Wednesday, October 28

Healing Hands

Today - was a full day. In view of most of my days - today was full. It began with an early rise - sitting with Alvin as he ate his Rice Krispies and chocolate milk (we ran out of white milk!).... a cup of coffee, nice hot bath, checking emails, quiet time with the Lord and a quick clean up and I was out the door by ten thirty.
And here I sit - almost twelve hours later - and wondering where the time went.
The day included spending time with my daughter Ash around lunch, and later with Ash and Michael at the mall (had to finally make some changes to cell phone plans). The rest of my day included a trip to the Unemployment Office (not sure if I qualify or not since I quit) ~ and my last trip to the chiropractor (on my year long plan) and then, ahhhhhh, a trip to see Trudy for a massage!! One hour never feels long enough.

I have to tell you about my friend Trudy, who actually teaches massage. I know that when I go for a massage it is OKAY not to talk - and to just rest or sleep. But that is never the way with Trudy and I - we talk, and it is all good. And, sometimes I cry (and she has too) and sometimes I know that she is praying over me, even though she is not praying out loud.... I just sense it.

It is pretty awesome having her for my massage therapist - for a number of reasons. We are friends. We also did ministry together. She understands pain, and loss (of a different kind, but none the less loss) and she gets "ministry" and I also think that she has heard my hurts, and has validated them. And while all this happens, she uses her hands to soothe aches and pains in my physical being, and works out knots in muscles, and "lays on hands" as she prays. God uses Trudy in an amazing way, and I am very thankful for her.

Today when I came in, and laid down on the bed - and she asked what I needed worked on today? I told her that I had fallen in the ditch on the weekend, so I had a bit of a sore upper back/neck. This followed through into talking about my week (past two)and how I have struggled with purpose and self-worth. And then that followed into talking about how I felt about old work-related things. And on and on it went until it was time to turn over - and to let her work on the front of my neck and head. It was especially at this point - with her hands resting on either side of my face, that she was quiet, and I sensed there was some praying happening.

I don't think I am unique. I think this is just Trudy and the fact that she is a Christian and she is a massage therapist, and together God uses her hands and her prayers as agents for healing. How cool is that!

I left Trudy's with a strong sense of well-being. We talked about self-worth and how in the hard times, or in the times when God seems silent - that we often struggle more.... or at least I do!! Trudy did not give me the pat "christian" answers.... you know which ones they are? (usually the ones that say Jesus won't give us more than we can bear??) Really, I am 51 and I have trusted my Lord since giving my life to him at the age of 8. I could recite many of the scriptures that we use when we want to help someone and don't know what to say...
(I know they are well-meaning, but sometimes, it is better just to hug!!)

I shared with Trudy that I know all of the stuff in my head, but my heart is struggling with some of it again during this period of "waiting". If someone could tell my heart? Trudy and I talked about walking through the dry times and knowing God is with us. Yes - I do know that alot.

Yesterday - my other good friend Meggie reminded me of God in our lives - and how even though it is hard to praise God in the hard, dry, dark times - it seems that in these times, the praises lift us!! She said she uses some Gaither music - that it usually causes praise to lift from her heart! So, yep, I pulled out the Ernie Hause and Signature Sound dvd... and praised.

I am so thankful for friends who help me see the goodness of God - even in the times when He is there with me, but silent....
I am very aware that He is making me wait - and you know, I thought I knew about waiting, and about resting in Him, and about being still and knowing HE IS GOD...
but apparently I am still learning. God is using Trudy's healing hands, her prayers, and my family and friends like Meggie - over the past two days to just say again...."Joy, I am here.... trust me Joy, just trust me!"

O Lord, please give me the courage - the strength - the patience - to rest in you, to wait for you to move ahead of me - and cause my faith to grow, my patience to increase and more than anything - I want to fall more head over heels in love with you Jesus, and learn how to dance with the Trinity!!

today's ramblings written by the relaxed mouse herself!
posted on Wednesday, October 28th

Saturday, October 24

What Now God?

I’ll admit it – I have thought that a lot lately – and yes, perhaps I have dared to speak it out loud. And something within me says “Really Joy?? Are you back there again?”

Yesterday was a wonderful day – it involved meeting with friends – and sharing community with them. Friends that know me pretty good – they know the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had lunch with Jeannette – and we talked. I had a work-out at Curves with Debbie – and we talked. She even did a few more stations after she was technically done – so that we could keep talking. And, Alvin and I ended off the day, spending a few hours with old friends whom we have shared friendship with for many, many years.

Yesterday, I had the chance to ponder over my journaling notes from the week with Dr. Crabb. Ponder over some life-giving quotes (which I posted yesterday). And, of course I got asked yesterday – if I would share the week with my friends.

In the midst of two of the conversations – the ones that lasted hours vs. thirty minutes – I also was able to share my wrestling over the past week. The wondering about what I am supposed to do – (when I actually believe I KNOW in my heart the answer). The wondering over the sale of our house, at this time – and whether we are really giving it to God or just fooling ourselves? I joked about the “conversations” that take place in my head – all the time. The confusion at times – the doubt – the surety – the resting – the letting go – the struggle to let go – the feeling of being in God’s arms – along with the feeling that I can’t feel Him – should I go on? You get the picture.

To look at me from the outside – you wouldn’t know this. And, to just bump into me, you would think that I am looking great (which is what someone told me)… but it is only those who dare to spend time in community with me – who are also the ones who challenge, or prod at times, or listen, or cry (you know who you are) – You are the ones that help me to see that all of this is really part of our walk with God. Or at least I think it is.

The title – WHAT NOW GOD? – I actually stole from an article I was reading, which was a review on when Rob Bell came to speak in Winnipeg. Apparently he was speaking about Pain, Suffering, Despair, Sorrow (oh dear, how familiar those words are). And that it seems that many of us rant and rave and say WHY GOD?? (Yes, I confess…)

Apparently Bell told the crown that “I’m less interested in why suffering happens, than in what we should do next.” And that rather than seeing pain, suffering, despair and sorrow as detrimental or damaging – that it shapes us and forms us as we confront it – and that we are really forced to express what we are really feeling – and the stripping away and uncovering the most important part…

As this person wrote in the article (Mike Duerksen – MB Herald, October 09 edition) “There’s also the art of solidarity in realizing that through the incarnation, God knows how we feel on some unfathomable level, and finally, the art of failure that takes in stride the broken pieces for what they are – a part of a grander scheme and a larger puzzle. Overall, Bell’s message was clear; none get to God but through trouble.”

This kind of corresponds to the book SHATTERED DREAMS by Larry Crabb.

All of this – the reading, the pondering of what has been stored in my heart over the past year – I have come to realize that I KNOW this – and that I have experienced the pieces coming together after the brokenness. And I have experienced God in all of it. I realize something else however – that has to do with brokenness – repentance and release that turns to HOPE …. I realize that (as Dr. Crabb spoke about it) – I am constantly having to repent to the Lord, about my “spirit of entitlement” ….. you know what I mean? The A +B= C Do this, and this and God will give you THAT….
NOT ….
I have come to realize that the Lord is truly about relationship – he longs for me to come to him, to talk, to just rest in him, to confess my daily sin to him, and to grow to become more like Jesus! I have also come to realize that I do not get anything because I deserve it. NOT A THING!! Go figure – Grace is all about that – we deserved nothing but death because of our sin – but God in his great plan – sent Jesus to die for us – so that we would be able to live eternally with the Trinity. WOOHOOO….. talk about getting something we don’t deserve!! Think about what that means – about how much GOD LOVES YOU AND ME!!

So back to the whole thing about wrestling with our “spirit of entitlement”. I think that it so subtly crawls back in - “Lord, I love you – so why aren’t you selling our house now?” (Yes, it sounds pretty bad doesn’t it?)

So needless to say – my friends have allowed us to talk – about so much – sorrow/sadness/joy/anticipation/anxiety/confusion…. All of it.
We are so blessed to have community around us – my week has been full of it – with my kids… with friends over lunches, over coffees, over work out machines, over supper, over a massage, at the end of a meeting when we stay later to chat!. With friends via facebook chat, via email. I am SOOOOO loved. Lord, thank you for community that I find in friendships. I am also thankful Lord, that you keep letting me “give it all to you” and that even in the confusion and the wrestling…. You really are here with me. Help me to trust you for all things – yes Lord – I give you my house again… really Lord – to do with as you see fit WHEN you see fit. Help me to let go and truly give it to you Lord God.

Thanks friends – for reading and listening to my ramble. Thank you for not just listening but also for challenging me when it is necessary. Thank you for your love, and your prayer support. Thank you for standing in the gap on our behalf. I am very thankful.
VERY VERY thankful!

Posted on Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday, October 23

School of Spiritual Direction - "take home" ponderings

These quotes are some that I wrote down last week while at the School of Spiritual Direction. They have become “take home” ponderings.

Many of these quotes will have names beside them – those without – were things I wrote down as Dr. Crabb shared with us!! These are “take home” thoughts that I have and will continue to ponder!! O Lord – grow me to be more like you…. That is my prayer. Here they are - just written down - no explanation - feel free to respond via comment!

“The examined life is hard to live!”
(think this was a Dr. Crabb quote that I wrote down)

Spiritual Direction – create space for God “to do”

“Root of all sin – is the suspicion that God isn’t good”
Oswald Chambers

Our ‘spirit of entitlement’ destroys our ‘spirit of gratitude!’

Question: does spiritual formation have more to do with the power to persevere than the power to experience his presence?

“He’ll not allow anything to happen that won’t be used to His good.”
Dr. Crabb

“I’m staking my life on the belief that God loves me!!”
(oops, can’t remember who said this )

“Put first things (God) first and second things are thrown in.
Put second things first and first and second things are lost.”
C.S. Lewis

“There’s something more than trying to make things happen…”
Lisa M. (students together in Colorado)

How does the Lord do the work of transforming us?
To become a “little Christ” requires a transformation much bigger than what we see in the mirror.

“Don’t be a ‘chess player’ – become a poet and flow with the music of heaven.”

“The Spirit wants to have us dance the dance with the Trinity!”

HOPE deepens our sense of faith!!

Justification is as important today as when I came to Christ! Our Master desires we live in repentance on a daily basis.

Eugene Peterson said, in regards to Spiritual Direction that it is “Discerning what the Spirit is doing and tagging along!”

“Everybody’s life is a story as opposed to a diagnosis.”
Dr. Yuem

“If you learn to hang out with Jesus – you catch the good infection.”

“When I get into the pain of your story – we want to know how to do more than become overwhelmed.

“Why is it when you come to God at your hour of greatest need – it seems like God’s not there and the door is locked and double locked?”
C.S. Lewis

“The prayers offered in a state of dryness are those which please him best.”
“Maybe God’s doing his deepest work when he’s most absent.”
C.S. Lewis

“You never know how much you believe in the strength of a rope until you’re hanging on it over a cliff.” C.S. Lewis

(on trusting God – He IS there!!)

How easy it is to see beauty in creation, but harder to see beauty in people!

“When you’re in the presence of God – it’s never right to demand anything.
Francis Schaffer

“What is the value of Calvary in our lives today?”

My identity – I am a Christian who is loved by GOD…. Yesssss!

God provides healing – which is tied to repentance – of whatever gets in the way. Repenting has to start with me!
When broken meet broken – there is JOY

“If you live for silence and solitude – try community.
If you live for community – try silence and solitude.”

Community becomes opportunity for discernment and times for good conversations that aren’t always “fun”. Sometimes church is only “fun”.

“Prayer joins us in the momentum of what God’s doing in this world.”
P.T. Forsythe (hope I got the name right)

“What I have to give – accomplishes nothing apart from HIM!”

“I’ve got a flesh pretty darn active – BUT the Spirit within me is even more active.”

“It is IMPORTANT to spend hours and hours in the Word.”

“This BROKENNESS > REPENTENCE> RELEASE – is a life style!!”

“Real church – is a continual flow: It is about spiritual theology! (There is a WHOLE story – God beginning to end, with us as part of the story). It is about Spiritual Formation: is he/she/me changing to become more like Jesus? It is recognizing that Spiritual formation happens in Spiritual Community!! Is there authenticity? It is about Spiritual Mission – Are we reaching out to others in the energy of Christ? Revealing the love of God to the poor so they can get to know Christ? Real church is about a Story!! A “transcended drama!!”

"At the center of ministry – it has to be GOD – knowing Him better will overflow into ministry!!"

posted on Friday, October 23

Thursday, October 22

Flannel - Flannel and more Flannel!

Today I finally got to Steinbach and bought a bunch of baby flannel for a quilt. Not just ANY quilt, but my SECOND labor of love - making a "rag quilt" for my second little grandbaby.... (I know, you are all hoping that I let the cat out of the bag, and say if it is going to be a boy or girl... sorry, it's not going to happen - my lips are sealed!!)

Anyhow - last time I went and got all the fabric at Fabricland. But Leah has introduced me to a place in Steinbach - Tanelle's - owned by a christian couple and she has fallen in love with the fabrics there - so, off we went, and picked out and bought fabric.

Last time, I made the quilt, picking out the fabric with the help of my girlfriend, whom I had let in on the secret that I was buying fabric for my firstborn grandSON.
So, we picked out the corresponding colors... I remember a conversation that Leah and I had at the cottage, as I was working on the rag quilt - I had chosen to cut a piece of material from my grad dress (yep, you heard it, my GRAD dress from 1976!!)
I put in a piece of my grad dress .... just a little piece. Leah told me that she thought the rag quilt would become a favorite that was dragged around everywhere - and I replied that "well, a little piece of Granny would go with him". I remember praying and sewing - thinking of my little Jay - who I knew would be a boy, but didn't know yet his name would be Jay Benjamin. The quilt was a labor of love. A labor of love that was not too big for my little grandson! It was made lovingly and specifically for Jay, and only Jay.

This time - I have another piece of my grad dress - and again a "little piece of Granny" will be sewn into this rag quilt. I also plan to put a piece left over from Jay's quilt into this little one's rag quilt. Two pieces will not match the rest - but will carry love and memories. I can already envision it - even though the meters of flannel are just stacked one on top of the other in the back seat of my car. Guess I will have to wash and dry it tomorrow and get cutting those squares!

And, as I feel the flannel - and cut the squares - and sew them together - and cut and sew and cut and sew - I will pray - and thank God - and I have a feeling there may be a few tears that fall onto the soft flannel - and at the end - I will do the same thing that I did with Jay's. I will write a little note on a piece of fabric - a little note to my grandbaby - with love from this Granny!

Yes, I could buy a quilt - and give it to Josh and Leah for this little one! There are many beautiful quilts out there that I could buy and give - BUT I am choosing to spend time cutting and sewing - so that I can pour love, and prayer, and yes, even some tears into this quilt - and when I see my second little grandbaby hugging it - it will be so worth it. I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!

posted on Thursday, October 22nd.

Tuesday, October 20

Cows in my Yard!

Today has been a quiet day - Alvin left for work with Blue Jay Family Works (family business) early this morning. I always marvel at his positive attitude at 6 in the morning even BEFORE a good cup of coffee. I turned over in bed for a few more winks of shut-eye (although I did have a fresh cup of coffee beside me, which went cold!)

Tonight he goes to work - his first of two night shifts. It will be a quiet evening too. Just me and Oreo, who gets to snooze inside at our back door - he loves that.

This morning I noticed that there was a cow on the wrong side of the fence - and on the other side of the shop. NOT ALLOWED!! While we don't have our own cows - we do let Travis (our good neighbor at the corner) use our pasture for his animals. Thus the cows. I went out, with Oreo and they ran back to the fence and seemed to go back on the "right side" of the fence without any problem. Hmmm.... must be an issue with the wires.

So, later in the day, I decided to go for a walk in the "back forty" and walk alongside of the fence to see where the problem was. And very quickly I saw the issue - the electric wire was off the conductor (or whatever it was called) and in the grass below - looks like it has been down for a while. So, with a stick, I lifted it up, and put it back on the black holder. It was only after that, that I realized three more animals were again on the other side of the fence. It only took them a few minutes to realize they better get going, and sure enough, they were able to figure that out pretty quickly. (Okay, let it be known that I have done alot of farming in my day - including innoculations, and helping to deliver calves, and chasing my fair share of them, and I STILL have this RESPECT for cows!!) So, I was glad they were able to correct their own problems, and all land up on the right side of the fence - at least for now! Mental note to self: call Travis and get him to check the fence.

When I walked - it was like the INCREDIBLE JOURNEY.... behind me, meowing all the way were Vanilla (white cat) and Louis (black cat) and Oreo. Ahead of me were cows, calves, and Travis' horse and pony. Along the way I could hear the sound of Blue Jays. The leaves are just now beginning to turn. The oak trees in the back are still in full form - just a few more days, and some wind, and they will be standing naked again.

Naked. Vulnerable. Bare.
Those words are full of meaning - full of thoughts - as was my mind and heart as I walked the back. I don't know how to express my thoughts exactly - there seem to be so many. Many of them come out of the intensive week last week in Colorado - I still get this awe when I think back to the places and times that I was so aware of the presence of God. I have not gone into my notes at all - as Dr. Crabb suggested that we put out stuff away and allow the Holy Spirit to "settle" what is important into our hearts. I have been doing alot of thinking lately - about my "purpose"...
seems that being without a job makes you wonder!! When I was in Colorado, I met with Mary-Beth who was on the NewWay ministries team - to do 1:1 spiritual direction. When I met with her - she listened to me talk - about my shattered dreams - my hurts - my joys - my anxieties... and she asked me what the word "REST" means to me. I shared with her that I was struggling with my purpose now that I was unemployed. She encourged me alot - and thought that perhaps my purpose was to REST in the Lord - and to delight in my husband, and to together prepare for what God had in store for us. I really think she hit the nail on the head. So, what is my problem? Why do I feel like I am not "pulling my weight" so to speak in life?

Aren't you happy to know that you are involved in these thoughts - merely because you decided to read today's blog.

I know that the word of God says that He has a plan and a purpose for me - not to prosper, or harm but to give me hope and a future (my paraphrase, sorry if I didn't get it right!) I know that passage also talks about when we seek Him and find him.

So why do I struggle with just trusting God on this - afterall in the summer, when I thought of a job - he kept saying very clearly - JOY JUST TRUST ME!
Why do I feel useless because I am at home - is it because my house is clean, and I feel like I have nothing to do?
Lord - what do you want me to do for you? Perhaps this is the time set aside to really dig into the Word.
I think He is teaching me that my "worth" is not in my job. My "worth" is not determined by the number of people who thank me for what I have done for them in ministry. My "worth" is not in the number of emails I get or don't get.

I think that God is still saying - Just trust me.
I think that He is helping me realize that regardless of who misses me (or not) - regardless of who phones (or not) - regardless of who emails (or not) -
I think that He is showing me that HE loves ME and that is really all that counts.
He continues to show me what is in my life that is ugly - or hard - but He also shows me what is in my life that is JOY-filled and beautiful!
My God loves me. He has created me because he wants relationship with me!
I think he is saying that my worth is not determined by a paycheque or a title.
I know that HE wants me to experience LIFE in Him, through Him and because of HIM.
And then in turn - because of the Holy Spirit's life in me - I can live fully - authentic and alive! To be the best woman! The best wife! The best mom - and the best Granny that in Christ, I can be.
That is my purpose - woohoo..... all this came about through fixing an electric fence! Guess I should chase cows in my yard more often!!

I know, I have rambled - but it makes sense to me!!
Lord, thank you for this day - for my man, for my kids, for my grandbaby who I am going to get to hold soon.
Thank you for the object lessons you give me through your creations - Blue Jays - changing leaves - and cows in my yard!
Thank you for loving me - for dying for me - for filling me with your power - and for giving me PURPOSE.... thank you God!!

posted on Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19

Moment of Grace

Grace. Not a word that people in the secular world use very often. Perhaps since it is associated with the Christian world. I am not sure, but yesterday - I experienced some grace!!

It was mid morning and I was bombing along the highway in my husband's big truck (or it feels big to me) and I was listening to the radio, and my thoughts were not on the speedometer at all. Now, I have travelled this same stretch of road for 26 years - driving most of those trips myself - and the speed limit has not changed. It has remained at 80 kph.

So, there I was - doing 90.... driving, thinking, listening to the tunes when lo and behold - the second car coming toward me - very visibly a RCMP cruiser. Oh shoot! Usually at that time, hitting the brakes is a jerk-reaction, which is also a very visble acknowledgement of guilt! Why else would the brake lights go on!!
Well - right at that time, he flashes his lights at me, and puts on his swirly lights.

You have to know the thoughts that were running through my mind.... "after all these years - you are getting a ticket?" "just what you need when you are umemployed, a costly fine, way to go" and "oh no.... I wonder if I can find Alvin's registration in this truck". I obviously quickly slowed (yep, put on the brake) and proceeded to slow down and pull over. No use making him chase me - that's just not my style.

I looked in the mirror, fully anticipating that he would pull a u-ey and come after me. NOT. He proceeded on - no turning, no speed, no lights. Just like he was out on a Sunday morning drive. NOW - perhaps one could say - he wasn't flashing you, or perhaps he was rushing back to change shifts...whatever. I feel like it was a moment of grace and I am so thankful.

His flash of light. His turning on his swirling red and blue lights. That was sufficient to this daydreaming "Sunday driver". Immediately I was so thankful. Immediately I made sure that I drove the speed limit all the rest of the way in. Immediately I thought of how I was just the recipient of grace, and I was deeply thankful and humbled.

Hmmm..... do I feel the same way when God shows me grace? Do I feel the same way when the Holy Spirit nudges me about something I know I should slow down on, or stop altogether. Do I feel the same way about extending grace to those around me?

Grace - (Christian theology) the free and unmerited favor or beneficence of God; "God's grace is manifested in the salvation of sinners"; "there but for the grace of God go I" ; a state of sanctification by God; the state of one who is under such divine influence;

Seems that God uses these "teachable life moments" to teach me about Him. Thank you Lord. All I knew yesterday was that I WAS GUILTY and that the RCMP OFFICER EXTENDED GRACE! That is totally God and I! God the Father - loved us so much that He sent his son - Jesus to die for me on the cross - He died and three days later rose again - and now today - I live with the Holy Spirit within me and filling me with the same resurrection power. Last week we talked alot about the Trinity! About the relationship Father - Son and Holy Spirit. About the dance as it were between the three and the dance that we are invited to! Grace - really is all about dancing with the Trinity!! Dancing because I have been loved, my sin has been forgiven, and I have been covered by the most amazing grace. And - there is the glorious hope of living eternally with the Trinity. What a day that will be - when my Jesus I shall see! What a dance I have to look forward to!!

Grace on a Sunday afternoon. Grace - through Jesus. GRACE!

Posted on Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday, October 17

the journey at School of Spiritual Direction - class #33

October 17th, 2009

I am home now - so glad to see my husband! (SO GLAD) and looking forward to tonight to seeing my four kids: Josh and Leah, Ashley and Michael. Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving together - complete with a turkey and the trimmings! A week late, but soooo thankful for my family!

I woke up this morning - at the same time I woke up all week in Colorado Springs - but I didn't need to grab my binder, my notebook and most of all my Bible..... at least not for class. School of Spiritual Direction - who would have thought that it would have been so incredibly hard but so incredibly wonderful. I think I have already begun to mourn the fact that I have had to say good-bye to our "little family of SSD class 33" who were in intense relationship last week - that we would grow to love one another and become a "community" in the true sense of the word. A community that Dr. Larry Crabb talked about in one of the books we read prior to going - Becoming a True Spiritual Community. Honestly, I think every person, every church board of elders and councils and whatever else church leadership teams call themselves - this should become a MUST READ.

It really doesn't matter if you are Plymouth Brethren (which is what I grew up in, till the age of 20) or Mennonite Brethren (which is what Alvin and I were part of for the past 31 years, and wherein I pastored for the past 7) or any denomination in between. If you have read my blog over the past year - you will know that as a combination of things - I have wrestled with what CHURCH is - and have come to the conclusion that "church" isn't what we have made it into - and that I think there are times when we grieve the Lord at what we have become. Sometimes I really don't think God really cares about some of the things we fight over, or "lord" over other denominations. What I do think is that it grieves the heart of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit - when they see how we fight over things - or how complacent we have become - or how we wish to be missional but don't weep over the lostness of people - or how we think that Sunday morning is what we "do" and that should last for the rest of the week. Oh Lord - how we must make you weep at times!

This past week - as we have journeyed - each morning two triads (we were broken into triads for the whole week for an afternoon session together and for worship two of the triads were put together to plan and lead). The first morning - the two triads that led, opened with us hearing the words, and then listening to the song by Casting Crowns called STAINED GLASS MASQUERADE. These words spoke to us - to me personally as well - and I want to share them with you - without any further comment.

Casting Crowns — Stained Glass Masquerade lyrics

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who's been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who's traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

But if the invitation's open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small

Henri Nouwen said "I love the church. I do not want to write about the church as a problem, a source of conflict, a place of controversy, but as the Body of Christ for us here and now."

THe "Church" ~ the "Body of Christ" .... Community....true SPIRITUAL community. Hmmm...

In his book, BECOMING A TRUE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY ~ Dr. Crabb says "The church is a community of people on a journey to God. Wherever there is supernatural togetherness and Spirit-directed movement, there is the church ~ a spiritual community." "...I speak of spiritual community as a gathering of people who experience a kind of togetherness that only the Holy Spirit makes possible, who move in good directions ~ and want to ~ because the Spirit is at work. In a spiritual community, people reach deep places in each other's hearts that are not often or easily reached. They discover places beneath the awkwardness of wanting to embrace and cry and share opinions. They openly express love and reveal fear, even though they feel so unaccustomed to that level of intimacy. When members of a spiritual community reach a sacred place of vulnerability and authenticity, something is realeased. Something good begins to happen. An appetite for holy things is stirred. For just a moment, the longing to know God becomes intense, stronger than all otehr passions, worth whatever price must be paid for it. Spiritual togetherness, what I call connecting, creates movement: Togetherness in Christ encourages movement toward Christ."

I am so glad that I had the amazing gift of going and spending a full week with 29 other students at the School of Spiritual Direction. I don't remember when I witnessed so powerfully the presence of God so often, in our midst. I don't remember when I saw men and women - from the ages of 32 to about 70 - weeping unashamedly as the Spirit moved in us individually. I am so thankful that I was blessed by my family - and my friends to attend. For those of you who prayed, and for those of you who sent emails to be given to me at our closing banquet - thank you for your friendship, your love and prayers. You are true spiritual community!

* the picture is one I will treasure - having sat under the teaching of Dr. Larry Crabb who became just "Larry" to us all week. I never thought anyone would/could bring the book of Obadiah to life!! I see what it means for ME! One of the things that I loved about Dr. Crabb was his curiosity for Scripture - and his encouragement to us to be curious as we read and get to know God through it, as it is one of the "66 love letters" God has given to us! (Dr. Crabb has just sent a book to the publisher called 66 Love Letters (available in the new year) I also loved how he had committed so much scripture to heart - it oozed out of him. That has been my desire - to just devour scripture to the place where it is constantly on the tip of my tongue. Dr. Crabb - I could "smell" Jesus through you! Thank you for being an image bearer of the Almighty!

Tuesday, October 13

Could there possibly be any more tears?

The School of Spiritual Direction is such a gift to me. I thank God for my family and friends who have and are bathing me and this time away in prayer. I came with no expectations other than I felt God had something for me personally, and for me in regards to ministry.

While this blog post will be short - all I can say is that I am amazed at the tears that continue to flow - almost every session. We begin the day with worship - devotional by Dr. Crabb - prayer - and then teaching on spiritual direction. That is before lunch. This morning, as we spent the time in silent prayer/reflection, my tears rolled down my cheeks - and I could hear other people accessing the kleenex that is on each table.

BROKENNESS - it is only in brokenness that we realize the power of the Holy SPirit in us. I am learning alot. GOd is revealing even more. Some of it is startling. Some of it is perhaps things I knew but just didn't want to "go there" with it.

There will be more to come - as many thoughts as tears I am sure. I am so thankful I have come here and see how this point in time is the time God needed me to come.
Thank you Lord for the gift of this beautiful time - the blessing of this beautiful retreat space - the wisdom of such a godly christian man as Dr. Larry Crabb - and for being able to step out of my life back home, and come here with the full blessing of my man and my kids.

Lord, I am sooooo thankful and so blessed.
Thank you Father - who loves me and embraces me -
Thank you Jesus - who died for me and rose again. You've covered me with amazing grace.
Thank you Holy Spirit for indwelling me - and filling me with the resurrection power.
O God - thank you.

Sunday, October 11

School of Spiritual Direction - Dr. Larry Crabb

On Oct 9 I flew to Colorado Springs to sit under the tutorage of Dr. Larry Crabb - in New Way Ministries School of Spiritual Direction.

30 of us from all walks of life - all ages - men and women who love God. Glen Eyrie is beautiful .... I am in awe of creation around me. But it is freezing cold - and the walk to and from the Castle for meals - has been somewhat treacherous.

My head and heart are already swimming with what I have heard - wow....
My prayer - O Lord - make me more like you.

I am here - away from Alvin and my kids - and feeling the absense intensely.
I am on Day 2 - and will be done on Friday.

It is the prayer of my heart - that I will be teachable - and come away renewed, and focused on the Lord - MY Lord - O to be more like Him so that His reflection is all you see in me... that is my prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving - at least in Canada!!

Monday, October 5

today's thoughts.....

Monday - October 5th, 2009

Today has been a quiet day. Another good reading day - I am about half way through the last book that I ahve to read for my week long course. I will admit that I have been anxious. Anxious about a few things - but one of them is about the sale of our house. It has been on the market now for almost a week - and we haven't heard a word. Anxious. Each morning I go through the ritual of cleaning the bathtub - making the bed up with the new bedcover (which we don't sleep with), cleaning up breakfast dishes, sweeping the floor if needed, making sure everything is in order. And amidst all that - is anxiety. Somehow I just can't seem to help it - and yet - really - there is nothing I can do to make the house sell. Nothing. NOT ONE THING.
So why the heck do I spend so much time being anxious! I guess because we are utterly human!!

Last night my accountability partner Elizabeth (who is such a gift from God)spoke and prayed into my life! Elizabeth and I got to know each other through email - back in November of 2007. It is quite something - she being a worship pastor - going through changes in church jobs etc. Me, being a pastor and going through changes that had already begun in November 2007. Now - almost two years later, she has become a very good friend although we have never met. Just last week - one week ago - we began with phone calls - daily ones - to help one another keep accountable as we both do the weight loss shuffle!!

Anyhow, last night Elizabeth prayed scripture over me. This morning I read the scripture that she prayed - along with a scripture from todays devotional by Beth Moore - it just all fit. Here are the scriptures - the one Elizabeth prayed over me was I Peter 5: 6-11 NIV

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

The one that spoke to me from the devotional by Beth Moore was from Philippians 4: 6 & 7: also NIV

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So this morning - the Holy Spirit reminded me that I needed to surrender to the Lord - all of it - even my anxieties. And I did. (and have done over and over and over again)

Early afternoon I just felt that I needed to get outside - so I went. Here are some of the thoughts I wrote down, reflecting on the afternoon.

Today ~ The Lord and I ~ outside in His creation!

The day dreary with glimpses of sun
Storm clouds circled but drops didn’t fall
Leaves turning colors, and dropping to the ground with the wind
Blue Jays flitting from tree to tree – their call distinct
The day is quiet
The air is crisp

Wood dried and stacked soon becomes engulfed in flame
Smoke curls rising toward the sky

Lawn chairs sitting close – inviting me to come
Come and sit
Come and think
Come and listen
Come and read
Come and just “be”

Lord, thank you for this time to spend with you - outside in your creation.

As I sit – I listen
The neighbors goats are bleating mercilessly
The neighbors dogs are forming a choir of noise
Barking like there is no tomorrow –
Yet my dog sits quietly by my side
Age has not been kind to him
Eyes no longer see clearly
Hearing has gone
Yet he is loyal and glad to be outside with me, content to just be in my presence.

Hmm – seems to be an object lesson in this
In my dog Oreo
In his contentedness to just “be” with me
Oblivious to everything else.
O Lord – help me to learn how to be with you.
Thank you for this time to spend with you – outside in your creation

With each piece of wood put on the fire –
With each hour that passes
With each chapter that I read through
I am conscious of this gift of solitude
Conscious of this gift of rest
Conscious of God and his Presence with me around the fire.
His presence enveloping me as surely as the smell of the campfire settles over me.
Lord, thank you for this time to spend with you – outside in your creation.

It’s time to walk
There is a strong sense that I need to pray.
Walk and pray
Walk and pray
Walk and pray
With each step that adds to the next –
I am able to speak out loud, into the quietness – into the presence of my Lord
Me and the Lord – walking, talking.
Me weeping
My Lord listening
His peace affirming His presence.

With each step – I give him my thoughts – my anxieties
With each step I acknowledge His presence in my life and the lives of my family
With each step I give up –
I surrender….
Surrender – so hard
Surrender – so necessary
Surrender – “Lord, please take it – all of it…. I give it to you.”
Lord, thank you for this time to spend with you – outside in your creation.

Step. Step. Step.
The dog frustrated because I don’t dare walk on the road with him –
Too risky with his limited sight and hearing.
Step. Step. Step.
377 steps equals one revolution.

Step. Step. Step.
Me and God
Talking. Walking. Weeping.
Arm movements – “Lord – take this – all this – it’s yours”
Talking. Walking. Smiling.
O Lord, you are so good, I know that.
I don’t understand you. I don’t always hear you. I don’t always feel your presence.
And sometimes, I don’t know if you are even here.
Your thoughts are not my thoughts – you remain a mystery.
But O Lord, I trust you.

Step. Step. Step.
Me and God.
Falling in love – more and more.
Experiencing his presence – feeling his embrace
Giving him anxieties – there are many.
And in turn – receiving an overwhelming sense of peace-
So tangible – it makes me smile. It makes me laugh. It makes me aware that I am thankful…
Thankful Lord for this time spent with you – outside in your creation.
O Lord – thank you.

Written by Joy – October 5, 2009 after spending the afternoon out around a campfire – just me and my Lord, Louie the black cat, Vanilla the white cat and Oreo my dog.

Finally getting my long awaited "sabbatical" ~ even if I have to pay for it myself!

Too bad this wasn’t my sabbatical! I think it could certainly have fit the “requirements and protocol” that my church executive required in order for me to go on a church approved sabbatical. But back in January – I didn’t know about the School of Spiritual Direction, AND even if I did know about it – I just needed a "sabbath rest" in the true sense of the word! To begin to WALK INTO my grief. Which is why I had to take my time off as an unpaid leave instead of the sabbatical I had asked for since I had been told I was eligble - actually was eligible a year and a half before I even asked for it! The bottom line was at that time, I couldn’t even read one book and have it sink it, let alone the 6-7 books they wanted me to read. I wouldn’t have been able to take the 3 courses that they suggested. AND I would not have had the emotional strength to go to see a spiritual director weekly. I needed to experience "sabbath rest" in a bad way - and along with the rest - I needed to step aside (step out of ministry) in order to begin my journey of grieving which I felt like I was unable to tend to while I ministered to others. So, i kissed my paid sabbatical good-bye.

I realize that there is an "upside" to this decision - and I smile as I say this – that at least the upside of me not being allowed to take a sabbatical of my choosing, and taking an unpaid leave instead is that - I saved the church money in a couple ways! (No sabbatical costs and no salary for 3 months). And, churches can always use the money right!!

Now – here I am – taking my own unpaid sabbatical!! Paying for my own way (course, flight, books) and taking it on my own time. I won’t lie – financially – the timing sucks! Of course it would have been nice to do this when I had money coming in. BUT at the same time – the timing is incredible! How does that work! Looking at how I am feeling rested, and have felt increased freedom from the dejunking of my house – and that I am now able to get away and study for an intensive week – the timing feels good. I can’t believe everything that I have done since I have finished paid ministry – and it has only been a month. Unbelieveable.

Anyways – I am going to be leaving this Friday morning early – for Colorado Springs – to the Glen Eyrie Retreat and Conference Center in the Rocky Mountains. You have to check out the website – it is an old castle – beautiful! I can hardly wait. Wish Alvin was coming with me though (sad face here). I have been corresponding with other students that will congregate in Colorado, and finding out who can ride with whom from which airport. Originally I planned to fly into Colorado Springs, however would get in too late, SO I am flying into Denver and I am so thankful that one woman is able to pick me and another person up and take us the 70 miles to Glen Eyrie. I am already going way out of my comfort zone – going to this solo. So, having someone pick me up and take me – BONUS!!

I am going to the School of Spiritual Direction, which is put on by New Way Ministries, which is a ministry led by Dr. Larry Crabb – best-selling author, counselor and psychologist. He is a professor at Colorado Christian University since 1989. As part of the admission to this school, which is a one week INTENSIVE time – with max 30 students (of which I am one!) I had to have two references which I got from my Pastoral Advisor Marilyn and my friend and past co-worker Tracy. I also had to order in some books (or should I say Ash got them for me). I procrastinated until I was done work since I was still having a hard time focusing on reading. Since I have been off – I have been reading about a book a week – and I am happy to say, I am on my last one.

These books that I am reading have hit me right where I am. I am going to share a bit from them over my next few blog entries. The first book I read was SHATTERED DREAMS: God’s unexpected pathway to joy.

Here are some excerpts from Dr. Crabb’s book. He bases it around the book of Ruth – you know the story! If you don’t grab your bible and read it over!

“When you hurt, hurt. Hurt openly in the presence of God. Hurt openly in the presence of the few who provide you with safe community. Feel your pain. Regard brokenness as an opportunity, as the chance to discover a desire that no brokenness can eliminate but that only brokenness reveals.” (pg 73)

“The other path, the narrow ones that not many choose, invites you to live in a disappointing world where good dreams will shatter and you will sometimes feel empty and alone, sometimes so empty and alone that it will seem like death. But this path promises the eventual discovery of a consuming desire within you for God and, far better, the thrilling discovery of His consuming desire to be intimate with you.

After many dark nights, you will taste the joy of that intimacy. You will not be able to describe it, but you will feel alive, hopeful, and solid, even in the middle of continued anguish over hard circumstances.

Abandon yourself to God. He will seem at times cruelly unresponsive, callously indifferent. You will be tempted to manage life on your own, to do whatever you can to feel better.

But if you’re quiet, you will hear both His voice and y ours leading you to the narrow path.” (Page 143)

It just seems that the time is absolutely right for me to be reading this book now. I don’t think I could have read it before – not even in spring. It has been hard for me – really hard – to feel shattered – hearts blown to pieces and scattered – and to wonder why and yes, even ask “God – why us?”

I realize that we had lots of dreams – lots. Dreams that included us with our little grandson Jay. I realize that this past year for me (and for us as a family) has been a year that has been such deep sorrow… mixed with great joy. Every time I look at my little Grandson’s pictures, I marvel at the joy in our hearts as we expected his arrival and such joy at seeing how he was so beautiful and perfect. I am a different woman than I was the morning of July 24th prior to Jay’s birth. We are all different. Our lives as we knew them STOPPED when his little heart did. And we are living as changed people. I am a changed woman.

I wouldn’t ever wish a “shattered dream” on (not even) a worst enemy!! Thing is – through this I did abandon myself to God. Sometimes I felt like there was nothing else I could do… there was nothing I could do to bring the pieces back together. But I can also tell you that there were two dates – January being the first, and August being the second – when I knew that I was feeling like the pieces of my heart were beginning to heal together. It was a noticeable feeling that I shared with others. God was doing a work in me… and drawing me nearer so that I could experience his presence and power.

“Shattered dreams” writes Dr. Larry Crabb, “are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. The Holy Spirit uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for God…. Shattered dreams have the power to change our lives for good. Forever.”I will never be the same again. Ever. In 2006 – my motto that year (as I walked through some serious health issues) became “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In 2009 – I admit that the shattered dream of losing our little Jay – made me a stronger woman of God today. Lord – it is only because of you carrying me, holding me, collecting my tears and healing me through your love, your grace, your power. Thank you God.

Posted by Joy - beggining on Sunday, October 4th, but finally edited and posted at 12:39 am - Monday morning.

Saturday, October 3

Smiles, Laughs and photo shoots with Jer

Well - we finally took some long awaited family pictures!! (although this photo on top is not one that Jer took - but one I took this time last year, of our back yard) The family pictures were very long awaited considering the last family portraits were taken when Josh was 3 1/2 and Ashley was 6 months barely. Oh, I guess we also have taken family shots when Josh and Leah got married, and most recently, a year ago when Ashley and Michael got married. For my birthday this year - besides the Goldeyes game and supper - my gift also included getting Jeremy ( to come and do our family photo shoot.

So here we were, this past Wednesday night. Jer got out before everyone arrived home in Anola - and surveyed some good photo spots. Jeremy used to be a very common person in our home - as he and Josh have been such great friends for so long. In fact, I used to do alot of baking for the boys - that was before Jer found out he had gluten allergies. It seems when the kids grew up and moved out - our home became much quieter - as the friends no longer came out! We went through withdrawal in those days!

Anyhow - on Wednesday, there we were - with Jeremy capturing some shots of the family. We wanted to make sure we got photos since this setting - our farm in Anola has been our life for over 26 years. (I should have gotten Jeremy to get a few shots of the junk-free, decluttered home!!)

We went outside and had photos taken first of all down the path - the path that led to Grandpa and Grandma's house. The path that we walked so many times, to go to Mom and Dad Klassen's or they to come to our house. The path that Leah walked down to meet Josh where he was waiting for her, on their wedding day. The path that Ashley walked down, to where Michael was waiting to see her for the first time on their wedding day too! We had a few pics taken here. The path that has grown over a little since Dad K. passed away, and Mom moved in. We don't walk that way anymore.
It used to be a path - our kids walked alot! So did our dog Oreo. Such it was that Oreo also followed us, and made it into some of the pictures too.

We had pictures taken in the poplar trees in the pasture, after the cows moved away. Yep, had to dodge some of the freshly left behind cow patties! We had a guys only shot, and a girls only shot, as we hung over the fence. We had shots taken on a hill with long grass (really the old and seasoned manure pile!!) and we had shots with the red shop taken in the background. We had shots taken in our front yard by the old implements that have graced our yard since we put them there years and years ago. Some of the shots that we DIDN'T take but are forever etched in my mind's photo album are when Ashley got stuck up in the old Oak tree and Uncle Nelson had to try to get here out - or when she got stuck down between the piles of 1000 lb. hay bales, or when Josh was teaching Nikki how to be a sled dog, or when he took up the art of graffiti/spray paint. (maybe you wondered why some of our back buildings are graffittied on!). Or pictures of when our dog got stuck up on the hay bales - or when I had to help deliver calves during the dead of winter! Or family shots around a campfire in the front yard, or the boys snowboarding down the ramp that they and Alvin made in the yard! Lots of photos stored in this memory.

And, Leah asked if we could make sure to have shots taken as we walked Springfield Road. I was so glad she asked Jer about those. You see - Springfield Road has been a road that we as a family have walked ALOT!! I remember pushing the kids in the big English pram that my dad bought from a second hand store - when Ashley was born. I could put her in there, AND let Josh sit in the pram too - it had great wheel suspension!!

I remember when I walked through my depression - walking, talking to God, crying, and it was while walking this gravel road that God often gave me affirmations of His love, through the sight of those little fuzzy caterpillars!

We walked as a family and planned ministry events - some of our best ideas came out of our walks.

We walked - just us girls.
We walked - as a family.
We walked - just Alvin and I.
I walked - just me and Oreo....
And, always our Lord. His presence has gone with us on each walk.

I remember the night of Jay's birth - that Alvin and I walked - talking, weeping... holding hands. Looking at the beautiful sun as it set.

Springfield Road - sometimes I think that when we leave this house - that I should take a jar full of gravel - to represent our journey here -
My tears have aided in "dust control".
I often wondered if neighbors watched and wondered why my lips were moving - as I walked and talked to God - out loud. Or I sang...

Such it was that on Wednesday, as Jeremy took photos, we, the six of us - well actually seven, as our little grandbaby was incognito!! But we walked - perhaps the last time we walk "as a family" before we move - or maybe not - who knows, we may have another walk before then. This family shot will always be dear to my heart.

Jeremy and Meagan and Aaron, their son, shared supper with us - and we talked and laughed. It was good. It felt like a bit of the past, mixed with the future.
A bit of the old - alot of the new. A bit of the familiar - with alot of the unknown. And throughout the night - God was the unseen guest. The constant presence with us. Walking... holding...catching tears... getting dusty with us!

I can hardly wait to see the pictures. They will be part of our life forever. And once we move - we will find a new path - to walk, to talk, to laugh.

A huge thank you to God - who has given us the gift of family - our kids who make Alvin and I laugh ALOT.
A huge thank you to God - who has given us the gift of friends - which includes Jeremy and Meagan and their little guy Aaron.
A huge thank you to God - who will take our past - and wipe our tears - who holds our present and walks through each day with us - and to God who knows our future and loves us so completely. God - we give you thanks and praise.

And Jeremy Hiebert - we thank you - for taking the pictures of our little Jay - so that we have them forever. ( If you have never yet seen how beautiful my little Grandson Jay was - then please check out the site.

And thanks Jer, for taking the pictures of our family in our current home, so that we will always have the memories of this place. I can hardly wait to see the pictures!!

Posted Saturday, October 3
10:05 pm