Tuesday, June 30

an uplifting email...

The other day - I got a forward from my sister-in-law Jody. It is very beautiful - has many beautiful pictures that go along with it! I will share the words from this forward with you - along with my own picture of some gerbs that I got from my good friend Jeannette (and Elmer) for my birthday.

It started with this: Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn't happen, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice!"
Now, here are some words of wisdom for life --
1. Pray
2. Go to bed on time.
3. Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4. Say No to projects that won't fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
5. Delegate tasks to capable others.
6. Simplify and unclutter your life.
7. Less is more.
8. Allow extra time to do things and to get to places.
9. Pace yourself. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don't lump the hard things all together.
10. Take one day at a time.
11. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, find out what God would have you do and let go of the anxiety. If you can't do anything about a situation, forget it.
12. Live within your budget.
13. Have backups: an extra key in your wallet, an extra twenty hidden in the cupboard, extra stamps etc.
14. K.M.S. (keep mouth shut!) This single piece of advice can prevent an enormouse amount of trouble.
15. Do something for the "kid" in You - everyday.
16. Carry a spiritually enlightening book with you to read while waiting in line.
17. Get enough rest.
18. Eat right.
19. Get organized so everything has its place.
20. Listen to a tape while driving that can help improve your quality of life.
21. Write down thoughts and inspirations.
22. Every day, find time to be alone.
23. Having problems? Talk to God on the spot. Try to nip small problems in the bud. Don't wait until it's time to go to bed to try and pray!
24. Make friends with those who you can speak life into, but also can speak life into you!
25. Keep a folder of favorite scriptures on hand.
26. Remember the shortest bridge between despair and hop is often a good "thank you Jesus"
28. Laugh some more!
29. Take your work seriously, but not yourself at all!
30. Develop a forgiving attitude (most people are doing the best they can!)
31. Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most!)
32. Sit on your ego.
33. Talk less, listen more.
34. Slow down.
35. Remind yourself that you are not the general manager of the universe!
36. Every night before bed - think of one thing you're grateful for OR a place where you have "seen God's fingerprints on your day"

This is an email for me - especially as I continue to navigate through life - one day at a time - I don't want to get bitter or cynical EVER - I want to live life fully!!

The other day I got a gift from Ashley and Michael. The card said that when they saw this gift, they knew it was for me. It doesn't say GO BIG OR GO HOME - but it does say something else that is profound - Half of DOING is BELIEVING you can!!

I want to live fully - whatever it takes Lord - help me! O Lord, hear my prayer. Amen

Wednesday, June 24

~ Sunnyside ~

Yesterday was my spiritual retreat day - a day that we get to take, and spend in "retreat". Often I would book in a day at St.Ben's and retreat there. But today, I had a different plan in mind. I was going to head up to Sunnyside cemetary - to take some daisies to my little grandson's grave. Jay would have been 11 months today.

So, after making some coffee - I packed up my stuff and headed west. In my bag that I packed were my Bible, my journal, my camera, water and a mug of coffee, and the book THE SHACK.

I drove there. It is such a peaceful place - overlooking the city a ways off. Someone said you could see the whole city from Sunnyside. I think they're right.
Anyhow, got there, made two trips - the first to take the bouquet of daisies in the jar and put them by Jay's headstone. Leah has planted some daisies there too - and I brought some water to give them a drink. Then I went and got my lawnchair and other stuff, and sat down - to think, to journal, to pray, to just "be".

I also spent some time walking - looking at gravesites, trying to read dates on old gravestones. I realize that many people have lost their babies or children! Oh how many broken hearts are represented by those gravestones.

I sat there - thinking... actually I thought ALOT. Journalled. I seemed to focus on the words in Romans 8.

Romans 8:35 & 38-39 (New Living Translation)

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I realize that as I look back - through the hardest of days that I have ever in my life experienced - how much harder they would have been without God. There were times when I questioned God's faithfulness - and honestly, I still struggle with how we prayed daily for our little grandson, and all along God knew He was going to take him home... that will likely be my struggle for all my life - but I can still say that I have lived through enough with my God to know that He has been and is and will be faithful regardless of my questions or my not understanding his ways. Some things I just have to let be. My days are still hard - but somehow there is more "hope and joy" back in them.

However, nothing, NOTHING can separate me from God's love - nothing!
His love - where would I be without it.

The end of my time at Sunnyside was spent talking with a woman (my age) who had come to spend time at her husbands grave. Funny, there we were two strangers who all of a sudden felt like friends. We talked about who brought us there - found out we had some friends in common, shared how we were cared for, and what life feels like now. We cried together. We hugged, and at the end of my visit, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to give her one of my lawn chairs that I carried in my trunk. So I did.
I walked away, as she sat down in her "new" blue lawnchair, with tears running down her cheeks. She was a gift from God yesterday. And perhaps she felt that our meeting was also a gift. We are to encourage one another aren't we. Even in our sorrow.

I came away from Sunnyside - with so many thoughts - some journalled, some expressed, some just there in my head and heart. My little grandson would have been 11 months yesterday. In my mind - I like to imagine our little Jay as a little boy that is running and dancing and chasing things, along with his great grandpa's and grandma. I think he would have a great combination of Josh and Leah's looks - I picture him looking like Josh, with Leah's curls and maybe her cute freckles. I imagine that he would have chased our cats, hugged our dog, picked flowers from the garden, and would have been hugging his mommy and daddy ( and his granny and poppa!) in between his little adventure trails.

I confess, it is still really hard to spend time with babies that are the age he would be - and to hear the adventures of other grandmothers. But that's something I have to work through - and I think it's normal ~ it is just still so hard. Each child I see that is the age Jay would have been is just a reminder of how much we have lost and miss. God knows..... only He knows.

There are some things though that I think I do know -

What do I know - I know that as much as we have loved - Jesus loves Jay even more.
As much as we weep - I believe He has and does weep with us.
As much as we have hurt - He has still loved us - and the Father totally knows what we have experienced, as he watched his son Jesus die for our sin.
I also know that nothing will ever separate me from HIS love - nothing.
Even when I didn't feel Him - He was there with his arms wrapped about us.

As it also says in scripture - "For his unfailing love toward those who fear himi is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west."

O what amazing love you have for us Jesus! May I continue to rest in you - to see you through time spent in your presence, through the words of scripture, through the whisper of your voice to my ears. I love you Lord. Thank you for loving me, even when the rawness of life caused me to question your presence and your power and your love in our lives. Thank you for somehow making beauty out of ashes... continue to breathe new life in our dry weary beings. May you continue to grow hope and joy in our hearts and Lord, please tell my little grandson, how much I love and miss him.

Tuesday, June 23

Sinking in ...

It is sinking in. I, after 7 years in a "paid" ministry - have given my resignation.
Many of you have asked how it feels - and I guess I would describe it as: exciting but scary, exhilerating but a little anxious; gives me life but takes my breath away at times. I guess you get the gest of what I am feeling.

Never once have I thought I have done the wrong thing. Never once have I ever regretted following the Holy Spirit as he guides. However, I do know that it is sometimes a little "scary" (not really the best word) but I guess, not knowing what is ahead - is a little scary!

But, I know HE holds the future and MY future in the palm of His hand. I know He has taken me through some exciting adventures, some dark valleys, some mountain top experiences, and miles and miles of just plain "prairie" roads through my journey of faith. When I look back at what He has done, and also what He can do if I let him - then why would I ever be scared? Okay, it is the human part of me - the part that yes, "likes my ducks in a row!!"

So, at this point - there are 68 sleeps till August 31st which is supposed to be my last day and then, I am working until I can see the Community event happen (since I am planning it) on Sept 3. Then, I am done. And that is what is sinking in.

Once in a while I think, "okay, well, what could I do - since I do want to work SOMEWHERE, at least part time" .... "maybe I could answer phones somewhere (sometimes I wish I had never given this job up at McIvor)... "or maybe I could work in an office" .... or as someone said to me last week as we sat in Tim Horton's that "maybe you could get a job here." And just when I think I have to work it all out, I hear HIM speak and say, "I have it all under control Joy - I have it under control."

And then there are bigger things on our hearts - like where does God want us? where do we worship? If we were not at McIvor - what friends would we always see - actually, during our time off, there were a couple handfuls of friends who were our "church community" that surrounded us, connected with us, talked, listened, cried, gave wisdom. They were from young to our age, and man, do we love these people! I have struggled with "what the institutional church is all about" and have come to believe that it is about community, but we can find that in many ways. We are in a caregroup with 4 young couples, and they have breathed life into us over and over again, with their transparency and vulnerability, and their ability to ask us hard questions and not run when we answer! (Terence, Mia, Russ, Lisa, Joanne, Leroy, Mel and Jon - you will NEVER know what you have been and mean to us!) This caregroup was our "church" for three months when we were off on my leave.

So many thoughts - seems sometimes the thoughts become so big that I don't even want to journal them in my journal!

It is all sinking in - my countdown to the rest of my life -or the next stage. I am feeling stronger. I am also realizing that everything is filtered through our experience of losing our Jay - Everything! We are moving through each day, and moving through our grief. We are getting stronger. When I envision my heart, I see this picture of a heart with broken pieces that have almost come together, but they are jagged and frayed. With strength also comes another filter - the filter of friends. I feel like I am able to "give" to others again.

It is sinking in. I want to line up those ducks! I want to live fully - I think I am finally understanding the phrase that I took from our young friend Jer "GO BIG OR GO HOME" and I really, even if my knees are shaking - I am loving this.
It is all sinking in - as I am approaching my grandson's birthday and the day Jesus took Jay home to heaven - I am realizing that time ticks on whether we want it to or not.

So Lord, thank you for your guidance on my life and Holy Spirit - for your voice which guides and for your power and presence which stills my shaking knees!! As I count down, help me to trust that you have it all under control! Perhaps there is a job that you have in mind, at least part-time - help me to trust you Lord! Thank you that you have all my little ducks in a row! Help me to trust - O Lord, help me to trust.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days wehn you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you," says the LORD.


Tuesday, June 16

A solo voice...

This is a poem that I got given to me from my daughter Ashley ~ and I just came across it once again. It is a gift. You can decipher your thoughts for yourself -

A Solo Voice
a solo voice
on a huge wooden stage
she sings

people come and go
she laughs

she walks with some
and skips with others
and sometimes she even falls.

she cries at times
and yells at others
sometimes dances
and she sometimes sits.

and they watch her
as she talks
they hear her words
but some just watch.

there is just something about her
they don’t need to ask
because they already know
she’s devoted.

every step she takes
is for one purpose.

every word she speaks

every laugh she giggles
comes from a joy
that comes with her devotion.

she’s one hundred percent
and she’s loving it.
she loves it so much
that watching her
makes them want it too
a solo voice
with an audiuence of many
sings purposefully for Him.

written with love by Ashley Klassen

Monday, June 15

First Week Goals - and life in general

Contrary to the time that the blog says I am writing - it is always "off" for some reason - it is almost 11:30 and I should be in bed. Have a little bit of a problem though - I just finished exercising about half hour ago, and now have to "wind down" - I hate when that happens, and normally I have decided NOT to exercise before bed, but I had to get my "quota" in to meet my first week goal!

Last week - I bit the bullet and decided to jump back "on the wagon" and get eating properly. I sometimes wonder if I will ever shed the pounds that keep hanging on - seems my whole life has held many tries at losing weight. I have a friend who always used to tell me to "accept myself as I was" to which I would usually reply "I JUST CAN'T" I don't feel good carrying around the 50+ extra pounds - I put myself at increased risk of all the things in our family history (breast cancer, heart, diabetes). Like that shouldn't be enough motivation!!

Anyhow, last week I decided to "design my own plan" by taking the Weight Watchers point plan and adding the decision to eliminate white flour. I have decided a few more goals which you will also know once I finish this blog posting!

My goals
- only weigh once a week - on Tuesdays
- increase water intake
- quit drinking soft drinks ESPECIALLY DIET DRINKS - only Club Soda allowed. Somehow I just need the fizz once in a while!
- exercise more - CURVES circuit - will try for 3-5x per week; exercise DVD at home - 5-7x per week.
- "track" my food intake
- get walking more

Weight goals
Would like to lose 20-25 lbs in 12 weeks - can I do it?

First week review:
So on the "eve" of my first weigh in - I am pumped. I had a couple hard days at the beginning - I think I was coming off of a sugar withdrawal! I know, I think I have some addictive tendencies - no matter how we don't want to agree with food being an addiction - I think it is.

I have tracked my food intake - and kept within the allowed points per day

I have not had any soft drinks except for some club soda

I have not had white flour!

I have gone to CURVES 3 times - which is the minimum

I have done the exercise DVD at home - 5x including tomorrow morning.

I have not weighed - will do that tomorrow.

I realize this is going to be for a long haul - like FOREVER!
I am really really tired of this burden - lately especially, God seems to be talking to me about the weight I have put on the "temple" of the Holy Spirit.
So - I need to keep giving this to God - HE IS MY STENGTH!
I think the thing I love the most - is the "clarity" of mind that I get when I am eating right and excising (okay, I usually have a grumpy first day!)
Alvin is my cheerleader - so are my kids.
I want to be able to dance with all my grandchildren - to run and play and to be healthy and strong! God is my strength - the journey is a hard one - but I can do it with HIM.

Thursday, June 11

Things that made me smile today!

Okay - today I smiled. Even though it was a really HARD day in MANY WAYS - I still smiled lots!
Like for instance - when my husband asked me if I was going to be cranky today (he asked with a big smile knowing that I was cranky because I am back "on plan" meaning that I am doing the Weight Watchers point thing combined with no white flour, white sugar way of eating! If I am cranky - it usually means I have had a good first and second day! It's tough getting back on the wagon to a healthier life style!

I smiled when while working on my sermon, I head the distinct cawing of a Blue Jay!

I smiled when I realized my sermon for this Sunday WOULD be within the 15 minute time allotment! phew! So much to say - so little time :)

I smiled when I saw some old photos - where Alvin had more hair, and I had big PERMED to the MAX i.e. burnt Hair! Maybe I will post one after all.

I smiled when I saw Ash wearing the DONALD DUCK HAT that she had to buy!!

I smiled when two of my little men friends Jack and Kieran, and their mom Tracy, came for a short visit - a hug or two and a trip to the candy shelf!

I smiled when I got an email from Ash with the cartoon, which I have posted at the top. You gotta know that we laugh as a family when I tell them about how my cousin used to always sing "put the paaaaaaa poose in the kickanoggan" (sorry Doris, I just had to - and by the way, that is what you sang right!!)
So today Ash sent me the cartoon, and we laughed. It was good - because these days have been much harder than I had thought they would be - much harder - in many ways.
But it's okay - God knows.

Laugh with someone today - it makes everything else pale - at least temporarily.
Love to you!!

PS - by the way, what WAS I thinking with the hair and the orange outfit...
And if you want another laugh - check out the fanny pack. Yep, I was in style. What was I thinking!

Friday, June 5

Care about people ~ Care about truth ~ Cut the crap!

Yesterday, I sat beside my mom-in-law's bedside for a few hours - and while she slept, I looked over a magazine she had there, I think it was called "Good Times" or something like that. It was from the hospital, and focused on seniors. Anyhow, as I read through it, I read an article, and in it someone quoted this woman (sorry, I didn't copy down her name) and said that this was what she stood by - the quote at the top as title - Care about people ~ care about truth ~ cut the crap.
I know the last word is a little crass, but really, not sure what other word to use that doesn't become even more offensive. Anyhow, back to those thoughts....

I have said over and over in the past year - you just have to care about people. In fact, err on the side of caring! I don't think that needs any explanation.

Care about the truth! That really doesn't need explaning either! You can never go wrong with the truth. Oh, ouch - maybe you can - if the truth spoken upsets someone, or causes a break in a friendship, or makes someone feel hurt. I guess the thing is, the truth needs to be spoken in love, there are times when that will make the truth easier to take. However, sometimes what you see as the truth is twisted and thrown back at you. This was my experience this week - when I realized that sharing how I felt (even though I was asked to share my journey) didn't fall on ears that really wanted to hear. Thing is, it was real to me - but included some hard things that we experienced and felt. I also realize that what I say is my perception, and the ears that my words fall on then process it through their own filter of what they perceive. Okay, I think I have lost myself with this, let alone you who are reading this blog. The bottom line is - something happened this week and while I read the email I wept. I have realized that the journey of grief is a hard one, and it has affected relationships that I had treasured and cherished. I have seen where there are times that we act like we care about the truth, but we have to decide if sharing is worth it. Hmmm. Care about the truth!

Cut the crap! My husband has the gift of discernment. It is a hard gift to have - as there are times when we meet someone/sit with someone/listen to someone and when we leave Alvin shares something - a sense, feeling, understanding. More often than nought, it proves true. I think we have all been with people, or sat through meetings when you just want to yell, "cut the crap" and just get to the point! Or stop making something sound bigger than it is... or just do it instead of debating it to death. You know, living on a farm - there is something about the smell that comes from cow manure - you just don't get a way from it easily - especially on a hot day. No matter how you may want to disguise it - it is still manure. Sometimes we want to water things down, or make it appear different - like the days when Alvin would spread the pile out, it was usually those days when the big smell would waft into the yard again. And into our neighbor's yeards. It was no longer a big pile, but it still smelled the same! Cut the crap! Care about truth....
Speak the truth in love because you care about people.

Not sure where I am going - besides letting the thoughts of a now 51 year old woman ramble through my head and fall out onto this blog!
I loved the article I read yesterday - and the quote. Short and sweet - again Care about people (perhaps it means listening ~ truly listening) Care about truth (spoke with love - there is no other way) And well, cut the crap!
What is really important - people and truth - that stands!! Enough said.

Today is my birthday. I was born at dawn. I am 51. My year last year I thought would look much different than it did, but I have great hope for this year. I have changed - and perhaps the next leg of my life will look different than the first leg. Today is my birthday - I am not sure what all it will hold - my kids have something in store for me and time will tell. Today is my birthday. I am a different person than I was this time last year. God knows all about my year ahead, just as he knew about my year in the past! Lord, what will it hold - give me energy, give me strength, give us joy! O Lord, give us joy.

Wednesday, June 3

My "blonde" blessing!

Okay, lest you think I am using "blonde" as a derogatory compliment ~ I want to set it straight! My "Blonde" is a blessing!! And those of you who recognize the picture - will know who I am talking about. And Karis, yes, I know you read this - and it is you that I want to bless today! Why? because yesterday, you blessed me!

Let me tell you about my "blonde blessing!" First of all, Karis and I joke about blonde moments! I laughed about having some blonde highlights, so I can use the expression too!

Yesterday I sat with Karis - in her living room - with a cup of coffee in hand, and the time went all too quickly. I also sat with Karis a couple times while I was off. You see, Karis and I are "family" through our marriages to "step cousins" ...
We are "family" through our love for Jesus Christ! We are "sisters". But more than that, Karis speaks into my life. She "loves on" me with absolutely no strings attached, and she lets me "love on" her!

Shortly after I began ministry here at McIvor, Karis came through my office door to talk about what God was calling her too! She said it was to "ministry with women" ~ yep, you know me ~ this call on her life, resonated with the call on mine! Shortly after that she ran the first ever Beth Moore Bible Study at McIvor... and since has run more, and more, and offered other women's ministry things! The last bible study saw (I think it was) about 90 women coming together to get into the word of God. Now really!! How exciting is that!

Karis often tells me that I was a mentor to her... that always humbles me. Thing is, I believe we have been peer mentors to one another. Her love for Jesus spills out of her and tumbles and splashes on everyone that crosses her path! INCLUDING ME!!

I have been blessed by watching Karis as a wife and as a mom to three children. I have been blessed as I have watched Karis figure out how to parent their little guy Evan, who has autism. Karis, thank you for teaching ME!

I love that when we get together, we can sit crosslegged on couches and just share our hearts! No strings attached! I love that when she says "Joy I am praying for you" ~ I know she means it! I love that when we talk, we can both cry - and that's okay. I love that when I walk into Reyn and Karis' home, I feel genuinely "at home" - and I hope that our retreat ministry will have such a feeling!

I love that we can laugh ~ about things that were just plain silly or "blonde" as Karis calls it! (again, I don't mean that as an offense!) I love knowing that women at McIvor will continue to find blessing in the months to come ~ and years.

I see how Karis has just grown so much - in her love for Jesus! It is contagious. Karis, you are my "blonde blessing" ~ thank you for blessing me! Thank you for praying for me! Thank you for really "knowing" me and loving me regardless!

Karis ~ you show me how to just go with the flow that Jesus has for you! You dare to speak and ask and comment on my life ~ often when others are too nervous to "stir up the pot" or too scared to ask how I am doing. You are so perceptive and with love and gentlesness, you dare to ask what others may be thinking. You have often brought a "healing balm" to my life - to the frayed and tattered edges. You did that yesterday! Thanks.

I just love that Karis can just be "real" ~ what you see at Bible Study is what you see when you bump into her at the grocery store, or sit crosslegged on a couch in her house.

Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to work with Karis - to be not only family, but friends. To be mentors one to another. I thank you for the love and call that you have placed within Karis, and ask that you would continue to give her strength, energy and joy in serving YOU Jesus! Continue to bless her, as a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, a minister ~ O Lord, hear our prayers! Amen.

PS - sorry, it's not the greatest picture but it was all I had!! And I didn't ask for permission either. Hope that's okay!