The Skies Opened Up and Devastation Followed

As I started writing blogs for this course, I felt that I had to write about youth since my entire job surrounds the wellbeing of youth and young adults.  But that was not the case and so I have spread my wings and writing hand.

The past weeks have been filled with news of the pandemic which we thought was the worst thing.  Then the news from the United States started flooding our television and every thread online.  Images of death, of protests, of destruction of property, of government leaders bickering with each other.  One story that a friend of mine had posted rocked me to the core and I researched the story.  It was complex, it was a story of a phoenix rising from the ashes and it was a story of incredible deceit, pain and death.  It appeared, as an article, in the Smithsonian Magazine that reported the story as “a long lost manuscript of a searing eyewitness account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.”  The manuscript was written by a lawyer named Buck Colburn Franklin.  I can put the article into a short synopsis, but we must start with the back story.

President Lincoln liberated the African American slaves on January 1, 1863 but due to the Civil War, the liberation took time and it was only halfway through 1865 that it had been enforced.  Many were not happy with this as plantations and farms lost their slave labour and for generations, slaves had been viewed as subhuman and that belief was the hardest to reform thus, tensions continued into the next century.

There was an area of Tulsa that many African Americans had move to, gladly given to them as it was deemed worthless land (until oil was discovered on it).  They set up their shops and places of business, said to be in excess of 300 establishments.  It thrived and many of these people prospered, were highly educated, had beautiful homes, cars, family outings and back yard get-togethers.  It was the Greenwood district but was referred to as the Black Wall Street.

A white woman made a complaint (which she later rescinded) against a black man and he was arrested.  As he declared his innocence repeatedly, a mob gathered, wanting a lynching and riots ensued as the man’s friends tried to protect him.  The authorities were told that black people were attacking white people and so the authorities arrived with the idea to beat down the African Americans.  Homes were looted, homes were set on fire and businesses destroyed.

Now to Mr. Franklin, noted lawyer who, with his partners, had their offices in the heart of Black Wall Street. He tells of leaving his office and seeing buildings and people on fire and it was coming from the sky.  Private planes were fire bombing from above and plowing people down with machine guns.  Within two days, 35 city blocks were destroyed, 1200 homes were razed and 300 people dead.  Martial Law was declared, and the National Guard was called out.  As many as six thousand were detained, some for up to eight days.  Although post cards of the riots and the results of those riots were distributed to instill fear, Mr. Franklin did set up his offices in a Red Cross tent to continue his business, but many other businesses did not return, and the homes were not rebuilt. This piece of history does not appear in many history books in school.

According to Wikipedia about the Tulsa Race Riots Commission, “there was an effort toward public education about these events through the process. The Commission’s final report, published in 2001, said that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens; it recommended a program of reparations to survivors and their descendants.  The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, encourage economic development of Greenwood, and develop a memorial park in Tulsa to the massacre victims. The park was dedicated in 2010. In 2020, the massacre became part of the Oklahoma school curriculum.”  It should be noted that three hundred scholarships were issued to descendants of the massacre, but no cash reparations have been awarded to the families or the survivors of the massacre.

Having read this account, I thought of the riots and protests continuing today.   I saw an item on the news and followed up the story at A few weeks ago, a woman with her dog, was in Central Park and the dog was unleashed.  An African American man, Mr. Christian Cooper, was bird watching and he told her about the leash law in the park.  She said she would call the police and claim Mr. Cooper was threatening to kill her, and, she did.  She made a frantic call to ensure the reaction of the authorities when they would arrive. (Mr. Cooper recorded the entire scene on his phone).  As she stood there and lied, she was holding the dog by his collar and the dog was trying to fight this type of hold.   Fortunately, the police saw the recording.  She surrendered her dog to the ASPCA and lost her job at an investment firm.    But what if he had not record it?  The girl in the elevator that lodged the story that set the Tulsa Race Riot Massacre in motion claimed she had been attacked and that story ended in devastation. This story could have had a very different, very sad ending if not for that recording.   ABC News reports “Efforts to intimidate Black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history.”  ABC News also reported that “The Central Park Civic Association condemns this behavior and is calling on Mayor de Blasio to impose a lifetime ban on this lady for her deliberate, racial misleading of law enforcement and violating behavioral guidelines set so that all can enjoy our city’s most famous park, Association president Michael Fischer said.” With this in the news, have you thoughts on this woman’s actions?

Affirmative action has begun but is it enough, and, if so, is it too late?  The pandemic is still out there and, maybe, it has given people a new perspective on how they live and what they do.  In times of crisis, the best and the worst of people shine through.  It is hard to say where these current events will take us but, as with the pandemic, there will be no return to the normal we understood before.  How do you view this great divide? As a Christian, I believe in the great commandment

The Bible John 13:34-35 (NIV)

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Love and respect, is that not what each of us wants and needs?

Have you ever heard of Black Wall Street? Do you know about the Tulsa Massacre? Check out my blog How the Skies Opened Up and Rained Terror on Tusla,

History that was not recorded well. #TulsaMassacre#BLM#BlackWallStreet

You Live in a What!?!

Planning a trip to Europe last fall (to take place in May, which never happened), I stumbled across some unique locations for our stay.  As we would land, we were to stay in a barge that had been converted to an Air B&B, in the heart of Amsterdam.  Walking distance to all places of interest, down the quay to shops, bistros or be on the deck to watch the sunset, all appealed to myself and the sailor I had married.  The gutting of the barge and rebuild, I am sure, was no easy feat.  It was spacious, open concept and bright

The idea of taking factory spaces and converting them into condominiums and apartments has been on the rise.  Every city has had that kind of renovation done.  The following link shows some of the transformations done in San Francisco, New York, Manchester and Singapore.  Reclaiming the spaces that had become derelict and creating spaces that are modern, eco-friendly, bright and inviting, are what the architects had in mind.  I love the idea of a blank canvas and the architect is the artist.  Anything can be made with the space and some are very creative.

When I saw the Boeing and what had been done, I became a little claustrophobic, not my cup of tea but ideal for a single senior who loves planes.  


I have seen articles about churches being transformed into a new living space.  Leaving the old wood and the “bones” of the church intact, plans were made to convert the building into a rather unique home.  With towering ceilings, incredible lofts and second floors can be created.  In the Netherlands, churches have been converted to homes with awesome results.  Here is an interesting one that I found.  

Interior – Exterior

When you first look at the size of this church building, it doesn’t seem wide enough for a home.  The inside has multiple levels of living space, making it very open and modern.  The one general rule that most of these church transformations are keeping is the stained-glass windows, and I don’t blame them.  I would keep those as well.  A beautiful way to preserve the past and accent the history of the building.  Truly organic spaces.

Holy Ghost Cafe – Coleman, Alberta

A few years ago, we were travelling through the Rockies and stopped at the Holy Ghost Café at the top of Crow’s Nest Pass in the town of Coleman. The Café had been a Catholic Church that was no longer in use and they turned it into an organic café and music hall. The confessionals were now the washrooms and this shot was taken from the once choir loft, now the balcony. All the original windows and the mural painted on the ceiling of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, remains. Loved the atmosphere.


Then there is the whimsical.  This was not a refit or makeover, but Dick Clark bought a home in Malibu as it was – a Flintstone inspired home.  For anyone who watched The Flintstones, this is a trip down memory lane.

A one bedroom, 40-acre property that was selling in 2012 for $ 3.5 million.

To see the actual home, check out

As a child, I was fascinated by everything in stone on the cartoon (later the movie) – the tables, counters, chairs, even the bed.  As an adult, my favourite aspect is all the natural light coming through the window openings and the incredible views.  

In today’s world, we realize that we are becoming a throw away society and going forward, we need to change our way of doing things and dealing with throwaways.   The saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Many of these locations could have been torn down, with new buildings erected in their place but the integrity of the buildings were maintained by people who had a vision, a faith that they could get it done and a love of history to keep these properties honest to their beginnings.

One day, my husband and I will make that trip to Europe, stay on a converted barge, sleep in an old castle keep.  I doubt if I could transform one of these properties but how about you?  Would you dedicate years (and, yes, it can take years) to renovating a property like one of these?  Or, perhaps, you might like to try a short stay in one.  There are many options out there, if you are willing to try.

Clip art credit

Photo credit for Holy Ghost Café to Tiffany Frodsham by permission

Photo credit of Utrecht church interior & exterior

Photo credit of Air B&B Amsterdam

SOCIAL MEDIA – Do or Do Not, There is No Try

In my little corner of the world, my social media is read mostly by teens, young adults or their parents.  I have worked in ministry for over fourteen years and have had Facebook for almost the same amount of time.  As such, my Facebook page has been squeaky clean from the start.  To set an example for the young people, I made sure that my posts were appropriate, verified and inspiring.  Although I did this, I did not realize the impact a social media page could have.

I applied to a Christian long-term care facility to cover a maternity leave and was given an interview, which led to two follow-up interviews.  A few weeks after I was hired, I found out that they had scoured my social media platforms.  I did realize this scrutiny could happen with young people but was surprised that they would check that intense for me.  It gave me a great opportunity to share this information on how thoroughly I was investigated as I mentored young people about the benefits and the downfalls of social media and how it can impact their lives years after a post.

There are the usual risks within social media– bullying, falsehoods, misleading advertisements or recommendations or being hacked so that criminals could use our information. There is a tendency to share too much personal information in postings and will be problematic if used by hackers, who can utilize the data obtained to injure ourselves as well as our organizations. There is also the risk of being addicted to social media.  In today’s world, a cell phone with all our applications and social media profiles is within our grasp for many hours a day.  The draw to check one’s social media, to see who is trending or who is following us is a great temptation. One keeps looking for that comment that will make their day or how many likes they have gotten so far.  You need only to look at a supper table (at home or in a restaurant) to see how many of us are checking our phones.  For more information on this, check .

When a person starts using social media without checking the aspects of it and the best way to use it, can create a nightmare in itself.  I read where one elderly woman thought that LOL meant lots of love and kept responding LOL to an obituary – a simple example that was horrifying to the family until she explained it.  Making sure that we are familiar with the terminology, before we put it into practise, is the key.

Due to the ease of an immediate response, we can respond with a knee jerk reaction to an unfavourable comment that we later regret and cannot retract.  Those types of comments can haunt us forever and organizations need to reduce their risk factors to maintain their integrity and client base.  The first effective step is to create a social media style guide.  This will establish continuity throughout the organization.  It will make sure that there is consistency with language, integrity, thought processes and content.  The intention of the organization will be appropriate across the board with all staff because of these guidelines.  Organizations would also require an overseer to ensure that the guidelines are being adhered to.  With no supervision of the content, their reputation will be on the line.

I have been speaking as a single person on this, who is part of a larger organization.  Although we are separate entities, our paths cross.  I would not be a part of this organization if I did not share their integrity, their ideals and beliefs.  It is a fine line to draw between the personal and professional aspects of our lives.  Some individuals have created two profiles to keep the personal and professional parts separate.  Reviewing our privacy settings on our personal profiles will help to keep the two apart. Using two separate names on the accounts will help as a username does not have to be our actual name. Having said that, whatever we post on our personal pages will, purposefully or not, reflect on our organizations and we must keep that thought in mind when we decide to post. The best solution is, once we start using all types of social media, that we keep abreast of the improvements made on all platforms and keep all information current and relevant, for ourselves and our organizations and to be mindful of what we post. Good intentions may not cut it…. in the words of the great and wise philospher, Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Yoda image - vector clip art online, royalty free & public domain ...
Photo credit

The Only Constant is Change

When I was finishing high school, I was interviewed and offered a job at a national bank, thus started a thirty-four-year career in banking, spanning three provinces. I became an expert in foreign exchange, dealing with banks internationally and thought that was what I would do for the rest of my career.  Moving to Alberta, there was little foreign exchange, but there was oil.  I was put in charge of dealing with the Alberta Petroleum Marketing Commission and the settling of their accounts with the various oil companies.  Moving to a small town in Ontario, neither was going to work for me and I became a Personal Banker.  As changes took place, I found myself out of banking and wondered what I would do next as I had not planned to retire at that point.

In the Bible, there is a piece of Scripture that speaks to me.  In Jeremiah 29:11, the Lord says “For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  I wondered where those plans would take me next.

A year later, I saw a notice for a part time position to be a youth leader at a local Church.  Eight hours a month, this was not going to pay the bills BUT it felt right, and I could still look for other work at the same time.  The other work did come, in the oddest ways.  The Church program was closed each summer and I took a position as the part time office manager for the local Speedway (car racing).  My days of following the race-track circuit were long gone by this time and I could concentrate on the purse money & ticket sales.  When the racetrack was sold, I was offered a position as kitchen manager at a Christian Camp for two summers.  I was to mentor the young adults in the kitchen, plan meals and be the main cook. I had no training in this field other than I love to cook and would teach cooking to the youth group during the year. In reality, I had no training to run the youth group in the first place, other than I had been a single mom, on a budget and happened to have an interest in crafts, cooking, music and the arts.

I had no formal training in religious studies, other than my own faith journey and here I was, mentoring and teaching young people about faith and about God.  I felt the next plan should be that I go back to school.  I completed a three-year certificate program in Theology & Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary through correspondence and a trip to New Jersey every year for an intense week of classes and workshops.  Now I felt qualified to be the teacher of these young minds.  The certificate enabled me to take a position covering a maternity leave for one year at a long-term care facility as their spiritual health specialist, which included support for all faiths and dealing with end of life for the residences as well as the families.  A total change of pace from youth ministry but an impactful experience.  Once the contract was over, I received an offer from the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall to be the Program Director for Youth & Young Adult Ministries.

If you had asked that seventeen year old girl, where her path would lead her, the answer would not have been this road.  At seventeen, I thought I knew my future.  It would include working at the bank until I retired, getting married, having children and NOT leaving Montreal.  Instead, I moved, my marriage was broken, I had only one child and my banking career was over before my daughter was an adult.

But remembering that piece of Scripture, I realize that every step on that road, led me to the place I am at today.  Every task, every new ability was put there to reach this point.

So now, I look to the future (even in this pandemic) and I am thankful for where I stand today and the person I have become.  


As with most of the world, my life was turned upside down mid-March.   I should have realized how the spring would unfold when the first trip was cancelled.  I have been a Director within Youth Ministry for over fourteen years and yearly, I would travel to the Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry.  It is a week of intense workshops, awesome speakers and fellowship with my cohorts.  Booked and paid for by December, the event was being held the last week of April.  My husband and I make it into a mini vacation by adding a side trip to Boston, or New York or Philadelphia. We have explored the New Jersey shore, been on board the USS New Jersey, been to the top of the Empire State building and a visit to Ground Zero… and now, that was gone.

The next hit was our very first trip to Europe, booked for us to leave May 8 to attend the wedding of a girl who had been in my youth group.  She was excited to invite us to her wedding in Bavaria for May 16, unfortunately, the church cancelled her wedding in March and it has since been re-booked for the end of August.

My work has me in contact with youth on a daily basis.  I would spend half my week within the walls of the secondary schools in the area.  The relationships created with the youth would continue well past high school and into university… and beyond, thus explaining the trip to Germany.  These youth are like my children and this pandemic has changed my life completely, as it has their lives.  Graduation ceremonies on hold, proms cancelled, final exams in the air, post-secondary education uncertain and a health scare of the likes that they had never seen before, are what they are facing now.  The time I spend with them at school would be during their free time and at lunchtime because the entire idea of faith within the family and church has changed over the last few decades. Sports, extracurricular activities, training, tutoring, trips for tournaments all seem more important than Church or Youth Group.  If they are not coming to Church, bring the Church to them.

Andrew Root, a well-known author, professor of Youth & Family Ministry at Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and an international speaker on theology and youth ministry, explains well how this turn of events occurred in an article for the British Church Times, dated April 17, 2020.

“The question “What is youth ministry for?” is important, particularly in middle-class settings, because, during the past decade or so, congregational youth ministry has not fared very well. The waning of youth ministry has not, however, been caused by a frontal attack: there have not been petitions or speeches calling for the ending of youth ministry.

Rather, next to all other opportunities and activities in children’s lives, youth ministry has slid down the scale of importance; just ask any youth worker. In the autumn, parents make a commitment to getting their children to a youth group or confirmation, but, when things get busy in October, the same parents tell youth workers that their child just does not have time. Basketball, test preparation, piano practice, or any other dozen activities will keep them from participating in youth-group activities. During the past two decades, the youth group has lost its prominent place in families’ schedules.

Ironically and counter-intuitively, however, this slide seems to be concurrent with parental involvement. Over the past generation or so, as parents have become more involved in their children’s activities, youth ministry has had less hold over families’ time and attention. We could say that young people are less committed to youth groups not because parents are less concerned for the future of their children, but because they are more concerned.”

Looking at Professor Root’s observations, we need to add the electronic world to the situation.  The Youth have their devices in hand, non-stop, their schoolwork is now being done on the web and screen time is at an all-time high.  It is not that the Professor has omitted that portion, he has written sixteen books on the topic of youth & ministry. He uses social media constantly and has a good following.  He is an avid TV watcher, confesses to binge watching, and in view of what is happening now, has strongly suggested you binge watch the Netflix drama “Stranger Things”.  The show demonstrates how adults did parenting in the 1980’s, very much hands off. In Professor Root’s words “The daily routine meant you provided meals, a basement and curfew.” The rest of the time, youth were sent out to be with friends, explore their world and grow.

But today, things have changed from that idyllic time.  No longer are children allowed to just go off with their friends.  Parents insist on driving them there and picking them up.  Relationships are formed with their parents over a quick breakfast, on the drive to school or sports and a few moments before bed.  No real mention of faith or Church.  The “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has given away to “what is in it for me”. 

The mainstay of the Church life in the summer is Church camp and this week, the governments across the board, have cancelled all sleepover camps to the dismay of many parents, children and Churches.  Cabins and canoes will remain vacant for this summer. The opportunity to grow in their faith while in a Christian camp setting, has vanished.

This time of isolation and self-quarantine maybe the opportunity for parents and Youth to spend time together, possibly at an online Church service or a Zoom youth group meeting.  The Youth can rediscover the world around them without electronics, without sports teams and take time to pause.  For all the scheduling and plans in the past have left little time for youth to unwind, stop, smell the roses and drink in Mother Nature.  Always plugged in, they have not learned to unplug and get to know themselves better.

To unplug, stop and smell the roses, be with nature.  I have been speaking about youth but what about you?  Have you taken the time to re-boot yourself, read a book, get to know the you that you have not seen since your teens?  I always felt that reading was luxury to do once everything else was done.  Do you have time now to read or garden or create?  Let me know.

On a post note, Andy Root has been a visiting professor here in Canada as well as Princeton and I have attended many of his lectures over the years. 

Article on Andrew Root

More information about Youth and Covid-19 coping skills

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