Saturday, March 28
Here I sit, my husband catching a few zzz's in the lazy boy chair beside me. It's Saturday, and it has been a full week. I also realize that it has been a number of days since I blogged. As I look back on the week, I realize that God has been ever-present in many conversations, in many situations, and in many miles driven on snow covered roads.
Of course, with having Ashley's birthday, we had planned to get together with our kids and celebrate on Wednesday night. With her birthday in March, it seems like in the 24 years of celebrating, every time we plan a party, it would storm!! And although Monday was not a bad day - Wed, the night we planned to get together for a celebration - it was stormy. However, we just changed the venue, and celebrated with a bbq steak dinner at Josh and Leah's. (steak and grasshopper dessert as the birthday cake, were Ashley's wishes)
Inspite of the storm day, I came in with Alvin - and got in two amazing coffee gettogethers with two amazing women in my life - Karis and Sue. It was a good time of just being together and chatting. I was so thankful that we could still do it.
I have to tell you however, of my Tuesday evening appointment. Alvin and I had an appointment to meet at our new "land" - and although it isn't our officially till we take possession April 30th, we had a meeting there on Tuesday at 6. It was with Jerald, who is truly a gift from God to us.
Jerald and I met one day at the beginning of January, over lunch. In December, God impressed on me, the need to meet with Jerald about the women's retreat vision. Now, Jerald was not a stranger to this idea, as I had shared it with him seven years ago. I have learned that when God lays something on my heart, or speaks to me about someone or something, I need to listen. So, after many emails, we met, and I shared with Jerald what we were now thinking in regards to Women Refreshed at the Well.
Because of Jerald's profession (architect) I felt that I needed to ask some questions of an expert - such as how do we build a combination personal home and retreat house. I loved the idea (proposed to us by our kids Josh and Leah) but I was not sure how to do this well. So, we talked. At one point in the conversation, Jerald told me that he would be willing to take the project on (no charge) if he could be on board from the beginning, and also if he could do it for me since we are friends.
Our conversation there at The Old Spagetti Factory cemented over and over to me, that God is in all the details. I found out that during Jerald's university time, he had to design a ficticious Spiritual Retreat Center. (God thing!!)
With a turned over paper place mat, Jerald drew a diagram of an idea that we could do. He told me that he was not at all surprised that God was stirring this up again.
Before we parted ways, Jerald told me that as soon as we found some land, to let him know, so that he could come and "walk the land" with us - as it is important to put the right house on the land, not just any house.
You have to know that I drove home from that lunch so excited!! At this point, we did not have land picked out. God was working on those details!!
So, last Tuesday, as the storm was just getting into motion - there we were, Alvin, Jerald and I - "walking the land" and talking about preliminary details. We loved that Jerald was also asking about the shop that we would build first and live in until next spring when Lord willing we built the house...
He asked us what else we may want as part of the retreat center, and I mentioned I would like a prayer labyrinth. To which he smiled and asked if we knew that his firm were also experts in labyrinths!! Now you don't always know with Jerald, as his face and eyes are always sort of smiling... but then he told us that they had designed the Carol Shield's labyrinth in King's Park. I had read something in the Free Press about this, but have not seen it yet.
As we walked back to the car (after walking ankle deep in ice water) I told Jerald that it was no coincidence that he and I talked in January, and that he had designed a spiritual retreat center in university, and that they were experts in labyrinths - NO COINCIDENCE - it was all GOD!! And of course Jerald smiled.
This was Tuesday. The plans are in his and God's hands... and we are so thankful.
The rest of this week held "gems" where I continued to see God... of course, there are still times when my knees are weak, and my faith wavers...
There are still times when I look at my beautiful Grandson's picture - and still want to scream WHY GOD WHY? On Tuesday, my Grandson would have been 8 months.
I have decided that one room in the retreat center will be dedicated to my little Jay. I am already thinking of how to decorate that room. You see, within days after Jay's silent birth - I shared with someone, that going through the loss of Jay impressed on me again, the need for a place for women to go to "be".
I am not at the place where I can say God, I thank you for taking me through Jay's birth and death. Honestly I don't know if I can ever say that. I have heard someone just recently say that when they realized what their son's death did in their lives, they could say they were thankful...
I am not there. I am not thankful. God knows that.
But I do believe that my conversations lately, with women from all ages, (from 20 something to 70 something) with women who have struggled with children, with infertility, with miscarriage, and some who have also had babies born and then die days later - I see how God is taking the brokenness and the shattered pieces of my life, and using them to speak to women. I truly believe that Women Refreshed at the Well will have a ministry to broken and shattered women. Oh God, I wish this weren't so, that no one would ever go through what Josh and Leah, and our family, and Leah's family went through - but I know that there will be other women who have, and who will - and they will need someone to just be there for them, to hug, to hold, and to weep together. And I am willing, to let God use me.
I realize that I have been all over the place with this blog... thanks for reading... and please continue to pray. For our brokenness and healing - our kids and us. Please pray as Jerald designs our future shop/home and retreat center. Please pray as women around us walk through such great sadness and loss and dare to talk about it. And please pray that there will be those of us who dare to step INTO the lives of others, to walk out of our comfort zones and weep with those who mourn. Please also pray that we will never stop believing that God is Sovereing over all, and that his timing is right. Oh...that is a hard one - God - please help me to believe that. To you God, be the glory and the honor and the praise. I love you Lord.
at 8:33 PM
Monday, March 23
Today is my daughter's birthday.... roughly around the time we are considering what to make for supper, she will officially mark the end of one year, and the beginning of the next. And what a year it has been.
This morning as I spoke with her on the phone, and wished her a happy birthday, I was so glad to hear the gladness in her voice and most likely there was a twinkle in her beautiful blue eyes. She loves life.
As I sit here and think of the day she was born, it was a beautiful day, unlike the grey and wet day that it appears today will be. When we brought her home two days later, the snow had all melted, and it was a beautiful spring day. I remember that day. Going home with a new baby, and Josh was just turned three. I remember how excited he was to come to the hospital and hold his sister. I had packed some books, wrapped and given to him "to Josh, love Ashley". He was already so happy and proud of her.
I look at the years that my kids lived at home, and the way they got along. I am so proud of them. Sure they did the usual brotherly sisterly thing, but they always stood up for one another and Josh always seemed to have his eye out for her. They worked together on planning things for Alvin and I - like the time for our anniversary, they set up "dinner for two" for us in the living room - and served us, they were both dressed up in black, and it was very formal.
Today is my daughter's birthday. I look back on the time, and really wonder where it went. Her and I spent so much time travelling to choir rehearsals, and choir engagements. I did most of that driving. There were times when Josh would come with Alvin and I to her concerts, but usually it ended with a comment that there was just way too much singing!!
Today is my daughter's birthday. I stand back and look at her. She is truly beautiful. Beautiful on the outside! Beautiful on the inside! She loves life... loves people...loves singing.... just really embraces life fully. I love watching her and Michael, her husband of almost 6 months... and they laugh together, and seem to have found their soul mate in one another. I also love watching the four kids: Josh and Leah, Ashley and Michael together. There is a deep love and affection and also a great respect. I love that - I know I always wondered if who Ashley met and married would become a good friend to her brother.... and Michael is.
Today is my daughter's birthday. Since Josh and Leah are only arriving home late tonight from a short trip, we are celebrating as a family on Wednesday. So, I plan to have lunch with her. I will sit there, and no doubt have many thoughts. We will talk. I am so thankful that now, especially in these last years, she has become someone who is interested in how my heart is too... and we can talk about everything.
And, I have a birthday cake ready to take to her for the office coffee break. While I know she wants a "Grasshopper" cake for Wednesday, today I will take in our family traditional cake, tons of whipped cream, and coffee in the cake. And hopefully someone will sing, and tease her about getting older.
Today is my daughter's birthday. This last year has been the two extremes - extreme sadness with our little Jay's silent birth, and extreme happiness with Ashley and Michael getting married. It is my prayer that this year, God will bless Ashley with much joy, and no sorrow... at least none so deep. I am thankful that God has given Ashley so many gifts and talents. I am also so thankful that she uses them for his honor and glory. I am blessed by my daughter and truly, truly thankful that I am her mom.
Lord, you have given me the gifts in the form of my children. I thank you for them. I pray that you would continue to grow their passion and love for you Jesus. I also pray that you would bless Ashley's day in many many ways, and that she would truly feel loved, appreciated and valued. And Lord, that she will always know how precious and beautiful you have created her, and how much we love her the way she is.
at 9:00 AM
Saturday, March 21
March 21st, 2006 - around noon - I almost died. Thing is, I didn't realize that I was so close to death. I remember some of it - the pain I was in (this was my second hospital stay in less than a year) - and the nurses being so late with my morphine...and I remember crying and rocking in pain as I waited.
Then I remember my friend Lena coming in and saying hi. And my friend Tim -- I remember he got some warm blankets out of the warming unit in the hall. And then I vaguely remember my sister Heather giving me some water on a sponge.
March 21st - a Tuesday. She had come and checked in on me in the early morning before she started work. She visited for a while and then said she would be back to see me at the end of the day. But Heather told me that at noon, God made it clear to her that she needed to go and see me. And, when she did, I was rather "blue".
I guess I didn't look so good - and not much like me. Actually I heard that my friend Tim didn't recognize me and thought he was in the wrong room.
I remember the flurry of doctors and nurses... asking me if I knew where I was...getting oxygen on me. I was told my oxygen in my blood was down to 40%. My husband said it wouldn't have been too much longer for me.
I am so glad that my sister listened to the prompting of God... and apparently He was not done with me yet.
Three years later, I am thankful. Thankful that I am here, and healthy. Okay, except for the fibromyalgia pain and 50 lbs that I want to lose and I am working on!!
I am thankful that my children still have me as their mom... that my husband still curls up with me at night... that I have friends and extended family that love on me.
I am thankful that I have become a grandmother to the most perfect little guy, although that dream was cut short. I am thankful that I will see my grandbaby Jay again in Heaven. I am thankful that I have been able to enjoy seeing my kids build their house, and move into it, that I have been able to watch my baby girl get married, and that I can hug up my new son Michael. I am thankful that God has gathered my tears, and shown me his mercy and grace. I am thankful that lately, we have heard laughter in our family once again. I am thankful that my friends love me and stand around us, "lifting our heads". I am thankful that I wake up each morning to the promise of another day, and another chance at living all out.
I am thankful that God is going to give us more miracles in our family, and that He is helping me trust, and wait - even when the waiting is so very hard at times.
I am thankful that He continues to carry me when I am too tired to walk, and that sometimes He just holds me.
Today, three years later, three years older, three years wiser in many ways, God, I am so thankful....................
at 10:42 PM
Thursday, March 19
This has been such an amazing day.... it began and ended with conversations with my kids. I spent most of the day at home, and then headed into the city to do a couple errands, drop in at the chiropractor, and then I had coffee at Mountain Bean (the first of hopefully many visits) with Amber, and then over to Grace Cafe with Ashley and Michael for supper, and then coffee with Joanne later at Grace Cafe (we met at Mountain Bean, and there was not a chair to be found so off we went...). As I reflect back to this day, I see where God has affirmed his goodness through family, new friends, old friends, and happenings along the way. I have to admit that I LOVE staying home and often sigh when I have to go into the city... but today was a gift!!
Anyhow, there it was, while we were eating supper at Grace, that the phone rang. I recognized the caller, even though it said "BLOCKED ID" on the call display. I knew it was David, our real estate agent. My heart picked up a few beats. My thoughts were, well here goes, we will have to give a counter offer. David began...."well Joy, they didn't like the offer. (I think my heart sank momentarily) You know somehow I had really prayed that I would trust and not worry or fret, and let God be God. Lately I have had a hard time with this one, and the waiting part of God's timing.
So, back to David... hmmm... they didn't like the offer. Well, it could be because it was $25,000 less than their first listed price, and $15,000 lower than their "reduced" listed price. BUT THEN....this is where the "GOOD NEWS" comes into place... David continued on.... "... they didn't like the offer, but they were glad to hear what the place would be used for, so they will accept the offer you gave." Oh my, God, you have decided that this is the time, this is the place. I was wonderfully caught off guard! You have to know that about 7 years ago, David and I sat in Perkins, as I shared the "vision" with him.... and now, here we were, we have just bought some land!! WOOOHOOOO....
I think both Alvin and I were shocked, as were our kids. Shocked, surprised, excited. Thankful. God, I am so thankful. We are one step closer to the vision that God entrusted to my heart many years ago....
Yes, today has been quite the day. Little did I know when I first woke at about six that this day would end so amazingly.
I want to thank Amber and Joanne, who shared their hearts with me, and allowed me to share my heart with them, which included the "vision of Women Refreshed at the Well."
I want to thank all of you who read this blog, or facebook, and have been praying.
This is not my vision. This is HIS vision laid on my heart.... I am just the conduit.... the clay vessel that He is using to bring this about. God give both wisdom and strength to follow on.
To GOD BE THE GLORY..... and as my good friend Lynda said to me many years ago, in regards to this vision, "fasten your seatbelt Joy, you are in for a ride!"
I think we all are!!
at 12:00 AM
Wednesday, March 18
Some of you are wondering what happened with the land. I spoke with our real estate agent on Friday, and gave him a starting offer. He spoke with the land owners realator a bit to see if they would entertain this lower offer. I will say that Alvin and I did have our doubts, but hey, it wasn't a rude offer at all, and our guy thought we could certainly ask. So, at this point, nothing has been put into writing .... that will happen today.
We have decided to give a higher bid, and ultimately if they take it, it would be great. But, we are thinking that we still may have some room to go, if they counter with something...
I have talked with a few friends over the last few days. To say that we are anxious would be an understatement. For us, this is huge. It means that we would then (if we get the land) put our house up for sale. And our land that we also have separately out here in Anola.
Our kids have been going through some stuff as I attempt to purge the house... this is something I have talked about doing for a long time... and now, with the thought of showing and selling our house, it is definitely something that needs to be done.
This is the house that Alvin built for us. The house that Josh moved into when he was one and a half. The house that Ashley came home from the hospital too. The house that has memory upon memory of laughter, tears, deep conversations, bible studies, parties, more parties, and one and on. This is where our kids grew up, where they had their friends over for countless sleepovers. This is the house where my sister and brother-in-law stayed while they built their home next door. This is where my mom and dad-in-law lived while they built their home on the other side of us. This is the house where I recovered from my surgery, and where our kids Josh and Leah lived while they built their place. This is the house where our kids (all of them) had their wedding photos taken.
The other day Josh gave us a little pep talk and said, "if you are going to do it, you have to just DO IT" I told him it would be really hard, and tear-filled - and he said he knew that. I told him it would be tear filled for him too, and he agreed.
I don't really want to think to much about that, moving away from the place that we have spent the better half of our lives in (26 years this August 6).
Funny thing is, it seems like THIS IS THE TIME. For the past year when God kept saying "get the ball rolling" and some women from church spoke prophetically into my life, I felt like it was soon... and it feels very right, right now.
It also feels like I am in another part of life. My old life stopped when my grandson's heart stopped, July 24th. I look back at my old life, and everything is different. We have all changed. In the brutal reality of death, we have grown, and changed....
So, now, it is with both anxiousness, and excitement, actually great excitement, that today Alvin will sign a written offer to purchase, and we will wait, and perhaps counter offer.... only God knows that.
It seems that I can hear him whisper "Be strong and courageous - I will go with you wherever you go." And we know that, Alvin and I and our kids... that in the valley, or on the mountain, He is with us.
So, we are still stepping in faith..... will this land be the future place of our home and Women Refreshed at the Well? God, you know all that. May your will be done. Help us to trust you for each step of the way.
at 10:25 AM
Friday, March 13
Footprints in the Sand - I love that poem. It talks about Jesus carrying us. Just when we only see one set of footprints. I know that over the last few months, okay over my life, there have been many many times when there would have been only one set of footprints in the sand.
I know this because I KNOW there are so many times when he has carried me.
Those who know me, and perhaps those who have read my blog have heard me refer to Women Refreshed at the Well - a vision for women's ministry that God laid on my heart and mind back in 01, and spelled out for me in great detail. Yes, God does that, and did that, and since then, even with my ministry call to McIvor (confirmed by the 93% story) God is STILL entrusting me with His vision for women, and still calling me to follow him on it.
It seems that within the past year, many people have asked me, confirmed to me that God has laid WRATW on their hearts, and people are praying, telling me of dreams and visions they have been given in regards to it. Alvin and I and our kids still feel that God is working on it.... and He will bring it to pass.
Lately, the pot on the back burner has been boiling again, and over the past year i kept hearing God say, "Get the ball rolling" (His words excactly).
In Fall, when our kids came home from their roadtrip to Yellowstone, Josh and Leah spelled out what was impressed on their hearts about the next steps to brining the vision to fruition. It was exciting to hear, and to know that God has involved my whole family in this vision.
Anyhow, part of that vision involves buying some land. Alvin came across some, and this morning I spoke with Dave our real estate friend, about putting in a bid. He was going to share the ministry vision with the people.
Right now, my heart is doing a million flip flops. I have asked my girls to pray about it (the guys are off working) and as Ashley said, God is in control. So, I havce prayed too, and will leave it up to God. This is HIS vision. I am just entrusted with it, and as a result we are the conduits to seeing it come to pass.
So Father, in regards to whether they will accept this bid or not, we want to entrust it to you, and trust that if this is your desire for where the ministry will be, that you will bring it to pass. God, you are sovereign... Lord over all. Your will be done, in my life, in the life of my family, and in the life of this vision for women. Lord, your will be done. Help me not to worry or fret, but to trust.
at 11:14 AM
Wednesday, March 11
Ever had questions that roll around in your head, that have no answers to, or perhaps you don't care if there is an answer... but it is a question none the less..
- where do falling stars go
- why does coffee taste so good in the morning
- why are all the things I like to eat, bad for me
- what are dreams about
- why do I see colors before I get my migraines
- why do people fight
- why are so many people starving in the world
- how did my husband learn to do so many things
- why do certain smells take us back to certain experiences i.e. the smell of crayones takes me back to kindergarten
- did God laugh when he made the raccoon
- why do we crave affirmation
- why do our feelings get so easily hurt
- how does the fur on a bumblebee feel
- is a zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes
- what does my dog Oreo think of when he dreams at night
- what purpose do goldfish have
- why are sundogs called sundogs?
- how do huge planes stay in the air
- does anyone ever read the emergency cards in the back of the airplane seat ahead of you
- why is walking in a gentle rain feel so good
- who invented knitting
- where do earthworms go in winter
- what is the purpose of a woodtick?
- why do we crave "touch" from those we love
- what is the length of the yellow dotted lines in the middle of a highway
- why does it seem that deer wait till you are there by them, before they jump in front of your car
- why do we find it hard to take compliments
- why is it easier to criticize someone
- how does God hear all our prayers at once
- why do I hate to exercise even though it is so good for me
- why does chocolate taste so good
- which comes first, the chicken or the egg
- what makes my dog Oreo "smile"
- why was I born in Canada, and someone else in Ethiopia
- why didn't my parents live in Florida instead of Canada
- who invented latte's
- when Adam woke up from his sleep, was he instantly madly in love with Eve
- who invented peanut butter cups
- why is discipline in my life so hard
- when do the geese know its time to fly back
- how many grains of sand on the beaches
- where does the ocean end and begin
- what will our skin color be in Heaven, or will we be all colors
- do angels escort us to Heaven when we die
- why do people with straight hair get perms and people with curly hair use a straightener
- why is a dollar called a buck
- do dentist's have a complex because everyone hates them
- how much is an old two dollar bill worth now
- why does a kiss feel so good
many more random thoughts. Have you ever thought of what runs through your head? Don't spend too much time on it, but hey, it was just a little bit of fun.
at 11:36 PM
Tuesday, March 10
I want to trust
Fully ~ completely ~ wholeheartedly
with ears open
with eyes looking up.
I want to trust
in the valley ~ on the mountain
in the darkest night.
I want to trust
looking back at experiences of faith in my life
looking ahead and epecting God's faithrulness again.
I want to trust
not like a boat wavering on the water
but like a tree with roots deep and strong.
I want to trust
even tho right now I can't see
and yet believeing in the unseen...
in the unknown.
I want to trust
because I know whom I have put my trust in
I want to trust the One who knows me by name
who loves me fully.
because I know,
even if I don't always feel it ~
That HE - My Jesus, My Lord
is faithful over all.
that what I want ~
is his desire also.
out of my doubt ~
my wavering thoughts ~
He will make something absolutely beautiful ~
with HIS trademark on it!
at 6:27 PM
Sunday, March 8
We are home from Cuba. Back to reality. That happens as soon as you feel the cold crisp air hit your lungs when you walk from the airport to your car. While leaving a vacation spot is always hard.... I never want to leave, especially when I am there with my kids... but, it is the way life is, and we all need to get back to real life at some time or other.
Alvin and I left with our kids, returning to Cuba for the second year in a row. However we decided to go to a different resort. It was a great week. We laughed alot. That is a gift in itself. We had good conversation. I love that about my kids. We sat together in a little "hide out" Josh found on a day when it was cool and windy! There we all took our books and read for a while. We drank cappacinos on the wrought iron chairs in the garden spot we found. We laid on the loungers at the beach (which Alvin and I got up religiously at 7 am to go and "secure" so that we had them after breakfast. YES....EVERYONE DOES THAT!! We took pictures, we ate the peanut butter that we brought from home...we played cards in a little spot that we had outside of our room. It was a good week.
I got some time to journal. I got some time to read. I got some time to talk with people while I waited in line, and found one woman from NB who was a believer. It was a great time of waiting and talking, with her telling me she would be praying for our family. (after I had shared about Jay with her)
Around the second day in Cuba, my fibromyalgia pain in my back and hips was so bad, I was a little worried. Everything was a chore. And then, thanks be to God, the pain left! And it is still gone for the most part. I think that the warm climate is a tonic for FMS... time will tell.
We walked the beach alot. I love that. We found some amazing sand dollars, the size of big bagels.... you can't help but look at them, and just say, GOD YOU ARE SUCH AN AMAZING CREATOR!! One day I journalled on the beach, and wrote down things I HEARD: the ocean, laughter, talking, sound of cuban music, volleyball players. Things I FELT: hot sun, sand between my toes, ocean water, contentment, happiness, bliss. Things I saw: different hues of the blueness of the ocean, bright sunshine, happy people, people walking the shore, people running, birds, sun chairs as far as you could see, people playing volleyball, and yes, some nasty g-strings and speedos!
Our time away was so good. A gift, truly. One we gave to our kids, but one that God gave to us. A time away together, as well as some time to ourselves. A time to talk, a time to laugh, a time to think -- and meditate on God. For me, the water's edge has always been a place where I experience God. This was no exception.
God is walking with us, and I think we are walking ahead, one step at a time.
Lord, thank you for family that we love to travel with. God, help me not to ever take my husband and kids for granted. You continue to teach me through my kids... and I love them so much! God, thank you for also showing us how fortunate we are to live in a free country. Especially a country where we can read the Word, and worship you freely. God, you are worthy of all our praise. We saw your creation and stand amazed! Continue to do your work in me Lord.... continue to work. I pray you would continue to put the pieces of my heart, and the hearts of my family, together, and that you would bring healing, and that you would bring miracles that we can see and touch... God, I love you. Jesus, thank you for dying for me, and giving me the greatest gift of all... your grace covers me. Amen.
at 11:00 AM