December 31, 2011

Blessed New Year

“Happy New Year” is something that we say to each other at the end of one year and at the beginning of a new year. However, to be truly happy, we need God’s blessing and guidance in all that we hope to do and accomplish. In August of this year, as I was thinking ahead about my life, I told my family that I was hoping to be able to make Christmas and the New Year. And here I am, on December 31, 2011, writing this blog post.

This past year has been one of many, many changes for us. In January we traded in our 7 passenger SUV and downsized to a 5 passenger vehicle. In February, we sold the double home we have lived in with my parents for 25 years and downsized into a much smaller 2-bedroom bungalow in Dundas. My parents moved to a Christian retirement home in Hamilton where several other families of our church live, including my mother-in law. During the months of March-April, I was being tested for ALS, and was diagnosed in May. Lena took two months of vacation/leave in July and August so that we could spend time at our trailer on Pigeon Lake near Peterborough. In August, I resigned from my position as Principal at the school where I have served for 33 years, and I withdrew from active duty as an elder in my church. In September we renovated our ensuite bathroom to make it wheel-chair accessible. In October/November, Lena took a two month compassion leave from her work and is now into a six-month leave of absence. Thankfully, her supervisor was able to keep her job open for her so that she can return to work after I am gone. In November, our minister and friend for the past 22 years accepted a call to a congregation in the Netherlands. We spent 2 relaxing weeks in Florida, in November, with our close friends, using a wheel-chair accessible van which we purchased with the help of another dear friend. In December, we have begun physical therapy, occupational therapy, and respiratory therapy to make life more comfortable. Thank-you for the many calls, emails, cards, visits and loving support received in the past year.

Despite all of these major, traumatic, life changing events in our lives, God has been good to Lena and I in 2011. We have been surrounded and carried by the love and prayers of our family, friends, and members of our church and school community. God has graciously given us a rich measure of His abiding presence and peace in our hearts, enabling us to cope day by day. We know that the year 2012 will be difficult for our family, but God promises "I will never leave you nor forsake you", and we hold on to that promise. We are living one day at a time, in dependence on Him.

December 28, 2011

The Blessedness of Heaven – by J. C. Ryle

The cares of this world, the necessary duties of life, the demands of our families, the work of our various stations and callings — all these things appear to eat up our days, and to make it impossible to have long quiet times of communion with God's people.

But, blessed be God, it shall not always be so. The hour comes, and shall soon be here, when "good-bye" and "farewell" shall be words that are laid aside and buried forever! When we meet in a world where the former things
have passed away, where there is . . .
no more sin,
no more sorrow,
no more poverty,
no more work of body or work of brains,
no more need of anxiety for families,
no more sickness,
no more pain,
no more old age,
no more death,
no more change
when we meet in that endless state of being, calm, and restful, and unhurried — who can tell what the bliss and blessedness will be?

December 27, 2011

A Striking Example of Faith – by J.C. Ryle

The conduct of the wise men is a striking example of faith. They believed in Christ when they had never seen Him – but that was not all. They believed in Him when the Scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving – but that again was not all. They believed in Him when they saw Him a little infant on Mary’s knee, and worshiped Him as a king. This was the crowning point of their faith. They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them. They saw no signs of divinity and greatness to overawe them. They saw nothing but a new-born infant, helpless and weak, and needing a mother’s care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Savior of the world. ‘They fell down and worshiped Him.’

We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to Him and ‘called Him Lord.’ The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped Him and confessed that He was Christ. Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion!

December 26, 2011

Family Portraits

Christmas is the time when we spend a lot of time with our family, eating, visiting and very often it's also the time for the inevitable family photo. This was especially my desire this year as it will most likely be our last Christmas together as a complete family with our beloved patriarch still with us.
We had agreed to meet on the 24th for the photo shoot.
Willem bought Joni a remote control for her camera so that we did not need to bring in another photographer. Joni set up her tripod on the driveway and the arranging and repositioning of the families began. Finally she had it to her liking and she remotely clicked away. After about 200 clicks she decided that she would probably have a few good ones in there, so she took apart the tripod and put her camera away. By this time we were all pretty chilled and we headed into the house for a nice cup of hot coffee.
Here is the final product.
but wait..........WHERE'S WALDO???
We walked into the house and sure enough, there was little Jack sitting on the couch with his nose buried in an Archie comic!!
Oh no..... "you mean you were here all the time? You're not in any of the pictures? ".  " I didn't know we were going to take a picture" he replied and then we all began to rib Joni about not knowing how many children she has, and "you know you have too many children when......." etc.
Well, we had a good laugh about it when we realized that none of us had missed him and when Opa started saying "Where's Waldo??" that really got us all laughing.
We all went outside again and repeated the whole process. ( And of course the first ones were the best!)
Here is the final picture with the whole family.

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends,

We pray that you and your loved ones will experience the true meaning of Christmas as you celebrate the birth of the Saviour.

We sincerely thank you all for your prayers, cards and tokens of love shown to us. God is God and God is good.

Jack and Lena

December 21, 2011

Update From Lena

Last Friday we went to our ALS clinic appointment to see Dr.Turnbull and the team there. We had missed our November appointment because we were in Florida, so it was high time we saw the doctor again. Our biggest complaint for the doctor was not being able to sleep. Jack can't seem to get comfortable, numb, tingling feet, leg spasms, breathing problems, etc. He adjusted the medications and wants to see Jack in 2 months again. After seeing the doctor, we met with the social worker who will be sending off referrals to CCAC for OT and PT assessments. Once Jack has a case manager then if, in the future we need more help, this case manager would arrange it. After seeing the social worker, we met with two people from the TAC team, (Technical Access Center). They are here to help us with anything involving communications. They have gadgets and aids and computer programs to assist with communication problems. They suggested that Jack start "voice banking". He is to start storing up phrases and words that he would commonly use during the course of the day and then burn them onto a disc and save the disc. If the time comes that he is not able to speak anymore, then they will provide us with a computer that speaks out what you type and then instead of a digital voice, it will be his own voice that comes out of the machine. We should have started this a few months ago because his voice is now already affected and not what it used to be. We are very thankful for all the technology that is available these days to aid in daily activities.
Jack's smile is especially bright today! Karen Kiely is a registered dental hygienist who has her own business, specializing in bedside long-term/palliative care and she came to our house and cleaned and scaled his teeth. She was so kind and gentle and professional. Jack warned her that he is a gagger and she managed to get through it all gag free! We've known Karen for over twenty years and highly recommend her services to anyone who is shut-in, in a nursing home, retirement home or disabled and unable to get out to see a dentist. Please do check out her website

This evening a friend of ours took us out again to a Chinese restaurant and we enjoyed a delicious dinner and fellowship with him. Jack used his new utensil strap that he received as a gift from Goran and Sarah. It's a nylon strap with a velcro closure that you wrap around your hand. It has a little pocket in it that you can slide your spoon or fork into, alleviating the need to hold it yourself. It works great.
On the way home Jack said that he thinks our going out to eat in a restaurant days are over. It's just too difficult to maneuver his walker and sit at a table with his electric wheelchair and it's getting embarassing for him to eat in front of people, drinking coffee and soup with a straw, keeping food on his fork, spilling on himself, etc. I said that was fine, we wouldn't do it anymore. No more Friday morning breakfasts with the guys. He said, "it's just another thing that I can't do anymore. It's kind of depressing".  Slowly but surely we're getting more house bound. Another tent peg being pulled out......

Our Relationship With Christ Never Ends – by J.C. Ryle

The closest relation on earth—the marriage bond—has an end. Marriage is only "until death us do part." But the relation between Christ and the sinner who trusts in him, never ends. It lives when the body dies. It lives when flesh and heart fail. Once begun, it never withers. It is only made brighter and stronger by the grave. 

"I am persuaded," says Paul, "that neither life, nor death, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature—shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!" (Romans 8:38, 39).

December 19, 2011

An Approaching Journey

Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return!
by William Schenck, "Nearing Home; Comforts and Counsels for the Aged" 1868

"Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return!" Job 16:22 

An approaching journey lies before me. I have to pass from time--to eternity; from this world--to the next. And the time of my departure, although to me uncertain, cannot be very far distant. A few years--perhaps a few days--will close my stay on earth!

It is an unavoidable journey. I must go. There is no choice. Willing or unwilling, when God's summons for me arrives--I shall have to set off.

It is an unknown journey, I have never taken it before. I have no practical acquaintance with the road, the mode of transit, the dangers or the discomforts which await me. And there is no one who can clearly explain them to me. Those of my friends who have traveled that way, have never come back to relate their experience.

It is a solitary journey. I must accomplish it alone. The most beloved of my present companions cannot accompany me. They may think of me, feel for me, pray for me--but they cannot be with me. We must separate; they to remain behind--and I go forward.

It is a momentous journey. For at its termination, I enter upon my everlasting destiny! It will convey me either to the mansions of happiness--or to the abodes of misery! The narrow boundary between the present and the future state once crossed--there will be no possibility of change. "He who is unjust--let him be unjust still; and he who is righteous--let him be righteous still." Revelation 22:11

It is a final journey. "Soon I must go down that road from which I will never return." My pilgrimage will be forever ended. It will be my last journey. And if I am a Christian, how welcome is this fact! I shall be done forever with sin and sorrow. Eternal felicity will be mine--perfect holiness, and perfect happiness. This journey leads me . . .
to my eternal home,
to my Father's house,
to my everlasting rest!

Then I will not shrink from its approach, nor complain of its accompaniments. It may be linked with much that is painful and unpleasant--but it is my way home; and therefore, although life has many ties and many joys, I feel an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better than being here. "For this is not my resting place, because it is polluted, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!" Micah 2:10 

Death is a solemn journey--but it is a safe journey to Christ's people; for He will not only receive and welcome them at its close--but He will be them as they are passing through it. Oh, it will not be lonely with Him! And He is a guide who is well acquainted with the way, for He has trodden it Himself. He went for the purpose of smoothing its difficulties, clearing its dangers, dispersing its terrors--and He fully accomplished His purpose. Therefore when I walk through the dark valley, I will fear no evil; for you, O Jesus, will be with me, and Your rod and your staff shall comfort me!

December 16, 2011

The Nevers’ of the Gospel

taken from The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett

O Lord,
May I never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth,
never rest in a system of doctrine, however scriptural,
that does not bring or further salvation,
or teach me to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,
or help me to live soberly, righteously, godly;
never rely on my own convictions and resolutions,
but be strong in thee and in thy might;
never cease to find thy grace sufficient
in all my duties, trials, and conflicts;
never forget to repair to thee
in all my spiritual distresses and outward troubles,
in all the dissatisfaction experienced in creature comforts;
never fail to retreat to him who is full of grace and truth,
the friend that loveth at all times,
who is touched with feelings of my infirmities,
and can do exceeding abundantly for me;
never confine my religion to extraordinary occasions,
but acknowledge thee in all my ways;
never limit my devotions to particular seasons
but be in thy fear all the day long;
never be godly only on the sabbath or in thy house,
but on every day abroad and at home;
never make piety a dress but a habit,
not only a habit but a nature,
not only a nature but a life.
Do good to me by all thy dispensations,
by all means of grace,
by worship, prayers, praises,
And at last let me enter that world where is no temple,
but only thy glory
and the Lamb’s.

December 15, 2011

Teaching Your Child to Love Others – by J. C. Ryle

Teach love to others. Press it continually on your children. Tell them the great duty of kindness, helpfulness, and considerateness, one for another. Remind them constantly that kindness, good nature, and good temper, are among the first evidences which Christ requires in children. If they cannot know much, or explain doctrines--they can understand love. A child's religion is worth very little if it only consists in repeating texts and hymns. As useful as they are, they are often . . .
learned without thought,
remembered without feeling,
repeated without consideration of their meaning,
and forgotten when childhood is gone!
By all means let children be taught texts and hymns; but let not such teaching be made everything in their religion. Teach them to keep their tempers, to be kind one to another, to be unselfish, good-natured, obliging, patient, gentle, forgiving.

December 13, 2011

Announcing a new scholarship for Rehoboth Christian School students

Jack Westerink has always been an enthusiastic advocate for Christian Education – from a child’s earliest years and on into adult life.  As a Principal and Elder, Jack has also recognized that post-secondary Christian Education equips a person with a more broadly applied Christian world view that is particularly helpful for Christian educators.

After consulting with Jack and his family, we are introducing The Jack Westerink Scholarship for Christian Studies. The scholarship is being established as a tribute to Jack’s outstanding service to Rehoboth Christian School and to assist and motivate students to choose a Christian degree granting institution for their post-secondary years.  
Students who qualify for the Jack Westerink Scholarship for Christian Studies will receive $2500 per year of study at a qualifying institution.

Qualifying Criteria:

·   The student must have attended RCS for a minimum of his/her last 2 years (4 semesters)
·   The student has been accepted at a Canadian Christian institution in a 4 year undergraduate or a 5 year B. Ed. Program (the institution must offer a B. Ed degree)
·   The student has the highest overall average in the top six 4U or 4M courses with an overall average mark of at least 75%
·   The student must show proof of full time enrollment and successful completion of each year to receive subsequent annual scholarships

The qualifying student will receive $2500 per year, for up to 4 years for an undergraduate degree and 5 years for a B. Ed degree.

To fund this scholarship, we are asking interested people to support this scholarship by committing funds either as a lump sum or over a number of years.  If you (or your business) are interested in donating to this fund, please call Bill Droogendyk at 519.647.2855 for further details.

December 11, 2011


It was 5:58 on a Friday evening when the phone rang. It was our doctor, under whose care our family has been for more than 33 years. He called to tell me that he was thinking about me a lot, and that he has been praying for me. I was very pleasantly surprised to get his call, out of the blue like that. He told me that he is of the old school of doctors, who are still willing to make house calls. He said that if I had any problems needing the help of a doctor, and had difficulty getting out, that I could call him any time and he would come over. I told him that this sounded like ‘Little House on the Prairie’, and thanked him for his kind consideration. He wished Lena and I a blessed celebration of Christmas, and invited us to come to the office to see him in the New Year.

The same week we received a card in the mail from a family friend, going back about 30 years. She is a dental hygienist who visits people in their homes or long term care facility when they can no longer get out to the dentist. Some of the the patients she has cared for have also suffered from ALS, so my condition is not new to her experience. She offered to come over to clean my teeth any time, for the price of a cup of coffee and a smile. I gladly accepted the offer and we have arranged for a visit.

We have had contact with several nurses from our community, who have offered nursing care for me or advice to Lena, if needed. As my condition slowly but steadily deteriorates, Lena will be needing support and training.

We both have also registered to be organ donors. One donor can save up to eight lives and can enhance the lives of up to 75 others. Fewer than 20% of adult Ontarians have registered. Every three days, one person in Ontario dies while waiting for an organ transplant. You can easily register online at This might be something you want to consider.

December 8, 2011

Worth the Wait!

Getting out of the house with my parents takes a bit longer these days.  First my dad has to get into his coat, walk with his walker to the garage, then go down the lift, get into his electric wheelchair, get buckled in, then drive the wheelchair up the ramp into the van, then buckle the wheelchair inside the van.  And we're off like a herd of turtles!  
All buckled up inside!  Ethan and Maya's first trip in the "new" van! Off to the store we go...
It was all worth the wait because after shopping, while Oma was waiting in line to pay for her items, Ethan and Opa were in the parking lot doing this.....
Worth the wait?  Absolutely.  With my dad, it is always worth it because when he's around, something fun will happen.  Seriously though, dying of ALS and he has a smile on his face, and is doing "burnouts" in a parking lot, in December, with his 5 year old grandson.  Unbelievable.

And as our boy whipped past me today, on the lap of his Opa, just beaming and yelling "Woohoo!!" I was struck by his obvious love for his Opa.  I was also struck by the brutal reality that one day it will not be just us adults who will grieve a loss, and how much our children will miss their Opa.  I wish I could shield our children from any pain but I can't.  Yet, our children, who often say it in the most simplest but truest of ways, are quick to inform me "Yes, but if Opa dies, he is going to heaven and if we love Jesus we will go to heaven too, and we will get to see Jesus and Opa someday again, so we won't be sad!".  

Today we don't have to imagine life without him, though. Today we can still do burnouts with Opa in his wheelchair.  Today we can still laugh with him and love him.  And for this we are thankful. 

I was struck again by the changes my dear mom has had to face in the past few months. She truly does so much. She takes each change and just "rolls" with it. She is a strong woman and we all love her dearly. I know that some days (or nights) are tougher than others, but the manner in which my mom has dealt with it all amazes me.  

I was there today, and she was smiling, putting up a few festive touches around the house, chatting, making coffee, all the while helping my dad with whatever he needed.  Ethan was playing in the living room and randomly commented (while my mom was taking my dad to the washroom) "Oma has to do everything now right? She does a lot of stuff!".  He is correct!  And she is doing it all as God wants her to, with love in her heart and with joy in her eyes.  She truly is doing what we all promised to do when we get married... to be faithful in all things, even "in sickness and in health...till death do us long as we both shall live".  

Today, my mom showed me, by her actions, that through tough times she has chosen to accept God's way, to continue to live each day with happiness, and to walk on this path with joy.  Today, my dad chose an everyday moment and made a memory out of it for our 5 year old.  These moments are precious little gifts and we're going to take every single memory we can get. 


Persevere in Your Calling – by J.C. Ryle

Persevere in your Christian calling, if you are a child of God, and press forward more and more. Be careful to lay aside every weight, and the sin which most easily besets you. Keep your eyes steadily fixed on Jesus. Abide in Him. Remember that without Him you can do nothing, and with Him you can do all things. Watch and pray daily. Be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Settle it down in your heart, that not a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple, shall lose its reward, and that every year you are so much nearer home.

December 7, 2011

The Need for a Discriminating Ministry

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines the word discrimination as: 
Able to recognize or draw fine distinctions; separating 
into distinct parts or components. 
When you study the New Testament ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, the ministry of Christ Jesus Himself, and the ministry of the Apostles, then you will find a common discriminating thread in their preaching and teaching. The sermons they preached and the parables they taught divided their hearers into two camps: the saved and the lost, the converted and the unconverted, those on the narrow way and those on the broad way, those who were cold and those who were hot, people serving God and those serving Satan. There was never a third comfortable category. The parables of Jesus describe the Kingdom of heaven (or church) as being composed of: wheat and chaff, wheat and tares, sheep and goats, five wise and five foolish virgins, both good fish and bad caught in the net, the two edged sword, etc. To be positioned in the middle, on the knife edge between these two extremes, is a difficult place to be. There is always tension between the ditch of dead orthodoxy and hyper-Calvinism on the one side, and the ditch of presumptive easy-believism and hyper-covenantalism on the other side. Jesus experienced this tension as well when He challenged the Pharisees who were in bondage to their hardened unbelief, trusting in their self-righteous law-keeping, and presuming upon their Jewish heritage. They responded to His discriminating preaching with 
“We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?”(John 8:33) 
The response of the crowds to His preaching was: 
As he spake these words, many believed on him”. (John 8:30) 
”But there are some of you that believe not.” (John 6:64) 
“So there was a division among the people because of 
him.” (John 7:43) 
That is what the gospel message does; it divides, it discriminates. If you remove this tension and fail to make the distinction of discriminating between these two positions, you lose the power of the gospel.

- Jack.

December 5, 2011

Diligence + Time = Excellence

© David Murray for HeadHeartHand Blog, 2011.  
I was listening to Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership podcast yesterday, when he said something that struck me as profoundly true: Diligence is excellence over timeOr to put it mathematically: Diligence + time = Excellence. Some might take that as a discouragement. You mean no quick fixes? No shortcuts? No magic formula? No silver bullet? That’s right.
However, I think it’s actually a huge encouragement and motivation to faithful and consistent daily living in our callings. And it looks like God wants me to hear that message because today I also came across Seth Godin’s post, Preparing for the breakthrough. Products and services succeed one person at a time, as the word slowly spreads….Doors open, sure, but not all at once. One at a time. One at a time is a little anticlimactic and difficult to get in a froth over, but one at a time is how we win and how we lose.
In a world that falsely promises instant results, “one at a time” is such a needed message. Pastors and church planters need to hear it. Parents and teachers need to hear it. Businesses need to hear it. I need to hear it. One sermon at a time. One lecture at a time. One blog at a time. One video at a time. One soul at a time. Diligence. Diligence. Diligence. And maybe one day…excellence.

December 2, 2011

Gone Fishing? Fishing gone.

Our daughter Sarah posted this on her blog a few days ago.  

* * * * * * *
October 2007.  My dad doing what he loves loved to

I love these pictures.  I wish my dad could still do this.  I know that he's okay with giving up things like fishing...but I'm not sure I'm okay with him having to give it up.

I despise ALS.

December 1, 2011

Valley of Vision

Banner of Truth Trust has produced a new edition of the book The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. First published in 1975, it is a collection of prayers and devotions written by various Puritan writers. It Includes the prayers of Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Charles Spurgeon, and others,  It is a helpful book to stimulate your own prayers and meditations upon the Lord. Meditations are 2 pages long and are collected into 10 major themes or chapters. Someone recently gave me a gift copy of this book, and I would like to share with you a sample prayer, to whet your appetite.

The Convicting Spirit
Thou blessed Spirit, author of all grace and comfort,
Come, work repentance in my soul;
Represent sin to me in its odious colours that I may hate it;
Melt my heart by the majesty and mercy of God;
Show me my ruined self and the help there is in him;
Teach me to behold my Creator,
    his ability to save,
    his arms outstretched,
    his heart big for me.
May I confide in his power and love,
    commit my soul to him without reserve,
    bear his image, observe his laws,
    pursue his service,
    and be through time and eternity
    a monument to the efficacy of his grace,
    a trophy of his victory.
Make me willing to be saved in his way,
    perceiving nothing in myself, but all in Jesus:
Help me not only to receive him but
    to walk in him,
    depend upon him,
    commune with him,
    be comforted to him,
    follow him,
    imperfect, but still pressing forward,
    not complaining of labour, but valuing rest,
    not murmuring under trials, but thankful for my state.
Give me that faith which is the means of salvation,
    and the principle and medium of all godliness;
May I be saved by grace through faith,
    live by faith,
    feel the joy of faith,
do the work of faith
Perceiving nothing in myself, may I find in Christ
    wisdom, righteousness, sanctification,