary allusion - To Say Nothing of the Dog. Mandy (?!) for short.

Honestly, it's a cat. I don't care what we call it. Really, I don't.

Nope, not at all.

Just not "Princess" please.

As you can tell, I've been really negligent with my blog lately (it's not getting any better with this post, I know). I do have ideas, but by the end of the day, I'm just out of gumption.

Happier News: The Oilers beat the Flames by 2-1 tonight, ending a streak by the Flames. That certainly perked me up!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Home Again

We are thankful to be home again and thankful for our home after being away for a week and travelling on some nasty winter roads. We went to our Fellowship Baptist National Convention. For your information, the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada is an association of about 500 churches from coast-to-coast.

The convention was in Richmond, B.C., about 1000 km/600 miles from our town of Edson. We all went together in our Suburban, but came back in separate vehicles as I bought a car on the coast. Juanita was a good sport about driving the Suburban back, and was a really good sport regarding the crazy idea of buying an 11 year-old car while at Convention. I have a wonderful wife!

We are all very tired. I have more post ideas that have been building up, but they will have to wait. I'm thankful for a day off and I'm going to take advantage of it.

Oh, for anyone who is curious, we bought a '95 Toyota Avalon. It is a local coastal car, so it hasn't endured harsh winters with salt, rock chips and etc. It is in very nice shape for the age and it drives beautifully. It's quite a luxurious car - it even has heated seats! It also has a rare feature for a Japanese car - a front bench seat and column shift. All six of us will fit, though the 'Burb will still be better for holidays, etc. This passenger capacity was one of the things that attracted me to this car when I found it online.

For anyone reading this, thanks for your patience during my absence!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thy Mercy, My God

My Sunday hymn comes with a note this week. I should say something about my lack of blogging!

Rebecca is encouraging expressing of thankfulness these days. That's a good thing. Of the many things I'm thankful for, I'm thankful that I don't have to blog every day. I like blogging, and I have had some thoughts for posts this week, but I have been really busy with sermon, Sunday School and Bible Study preparation this week.

We're leaving for Vancouver tomorrow after a potluck at the church. Our Fellowship Baptist National Convention starts Monday afternoon. We're going as a family because it is so close this year (only a 10 hour drive, if the roads are good). Because I'm away next week, I have been working on two messages this week - that's unusual for me!

I may post some next week. The hotel is supposed to have wireless, and my other study work is in pretty good shape right now.

Now, here is this week's hymn. It, too, expresses thankful thoughts on very important matters!

1. Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart. and the boast of my tongue;
Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last,
Hath won my affections, and bound my soul fast.

2. Without Thy sweet mercy I could not live here;
Sin would reduce me to utter despair;
But, through Thy free goodness, my spirits revive,
And He that first made me still keeps me alive.

3. Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.

4. Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own,
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son;
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.
All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine
Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

©2001 Same Old Dress Music (ASCAP).

John Stocker (published works in 1776)