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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

35 Years!!

When I awoke yesterday morning, I turned on my computer to find a barrage of Facebook messages.  The numbers kept pouring in as people were wishing me a very Happy Birthday.  I was beyond blessed and couldn't keep up with each message individually.  I heard footsteps upstairs, as someone found their way to the office... and soon I received this FB message:

As the Papa Bear rises from his den on this glorious morning his first thoughts are of his now grown little bear Kare Bear who is celebrating a birthday today. His thoughts go back to the many years she has been blessed with birthdays and is so proud of her. He thinks he will go to the water and a catch a great big salmon for his Kare Bear and together they will share a grand lunch. Oh How pleased she will be and how happy this birthday will be because they share it together. I love you baby bear, he thinks as he rises to meet the day. Happy Birthday, Papa Bear.

Well, that message made my day.  I ran upstairs and said... "Dad, let's go fishing!"  We spent a short while getting the "LubTub" prepared and the fishing poles organized before driving out to Lake Simcoe.  With a container of dew worms and a sunshine filled sky, we putted out to a 20 foot deep black buoy and dropped anchor.  And there the fun began!

I started reeling in first.  Catfish 2, Perch 3, Sunfish 3, Bass 2... and then I stopped counting.  Four hours of peace and bliss on the boat as the fish nibbled on our worms.  For extra catching pleasure I took one of the small perch and cut it up into small bait-sized pieces.  I put both a piece of perch and a worm on the hook and called it (in the words of Bill Cosby) a "bacon burger dog".  :)  For lunch we ate left over chicken pot pie that we brought on the boat and nicely cut up kiwi and apple.  The fruit was kind of a unique eating experience, because I would go from worm, to fish, to lake water, to fruit... and a smile would cross my face as I thought the kiwi had the texture of fresh raw fish.  Yum Yum.

Dad and I headed for shore when we both realized we had a bit too much sun and enough fish were caught for Dad to have dinner.  (We threw back close to 40 fish in the lake.)  I challenged myself to volunteering to back up the boat trailer to get the boat out of the water.  I really want to learn to reverse park a trailer - I shall not be defeated.  It took a while, but I was able to do it!!

I went home to shower and dress up for a ladies night out.  The party room was booked at Shoeless Joes for ladies to drop by and have dinner.  A nice number of friends - from church, work, and life showed up for a great evening of conversation and laughter.  My "newest" friend came in with three hilium filled birthday balloons, and it made the party come to life.  :)  Cards, gifts and hugs topped off the night. 

Truly a great birthday!!  I love being 35!  God is good.

Fish Dress

"You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

My favourite dress!
Last night, one of the last few birthday emails that came in was a poem from one of my former team-mates in Uganda.  It made me laugh and I want to share it with you!!

"There was a store filled with dresses
Patterns of flowers, geometrics and fishes.
The ones with the flowers were bought
The geometric dresses were not
And the fishes, well... let's just say they were not caught.

The flowers were worn by all,
And the geometrics caused people to ball.
But the fishes kept shining bright
Swimming around they were quite the sight!

One day this woman bursts on the scene,
For a new dress she is super keen!
She passed through the flowers
The geometrics weren't worth the hours
But the fishes... they gave her extraordinary powers!

When she wore the fishes in town,
People would look her up and down!
On her bike she would fly right by
So fast you thought she might be in the sky.

This woman became known for her fishes,
And her jokes that would leave everyone in stitches.
She was lovely and bright
And as a lightbulb on a bike on a hill she was quite the sight!

Despite the fishes this woman is great
Becoming friends with her was more than good fate.
We love her a lot and miss her fishes
Here's to her, a day full of lovely birthday wishes."

Thanks Sarah!!  I just want you to know - I still wear that dress all the time, but it's turned into sleepwear. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jovial Jacob

The family weekend is drawing to a close.  Boats and life jackets are being put away.  Dishes done, floors washed, bags packed, and children hug their final good-byes.  My nephew, four year old Jacob also enjoyed the weekend with his extended family. 
 This morning Jacob and I were talking about middle names and I asked him what my name is.  He said "Tante Bear", which is true, but my name is also Karen Michelle Lubbers.  "What?" he asks.  "You are a Lubbers like my daddy!!"  Yes, I am!  I guess he never knew how I really fit in to the family.  :)
 Brian and I took Jacob and Caleb out for a canoe ride before lunch.
Fun on the boat.
 Spending time together in worship was also a highlight to my weekend.  We sat around for almost an hour - to sing, pray, and share.  The kids do their best to participate too and it's so exciting to watch.  Jacob loves to sing from the top of his lungs!  O how good it is, when families worship God together.

Kylee's a Keeper!

Kylee is in the same "boat" as me.  I was the only girl, growing up with three younger brothers.  Kylee is my only niece and she keeps up with my three nephews.  Her smile brightens any room and her cheery, encouraging personality brings joy to our time at the cottage.

Driving Papa George's boat!

Learning to gear up her barbie fishing pole.
Relaxation therapy - we all spent time colouring
Kylee gives the best hugs!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jaxsen's Junction

Tucked in beside me, with footy pajamas already on, Jaxsen wants to tell me all about his day:  Here are his titles:
  • At the cottage
  • Jaxsen fishing
A junction is a place where two things join or meet.... and so, after a filling lunch, that meeting place brought Jaxsen down to the dock.  The wooden platform was the perfect spot to meet his father to go fishing off the end of the dock.  It didn't take long for a crowd to gather around them though, because not only was the dock the perfect junction to fish from, but also where two boats were waiting for an excursion. 

Reading with Grandma Cathy

We spent a very gray afternoon having fun on the water - with the wind blowing in our hair and the rain piercing our faces.  Absolutely delightful.  Half of us went boating on a fancy yacht while Papa George and Uncle Brian took Jaxsen and his sister fishing out on the deep blue sea!

When we came back Jaxsen's mom and dad went to town for a while - window shopping for trucks.... they are now dreaming of pulling a boat too.  :)  Jaxsen got to play ping-pong and pool.  It was an amazing day!  Thank you Jaxsen for helping me write this post.

Caleb's Corner

A charming two year old boy is sitting across from me.  Dressed in a blue Levi Strauss t-shirt, he's playing with some an electronic game that spews out songs of hugs and kisses, potty training and wet diapers, and other cute kids songs.  He doesn't stay in the seat for very long.  Cousins call for him in the basement of the cottage and his brother wants to show him some more exciting toys.

Moments later, this little man comes back to stare at the rain pouring out over the lake.  The dock remains empty, but the hopes of us actually getting out on the water today remain.  The weather forecast says cloudy and partly rainy, but that doesn't stop the Lubbers family from getting together for a rare weekend away. 

We were blessed with a weekend at a lovely cottage.  The rustic wooden kitchen holds all thirteen of us - as we gather for meals of homemade pancakes with yogurt and berries, and other delicious menus.  The sun room is where I'm choosing to relax, as I look out over the water and listen to the sounds of my family spending time together.  Birch and maple trees surround the cottage as the Canadian flag proudly sways in the breeze above the dock.  Most of the family has found a place to sleep in the cottage, but Kim and I are out in the bunky - a small cabin, just the right size for two single beds and a night stand. 

I hear plans for lunch being made and the motor boat is finally being launched into the water.  I think I shall go and join in the fun.  Ciao for now.

Mom made a bread doll for Kylee

Friday, June 24, 2011

12... 16... 21

This week I've attended two elementary school graduations and was honored to be at both.  Christian education is a huge blessing and it is incredible to witness young people giving testimony to God before they head on to bigger adventures.
12... 16... 21... those are the number of years ago that I graduated from school.  It's hard to believe that 21 years ago I was valedictorian at tiny Lucknow District Christian School.  Five of us graduated from eighth grade and moved on into the big world of high school. 
I absolutely loved high school at F.E. Madill.  It was a huge school, with 1100+ students, and it was there that I found amazing friends and my faith really began to take shape.  I joined a RAD youth group, went on my first missions trip, and started making friends for life.  It was kind of neat that our graduation happened on Thanksgiving weekend.  We all traveled home from our first semester in college to receive our diplomas.
College grad, 12 years ago, was probably my most meaningful celebration though.  Again, I was class speaker and it was an incredible honor to share on behalf of my amazing classmates.  I can still remember the heart-felt hug I received from the college president as I walked across the stage.... I never would have imagined being where I am today after walking that stage in Michigan in 1999.  My years at Reformed Bible College (now - Kuyper College) were finished.
.... FYI, I was almost late for graduation because my college roomie had just bought a new car and the temporary license plate had fallen out of sight in the back window.  I remember sitting on the side of the road, practising my speech while my roomie sat in a cop's cruiser trying to get the whole affair untangled.  :)  We made it just in time to line up for the grand entrance.  Ah, good times.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Extended Family

  • One church. 
  • Two pastors guiding the service. 
  • Three young girls make Profession of Faith.
  • Four testimonies shared.
... and so many more reasons why I love my home church now days.  Lately we have been having Relationship Sundays, where we share testimonies during the service, and meet in small groups after the service.  Soup and buns are usually prepared so the people can just gather at their tables to not only share personal stories, answer ice-breaker questions, and discuss the sermon, but to also intentionally pray together.  I have cherished getting to know the older members.  Who knows, I might ask for a snow board on my 65th birthday too.

This morning was Profession of Faith, so it was extra special.  Hearing how God is working in the lives of the young people is both encouraging and rewarding.  Tears crossed my face as father's blessed their daughters, mentors received hugs and flowers, Bibles were given, and Michael's testimony was reread, but above all... God was glorified.

After the coffee time was over and most people had left the church, a special group stayed behind... the family and friends of the three who made Professions this morning.  Once again, I couldn't help but cherish my time with the Dekkema's, Frankruyters, and Ryzebol's.  I have been adopted into their families and I'm so glad.  These families are such a blessing to be a part of... they are lovable and huggable, humorous, and Godly, faithful, and caring.  I thank God for them all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grandpa B is 80!

Today, my Grandpa Benjamins turns 80!!
This is Grandpa as a young man in the Netherlands. 
 He always loved my Grandma - I stood where they had their first kiss on the family farm in Hoogeveen.
 They came to Canada as newly weds!
 Grandpa spent years of hard work building up the family farm - I have picked a lot of chicken eggs with him and also pulled out baby pigs teeth, and cut off their tails.
 I was spoiled because I was the oldest grandchild.
Grandpa has 7 children, 34 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.
I love you very much Grandpa - may God bless you and strengthen you always.

Unlabeled Inside

The other day I went to visit a dear friend who often challenges me in my faith and perspective.  She mentioned that she enjoyed reading my latest newsletter - "12 days of..." but she also mentioned that I shouldn't talk about the money.  I have been struggling with that ever since.  In so many ways I hate talking about support raising, and yet it is necessary for me to be serving God in Uganda. 

Is it a lack of faith if I ask? No, Paul asked certain churches to send him on his ways.  The workshops that I attended said I had to clearly ask so people knew what to give.  I also learned that George Mueller, a man of great faith, didn't ask because he used to be a thief, and so that is why he just prayed for gifts.  Trust me, I'm praying the Lord will provide.

Do I find the money part discouraging? Yes and no.  Yes because North America is so rich how can it be so hard to raise $3425 a month, but no, because a tiny church in the Philippines is selling extra produce at the market to be a partner in missions. 

Do I trust God?  Absolutely... I have seen him provide in so many ways in my life - from a tube of toothpaste, a tank of gas and new tires, an envelope of cash for college from an inner city camp, 4 years already on various mission fields... also friends and family.

Do I challenge God's timing?  Yes and No.  I really feel that God is calling me back to Uganda and I know the Ugandans and Team Beyond want me back.  There is so much to be a part of there - to be God's vessel.  Although, I also know that God has me home for a season here too - to spend quality time with my family and friends, to make a difference at the group home where I have been working for the past 6 years, to truly call on Him as He continually reminds me to "Be still and know!"

Am I grateful? Absolutely!!  The Lord is good and He has placed some amazing partners in my life, either through prayer, phone calls, emails, snail mails, financial gifts, and hugs.  I am so blessed with the wonderful people who surround me in love.  (Thank you!! - you know who you are!!)

Against all missions trainings, I would say that fundraising IS the hardest part about doing missions.  Some delight in asking and I dread it.  I just want to "GO!"  I hate it that the money has become consuming in my thoughts and actions.  Yes, I can see how money is the root of all evil.  I shouldn't even be sharing this post with all of you because I know the Lord will provide in His perfect time, but I just wanted you all to know that I'm finding it tough right now.  I ask for your prayers... that I will continue to praise God through this time of waiting.

Our church just gave us a summer reading assignment, and I think it is going to be a good one.  "The Land Between" by Jeff Manion.... it's about Finding God in Difficult Transitions.  I'm sure God and I will continue to have some great discussions.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Missing Michael

It's never easy when a crowd gathers for the loss of a loved one, but today I was proud to be part of my church and community in Newmarket.  On Thursday, a young man from my church died in a tragic motorcycle accident.  Sunday morning, the worship team switched from a Pentecost theme to a morning of comfort and recognizing that God is still in control, even when we don't understand. 

This morning I headed to the church early to find a seat in the sanctuary since I knew the crowd would be big.  The sanctuary was packed and the fellowship hall was overflowing... there were about 40 people attending the funeral who didn't even have a chair to sit on.  Michael F. Devries was a man whose life was worth remembering.  As I listened to stories of his life, I was encouraged to live life to the fullest, to not live in fear, but with a spirit of peace, joy, and adventure.  Michael loved everyone, and from the 600ish people that attended his funeral, I knew that he was well loved too. 

At times like this, the DeVries family needs a lot of prayer and support.  I hope that I will be able to bring encouragement to them as they are my siblings in Christ.

In 2008 I was a chauffeur and youth leader for a retreat that Michael went to.  He was a ball of fun!
Quotes from Michael's Profession of Faith speech:
"... the whole meaning is taking on the covenant between my God and myself, that I am his child and he is my God."
"God has made us pure.  He has made us white as snow.  God has chosen each one of us to be his child.  He already believes in us, now all we have to do is accept him as our father.  Today, I want to accept God as my personal father.  I want to promise to him that I will let him make the decisions in my life, and let him do with me what his plan requires."
"I want to use the fire Jesus put in my heart and let it go wild." 

"12 days of..."

“On the twelve day of” ... I thought I would send another shout out to those of you I know who care! In my world, birthdays are a big deal, so I thought I’d send out a list of Prayer, Encouragement, and Financial Requests that would make my birthday absolutely amazing. I will be turning 35 and I’m not afraid to share that with the world. I’m still young and in love with Jesus... desiring to seek Him and follow His calling in my life. (Feel free to be a part of one, two, or three of these partnership teams!!)

For those of you on my PRAYER TEAM: (print off the following daily requests to remember to pray)

I am sending you 12 days of prayer requests, because life with God is always worth celebrating!

12) June 15 – Please pray for the children’s ministry that is still going on in Soroti, Uganda, in the church where I was serving (Pamba Baptist) in 2009. The leaders have been doing incredible ministry and the classes are growing in number and maturity.

11) June 16 – In continuation from June 15th, please pray that the leaders in Pamba will understand that I am coming back to Soroti to help other churches build up children’s programs – pray for peace and encouragement rather than jealousy and distrust.

10) June 17 – Praise God for the health recovery I have had in the past few weeks. Low iron was a major factor, but I’m still awaiting an EENT referral for swollen tonsils.

9) June18 – Pray that I will have time to meet with my mentor and spend quality time making sure my heart is right with God. We are studying a book called “Inside Out” by Dr. Larry Crab.

8) June 19 – Pray for “Team Beyond” – the team I am serving with in Soroti. We are striving to build unity – through emails, prayer, Skype, and blogs... may we make a difference in the name of God.

7) June 20 – Lift up the oppressed in Northern Uganda. I am hoping to travel out to the northern villages to encourage and counsel former child soldiers.... kids affected by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) or the Karamajong cattle raiding tribes.

6) June 21 – Continue praying for my loved ones – as I am preparing to leave for at least a two year period of time before coming home. May we able to spend quality time together.

5) June 22 – Pray for my parents – My mom is a school teacher and a principal and another school year is coming to a close. Bring my dad before our Father as he is seeking a position in pastoral ministry.

4) June 23 – Pray that my car will not cost me a lot in repairs before I hope to sell it in the fall. It is a 2004 Cavalier that seems to have something to repair every time I take it in for an oil change.

3) June 24 – Lift up my packing and purchasing scenario... I am always pondering about or putting aside items that I need to take with me. I need to go through my belongings in storage and either give away, sell, or pack it with me.

2) June 25 – Of course, I can’t forget to ask you to pray for my financial situation. At the moment, I am at 40% of the on-going costs needed and I am so grateful. Pray that God will rise up more sponsors, and that people will feel comfortable asking me the questions needed to set up the support.

1) June 26 – Pray for my team leader, Tim Sliedrecht, as it is his birthday on this day. Pray for Tim and Angie as they guide, pastor, lead, encourage Team Beyond in Soroti. (Pray for my brother Brian as it is also his birthday.  )

June 27 – CELEBRATE 35 years of life!!

For those on my ENCOURAGEMENT TEAM, start writing those birthday cards because who knows if Canada Post will be able to deliver it on time.

For those on my FINANCIAL SUPPORT TEAM, please know that I am so grateful for all that you have given or pledged so far. If you would still like to give, please send your donations to:

International Teams Canada, 1 Union Street, Elmira, ON, N3B 3J9 Canada

Or International Teams USA, 411 W. River Rd, Elgin, IL, 60123

Or check out for online giving.

Here are my financial needs.  I am not able to leave for Uganda until I reach 100% funding.

In keeping with the “12 days of...” I still need to raise $24720 a year, but that can be broken down into 12 one-time donations of: $2060

Or on each of the next 12 days, I need to raise at least $171/month. I ask that you prayerfully consider joining me in doing God’s work in Uganda.

Happy trails everyone! I look forward to the next 12 days of journeying through life with all of you. Please let me know how I can pray for you also.

Karen Lubbers

Monday, June 13, 2011

Homey Bear

I received this email the other day and wanted to share it with you... it's a response to my request to find out where all of my knitted bears are.

Aunt Karen & Bones

I am sometimes jealous when I read of all the adventures that you are on but when I look at some of the pictures that you send back of laying out in the desert suffering from heat stroke or water starved, and then kidnapped by who knows who, enduring all those late night trips in the cargo holds of airplanes and the miles over bump roads; well I am just thankful that I have a nice warm place in the bedroom of Mama Bear and Papa Bear. Most days I spend guarding the pillows where they sleep every night but I will admit that I occasionally spend the day on the floor under a heap of pillows when they forget to make the bed.

For the most part I don’t mind it here in this quiet room because it gives me lots of time to think about you and remember the times we are able share when you are home but then it also is my job to remind the Mama Bear and Papa Bear to say their prayers for you both when you are away. I don’t know if they realize it or not but I can hear every word they say in the bedroom and they often talk about you and what you are doing and they pray for you regularly because they miss you guys when you are on the road. I still hope that they take me with them on the road sometimes because they do like to travel.  I hear about trips to Seattle, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Alberta and Grand Rapids; even some long ones to Holland and the Philippines where you were, but I never got to come along. I did get to go on a camping trip once with them.

I guess I will go on in the way things are and I am reminded of the scripture passage from Philippians 4:10-13, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I am so happy for all of your adventures Bones and I hope you keep on sharing them with me because that way I can dream of being there with you.

Always a Homey
The Bed Bear

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Return to the Table

The crystal chandelier hung over the dining room table - a simple wooden, circular table is decorated with a doily, and covered in glass.  The hostess shimmied back and forth to the kitchen to prepare the food for her four guests.  First came a bowl of chicken cooked in ginger and green onion, with thin cucumber fingers stirred throughout.  Next came a platter of jumbo shrimp and mushroom filled beef rolls.  A colourful bowl of rice.  Bokchoy and mushrooms brought the veggies to the meal.  Tiny fish omelets finished the main meal.

Conversation flowed from world travel to movies.  World wars to fishing.  Hong Kong to Holland. The Chinese pot continuously poured out tiny cups of green tea while the desserts were passed around and around... tiramisu, lotus flower pastries, leche flan, winter melon cookies, and more.

Yes, my family had a wonderful dinner at our neighbour's tonight!  Thank you Francis!

Cotton Candy Clouds

My trip to the Berkshires had a grand finale.  On our last day we ventured over to the Berkshire Museum to see the gecko exhibit.  The pictures tell it all!  Although, I did learn that geckos do not have sticky feet or suction cups, but millions of hairs that grab the surface to pull them or hold them up.  Very intriguing.

We had been planning all week to finish the trip with a girls night out.  We got all dressed up and ventured 45 minutes south to Stockbridge to the gorgeous, historic "Red Lion Inn".  We were hoping for a fine dining experience, but just three minutes before our arrival the power went out.  The 1773 hotel was dark, but the services were starting to light candles and memorize a new menu.  We could order a salad, the soups while they were still hot, and the grill was being lit in the back yard.  Well, after much discussion I had a small piece of grilled salmon on a salad of spinach greens.  We really wanted dessert - a fancy one - but the server didn't even offer us dessert because of the chaos in the kitchen... so we decided to venture back to Vacation Village, knowing that there were a few good restaurants in the area.

As we were driving back, I fell in love with the cotton candy clouds.  The Lord is amazingly creative.

We went to the restaurant at the ski resort across the road, but no one was around.  The door was open, but not a soul was in sight.  So, back in to the car, we headed back to the tavern where we ate on the first night we pulled in to town.  The servers said that the kitchen closed at 9:30 (it was 9:31 pm) so they were unwilling to serve us dessert.  (A few guys at the bar did want to buy us dressed up gals a drink though - we quickly said No... we just wanted dessert!) 

Last resort, was to head back to Vacation Village and have a chocolate bar from the vending machine beside the indoor pool.  We drove up to the guest offices, walked in to the video arcade... and ... much to our dismay, the machine had an "out of order" sign on it.  :(  We busted out laughing and crying at the same time.  I ended up explaining our situation to the concierge and one of the ladies behind the desk volunteered to get us some chocolate from the staff room's vending machine.  So hear we were... all dressed up, to eat an expensive salad in the dark, and a cheap Kitkat in our room... and the best memories in our heads!

Friday it took us 12 hours to get home... a great trip!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Shaker Shakedown

The Gallivanting Gals were off for another day of learning and exploring.  Yesterday's destination was the Hancock Shaker Village.  Pulling in to the parking lot at 10:10 am we thought we would have plenty of time to swim and relax for the day, but no, it took us five and a half hours to explore the village.  We learned about the Shaker faith - which focused on confession of sins, communal living, celibacy, and worship.  The simple buildings were strongly built and the whole village focused on the round barn in the centre.  Don't worry, pictures will be uploaded in a few days - when I get home. 

After the village, we went to Berkshire Mall and then home for a quick swim before the thunderstorm moved in.  Actually, we were kicked out of the pool because lightening was striking everywhere.  I loved the storm.  The power of God was once again in full display!  I can't believe this is my last day in the Berkshires... I'll inform you soon about what goes on today.  Ciao.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Behind the Face

Shopping bags drag my arms down, but my attitude is high.  Today has been a day of experiencing the world through another person's eyes.  After winning a game of Super Quiz against Caroline and Michelle, we loaded back into Winnie and drove down to Pittsfield.  Destination: The Mount - a gorgeous homestead of Edith Wharton... an author, designer and human rights activist.  The grounds were peaceful, with well laid out gardens, stone walls, and perfectly manicured lawns.  The mansion tour was cool, especially since I was traveling with ladies who have never seen the homes in Europe that I have explored.  It brought a fresh perspective for me... a new excitement for the extraordinary.  I feel like I really learned a lot about Edith Wharton, her books - like "The House of Mirth", "The Age of Innocence", or "The Buccaneers", and her love for her home on the Mount. 

Leaving the Mount we drove back into the quaint, yet costly, town - where it took forever for the pedestrian lights to allow us to cross the street.  Diving in and out of cute shops, bookstores, and an ice-cream parlor we loaded up with unexpected packages.  :)  What else are galavanting gals supposed to do on vacation - besides, I need something to declare at the border!!

One of our favourite stops was "Persnickety Toys" - where the toys moved and the shop keeper was super friendly.  While perusing the store, a young man came in to buy a glowing wand.  At first I couldn't keep from staring... he was the kind of man I've never seen before.  He wore camo pants and black jacket, but coming out from the back of the jacket was a grey furry tail.  His lips had four peircings and there was one stud between his eyebrows as well.  He decorated his head with a bandana headband with old pilot goggles on top and long blue coiled springs tied in to the back.  I so much wanted to learn about the man behind the mask.

Apparently "to woo" (to win a stranger over) is my number one strength, so I began chatting with this young man, and I'm so glad I did.  He is a local guy that just celebrated his 21st birthday on Sunday.  His grandmother made him one of his favourite meals, which originally she thought was going to be lamb, but he went for a one pot meal of chuck roast.  He works at a fast food joint and hasn't learned to drive yet, and thinks that the Berkshires is a tough place to live.  He says it is great for a tourist to be here, but he really wants to get out of the area.  Anyways, the conversation to go much beyond that, but I'm glad I got to know the man behind the costume.  A sweet spirit who just wants a friend and a purposeful life.

I left the shop thankful for the friends that I have and glad that I have more to experience in Massachusetts.  Now... I'm off to the pool and hot tub!  Good night folks!