Thursday, December 31

the last post of 09

So, there are just under 8 hours left in 2009. I have decided that since we are heading out shortly, and will not be back in time to write the last blog entry of 2009 ~ I will try to write it now.

I took out my journal beginning in Jan. 2009. I realized that I had pasted a copy of the print out of my blog entry from Dec. 31, 2008. So I will go on much the same type of "recap" for this past year...

Today, is the last day of the year - and looking back, I see that within the year, our emotional rollercoaster went to all time lows and all time highs. I guess we are actually leaving the year on the higher loop of the rollercoaster of our life ...

This past year held more of the same incredible grief that we began to walk through in July of last year. I am so glad that in the fall, I began to realize that God was bringing the pieces of our shattered hearts together. Today, as I will leave shortly to go and cuddle our little grandson, I will once again feel the wash of joy over my being.

How is it, that grief and joy can exist in the same space of time?

So - 2009 - highlights, glimpses of joy, showers of joy, celebrations
Josh's birthday
Alvin's birthday
Our family trip to Cuba (we loved Cuba in 08, so it was a repeat holiday destination)
We bought the land for the future location of our home/retreat ministry combined
Ashley's birthday
My birthday (I remember when 51 seemed OLD!)
We found out that we would be Grandparents for the Second time!
Celebrating Jay's birthday - with a party. It was a celebration - without him. Hard, but very good.
Our Anniversary
My thank-you party at McIvor church
Our WALK AND PRAY event for Women Refreshed at the Well - at our land.
We received donations towards the ministry!
I completed 7 years of ministry and jumped when God said jump!
My trip to Colorado Springs for the School of Spiritual Direction
long, long walks
great talks with our counsellor, and now friend Mary
Picking flannel with Leah, for our Grandson's rag quilt
Making the quilt in one day! ( a concentrated labor of love!)
Michael's birthday
Our second little grandSON EVERETT JOHN is born!
Christmas with our kids and Everett.

The Hardest things in 2008
My fibromyalgia has been out of control since this time last year. I never know from day to day - will it be a good day (able to move) or a bad day? (pain, pain and more pain)

Taking an unpaid leave of absense instead of a sabbatical that I had always hoped to be able to take. Just wasn't the right time, couldn't fulfill the right requirements for it.

Returning to ministry and feeling some disappointment that the talk of moving me into a "caring position" was no longer the direction the leadership was going into. Realizing that God was confirming it was time to leave ministry at McIvor.

Trying to figure out how to leave ministry "intact" so to speak. It is always hard to leave a position, but this was a double whammy in some respects since my place of employment had been my church family FIRST (for 31 years). If I had to rethink whether I would do the position again, I would... it was wonderful to be able to minister and care for people I loved

Hurt. There has been a lot of hurt. Someone said to me "we all get hurt - just suck it up and carry on..." We are working through it. I will be honest - some relationships may never be the same and that causes me deep sorrow. I have always been a peace-keeper/maker... or so I thought, so needless to say, broken relationships are causing me/us sorrow still. I am glad that Alvin walks through this with me - although it has been hard to see how our life stuff has changed us.

On the cusp of 2010 - I look back - and the sorrow mixed with joy almost blurs the days...
I look ahead with great anticipation - expectation...
Tonight, I will celebrate - by hugging my kids, my grandson, and enjoying a visit with two friends.
We are thankful. We are hopeful. We know, that God is God, AND God is good ~ always.

Wednesday, December 30

Oh Little One ~ have I told you...

(this has become one of our favorite pictures. Leah and Josh took this picture of Everett doing a little "tummy time") I think you see why it is a favorite of ours!



An open letter to our Little One … Everett John

Have I told you how much I love you
And how I can’t seem to drink in enough of you.
My pride and my joy
My second Grandson.
Everett John

Have I told you little one
About how your Poppa can hardly wait to pick you up and cuddle you
That is, after I have finished holding you myself!
Poppa dreams of all that he will show you
Of the things he will explain to you.
The places he will walk with your hand in his.
The things he will help you build - perhaps a treehouse, or a fort.
I can imagine Poppa running beside you as you learn to ride a two wheeler
Or how he will pick you up if you fall, and wipe the dust from your little jeans.
Poppa has big dreams Little One, and they include you.
O the places you will explore together and the things he will teach you.

Have I told you Little One
About how I get excited as I drive down your drive way -
Knowing that I will be able to gaze into your little face
To look at your little eyelashes, and your little lips, and ears
To let you wrap your little fingers around mine
To hear your little “baby noises” that bring us such great delight.
One day you will realize that you have already totally taken my heart Little One, on the day that you were born.
Have I told you about the songs I will sing, or the books I will read to you.
Or about how I will be there to wipe your tears, or to kiss your boo-boos better when you get hurt.
I can imagine how I will be able to teach you how to pick up the little fuzzy caterpillar without squishing him,
Or listen for frogs in the ditch, or catch a glimpse of a bluejay in the yard.
I want to help you learn about God – and will add to the foundation that your mommy and day lay in your life.

Have I told you Little One
About how I love to see your mommy and daddy talk to you,
And see you seemingly focused on their every word.
Or about how I love to see how your mommy and daddy work together at giving you a bath
Or about how I know how your mommy and daddy will be there for you every day as you grow up and maybe at times “test” their parenting skills.


Have I told you Little One
How proud I am to be your Granny.
And how Poppa is thrilled that your little chin dimple is just like his.
Have I told you how I can’t stop thinking about you – and will be your biggest cheerleader (after your parents) and will promise to always be there for you

Have I told you Little One – that I have prayed for you since I knew you were going to be born
And I will never stop as long as God gives me breath.
Have I told you Little One how much joy your birth has brought to me, and how my heart has come alive once again when I saw you.

O Little One – as I get each chance to hold you,
To snuggle and cuddle,
To feel your little chest rise and fall with each breath.
To hear and feel your little hiccups
To see your little smiles
To count your little fingers
To see you snuggle up like a little “tree frog” against our chests.
I imagine what you will become -
I imagine how your little voice will sound when you start to talk
I imagine what you will look like when you begin to sit, and then crawl and then walk and run.
I imagine so much… and have prayed that God would make you into a strong and mighty man one day.
But for right now little one,
I will hold you in my arms
I will kiss your little face
And I will thank God over and over and over again for you Little One.
My second Grandson….
My pride and joy…
Everett John – I love you.
More than you will ever know.

Monday, December 28

joy - bubbling over!

What can I say - our hearts are overflowing.... our joy is tangible. We are enjoying every minute we can oohing and ahhing over our second little grandson..... you have to agree, he is simply beautiful.
The first gift I opened on Christmas - was from Josh and Leah - and it is a beautiful necklace with my grandsons names on them. Jay and Everett. I am the proud Granny of two beautiful grandsons! I dream of our little Jay in Heaven, his life with us cut short. I think of him running with his Great Granny, and Great Poppa, and Great Grandpa and Great Great Grandparents. These thoughts are the only things that bring me comfort. And here, on earth - we have the joy of watching our second little grandson, Everett grow with each day. As a Granny and Poppa - we are very blessed. I will wear this necklace with love.

On Christmas Eve, I had the joy of staying overnite with Leah and little Everett while Josh was at work, along with Alvin. We got some good cuddle time in... there is nothing more wonderful than feeling this little guy's breathing as I cuddle him. He is a little snugglemeister! I love that. My kids (Josh and Ashley) were both cuddlers too. How fortunate we are!


4 Generations - Alvin, Josh, Everett and Great Grandma Klassen. Grandpa John Klassen is in heaven with Jay. Great Grandma was so sick in spring and early summer - with kidneys functioning at less than 8 % - we were already starting to talk about her funeral - when God brought recovery into her life! One of the few who start dialysis, come off it and have her kidneys recover some...

So needless to say - when she saw little Everett - she was overwhelmed with love! She shed a few tears when we talked about how proud Great Grandpa John would be at knowing Everett is named after him. Everett John Klassen.

Great Grandma Klassen holds our little one - and just gazes at him. She didn't think she would live to see this day. Thank you Lord for her life!



Okay - this has to be the greatest Auntie around.... and I always have to laugh after she holds him - later I find some pictures on my camera that she took herself... of her and her little nephew Everett. I think this one, I took of them! Ashley was queen of snuggle when she was little - so needless to say - it comes naturally to snuggle and cuddle this little guy.



How do you spell PROUD? U-N-C-L-E M-I-K-E-Y. Notice the smile on his face. He had to finally fight to get his turn!



I love this picture - it is worth a million words. Leah had just finished feeding little Everett. He is such a little sleeper, he has to have his outfits taken off to keep him alert during feeding! After he is full - he spends the next half hour alert, looking around, eyes open... before drifting off to sleep again. He is the most content little guy I have seen.



Little hands..... imagine what God is going to do with these little hands one day!



This is where he has a little catnap once in a while - in a little temporary bassinet!! I will take this little laundry basket full any day!!



Poppa - ah, Poppa..... he had so many hopes and dreams for little Jay. It was hard not to be anxious about little Everett's arrival. But now, you will often find the little guy in his arms. While he is a big man - he is a total softie! I love to imagine all that this Poppa will teach his grandchildren! Little Everett has a dimple in his chin, just like his poppa!


Daddy and Everett are in matching plaids! I think Mommy is going to keep her boys looking pretty in style! We got to share Christmas Day in the late afternoon and evening with the kids, and after gifts, before the turkey... they had some family shots taken.





Thursday, December 24

For the Mighty Lord has done great things for me..

The other day, as I was driving, I heard Steve Bell singing a song... it was the song based on Mary's prayer or "song" (aka Mary's Magnificat) from Luke 1: 46 - 55

The first 5 verses especially just fill my soul with praise - and the song that Steve sang was based on these words - and of course, you know me ~ I wept when I heard it.

I love these verses:
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me -
Holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation."


Today I have been rejoicing...actually I have been rejoicing since last Friday. Rejoicing AGAIN.
There were times when we wondered when "joy would come in the morning" ~ and it did. We have felt joy again. I just finished holding my little grandson Everett John. He is with his mommy now, as it was time for a feeding. As I held him tonight - my heart rejoiced. The Mighty One has done great things for us again. O Lord, thank you. Let me never take you, or the gifts you give to me for granted.

As were are just a short time away from Christmas day (not sure, an hour or two?) my thoughts go to the account of the birth of Jesus. A baby born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. No first class accommodations. The other day my son was so upset because no one would give Leah a seat to sit down and eat (in a food area). But think of it - no one gave up their room for Mary to have the son of God!

And then - Luke 2 -it says that while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

I can only imagine what Mary was thinking as she held this tiny baby - the Son of God made flesh. As I held our little one tonight, I looked at his little ears - his mouth. His hands. I talked to God about our little Everett. I wonder what exactly it was that Mary "treasured and pondered in her heart."

Mark Lowry wrote the song "Mary Did You Know" and when I heard Mark sing it, it gave me goose bumps. When he wrote the song, it was full of questions to Mary. Did she know that one day her son would walk on water - would save our sons and daughters - would give sight to a blind man - would calm the storm with his hand. Did Mary know that one day her son would rule the nation. Did Mary know that the little child who's cheeks she kissed - that HE - JESUS was the great "I AM"...

This is Christmas - and this is what it is all about. The fact that Jesus came as a babe in a manger - all part of the amazing plan of salvation. I know - sometimes it is mind boggling!
That God sent his son Jesus to the earth, and then 30 some years later - to go to the cross. The wood of the manger became the wood of the cross so to speak. And he died for my - for our sin.
What a gift! Mercy - Grace - free!!

I know, I know - my thoughts are all a big mishmash... what else is new? I am just sitting here praising God for the great things He has done for me - It began with the babe in the manger - it included the Cross and His death and resurrection! It includes all that He has given me in this life - my family - husband (the best ever) and kids (oh Lord, thank you!) and Grandsons: Jay Benjamin and now little Everett John. The Mighty Lord has done great things for me!! Holy is your name!!

I am very aware that we all walk through stuff... I am still walking through it. I will be the first to say that when bad stuff happens, my first inclination is not to praise! However - when I do, in the midst of the stuff - it is so good. Bad stuff happening does not erase the fact that the Lord is Mighty AND the Lord DOES great things for us. I don't always get God. Sometimes my heart and my head struggle to agree ... but that does not change who God IS!

Tonight I will go to sleep - and wake up on Christmas Day. While there will be a ton of gifts around the tree - the best gifts in my life - can not be bought. Today, on the eve of Christmas - I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas!! May Jesus Christ be very present as you celebrate his birthday tomorrow. It is my prayer for you - that you will also take a few moments to "step out" from the turkey, the decorations, the gifts, the "event"... and to just say -Mighty Lord - you HAVE done great things, beginning with the gift of Christ to the world.. Thank You Lord.

Life

Tuesday, December 22

Little One







Our life has changed alot since the birth of our little grandbabe Everett John. A lot! And it is so good! When we get up, we are thinking of when we can go see him! When we lay down ~ we are thinking of him!


Yesterday us two grandma's talked about making meals, helping out, etc... so since they just came home from the hospital yesterday ~ today was the day I would go first. I was looking forward to hugging my little one again!


Just still so brand - new, he already has a nice little pattern going! Sleeps and eats about every three hours. Then, right after he eats, when he is nice and full ~ he likes to look around, opens his eyes, and smiles. Now ~ I know that some of you don't believe this, and say that babies only smile because they have gas. Well ~ I have seen enough little smiles already to believe that our little one is smiling because he wants to!!! (especially when he is being cuddled, which we do all the time!) We have waited too long, to waste time putting him in his crib!!!


Tonight, when Alvin came to Josh and Leah's place ~ it was time to share!! So Alvin held him (after Ashley, the worlds greatest auntie!) and while he held him, I was trying to capture a smile! And, I did ~ soooooooooo cute!!




Yesterday though, WE smiled!! (and smiled, and smiled!) The nurses gave Leah and Josh the go-ahead to take Everett home. Now, Leah had bought him his "coming home" outfit. Putting it on him took a few moments and Everett cried a little while they were trying to get his arms into his little suit. But within minutes of the final fastener being done up ~ I looked and saw our little one FAST ASLEEP... hmm, I think he takes after his Poppa in more ways than one!


I can't help but smile every tiime I look at this little picture! Our little one ~ bundled in his little brown bear outfit. So incredibly cute.



Guess I've bragged enough! Time to go to bed. This Granny's beat!! Hope these little pictures make you smile too!


Lord, thank you for my little one! Our little Everett John! O Lord, from the top of his head to the tip of his toes ~ we give you thanks for this strong little guy! His little cries, his little smiles!! Lord, you are good!

Saturday, December 19

Everett John Klassen ~ our little One arrives!


Yesterday we were given our Christmas gift in the form of a new little baby boy. Our second born Grandson – Everett John Klassen. He was born by c-section, at 10:11 am, weighing 9 lbs. 4 oz, 21 inches long, and a little brother to Jay Benjamin who is in Heaven.

We got to the hospital and waited. When I walked up to the 3rd floor, and saw the little glassed in waiting room – part of me just did not want to go and sit there. Honestly, the memories of sitting there, praying for our little Jay, and weeping just overwhelmed me. But we walked forward with the hope that this day would be much different.

It was Friday – the 18th of December, and we walked in with the confidence that Dr. McCarthy had things all under control, with the c-section planned, and nurses there to assist. Thing is – as much as we knew things were in a controlled environment – the reality of our experience with losing Jay just loomed ever so strongly and silently over and around us – and by yesterday the weight of it was showing on everyone’s faces and in the voices.

People who knew us said – it will all be fine. You will be holding your little grandbaby soon. Our hearts said, “there is no guarantee in life that all will go as you plan and hope and pray. While God wants our communion with him, and loves to give us the desires of our hearts – sometimes, really hard and tragic things happen to people. So – keep praying, because that keeps us in communion with the Almighty, and he delights in hearing us – but A + B does not always = C”

So, there we sat. Alvin and I, Pat and Jim, Michael and Ashley, Meagan and Jeremy… waiting. The c-section was bumped a little – more waiting. My sister-in-law Ingrid, who works in surgery ran down to see them, and unbeknownst to us, was allowed to stay for the c-section…

Ingrid came running up to our little waiting area, slumped into a chair and gave us the news. We had a little “big” grandson… and all were well. She later came up again with the kids camera and we saw our first glimpses of our little one…
I had prayed that he would arrive and greet the world kicking and screaming his welcome. Apparently before he was even out – he was crying! Such sweet music to their ears. His cry brought tears…

Leah said yesterday, she loves to hear him cry. That was also the expression of our hearts.

When we finally got to see them, after Leah spent some time in recovery – we got to hold this little one…. To feel his soft baby skin… and dark hair… to check out his hands and feet and ears. To kiss his little face. To speak quietly to him. To watch how he knows without a doubt who his mommy and daddy are… a miracle.

As I got into bed last night, I thought over the day… Alvin and I talked about how we tangibly felt the weight lift off… Alvin talked about how even though he didn’t have a bad feeling – he still had a feeling like something still could go wrong. Past history plays so much in our anxiety/anticipation. We are so glad that with this little one’s cry – our weights were lifted off our chests. With his cry – we saw how God literally changed our mourning into dancing… he redeemed our brokenness for joy.

As I crawled under the covers and laid there – the tears came as I thought of how much joy were are feeling, and how we were robbed of that joy with Jay. And while I know Jay is with Jesus – I wish I could watch him looking at and touching his little brother.
And in the quietness of the night, as I could hear Alvin’s breathing beside me – with his head barely touching the pillow and falling fast asleep – I wept.

I am a Granny of two beautiful amazing and perfect grandsons. While my mom can hug and run with our little Jay – I look forward to cuddling, praying for, talking to, singing to, watching grow, laughing with, perhaps scolding once in a while (if he is anything like his daddy there may be a couple scoldings), kissing… and being there for this little one who I get to love on and watch grow. I am so blessed…

Joy comes in the morning. That is mentioned in the word of God. Beauty for ashes. That is also mentioned. God giving us a plan and a future… that is in there too. Yesterday I was taken first thing, on the way in, I read this scripture to Alvin…

Psalm 27 I read Alvin the whole thing as we drove. I believe these were exactly for me – so when the reference was breathed onto my heart – I grabbed my bible that I had beside me – and read to see what God was giving me for the “birth day” of my Grandson…I will “bold” the verses that especially stood out to me.

Psalm 27
A psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2 When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4 The one thing I ask of the LORD—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6 Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the LORD with music.
7 Hear me as I pray, O LORD.
Be merciful and answer me!
8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
9 Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the LORD will hold me close.
11 Teach me how to live, O LORD.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14 Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.


O Lord - thank you for giving us the desire of our hearts - for this little grandson. I pray that he would not ever carry the weight of his big brother's death on his shoulders, but that he would be able to know about Jay. I also pray that you would raise our little Everett John to be a strong and mighty man of God. Lord - may this little one always know the prayers that carried him into this world and into our arms. I have no doubt Lord - that he will grow up feeling loved beyond words!! Thank you Lord - for our little guy - our second grandSON - Everett John. Give us love, wisdom and open arms always for this little one, and all of our grandchildren in the future. Amen.

Thursday, December 17

sunshine on my shoulders...

There is an old John Denver song that ran across my heart a few minutes ago –

The Song is Sunshine on my Shoulders: the words go like this:

sunshine, on my shoulders - makes me happy
sunshine, in my eyes - can make me cry
sunshine, on the water - looks so lovely
sunshine, almost always - makes me high

if I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you a day just like today
if I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way

sunshine, on my shoulders - makes me happy
sunshine, in my eyes - can make me cry
sunshine, on the water - looks so lovely
sunshine, almost always - makes me high

if I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
if I had a wish that I could wish for you
I’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

sunshine, on my shoulders - makes me happy
sunshine, in my eyes - can make me cry
sunshine, on the water - looks so lovely
sunshine, almost always - makes me high

sunshine almost all the times makes me high
sunshine, almost always makes me high ~


So a little while ago – I decided that I needed to go out and walk. So – I did.
My goodness – it is such a beautiful day outside!
Blue Sky
Sunshine
My dog Oreo running ahead of me
The sight of two big deer running through the trees

As normal on my walks alone –
I walked…
I talked to the Lord…
I listened…
I wept.
Actually I wept a lot. That is how I knew for sure that the weather was a lot warmer…
My tears actually rolled down my cheeks without freezing.
I talked to the Lord about giving up my anxiety… again …. to him. It’s pretty thick.
So thick that I feel like throwing up.
So thick that I can hear it in my kids voices…
So thick that I can see it in my husband’s eyes.
Somehow it is easier to handle UNTIL I notice it in him as well. (could be because he often carries my stress without showing it).
I know that the Lord doesn’t want us to be paralyzed by fear and anxiety.
I know we need to “cast our cares upon the Lord”
But I also know – that for some reason, it keeps sitting like a huge elephant on all of our chests.
So…. I walked. I talked. I prayed and prayed some more. I wept. I also looked for a big rock to represent the anxiety – so that I could physically “leave” it at the altar in the back.
Unfortunately, many rocks were frozen into the ground, but then I did find one – and could place it there.

That is when my cell phone rang – and my friend Maxine was on the other end. Little did she know that I would weep while talking with her. She was so okay with that.

Just a few minutes ago – I exchanged emails with my wonderful friend Mary. Mary was our counselor first, and quickly became our dear friend. As I shared my day just a little with her – she said that she thought perhaps we had gone through “labour” today….
Ah, no wonder it was so painful. I just love how Mary helps support me (and my gang) as we walk one step at a time.

Sunshine … on my shoulder.
Sunshine… in my heart.
Sunshine…
This time tomorrow – we will be holding our precious new little grandbaby! We will watch with tenderness, and listen to the gentle little baby noises! And you have to know that even though we will be inside – there will be SUNSHINE ….

God will give us beauty for ashes…
Festive praise instead of mourning
Joyous blessing instead of despair!
I can hardly wait – to sing the new song that will come as I snuggle and kiss my new little grandbaby, and I know the little cry – will make me weep. Tears of joy! Because Joy will come in the morning!

And the sunshine – well…tomorrow,
The sunshine…. Oh, it is going to feel so wonderful!
Tomorrow…. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, December 16

A real friend sticks closer than a brother! (or sister)

Proverbs 18:24 (New Living Translation)
24 There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.


A real friend sticks closer than a brother. Now, I know about family relationships - I love my family - brothers and sisters, and think we are pretty tight! But this verse from the Word of God says - a real friend sticks closer than a brother!!

Hmmm…. I have done so much thinking today – sometimes my head feels tired of all the thinking, but I am glad for it. I have learned a lot in the past year and a half as I have walked our journey. Learned a lot!! (actually that is an understatement!)
And, I realized today – that for as many questions as I speak out to the Lord – or journal on the pages of my journals...there continue to be just as many qustions or even more tomorrow!

Today I have had some sad moments yet again.(sigh) On the weekend I was in the company of friends. Old friends – and some newer friends – and some whom feel like acquaintances, only because I didn’t get the chance to get to know them much yet. Some of these friends have been friends for what seems like forever. In fact, in some cases, I don’t remember when we first met – it just always seemed like we were friends. Out of the friends that we spent time with on the weekend – one friend has been my friend since grade 4! Some friends were friends in high school. Some friends became friends because of their spouse’s relationship with us. Some of us had our children born the same years, and spent time in a women’s group together. Some of us worked together on committees or within ministries. Some of us were in small group together. One I worked side by side with for a number of years. One is my massage therapist (and a mighty fine one I should add). One friend was my “employer”. One friend I shared a job with. Out of the same group of friends – I was at the marriage of at least one other couple – in fact Alvin was in the wedding party. Two friends there - I had the joy of performing the marriage ceremony! Some of the friends are related to us through our son-in-law. Some friends I speak with daily. Other friends I email and never hear back from. Some friends hug me when I meet them. Others may not even say hi. (always very interesting!)

I am really good friends with the daughters of 4 of these friends. Some of these friends have been in my life for years – others for merely months. Some of these friends make me laugh easily. Other friends have caused my tears to flow often. It was the later that made my day hard today. The reality that in my lifetime, at 51 years of age – all of a sudden I feel like there are some friendships that have changed over the past year and a half. Some friendships have ceased to exist. That makes me so sad – so very very sad. This verse in the Bible about a real friend sticking closer than a brother – I totally get that – because I have some friends who I can totally feel this close with. Today I have been wondering “how far I would go” in order to not jeopardize a friendship. I guess you have to ask first of all – if a friendship is worth keeping? But the other thing is - what in the world would ever cause a friendship to disintegrate. That happens too, and not always by deliberate choice. Sometimes it is just because common interests change - or physical distance between homes changes - and sometimes it disintegrates because of lack of care - or disrespect - or misunderstanding. Friendships take work. But they are worth it!

I have asked myself today a lot about what it is exactly that makes a good friendship last over time and through thick and thin. I have thought about some of my long-term relationships. I think that word RELATIONSHIP is key. Just the word itself implies a love and an understanding. It implies a two-way thing. You can’t understand someone without listening and communicating. Oh boy – communicating!! That’s such a big one. When I look at some of my closest relationships – I see how there is such a give and take. Listening – talking – lending a hand – sharing a heart – wiping a tear.

I have a husband who is a true friend to people. I am so thankful! He is truly my best friend, and has wiped alot of my tears this past year and a half. He has a strong gift of discernment – and sometimes that is a hard gift to have – as he can read people like a book, and sometimes that is hard. He is one of the most giving men I have ever known. The kind of guy who will pull over and change a tire in -30 Celsius…

The kind of guy who will go the extra mile for a person, and expect nothing in return.
He is like this for us, his family. He is also like this for his friends. He is also like this for those he works with and for. This includes the homeless person he picks up off the street, like my friend Barry, or for the senior citizen who holds his hand because they need comforting.

Alvin and I have talked a lot lately about friends. About what we would do for a friend if we didn’t agree with how they were being treated… or if we didn’t agree with decisions being made that had a direct affect on someone. Would we go to bat for a friend? At what point do we turn our back and pretend that there is nothing wrong? And our bottom line is - Alvin and I know one another well enough to know that neither of us can turn our back on someone who needs us – And there is never any point where we would pretend that all is okay if it isn’t.

Alvin and I have talked a lot lately about how our lives are not “compartmentalized” – we can’t just “do family” or just “do work” or just “do church” … We have talked a lot about how we want to live for the Lord – 24/7 so that we never have to make excuses for anything!
With God as our guide, as our refuge, as our deliverer –
With God as our rock, our peace – our hope and our joy.
With God as the one who forgives and chooses to remember no more –
With God as the one who gives second chances – and new beginnings.
With God as the one who treats us with love, mercy and grace…
How could we not react to His love, mercy and grace – without extending it to others?

We’ve talked a lot about how it is hard to be a friend who does not act on behalf of another friend when you see them being hurt, or mistreated, or used. A friend can not stand by and refuse to help... or can they? (Oh Lord, forgive me if that has ever been what I have done!)

Perhaps this is what Solomon in all his wisdom meant when he said in proverbs, “There are “friends” who destroy each other…..”
“… but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

Lord – today was a real "heart wrenching - thinking - teary - eyed" kind of day as I have evaluated friendships in my life. I know that I want to walk with integrity – and as a woman of God – loving you, living in your mercy, love and grace and also extending that to others – strangers – acquaintances and friends. Old – new – and reacquainted! Lord – help me to not destroy anyone through my actions, my judgments or my words. Help me to be a friend who does stick closer than a brother (or sister!). Give me opportunity today – tomorrow – through my life! Thank you Lord – for all that you teach me – through these relationships. May I reflect you to others. And to you we give the glory!

Saturday, December 12

a furious longing


Today we walked – my man and I. It was freezing outside – which you can see by the frost on his mustache! I have come to love walking in the “back forty” which is HUGE for me – because you see – I would rather do housework than go outside in the cold!!
Some things have changed in my life!!

We walked today (in the minus 21 degress celcius over even colder) – we talked – we laughed. We took a couple pictures to celebrate the day! Days like this – slow and lazy days of winter. Or at least I was lazy – Alvin worked in the shop painting trim for one of their renos.

Then I came back into the house – and made a pot of fresh coffee. And grabbed a good book to begin reading. I have had it for a while – and had begun to read it months ago. It is Brennan Manning’s book called “the furious longing of God”. On the back cover it is titled “A love story for the broken hearted”. I think if I can remember back that far (to when I bought it) – it was this subtitle that sold me on buying the book.

So today I picked it up again – it was one of the few books that I didn’t pack away in Rubbermaid bins which are stored in our garage. (you know, I was trying to make our house look less cluttered during the showings)

Brennan’s first chapter is titled GENESIS and talks about how this book originated, and where. It was during a 30 day silent retreat at a spiritual center. Brennan’s director was a Jesuit priest who guided him to the passage in the Song of Solomon… “I am my beloved’s and His desire is for me.” (Chapter 7:10 NASB)

Beloved.
My dad used to use that term when he preached, when he talked about the relationship between the Lord and us.
Brennan Manning says that over the past 30 years he has prayed that specific passage over and over and over again. He says, “I believe His (God’s) desire for you and me can best be described as a furious longing.”

This chapter talks about “the furious longing of God is beyond our wildest desires, our hope or hopelessness, our rectitude or wickedness, neither cornered by sweet talk nor gentle persuasion. The furious longing of God cannot be tamed, boxed, captivated, housebroken, or templebroken. It is simply and startlingly Jesus, the effulgence of the Father’s love.” (page 25)

He goes on to say “the seldom-stated truth is that many of us have a longing for God and an aversion to God. Some of us seek Him and flee Him at the same time. We may scrupulously observe the Ten Commandments and rarely miss church on a Sunday morning, but a love affair with Jesus is just not our cup of tea.” (hmm, this smacks of legalism instead of freedom!)

A love affair. I know what it is like to have a love affair with my man, my husband of 31 plus years. The one that I fell in love with 35 years ago when I saw him at the age of 16 and began “going steady.” What a gift Alvin is to me, from God. I am so thankful.

A love affair with God – now that is what I am learning about more and more with each day. I gave my life to Jesus when I was just 8 years old (January 1966). I remember the night like it was yesterday. However, I can honestly say that it has only been in the last few years that I have truly fallen deeper and deeper and deeper in love with Jesus – the Lover of my soul – the redeemer of my life! Jesus – the Father – and the Holy Spirit… oh where would my life be without being in relationship with the Trinity?

Thing is – when life was relatively simple – and I had “the world by the tail” so to speak – I thought things were good, but looking back, I did not live for the Lord to my fullest potential. Only He knew that it would take some hard stuff to bring me into an understanding of what it was really like to enter into this love affair that sustained me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through the highs and the lows. Through the darkness and through the light.

I remember back in the late 90’s – I was really asking God what it meant to truly “fall in love with him.” He gave me a dream, that I believe was what He needed to use to show me his love. It was a dream about a man who came to find me. He came to the door, and asked if I was there, and he was let in. He came to find me, and wrapped his arms around me, and whisked me off my feet and carried me away. In my dream I was startled and felt completely loved (like I did in real life by my husband, and yet even fuller it seemed). This man (who was absolutely breathtaking, although I could not describe him to you if you paid me) was telling me how much he loved me, and I was laughing and saying “But you don’t know anything about me” and He kept telling me “Oh but I do – I know everything.” For the most part – this was the dream.

I remember waking up wondering why I was a married woman, dreaming of a prince charming (when I had one lying beside me in bed). It was then that I was struck with the reality that I had been asking the Lord, had also journalled, that I wanted to fall more and more in love with the Lord, and that I wanted to understand how to love him even more. This is why I firmly believe this dream had nothing to do with any earthly thing – but had everything to do with falling in love with Jesus and experiencing the “furious longing of God” as Manning puts it.

Ah, how utterly sweet his love is. His furious longing – for me! (and you!)

So, today – I am so thankful. Lord – thank you for the gift of my husband to me – back 35 years ago!! Alvin is one of the most amazing men I know – and an amazing father to Josh, Ash, Leah and Michael. He is also an amazing Poppa!! He can hardly wait to spoil this little Grandbaby that is soon to arrive in our lives!

Lord – I am also so thankful for YOUR love – for the way you wrap me in your grace and mercy. For the power of the Holy Spirit within me – and for the relationship that I can have – with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I am so utterly in love and LOVED!

Thank you Lord, that I hear your whisper… that I feel your embrace…that I will one day dance the most beautiful dance in your arms!

I end with the same scripture that Manning leaves us with in the first chapter of his book:
Song of Solomon 2:10-13 (New Living Translation)

10 My lover said to me,
“Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!
11 Look, the winter is past,
and the rains are over and gone.
12 The flowers are springing up,
the season of singing birds[a] has come,
and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
13 The fig trees are forming young fruit,
and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.
Rise up, my darling!
Come away with me, my fair one!”

~~~~~

Ah... the furious longing of God!

Wednesday, December 9

A few of my favorite Wednesday things...





Today was Wednesday and as I reflect back - there are some things that stand out from today! All in all - it was a great day. Thank you Lord! Here are a few of my favorite Wednesday things:

Got up early (well, later than normal, but still early) It was 7:30 am. I am loving the early rising (that is ONCE I get my butt out of the warm cozy bed) It is just good being up and at'em at the start of the day.

This mornings QT was focused on 1 Corinthians 13 - the "love" chapter. The bottom line: I could have all kinds of things/gifts/talents BUT if I don't have LOVE - then I have nothing!

My sons came out early so that they (along with Alvin) could have breakfast and then go and work in the heated shop. (Now, if we had sold the house the boys would not be able to work in the shop, making concrete countertops!)

Baked Shortbread cookies with chocolate chips. (SHOOT.... I also ate some! Not good for the "no white flour/no white sugar" plan)

Listened to Christmas Music!! LOVE IT ~ LOVE IT ~ LOVE IT! (Alabama, Boney M, Oakridge Boys, Sarah M, ....)

Went for a nice long walk again. LOVED THAT.
Froze my toes through my running shoes - DID NOT love that! (mental note - get some proper walking boots)

Got hugs from my boys! (definitely a fav thing!)

Bubble bath with amazing bubbles! (amazing what jets do to bubble bath in the water!)

Knitting, and almost done the prayer shawl! Put the tassles on one end.

Talked with Ashley a couple times.

Prayed for Leah and the baby at school! Tonight was the school's Christmas Concert - Leah will sleep well tonight, and hopefully the baby will too :) Today I got to mark our countdown at 9 sleeps!!

Caught up on life with Kim.... a long phonecall! I am so thankful for wonderful friends!

Just before I signed off - the tune "My Favorite Things" ran through my thoughts. I remember when I took voice lessons back in Grade 10 and this is one of the songs that I had to sing! It is one of my favorites!

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Jeannette and Joy go to Mongo's Grill

Today was a wonderful day! I left home with Alvin at 7:45 am and got home at about 10:30 pm. In between were a whole bunch of wonderful things!! I went to Curves and worked out!! That felt good. Then I went to visit a young mom and her little one. (Janna and Addison) I looked at those little fingers and just imagined in a very short time - when I can look at our little one's little fingers too! Oooo I can hardly wait! Then, I went and had a great visit with Mary, my friend and my counsellor! I love hanging out with Mary and she says she loves hanging out with me! I thank God for her. Now, as if my day was not full enough of people interactions, to finish out the day I got to see Ash, and Michael and then got picked up by Jeannette (Michael's mom) and we spent a couple hours together, over bowls of stir fry and brown rice!! I have to admit that Mongo's is one of my favorite places.

Thing is - the conversation we had was even better. It has been a while since Jeannette and I sat and talked and drank coffee and talked some more. We share her son, and my daughter. Thing I love the most is that Jeannette and I were friends first. We didn't just become friends because our kids fell in love. No - then we became family.

Jeannette listens to my rants, and well - sometimes she says she has a rant or two for me.
Jeannette prays. I love that. I know she is praying for our kids, our little grandbaby and for us as we count down.
Jeannette is "real" and I love that too. Our conversations are not superficial. We have the kind of relationship that we can usually cut to the chase and pick up where we left off.
Jeannette loves to laugh. We aren't always just serious!
Jeannette loves life. Her and I have many many things in common (yep, besides our kids).

Tonight - I thank you Lord again, for the gifts of great friendships, good strong cups of coffee, little ones that bring joy into our lives and show us what miracles are found in babies! Tonight I thank you Lord that you bring people into my life who love-on me... with no strings attached. I am thankful for those I can also listen to, talk with, and love!!
God, thank you so much!

Monday, December 7

Be Still My Soul




Today was a full day - full of hanging out with my longest loved friend - Josie. We met in Grade 4 - in a little elementary school in Beausejour, Manitoba. Josie is also the one who introduced me to Alvin. Josie and I lived together in the city - in Grade 11. (not every parent trusts their kids enough to let them live together and go to High School). Anyhow, back to today. I spend the day, from 8:30 am on to 4:30 pm, with Josie. We began with breakfast. Ended with appetizers. And drank alot of coffee and had some real good conversation. Oh and we did a little shopping. Josie and I have always been able to be authentic and open with one another. She laughed today and said, "Joy I love it - you are so honest." (have I ever mentioned that I seem to have lost my "filters" over the past year?)

About noon, I talked with my baby girl... Ash. I could tell she was having a sad day. She also told me such. She is alot like this old mom so I understand those sad times too. How do I encourage her. How do I cheer her. Reality is - I just need to listen sometimes, and offer an ear. Reality is - sometimes I am not as good as other times. Reality is - it seems that our family is experiencing some mixed emotions right now. Great anticipation with the birth of our little one in 11 sleeps. We are also aware of some pretty great anxiety as well.

We pray. O Lord, how much we thank you for this little life!! This little one who makes their mommy and daddy giggle and smile with the movments!! Our excitement is so great we can taste it!! I don't know how I am going to contain myself the morning of our little one's birth!!

We have also prayed alot and God Himself knows how much He has heard me give him the anxiety. And that is what we need to keep doing - giving it to God. Casting our cares on Him....for He does care for us!!

I just read my girl's blog... http://www.tolovelikethat.blogspot.com/ and immediately reading Ashley's thoughts, I could hear the words of this hymn BE STILL MY SOUL running through my mind. So, I googled, and found all the words and you will find them below. May they bless your soul as well. Perhaps I will go to bed tonight with this tune on my heart - I figure it is one way to keep praising and well -praise can chase the anxiety away.

Be Still, My Soul
By: Catharina von Schlegel


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 he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

~~~~~~~~~~
Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

~~~~~~~~~~
Be still, my soul; though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then you will better know his love, his heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrows and your fears.
Be still, my soul; your Jesus can repay
From his own fullness all he takes away.

~~~~~~~~~~
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 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.


1st Published in: 1752

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, December 6

Coming along side!


"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, nor curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares! " ~ Henry Nouwen


"Does it seem a long time ago when our kids were babies?"


That was a question I asked our friends Al and Jan tonight, as we left the table and went to the living room with our coffee cups.


When our kids were little - seems like a long time ago. So much has happened. So much.

Tonight was a celebration of friendship. A time to laugh, a time to talk, to listen, to shed some tears, and to pray together before they left for home. Al and Jan came with some fine wine in hand - which we enjoyed over the course of the meal.


We talked alot tonight ~ about our kids, about life, about joys, about sorrows. We talked about church. We talked about fishing and about knitting. Jan and I laughed about those late night hockey games, when the boys would go to play after midnite and we would keep each other company while we did needlepoint, or knit (only to have to undo the mistakes in the morning!) We talked about when our kids were little. We talked about our kids now - all grown up.

We talked about life!


Ours is a friendship that has grown deeper over the years - even if we don't spend as much time with one another as we hope we will. Each year has a new resolution "to spend more time together." Alvin met Al at MBCI in and 73. I met Alvin and Allan in 1974. Alvin and I married in 1978, and Al was one of our "two" best men! Our wedding was the first time we met Janet... it was their "first date". And, we have been friends ever since. The type of friends that get together and pick up as if no time has been lost.


Tonight we talked about God in our lives. About God in the midst of pain.... deep pain. We have all been touched by pain. We have all experienced God through it. We will never forget the phone call we got in the hospital when Jay was born... Al, telling us that people as far as South Africa were praying on our behalf. Tonight we talked about how it feels to have people just there - not to say anything profound - not to try to fix things - but people who just come alongside and stand there. You can feel the support.


We have been blessed - and thank God for you Al and Jan. You are part of our family and we thank God for you. And - love you lots.


Friday, December 4

This Granny is head over heels in love with you Little One!



O little one - have I told you lately how much I love you and how I can hardly wait to hold you in my arms ~to take a deep breath of your fresh little baby fragrance ~to look at your little ears, to kiss your little cheeks and to count your little fingers and toes.


O little one - have I told you lately how much I love you and how I can hardly wait to rock you to sleep ~ to sing you the "Bye Baby Bunting" song that I sang to your daddy ~ to wrap you in the little quilt that I made for you ... the quilt that was stitched with love, thoughts and prayers.

O little one - have I told you lately how much I love you and how I can hardly wait to hear your first cry ~and to be to be there as you grow, to be able to wipe your little tears and hug and kiss you better ~ to be able to watch you grow, a day at a time ~ weeks to months. Months to years.
I don't want to hurry you along but I do dream, and pray about all that you will be little one.


O little one - have I told you lately how long it feels that I have been praying for you little one? How I have wept tears as I waited for your arrival ~how I have prayed that you would welcome this world with a strong and heart cry!

O little one - my second little grandbaby - O how much I love you. I love you today, but will love you even more tomorrow. And when I finally get to hold you - I KNOW that my love will know no bounds.


O little one - you have already made me laugh as I watched you grow in your mommy's tummy ~You have already made me laugh as I watched your daddy patting you as if you were a little watermelon ~ You have already made me laugh as I see your mommy tap you, and see you
push back! Tonight as I watched, it appeared as if you were tumbling inside!!

O little one - you are growing strong and healthy. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Made in the image of God! I have loved you since I first heard about you little one. Soon, very soon - I can whisper all this to you, while thanking God again for you - my little Grandbaby... our little gift.


O little one - I love you. Today ~ more tomorrow and always forever! Little one - this Granny is head over heals in love with you already!!

** Ashley (my daughter) took these pictures of Leah, Josh and Baby about two months ago - and they are so beautiful. I lifted them off her facebook, which is why they are so little I guess - I don't know what to do to make them bigger - however - you will get the gest of it - Leah is a beautiful mommy, Josh a very proud dad already, and our little Grandbaby - well, even "incognito" baby is just plain beautiful!!




Thursday, December 3

My day so far - in pictures!



Today is December 3. My alarm went off at 5 am - as Alvin was supposed to head into the city to "shovel snow" and then he got a text from Josh - to wait another hour - so, we hopped back into bed! What one will do for an hour's worth more sleep!
Just as we were catching a few more zzz's the alarm went off again - 6 am. I also got up out of bed, and as Alvin went out to get the fire going - I got up and began putting together the guy's lunch for the day! That is my "gift" to them each day!
Then - Alvin left, and I sat down with my "first" cup of coffee - strong and black. And cracked open my Bible to see what the Lord had for me today. 2 Samuel 9.
Before I began, the words from "open the eyes of my heart Lord" ran over and through my mind and heart. Lord - what do you have for me today?


After spending QT with the Lord - I figured, I should just go out and welcome the day with a walk. First stop however was to check the fire. Alvin said he had a harder time getting it going. He often laughs and tells me "Joy the paper you put in there - didn't even burn!" Well - lo and behold, (I still need to tell my man this one!) I opened the fire bin and what was NOT burned?? Alvin's newspaper - in fact, nothing was burning. So, out came the newspaper, the matches, and I got it going - I hoped. Often there is alot of fire - and then nothing. I will check on my way back.


What would I do without Oreo. He just loves it when I come out - I always get a kick out of that! I asked Alvin if Oreo is as happy to see him as he is to see me!!
(or its likely because I am not out as much as Alvin!) Oreo sat patiently waiting (posing!!) while I waited for the fire to catch. I don't know what we will do when he dies. He joined our family when Josh was in Grade 7! In people years, I think that is about 15 years or somthing. Country life has been good to him.



On the way out to the back forty (or back 65, as that is really the number of acres we have) - I stopped at the little altar - I had found a little heart shaped stone and wrote Jay's name on it, and Grandbaby to come on it. I wanted to put it by the altar, and once again, deliberately thank God for my little Jay in Heaven, and for my little Grandbaby to come in 15 sleeps! (Once again, sorry it keeps loading sideways!!) I guess another bit of snow and the altar will be covered.


The snow was sitting lightly on everything!! Trees, ground, weeds... I stopped to take this picture - hope you can notice - the little flakes sitting on this little piece of tall grass. Have you ever stopped to look at a snowflake - to think that each one is different. How amazing is our God!! As I walked, I marvelled at the glittering of the snow - and the bright whiteness of it! It is quite something how even a little bit of snow makes everything so bright! I could not help but think of the verse that talks about Jesus blood (shed for us on the cross) washing our sin away, and making us whiter than snow! I walked and thanked God for the beauty of creation that always serves as a reminder that we have an awesome God.



At this point, the sun still had not "risen" even though it was pretty bright. I was so glad that I took Alvin's encouragement to go out first thing and get my walk done. (yesterday I ran out of time in the morning, and got home late - and did not get a walk in!!) As I turned at the back of our property, to begin to walk back "north" through the trees - I looked and it was just so beautiful. My camera (actually Ashley's old one, since ours died on us) is basic, and just does not capture the beauty - but it is the best I can do! The path ahead looked beautiful.



At this point, I had crossed over the fence (thankfully there is still a tree down so that I can get over the barbed wire "sometimes" without catching my pants on it!!
And as I walked back east along the fence line - I could see the sun continuing to come up - and noticed the snow on top of the post - lightly settled.


As I came back into the yard - I did not have to open the firebin and check it - I noticed the smoke puffing out of the chimney!! My paper obviously caught the wood - and it was burning well. As I turned - I noticed I could finally see the sun peeking through the trees. This is the day that the Lord has made - I will rejoice and be glad in it!


Back inside - I made a new pot of coffee (yep, a pot, just for me!) It is Mountain Bean - and so good - strong, fresh and black! I made some poached pears, steel cut oats, and did a little knitting. I am in the process of knitting a "prayer shawl" for someone. In between, I am doing some laundry. This feels like an amazing day already - and it is only begun. All of the above I did by 8:30 am.

Lord, thank you for this day - for the flakes that continue to fall - some of them clumped together as they loftily drift toward the ground. Thank you for the reminder of how you wash me whiter than snow - regardless of what I have done, what I will do - you forgive me. You cover me with grace - Grace that falls like this snow - and falls lightly on me - covering me - reminding me of your goodness.
Thank you for the walk - where I could see your creation as a visual reminder of how great you truly are God! For this day - and all it holds - I give it to you - and say - thank you. May we all experience you in a new and fresh way. Amen.


Wednesday, December 2

Tuesday blessings!



Yesterday I got to spend time with my boys. (my man, and my sons Josh and Michael) And, oh it was sweet. Usually I get up, drink coffee and kiss Alvin as he goes out the door - either to the firehall, or to work with the family business (Blue Jay Family Works). But yesterday - he stayed home, and the boys came out here - SO I got way more hugs (I always get to sneak a kiss in on Josh!) and got to converse over steel cut oatmeal and apples & chicken fingers and sweet potato fries!!
Even though they were working out in the warm shop (preparing to pour a bunch of concrete countertops) - I KNEW they were here, and it was wonderful. The only thing more wonderful would have been to have my girls out here as well - but unlike me right now - they both are working at paying jobs!!

So, for most of the day it was 3 men and a lady (that being me!!) The boys left at about 3 and Alvin and I went for a walk. I had decided I needed to make a rock with a "dedication" on it - and somehow fasten it on the big rock base of the "altar". So, I spent some time writing on a rock I had pre-selected and washed. And it was ready to go. Alvin got the caulking gun so we could silicone it on. I know what it is all about - but wanted it to be a testiment to the Lord - for His faithfulness and goodness. Believe me - there were times of my journey when I have really struggled to say that ALTHOUGH my head always knew it is true.

So out we went - caulked it on - and then did the "back 40 loop" together, returned to pick up the caulking gun, and went back home. As we were relaxing a little - Alvin suggested we go in to the cheap seats at the theatre - but there was nothing that we wanted to see. Then - in am impromtu move - we called up two dear friends - and asked if they wanted to come out for coffee or if we should meet them for coffee.
Actually we texted them, which lead to a phone call.

We were so blessed by Willy and Betty's visit once again. Throughout our journey - they have been such strong support. I only hope we can be that for them. Alvin and I have realized that there are several friends who fill this spot in our hearts. Friendships that were strong before, but only got deeper and fuller since our walk through the valley of death ...

Anyhow, back to last night - within the hour, they were knocking at our door. As they came through - it was like a fresh wind blew in with them. I don't know of anyone who wouldn't love these two - a combination that just always warms my heart.
From the hug hello - to the hug good-bye (all around hugs I may add) the time spent is just so uplifting. I had to laugh though - as Willy apologized for perhaps being to forward to us the week or so before when he had come out, and encouraged Alvin strongly on one point! Alvin and I hadn't even thought twice about it - which means basically that we were not offended by his strong encouragment. Rather, took it as a friend to a friend advice. But, Willy felt like he needed to apologize. We let him off the hook quickly.

What I love about the visit with them (again last night) is that they never hm and haw about it being too far to drive out!! And, they (I feel) have given us the room we have needed to "vent" in a safe way. And - they dare to give us some strong encouragement! (and we don't feel offended). But I also love that they let us into their lives, their thoughts - each of them. And - we can laugh together alot!
I don't remember when we became friends exactly - I think it was cemented when we became deacons together in the late 80's. And, our kids are around the same age...
But I do know that lately, they just become dearer and dearer and dearer!!

And, we love them, and feel that they love us!!

So, as I went to bed last night - sleep came quickly for a change. I think that came from feeling so incredibly loved. Thank you Lord!

Monday, November 30

Giving it to God - one rock at a time.


Well today I have to make another trip with a few more rocks. I "thought" I laid them down last week - in fact, last Monday I went for my walk in the back, and took a black felt pen with me. I figured I had to "name" the rocks that I needed to give up/lay down at my "altar". This has become a physical place of giving up and laying down. There is something about finding rocks and carrying them to the altar and leaving them there. Something about actually doing the physical part of "laying down".

Last week I laid down rocks that I had labelled "rejection" and "self-worth" and "insecurity" .... it was so strange, after returning to where I had ministered, and spoke last Sunday at the worship night on "praise after lament" ~ I should have known that the week after would be hard. It just usually is, as it seems after publically acknowledging something there is a struggle. At least for me!

So I laid them down last Monday. However, as I rounded the corner coming towards my "altar" I walked and wept.... allow me to backtrack.

On Saturday, a week ago - I went to meet Alvin as he had gone out to the back, but I wasn't ready, as I was working on my little talk for Sunday night. So I met him, and realized he had already walked past the "altar" in the back. We didn't talk about it.

As we walked, we did not return past this place, but instead walked through our forest of Oaks. As we walked, we came past a tree with a flat tomb-like stone that was propped against it. Somehow, in my travels I had not noticed this before. I asked Alvin where that came from and he said he propped it up there a couple weeks before that.

When we went back in the house, and I read my little sermon to him - he said, "oh is that what the little "innuckshuck" is back there on the property.

The next day - which was a week ago Sunday, the day I was to give my talk. Alvin and I again went for a long walk. As we walked past the altar, I told him that I thought we should NAME the big tombstone (and I said exactly what I thought we should name it) and that we should carry it over and lay it at the altar. He joked and said, "you mean we should kill it?" meaning the "thing" we were naming, and I said - "No we need to LAY IT DOWN!!" Believe me, we have been wrestling these giants for a year now! That was the end of the discussion for that day. (we had already spent the morning with our coffee cups, talking through stuff, mostly in regards to "church" and all that conversation opened up.

So, let me return now to a week ago Monday - when I was walking out to physically pick and lay down rocks on the altar - you know the ones I was going to label rejection, insecurity and self-worth. As I was thinking of looking for some "ugly" rocks to represent these, that is when I saw the big tomb-stone like rock. On Sunday - Alvin had unknowingly to me, gone back out to the tree, picked up the rock, and carried it to the altar, and put it down. (Just the day before my friend Elizabeth had encouraged me and said to me that perhaps Alvin needed to lay it down!) How prophetic her words were!!

Well - when I saw it, I wept - and the thing is - I didn't label that one with the black felt marker, but he and I both know what/who it represents and why we need to lay it down. And, my little rocks that I labelled that day - are directly related to the big rock.

A load that I would not have been able to carry too far myself. The little rocks seem hard enough to carry a long way! I realize that I may continue to "lay it down Joy" "Give it to God" over and over and over again! Maybe my act of "laying it down" will go on for a very long time. (O Lord, please not, let me give it up completely and have it never rise to the surface again!!) Till then ... I will continue to lay it down, give it up ~ one little rock at a time. I honestly have not carried such a load that somehow continues to bog me down.

Which brings me back to today - and the way I feel - the way God and I met this morning, and giving it to Him first thing as the sun was rising. (in typical old-Joy fashion, the way I feel can not be dealt with by consuming more brownies and peppermint cookies!!) Not sure why it continues to be so hard to give up and totally get rid of. Maybe I will carry chips of this rock until I die. I hope not, as it is one of the heaviest burdens I have ever carried.

I am so thankful that I don't carry this burden alone. First of all - I would not be able to stand under the weight of it - if it were not for God! Honestly - He is the one who continues to give me strength. I would not be able to stand under it, if it were not for Alvin, who shares the load with me, and carries a burden much like the symbolic one he laid down. I would not be able to stand under if without the love, support and prayers of our kids, who in their own way, are carrying their own little "chips" from our boulders! Somehow that happened. And, we all would not be able to stand under it, were it not for our close friends, who have become a true spiritual caring community! We are so thankful.

SO - today, I will walk AGAIN. I will find rocks AGAIN and lay them down at the altar. You'd figue it would be getting lighter and lighter (this load). I keep praying that one day - I will lay it down and never have to do that again. That I will be able to finally, stand up and breathe! I know it is a work taking place in my heart as well. Only God can do and finish that work. Thing is - I know HE totally gets it! God is God and God is good!

Sunday, November 29

Everyone Needs 7 touches per day!



Today was a day FULL of hugs... actually this weekend has been -
Alvin, Ashley, Michael, Joshua and Leah, Mom.
Elmer, Jeannette, Char, Terrilynn, Jane, Judy, Karis,Irene, Agatha, Tana, Willy, Betty, Trudy.
Maria, John, Lenora, Elsa, Elvira, Lilly, Ingrid, Sarah, Elleanore, Tante Rosa, Uncle Hein.
Laura, Ryan, Janna (and I got to hold and hug little Addison)

They say that everyone needs a min. of 7 touches a day!! I believe we all need this!

So why if I have been so hugged - have I run to "comfort food" today... especially this afternoon. After weeks and weeks of cutting out white flour, white sugar and just taking one day at a time - WHY did I turn to this place of comfort. One thing I realize is that I have a much better understanding of myself, and my emotions. I just wish I had such a good understanding of ME that I didn't run to food for comfort. I am so fickle! O God, forgive me!!

While I have been trying to "process" my day (mixed in with the hugs) I have realized that I have also had some very meaningful conversations. However, I am also totally aware of "conversations and hugs" that don't happen anymore. That is especially sad for me. Hurt does some weird things to relationships. Hurt and misunderstanding. Sometimes I just get so angry over it all.

And - it makes me feel unsettled. (and I run to comfort food) Restless (so I run to comfort food). Caged in feeling (ya, you got it - I run to comfort food) Did I mention that today, I was surrounded by chocolate!

I hate operating with "unfinished business" or "misunderstanding and hurt." I just don't like living life that way! I was the mom who used to drive to the school and take my kids out of class so that I could say "I'm sorry" and "I love you." Both of my kids will remember those times when the principal called them to the office for me!! I was raised to "never let the sun go down on your wrath" as the Bible says. I don't think that I had ever before come to an impasse. Until this summer. And months later - I am still trying to figure out how to work through it all. If nothing else to bring peace to MY soul. I can only work through my junk.


Today, I have been trying to process my thoughts and feelings. And again, Alvin and I have spent time trying to talk through it... I talked and he listened tonight. I am trying to decide - is it my pride? God forgive me. I really need you Lord to work through this stuff for me because I am obviously not walking ahead in total freedom. (but I want to)

Minimum 7 touches a day. O God - thank you for those who "moved into" my life this weekend, and who dared to just hug me. And.... let me hug them. Thank you God for the "community" of friends, of which we are a part, and who dare to step into our lives and just continue to love on us! You guys know who you are and I just really you to know, that we really love you. Impromtu visits, texts, emails, coffee's, suppers, visits and hugs, sometimes mixed with tears, have never been so sweet. You know who you are and we thank God for you.

As I process tonight - I realize that while it is so unsettling, some people are able to live with this on their chest, but I just can't. I just really want to do the right thing Lord - I just really want to do .... the....right....thing. O God - in your mercy hear my prayer. (And Lord, can you please nudge me when I am on the way to the pantry!)

"Remember to get the right nutrients every day including hugs and kisses." Valerie Bertinelli in her book Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge

Tuesday, November 24

they will be like STRONG Oaks!!



** this picture is from our walk today – from the only oaks left standing in the pasture that was cleared many years ago.

As well as a second picture to show you part the dead poplars – I think they look not just dead but desolate – what a picture of spiritual deadness….

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I just came in from a long walk – me and Oreo. The cats aren’t as enthused about walking with me now that I have been going longer and farther. But Oreo is faithful.

When Alvin is home – he and I go walking together. When the kids are here – we often go walking together as well. It is just a time when bonding naturally happens while out in creation.

On Sunday as Alvin and I were walking – I decided to ask him why there were so many big dips in the field at the back. Now, you have to know about my man. Honestly, I have NEVER met a man like him – ever. That is a big compliment. I think I have blogged before about him – about how he is a “jack of all trades and master of all of them!”
The kids used to (not as often) shake their heads and laugh as we would be talking and Alvin would go off on a real-life object lesson. The thing is – he just knows A LOT. And, what he doesn’t know – he reads about, or studies until he figures it out.

The other day when we were walking – he told me that the “large bowled out area” in the back – the area that often turns into a pond in spring, complete with ducks – well he reminded me that his dad was sure that a meteor had landed there – because all of our land is basically the same level – except for this area – a round bowled out area. Really, if you look – you can actually imagine it!! I think Dad K. was a thinker like Alvin too – guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!!

Anyhow – back to Sunday – and our walk. So, as I walked I decided to ask him why there were so many hollowed out places – I knew we had the land cleared in the back – so were all the hollowed places where rocks had been? If so, where are all the rocks now? Alvin told me that wherever there is a big hollowed out hole (which is now grassed) it is because a big oak was taken down. At the time, we were just going farther into the bush – and he pointed and showed me that in certain areas there are no oaks – just black poplars. (It must have something to do with acidic soil perhaps). Then he talked about how poplars die from the inside out – they die, and eventually just break and fall over. (Alviin has been pulling quite a few dead fallen over poplars off of the fence line). But then he went on to say that when you clear land – and if the bulldozer/cat hits and oak, it just stops. Oaks root systems are deep, and complex. So then he said, the bulldozer/car has to begin “taking the oak down” by hitting it further up the tree and pushing. Eventually what happens is the whole root system pulls out of the ground, as the tree is pushed over. Often in the root system, there are some stones, etc…. it all just comes up and the tree lays down flat, root system pulled out and exposed completely.
Then, what is left is the big hollowed out hole!

So today as I walked – I thought a lot about that. Last week I came across the verse from Isaiah 61: 3 NLT
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
A joyous blessing instead of mourning,
A festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like strong oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory!”
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Did you get that – He is giving me some amazing things!! Beauty for ashes – joyous blessing for mourning – festive praise for despair AND He is making me into a STRONG OAK for his own glory!! O Lord – thank you.

As I walked I realized that I never want to be like a poplar that rots on the inside out and just breaks off when it gets a little windy. NO, I thank you Lord God – that you are making me into a strong oak.

Today as I walked – I walked and prayed again for my family – my man, my kids, my grandbaby. I prayed that God would raise my grandbaby that we are anxiously and excitedly awaiting for in a bit over three weeks - to be a “mighty seedling that will one day grow into a strong and mighty oak!” I thank God that my kids love the Lord – and have become strong oaks in His power as well. And me and Poppa Oak – we are thanking God and loving our kids! Little Acorns do grow up!!