Wednesday, December 31

Darkness is my closest Friend ..... musings at 3:30 am

I have tossed and turned in bed since I hopped in at 11 pm or so. A couple times I have thought of the prescription my Doctor gave me to fill a couple weeks ago....
She asked how I was sleeping. I said, that it wasn't good. So she said I needed a prescription for sleeping pills, because I had to be able to get some rest.

Seems sleep is not coming tonight. Perhaps I should fill it and take them. Although I have never been a fan of the pills, so most likely will just continue to toss and turn. It has been good thinking time I guess. And talking to God time -
but I just can't lay there any longer with my thoughts - and with my anxiety. There is lots of that these days. The feeling that washes over me usually a couple times a day.... a weird feeling, that involves my heart, makes it race, or sometimes it literally feels like I am on a ride, with that "falling inside" feeling. The weirdest thing is that on Sunday, Alvin was describing something very similar. We had not talked about it before. I guess because talking about it makes it feel real.

For the first hour, while I laid in bed, it seemed that was what I was experiencing. And then, the other thing lately, is this "wash" over me of intense, intense pain... that takes me right back to the hospital when I held Jay, and prayed that God would start his heart...
The wash of pain over me comes out of no where, but its increased intensity is something that can not be denied. Weird thing... Alvin was describing this the other day as we left Sunnyside cemetary. It always feels intense, but these "washes" are far more intense and so so real...

Sometimes I wonder if I am going crazy.... but I know I am not.

Tonight as I laid in bed, I kept thinking of the line "Darkness is my closest friend..." and I realize that within that line there is both truth and lies.... the reality is that if this is what a friend looks like, I want no part of it, and yet, it is my constant companion. Some day, God, will the darkness lift?

My doctor keeps telling me it is grief.
My counsellor Mary tells me the same thing.
My daily devotionals in my email inbox say the same.

While I am sitting here, I look outside, and everything is still - black - nothing is moving. Night is a lonely time. I remember when I used to get up with my babies at night and look out the window and feel like I was the only one awake in the middle of the night. What we wouldn't give to be the only ones awake, holding our little grandson...

I remember when I was so sick and in the hospital .... and nighttime was the hardest time... especially in March 06 - the time that I almost died....
I wonder about that alot. God, I am glad you spared me that day... so that I could walk through this time with my family.... although I wish you had not given this to us as our journey.

Today is the last day of the year. Dec. 31st. 2008.
Looking back, I see that there was incredible joy within this year...
In chronilogical order:
Began 2008 knowing that we were going to be grandparents
Josh's birthday
Our service trip to Thailand
Mike asks for Ashley's hand in marriage
Alvin's birthday
Ashley's "magic" birthday
Our family trip to Cuba
Ashley and Mike get engaged in Cuba
Leah's birthday
Our surprise party put on by our children - huge surprise - party to celebrate Alvin and I turning 50, becoming grandparents, celebrating our 30th anniversary and Ash and Mike's wedding.
My birthday
I made my first rag quilt especially for my grandson!
Our Grandson Jay was born...
Ashley and Michael get married.
Spending Christmas alone with our kids.

The Hardest things in 2008
Jay was born silently... our hopes were shattered.
Navigating through pain of such great loss
Figuring out how to care for our family as we grieve together, and at different layers...
Each Month as it ticks off...
Hearing/seeing new babies - only intensifies our loss. God, how do we figure out how to do this?
Christmas 2008

On the cusp of a new year.... O God, help me to remember the joy of this past year. It is so easily denied due to the pain and grief, and yet, in the year, there was joy that we experienced.

My friend gave me a little silver pin that says joy.... she gave it to me to "wear on my heart until joy returns in my heart." I know what would bring joy. I wait on God for restore that joy. Perhaps very soon. God, please bring joy...

Monday, December 29

A real faux paux.....

Today has been a good day. My kids just left a little while ago. My nephew and neice (in law) is in visiting from Calgary. I love having them over... they feel like close family even though we only see them a couple times a year. Mom K came out too. It was good to sit around the table, (unfortunately Alvin was at work) and to be able to laugh a couple times. It feels like we get a "breath" in once in a while... and a laugh does that.

While we sat in the tv room, I took the cards out of my bag to look through, and it was then that I realized that I did a huge mistake. Yesterday I blogged about how my young friend gave me the gift of a song. You know I read the card, and read her encouragement to either read the words now, or later, or whenever I can. I didn't unfold it all, I just put it back into the envelope for later. And, this is where the faux paux comes in....
I thought she had "given" me the song IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.... and I knew I couldn't read it yet.
However today, I realize she "gave" me the song "BE STILL MY SOUL"...
Thought I should share those words with you too...

534. Be Still, My Soul
Text: Katharina von Schlegel, 1752; trans. by Jane Borthwick, 1855 (Ps. 46:10)
Music: Jean Sibelius, 1899; arr. from The Hymnal, 1933
Tune: FINLANDIA, Meter: 11 10.11 10.11 10

1. Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in every change God faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
the Christ who ruled them while he dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow for forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Well, I am still not sure I can ponder these words too much... but God you know that. thank you for friends who speak into my life.
Be still my soul...

Sunday, December 28

Is it well with my soul?

Today is Sunday. I spoke in church today - a hard sermon to deliver, not because of the content - but because of where I feel my heart is at. I am so glad that God understands all this!

After the service, I talked with a few friends, wept with some. And then one of my dear young friends came up and slipped me a card along with a hug...
Inside the card were words that blessed my soul. She had given me a "gift" for whenever I felt the time was right.... It was the words to the song, It is Well with my soul.

I have to be honest... I am not sure the time is right YET...
I have sung this song at funerals, and in church services. My daughter Ashley sang it at my father in law's funeral too, just a couple years ago.
The words are profound. The story behind the words is moving beyond belief!
And here I sit, the tune running through my mind, but I am not sure if the time is right... I am not sure I can say yet, that IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL...
Lord, please continue to carry me through this process.
None the less, as I said, the words are indeed profound and moving... here they are, may they bless your soul!


When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

- Words by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
- Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876

The words to this hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford's life. The first was the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially. Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford's daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford's wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram: "SAVED ALONE." Several weeks later, as Spafford's own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, he was inspired to write these words.

Bliss originally named the tune "Ville de Havre" after the ship on which Spafford's four girls perished, the SS Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music.

Saturday, December 27

Crushed. Shattered. Pressed.

I remember a day or two after Jay's birth/death, we read together, the words found in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 - the words that I have often taken comfort in. The words about being fragile jars of clay...
vs 8 says... "we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. we are perplexed, but not driven to despair. we are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be seen in our bodies."

We also read that at Jay's sunrise service, when we laid his little body to rest.

Today, I will be honest... I am struggling. really, really struggling. As I write, I am weeping. I honestly feel crushed. I honestly feel despair. I honestly feel abandoned by God. I have been knocked down.... my kids, O God, they have been knocked down over and over and over again. How much more till we are destroyed?
When is the suffering enough? Only when we die? I thought we were showing your life in our bodies, before all this.... is this a test? If adversity draws people closer to you, then why O God, do I feel like you have cast us off and left us in a pile. And why God, don't you decide to allow adversity into the lives of those who are not walking close to you, so that you can draw them?

I am tired of hearing the pat answers.... that you will make things better in your time... that your timing O God, is perfect.... that you are making us stronger.....
I am so tired, and really God, I am scared. What if we feel so abandoned that we just walk away from it all? Is that not a concern for you God?

No, you know our end from our beginning don't you. You know, regardless of how we pray, you know how you will answer. And really right now God, I am tired. We don't know how much more we can take.... we just don't get it.

Our hearts are all in pieces. Josh and Leah, Ashley and Mike, Alvin and mine - a million little pieces, blown up and scattered, all over. And so far, I can't feel like you have brought any of the pieces together.

God, where are you. Why does it feel like insult is added to injury. Why does it feel like we only see your back. What do you want from us anyway?
I just don't get it. I feel pressed, shattered and crushed, and just plain numb.

As your word says, I do "look to the hills.... for help." But I can't see you.
And yet, because my head knows that you have been faithful, I wait. I guess really, I have no other choice but waiting. O God, in your mercy.... speak.... your power.... and perhaps show that you hear our little lonely prayers, spoken from quivering lips.
perhaps today...

Sunday, December 21

David asked God to remember him.... so am I asking the same thing!

Outside the world is covered by a blanket of fresh snow. I am home today, and soon will be around a dining room table with my kids. It is quiet in the house. I have things to do, including a sermon to write for next Sunday. I have just taken some pain medication - I just worked out on the dance pad :) for half an hour. And I am in pain.

Last week God brought a couple scripture references to mind. I had looked up the one, but not till now did I look up the other, Psalm 28.
Oh David.... he has become my friend. It is David that had a heart after God's own. That is what God said, David didn't self-appoint! And sometimes, when you read David's story, you have to ask how his heart was after God's own... but other times, you understand, or at least I do.

Psalm 38 is subtitled: A Psalm of David, asking God to remember him.

Maybe I will be accused of pulling scripture out of context, but these are the verses that my heart resonated with:

Psalm 38
6) I am bent over and racked with pain
All day long I walk around filled with grief.
8) I am exhausted and completely crushed
My groans come from an anguished heart.
9) You know what I long for Lord,
you hear my every sigh.

15) For I am waiting for you O Lord,
You umust answer for me, O Lord my God.

21) Do not abandon me, O Lord,
Do not stand at a distance, my God.
22) Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my saviour.

O God.... you know what I long for Lord.... I am waiting for you, O Lord.
I identify with David, although he refers to sin that has caused this anquish of physical body and soul. I identify with the feeling of being crushed. I identify with the grief, the waiting, the feeling abandoned.

I identify with a body that physically feels like it can not take another step. I know that the physical catches up with the rest of you. I have experienced that before. My physical pain.... I don't often give "fibromyalgia" the credit for my pain, perhaps I just don't want to acknowledge it, I don't know. Perhaps it is because the doctors lump the unknown pain into the fibromyalgia diagnosis.
A few years ago, I met someone who was crushed with fibromyalgia. She had numerous hospital visits... her organs were shutting down... she was so very sick.
I thank God that I have never been that bad, but today, it dawned on me, that it is worse than it has been in years. And I have nothing else to blame it on but that - fibromyalgia. There has only been one other time in my life when it has been so bad that I had to stay home... and that was during the fall leading up to my resignation at the daycare. I know that stress adds to fibromyalgia. I also know that sitting around would be the first thing that I want to do, but the worst thing for me to do. It is a hard situation. Today, I feel slightly overwhelmed... like that's a secret. While my kids are okay or should I say have gotten used to my house with its dustbunnies!!.... I haven't. Every where I look there is work to be done... stuff to throw out, clean up. My house needs a good cleaning but the thought of it is overwhelming. My arms ache, my back aches so much that it feels like I have rusted up. My sleep does not come easy, as even laying in bed is a chore.

I have no doubt that the grief, the stress, has all caught up, and now, I am not sure what to do with it. Perhaps the pain medication will take off the edge so that I can do the daily stuff. Perhaps I can ask my young neighbor at the corner if he can load the wood stove while my husband is away. It just all seems big... and painful...
I need a warm climate for a little while. That always helps. For now I guess, I will just have to take the pain med, snuggle up to my heating pad, put on a Pachebal tape of the ocean, and dream.

God.... will you remember me? and my family? God, could you either take the physical pain, or give me strength to work through it. Sometimes Lord, I get scared from it. Lord God, you are healer, deliverer, Saviour. Please come to my rescue. O God, please remember me.

He's at it again!

Okay, time for a posting that is not real deep. It is late. I have already spent too much time sitting on the couch. I am in pain today, but somehow I don't think sitting around actually helps. Not sure if it is my fibromyalgia acting up, or what. All I know is everything is in pain...from my neck down to my feet. From my neck down to my hands... pain. It is as if the physical pain is catching up with the invisible emotional/mental pain. I should have exercised today. But I didn't. There are alot of things that I should have done, and they are still undone now, at 12:04 am....

But as I sit here, I can not help but watch the neighbor do his late night thing. He is pulling ueys (spelling??) with his little 4 wheeler with a blade on it. I am sure that he is not clearing snow. I am also thinking he likely is under the influence of something more than just a cup of coffee. He does weird things at weird hours. Somehow I always think we should expect more from a man with three children. Life was much different when my sister and brother-in-law lived there.

It is always interesting to see how long the craziness lasts... so far its been about 20 minutes. Thing is you can hear him too. It's not just a silent joy ride. And I am thinking the neighbors across from me can see his lights as well. And what about his wife and kids... or maybe he really doesn't care. Obviously he doesn't care about us either, but then, he made that obvious shortly after he moved in about 4 years ago.

Then, on the other side of us, through the bush a little, is the house that Alvin built for his dad... or helped to build. The other day I baked brownies and decided to go over and meet the new neighbors. It is the same scenario as next door, the house is occupied by the second set of owners since the first sale. Well, Alvin said he would go with me, and I am sure glad he did. That neighbor was loaded as well - offered us a beer which we declined. He was rather insistent about it. When we went, the house was just rattling - the music inside was so loud. Dogs were barking and he opened the door a crack to tell us he had to put away his two mean dogs and would be right there. Ok, really? I felt like taking my brownies and hopping in our truck. But no, we waited, and gave him the benefit of our doubt. So, the door opened. Dogs were sequestered to the garage. We came in, and thus began about a half hour of the most uncomfortable visit. We stayed standing, only because we really just wanted to leave.

He was drunk, and boisterous, and had a gun laying on the island in the kitchen, pointing straight at us. Apparently he had been out hunting, although got nothing. ok, rather a scary thought, a drunk with a gun. Then for whatever reason, he says, "I have to let the dogs in" and he goes and lets in two of the ugliest scariest dogs that I have ever seen. Umhum, I was scared. This intimidation tactic was working well for this old girl! In my head I was thinking that I was going to get bit! I was also thinking that I was so glad that Alvin came with me, and I was also wondering why I had wanted to do this.

Anyhow, after turning down a few brew, and making some uncomfortable smalltalk, and hearing some of the worst fowl language I have heard ever - we said we would have to go. Within that time period I heard so much bragging about what he had! I was so glad when we got in the truck, and ok, I know it is not very christianly, but I vowed I would never be back there again. I was just totally creeped out.

So, what am I trying to say? (yes, neighbor number one is still doing his thing outside on his four wheeler)...
I have realized that after living here for 25 years - it has changed. Everything has changed in our life - even our neighbors! Sometimes I think it will be easy to move - but then again, this old house is where we raised our kids. This old house is where we laugh till our sides hurt. This old house has entertained so many friends. This old house has heard alot of stories. This old house has also heard alot of weeping over the years - and especially of late. We are talking about moving from this old house, Lord-willing, be putting the house up for sale in the summer. Or at least that is what we think right now. The other day Leah said that she thought I would cry alot when I leave this house. I think she is right. In fact, sometimes I wonder why we would even consider it. The reason: family. Being a little closer to the city, would mean we would be a little closer to our kids, and as God grants, to our future grandchildren. This old house has been kind to us. It is the house that Alvin built. This really has been a part of our life - 25 out of 30 years of married life. Thank goodness that our neighbors (Mr. Spin Ueys and Mr. Hunt and Brag) are recent additions to the neighborhood.

God, give me grace!
Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus.... show me how because right now, I am not sure how to even relate to these guys. Give me grace. Please Jesus.

Wednesday, December 17

Bacon, Eggs, and Starbucks Coffee

Today my day began early, with a breakfast get together with a dear friend, twenty years my junior. As we sat together, I was again amazed at how God is at work in her life, but more than that, I was amazed at how she is so open to hearing God's voice and following Him. I love that about K. She sparkles with passion for Jesus. I sat there across from her feeling numb but knowing that I want to sparkle too! We spent time sitting there, in the little place that we have chosen the last few times that we got together. It was a good time, hearing where she was at, and she listened to where I was at. I think that is what amazes me so much... that she cares to listen, cares to get together when she comes into Winnipeg. I admire her far more than she knows. I heard her frustration. I heard her joys. I heard where she is at in life, and I think we both acknowledge that life can be messy even when we are walking with God! As one hour turned to two and then almost three, we wrapped up our time together by praying for one another. Right there at the table, with people eating breakfast around us, I felt like she lifted me to the throne of God. Hmmm.... did I get a glimpse of His face through her?

Later at the end of my day, I had a grande coffee at Starbucks, and sat across from T, who is also 20 years or so, my junior. T and I used to work together. He is a dear and loved friend of my husband and I. As I sat there, at the end of my day, I realized that again, I saw a glimpse of the face of God through T. Again we talked... he talked and I listened. I talked and he listened. We talked about ministry, about life, about dismay and hurts, about living on the edge in many ways. I am sure we looked like an odd mix - a young man and a middle aged woman (perhaps people thought he was out for coffee with his mom!) The thing is, it was another blessing. Sort of like a continuation of yesterday.... oh, and I forgot to mention the other blessing - my friend Char who amidst a full life with university, and four kids and a husband, made personalized ornaments for us, in honor of our grandson. She stopped by in the middle of the day... and gave me a big hug on her way out to go and visit my kids and give them their handmade ornament too.

I realize that I keep wanting to see/hear/experience God.... and while I still wait to see his power at work and to hear his voice... I have seen again and again through people in my life, that He is loving me through people like K, T and Char... like Judy and Cheryl from yesterday.... and many more. God, thank you for these friends who love me even when I am so painfully raw and open. It is so messy right now... and even though I feel like i am not feeling - today and yesterday, I felt loved!

Tuesday, December 16

A Gift in disguise!

The day is almost done. It has been an okay day. Actually, I have had a couple gifts today, in the way of friends! It is interesting how that happens... yes, they were God ordained moments for sure!

Friend no. 1 came in through our door right at about lunch time, or slightly before. He is a friend that I have gotten to know over the past 6.5 years as a pastor. He lives on the street. Literally. No joking. This morning Alvin and I talked about this friend, his name is Barry. As I crawled back into bed, snuggled up to Alvin, I said I just couldn't imagine... to me, being in bed under warm duvet covers, is one of the most wonderful feelings... and yet, many people, one of whom is very very close to me, literally are living on the street. No pillow - no warm duvet - nothing to call their own. A cot in a mission if they are lucky enough to get in.

My friend Barry was in on Sunday, along with two other friends also off the street. They came in to the church, in between services, basically to warm up. We gave them some food to eat, and I boiled the kettle. All they wanted was a couple bus tickets. When Barry comes through the door of the church, it is like the parting of the Red Sea! I guess I understand in a way, because when you live on the street, you don't look so good after a while of no bathing, or no change of clothes. Sometimes you can smell my friend before you even see him! And, I get it, really, it is hard to know what to do with Barry. The Bible talks about us "entertaining angels unaware" and I think that perhaps Barry is one of these! But something inside of me, I can't explain it other than God, but there is a special place in my heart for Barry. Every time I see him, which is about 3 x a week, I wonder how much longer he will be around. This weather, I can't imagine what toll it takes on a person. He walks with a limp. He laughed when I told him one time that he must have nine lives.

Today when Barry came in, I was busy setting up for a meeting I was hosting, so I couldn't sit and talk. Toni our office admin today, she warmed up a can of chili that we keep especially for him. He snacked on a few treats that were brought in from one of our church women. I bought him a couple chicken pieces which he put into his backpack. Barry is not running around getting ready for Christmas. Barry really lives on faith - faith that someone will be kind to him. He was one of those God ordained gifts today.

My second friend was here for the meeting. The meeting that no one else could attend... but I look back at that and think that again God knew that I needed that hour and a half just to talk. We talked about Jay, about grief, about my leave that is coming up. We talked... and I felt like someone was really understanding me. She lost her first husband twenty years ago, she also just had a new grandbaby. She recognized many things as I talked, and she breathed hope into my dry and weary soul! She left after our time together, and gave me a hug. Lord, thank you for my friend Cheryl.

Before friend number 2 was gone, friend number 3 came into the church, and came over to talk. She was just done work, and was just coming to get my keys. Her intent she said, was to go get a tree and set it up for me at home. (I must have shared my lack of Christmas joy with her?) Well, I was able to tell her that I had a tree now, and it was decorated. And that perhaps a coffee together would be a great thing to do...soon. This friend is an old friend, and a dear one. She has been there for me, and knows loss of her own kind as well. In fact, as an outsider looking in, I saw how going through some of that loss and trials, made her an amazing woman of strength and compassion. And then, just like that, she left...
Judy, my friend, was another God ordained visit.

I realize that friends bring sunshine into our lives at unexpected times. Gifts!
This morning, as I returned to my office, my daughter had left something on my computer screen... a card. "Just sending a little sunshine your way" it said on the inside! Another gift, as I read it (and cried) and realized that if I didn't have my family, and my friends - I would be even a bigger mess!

Hmmm.... I feel God is absent, yet, I saw God through moments today. Through the thoughts from my daughter, through the hug from my husband, through Barry, and Cheryl and Judy. I know God shone through them. So God.... can I see your face soon too?

Monday, December 15

Going through the motions...

I am done. Today, I wrote my exam. My one and only exam. My first university course in 20 years. And, well, I likely could have done better, but I think I did okay. What a relief. How does something feel lifegiving and life sapping at the same time. I wondered if now was the right time to study. Working fulltime, studying and trying to work through my grief = hard work. Anyhow, today, at 3 pm, I was finished. I thought I was going to take a couple courses next semester. Then again, I had thought I was going to do something else. Funny how plans can completely change. And, I am totally okay with it all.

So, the question I was asked today, at least twice, was if I had done my Christmas shopping. Really? Christmas? I am struggling with Christmas this year. I guess really, I am struggling with a few things. That's no surprise though is it?

Everything is changed this year. It is all different. I don't even want to think ahead to far. Something tells me I am going to be a bit of a mess this Christmas.
And yet, I want to be there, "in tact" for my kids. Somehow, it just feels like I am going through the motions. Somehow things just don't seem to matter much. I don't think I am a "scrooge" - I just feel like emotionally, I am all out.

I was thinking today about how this christmas was supposed to be different. Or we thought so anyway. I am struggling with seeing families with babies the age that Jay would have been. Not that I am mad. I just feel so sad, so ripped off, so incredibly empty armed! I can hardly even spend time thinking about how my kids feel - they are suffering at the ground level.
I just don't want to do "the happy thing"..... I just don't have the strength emotionally. Yesterday at church, someone asked me how I was. I said, I was okay. He said "only okay?" I said, "yes, considering it all, I am only okay."
Part of me wanted to scream. The biggest part of me just wanted to crumple into a heap and cry. I save those things for when I am alone. I guess that is part of self-preservation.

Anyhow, on Saturday, after I got home from a women's brunch that was themed "miracles" - I sat at the table. I had preached on HAVING FAITH AND EXPECTING MIRACLES. I still wear the bracelets with the same inscription. Somehow though, I feel like I am all out in that department. Not sure, perhaps that makes me null and void in what I do for a living? (pastoral). I am just struggling..... not with the sovereignty of God... but with waiting for him/expecting from him/wanting to see him/hear him/experience Him. I feel let down. Hmmm I used to feel like saying those things out loud was a bad thing. But God knows me to the core, and I figure He can take all my stuff and help me work through it.
So, back to Saturday.... my new son Michael was out for the day, and I think my husband asked him, but anyhow, Michael went and picked out a tree for us... a real tree. Personally, I was just ready to either a) not put one up or b) go buy an artificial one. Anyhow, Alvin also mentioned that it would be nice to decorate (or it would be nice if I chose to decorate, as he doesn't normally get involved in sprucing up the house for christmas). So, down I went to the basement. Up I came. I have to admit, I had a really really bad attitude, and perhaps still do. When he came in and commented on how beautiful the garlands and white lights looked, I said I only did it because he asked. Yes, bad attitude alright.
So I put up garland and white lights, and mixed tears and deep sighs interspersed...
It was the hardest decorating I have done.

That night, the kids came back. I don't think Michael realized what a great thing he had done for me in buying the tree, because as I look at it, it really is beautiful, and it smells soooooo nice! And, as I laid in bed that night, I left the white lights on, so the garland on the railing of our balcony overlooking our living room - it cast a soft glow. I love the look of that. I realize that there was a little joy that came out of the decorating, even if I did do it with a bad attitude.

Yesterday I sat in church, and listened as the congregation and worship team sang JOY TO THE WORLD. Somehow, I just could not sing. Somehow, I am wondering how the rest of the stuff will come together. Perhaps it is a good thing that there is some numbness, so that I can go through the motions of preparing... and save the energy for the day when we gather as our little family together.

I don't know how to do this. I wish like crazy that this was not my/our lot. Somehow God, I just really need to experience you before Christmas - perhaps a still small voice? or perhaps some type of miracle? or perhaps you could send me one of your "kisses" to show me you are here. I know you are - in my head. But somehow, somehow God, I just really need more. Hope that's not a bad thing to ask for. Right now, that would be the most amazing gift of all! We just need to experience your power somehow in our brokenness.... me, Alvin, our kids. O GOD, we need to experience YOU. God, this is really what we need. Lord, have mercy.

Friday, December 12


Tears - seems they have become a constant companion. I have always been one that cried easier than some. I remember when my son was younger, and we would be watching tv and a good commercial would come on, you know the ones that the mormon church puts on, about families....they would always makes us tear up.

As I got older, I began to cry more. Not sure if things were more meaningful or what the story was, but I cried more. The other thing I noticed was when I prayed with people, I wept. I figure God is in those tears... interceding through them.
Tears have certainly became part of my prayer language.

Some people get uptight when they cry, and figure they have to make excuses.... I don't think I need to, most people that know me, know the tears.

However I have never never known tears like I have come to know them since my Grandson Jay's birth and death.... NEVER known such tears. I wish they weren't something that has become familiar...but they are.
I remember feeling like my eyes were full of grit, they were so cried out...
I have gone past my little grandson's gravesite, and wept. Tears have fallen on the ground there.
I have wept all the way home from Winnipeg - wept into my pillow - wept in the dark, as well as in the light, and today, I wept on my son Josh's shoulder.
I think somehow he knew that I needed that kiss and hug... although that is nothing new, that is part of our mother-son relationship, and actually part of my relationship with all my kids. However, today, it was different. The way Josh hugged me, and let me cry. Just as I am now. More tears.
I felt bad crying on my son's shoulder.... God only knows that Josh should be crying on mine! But it felt okay.... and again I told him that I would have done anything... I have thought of that often. Both Alvin and I would have given our lives for our little grandson to live. However, God chose otherwise obviously.

Tears have been non stop this week. Every day, many times. Tears cried in secret, tears cried in public. Tears cried while talking. Tears cried while thinking. Tears cried while praying. Tears! It seems as the weeks go on, the tears become more and more frequent. Not sure if they are healing or not. Can't say I feel any healing yet...and just when I feel like there is not a single tear left, they continue to roll non stop down my cheeks.

Last Friday, we went as a family, and got tatoos. I chose something very plain and simple. Mine is a heart, with a little J in it, and a single blue tear. (blue has become the color we associate with our little "blueJAY"... and below my tatoo, I have the reference from Revelation 7:17 where it says that God shall wipe away our tears from our eyes. That is when we are with him for eternity.... I can only imagine.

I wish that my tears were not a reality right now... and instead I had my little grandson in my arms... how I have thought of that with each baby I have seen!

Right now, I wish He (Jesus) was right here, so that I could actually feel Him.... somehow right now God feels very silent, and very far away. I wish I could feel him. I wish I could feel him wipe my tears. I wish I could see his power work in our lives. Guess I just have to wait and expect Him to show. And in the meantime, I will continue to weep... tears of great pain and great sorrow, and one day, Lord, ONE DAY.... please make them tears of joy. Oh that THAT DAY would be soon? Please Lord, hear my prayer. Lord, have mercy and could you please give us the desire of our hearts?

Till then Jesus, I know that you catch my tears in a bottle... not sure why, but your Word says that... Jesus, you must have buckets of them by this time!

Sunday, December 7

Find me in the River

When I was about 12, I almost drowned. Up till that point, I loved water. I spent every summer at camp, and water was just plain fun! Up until this day. I got off a raft to walk back into shore. At first it wasn't bad, but as I walked closer to shore, the water was getting deeper. I realized I had gotten off at a sandbar. I still remember the panic I felt... water coming into my mouth. Any thoughts of swimming gave way to frantic dogpaddling! And then my cousin realized what was happening, and grabbed me, and brought me to shore - safe and sound. Since then I have been afraid of water, and have to be able to touch bottom at all times.

Lately, there are times when I feel like I am drowning again, only not physically, but emotionally. All the books say that this is normal to grief. (there is no such thing as normal anymore). But from time to time, I get the picture of me that day, feeling like I was going to drown...
I think that the emotional drowning is perhaps scarier! You see, I "look" normal to others, and I even do "normal" things... heck, I even laugh outloud from time to time again. However, the emotional part is unseen... the part that feels overwhelmed, and drowning from time to time.

Water... a place of fear, but the other day, as I listened to the Lament CD from Ashley, I realized that water is also a place of healing. When I look at the bible, I see the links to water.... baptism's - water from a well for refreshment - the healing pool at Siloam, and wasn't it Naaman the leper who went into the pool 7 times to be healed. (forgive me if I got the names mixed up.)
I listened to a song the other day, and thought that it represented ME - and explained some of the drowning in grief feeling - and brought me to the place where all I can do is say, Jesus.... its me again.... may your living water bring healing.
Here are the words:

Find Me in the River

Find me in the river
find me on my knees
i've walked against the wtaer
now I'm waiting if you please

We've longed to see the roses
but never felt the thorns
and bought our pretty crowns
but never paid the price

find me in the river
find me there
find me on my knees with my soul laid bare
even though you're gone and i'm cracked and ry
find me inthe river, i'm waiting here

find me inthe river
find me on my knees
i've walked against the water
Now I'm waiting if you please

We didn't count on suffering
we didn't count on pain
but if the blessing's in the valley
Then in the river I will wait

Written by Martin Smith c1995 Curious? Music UK

So, the last lines... oh my goodnes... Jesus, here I am in the river. Help me to wait. Lord, please, help me to wait. And then Jesus, please help me up.
I love you Lord.

Saturday, December 6

Wearing a Mask ....

I read that the definition of a "mask" is anything used to hide, protect or cover.
I have been thinking of that lately, as I realize that I have been pulling a mask over me more and more, allowing only those who I know truly care, to see/hear the real me. Funny how easy that can happen. And it is also funny to see how easy that can happen even in a church setting,although it makes absolute sense, as churches, contrary to public opinion, are full of not "perfect" but rather full of imperfect and broken people. Of which I am one.

So, back to the mask. A mask is worn for a number of reasons. I realize that wearing the mask helps give the answer that many want to hear. for instance, "hi, how are you?" "ok" is the best answer, or "fine". It is always a quick evaluation in my mind... "hmm does this person really want to know, or are they just asking because they are walking past me". I also realize that if I wear the mask, and everything "looks" fine on the outside, then many people think that is an indicator that "oh, she is good."

I have realized that I have also likely done this to people too, rushed by without becomeing invested in their life at that point. I am the most guilty too.

I have realized that people, are actually afraid or uncomfortable around us. Not that they even say or have said anything. (which could be the first indicator) but rather because of their body language. That speaks a million words. I realize that the discomfort comes mainly because they don't know what to say, or if they should say anything. And God himself knows, that I have often spoken to him, "Please God, help me to not become judgmental." Bottom line, we have learned alot.... and hopefully in the future, we will know how to care for people."

The mask.... I googled masks to find a picture, and some of the mask photos are very beautiful. Funny - beautiful on the outside. Concealing something that only the wearer knows. And it's interesting that when you have worn a mask, you usually can tell when you see someone else wearing one. Personally, I hate wearing a mask, but somehow, it just is a survival technique. That, and just withdrawing. (sort of like a turtle!)

Over the past week, I have felt that God is sifting me.... I just thought of when we were on a service trip in the Dominican Republic, and we had to sift the gravel to get the sand. That was terribly hard work for some of us women! And it feels terrbily hard again. Sifting.... taking out the chunks of stuff, taking out some relationships, and man, am I feeling alone in all of it. But HE reminded me this morning, through a song on a CD that Ashley made and gave me, (a CD of Lament songs)... HE reminded me that I need to lean into him. And I feel like I am leaning so hard, that if He moved back, I would fall over on my face. I am so glad that God does not pull away from us!

Anyhow, this morning, these words were a balm to my soul....


What can take a dying man and raise him up to life again?
What can heal a wounded soul?
What can make us white as snow?
What can fill the emptiness?
What can mend our brokenness?

Mighty, awesome, wonderful
Is the holy cross
Where the Lamb laid down His life
To lift us from the fall
Mighty is the power of the cross.

What restores our faith in God?
What reveals the Father's love?
What can lead the wayward home?
What can melt a heart of stone?
What can free the guilty ones
What can save and overcome?

It's a miracle to me
And It's still a mystery
It's a miracle to me
The power of God
For those who believe.

Thank you for the zcross
Love the cross
So powerful --- ohhhh yeahhhh
What can take a dying man?
And raise him up to life again?

Worship you Jesus
By your wounds we are healed
By your wounds we are saved
Mighty is the power of the cross
Thank you Jesus for the Holy Cross.

Jesus, Lord.... under the mask is me... you know who I am. You see me to the depth of my soul. You embrace me, and carry me, and call me to lean into you. I feel like I am leaning so hard Jesus... I am so thankful that you never move! But perhaps I am supposed to be face down before you, as it is only when I give up all of my self, that I become all that you want me to be. O God, thank you for picking me up from that position and carrying me safely in your arms. Jesus, my Lord, and my God. Lover of my soul. Without you, I would be nothing. Help me to lean hard into you! amen.

Thursday, December 4

Hard days, and long nights...

(TEAR SOUP.... you just have to read the book! Or check it out at my daughter's blog..... This book was one I bought for my kids - and also took it into work and suggested that the staff read it! It is an amazing book written by someone who obviously has walked through deep grief.)

It has been a really really hard day. Make it a really hard week. But then again, seems that every week has been hard since our little Jay was born silently. Today I wished out loud that I wished my old life was back. That was when the person overhearing me say that, said "no you don't. You would have to walk through this again." I just can't go there. God, it is so very hard. It is so hard to do this WITH GOD... how do people do it without HIM?

I wept alot today. Seems I wept from morning till night. I felt so distraught that I felt physically sick at one point. I wept with a widow over coffee. I wept with a friend who popped into my office and asked me how I was. I wept over supper and a long coffee as I talked with my friend whom I also used to work with. She was a gift today, a God-ordained gift! My counsellor says that it is not depression, but it is grief.... seems my life has been so "busy" that I don't get a chance to sit with my grief. I hate that word "busy!"

I am so tired of telling my story. I tell it less these days, because really, people don't ask much anymore. I can't blame anyone... really, people have lives to live. Not everyone's life has stood still like ours. I think we are all tired! Sometimes, it still seems like it is a bad dream, but as I stand by my sink and see my little grandson's picture, my heart breaks all over again, as I realize it is so incredibly real.

Everywhere I go, I feel like it is reinforced. Last night we went to the LIVING CHRISTMAS TREE at Grant Memorial, and it has been tradition, and well, it was about someone who adopted a baby, and about the grandmother who longed to become a grandma and then did! I sat there and was worried about how it would affect my kids to watch it. I knew that beside me, the tears were running down my husband's cheeks. Me - I was so busy thinking about how my kids would feel.

While I stood there prior to the event, feeling worn and tired beyond belief, I spoke with a couple friends whom I haven't seen for a very long time. I received hugs from them too. One of my friends told me that before my head was even lifted off my pillow each morning, I have already been prayed for. Thing is, I KNOW her well enough to know that she is praying for me daily. What a gift.
I know it is only because of prayer that I can actually lift my head up.... and the same for my family. It is kind of like when people held up Moses arms when he was getting tired, and trying to win the battle.

It is also no coincidence that tonight when I get home late, I find an email from another old friend/coworker from years past...and she shares how I can expect great things from God. And the thing is, she knows first hand, as her son was killed in a car accident this year.

Sometimes my head hurts. Sometimes I don't even want to think about my pain, or the pain of my family... but it never goes away. I am praying for a glimmer of hope... perhaps in time for Christmas. God only knows. To me, it seems like He could do it so easily - waiting is so incredibly hard. It makes no sense really.
I just continue to have so many questions. I find that there is still the anger that comes to the surface unexpectedly. Like today at Curves, when I was exercising, I was listening to a girl on one of the machines, talking about how her baby was born healthy, even though, unknowing that she was pregnant, she went had gone to 3 open bar socials and a work party, and then found out she was pregnant. It was really all that I could do to work out and keep my mouth shut. Oh God, help me to not say things that I am going to regret. I continue to struggle with the sense of unfairness - even though I know that we don't get what we "deserve" - otherwise we would all be in Hell. Jesus grace saves us from that! Sometimes I am just so tired of it all - of always being face to face with pain, and with sadness and with tears - and yet, the reality is, there is no easy way through this. Through this dark valley. That is the bottom line.... we need to walk through it, there is no easy way. I was thinking the other day about the verse from Isaiah that talks about walking through the fire, but not getting burned. I realize that we are smelling pretty smokey! One day, I want to be able to talk and blog about the happiness that I feel. I want to share in written form about how joy truly has come in the morning... O God, please God, please have mercy, and hear our prayer.

O God... how long? How long?

Monday, December 1

Prayes spoken from my pillow!

It is almost midnite... well, half an hour left, on the first day of the last month of this year. I should get to bed, but I think I had a little too much coffee tonight, and I have the feeling that sleep is going to take a while to come. It is like that alot with me - toss and turn, covers on, covers off - check the time, fluff the pillow, turn to my left, to my right.... such is the nights of a 50 year old woman, whose body is confused as to what temperature it should be! Not sure if this is God's sense of humor with us women, but it is taking alot out of me!

However, it is often during these nights that I get to just be still, and think, or pray. I love how God is always there listening. And contrary to what some people believe, I personally think that God loves to hear me when I talk with him. I often think that the way God and I interact, is the way I loved it when my kids used to climb up on my knee, and just sit on my lap - sometimes they just wanted to cuddle. Both of them were snugglers when they were little! Sometimes my kids wanted something, and would bring their "case" to me and hope I would give in to their cute little faces!! (okay, I almost always caved!) Sometimes they would come crying, or I would rush to them and wrap them in my arms. Sometimes they were upset with me because I said no, or "not this time" or "maybe later"....
You see where I am going with this right? I love thinking of how God loves for me to just snuggle up. To "just be" with him.

Lately it seems that I am talking to HIM alot... thinking alot....praying alot...journalling alot... talking out loud to him alot. And, I am so glad that my God is a God who listens, who delights in me, who intercedes on my behalf. And, who doesn't push me away when I vent!

I have thought alot about the end of this month, which will be the end of this year. I will be able to start my brand new journal with real buffalo leather, and ties that wrap around it... much more elaborate than my journals that I have been using. I bought this new journal as a gift for myself and can hardly wait to begin using it.....

I am already hoping that my journal for 2009 will have some new "hope" that I can write about in it.... we need a breath of hope. Jesus, we hope in you.
I know that the prayers I pray tonight, on behalf of my kids, all of them, and on behalf of my husband (who is fast asleep in the chair by me) and on behalf of my extended family and friends... I KNOW that when I pray, even if it is as I am trying to fall asleep - I know that My GOD HEARS every word, and that He intercedes to the Father on my behalf. Imagine, Jesus Intercedes.
So when I pray, as my head lays on the pillow, I can think of it laying on his chest so to speak, and his arms holding me. It is this Jesus that I love - my Saviour, my Lord, my King... Jesus, tonight, hear my prayers as I intercede on behalf of those I love, as well as for myself. May your presence be a soothing balm to my weary, and my broken spirit. Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, November 29


God, where are you?
I long to see your power.
I know you don't have to prove anything ... but God, I long for you to do so.
Days and weeks ahve turned to months
The tears still fall unexpectedly and often
They sting as they roll down my cheeks and land softly..
God, do you care?
Everything I know about you - screams out that you do!
but the emptiness of my heart makes me feel like you don't.
I want to run
not sure where, not every sure why
But I do...
run, cluthing my children close to me,
as if I could ward off any further pain
O wishful thought.

The bleakness of the grey sky and naked tree that I see from my window,
proclaimes the death of one season
and eventually the anticipation of life to come
The greyness - a stark contrast to the beautiful colors of summer and fall.

I feel that way often
like the leaves of my being have been blown off by unsuspectin winds and stinging rain
And now I walk through the day feeling exposed and naked,
as if my being, or parts of it
have been buried under the cold blanket of snow.

and yet, i long for the touch of a healing hand, on the broken pieces of my heart
For the touch of warmth to revive my pathetic heart
a heart that remembers the feel of warmth coursing through it
and yet, appears to lay shattered and scattered around my feet.
And try as I might to pick up the pieces, I just can seem to
And I worry that I can find them all - only that can bring wholeness

I look out at the trees again
and wonder if they feel -
Realizing God created me to feel extreme pain, and extreme joy,
and a mix that somehow comes together and co-exists.

Looking out the window at the yard in front of me
i remember the beatufy of days past
even now, the stark bleakness stands in sharp contrast -
Black - White - and the grey.
While I know life will spring forth again,
I just don't feel it today
And so I feel, in spite of the memories
Inspite of the knowledge of who my God is...
Inspite of pep talks and decisions to look up...
I just feel grey, exposed, and cold.

And just when that feeling seems so incredibly tangible that I want to scream and to run.
God sends a bluejay flying across my scene out the front window
And I am once again kissed by my Lord
And I hear him say again, that its okay to feel this, that He is carrying me,
and reminds me that He's near.

Wednesday, November 19

A few of my favorite things...

My favorite things.... when I was in grade 9 or thereabouts, I took voice lessons, and I remember singing the song, I think it was called "My Favorite Things" -- I think it is from the Sound of Music. The chorus went: "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling bad... I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad!"

Today, I spent time with my kids, well 3/4 of them. Josh was at work.
As I hugged them all good bye, and drove home, I was thinking of how incredibly blessed I am as a mom. I was thinking of them, and realizing that in the midst of such deep sorrow that seems to fill up my days, there is the deep feeling of feeling loved and appreciated by my family. Last Friday we spent time together, and it was such an amazing feeling.

So, before I go to bed, I want to make a list of a few of my favorite things...
Hugs from my kids
Texts on my cell phone saying "I love you" from my husband and my kids
The smell of crayons
The warmth of our cats when they sit on my lap
The way our dog Oreo smiles at us when we come home. (yes, he actually smiles!)
A large cup of Mountain Bean coffee with cream (cream is an occassional treat!)
The smell of fresh bread
Laying in bed with my arm around my husband
Listening to my husband crack corny jokes
Spending time with our kids
The warm sun of a Caribbean country
The feeling of sand between my toes
The sound of the pages of my Bible being turned

More favorite things
Emails from friends
Phonecalls from family
A real letter that comes via snailmail!
Barbecued Steak!
A hug from the little neighbor kids
Unexpected visitors at my church office
Being asked to help my kids figure something out
A good movie -
Coffee with friends
A nice quiet afternoon at home
A crackling fire in the fireplace
The smell of clean laundry
The sight of a clean house!

Still more favorite things...
my journal
a good book
my feather pillow
A warm kiss from Alvin
A good laugh
seeing the smiles on my kids faces

There are things in life that bring a smile even in the midst of this deep dark valley of grief. I am thankful that we can laugh sometimes. I am thankful that we can also cry together. I am thankful that the favorite things in my life aren't not things, but people first... after God.
"when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad.... I simply remember my favorite things... "

Jesus, you are the one who will bring my broken heart back together. Please continue to give me affirmation of your presence, your love, and your promise to us. I love you Jesus. Please continue to carry me through this dark, deep time. amen.

Saturday, November 15

A Kiss from God...

Years ago, when I walked through a dark and long depression (mid 90's) I used to walk the gravel road and used it to talk to God. During those walks, especially in the summer and fall, I would often see these cute little fuzzy caterillars... and often would stop and watch them inch across the road. I always marvelled at how they looked, and how God was such a creative Creator!! These little caterpillars became a sign to me of an ever caring God!! I remember one day when I was just asking him if he would give me affirmation of his presence. I just needed to know He was there...
I remember walking... and as normal, walked to the asphalt of the highway, and make a u-turn and proceed back down Springfield. I made the u-turn, and began to walk back...all of a sudden coming across the most beautiful sight. One I had not seen for a very long time... a little fuzzy caterpillar right smack in the road where I was walking. How did I miss him merely 50 steps before? I really wondered about that. I remember weeping... as God used exactly the same thing - little caterpillar that he had used before, to say, "Hey Joy, I am here... I am with you". I wept and walked, and felt lifted. I called this a "kiss" from God, and since then I have often asked him for a KISS.

Well, this past few days, we have experienced many kisses from God again, in the form of a Bluejay. Since our little grandson Jay's birth and death, we have taken on the little bluejay, to be a little sign to us... At the funeral, we used a little blue jay picture on the programs. At the wedding, we used the same little bluejay in the little announcement about remembering our little Jay. It seems that the symbol is one that we have attached to our Grandson's memory. I guess it all stemmed from Josh and Leah referring to him as their little "bluejay" ...
Living out in the country, we know that we have seen Bluejays around from time to time, and we seemed to be on the look out. The Bluejays are such an incredibly beautiful bird. Our hearts are still so heavy that a glimpse of a bluejay would be like a kiss from God. We all sense that I think. One time Leah mentioned that while she was walking, a bluejay crossed her path, and she sensed it was from God.
Well, yesterday, while in the kitchen Alvin and I saw a bluejay, and then another...
They flew from the blue spruce trees to the Oak, sometimes coming closer to the window. We told the kids about it when they were out during the day. Today has been even more spectacular as bluejays have been constantly in our yard, in fact even now as I write this, there are two bluejays that are in our front yard, flying back and forth, landing on the dead grass. I got the camera, but even with the zoom, can not get the beauty that I see with my eyes. And I feel kissed over and over again by my Heavenly Father. Only He knows that the sight of these beautiful birds is like an ointment to my soul...
Only God knows that we will never ever forget our little Jay, but the sign of the bluejay constantly crossing our path, we take as a sign that HE never forgets about us and our grandson either. (that is one consolation, to know that Jay is with Jesus!) So, today, as I watch these beautiful blue birds, HE is reminding me again, "I am here with you Joy... I know your pain... I will continue to carry you through this sorrow..."

I have decided that we are going to get a bird feeder. I realize that the Bluejay is a cocky bird - and it says that they will even stand up to a Great Horned Owl, or even cats (Look out Vanilla and Louis!!). I just love how blue they are...
So, I will look for a feeder, and buy the seed, and hopefully God will continue to send these "kisses" throughout the winter, as a reminder of His presence, and as a reminder over and over again of our little Grandson!....
And along with the "kisses" from God... the birds will be a reminder of His promises taht we are clinging to...

Friday, November 14

Glimpses of Yesterday

Alarm Clocks ~ the smell of good coffee ~ the taste of sweet cinnamon ~ the warm hug of my children ~ talking ~ walking ~ watching snowflakes loftily fall ~ good conversation ~ a few laughs mixed with serious moments ~ more coffee ~ more laughs ~ working side by side ~ ripping wall paper ~ dreaming of winter trips and business ventures ~ knitting ~ Oprah ~ praying together ~ hugging good-bye ~ making supper ~ waiting for our younger kids ~ more hugs ~ more laughs ~ more knitting ~ more prayer ~ more goodbye hugs ~ email checks ~ some tv ~ husband asleep in chair ~ midnite ~ time to hit the sack.
Glimpses of yesterday, which don't talk about the deep parts of the soul, but remind me that today was full. Full of my kids!! I love it! And now, it is after midnight, and I need to get to bed, lest I turn into a pumpkin!! :)
It has been a family type of day... thank you Jesus!

Tuesday, November 11

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget.... sometimes I wonder if we have already. What is it that we are not wanting to forget? I struggle with people who refuse to wear a poppy based on pacifism belief. Really? I beleive strongly in peace. I believe that is what Jesus means when he tells us to love our neighbor. However, I am also a child of a man who went to war, WWII, and came home maimed, and with flashbacks that would wake him up in a swet!

As a child I always thought my dad was a hero. I remember sitting on his knee, and looking at the schrapnel wounds, tracing my finger around them. I remember looking at his tatoo, that said "mother" on it. I remember that my dad didn't want to talk about it... about war. At least not in a bragging way. And there were huge reasons behind that. I think primarily because in hindsight, and especially since he accepted Jesus as his Lord... my dad didn't think war was right.

Sure, it was exciting. All the boys enlisted, leaving many moms wiping tears as they hugged them good bye. My grandma Thomas gave my dad a little New Testatment Bible and asked that my dad would read it every day. In my dad's biography (that he had just started writing prior to his death) my dad said that he promised his mom he would, and he did. Sometimes reading it in the terrein (spelling? I meant the washroom) but none the less, always keeping the promise he made to his mom. He said that when he laid in the field in Italy, wounded and thinking that he was going to die before he was found, he remembered thinking that he hoped his mom would think he had given his life to Jesus, and find some peace. I have often thought of that... he realized his need, and yet, even so close to death, still didn't make the decision to follow Jesus until many years later. Intersting how one can come close to death and still not decide!

My father, as he got older, and because of his love for Jesus, became a proclaimer of peace. My dad went into schools and talked with students. Telling them to not forget the atrocity of war, but to remember so that in the future, war does not happen again. I often wonder what my dad would be thinking as he watched the free press publish pictures of the young men and women who are dying today in the name of peace...

My father, wore the poppy proud. I look at his medals from time to time, and run my finger along them. I remember sitting on his knee tracing his wounds. I remember also, my mom telling me how my dad would wake up in fright as he flashed back to war during his sleep. It was because of the war, and being in a hospital in England before coming back to Winnipeg, that my dad was connected to my mom's brother, and then to her. A love story amidst the pain and loss of war.

My dad came back and was reunited with his mom and dad. Although my grandma went to her unexpected death still knowing her son had not yet given his life to Jesus. My dad had the little New Testament in his breastpocket when he was wounded... and had some schrnapnel wounds to his chest. I can't help but believe that the Word protected his heart that day. My sister has that little NT, rebound, but precious and with such a history ...

Lest we forget... I wear the poppy and have since I was old enough to get one in school. Lest we forget that there are families all over, mourning the loss of children and spouses, moms and dads who beleived in "peace"... lest we forget that we live in a free country. I think we take that for granted. Lest we forget that wearing a poppy doesn't mean we are advocating war, but instead remembering that it happened, and war should never happen again!

May Jesus give us the grace and strength to ascertain WHO is our neighbor and to realize that it is far reaching and embracing... and may He give us the love. He modelled it, we need to follow.

Today, I will watch the Remembrance Day memorials. I will weep. I will weep because I miss my dad too. I will weep for the moms and dads who are missing their children, and men and women who are missing a spouse. I will weep because even in the midst of this free country of Canada... we are still asking WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR and miss the opportunity to reach out... Lord, give us the strength. Lord, give me the peace to love with a love that comes only from you. Amen.

Monday, November 3

Great is Thy Faithfulness.... is it more than a song I can sing by heart?

Today I sang Great is Thy Faithfulness as I sat in our church, at the funeral of an elderly brother in Christ. The last time I sang it was when we buried our little Jay at Sunnyside cemetary. I sang it alot that week. The words are profound... and I know them by heart. Is it more to me than just a song? Yes Lord, I admit that you are sovereign! You are God no matter what happens. Help me to believe that. To choose to believe it no matter what. O God, give me, give us strength to walk through, to come out on the other side unscathed and clinging to you.

Great is thy faithfulness
O God my Father
there is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not.
As thou has been, thou forever wilt be...

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is thy faithfulness
morning by morning new mercies I see
all I have needed, thy hand hath provided
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me

O Lord... Great is your faithfulness. Help me to sing that in all times. Help me to see your mercies new with each morning. And joy comes in the morning too... O Lord, I pray for that.. for joy.
Lord, Great is your faithfulness. O Lord, GREAT is your faithfulness

Sunday, November 2

My Dad.

It's been eleven years, although sometimes it feels like yesterday
A day that seemed like all the others, but a day that ended in deep sorrow and disbelief.
Eleven years ago, God took Dad home...
And I was left an orphan.
As I look back, I realize what a gift my father was to me. An amazing man who held a huge place in my heart
My dad. And he loved me so much. I had no doubt about that.
That day, we said good bye to dad, although he was already gone.
Absent from the body, but present with the Lord.
I learned a lot from my dad. More than I ever knew until I got older, and had to do things on my own.
How many times have I wished that he was still here, so that I could run something buy him.
How many times have I wished that I could stop by and get a hug.
Eleven years is a long time, and yet, but a blink in Dad's lifetime with the Lord.
And now, I realize that Dad would have welcomed little Jay, and I love to think of how they are running together.
Lord, thank you for my father, a man of God.
Thank you for the prayers he spoke on my behalf, and fot eh way he raised me, and modeled a life after Jesus.
For my father, I say thank you Lord.
On this anniversary of his death, I ask you to continue to give many warm memories of my father, my friend.
Lord, thank you for my dad

Friday, October 31

"You will never be the same again..."

"You will never be the same again. Your kids will never be the same again. You have all changed." These words were spoken to my husband and I by our christian counsellor Mary. I have come to love Mary and see how she is such a gift to us. Truly, a gift. In our last visit with Mary, she mentioned those words to us. I told her that just that day, as I was driving back to my work place, I was wondering if I looked different to staff, if it appeared like I was different, because I knew I was. So, as we sat in Mary's living room, and heard these words as part of our counselling session... it was a very true and real affirmation of something we knew in our hearts was true. We would never be the same again. We had changed. All of us.

My husband and I have also spent time talking about this, and exactly some of the ways we felt we had changed. My daughter (Leah) and I went to see a movie, and as we were walking out Leah talked about how seeing that type of ending, would have made her cry before, but now it was different. We have changed.

Since this is my blog, I will share how I have changed. While I don't think I ever took the life of my grandson "for granted" - perhaps I did. But, I will definitley walk through the future pregnancies in our family in the same way. While I prayed daily - I will pray "differently". While I smiled and loved the tumbling movements of the Jay as he developed inside of Leah, in the future, I will cherish those sommersaults even more! I will wake up each morning, and thank God for the breath of a new day. As I walk, it seems the smell of fall is more obvious, as creation dies and goes into a winter hibernation with the promise of new life in Spring. I will touch my animals more, thankful for the attention that they beg of me, and the excitement that my dog Orea greets me with when he knows I am going for a walk. As I relax in my house, I will thank God for the abilities of my husband, who not only built the home we live in, but maintains it (and my car, and the jobs I need done at my workplace, and... ) I will look for the opportunities to give a cup of coffee to the person in the drivethru behind me. I will thank God for the blessings that he has given to us, which allow us to bless the one who begs on the corner by the lights, or the one who passes me with his hands out, when I walk down the streets of downtown. I will continue to pray with more fervor, with more expectation, with more thanksgiving. I will look for the moments when I can just crawl onto the lap of my FATHER GOD, and put my head against his heart and feel the beat. I will laugh till my sides hurt... I will cry unashamedly, I will listen to more people, and try (Lord, help me) TRY to talk less. I will be thankful for my friends who hug, wipe tears, and put in pot roasts to serve us even when their lives are so full. I will enjoy the aroma of my favorite fragrance, knowing that my prayers are a fragrance to God. Those are just some of the ways that I have changed.

It feels like the last three months have changed me, and I know that I often have to be tolerant even if what I hear from other's mouths seems to be insensitive or frivolous, or even just plain stupid. I realize that I have changed, but everyone else hasn't and they may not until they experience growth that comes from walking through the fire! I realize that the lens that I look through, no longer is rose colored... instead it seems to magnify pain, and sorrow on one hand, and great love and joy on the other. I realize I have changed. I look at the picture of myself and my husband taken a week ago, and I see the change even in my eyes. Perhaps only I see it, but somehow it has affected every single part of my life.
I will never be the same again.

Jesus, Lord of all - take the pieces of my life and please Lord, please bring them together. I ask you to continue to make me aware of your presence in my life, aware of the way you carry me through all of it. Lord, I ask you to, inspite of my pain, cause me to look past myself, to others of my family, my friends and those I come in contact with. Jesus, I will never be the same again. You continue to do a work in me... even in all this pain... Lord, I need you. O God, I need you. May you be in all of the change, ultimately may it bring you glory one day. One day...

Friday, October 24

Come Away with me.....

The song "Come Away with Me".... can't remember WHO wrote it, but the line is running through my mind. I am sitting in the dining area of our little suite at THE MARK CENTER, in Abbotsford, BC. Alvin and I are here, and what a gift from God. Thank you Lord for this quiet retreat space... to get away with YOU, with each other, and to be able to listen for your voice.

While this blog will not be long this time, I do want to share a quote that Steve Klassen shared with me this morning, a quote that they use in their literature for THE MARK CENTER....
"The sooner we stop thinking that we are the energetic operators of religion and discover that God is at work, as the Aggressor, the Invader, the Initiator, so much the sooner do we discover that our task is to call people to be still and know, listen, hearken in quiet invitation to the promptings of the Divine. our task is to encourage others first to let go, to cease striving, to give over this fevered effort of the self-sufficient religionist trying to please an external deity. Count on God knowing on the doors of time. God is the Seeker, and not we alone...I am persuaded that religious people do not with sufficient seriousness count on God as an active factor in the affairs of the world. "Behold I stand at the door and knock," but too many well-intentioned people are so preoccupied with the clatter of effort to do something for God that they don't hear Him asking that He might do something through them." (From Thomas Kelly's "A Testament of Devotion" pg. 59)

Wednesday, October 22

Words from my Son... Live for the Moment

The other day I had the joy of having coffee with my daughters at Mountain Bean, and then Josh came by to join us. We sat there and talked over our latte's. I love it when my kids are around. I love it how they challenge my thinking. I love it when they say things just to see my reaction. I love watching Josh and Ashley bug each other just like they did when they were young! (without the screaming and tattling though!) And when we were getting ready to leave, my son said, "Mom I have two things to say...Live for the Moment and Delegate!!"

Fast forward a day, and there we were again, only this time all four were together. We were talking about involvements, and once again my son was the one to speak up and say, "no mom, you shouldn't be in the christmas choir"... Later, he gave me a hug, and said "sorry, mom, I've been a little hard on you!" Thing is, I love it that my son/my kids all actually, care enough about me, in the midst of their own stuff, to help me evaluate where I spend my time. I love it that when I am struggling to figure out my boundaries between work and home.... that they help me do that. I love it that my son dares to challenge me, and that my kids all care about what I do, and when, and how... and I realize that I am so blessed! SO BLESSED.

So, Live for the Moment.... I think that I want to live for the moment in this way... I want to see the color in each fall leaf... I want to take time to talk to our dog, and to rub the cats behind their ears, and feel the warmth of their little bodies as they sit on my lap. I want to enjoy the smell of coffee that my husband puts on in the morning. I want to choose NOT to answer the phone and let it pick up on voice mail. I want to take more time just resting in the presence of God. I want to memorize scripture more. I want to drink coffee with friends, take long walks with my husband and laugh together until the tears run down our cheeks. (we do that often actually). I want to fret less. I want to enjoy the sound of music, and laughter.... to sit by a river or lake and watch the water...I want to live for the moment, with a heart that is totally abandoned to Jesus!!

I want to live fully in the moment, but I also want to dream about the future... about the times when there will be more than 6 of us sitting around our table...and when are arms will be holding more grandbabies... I want to dream about when we live closer to our kids, and spend less time driving in our car. I want to take care of myself now, in the moment, so that I can be the best grandma around, and able to live fully in the future, and run and dance with my grandbabies!

It is my prayer O Lord, that I will first of all, have a heart that is totally committed to you... total commitment. I pray Jesus, that you would ruin me for the ordinary! I pray that you would continue to make me the woman, mom, wife, friend, aunt, daughter, that you have created me to be. As I live in this moment, may you make me more like you Lord. Help me to enjoy each moment that will lead to our life ahead. Still praying for the miracles God!! Your will be done. Help me to keep believing and trusting you! Thank you for my kids... for the way they speak into my life... for the way they love me and encourage me! O Lord, thank you for what you are going to do. Help me to live each moment... continue to give me the strength, to give ALL of us the strength, and the hope that "this moment will turn into something amazing!" Lord, we are choosing to trust! amen and amen.

Monday, October 20

...a whisper.....

Sometimes I get this strong sense, I call it a God-thing... and today was one of those moments, when I had a strong sense that God was telling me that he had things under control, and I had a sense I didn't need to be "petitioning" him so strongly in some areas...
And of course, the devil, well, he would hate for anyone to have peace right? So he is throwing in the doubt (are you sure that was God?)
As I write this, I keep hearing His, my Heavenly Father's, whisper to me...."Be still and know that I am God"

That is one of his trademark expressions in my life, and I have sometimes written it over and over, so that I can get the impact of WHO GOD IS... and What He wants to do in my life...
Sometimes I write it like this:
Be still and know that I am GOD
Be still and know that I AM
Be still and KNOW

So Good Night Father.... as I get ready to go to sleep, and as the house is quiet, help me to be still and know that YOU are MY GOD.
Continue to make me aware of your voice and your presence in my life. Thank you in advance for all things, and Lord, thank you in advance for joy!
Help me to be still, Help me to know... Help me to love you with a full heart.
You are my Lord and My God. amen

Saturday, October 18

BrOkEn for Him...

Today has been a "working around the house" day again. One of those days when I start off in one corner of the house, take something to another room, and then see something there to clean up... you get the picture! Alvin worked in the shop, making a set of steps for someone. As I looked outside, and saw him there, I realized how good it feels to be at home. Seems that for a while, we were only home to sleep. Getting up early, coming home way to late. Too many meetings. Too many hours of renovation work. Too many late nights with no supper, or a fast food one at best. I realized today, when I felt so good to be home, that all those late nights, and meetings take its toll on me. So, I am glad to be taking some holidays.

But now the house is quiet again. There are bags around the house... full of stuff to either throw out or give away to Value Village. I realize again the excess that one accumulates over time, and wonder how we get back to living simply. (that had been a goal of our caregroup a few years ago, or should I say, we read the book about it being a goal!)

As I work, I think. Lately, I have thought of so much. I have also journalled page after page per day... and I have also blogged more. So many thoughts swirling around. Some take up space in my soul and just there, and I am letting God work through some of them too.

One of the things that I have been thinking of alot lately is being broken.
While sitting waiting for a friend, I journalled my thoughts on brokenness. Only God knows to what extent I and my family feel broken! Words can't describe the feeling of your heart being blown to bits! To me, that is the ultimate of brokenness. I had read a comment that said, "those people God uses most to bring glory to Himself are those who are completely broken..."
I asked God "Lord, am I broken enough?" Something within me feels like I am, but would hate to feel what it would be like to be even more broken.
I sure feel broken. And the brokenness has touched all areas of my life. No wonder I keep asking God to bring the pieces together. This brokenness hurts like I have never felt it hurt ever before.

I realized there are mnay thoughts about brokenness
- usually brokenness is seen in a negative light
- being broken means there are many pieces or cracks
- the contents spill out as a result
- usually the broken pieces is deemed useless. Have you ever wanted to invest money and buy something that is broken?
- often a broken piece can not be fixed, or if it can - there is always evidence

However... in God's eyes... brokenness is a positive!
- when I am broken for God, then He makes me new and whole, and better than before
- in God's eyes, being broken means I am usefull!!

Then I wondered.... God, if you can take my brokenness (which is what you want) and make me whole again, and even better than before - I can hardly imagine that. But I am so excited and hopeful at the thought. I am wondering if I will feel the pieces coming together. I believe I will. In fact, I believe he is bringing them together in His time.

I have also wondered where else I need to be broken. It is a scary thought really. Let's face it, no one wants to feel the pain. Even when you are WITH GOD... it is still a painful journey. I guess I will just keep walking with my FATHER... and keep clinging to Him and trust that he will bring healing, and wholeness and O God, that you would bring joy in the process!

These words from scripture brought me to tears the other day. God heard my prayers.
Psalm 84 selected verses.
2b "My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." 5b "...blessed are those whose strength is in they pass through the valley of Baca." 8 "Hear my prayer, O Lord God Almighty, listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah. (or think on these things) Look upon our shield, O God, look with favor on your anointed one." 11 "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you." NIV

O Jesus.... Lord God. Almight One. My heart cries out. You are the living God. In you do we trust. As we walk through this dark valley, O Lord, give us strength in all parts of our beings. O Lord, hear my prayer. And Lord, will you look with favor on us? I know that ultimately, we are to bring you honor and glory... and I believe that what you will do, will bring you the glory. So, I continue to ask boldly, knowing that you do bestow favor and honor. Lord, have mercy... hear my prayer. In your power, Lord, look with favor upon me and my family. To you O Lord, do we give thanks. Abba Father...

Texts, Emails, Phonecalls and Coffee Chats

Today is one of those days... actually, it is early Saturday morning, but I am still unwinding from Friday. I have had a hard time sleeping lately, so perhaps if I delay it a little, the night will be better. I am just thinking back to today, and how I was in contact with several amazing women in my life. My daughters Ashley and Leah... first texts, a phone call, a short visit, and a movie and dinner in that order. It was good to hug them, and visit with them, and go see a movie with Leah, since both of our guys are at work tonight. During the day, I heard by email from Judy - and I had the gift of a good cup of coffee and a chat with Jeannette at Starbucks. Later, a short visit at Ash and Mike's with Ellen. As I sit here and recount the women in my life TODAY... God, you are so good to me! Women of all ages, women that bring a breath of air into my life.

I also have more women who speak into my life, like my sisters, my close friends - especially Josie, and Kim, who call often throughout the week. And of course there are others. Too many to name.... God, how blessed I am! And then, there is the latest gift to me, in the form of our counsellor Mary. I never knew how important she would become in our lives, helping us work through our grief.

Today as I spoke with Jeannette over our large cups of coffee, we talked about where God is at in our lives. We shared insights that we have learned lately. We laughed. We cried. We talked about our kids (who are just recently married to one another!). Jeannette told me how I was an answer to her prayer today. Imagine that!

I realize alot through my friends. They make me laugh, they allow me to cry. They pray with me. Sometimes they just listen and say nothing. I realize that my friends affirm who I am, sometimes challenge what I do, or how much I do something.
I realize that just when I am feeling down, my friends seem to know when to call. I realize that my friends dare to step into the uncomfortable zones, especially lately since my little grandson was born silently. (12 weeks ago yesterday).

I realize that sometimes I take my friends for granted. Sometimes I say things that may be hurtful. Sometimes it seems, especially lately that my "filters" have come off! I realize that if a person doesn't have friends, they would be very lonely.
One of my friends Josie, has been my best friend for 40 years. I think over the times that we have spent together, and the crisis that we have supported one another through over the years. Amazing. 40 years!! That is 4/5ths of my life!! It was Josie who came with me to pick out the flannel for the little quilt I made for my grandson Jay, the one that he was wrapped in. Josie helped me pick out the combination of "blue" flannel, and showed me how to cut the squares, and figure out how to make the first quilt of this kind for me!

I also realize that God has been able to use me in my friends lives as well. Today Jeannette and I were talking about when we were able to visit and pray together years ago, before we even became good friends! I realize that in those times when I visited Judy as she was struggling through chemo, that her friendship blessed me in so many ways... and I always thought I was going to take God's blessing to her!! I realize that Kim has been there for me in many ways over the last 30 years of so... but I will never forget those times when she and Linda cared for me, came and did laundry and made supper, when I was too sick to even hardly get off the couch! I realize how the women in my care group have been very practical in their outreach to me and Alvin through all of our crisises. I thank God for my friend Jeanne, who dares to ask questions that perhaps others only think but never ask. Jeanne makes me laugh alot... and she also shares my love for chocolate!! Then there is my sister in law Corinna, who I have come to know in a totally new way since Jay died, as she has shown me that even though it is hard, it is so worth it to put yourself out there, and walk alongside of a grieving person! How often I open up my email to find an email from her, just asking how I am. Like I said before, there are way to many good friends to mention, and I hope that if one of you reads this, and doesn't see your name, you aren't offended... time just doesn't allow me to say something about each one!

Friends are one of the greatest gifts a person can have. Blessings that God gives to us. God, thank you for each friend that you have given to me... each person that has enhanced my life in ways that are too numerous to recount. May you give me strength Lord, to be the type of friend that you want me to be. To love unconditionally, and to be there when I am needed. Give me grace, give me understanding, show me O Lord, when to just listen, and when to speak. Lord, please also show me when I need to apologize for being insensitive.. that happens with friends too unfortunatley. And please Lord, help me to bring my friends before your throne as you lay them on my heart. Thank you Father God... for friends and family - all ages, all types, all gifts. Amen.