Tuesday, March 30

reflection during the first service.....

Last Sunday I decided to attend both worship services at McIvor. The sermon was based on the story in Mark's gospel about the lavish love that the woman "wasted" on Jesus... breaking the alabaster bottle of expensive nard on the head of Jesus. Anointing him for burial. Only the other's didn't get it that way. They were indignant... what she had "wasted" (in their eyes) was worth a years wages for a laborer. Imagine. And there she goes, not just using a couple drops, but breaking the whole bottle and anointing Jesus with it. Didn't she know that this money she was "wasting" (in using up the perfume on Jesus) could be used to do other things like for instance feed the poor or something? Jesus speaks into their thoughts... and really, he tells them (my paraphrase) that they didn't get it, that she was doing something beautiful, preparing him for burial, and she would be remembered for this act - for forever!

I wrote in my notes... "what does my alabaster jar look like?" if I were to "waste" it on my Lord!
I read a really good book called "Wasted on Jesus". So often we thinks that "wasting" things are bad, but in this story - She did a beautiful thing by expressing her devotion to Jesus!

Well, I had just taken down the first 5 points of the sermon when all of a sudden, the thoughts just came tumbling out and onto a spare offering envelope which I had opened up so that I had more writing space! Perhaps I was just still thinking of the kids that went through the sanctuary waving palm branches during on of our worship songs...
Here were my thoughts. (and it was okay I figure to zone out of the sermon at this point, since I knew I would be hearing it again during the second service!)


the day began no differently than any other day

yet the streets were lined with people and coats upon the path did lay.

The donkey proud as a donkey could be

as he carried his passenger down the street.


The kids waved palm branches and the people they did cheer

there was no kind of protest, no sound of verbal jeers

it seemed each one along the way

recognized Jesus Christ as King that day.


What would I have done, or said or thought

Would I have thrown down my coat, or brought

my own palm branches to wave with joy


As Jesus rode what were his thoughts?

He knew the path that He must take

Amid the cheers ~ HOSANNA! KING!

Only HE knew what the week would bring.


Not even seven days later the palms would all be dead,

and all the praises people said ~

would all be past ~ forgotten cheers.

And soon he would be the object of scorn and jeers.


Jesus ~ He knew the path ahead

"Father if it's your will let this cup pass" he said


But God chose not ~ and gave His Son

To die for me! The guilty one!

His blood was shed for all my sin ~

So I by faith in Him ~ could "new life" begin.


I don't know what I would have done

I imagine standing with Mary gazing up at her son,

seeing His blood flow down from head to toe

As people wept, little did they know

That this was all a necessary plan,

Redeeming love for each child, woman and man.


He yelled "IT IS FINISHED"

He hung his head

It was done.

The Lord was dead.


Those at the cross thought this was the end

With his death - their lost their son, leader and friend

The sky grew dark, the earth did sHAKe

the temple veil tore

from top to bottom.

And they wept, not knowing there was far more

to come


Wrapped and laid in a brand new tomb,

Jesus body lay guarded by two cherubims

And on the 3rd day He rose with the keys of death in his hand

And later surprised his disciples by showing him his hands

to prove it was him -

He was alive having conquered death, hell and the grave

In order that we might all be saved


Jesus lived

He died

He rose again

Claimed victory over death ~ how could it be?

that He has so much love for me!

With His death ~ paid for our sin

And here I am ~ forever FORGIVEN!


written by me, Joy Klassen

during the first service

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back to the alabaster jar of nard that she "wasted" on Jesus...
It was not a waste! How could they have even thought that? They just didn't get it. Anything we sacrifice for Jesus ~ our time, our talents, our efforts, our finances, it doesn't matter what it is... whatever we do for Jesus, our sacrifice or our broken alabaster jars of nard ~ our sacrifices are never ever a waste!

O Jesus.... as we walk through this HOLY WEEK toward Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, help me to waste myself on YOU O LORD!! I want to be "wasted on Jesus!"

To do anything for the cause of Christ, believe me, this sacrifice is never, never, n-e-v-e-r wasted.

Sunday, March 28

Farewell Oreo ~ you have been our loyal family friend

Oreo ~ sitting pretty!

Oreo leading the pack!

patiently waiting for me...

my walks will never be the same without him ~ I miss him already.

It was strange I thought. When I got up and went downstairs Saturday, I figured I would let Oreo back into the house. It was a nice day out, but Oreo usually spent alot of time inside at the back door on the blanket I have for him. Usually when Alvin leaves early for the hall, he lets Oreo out for a while. So, I opened the door but ... nothing. Hm, that is weird. Come to think of it, he wasn't home the night before, but sometimes we find him at the end of the street visiting "Coy" (Travis and Cathy's dog).

I walked to the back of our acreage, and it was so strange. I am not used to walking alone. It was as if I kept looking for Oreo. Usually Oreo is scoping out the route, usually running back and forth, once in a while stopping and turning around to look in my direction. I am not sure how much he sees, yet somehow he knows when I clap my hands together. He seems to love that and comes bounding toward me, puts his front paws up on my chest so that I can rub his ears and pat him and say "Orie, you are such a good boy! Such a good boy." Sometimes on our way back from the boiler to the house, I do this at least 5 times, and each time he comes running. Not sure how he sees me doing this, but he does. And he seems to love the affection.

So yesterday I walked alone, and let me tell you I didn't like it. I got back to the house and texted Alvin, and told him that Oreo has been gone all day. Alvin said that he must not have come home the night before after all. (Okay, there have been times when he has come "slinking" into the garage after we have seen him hightailing it home from the corner. If dogs could have "guilty looks" then Oreo had it mastered! Just had to laugh sometimes!)

When Alvin got home from work, he went and looked for him. Come to think of it ~ I realized that the last time I saw him was on Friday. He was laying in the sun when I left. In fact he didn't even more a muscle as the garage door went up. Little did I know that this would be the last time I saw him alive!

So yesterday, I came home from St. Vital Place, and took Dugald Road (#15) and then onto #12. It was so strange, all of a sudden I thought, maybe I should keep my eyes open for Oreo. We had wondered if he had just wandered off, or if someone took him in, or worst case scenario, if he had gotten hit by a car. The fact that he was very deaf and very blind meant that we did not walk along the street anymore, as he just could not hear or see the traffic coming.

SO, just as I thought of this, (it was very strange) within a couple seconds I noticed something white and black in the ditch. My heart fell. I tured the car around, drove back, turned around again, and sure enough, there was our loyal pal in the ditch. Dead. I cried.

It's funny, he is a dog. D-O-G ~ dog! But he has been the dog that has been part of our family the longest! He came as a little pup. A border collie - black with the white collar .... like an OREO COOKIE... Oreo just seemed to be the best name for you. (but as always around the Klassen home, you got some nicknames such as ORIE or ORE). We still have a video of when he came home with Josh and Alvin. He was just a little thing scurrying around the kitchen. He was amazing with the cattle, actually Alvin and he had this unique relationship. Alvin had two types of whistle that he would do, and Oreo knew exactly when to round up the cattle and when to just be still. Oreo just loved people! He loved being beside you around the campfire. In fact, if you gave him an inch - he took a mile! He would sit right next to your lawnchair and nuzzle you. Then he would put his head on your knee. Then a paw... and then before you knew it - he was right up close and personal! He loved the rare times when he rode with Alvin in the truck. He hated the time Josh and I had to take him to the vet. Josh literally had to carry him and put him in the car. He was not happy about that! Oreo would constantly when Alvin rode the three-wheeler, chasing alongside as Alvin drove. He was very smart, and seemed to know your move before you actually made it. He was a great companion for me - especially on those nights when Alvin worked. I don't look forward to the night shifts! Oreo will no longer be laying at the back door! There was something real good about knowing I was not home alone.

Oreo was afraid of thunderstorms. I think he could "feel" the storm. When we started letting Oreo into the house at night, he would stay at the back door. However one night it began to thunder and all of a sudden I hear the "clicking" of his toe nails on the hardwood floor, and then, up he came into our bedroom and laid down beside the bed. If I was the only one that heard him - I just let him stay. Alvin usually sent him down.

Many years ago, when we came home, Oreo greeted us with what we thought was a growl-like-look on his face. His teeth were showing, his lips back... but there was no growling, only a wagging tail and a happy dog! From then on - we were often greeted with the same look, which we decided was his "smile". A number of the kids friends experienced this too! Oreo - the smiling dog!! I have never seen another dog do this.

Alvin and Josh went and picked up his lifeless body. He was laying on his side, and the boys are pretty sure that he must have died instantly when they saw his injuries. They brought him home. Later, Alvin went out, dug a grave, and put him into it. When Alvin returned to the house, his eyes gave away the fact that he had wept too when he buried our old friend. In fact for Alvin, there was no where that he went, that Oreo did not go! They were inseparable in the yard!

Yesterday while we were getting supper ready, Leah said, "do you think there will be dogs in Heaven?" I said, well according to Disney "ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN" (I took the kids to see that when they were little) I said that I liked to think that there would be some animals in heaven... and Leah replied, "I think Oreo went to Heaven!"

Oreo you were a faithful canine friend. You loved to be with us, and we loved to have you as part of our life here in the country. When you could see and hear, you didn't miss a beat. You were the only dog I knew that truly "smiled" when we came home. You got into trouble once in a while - like the time we found you on top of Rick and Corinna's car - trying to get a good look at "Baxter" whom was inside of the car. You loved affection, and the way you stuck so close to us - we knew that you loved us as only a dog could! You were my companion on my walks and were privy to my conversations with God. You sat quietly when I stopped to lay rocks down at the "altar" in the back. I will miss you... Alvin will miss you... we will all miss you. But perhaps, "if all dogs go to heaven" we will see you again. Only God knows that.
Oreo ~ we loved you and will miss you!

Saturday, March 27


this picture was taken by Jeremy Hiebert (amazing photographer and family friend) in the fall after walking through one of the most courageous years of our lives.... see little Baby Everett "incognito!"

the original photo was also taken by Jeremy on the first time that Josh and Alvin worked together at the same hall. Josh was Alvin's "driver" that day. Jer took the photo which was clearer.... this is a photo I took of the photo... as a firefighter there is always courage amidst the work!

the author's disclaimer: this blog post is not written thinking that we are the only ones with courage, or the only ones having gone through "life" with courage, as we know many, many MANY of you have and are and will in the future. However, this is my/our story that I am sharing from my view ~ with you our family and friends. Get that cup of coffee ready, this is another long one (seems to be my trademark!)

courage definition cour·age (kʉr′ij)


1.the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it; quality of being fearless or brave; valor
2.Obsolete mind; purpose; spirit

I have been thinking of courage. And in my quiet reflection I have been thinking of the times I/we have had to pull out courage from the depths of our beings, in order to get through stuff. I think I was thinking of this, as our daughter Ashley just underwent emergency gallbladder surgery (which I also had) and I watched her encouter her two attacks with courage! At the time of writing this, she is recoupering in the confines of her own home!

For me it goes back a long way:
  • when I was about 10 or so, my mom was rushed into the hospital and I thought she was going to die. In hindsight, I think that the doctors thought she may too... but I was pretty young, but still remember the feeling. courage
  • when I was 12 I watched as my dad lay on the trans Canada highway after being hit by a car. I remember praying.... courage in the front seat of our car!
  • when I was 16 I would take the bus to go and spend time with my Granny who was dying of bone and blood related cancer. When she passed away I lost the only Granny I had...
  • courage through two awful AWFUL (did I say A-W-F-U-L!) gallbladder attacks, and then surgery
  • when my mom spent her last week in hospital, edging a little closer to heaven with each day. The last morning she was alive, while alone in the room with her, my conversation went like this. "Mom, you have been a wonderful mom to us... and you can go.... we will be okay." There was a little more to it than that, but I specifically remember those words spoken to her. She had not spoken to us at all since the Wednesday, but Alvin had encouraged us to keep talking to her, as she could likely still hear us. I will never forget what happened.... as I sat there and talked to her, and held her hand, when I was done talking, my mom got tears in the outside corners of each eye. I just really believed she had heard me. Within 4 hours, we watched her breathe her last few breaths. COURAGE
  • when I walked through my deep dark depression... at times I wasn't sure if it was there, but in hindsight, it took courage.
  • when my Dad remarried. I will be honest, it was a hard thing for us as our Mom had been his wife and companion for a week short of 50 years of marriage. It was hard to go to their house and see him sitting with someone other than my mom... courage
  • three months to the day of his wedding, while visiting my dad and his wife, he had an "episode" and as I stood there talking with my dad, with my arms around him until we could get a chair for him to sit in.... and then when he began humming and then his head went back... and then when we were in the hospital family room hearing them call "CODE BLUE" I will never forget..... Courage my soul ~ courage
  • beginning our walk through life as "orphans" .... c-o-u-r-a-g-e
  • courage when I accepted a call to ministry as a pastor at our church (knowing I had life experience but no seminary or no degree in general!) And, I needed courage when I was told that someone wondered what I had to offer their children who would sit (with degrees) in the pews!
  • going on three mission trips - knowing for the first two that we were going to encounter interesting living conditions (rats, bedbugs, very very poor community) this took COURAGE of a different kind. Me, the one who loves my comfortable bed, running water at all times of the day, only an occassional mouse, and no bedbugs! These possibilites really pushed me out of my comfort zone - but oh how rewarding!) It took courage!
  • being hit out of the blue with mysterious infection, resulting in hospital stay, great pain, and test, tests and more tests... courage
  • round two of the hospital stay - again out of the blue, but this time doctors knew what was happening. Unbeknowst to me - (untill it happened and I came through it) a very close call to death. After that, fighting a high fever and facing the possibility of an emergency hysterectomy... I remember those swet soaked nights. I think I was perhaps the most scared here... courage in the face of pain, and the unknown
  • round three in May of 06 ~ courage as I faced surgery.
  • COURAGE as we walked with Dad through his 3rd journey with cancer, which was propelling him closer and closer to heaven with each week.... we needed courage as we talked future with him, as we talked about impending death, as we talked about his funeral, as we talked about how much we loved him and he us... courage.
  • little did I know that all this courage would almost feel very small in regards to how we would need courage to get through losing our litte firstborn Grandson Jay Benjamin on July 24, 2008.
  • Courage as I ended a job of 7 years ~ to follow God on a vision way way bigger than I could see! Honestly it felt like jumping out of a plane and free-falling before the parachute opened. Still feels like a free-fall if I am perfectly honest, but I am not afraid.
  • and most lately, Courage as we anticipated our little Grandson Everett John's arrival into this world. As I watched him sleep last night - it was such joy and peace in my heart.
courage courage courage courage COURAGE courage courage courage courage

I realize that my kids, in their lives have walked through much courage too... and really at the same time as mine for alot of it, they lost a Granny, a Poppa (my parents) and a Grandpa (Dad K). They served with us on one of the mission trips, and actually Ashley encountered the rat in their quarters. They also walked through my three hospital stints with me. And, of course, we walked closely alongside of Leah and Josua, a time of GREAT COURAGE when we lost our little Jay. COURAGE through pain, difficulty and great great loss and sadness.

My Son in his life has walked through two surgeries (both day surgeries but none the less surgeries). He walks through many times when courage is required for his job. He has encountered many many hard things with his career. COURAGE needed often. My daughter has walked through 4 surgeries (including the one where her jaws were broken, and reconstructed and wired completely shut for 6 weeks. To me that was the epitomy of courage!) Leah has had courage through her pregnancy and her c-section. Courage that resulted in such great joy! Michael has not gone through any surgery yet. (would like to say hopefully never but how likely is that?) My husband? Well, the word COURAGE & ALVIN are synonymous I figure. (And he has also gone through times of great courage which also included two surgeries!) Often when I am a bit of a mess ~ he is the one who is the most courageous... and has walked through all of the above with me, except for the few things prior to me being 16.

God says in His word: Joshua 1 (SELECTED VERSES) NIV

The LORD Commands Joshua
1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun..... As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
6 "Be strong and courageous.... 7 Be strong and very courageous....9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

18 ...Only be strong and courageous!"

Of course I have just deleted most of the portion and only used the words BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS so you will have to forgive me for that, AND read it for yourself of course!!

I have realized that COURAGE isn't always something that we intentionally "muster up" to get through things ~ I think, it just happens as we need it. However I believe our courage also is about trusting the One who is holding our lives in his hand. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For me, the more I have walked through things that needed courage, and found Him to be there leading, guiding, providing, holding... the more courage I have.

Can we walk through life with full trust in the One who holds us in his palm, the one who has our names written on his hands
Only the Lord can give us all we need in times of pain, adversity, trouble
Until we are with him in Heaven, there will be no doubt many times when we need COURAGE
Rather than crumple under the weight of it all - we can carry on, sometimes being picked up and dusted off ready to go again, other times being carried in the arms of the One who loves us most
Always present in every situation. We may not understand but we trust
God is our refuge. Our rock. The one who pulls us out of the pit and puts our feet firmly on a place where we can stand
Even when we walk through the hard stuff of life - He is sovereign. He is our strength. He gives us courage. We do not walk alone. I leave you with one of my "life" verses....

Jeremiah 29 NIV

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD....."

enough said!

Wednesday, March 24

An Open letter to my "baby girl" ... a day after her birthday

My daughter ~ my friend
Florida memories

Michael and Ashley ~ Christmas 2009

Ashley and Josh ~ her first "formal" picture with her big brother

I should have blogged this yesterday, but I didn't. Regardless, it is an open letter to my baby girl - on the celebration of her birthday (March 23rd) and I can't believe that the 25 years have passed so quickly!


My darling daughter ~ Ashley Marie

The one who My made me a mom for the second time, 25 years ago. Where has time gone?
The day you were born, God gave us the desire of our hearts
We prayed for a daughter ~ for a little sister for Josh
As I carried you in my womb those nine months, I had no doubt that you were a baby girl (although toward the end I bought a boy outfit just in case!)
No ultrasounds at that time
But in our hearts we hoped and I believe we knew... you were a girl!
We had no boys names picked out ~ only girls.
Ashley Marie or Ashley Nicole.
We settled on Ashley Marie, and Oma thought you were named after her. (Maria)
That was okay for us to let her think that. (there was no harm in that!)
She was very pleased! And we weren't about to burst any bubbles!

You came into the world on your own time...
Two weeks early. You obviously did not want to be an April baby!
And arriving half an hour after I arrived at the hospital doors!
You even arrived before my doctor did!
And since - you have certainly been setting your own pace,
and sometimes dear daughter,
this mom has had to RUN to keep up to you.

My darling daughter
You sang almost from the time you could talk.
Your "language" of music was in your heart from the time of conception
Only God knew that, but we would find out early enough
And every once in a while, Josh would tell you "ASHLEY QUIT SINGING"
but nothing would ever dampen your music!
Not then...
and certainly not now.
Music was the language of your heart
It bubbled from you then, and continues to bubble out of you now.

Your independent spirit shone forth at an early age.
We wanted to nurture this, not break it
You stood your ground on things ~ which sometimes got you into a little trouble,
but to this day is a quality that you possess
and one that you have learned to temper
I love that you are decisive and that you know what you want (or don't want)

Your love for family was evident from an early age.
You love people. Period.
Sometimes I wondered how long you could keep up the pace with your friends
But you figured that out.
You have a lot of friends.
You have steady, loving and supportive friends.
I thank God for that!

You are also a loving, steady and supportive friend to many ....
You have always been one to forgive easily.
I admire that.
You forgive and seem to forget.
I desire to be like that too!
You stick up for the underdog, and look out for those who need some looking out for!
You are generous...
You utterly love LIFE!!
And you dance!
I love watching you dear daughter as you grow in your love for the Lord.
How that thrills this heart of mine!
There is really no sweeter thing than for a mom to see her children walking with the Lord.

You have walked through some hard stuff.
I have seen your courage
(especially when you had your jaw surgery and wiring for 6 weeks!)
Your boldness ~
Your determination ~
Your loyalty ~
and your strength!

I have watched you grow more and more in love with Jesus
You use your talents and your gifting to the glory and honor of God.

You are willing to let him use you for his glory!
You have a servant heart.
I praise God for you sweet Ashes.

I love watching you as your grow more and more in love with Michael, your husband.
Who would have thought that one day this drummer would be my son in law.
I love how he told me he wanted to marry you because he loved you.
My heart delights at watching the two of you!
God has again answered my prayers on your behalf,
that he would send the right man to love you and you him.
God is good.
I watched you dear one, as you wept over losing Jay, your first born nephew.
I listened with tears rolling down my cheeks
as you sang the song you wrote out of your grief over losing little Jay Benjamin.
And now I laugh as I see you oohing and ahhing over little Everett John
And in the video clips I take, I hear your camera clicking in the background.
Never will a little one be more photographed than Everett
You are a doting Auntie ~ A more loving one I doubt there will ever be.
Everett is well loved,
and one day he will look into your eyes and say I love you Auntie Ashley!
And one day you will be a loving mommy too.
(no pressure really)
I will wait with joy for that time, whenever it is your and Michael's time for that.

I love you sweet one. My Ashley Marie.
nicknamed by dad: Pump, Pumpy, Pumpkin, Pook, Pookie, Ash, Ashes

I see so much of me in you. I also see so much of dad in you.
You are beautiful. OUTSIDE and INSIDE!
And I also see so much of YOU that I admire
We are best friends and yet there is this unique boundary that still makes us mom and daughter and that adds the quality that makes our "friendship" so unique.

You know that you can say anything to me... and I will hold it in confidence.
You know that you can say anything to me... and I will not judge you
You know that whatever you say or do... I am here for you,
walking along side... loving, supporting, praying.
And I know you do the same for me.
Not all moms are so blessed!
I do NOT take this for granted!

My dear sweet Ashley Marie.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made by our God

And with your birth, 25 years ago ~
God has given us the desire of our hearts.

I love you more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.
I thank God for you my baby, my daughter who turned 25.
I am not sure where time went - but you will always be my girl!
I love you MORE.....
much, much more than 5!

love Mom

Tuesday, March 23

But I also said, Amen.

I am still thinking of Sunday. The sermon we heard was by a visiting Pastor (who was actually part of our congregation a few years ago) and I really need to tell him (John Unger), that the words he spoke fell on my heart, and challenged me. I just realized that the last two sermons that really touched my heart were both spoken by men whose name is John. Interesting coincidence!

This past Sunday, Pastor John (from another church in the city, within our denomination) spoke from the scripture in Deuteronomy 6, as well as from the gospel of Mark 12: 28-34

I love the Deuteronomy scripture: "Hear, O Israel. The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength...." vs. 4-5 NIV and then in Mark 12 (verses28-34) one of the teachers of the law asked Jesus "of all the commandments, which is the most important?" to which Jesus says, "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

I love love love that scripture - actually I use this under my facebook profile where it asks "religious view". On Sunday, I just also loved listening to John's sermon. It just really resonated with my heart. The thing that made such a big impact for me is that John, regardless of where I bump into him, or hear him speak (which when I was a Pastor this happened more than lately since I have resigned) but the thing is - the John that I bump into outside of the church walls is the same John that I hear preach. And what I have heard about him (from mutual friends) just really impresses me that he is a man who walks with integrity, and who lives his faith. So, when he got up to speak, his words during that 20 minute or so sermon, just really matched his walk! (funny thing is - I had no idea how long his sermon was - it just kept me connected into each word).

At one point he said that if we take care of loving the Lord our God with all our being.... then the other commandments will just fall into place. I have been thinking a lot over the years, about what "the Lord with ALL of my being" with all my Heart. Soul. Mind. Strength. and what that "looks like" 24/7.

There were many more thoughts, but I was just challenged again in my faith, and for that I am thankful. I know that sermons are not all considered "equal" so to speak.... I am sure I delivered some that people may not have resonated with. However, for the past two Sundays, God has really spoken through these two men and I am so grateful!

John ended with a poem. He mentioned that it was not gender neutral, however it didn't really matter to me... Adrian Plass wrote it, and well - he is a guy. Honestly, the gender neutral thing doesn't really bother me (I know some people get uptight if it isn't "inclusive" language so to speak)

I have googled the poem and have copied it below. It really spoke to me. REALLY.
I think it will speak to you as well too. Enjoy. And, thank you Adrian Plass for penning your thoughts for us to be challenged and touched by.

When I Became a Christian ~ Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in,
Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin.
He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink,
Do you still want to follow me?
I said Amen – I think.
I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen,
I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again?
You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink,
Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen – I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said,
I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed.
Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit,
Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen – a bit.
A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen,
I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again?
You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit,
Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen – a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy,
Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy.
That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow,
So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen – tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen,
I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again?
You say that I will need the joy, to bear the pain and sorrow,
Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen – tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me
A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity,
The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit,
Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen – I quit.
I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you,
But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do.
He said forget religion then, and think about my Son,
And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go,
Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know,
Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear,
To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear.
And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end,
The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend,
Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry?
When nails break your body-are you man enough to die?
Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown,
Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down,
Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again?
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen; Amen, Amen, Amen,
I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said, Amen.

Monday, March 15

The brunette in the taxi and my teachable moment!

Today I drove into the parking lot - carefully scanning to see if there was an empty spot to pull into. I wasn't in a rush, but I was looking forward to my first cup of coffee for the day ~ from my favorite coffee spot! (ya, you know ... Mountain Bean)

It was about 11:00 am or so. The lot was full! Seeing a spot, I manoeuvred my car in, and put it in park. I was already tasting it! The girls that work at Mountain Bean know what I order - the largest take out cup of Medium Roast coffee - black, fresh, bold... ahhh, so good.

I got out of my car, shut the door. It was at that point that I noticed her getting out of a yellow taxi. A number of things caught me off guard when I saw her. First of all - my parking spot was right close to the Liquor Commission. I am not sure when it opened, but I do know that it must have been pretty empty in the LC because that was the only empty part of the whole parking lot.

When our eyes met, she smiled at me. She also seemed to be eager to get her favorite drink too. Thing is - our drinks were very different. It was almost as if she sensed my eagerness. Her smile seemed to be one that said "Oh, you are coming here too?" until I veered right... down the sidewalk and into Mountain Bean, as she went straight through the automatic doors, into the Liquor Commission.

And then it struck me. It was 11 am. AND she came by taxicab! My heart felt sad.
I think her smile to me perhaps was because she thought I was also heading into the same place she was. I think she thought we had a common interest. And all I could think was that...
IT IS 11 AM and you had to come so badly that you paid for a CAB in order to get here.
I wished she WAS coming to Mountain Bean instead. It certainly would have been a cheaper purchase!

This really hit me. And still does.
I can still see her. And I feel sad for her.

Of course I don't know her. I don't know what she bought. I don't know how much she spent. I don't know why she had to get there so early nor do I know why she had to have it so bad that she paid a taxi to bring her. It couldn't have been a cheap trip.

Believe me, I am not writing this to cast judgment. I am just thinking this through. Jesus said, he/she who is without sin should cast the first stone! I am not planning to cast any stones. I am just writing this to process my thoughts on it. And really, what struck me is the intent of the trip and the addiction that fueled this trip.

And that was where God seemed to use this as a teachable moment for me - to help me realize that well, it isn't that different than me driving to a store for a chocolate bar fix, or searching like a mad woman through my cupboards for something chocolate and sweet! (yes, sadly I have been known to do both! Although.... I am doing it LESS these days as I am trying to make my health a priority finally!) And really, whether it is going by taxi to the LC mid morning, or turning to chocolate when I am emotional ~ the bottom line is that any time we/I seek something OTHER THAN GOD to fill the emptiness ~ it is just plain wrong. (Somehow I am a very slow learner!)

God used this smiling brunette to speak into my heart.

Yes, I wonder who she is - I wonder where she went after - I wonder how much she drank, or is still drinking now.

I wonder what it is that she is needing "sedation" for in her life. And I hope that she too will realize her need for Jesus, and that she will realize that only Jesus can fill the emptiness that she feels. As much as we are different - God used her to speak to me.

And, I am thankful.

I once heard that whatever we give our hearts to becomes our god (with a small "g"). I have given my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and HE alone is to be GOD of my life. (with a capital "G")

He supplies grace. He meets every need. He just wants us to turn to Him for all we need!
Thank you Lord.

Sunday, March 14

rethinking today

This is taken as I was following Alvin (me in my car) - there is nothing that man can't load and move when he puts his mind and muscle to it!

Today is Sunday. I woke up when Alvin came home from his night shift - and within half an hour - was out of the house following him with the car. He was moving a shed that we had - it used to be the little skating shack when he made the skating rink for the kids. We figure it has a use at the new land. So, after MUCH work getting it on the trailer (Michael helped in these efforts!) off he went - and then I followed shortly thereafter.

After taking side road after side road - we ended up at our location on Henderson, safe and sound. Some parts of the journey were very foggy. We got there, left the trailer in the yard, and proceeded onto the city for church.

Today in church, one of our elder lay preachers spoke on a text from Mark. Mark 13: 1-31 to be exact. I have come to love it when John R. speaks. I will be honest - I was not always his fan. You see, back in 1974 when my friend Josie and I were renting rooms in the "white house" owned by Mennonite Brethren Bible College - we were summoned to the "dean's" office and yes - you guessed it, John Regehr was the dean! (Josie and I were in grade 11 and needed a place to stay in the city while attending high school. We were able to rent rooms in the "WHITE HOUSE". It was such a great year! However, after that year, they no longer rented to high school students. Hmmmm... )

Okay, we were 16. And very intimidated by getting called to the Dean's office! What had we done? Hmmmm. Well, it turned out that our reputation for hosting people over lunch hour in the basement of the white house, had filtered to the Dean. Now, I want to make it very clear that the kitchen was in the basement, and we often had at least two friends over for lunch. (favorite lunch concoction was Kraft Dinner with Mushroom Soup mixed in. And, two of our friends who were often there sharing lunch were no other than Alvin and Al. However sometimes the basement was full of classmates watching the Canada Russia hockey series!! OR doing school projects! Not every day, but once in a while. I have regressed..... back to the Dean's call...

He (John R) suggested that we take our lunch to school and eat it there. WELL that worked for a week. Honestly - we were not even a block from MBCI (lived where the red gym is now built) so it made no sense to take our lunch! But, we did appreciate his concern!

Fast forward almost 36 years. Jo and I are much older, and so is J.R. And, having pastor'd at the church, and been encouraged by John R. I have come to love and appreciate him and his wife. So, today I was glad when I opened the bulletin and saw that he was preaching. In my opinion, with every sermon he preaches, I love each sermon more than the one before.

Today he sang a bit during his sermon as well! He spoke on the return of Christ and "rising" with the Lord. He talked about how some people want to predict the exact time - and give so much time and effort to that. He suggested in closing that we keep three things in mind:

1) that we don't try to figure out the return of Jesus BUT

2) that we keep doing our assigned tasks as servants of the Lord. He said we are servants to the end - no matter what age! I loved this. He talked about how "servants" are not thinking about themselves but that they invest themselves in the healing of others and what they have to give to others. It is about giving...

3) and that we need to be ALERT - "on guard". He said that sometimes it is easy to get sucked into the culture in which we live. (oh, this hit deeply as I have a burden for a few of my friends, people I love deeply and yet I don't know what to do to help, as I watch them make choices that are not life giving or Christ honoring)

There were a couple quotes that I wrote down, that came from JR's lips to my ears... and gave some real good food for thought. He concluded with the encouragement to us ~ "do tasks in love and compassion for the purposes of healing."

So Lord, how do I do that in the cases where my heart is so heavy? Am I the one that can speak your Truth into the situation? Are the hearts soft for these words? When do I hold accountable and when do I just listen? Can I be a friend who loves and supports but also a friend who calls to task? Are the two possible? Oh Lord, have mercy on us all...

This last quote was actually the first one that I wrote down when he said it - and I will admit that when he spoke this, it just fell on my heart... and as I have mulled it over a bit - I know I need to continue to mull. (O Lord, help me figure this one out and to be love-filled not love LESS!) Here is the quote from JR: "strange how loveless we can be when we think we've got it right!"

oh, ouch. I get this on a number of levels. Lord, O LORD, please give me compassion, and grace. Help me to lay it down. to lay it ALL d-o-w-n. After mulling this over a little - I have come to this realization: I think I am healing because when I heard this quote - it resonated with me deeply ~ but it didn't boil up within me! ( O Lord, thank you for your healing... and thank you for teaching me, and impressing on me the way you want me to be - please Lord, make me more and more like YOU!)

Today is Sunday. Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for the contentment you have brought to my heart! O Lord ~ I love you!

Saturday, March 13

puDDle juMPing


Today I put on my white rubber boots with red ladybugs on them, and took a walk out to the back. I had no idea that I could - I thought the snow would still be deep in the back. I had not walked out there since the first major snowfall, except for one attempt. But as Alvin was leaving for work, he encouraged me to enjoy a walk outside since it was still so beautiful out. Above normal temps for March.

So, I put on my boots and went outside. Last year when I bought them, I didn't really get a good chance at walking in puddles, but today - ah, that was a different story!

Off I went, looking for Oreo who I noticed had found something, and was madly burying it. Must have found something he buried last year! Once he noticed me, he was glad to be coming along. Finally - a long walk.

I was not sure how far I would get, but as I rounded the corner by the place I had erected the altar, I was thrilled to see that there was relatively little snow between there and the back fence! So I walked... watching and choosing the shallower puddles to walk through. Often Oreo would stop and try to figure out the easiest way to get through without getting too wet.

I walked to the back, and turned at the farthest tree in the pasture and headed back towards home again. As I walked I talked to the Lord. My heart was overflowing. I realized how content I felt. How thankful. Once again, I committed the land to the Lord, asking Him to bless whoever buys it - whether it be an individual, a couple or a family. My constant prayer is that they would have a strong sense of the presence of God over our place.

I walked, I talked, I observed. I listened. I sang.

I was taken back to the days when walking through puddles was so much fun! Although ~ getting "booters" never felt good!! I wished I had my camera, but realized it was in the glove compartment of the car, which Alvin had taken to work. I also dreamed of when we would watch our little Everett walking in puddles, and likely falling in a few ... somehow I can see Josh and Leah patiently helping him get changed, and letting him go out again to play! I can hardly wait to put on my boots, and go into some puddles with him too!

As I walked... a song came into my head. I only knew one line - so I googled that line, and voila! I found the lyrics. ENJOY

Big Daddy Weave \ Fields Of Grace

There's a place that I love to run and play
There's a place that I sing new songs of praise

Dancin' with my Father God in fields of grace

There's a place that I lose myself within
There's a place that I find myself again

Dancin' with my Father God in fields of grace

There's a place where religion finally dies
There's a place that I lose my selfish pride

Dancin’ with my Father God in fields of grace

I love my Father, my Father loves me
I dance for my Father, my Father sings over me

And nothing can take that away from me

seasonal thoughts.....

I am sitting in the tv room, with my laptop on my lap, just thinking. I should get to doing the dishes in my sink but I just feel like sitting and thinking for a few moments. It has been a lazy day. We basically have sat and had coffee with a couple people who came and looked at our farm land we have for sale. And now, I am in s-l-o-w gear. Through the window I see the blue sky - not a cloud around. The sun is shining, it is a beautiful (almost too good to be true) spring day. The brown grass is showing through all over the yard. The piles of snow are melting with each hour. Something in the back of our minds says that we will still get a cold blast of winter - or at least a pile of snow. Let's face it - this is Manitoba (Canada) and usually when March comes "in like a lamb it goes out like a lion!" as the saying goes. Time will tell.

We have refilled the new bird feeder, and I love watching the birds as they come and perch on it, and eat the shelled black sunflower seeds. The squirrels are not around it these days, which is a blessing. I have heard and seen Jays again in our yard. I love the pretty color of the Blue Jays. I have also come to love the red "smudge" like color on the finches.

Psalm 50: 1 says, "The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets." (NIV)

I believe God is Sovereign and in full control. Like I have said before - I do not always "get" what God is doing, or allowing ~ but I believe HE is Sovereign and HE is in control! This verse attests to the Lord being in control ... have you ever wondered about the sunrise, and sun set... about the waves that come up to the shore and roll back...

As I watch the birds come, I am reminder of scripture that talks about eagles, and about sparrows... oh how the LORD loves us even more!

As I watch the sun that shines and warms the land ~ I am reminded of the way his love and grace falls on me, and warms this often cold heart, and refreshes this often dry and thirsty soul.

As I watch the snow melt and expose the dead grass beneath is ~ I am reminded that our life is but "a breath" (and oh how well we know that). I am reminded of how a seed has to die in order to spring to life again in the spring season. I am reminded of how like the snow covers the earth ~ his grace, love and mercy cover this woman! I wonder what He is "germinating" in my life, or how He is going to spring things to life, and to bloom in this new upcoming season.

I love looking outdoors. I love walking outdoors. I have missed walking the back forty with Oreo. Unlike last year, this year Alvin did not get a path plowed for us to walk on. I am anxious to go and see if the altar that I erected last year as a testament to God's faithfulness in my life - is still standing. (I have a feeling it will be just like we left it before the snow fell). I look forward to walking back there again soon. (gotta find my rubber boots!)

A look out of my window reminds me that things die in fall, get covered in winter, and spring to life in Spring. Tulips are one of the first things to poke out of the mud. Lord willing, this will be the last time I see them bloom in this location!

Seasons are varied. We also have seasons in our life. I thank God for the season He has me in right now. With my pain "under control" and currently at a minimum level (Thank you Lord) I am realizing that I am feeling "content and happy"... and, if you regularly read my blog - you will know that over the last few months, I have really wrestled with the season of life we have walked through over the past year and a half...

There is so much yet to come. Oh how well we know that. (Lord willing, to see our land, our house and land, and begin to build the house/retreat house...) Some things are still hanging in the balance (timing of house sale, of land sale, of build, etc) yet, I believe strongly that God is in those details, and somehow, honestly, I am not worried.

I have realized that we just need to continue to walk in obedience to that which He has called us to. I have realized that this time at home has been a huge gift to me in many many ways. (honestly, that is a new realization over past month). I have realized that following God in this journey has been a "long obedience in the same direction" and it has been one of the most incredible adventures and one that I would never have imagined! Not always easy. Sometimes so incredibly hard that I didn't know if I would ever get up off my knees, but a journey none the less. Three steps forward, two back at time, but regardless - stepping ahead in faith.

Today I came across some sermon notes I had taken, and they were stuck in an older bible that I don't use as much any more, but obviously used in church one day. The sermon (not sure who preached it) was about Job and his encounter with a "HOLY GOD" and here are some of the points that I wrote down, or comments ... That there were many "twists and turns" in the story of Job, and yet through it all, Job remained blameless and upright! (beside that comment, I had written "O Lord, have mercy" and I am thinking that perhaps that comment was in regards to me!!)

I wrote that we are being invited into the story of Job so that we can experience WHO God is. I know that in some ways I thought that we as a family lived through a "Job Experience" and I can say (will speak only for myself on this one) that I have truly experienced WHO GOD IS and what HE ALONE can do in and through and with our "JOB experiences."

I also wrote that "Job had sure knowledge that God was in charge of his life, and what could be better than that!" I know that sometimes (or again I will speak for myself) we wonder if God is really got it all under control. But He does. And will bring it all together. It always makes sense when we look back. (sometimes 10 years after the fact!) The last thing that I wrote is this thought - "do we claim intimacy or nice familiarity?" Now that thought is a blog post in itself. Intimacy or "nice" familiarity. I know personally which word I want to use to describe my relationship with Jesus. The thing is - the one description demands that I get involved in relationship. A relationship HE describes as a marriage. An intimate relationship with the Almighty. O Lord, thank you so much for loving me more than words can describe. I know, without a doubt that it is this relationship that has carried me through these hard seasons of life.

I will take intimacy anytime! Because it is only in this relationship that I get to know and love the one who is in full control. And while I may not understand all that He does, or all that He allows in my life ~ there is this "knowing" ~ this "trust" that exists, and in that trust, I can be content~ which brings me to today, and just realizing that my soul is well! I feel content. And while I don't know what the season will hold, I KNOW who holds the season. Thank you Lord!

Just now, the words from a great great old hymn ran through my head. We sang these together as a family many times. We sang these words when our little Jay was taken to Heaven. I sang this song by myself with only tears as an audience! It talks about seasons, and about God's faithfulness.

Great is Thy Faithfulness ~ Lyrics by Thomas Chisholm

Born in a log cabin in Kentucky, Thomas Chisholm began as a school teacher at age 16, although he himself had no high school or college education.

He accepted Christ at age 27 at a revival meeting held by Frank Morrison, and became the editor of the "Pentecostal Herald".

A Methodist minister for a few years, he had to resign due to poor health. Thomas Chisholm lived in Winona Lake, Vineland and Ocean Grove, New Jersey. He wrote more than 1200 poems; in 1923 sent several to William Runyan (the composer of this hymn tune) who later wrote, "This particular poem held such an appeal that I prayed most earnestly that my tune might carry over its message in a worthy way, and the subsequent history of its use indicates that God answered prayer." (Osbeck 119)

This hymn was first introduced in Great Britain in 1954 by the Billy Graham Crusades.

Verse 1

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not:
As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.


Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Verse 2

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Verse 3

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Monday, March 8

Don't tell me that God is not in the details!

Someone once told me that they did not believe that God cared less about the small details about our lives. To which I replied that I disagreed. You see there has been too much in my life to prove to me that God IS a God interested in the details.

I have been sitting at my fav coffee place - _ou_ta_ n B_a_ (you can fill in the blanks for fun!) I have been here for a few hours - and a big mug of coffee and a Vanilla Bean Latte...
I needed to finish my homework for tonight's Beth Moore Bible Study. And, the last day of week 6 just really impressed me! Here are my thoughts on it.

Today was about the "priestly garments" that Aaron was to wear whenever he went into the Holy of Holies. I learned about the chestpiece, the ephod, the turban... and the fact that he had to wear these garments. (I am glad that I didn't have to wear anything "priestly" when I was in pastoral ministry.) The thing however that really struck me was that on the hem of the garment of the high priest - there were "gold bells and pomegranates: that were to alternate all around the hem. The pomegranates were out of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn, and attached to the hem with gold bells in between them. (check it our for yourself at Exodus 28: 33-35)

Aaron was to wear this robe whenever he ministered before the Lord. Listen to this though - why the bells? Because the bells would "tinkle as he goes in and out fo the LORD's presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die." NLT Phew.... think of that - if he wears it - he will not die. And the bells signal his presence before the Lord!!

(okay, I hope this isn't sacreligious but I remember when Josh was a little boy - he wore the traditional "baby boots" that all kids wore (there was nothing cute about them) and on them I put bells on the laces. I always knew where he was and if the tinkling stopped I needed to go and look for him!)

So there were a few things that came out of this - and it has to do with the importance for Aaron to dress in this way EVERY time he entered the tabernacle. Afterall, really, WHO WANTED TO DIE? On his turban was a gold place that had the inscription HOLY TO THE LORD which was a reminded that Israel had been called out to purity!

Beth says in the manual, page 133 "What a holy God He is! And how flippantly we often confront the words "Be holy, because I am the LORD your GOD" (Lev. 20:7) My heart stands convicted when considering that I could dress in all of the holy robes designed by a divinely-inspired seamstress yet underneath would remain a sin-prone woman in desperate need of grace." Oh man - can you relate to that!! I sure can!! How easily we try to cover up who we are - but God sees the inside. O Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy!

Beth ends with some thoughts on God being a God of detail, not of generality. A God of individuality. And then this quote just impressed my heart in a big way: "Do not let Satan convince you that God is not actively involved in the intricate design of your life. God has not missed a single stitch or left a stone unturned on your behalf; furthermore, His activity in the details of your life most often displays His glory and beauty." (page 133 of the manual: A Woman's Heart, God's dwelling place)

I believe God is in the details. The details which involve timing. (which is a huge thing that I have learned over and over and over again lately). I believe God loves to hear us come to him and talk with him about our lives. I believe He loves to hear us tell him our thoughts - even as He knows them anyway. There is something about expressing them out loud (or in my print in my journal!) I want to tell you one of my detail stories: Ashley was going with Mennonite Children's Choir to a tour in South Africa in 1998. She needed a bathing suit, and well - let's just say, finding the right one was never easy. Before we left home we prayed - and I asked the Lord if he would help us find a bathing suit for $50 or less, and one that she liked. Off we went. We went to Sears, and found one, and she liked it. It had a striped upper, and a dark blue bottom. But - since it was the first place we decided to look around. It was also $49.99 so then I was asking the Lord - "Lord, does the $50 mean with tax or before taxes?" Anyhow... the weeks went along and we found nothing else. We went back to Sears and wouldn't you know it - the bathing suit in her size was gone. We were sad about that. One day a little later, she was at the daycare with me, and came on an errand run to Walmart. She went to look in the girls section, and I was getting the stuff I needed when she came running. In her hand was the exact same bathing suit, in the exact size she needed. When we went to the section, we found that there was only one... on a clearance rack, and okay, get this - it was marked to $24.99 .... it was on sale! With taxes, it was still well under $50. Now don't tell me that God is NOT in the details!

I hope that you (and I both) continue to look to God for each step of our lives! Since fall I have felt like I jumped off the cliff and I am free-falling ... thing is - while I hate heights, and have never jumped off a cliff physically - I am not afraid. I feel exhilerated, sometimes breathless. I feel sure that God is there to catch me, or to give me the "parachute" to use...
Regardless, I know that God is my God and fully in control. I don't get it most the time, but I trust Him for the details.

Lord, give us all strength to follow - one step at a time... and to dance - maybe the "two step" with Him...

Love to you all dear ones!! Don't let Satan convince you that God is not wanting to be actively involved in your life! Dance like noone's watching - to the tune that the Holy Spirit gives you. (after all these years ~ I am learning to dance ~and loving it! Learning to follow the lead dancer is harder than I thought, but I am learning!!

PS also posted on the Women refreshed blog, feel free to check it out womenrefreshed@wordpress.com