Monday, November 30

Giving it to God - one rock at a time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 29

Everyone Needs 7 touches per day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 24

they will be like STRONG Oaks!!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 23

today's schedule

Got up (later than usual)- what's with that??

Now - off to the important things for today -

Quiet Time with the Lord (Lord, what do you have to say to me today?)

Breakfast - nothing like steel-cut oats with cinnamon, raisens and cooked apples/cin and a touch of honey on top!

Exercise - going to walk - gotta find another stone today - it is called "feelings of rejection" (more on that some other time

Dance Pad - still loving my dance pad - moving to some good christian tunes! Keeping track of minutes and steps! (Breaking 10,000 steps a day is harder than I thought)

Christmas Garland with Lights - it will go up on my railings inside today. I love the look of the little lights - at night they cast a glow over my living room and it just feels so peaceful.

Vacuum - can't NOT do it after the garland goes up - makes a little mess!

Work on the "program" for our extended Klassen Gathering this coming Sunday - I volunteered since I am the only one with no job and time on my hands! Now, where can I find a Kereoke machine and Christmas songs?

Coffee tonight at Grace Cafe with one of my friends, Joanne: I love how visiting with other women is so nurturing to my soul. Like water to a dry land. I guess as an older woman, with raising of kids behind me - I do have some things to offer younger moms. I look forward to this time together, which happens few and far between.

Other thoughts on my plate today - someone told me that many people I know need to be nurtured, and that somehow she thinks I have a place in that - she had talked to me prior to my finishing at McIvor, about whether I would "plant" a church. She thinks my job is still to be "pastoral" even though I am no longer a paid pastor.

I don't think that I ever wanted to plant a church. When my kids were commissioned to plant a church, just before we experienced Jay's silent birth - Alvin and I always thought that we would do what was needed to support them in the new plant. Obviously this plant did not happen. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Lately however I have been LONGING to just get a few together to "do church" ... I think what I am really starving for is feeling like I belong somewhere, and also longing for authentic, honest and vulnerability. You know - being able to take off a mask and still feel like there is a community who dares to do the same. Big thoughts - they will be on my plate today. I KNOW people are looking to be cared for... I know. I hear it often. I feel it myself. God - what do you want me/us to do for you? Please speak.

This is my schedule - gotta get off this blogspot so that I can get going on it.
Hope your day is a wonderful one!!

Invited to speak on Praise after Lament

*** this photo is slightly different than the "altar" photo from a couple days ago. On Friday - I was surpised to find an very old brick - way out in the back forty!!
I picked it up and decided to put it as part of the altar. To me - finding an old brick in a pasture way far out - seemed like an "unexpected" thing - and it reminded me that life often holds unexpected surprises that sometimes make us happy - sometimes sad - sometimes remorseful etc....
That is why I brought the brick forward - to represent the things we think are "buried" but continue to rear their ugly heads!!

About a month ago I was asked to consider speaking at a Worship Night hosted by the Adoration Band at McIvor. My kids - Ashley and Michael - are part of this band. When I got asked I wasn't sure if I could do it - I still felt stuck in lament. But this past week God has taught me alot - feel free to read what I prepared and delivered. Before I got up to speak - I texted Alvin. The text said - "please pray. I am second guessing what I am going to say." Before I began to speak - I asked for the song YET I WILL PRAISE YOU LORD (by Vineyard) to be played with the words on ppt. This song has become my anthem - my "life song". It is the song Jeremy used for the background of the dvd he made with our little Jay's photos on it. Normally it makes me weep. I had this song played and then got up to speak - I had prayed that the words that God gave - would fall on hearts and perhaps even have an effect on one!! Perhaps it will have an affect of your heart - regardless - may you be able to PRAISE HIM!!

Worship Night Talk: Praise After Lament (Sunday, November 22, 2009)

July 25th, 2008 was the first time I heard that song. Jeremy Hiebert who is a family friend, and a photographer, had come to the hospital and taken pictures the day our grandson Jay Benjamin was born silently. Jeremy put the beautiful pictures into a DVD with this song attached. YET I WILL PRAISE YOU LORD…
This became a song that spoke into the deep deep places of our grief. Grief that came out of no where – and launched me into places I have never before experienced, and pray that I will never experience again.

As I listened to this song – I could not even fathom how lament and praise could be part of the same song?
Even in the darkest valley – I will praise you Lord.
I found myself saying – Praise you Lord? – There is nothing in me that felt like praising.
My laments began with phrases like God – WHY?
God – I don’t get you.
God – didn’t you hear our prayers? Didn’t you care?
God – I don’t even think you were faithful!

The past year and a half has taken me on a journey punctuated with lament .
I found myself lodged smack dab in the Psalms – they became dear to me.
As I read them, I found a mixture of sadness, anger and helplessness. The concrete language of the lament psalms is directed to God - sometimes as a complaint but almost always as a petition.

They enabled me to give expression to what was on my heart!
I felt secure in knowing that David dared to express the deepest thoughts of his being – and he was still known as a man after God’s own heart.
This brought me comfort.

The lament out of my mouth – spoken aloud, bathed in tears, or journalled was full of questions and doubts. Sometimes expressing what I felt as disillusionment with God. In my lament I felt raw, vulnerable and exposed.
At first I was shocked with my own lament – but I began to understand that I would not breach my relationship with God because of my honest crying out.

Lament was the avenue I needed to express the pain and suffering in my life – and I came to see that it was through this lament that I could truly experience healing and restoration of hope.

I came to understand the importance of and need for community to surround me and my family – to help us find healing and hope. It is through healing – through hope that we can begin to praise again.

I learned that lament is more than just bemoaning hardship. Lament is about seeking change – it is primarily an appeal for God to intervene in our lives. It is about a journey from doubt and fear through faith to confidence in God. And through the periods of lament I began to see the thread of joy that was woven through our sorrow.
I knew about Joy. Joy is diffent than happiness. Happiness is based on your feelings about something. Joy is different – and I knew that joy is what could turn my heart toward praise. Because it took my eyes off of myself and onto the Lord.

Praise after Lament.

As the psalms of lament had given me to express my sorrow –
I knew that the psalms of praise would give expression when I was looking for adequate words to praise the Lord with.
It was jut that often, coming through the dark valleys - I felt like praise was foreign to me all of a sudden.
It felt tentative at best. Like I didn’t trust the words that may come out.
Or maybe I didn’t trust that my heart and lips were even capable of praise.

So it was when Ashley called one night after meeting with Theresa – and asked Mom would you consider speaking at our next worship night.
What is the theme?
Praise after lament.

Honestly I wasn’t sure they had asked the right person. But something within me said that there was something to share – something about the story that would ultimately bring praise and glory to Jesus.

At that time that Ashley asked, I was walking in another valley.
Lament was once again my expression.
Psalm 42 could have been my personal psalm – except for the part about praising God.
“why am I discouraged. Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again. My Savior and my God.”

Praise him again?
Somehow I was struggling to speak praise.
In fact – praise felt like an old friend that I hadn’t spent time with in a while.

Life was not going the way I thought God would make it go!
Wrong or right – I was basing my decision to praise, on the way I felt.
Bottom line – praise was just not a part of my last month.
For some reason, I was resisting. (perhaps even behaving like a spoiled brat who didn’t get her way)
I did know though – that my whole being just wanted the cloud of lament to life.

God – well he kept whispering to me… the same things – more often. Guess I was not listening like I should have.
“Spend time with me. Don’t try to orchestrate what you will do – just come and be with me.”
He strongly impressed the need for me to give up time I was spending aimlessly on the computer.
NO agenda. I was not to fill my day with busy “God times”
He just wanted me to wait. And rest. And just try to be conscious of His presence with me.
I had a strong feeling there was more and that God would make that very clear to me soon.

Within a couple days the cloud of lament lifted.
And then God did impress on me that yes, now I should spend intentional time sitting at my dining room table with the Word open in front of me –there were things that He wanted me to see!
Reading, memorizing, jouralling thoughts on the scripture I was reading.
5 minutes easily turned into an hour before I knew it.
And some mornings I believed I needed to go and literally lay face down before him
So I did.
And I began to be surprised at how my heart changed. Praise began to bubble…
I became even more aware again of my brokenness and need for repentence
I began to feel more healing and restoration.
I saw how God was redeeming my broken and shattered life.
All of a sudden praise became an expression instead of lament.

I want to share something with you about this past week.
I love visual reminders of God in my life.
I love it when God puts things across my path that I know are only orchestrated by him! Some people call these things coincidence – I call them GOD MOMENTS.
Seems God did that a lot this last week of my life.

When I felt the cloud of lament lift from me - it was very tangible.
Unlike other times, I knew that THIS TIME – I needed to mark the day where lament and praise met.

SO it was that on Monday – I went out to the back where I have been walking daily. I knew that I had to do something that would be a visual reminder of lament turning to praise. I knew that I had to physically build an altar – and to name what I was laying down before God. And to spend time praising Him.

I picked the place – right at the corner where I turned to head further out on our land.
And then I began to collect stones.
My choices were purposeful – some were rough, jagged and ugly. Some were little, others were bigger. One was smooth and beautiful.
I carried stones from all parts of the property, including one from as far back as I walked.
I named the stones I had put down – grief – hurt – pain – sorrow – loss’
I also laid stones of praise!
I assembled each one with deliberate thought – and stood back and dedicated the place to God.
I spoke out loud – I praised – I sang the words that Steve Bell sings – here by the water – I’ll make an altar to praise you.
Out of the stones that I’ve found here. I’ll set them down here rough as they are.
Only you can make them holy.

Even my dog seemed to sense a holy moment, as he stopped his wandering and waited quietly close by.
At that time, and since – the lament of the previous month felt like they were a million miles away.
And praise felt at home within me once again.

I was able to praise God for how he has taken the shattered pieces of our heart and begun putting them back together.
I was able to praise God for my first born grandson Jay, in heaven.
I was able to praise God that even in tragedy, He had brought beauty from the ashes.
And was also able to praise God for our little grandbaby who we look forward to welcoming in less than 4 weeks.
I was able to praise God for what He is going to do – even though his plans are much different than we thought they were.
I stood there that day, and each day since as I walk past this altar and speak out loud – praising God for WHO HE is – and for what He has done and what He is going to do in my life.

I have come to see that lament is okay – because it moves us toward God –
Even if things don’t go as I expect, or want, or pray for, or dream – God is GOD and He is true to his word. And he will always bring joy in the morning.

This past week – a couple verses spoke into the deep places of my soul.
Isaiah 61:3
To all who mourn in Israel
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes
A joyous blessing instead of mourning
Festive praise instead of despair
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory!

Isaiah 57:15
I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

I have come to realize that sometimes I stand in the way of praise.
Sometimes my heart needs to repent – so that the praise can come forth.
I have come to once again remember that my praise to God is not continguent on what I have gotten from him, or what I feel like at the time –
No – my praise is because of what He has ultimately done for me –
Giving his live for me on the cross – because He loved me.
Rising again – and giving us the Holy Spirit to live within us and fill us with resurrection power.
Giving me hope that one day I will dance with the Trinity – and that my praise will go forever – and then, there will be no more lament.

In the meantime – I will walk each day with God - and it will be really hard at times.
I guarantee that if you haven’t encountered that yet – you will.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I have often asked God WHY.
Sometimes I am too busy acting like a spoiled brat when things don’t go my way – or when I don’t get what I have prayed for or asked God about….
I have come to see that this spirit of entitlement always destroys a spirit of gratitude.
It’s hard to praise then.
I have found that when I do praise (especially in the times I least feel like praising) something amazing happens.
It seems that my heart opens up to what God wants me to experience in greater measure – his love and forgiveness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his mercy, and his grace.

I figure that when I choose not to praise – I just quench the Holy Spirit within me, who wants me to experience the fullness of Christ in my life.

Have I finished lamenting? I am sure there will be more to come.
Will praising God always be as easy as it feels in this moment today – not likely – somehow in our human –ness – it is not our first nature to praise God first no matter what.

But I do know that there is Praise after lament and I can say with the psalmist in Psalm 40:
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed,
They will put their trust in the Lord.” (New Living Translation)

Saturday, November 21


thoughts from today...
- a kiss good-bye from my husband as he left for work at 6:30. Enjoyed a little more sleep while he went off to work.
- a nice hot bath to help my stiff body move ~ my fibromyalgia seems bad again today
- Quiet time with my Lord - reflecting on 1 Thes. 5
- Still struggle with the verse "Be thankful in all circumstances ...."
- God is teaching me - one verse at a time
- looking forward to having lunch with my sister-in-law
- Alvin took the car to work and his truck would not start ~ a battery issue
- had to cancel our lunch together :(
- went for a long walk in the back forty (Oreo is so happy when I do this!)
- captured more pictures along the walk
- enjoyed a walk 'n talk with the Lord!
- just as I was coming back into the yard ~ God "kissed" me again with the sight of a big bluejay
- watched Dr. Oz - like this show, although the "bed bugs" segment was gross. I have been up close and personal with such little critters while travelling to the DR on our service trips.
- enjoyed supper with my kids tonight - all four of them. Well - including baby who is still "incognito" there are 5!
- laughed alot tonight!
- loved the warm weather again - above normal for this time of year. No SNOW yet - bonus! Decided this year I have to get proper and warm clothes and boots for outside walking in winter.
- drank some good coffee today!
- exerised for 70 minutes between walking and dancepadding!
- it has been a wonderful day in so many ways
- put the cradle up in Ashley's old bedroom so that when the baby comes to visit I will have a nice little bed ready!
- just slightly less than 4 weeks till I get to hold my second little grandbaby!
- off to bed at 1 am. (regardless of the time that automatically gets put on the post) I think I had too much coffee as I am not feeling too tired yet.
- God is at work, changing me, renewing me, restoring my broken heart and crushed spirit. I am so thankful that He love me so much! Only God could love me in the state I am in, and have been in! God, you are good.... you ARE. Today my heart is feeling what my head knows. Thank you Lord!

Isaiah 57:15 New Living
"I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts."

Isaiah 33: 2 NLT
"But Lord, be merciful to us for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day, and our salvation in times of trouble."

Friday - has come and gone. Lord, thank you for this day and renew me tonight as I sleep and may Saturday be a day where I can see your fingerprints all over the day.
I love you Lord.

Tuesday, November 17

... I'll build and altar to praise you, out of the stones that I've found here..

Yesterday I walked. I walked to the "back 40" with (you guessed it) Oreo, Vanilla and Louis! Once again, the "incredible journey" in real life. I love that my animals love to walk with me. Oreo runs ahead. Vanilla keeps walking behind me (meowing all the way) and Louis - well, he is kind of lazy. He often gives up and lays down - and rejoins us somewhere on the way back. ( Hmmmm.... does this sometimes resemble my walk with the Lord? )

Anyhow - yesterday, as I walked - I felt a need to do something. This need came from my heart. So, my eyes were open for the right place. Ah, there is was, just on the beginning of the journey to the back - as I entered the place from our yard, through to the back pasture. A big rock. The need I felt was to "build an altar" that marked my journey with the Lord. You see - some of you know that my last few weeks have been really hard hard HARD (did I say Hard?) weeks....
If you didn't know that - it's okay, but my previous posts will hint to that. I took time off from my blog and from facebooking - to just sit with God. What was He saying. I think I knew - but perhaps didn't want to acknowledge it - because then I would need to do something with it! So, God, in His wisdom and grace with me - and patience - also spoke what I thought He was saying, through the voice and sound of some of my friends voices. "Joy, I think God just wants you to rest in Him." "Joy, this is like a pregnancy, like a gestation period, and you need to take care of yourself for the birth of ministry ahead" "Joy, you have been through 7 years of ministry at your church - it makes sense that THIS TIME NOW is a true sabbatical for you." "Joy, how can you help women experience rest and renewal and refreshement if you don't experience it for yourself." and on and on and on.... I am so thankful for the way God also speaks through my family and my friends.

So - back to yesterday - I walked out - found the rock, and began to collect stones. I didn't feel that I had to make it grandiose - but that I just needed to build something small - to represent God in my life - and His faithfulness - and His love. Something also symbolic about "laying down" the rough rocks before the Lord - and talking to Him about the things that I know I need to surrender - to lay down. The things that I need to give up to Him! (being hurt by friends being one of them)

So I put some rocks on the big rock... then decided to walk to the back, my new "turning around place at the farthest end of the field) and as I was walking, I came across another big stone which I then carried back on my way back. My dog Oreo was rather confused as to why I seemed to be going back and forth. Of course he wouldn't get it - since he's a dog!! But he sensed that I needed time, and just stayed close by waiting.

I arranged these stones on top of the big stone. I stood there - talked with the Lord some more, giving Him the things that He already knew where in my thoughts and in my heart. Then I sang the song by Steve Bell. Of course only Steve can sing it the way it needs to be sung!! But, I sang. I gave God that altar - dedicated it to Him, for as long as it stands there and even longer. It was a time that my heart needed.

It was interesting yesterday when I talked with my friend Elizabeth, she said, (first of all through an email, then over the phone) that she found it very interesting that I built the altar on the back property, and that it seemed that I was giving the land to the Lord too - and she knew how I was struggling with the NON sale of the land. And, as I remember back - while I stood there talking with the Lord - I did give him back the praise for HIS timing as well - even though I do not understand, and may never! Elizabeth mentioned that this would be a blessing to the future owners as well. I have thought of who will move onto and into this homestead in the future!!

Anyhow - the altar dedication was something I felt I needed to do - and something that I have done. As I walk by it today - I will remember His faithfulness to me. As I walk beside it with Alvin - we can talk about God in our lives. As my kids walk past it - it will be a reminder. God is faithful.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The words from the song, sung by Steve Bell - HERE BY THE WATER have taken on new meaning - even if there was not water close to this rock!!

Here by the Water
Jim Croegaert

Soft field of clover
Moon shining over the valley
Joining the song of the river
To the great giver of the great good

As it enfolds me
Somehow it holds me together
I realize I've been singing
Still it comes ringing
Clearer than clear

And here by the water
I'll build an altar to praise Him
Out of the stones that I've found here
I'll set them down here
Rough as they are

Knowing You can make them holy
Knowing You can make them holy
Knowing You can make them holy

I think how a yearning
Has kept on returning to move me
Down roads I'd never have chosen
Half the time frozen
Too numb to feel

I know it was stormy
I hope it was for me learning
Blood on the road wasn't mine though
Someone that I know
Has walked here before

Monday, November 16

I think I am beginning to get it....

It is a beautiful morning - I was up at 6 when Alvin got up for the day. I am finding it to be a little easier lately - to get up and spend the first part of the morning with the Lord. As the day breaks - I enjoy quiet time with Him. I don't always feel like I want to be up (sometimes I think I hear the call of my pillow and quilt which still feels warm from our bodies). But what a sweet time it is - and so I think this is something I want to make a habit!

Anyhow, lately I have also been trying to memorize scripture. I have found since last week - there are scriptures which have spoken to the deep places of my heart.

I want to share them with you:

Isaiah 33:2 (New Living Translation) 2 But Lord, be merciful to us,
for we have waited for you.
Be our strong arm each day
and our salvation in times of trouble.

Isaiah 61:3 (New Living Translation) 3 To all who mourn in Israel,[a]
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

Isaiah 57:15 (New Living Translation) 15 The high and lofty one who lives in eternity,
the Holy One, says this:
“I live in the high and holy place
with those whose spirits are contrite and humble.
I restore the crushed spirit of the humble
and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.

Isaiah 26:8 (New Living Translation) 8 Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name.

Isaiah 66:2 (New Living Translation) 2 My hands have made both heaven and earth;
they and everything in them are mine.[a]
I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,
who tremble at my word.

James 4:10 (New Living Translation)10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

1 Peter 5:6 (New Living Translation)
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

The time spent in His Word this morning was ever so sweet. Thank you Lord.
As I was reading, I then read a devotional by one of my favorite women of God - Beth Moore. She said something that just blessed me this morning. She said, "We do not have to hate ourselves to see how small we are and to respond appropriately by bowing down before Him. We simply must choose to lower our heads from lofty, inappropriate places. We choose to humble ourselves by submitting to His greatness every day." My response this morning, was to lay facedown before Him -
There are so many things that I felt called to just lay down before Him, in submission and humility. I don't tell you that to raise myself up but rather to share how God continues to work in our lives, and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit within - to make us aware of relational sin in our lives - which leads to brokenness, repentance and that leads to us being able to dance with the Trinity!

As I got up from the floor, I realized how time had passed. The day was in "full swing" and the sky is blue. As I got a big cup of coffee I was thankful that I have the gift of this time at home. Yes, you heard it right - a gift. Some of you know either through conversation with me, or through this blog, that I have struggled (especially lately) with being unemployed (even if I was the one who chose that) and with wondering where God is (in the future ministry, in the sale of our house, etc) and wondering (even though I actually thought I knew) but still asked "God what is my purpose?"

I think, that perhaps I am beginning to get it - at least in part. I don't think that I will ever "get it" fully this side of Heaven! However, God has used a number of my close friends - to speak words that affirmed what it was He wanted me to know, to hear, and to believe in the deep parts of my being. That this time - is His purpose for me - so that I can rest in Him - and get to know Him more, and understand "resting in the Lord" firsthand, so that I in turn can help women especially through the future retreat ministry - be able to rest and retreat in Him as well. This time is but a "taste" of what He desires for us all....

So, the verses, the time spent with Him are all part of the process as He speaks to me - as He shows me His love through the written Word - as He shows me his love through creation around me... I am beginning to get it! Today especially God spoke to me about giving Him alot of junk in my life that I am holding on to. About submitting to Him (becoming humble some more!) so that He can do his work in me... and let me tell you, submission is NEVER easy!!

I am thankful for this morning - for this day - and just want to say again - Thank you Lord.

Sunday, November 15

its tougher being hurt by a friend ~ than an enemy

Friends. Life is full of them. In one of Dr. Crabb's books, he mentioned how he wrote down the people in his life who he knew where there for him. The other day, as Alvin and I walked - we talked about this - and we spoke the names of those who we knew/know without a doubt "are there" for us and have been there for us. It was quite a list actually.

Friends. Last week I dropped in on one friend for an hour and a cup of coffe, I sat with another at Pineridge Hollow ~ it was good. On Wednesday, I sat with my kids - who are at the top of our list of people - and that was good. It was a hard week - and on Thursday Alvin said that he believed that being with our kids on Wednesday for most of the day, was exactly what I needed.
So true.

Friends. Gotta love them.

I did some impromtu calls - some planned coffee times - an impromtu supper (so glad two of our friends had nothing up and just came for the visit!) We invited two of our good friends over for breakfast yesterday, and tonight - we get to feed supper and enjoy fellowship with two more friends. I love being able to do impromtu stuff. It seems easier to do the impromtu stuff when we are the age we are!

But today I was reading a new book I got - just released by Paul Boge - THE URBAN SAINT ~ The Harry Lehotsky Story. It is so good - I wish I had met Harry in person - I know I was greatly moved by the recording he left to be played at his funeral. In the pages I have read today - I came across something that was written - "It's tougher being hurt by a friend than an enemy." Ah, ouch... How true. I realize that part of my pain - my loss - is the hurt that happened that was associated with friends that were in my life. I realized that all my life - I never had anyone who I was at "odds" with - and all of a sudden, I have this hurt surrounding things that were said and done/or not said or done ~ at the time when we lost our little grandson, and after - that affected relationships to this day. And I realize this is all part of grieving that continues on. If I was alone in this then Alvin would be the one to bring perspective on it all. Thing is ~ his hurt at times seems even deeper. Alvin thinks there should have been resolution. Me ~ I don't know what that would even look like. All I know is that there are a couple friendships - two in particular that have changed, and I am so sorry about that. So sorry. And as I said, the quote from The Urban Saint ~ pained my heart, as I realized it is part of my story too. I realize that forgiveness has to be in the equation. And then choosing to "remember no more" is perhaps the key. And right now I will be honest ~ that is the struggle, as the hurt continues to "bob up from under the water, like a balloon you are trying to keep under the water, and just can't."

One day I hope we will be able to look back on it all without pain ~ and smile. Till then, I will keep thinking, keep praying, and keep giving it to God and keep stepping forward. Till then I will remember days past, when life was different, and friendships were easy. That was before we lost our little grandson ~ and before our lives changed. Somehow I guess we were easier to understand then or was it that some friendships were more superficial than we thought? It is quite amazing, as Dr. Crabb said, who is there for you and who are not. Or perhaps those who do things (they think is in your best interest) and it causes hurt. What does it mean to be a friend who sticks closer than a brother? Hmmm... food for thought.
I hope that in the future ~ I can "be there" for those who I am friends with, and whom God gives me the love, the grace and the courage (that is the big one) to reach out to.

Friends. Perhaps now is the day that you count yours! And thank God for each one.
And, may God give you the courage to be a friend to someone in ways that may take you outside of your comfort. Perhaps reading the story of Harry Lehotsky would help you understand that. Regardless - thank God today! And then step up and be that friend.

Thursday, November 12


I took this picture the other day - and actually was pretty surprised with how it turned out. This is a tree that is in our pasture - actually we have many of them. I am not sure what it is called, but as you will notice, I focused in on one of it's "features". This tree has huge thorns - big nasty ones, that are all over its branches. I just had a thought - perhaps this is like the "brier" bushes that Brier Rabbit gets into once in a while!! (thank Disney for that thought!) Anyhow - when my little brother was young, he used to ride the horses at Dad's ranch. One night after a bath, my younger brother was complaining to my mom about a big sore on his leg. She looked at it - it was festered, and yes it did appear that something was in his leg. Looking like it would perhaps come out, she applied pressure around it, and lo and behold, before her eyes, out popped a thorn such as this. I am not sure if it was all or part of, but none the less, a thorn that had logged in his thigh, unbeknownst to my brother. (with his personality, it would have been the least of his worries!)

Thorns. I know what it feels to get pricked when cutting roses for a vase. Or when pulling weeds and I touch those thistles and a tiny little speck of one gets into my finger. Paul talks about the "thorn in his flesh". Jesus - wore a crown of thorns, which I think was likely made up of thorns such as this one in the picture. (and Jesus did that because he loved me!!)

This morning, I went for a walk - it is such a beautiful but grey day outside, but hey, November 12th and it is already 8 degrees celcius - I love it. Before i went, I had enjoyed some QT with the Lord. I had been meditating on Isaiah 33, the first few verses. But it was verse 2 that just really hit my heart. So I wrote it on a sticky, so that I could take it with me on my walk. Off I headed - me and the menagerie of animals that love to walk with me. We walked even farther than we did the other day. The crunching of leaves. The sound of birds. Ah.... thank you Lord for this morning.

It has been a hard week again - and as I was talking with the Lord, I confessed how I was feeling - somehow the "spirit of entitlement" just loves to take over, and as Dr. Larry Crabb said, it destroys the spirit of gratitude! So this morning, as the Lord and I had our walk and talk - I gave that to him. I gave him the "thorns in my flesh" that instead of popping out - just continue to fester and hurt. Oh man they hurt!! And, as I walked, I also spoke out loud, over and over again - the words from God's Word which have brought soothing to my soul.

But Lord, be merciful to us for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble. Isaiah 33:2 New Living translation

May these words continue to be my and your strength! You O Lord - are good. You O Lord, are strong. You are my strong arm!! I love you.

Wednesday, November 11

My accountability partner ~ my friend Elizabeth

I want to tell you about a gift from God, my friend Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and I met (long story) but it was through a christian site that was related to weight related things. We met first of all via posting comments on a website board, and then we began to email - and began a friendship. That was two years ago. It is quite amazing how our God works ... as Elizabeth is a worship pastor (or director? not sure the terminology used in her denomination) REGARDLESS - over the past two years, Elizabeth and I have talked about alot of things, including ministry and its joys, and also its challenges. She has talked and I have listened. I have talked and she has listened. Over the past year and a bit - she has been a source of comfort, and encouragement while we have been walking in our grief. It is funny how God has put us two women together, and we have much in common. We just laugh at times, it is so wild!

The other thing is that lately, our friendship has taken on another aspect - that of accountability partners for one another. That means that each day (I am trying to get this pattern right!!) I call her from my landline (since I have an amazing plan which includes the US) and I call her cell (since she has no landline, but has free minutes after 6) and we talk. Sometimes we miss days - but we are trying to figure it out.

We talk about our day - about our choices in regards to exercise, food choices, etc.
We pray together, after sharing prayer requests for the next day.
We talk about what we are grateful for - or what has been hard over the day.
It has been good, and it is funny how this conversation is such an encouragement for us both to "do the right thing" through wise food choices, through making time to take care of ourselves through exercise, and also we have talked about making our quiet time with God, our bible study, a PRIORITY.

Such it was that yesterday as Elizabeth prayed for me - that she used the terms pregnancy/gestation period/waiting and taking care of myself during this time of waiting. I noticed it as she prayed for me, using these words. Tonight when we talked, she mentioned that last night it seemed that God was giving her those words, and pictures in regards to me. (I had shared how hard this week has been)....
again tonight she shared how for some reason, God gave her those words to pray, and how my "waiting on God" for next steps (sale of house/ministry plans/to work or not to work/ etc) is a gestation period, and like pregnant moms take care of themselves during this time of "being pregnant", so too i need to take care of myself during this time of waiting. It reminded me of the dream my friend Karen had and shared with me last year, about me "being pregnant and showing" and how she felt it was in regards to the women's retreat ministry.

Hmmm.... somehow I feel in my being, that there is something big behind all this. I keep saying "GOD KNOWS ~ only God knows!" and at time I wrestle with waiting and trusting (or trying to trust)... but when I think of it like that - it seems right.

I am so glad for my friend Elizabeth. For her friendship over the past two years. For her encouragment. For her reminding me of the goodness of our God. For her prayers. For her laughter! The whole journey related to food/weight/fitness etc. is a huge thing - and has been a huge part of my life - intensely!! I feel like this time is different somehow - as I follow the First Line Therapy way of life. Have I figured it out? Not yet. Do I find giving up white flour and sugar easy? Not in your life! Do I feel better however when I exclude it? For sure - my fibromyalgia aches and pains are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less!! Do I still make wrong choices. Yep - guilty as charged HOWEVER I am making les and less with each week! I also spoke with a doctor at the "Mature Women's Center" who suggested that women exercise a MINIMUM of 4 hours - or 240 minutes which works out to about 35 minutes DAILY!! (hmm, yes, I can do it - I wanted to increase my exericse anyhow!) It has to become a way of life!! It just has too!

So, today I pulled out my Praise dvd's and plugged my dancepad into my computer - and moved to music for 47 minutes!! I had put it in for 45 minutes, and at that point the "fireworks" appeared on my screen - but then I danced for one more song!! Just gotta love dancing to "Days of Elijah" and other christian praise songs.

My goal - I am down 14lbs and want to hit 6 more by the time my grandbaby is born. And then, well - I have many more to go. I think the combination of support from family, accountability and prayer support from Elizabeth, and checking in with Leyla at the Center for Natural Medicine - is a combination that just has me feeling like it is working. I want to be around to cuddle, carry, and play with my grandchildren for years to come, and I just need to get this body in shape. With the health stuff in my family (extended) it just makes sense, and I am praying that this is the time!! And, the bottom line - I am trying to give it to God - minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. One day at a time.....

O Lord, thank you for family, and friends who encourage me in this journey...
Thank you for good food that you provide, help me to not take that for granted.
Thank you for the gift of each new day. May I give each moment, each hour, each day to you! Lord, I thank you for walking with me through this part of the journey as well. May I get this "temple" into shape.... with your strength. Thank you Lord that you have given me a friend in Elizabeth, someone who helps keep me accountable. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10

I want to dance.

It has been a week of not blogging.
It has been a hard week - but not because I didn't blog.
Hard because I have had time - since I am not working, I have had ALOT of time.
To think
To journal
To walk
To cry
To talk and share with a couple people where I am at
To pray
To listen
To wait
Did I say... to wait.
Wait some more
To wonder
To hope. That is huge in my life. H-O-P-E. HOPE.

My thoughts are all taking me closer to the heart of my Lord - or at least I want to believe they are. In my scattered ramblings and conversations with the Almighty - I love to think that they are all okay - coming the way I am into his presence.
Coming broken.
Still - so broken.

But in the pit of my being - I feel like I am wanting to dance.
If I knew how! (good girls didn't dance when I grew up! Dancing was not part of a christian's vocabulary. I am so glad this has changed)
I want to dance.
Inside me - I know that when I am home alone, I can close my eyes and move - I guess that is dancing.
I can hardly wait to hold my little grandbaby in my arms and dance!
No one is going to tell me that I am dancing the wrong steps!!
Or if they are - I won't be listening.

I want to dance with the Trinity.
In Colorado Springs, while at the School of Spiritual Direction - Dr. Crabb talked with us about "dancing with the trinity!"

I want to dance...
I want to finally step out of this stuff that I am in, and dance like there is no tomorrow!! Or should I say - I want to dance like no one's watching.
Yesterday - dancing was far from my thoughts.
Today - it is back again -
Tomorrow - who knows.

But - I want to dance. O Lord - can we have this dance? You lead Lord - you lead.

A couple weeks ago, once again, I heard a song by Leeanne Womach, I HOPE YOU'LL DANCE - and it is beautiful. I heard it and it felt like my heart resonated with it - here are the words:

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance..........

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin' like me, takin' chances, but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin',
Don't let some Hell bent heart leave you bitter,
If you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
and wonder where those years have gone.)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance..
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
and wonder where those years have gone.)

Leeann Womach

Monday, November 2

today's thoughts and a kiss from God

Today was full and yet not. How does that work you may ask. Well - it was full in an emotional sense. I met with my friend Mary today. Mary is also my counsellor, and I thank God for her. Over a good cup of Starbucks coffee - we sat and talked... okay, I talked more. It was good. Good to hear that I am not crazy - I am just thinking through many things. It was so good to visit again. I thank God for Mary.

Today I thought about my dad alot. Today I thought about changes that have happened in my life. Today I thought about hurts that continue to bob to the surface like a balloon that one tries to keep hidden under the water...
Today I revisited my time at the School of Spiritual Direction, and I can see where the Holy Spirit is definitely "settling" things down in my being.

Today I realized that I just really REALLY want to DANCE!! I mean, dance with the Trinity!! Dance with abandon - because of the joy that overflows from the Lord, through the Holy Spirit into me!! I want to kick off my shoes so to speak, and dance in my bare feet!! To move, to breath in and feel the beat of the music of Heaven!! O Lord - teach me to dance with my whole being - with wild abandon! To dance because of the joy you give to me!!

Today I realized that I want to praise God - and that I have not been doing as much praise lately, having felt caught up in my own thoughts of discouragement. Dr. Crabb said that our "spirit of entitlement" destroys our "spirit of gratitude" and that is so true.

Today I began sewing my Grandbaby's quilt together - and hope that I will have it all sewn up by tomorrow - I can hardly wait to see it coming together - so far I have just been sewing the x's across each individual square. It is a therapy in itself - and a time to pray with each stitch!!

Today I was sitting here at the computer when I noticed the most amazing sight out my window - the sun was setting and shining "gold" across the top of the trees... I took the picture but it hardly compares to the real thing... it was brilliant!!
I couldn't help but think that it was a "kiss" from God. Guess He knew how much I needed that!!

Today I decided that I needed to give in to the nudge from the Spirit that I have been aware of since last week. I don't want to make it more "spiritual" or "holy" than it is or isn't.... all I know is that He is making me aware that I need to not blog - or facebook for a while. For this week. Why? I am not positive - but I think that perhaps it is all about just spending time NOT on the computer but instead with HIM .... I think it is all about freeing up some time (computer is a great waster or time, especially with "dial up" networking....

So - I am going to leave you with this blog, and with the picture from today.
I am going to ask you, if you want to - to pray that I would be open to whatever it is God wants to share with me. I want to hear him.... I want to experience him...I also realize that our walk with the Lord is not always about the "experience".... sometimes we just have to be still and know that He is God. I think giving up blogging and facebook is a big part about "being still"... so, I am going to do it. I will tell you a little confession - part of me, a big part is resisting... afterall, being that I am not working on the outside so to speak - I am not with people alot, and I miss that.

Please pray that we would continue to trust him for the next steps. As Leah put it on Saturday - we have been trusting God with next steps in the journey for the women's ministry - and then I quit my job, and put our house up for sale - it feels like we have really stepped out - or taken a huge leap of faith.... and now at times it feels like we are in this long free fall - waiting for God... O Lord God, please help me to grow during this time - as I wait, read, pray, study, write, think, ....all of it!
I think He has something in store - time will tell. I just feel like I need to obey.

So with that I sign off until next Monday morning....
If you want to get a hold of me - please email....
I am checking email.

Oh, and please pray as our plans for the retreat center are coming closer and closer to completion. This is exciting. Talk soon!

remembering my Dad ~ Gerald Henry Thomas

As I sit and look outside this morning - 8 am and quite bright due to the time change - I realize it is a much different day than 12 years ago. I remember the morning. Having dropped Alvin off at the firehall, I proceeded very slowly across the streets of Winnipeg. It had begun to rain on Halloween, 1997... and rained all the day on the 31st and Nov. 1st - but the rain turned to freezing rain. While it had now stopped, it had left huge frozen ruts down middle of streets - which made it extremely treacherous to drive, let alone to figure out how to get out of the rutt in the middle, to allow another car to drive by. I hated the drive that morning - as I just hate icy streets.

After church - we went for something to eat, and then Josh went to the Epps to hang out with Matt. Ash and I went to the grocery store and headed over to Poppa and Kay's house. It was their 3 month anniversary. Needless to say, I did not know it would be the last day my dad would be alive on this side of heaven.

Our visit went well - and being that it was baptism at our church that night - I needed to get something ready for the pre-baptism supper we were having (as deacons) with our baptismal candidates. I was in the kitchen talking with dad and Kay and doing the veggies... when Dad whispered to Kay that he needed to go and sit in his chair in the other room.

Dad walked by, and it became very obvious something was wrong. The next time frame was a bit of a blurr.... I went to help dad, who was breathing very heavy and hard - he stopped walking, as Kay ran to get him a chair. His one arm was moving weirdly, and he began to hum.... it was strange. I asked him if he had pain, trouble breathing and he said yes. I told Ashley to call 411! Good thing my daughter knew it was 911 because in my excitement, I told her the number for directory assistance!!
I stood in the hall, with my arms around my father - with many thoughts going through my mind. You see, he had an episode like this before, while at church, and then Kay later took him to the hospital. When we went there - the doctors had told dad that things seemed to check out okay with him - it must have been because he was just getting over the flu. I had the sense that all this was again NOT flu related, but heart. Dad continued to hum, and then he went limp, his head went back. Me... I was trying to hold him in his chair while Ashley called and gave instructions to 911.

Not sure how long later - just minutes I think, Dad came "to" and wanted to just go and sit in his big chair. We got the wheelchair that had been mom's - and wheeled hiim over, and he got up and sat in his chair. He seemed much better, although his color was ashen. Within minutes the fire truck pulled up alongside, and the crew came in....

They took a reading - said things looked good, but that they were going to take Dad to the hospital. He was joking with them. He got up and went on the stretcher. He told me to wait till the bread machine was done, and then come. I did not think this would be the last time I saw him alive, talking and joking.

The rest - it seems like it happened in quick succession although it was over the course of the next two hours or so. I got there shortly, as did my sister Heather and her husband. We called the rest. Mary-Ann and Nelson had to come in from the beach - on those treacherous roads. We filled them in and told them to maybe wait until we found out how dad was. Little did we know that as they were wheeling Dad into the hospital emergency dept. that he had another episode .... which caused them to react quickly. The nurse came out - told us about that, and that Dad was (what they knew) in the beginning of a heart attack. She took Kay, Heather, Greg and I, into the "family room" to wait. We made another round of phonecalls - everyone was on their way. I called Alvin again. He was at work, and had already seen that the first responders had been to Dad's and taken him in. He would be coming too.
Within a short time - we heard something over the loud speaker - I think it was Code Red - and we knew it was for Dad. We knew something was so terribly wrong.
About half an hour later, the nurse came and told us that Dad - OUR Dad.... was gone. There was nothing they could do to stop the heart attack, it was massive. Dad - absent from the body and present with the Lord. All of a sudden - I became an orphan.

My dad was a BIG man in my life - my hero - the one who (along with my mom) took my name to the throne of grace day after day after day. My memories of my dad went back to childhood - he was the one who could put my long long hair into a beautiful pony tail, all together - neat and tidy. I still wonder how he did that with his big man hands...

My dad - I have letters from when he used to travel and I was little - he sent me a letters with stick people to represent what would happen i.e. a stick man hugging his little girl when he got home.

My dad - the one that I used to love being around - and the one that I just always wanted to take care of when I got older (until I fell in love with Alvin and decided mom could take care of Dad!! lol )

My dad - who encouraged me in my dream to open a daycare, which is now one of a few big centers in the city. He provided the admin. know-how... and well, the finances until we became non-profit and were able to secure grants.

My dad - who walked me down the aisle - put my hand in Alvin's and encouraged us as a couple to love and serve the Lord.

My dad - his name is my son's second name - and how much I see my dad in Josh. I also see much of my dad's personality in Ashley too.

My dad - he could tickle my back so that I could settle down and sleep - he could sing me "choo-chums" as I called it, as I sat on his knee - my dad could (in my eyes) "do anything - fix anything - make anything" (just like my husband!!)

My dad who saw an idea - and went for it!! He was an outside of the box thinker - selling the very first "autoboggans" (now called snowmobiles) in the country... my dad who fought in WWII, was maimed but continued to live like he had two good legs instead of one - nothing was going to keep him down. (just like the song) In the last years before Dad's passing - he had spent many times going into schools, talking about how war should never happen again - and encouraging young kids to live in peace. My dad who often had many jobs going at one time - who started a Bible camp because he felt God calling him to do that - who would talk to anyone about his love for Jesus Christ.

Now - don't get me wrong - my dad was very human - and not perfect!! He had a quick temper at times, and often had to say he was sorry for saying something off the cuff. But that is the thing - he knew how to say he was sorry - and was not "too manly" to do so. He also went the extra mile for us kids and our families. He was always there, and we knew that we could always count on him. Always.

I remember the last time Dad and I travelled into the city together. I was taking him in after he had dropped off his motorhome. It had been a long summer - my in-laws were staying with us as Alvin helped build their home just beside us. I was tired of making meals for hoards of people (or so it seemed) day in, day out on top of working in the city. I was just tired of that, and feeling down, especially that time, as it had been our anniversary but Alvin was so tied up in the housebuilding that there was nothing special for "us" on our anniversary. It just was a hard day... Dad sensed this and when he got into the car - he asked me "how you doing honey?" and the tears flowed....

I think that is what I miss about my mom and dad being gone - is that they were the ones that really had that parent sense when things were hard.

I miss my mom and dad both - so much. Today I think of my dad - and wish that 12 years ago - that his heart didn't stop. But it did. And so, today I will think of Dad and Mom with our little Jay, in heaven. Dad with TWO legs now - and perhaps he is singing choo-chums with Jay on his knee. Regardless - I think he is lovin' Heaven!! But I sure miss him.

Jesus - not sure if you do this or not - but can you just tell my Dad again, how much I love him, and miss him, but how glad I am that he is with Mom, and with Jay.
Thank you Lord for the blessing of my parents - who raised me in a godly home - and taught me all about you Lord! Thank you for the characteristics that they passed down in me - the things about them that make my personality! Thank you..... for my dad.

Gerald Henry Thomas - born September 8, 1921. Died November 2, 1997 after a life well lived. Age 76.

Posted by a daughter who loved him so much, and misses him even more!
Posted on Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1

frozen toes

It has been a long day - good, but long. We got up "late" - the clock was not turned back the hour - so it said 8:30 am but it was actually 7:30. Alvin's internal clock had not set back!!

Got up, dressed, he went to put woood in the boiler - not much, as it wasn't too cold, although it had snowed a skiff.... enough to make it look a little white.
We went for a walk - a long walk in the "back 40"... and by the time I got back, my toes were frozen, as my runners have some mesh in them, and well - with the ground being wet - it didn't take long. I didn't complain till we were almost back - by then we were out for at least 40 min. and my toes were wet and cold, not to mention my pants were wet too, halfway up the calf! Funny what a little skiff of snow can do.

The rest of the day - exercised to my dvd - used the "chi" machine (let me tell you about that sometime!) and made lunch, and then headed into the city to get our son (in-law's) gift, and to meet Jerald to talk over the plans for the retreat house.
Then we met for a surprise dinner for Michael's bithday at The Old Spagetti Factory and back to the kids house for coffee, cake and fellowship. Oh, and Michael opened the gifts.

We talked - we laughed till the tears rolled. It is always good being with family and friends. We love hanging with Michael's family and his friends - his family became our family a while ago!

This has been a weekend of connecting with some of the people we love - besides our kids - this weekend included Lloyd, Judy, Kim, Kevin, Willy, Betty, Elmer, Jeannette, our nephew Danny, Phoebe, Donovan, Jeremiah and Chad (Michael's friends) and Jerald. And, a long connecting phonecall with my accountability sister in Christ - Elizabeth!! This weekend, there has been a lot of laughing.... (I soooooo needed that)....alot of talking and listening.... (even I listened, I didn't just talk!).... alot of hugging (even my cousin Kevin who "hates" to hug!).... we spent time "in community" and I realize how important these relationships are!! (and these are just some of them!)

Before the weekend, I spend Thursday night with some of my extended family - my siblings and their spouses, except for one of my sisters in law. It was also a time of good fellowship - laughing, listening, talking. We do that - on the Thomas side, although lately it feels like it has been few and far between. I miss that.

Anyhow - I am so thankful for moments of being in community with those we love and those that love us! What a gift to have family and friends. Where would I be without my husband... without my kids.... without my friends and family. But more so, where would I be without my God, who is his great wisdom, has created us to love and be loved.... wow....

Lord, thank you for days like this when I pause and reflect on the gift of community to me. For those who love and allow me to love them. For those in my life who push me at times, and at other times, just allow me to be...
Lord, thank you for those who are influential in my walk with you Jesus. I am so blessed - frozen toes and all. Amen