July 23rd- Maranatha Lutheran Church annual picnic

Each summer, Maranatha Lutheran Church holds its annual picnic at Hillside Park in Waterloo. Maranatha is a small congregation with a committed group of members, mainly of Carribbean descent. As a member of St Philip Lutheran, sister congregation in the Eastern Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), we were glad to be invited and we were looking forward to the day.

DSCF1298.JPGClosing hymn of worship service

DSCF1299.JPGOur accompanist, organist and accordion player, Ubaldo.


Under the picnic shelter and a sky that threatened rain earlier in the morning

DSCF1301.JPGled by Rev. JR Bestvater

DSCF1302.JPGMore members, present and past, of Maranatha, including Pastor Peter and daughter Hanne Kuhnert

DSCF1303.JPGPastor checking out the food lined up for lunch. We're waiting for the barbecue to catch up

DSCF1305.JPGPastor Peter Kuhnert, past minister of the Maranatha congregation, was either delegated or volunteered to supervise the barbecue

DSCF1306 (2).JPGWomen of Maranatha lined up to serve the food. It was so tasty!

Our friends, Ron and Doris Tuckett, came to join us for the picnic, and Ron met a former coworker whom he hadn't seen in a long time


More people arrived, filling the tables, visiting, and enjoying the food.

And we were entertained by people representing three steel bands


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DSCF1310.JPGI don't remember all their names, but they certainly played well together

DSCF1315.JPGThen for the games. Pastor Peter and his daughter Hanne, joined in the fun.

DSCF1318.JPGSecond round of the sack race

DSCF1323.JPGDraganna catching the water balloon

DSCF1327.JPGArlene, stretching to catch, and she got it

DSCF1329.JPGWith balloons being tossed continually, there was little time to zoom in on anyone. A few people got very wet when the balloons finally burst, but those who played had a lot of fun, sometimes holding as many as three balloons at a time.

DSCF1335.JPGa couple who volunteered to have their photo taken

The weather cooperated and people were engaged in friendly conversation on a summer afternoon. It was a successful picnic. Thanks to Maranatha for hosting. Good food, good company and fun.

Good Soil

This week I blogged again for Canadian Writers Who Are Christian.


At the library last evening I picked up a book titled 1001 Tips for Canadian Gardeners. My own garden has taken years to get where it is now, and I'm still learning. Two of our three daughters bought new homes in the last year. This year they're still figuring out what to do with the land around their homes.
The soil at both places seems to be heavier, unlike the sandy soil we have. There is a need to emend the soil both places--to lighten and feed it.
Our youngest daughter started to work with her garden area and flower beds last year, pulling out overgrown plants and taming weeds. In some areas, it must feel like a losing battle, but she's added fresh soil to the garden area and likely compost too, and so this year it was ready for a small vegetable garden that is indeed growing well. ...
Read more here

Summer-- where the living is easy


My daughter is helping her sister with babysitting this month. The five-year-old thought her baby cousin would look cute in sunglasses so she put a pair on him. His mother couldn't resist taking a photo.

This little one loves watching the leaves in the trees. One day in June when we were sitting in the front yard on a lovely warm day, celebrating his father's 30th birthday, he was enjoying the outdoors as much as we were.

DSCF1276.JPGAnd the beginnings of a fairy garden awaiting his older cousins. We'll create a path for the fairies to travel in and out.


DSCF1260.JPGAnd good company for our Canada Day visit

Travel safely this summer. Wear your sunglasses and remember to put on your sunscreen

And the garden grows

DSCF1129.JPG We had heat and more over the planting time. The perennials came back into their own during their season of growth. And then this weekend when the ground was dry, we got rain. Straight down, plummeting, nourishing rain to refresh the plants and earth. We had two of those short-lived rains but it was good. Dad often said that the slower rain was better and less damaging, but we didn't have too much wind so the rain we had was still good.

DSCF1149.JPGthe pots of herbs are doing well too--lemongrass, basil, rosemary


All of the tomato plants have blossoms now. A few even have tiny tomatoes

DSCF1150.JPGMore herbs, including parsley and cilantro

DSCF1169.JPGPole beans about ready to climb

DSCF1181.JPGAnd we will have zucchinis

DSCF1174.JPGOne of the cucumber plants standing tall. Before long there'll be blossoms and it will stretch out

DSCF1167.JPGNot vegetables, but part of my flower gardens. The morning glory plants are beginning to climb

DSCF1168.JPGLemon balm, contained. I love the smell of it

DSCF1172 (2).JPGcarrots coming

I lifted the net on the garden on Friday and got most of the weeds. The rake got stuck in the netting a few times. There'll always be weeds to pull.

DSCF1170.JPGand we will have strawberries this year

DSCF1126.JPGScopia in pink and blue in my window box

Wisdom from William Shakespeare

June 11th, I posted to The Word Guild blog as I do once a month. Here is the first bit of my post:

In his time, William Shakespeare, poet and playright, knew a thing or two about the stage, but his work covered many areas of life. Biography.com says "over the course of 20 years, Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion and conflict."

Besides his plays, poems and sonnets, other official documentation of his life come from church and court records. Of his education, there is little information, leaving historians to surmise where he attended school, and others to doubt how he could write so prolifically and so well.There were other historians who supposed his works to be the product of other men.Yet the grammar schools at the time taught about the arts, so he may have had a good educational base. Sources that affirmed his work included the Queen's court where Shakespeare and his fellows performed.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages.
Go here to read more.
Once Upon a Sandbox.jpg

Approaching summer

May garden 2.JPG

May garden 3.JPG

Our daffodils fade and the tulips start to drop their petals. At the same time, the creeping phlox and coreopsis add their colour. Before we know it the gaillardia will show off its red, yellow and orange blooms.

The white bleeding heart is still showing off its flowers.

image8 (1).JPG

bleeding heart

DSCF1015.JPGNew to my garden this year, lilac shade of creeping phlox

image2 (2).JPGnew plant from my sister's garden, as yet unidentified

image1 (2).JPGcoreopsis

image6 (2).JPGraised garden beds almost ready

image4 (2).JPGSome of the plants we'll put in the ground on Saturday

On Saturday, my granddaughters who are 5 and 7 will help me plant the vegetable garden. They are excited and so am I. We'll plant tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, pole beans and then some zucchini and carrot seeds as well.

Come back again and check out our progress.

Illuminative Forest of Storytelling at the Museum

A special exhibit opened March 23rd at The Museum in downtown Kitchener and runs until May 21st. I'd read the article by Barbara Aggerholm in The Grand Magazine (January/February issue 2017).

Writer Barbara Aggerholm, in her article,"Seeing the forest and the trees," called it a "multi-disciplinary art project" that used "tree concepts to explore belonging, community ties and other big questions about modern life." Indeed pictures in the magazine showed their apartment filled with the structures that would soon inhabit the Museum's third floor.

The concept intrigued me and knowing at least one storyteller, Mary-Eileen McClear, who was involved in the project, I purchased tickets and awaited the event.

My husband and I attended the opening night and listened to the various speakers that evening, including the initiators and creative spirits of Carl Hiebert and his wife, Deb Cripps.


With iPad in hand, and some help from the Museum's tech specialist, we connected to the stories via internet and using the QR code reader and heard many of the stories of those trees: The Freedom Tree, The Elder Tree, Atonement Tree, Resilience Tree, and Serenity Tree, just to name a few.

I mentioned to my husband that evening that my father, who was passionate about trees in the environment, would have appreciated many of these stories and pieces of art.


I knew that I wanted to go back again and experience the ones I hadn't got to, and listen to some of the other stories again. I had opportunity this past week when a friend was visiting from Nova Scotia. Deb,her Mom, and I went to The Museum together on Friday afternoon and listened to and appreciated the stories.

It was easy and delightful to plug into the stories again. For Deb and her mom, it was the first time. We nodded in agreement over some of the stories and chuckled over moments in other stories we found humorous. Listening to the oral interpretation of the readers was as enjoyable as seeing the trees and seeing them.

image4 (1).JPGimage3 (1).JPGimage6.JPGimage8.JPGimage5 (1).JPGDeb and her Mom

This exhibit runs until May 21st and so if you want to see it, go soon. The artists hope to tour this exhibit to other provinces in Canada. I hope they get the funding to do so as this is most worthwhile and applies to people across the country. What's more, it would be good to see this in book form some day, the art and interpretation beside it. That I would love. How do I tell the creators about that idea?

One last weekend, if you want to see it. It's an amazing piece of work.

photos by C. R. Wilker unless otherwise noted.

The Gift of an Elephant--Jacquie Gauthier

The Gift of an Elephant- image.jpg

"When Canadian Jacquie Gauthier was a young girl, she received a souvenir of Africa from her beloved Great-Uncle Earnest."

I've recently read The Gift of an Elephant: A Story of Life, Love and Africa, by author Jacquie Gauthier. I found it engaging and of great interest. I worked, long distance and continents away, with the author on an earlier version, and naturally, when I learned that the book was published, I wanted to read it. She did not disappoint me and had added even more content to round out her experience in Africa, where she still lives.

The book starts where she sees her husband Johann drive away soon after their marriage. She would have to spend the next thirty days without him. In those thirty days and over the course of the book, she'd learn about the culture and way of living there. The author interweaves parts of her life in Canada, visits from her great-uncle in her childhood, trips home to see family and friends, as well as running for political office, and her work in radio.

I found Jacquie's writing descriptive and compelling. Already gifted at expressing herself, Jacquie writes in an authentic style.

Jacquie will be launching her second book, Twenty Eight Elephants and Other Everyday Miracles, at The Power of the Purse London on October 5th at the Hellenic Centre, 133 Southdale Rd. W., London, Ontario. I hope to meet her then, in person. Perhaps on reading this first book, you too will look forward to her second one.

Look for upcoming events on her Amazon author's page: amazon.com/author/jacquiegauthier

Learn about Jacquie's photography at https://twogirlsandanelephant.com/ and find Jacquie on Facebook


Past Easter: New Growth

Today I posted over at Canadian Writers Who Are Christian, as I do once a month.

13254508_10156950599670436_3886160185566086026_n.jpgphoto by a family member, May 11, 2016

Easter Sunday is past yet we're still in the Easter season in our church, a time we consider growth and renewal. It's fitting that Easter occurs in springtime. At least that's my take on it, though it may not match in other parts of the globe, with climate and different seasons.
I love watching the garden come to life, with leaves opening, buds on trees and then the early flowers appearing. First the crocuses and later the tulips and daffodils. Cheery yellow daffodils and pink tulips are among my favourites. After the white chill of winter, I'm ready for colour in my garden again. And ready for the season of gardening all over again.
This past week I took some new photos of my flowerbeds and posted several on my Facebook page. Friends say, "Already?" or "Is that this year already?" and I can reply, "Yes, it is."
Read more here
post script: It's a year today since my father died. The photo shown at the top of the post is of the cross my father made for the church in the 1980s, under the direction of the pastor of that time, Pastor Bonnie Scharf. The small tree seedling bears a tag created by my sister Kim. Our family gave out tree seedlings in honour of Dad who was passionate about trees and their place in creation so that they might plant a tree and remember Dad.
All photos on this blog are taken by the author, C.R. Wilker, or used by permission, as noted where they appear.

Spirited Women: A Women's Retreat

Only days ago, I returned from a women's retreat titled Spirited Women. Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Waterloo hosts the off-site retreat for women and has done so for many years. Most of those retreats were held at Camp Edgewood, the Lutheran church camp in Eden Mills, Ontario. As that camp closes a history of summer camp, retreats and other events, the committee selected a new location for our 2016 get-away. We enjoyed the facility so much that Hidden Acres has become our place of choice for another year and booked again for 2018. Thank you to our retreat committee who helps make these events possible. This was the 31st annual event by the host church and one of many that I have attended and benefitted so much from.


Our morning session began with worship under the direction of Anne Anderson, our spiritual director and teacher for the weekend retreat.

Pastor Anne introduced the theme Spirited Women. Mary, Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56) ) and Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), from the Bible, would be our focus.

Anne introduced the concept of lecto divina, reading the same passage several times and reflecting on different questions each time. Starting with Mary and Elizabeth, Pastor Anne asked what words jumped out at us, what stories or memories does this passage stir in us? And what scares, confuses or challenges you?

On the last reading, the question was: What delights you in this passage and gives you hope?

As we discussed these questions among ourselves, what it might have meant to Elizabeth and Mary about their new circumstances, becoming the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist, we couln't imagine what challenges they'd face beyond what we knew of the biblical story and the expectations of women at that time in history in that place.

As we talked about the relationship between these two women, we also discussed what older women bring to relationships and the same for younger women, including cross-generational friendships. We shared who had been special in our lives, who had mentored us, offered friendship and wisdom.

After our morning session, we had opportunity to go outdoors where the sun shone. It was a bit cool, but we were prepared. Pastor Anne invited us to consider our relationship with and appreciation of nature around us. Several of us had brought our cameras, ready to capture the weekend in pictures.

DSCF0943.JPG Another of the main buildings, all well kept

DSCF0948.JPGA new dock?

DSCF0947.JPGGinny and I walked around the lake and chatted. Some sat at picnic benches, or like Pam, just soaked up the sun in the life guard tower by the lake.

DSCF0955.JPG Ginny and I met up with Nancy and Donna sitting and enjoying the sun, then sat and chatted too.

DSCF0956.JPGI brought my boots too but left them in the car. Diana and Pat needed theirs for a walk into the woods beyond the lake. I heard that they found a red trillium.

DSCF0961.JPGA walk beyond the camp buildings, these two with their matching raincoats.

DSCF0962.JPGWe wondered who built this hill. Is it a snow boarding or ski jump?

DSCF0964.JPGRefreshed after the morning session and time outdoors, we gathered for our lunch.

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In the afternoon we continued our session, discussing rituals in greeting or blessing, where we get our usual picture of young Mary, and what gifts the younger generation of women bring. We listened to the song of Mary, sang it in worship too and talked about the poetry of her song, the parallel structure that added to what we had already read. As a writer of poetry, I found that reflection of great interest.

I recalled my relationship with my husband's aunt in Indiana, a woman I met for the first time in my adult years and how that relationship strengthened over time.

As a part of this retreat, we have a craft session and every year, whoever leads it, puts great thought into it and much preparation. Helen said that the title of spirited women challenged her and reminded her of aboriginal women who are so in tune with nature. Thus we were to make a dream catcher, a challenge to us who'd never created one though we often see them around us.


Our first task was to wrap a metal ring with jute.

DSCF0969.JPGthen create the inner structure of the catcher

DSCF0970.JPGselect our beads and feathers and strips of leather for decoration

DSCF0972.JPGMonica also wrapped her circle in leather, which made a lovely effect

DSCF0975.JPGDoris was well on her way to completing her dream catcher at this point

DSCF0977.JPGa flurry of feathers... and many colours to choose from

Likely aboriginal women would only use feathers left behind by native birds

DSCF0979.JPGWe hung our dream catchers in the windows and glass of the doors where the light shone in. We had so many dream catchers and all were different from each other, reflecting the work of each woman at the event.

DSCF0985.JPGOur den mother, Carol, at our Saturay evening traditional game of Pictionary. Team 2 won this time after a great challenge, but they weren't far ahead, only two points.

DSCF0986.JPGDoris, drawing what her word looked like

After the game, we tidied up the snack dishes and the breakfast group set out dishes and containers for the next morning. We're on our own for breakfast at retreat and we tidy our own dishes afterwards.

DSCF0994.JPGThe breakfast conversation where we got to know each other better

DSCF0995.JPG In our last session we talked about Lydia, the woman in Acts who dealt in the purple cloth. As our leader read, we were asked to think about the location, time and place in the reading. In further reflection we were asked to consider how it might be for a woman in that time and place to run her own business. We also learned that the river, or another source of water, was often a gathering place for women. We further reflected on Lydia's welcoming of Paul and his followers.

In the coming days, we have many discussions to ponder from our retreat as well as our connection with other women who attended. It was a fruitful and relaxing retreat, a time away from our busy lives. Thank you to all who made it possible.

DSCF0999.JPGA photo I took of the group. There'll be another one somewhere with me present.

DSCF1005.JPGMy dream catcher

After our photo and lunch, we had one closing session and our worship. Many hugs and we were on our way home.

DSCF1009.JPGOur den mother, Carol, with Pastor Anne, pastor at Third Space, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

Thank you, Anne.