Sunday, May 30

continuing to take my breath away

I have a little bouquet of flowers
waiting for the chance to go past Sunnyside
and put them on my little grandson's grave
my little grandson Jay would have been 22 months this past Monday
I was away and did not make my trek to lay flowers on that day
yet my heart has been over-full this past week

Lately I have been taken back often
to the day that our little one entered the arms of Jesus
I have been taken back
to the way we as grandparents huddled and petitioned God
for the life of our little Jay

I am not sure why
but this past week, my memories have flooded my soul
and I have been taken back to that day
and it literally takes my breath away
it literally makes my heart race

And 22 months later
I still don't get it
I never will "this side of heaven"
22 months later I know still
that it is a mystery only God understands
22 months later
I continue to realize that our grief will always be there
It continues to walk through each day with us
Time will not ever take it away,
but time and the touch of God in our hearts
will perhaps change the feel and look of it
I don't need anyone to understand this
this posting is primarily for my own purpose
to express my heart
and my unending love for our little grandson
whom we never got to watch grow up
and overwhelming feelings of grief over losing our little Jay to heaven
much too soon

I know that Heaven is the best place
I know that
in the meantime
separation is so incredibly hard

I think perhaps God is allowing me these thoughts, these memories
for a purpose
God does that.
He brings beauty out of ashes
and I am seeing that ~
But ~ in the meantime
my thoughts will continue to overflow
my breath will still be taken away
my tears will fall often
my heart will still do this weird race thing
and I will always love our little Jay
and will never forget his beautiful little being
until I get to hug him again in glory

Till then
my memories will continue
I will not know why they will be more constant this week
but they are
and that...
that is okay.

God continues to be my comfort
and there are times
when I can almost "feel" him
continuing to put the pieces of my heart back together

And that is all I hope for
that in the midst of continuing loss and sorrow,
there can again, be wholeness

Only God can do that.
I know that to be true!

Friday, May 28

grOwing uP

This picture was taken one day when Leah, Everett and I went out for a walk

sweet sweet smiles when he is with his mommy!

Poppa gives Everett a big kiss.
(hmm wonder what Everett feels with that big mustache!)

Little One
You are growing so fast
Where does time go?

I watch you
And notice with each next time
How much you have changed.
It is unbelievable.

Little One
You are so loved
Your little eyes are always sparkling
You have your Auntie Ashley’s blue blue eyes
We laugh at that - at how you look so much like her in some pictures!
Funny how that works.

You are growing up
Beginning to show your emotions more
Your giggles come very easy
Especially when your daddy is kissing your little face
in a multitude of kisses
Your smile comes readily
when you are in your mommy’s arms

You hear a voice and turn
Your look acknowledges the person
I hope you never “make strange”
You love the camera too.
I don't think any baby has ever been so photographed!!
You are growing uP
All the things that you learn in your first year of life
how you come from the womb
and learn so much within your first year of life
How fearfully and wonderfully your Creator has made you Little One.

And while we don’t want to rush you
We do imagine what you will sound like
when we hear your sweet little voice saying
“C’mon Poppa, C’mon Granny – read to me…
or “What are you doing Poppa?”

We imagine what it will feel like
with your little hand in ours
as you toddle alongside
We imagine what it will feel like
to push you on a swing in our yard
or be the recipient of a hand-picked bouquet of dandelions
or to tuck you into bed for a sleepover

So many things we are imagining!

But for now – we will keep thanking God for you Little One
And we will keep kissing your soft little cheeks
We will keep talking to you,
and listening to your sounds of acknowledgement
and your giggles of joy

Little One
We love you so much!
So very very much!

Wednesday, May 19

An open letter to my daughter Leah on her birthday!

so much love and more ~ a picture is worth a million words
The morning is still new. Birds are singing. It is still outside. The flag is barely moving.
It is a beautiful day! Today is also Leah's birthday.

Happy birthday dear daughter! (yes, I know she is my daughter-in-law)

As was stated at Ashley and Michael's wedding - each kid is loved like a true daughter or son... we don't classify them as "in-laws" as there is just something about that word that often people make fun of. (actually especially about mother-in-laws!)

Leah - what can I say about her?

I remember when Joshua came home from camp. Summer of 99 I believe it was. He was 17.

He showed us a video that was made at Senior Teen Camp at FBC. And he told us about a girl he met - and her name was Leah Hayes.

Well let me tell you - it did not take long to play the name game, and find out that Leah was no stranger, or should I say her parents were no strangers to me, back in the old camp and church and youth days.

Shortly thereafter we met Leah, when Josh brought her for some of out "Thomas Reunion" at FBC. And then it went from there - I think one of the first outings with the family was at the Beausejour Rodeo and Stampede! It seems like forever ago. So much has happened since he introduced us. I guess time has a way of passing...

I also know that "life" has a way of affecting/changing/molding/influencing us...And we know how hard life has been lately.

As a mom, I can honestly say that I love you so much Leah. You are truly the girl that God provided in response to our prayers on his behalf - when he was a tiny baby... You Leah, are a GIFT in the most purest/truest sense of that word. And how much we love you. Not sure you will ever know the depth of that... but we do.

I have watched you and Josh fall in love - and work through those early years of dating - and how you supported him in his year away at Fire College. You have walked through a lot of incredibly hard stuff in your young lives. I remember watching you as you walked through Josh's work related accident. How hard that was - I remember wanting to rush to his side and dad gently reminded me that YOU are the one who is right there to walk through the tragedy with him. You have encouraged him in all of his endeavours. You and Josh together are a strong force! Your strengths compliment one another.

And over the past years I have watched as you and Josh walked through the incredible joy of expecting Jay and the incredible sorrow and grief following his silent birth. It has been so hard as a parent, and I know your parents would say the same thing - to watch you in the depths of grief - the depths of despair, and not be able to do a thing for you to ease the pain. I have heard the wisdom come from your lips... I have heard as you wrestled through this pain, and continue to. This alone has made you and Josh older than your chronological years. We would have given anything if we could have taken away your pain.

Over the past 5 months since Everett's birth, I have watched you as a mom.... an amazing mom

I have watched as you patiently and persistently figure out your little man's schedule for sleep so that he gets the best quality sleep he can have! I love watching and hearing you as you unabashedly tell your little guy how much you love him, and how incredibly beautiful he is! How that delights my heart! Sometimes you second guess yourself - but I want to tell you that you are wise. You make good decisions. You are a wonderful mom!

Today is your birthday. You are so loved! We thank God for you - and it is our prayer that this year will be one that continues to bring healing to your heart... a year that continues to bring great joy to your heart... a year that brings surprise and more than you could ever ask for, or imagine from the Lord. He is Sovereign, and yes, we do not always understand his ways... But He holds you tightly in the palm of his hand.

I want to have a bit of fun with your name - hopefully I can do it one just one cup of coffee!!

Let me count the ways you bring joy into our lives - we watch you laugh. You are hungry to learn new things, especially now in regards to parenting. You lean on the Lord for your strength. You love fully - your husband, your sons, and your family and friends. You are a lover of all things that bring joy to your life!

Embrace life! Throughout your life God has given you wonderful friends. You embrace each one, making them feel loved and special. That is a gift. You live life fully! Enjoy this day and the years to come Leah!

Always a thinker. I see that in you. Sometimes when we talk, I notice you quiet and then you speak. You want to find clarity in what is said. You sometimes worry about how what you do/think/say will affect others. You are a wise woman, a godly one, and one who is interested in growing more in wisdom and strength! Keep thinking Leah - and keep allowing yourself to pour into the lives of others whom you touch! You are also an amazing wife and an amazing mom!

Honest. Whether through your words or your actions - it is your desire to walk the talk, and life for Jesus. You care about that. What we see is what we get -- you are the authentic, genuine person God has created you to be. You are also hardworking, humble, honorable, humorous. I am sure there is much more!

Leah - it is your birthday.

You are such a sweet and special person in our lives as a family.

You are wise beyond your years!

I have learned from you. I love that we can talk together.

I do not take that for granted.

Today I want to say again, that I love you!

I am so proud of you

& I am glad to be (one of ) your mom.

Happy Birthday dear one!

love Mom

Tuesday, May 18

4:55 A.M.

This picture was not taken today, but was a favorite of mine from a few summer's ago.
You will notice a triangular thing in the sky.
This particular morning, I was headed into the city for church - it was quite early on a Sunday morning.
I noticed a triangular thing in the sky, which I think was a cloud.
It just reminded me of the shape/sign for the Holy Spirit (a dove).
I realized the picture did not capture it - but none the less - it was a "kiss" from God on that morning!
I awoke to the sound of many birds beautifully singing, welcoming the day.
I laid there for a while listening, trying to count the different songs that I heard.
With the window open, and the cool breeze of the early morning coming in ~ it was a beautiful sound.
I turned over in bed to see what the time was.
4:55 A.M.
I got out of bed briefly. A quick look out the window showed signs of day breaking.
A new day.
A new chance at life ~ at living fully ~ at spending time with the Lord through out this day.
The birds were singing even before they knew what the day would hold.
Hmm.... 4:55 am and already God was giving me a teachable moment!
Sometimes I only sing when I have experienced something great...
I don't always choose to sing in the unknown parts of my life.
But here they were ~ the birds that the Lord had created each with a different look, and a different song, and
at 4:55 am ~ they were already singing their songs of praise!

Almost immediately, this song by Chris Tomlin came rushing into my mind, and my heart and has stayed with me since.
I hope it will remain in my heart all day.
May it be your song too!

Sing, Sing, Sing
by Chris Tomlin

We will sing, sing, sing
And make music with the heavens
We will sing, sing, sing
Grateful that You hear us
When we shout your praise
Lift high the name of Jesus

What's not to love about You?
Heaven and earth adore You
Kings and kingdoms bow down
Son of God, You are the One
You are the One we're living for

You are the love that frees us
You are the light that leads us
Like a fire burning
Son of God, You are the one
You are the one we're living for

Monday, May 17

76 sleeps and counting down

We have shared quite a few cups of coffee, and hours of laughter around this table. If these walls could talk - I hope they would talk about the love and laughter, about the family and friends, about the wonderful times shared in this dining room, and in this home, and on this land. August 1st - another family will begin making memories in our home.

It was yesterday morning, after a walk in the back forty, Alvin and I decided that perhaps we would take a drive to the land on Henderson. We had gone to church on Saturday night, so we had the morning off. Alvin told me that about half hour prior, there was a van that slowed down and stopped in front of our house. Hmm, someone perhaps taking down the number for David, our agent. Or, perhaps someone just looking to see what our house/yard looked like. We have seen cars stop before and figure that is the reason.

Quickly I threw a few snacks together, and decided to do a quick tidy up before I left. Alvin was waiting to go, and said that "it is almost noon, I doubt that anyone will be coming today."

Something in my gut just said that perhaps Alvin was wrong on this one... but I instead grabbed my things and we left. It wasn't that the house was unruly - but there were a few things on the counter, and shoes laying around at the back door.

We were about a mile away when Alvin's cell rang. He recognized the "ring tone" and said, "oh, it's Dave" (David Unruh with Rischuk Park Realty). I realized just from the side of the conversation I heard, that someone wanted to come and look at our house, and within minutes we were turning around. It was 11:35 and someone wanted to come with their agent at noon.

We got home, tidied up the few things, lit a campfire and pulled up our lawn chairs to wait. We do not hang around in the house during the showing, but have found it to be helpful to be there in case there are questions about the house/yard (which there always are).

Connie the agent came first. Then the family. Mom and Dad with their 2 kids, (5 and 2) and mom's Mom and Dad. Thus began the showing. Dad came out and asked Alvin a few things, and before I knew it - they were walking in the back forty. The agent and I chatted for a while. She said she loved our house. I shared with her that everything in the yard was made by my husband.
Then it was kind of funny - Connie realized that she had to leave - she had a 1 pm showing and was late. She had been out all morning with the family, and then had gone home only to be called again by them, asking if she could arrange for our house to be seen at noon. So, she slipped them in, thinking an hour would be sufficient and she could go to her next appointment. So, she was feeling quite bad, but asked if we were sure it was okay for her to leave the people with us. No problem we told her.

About ten minutes later, the Grandma mentioned that she had to be back in the city too - and so the family came back to the yard, asked a couple questions more, and left.

Alvin and I proceeded out to the land for the afternoon, and then got a quick visit in with Everett and Leah (Josh went to work) and then moseyed on home for another campfire, while David was showing the house again. Just prior to that, Connie pulled up on the yard, and handed David an offer from the young family. WOW. We were shocked. Obviously they thought it would be as good a place to raise their kids, as we thought it was for our kids.

Well - the showing came and went - and we looked at the offer, which David had told them we would peruse after the showing. It was a very good offer. (During the week, someone had given us an offer that was $75,000 under asking price - which we considered RUDE and David and Alvin just decided that over the phone). But last night's offer was in the end, only $7,500 less than asking, and the only thing they wanted left was the riding mower. We signed and David left with the envelope to call them, and deliver.
Hmm, how did our hearts feel. Alvin commented that he thought he would know what it would feel like, but when it came down to it - it was a combination. Great excitement at how God provided this family out of nowhere! Great thankfulness at His provision. At the same time, and I really felt it this morning - there is sadness. This is no longer our home so to speak. As of August 1st - another family will live within these walls. Other children will run, and laugh, and cry within these walls. Other people will walk the back forty. Other people will eat in the dining room, and welcome new people at the front door, and park their vehicles in the garage.

It is a strange thing ... and just reading the replies to my facebook status today - actually made me cry.
Don't get me wrong. We are so excited about this. It is exactly what we have been praying for. Without this sale - we could not do what we believe God is calling us to ... the next stage of life. We are overwhelmed by how many of YOU prayed for our home to sell. Thank you so much.

However - it is bittersweet. Afterall, this is where our kids were raised. Josh was a year old when Alvin started building the house. This is the place Ashley came home to when we brought her home from the hospital. This is where friends have come for birthdays, and anniversaries, and parties. This is where family has assembled for Christmas after Christmas after Christmas. Many people have stayed here with us - within these walls as their homes were being built: Mary-Ann and Nelson stayed with us as they built their house next door in 1984. Mom and Dad Klassen stayed with us from June till September of 1997 while their house was being built. Josh and Leah stayed with us from June till October of 2006 while their barn and loft was being built for them to move into until they built their house. If these walls could talk!

As I have walked in the back - I have also "blessed" the land many many times...

I have stood at the altar and prayed. (hmm, wonder what they will think when they see that?)

I have walked and wept, walked and prayer, walked and sang, walked and just thought...

I have asked God to bless the land, and that whomever He sends in His time, that they would have a strong sense of the presence of God in this place and on this acreage. I will keep walking over the next 2.5 months, and continue to ask God for blessing on this family. It is kind of neat - now I have faces to put to the requests.

We have sold our house. SOLD. Unexpected van of people ~ unexpected timing ~ unexpected showing on a beautiful sunny Sunday. Unexpected offer after a quick visit. But then again, with God - nothing is unexpected. God KNEW that He would provide a buyer - in HIS time...

And, HE DID. Thank you Lord for this family, for the offer, for the sale, and for the future YOU hold in your hand.
I just counted.... 76! 76 more sleeps till this is no longer our place of residence. Between now and then - we have to make those 76 days a time of living ~ and a time of celebration! Hm, sounds like a party is in store!! And this family LOVES a party! Guess we should pick a date!

Thank you Lord!!

Saturday, May 8

Celebrating Mother's Day

All because two people fell in love...
this picture was taken in fall of Grade 12, 1975
and at this point we were 17 and had been dating for almost a year!
my man, and my kids
Alvin, Leah, Josh, Ashley and Michael
taken October 2008
(my firstborn) Joshua Gerald & Leah Michelle

(my "baby") Ashley Marie & Michael John Thiessen

My 2nd Grandson Everett John Klassen

My 1st Born Grandson Jay Benjamin Klassen

It is Mother's Day 2010. The clock actually just turned past midnight - but later today, about noon, Alvin and I will get together with our kids and little Everett - and spend brunch together. Today we celebrate Mom's, Grandma's, Special Women in our life. My day will be a day of celebration as I get together with my kids and grandson and of course my man. Have to thank God for him too - as the reality is, if God had not brought Alvin into my life - I would not have my kids, nor my kids through marriage, and would not have my grandsons either! Funny how that all works hey! As the saying goes, "It's all because two people fell in love!"

It is also a chance to celebrate moms in our lives. My mom, who is with the Lord, passed away 14 years ago - on a Sunday - a week before Mother's Day 1996. I miss my mom.

I have a chance to celebrate my mom-in-law, and we are amazed at how she has rebounded from her close call with death this time last year. Obviously God was not done with her here on earth yet. I thank God for her (Olga Klassen) and for all she has been to me!

It would not be a Mother's Day - however, if it were not for the gift of my kids! Joshua my first born ~ Ashley my baby! Leah who fell in love with Josh ~ and Michael, who fell in love with Ashley. I could go on and on about my four kids - needless to say, they are the loves of my life - and such gifts that words can not express what they mean to me, and how much I love them! It doesn't matter that some of "married in" ~ they are answers to the prayers I prayed on behalf of my kids when they were too young to pray for spouses themselves! I am a blessed mom!

And then, I celebrate Mom's day as a Granny! I am thankful for the grandsons that have made me a granny! Jay Benjamin and Everett John. All that I imagined "grandmother-hood" would be - has still blown me away... never did I imagine just how much I would love these little guys, and how big a granny's heart can grow!

I love being a wife...

I love being a mom...

I love being a granny!
(because it is in this role that I get to see my kids parenting,
and man, that brings joy to my heart!)

Today I am thankful for all that God has given me in the gifts of my family.

Today, I am thankful ~ more than words can say ~ so very very thankful.
Ashley and Michael
Josh and Leah, Jay and Everett

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
(always wondered why he put the word like here - when it should be love!)
As long as I'm living
My babies (and grandbabies) you'll be!!

- Robert Munsch (book: I'll Love You Forever)
On this Sunday, May 9th, 2010 I want to formally say "thank you for being my kids, and for loving me as your mom! Thank you for the joy you have brought into my life! For the laughter, for the good conversation, for the challenging talks. Thank you for the way you allow me to pour into your lives and you into mine. You have made me into the mom that I am today. Not perfect by any means, but certainly a mom who is so blessed, and could not love her kids and grandchildren any more than I do... well no, that love will grow with each new day - more and more
more and more
more and more
On this Mother's Day, I say thanks, and I love you so much!
And sweetheart - Alvin... thank you for loving me.
I love you too,
more than you know.

Friday, May 7

my Abba is very fond of me!

Everett knows that his Daddy is very "fond" of him!!
One day, the love of his daddy and mommy
will help him to grasp the love of his heavenly Daddy too!

I think that this week - God wants me to truly live in His love - to truly live in the realization of being his child. I think this for a number of reasons - and they all culminate in the fact that over and over again this week, I have heard someone speak about their father and how it helped them to realize how much more - how much greater the love of our heavenly Father - our ABBA is for us. What a feeling.

Last night, while at the Michael W. Smith concert, the one guy from the opening band DOWNHERE - spoke about a song he wrote and how his father encouraged him, and affirmed him. Then Michael W. Smith spoke about how his dad always affirms his music, and can never figure out how every song of his doesn't go #1. Both men - tied it to how much more their Father God loves them. This on top of the book I am reading by Brennan Manning. I can not help but say "O Father - how much you want me to experience your love and to realize my position as your daughter!"

Today I finished chapter 3 called "Abba's Child" and I want to share some of what I read. Some of what touched my heart profoundly.

Manning tells this story (page 64) "Years ago, I related a story about a priest from Detroit named Edward Farrell who went on his two-week summer vacation to Ireland. His one living uncle was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday. On the great day, the priest and his uncle got up before dawn and dressed in silence. They took a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney and stopped to watch the sunrise. Standing side by side with not a word exchanged and staring straight at the rising sun. Suddenly the uncle turned and went skipping down the road. He was radiant, beaming, smiling from ear to ear.

His nephew said, "Uncle Seamus, you really look happy."
"I am, Lad."
"Want to tell me why?"
His eight-year-old uncle replied, "Yes, you see, my Abba is very fond of me."

Manning then (in his book) asks "do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you? If you could answer with gut-level honest, "Oh, yes, my Abba is very fond of me," you would experience a serene compassion for yourself that approximates the meaning of tenderness."

Today I sit in that reality. That in spite of my stuff - in spite of my sometimes fickle approach to my walk with God - in spite of how I struggle to be more like Jesus in ways of forgiveness and extending grace... HE IS FOND OF ME!

In spite of it all. How amazing. God loves ME! He knows me intimately and STILL loves me.
He has forgiven me for everything - past, present and future and never lords my sin over me! Ever!! My name is written on the palm of his hand. The greatest expression of love - was Jesus going to the cross for my sin, and rising again for my guarantee for an eternity with him because I trust Him fully.

It is a lot to think of - how amazing this love is. I find it easier to imagine the love of my heavenly Father - because I know how my earthly father loved me. I also realize that what I may have experienced may or may not be the same as my siblings. I also realize that what I may have experienced may or may not be the same as other men and women - some who either didn't have a father, or didn't have a father who was a role model of love and acceptance to them. I do not take that for granted, believe me.

It is hard to put the love of our heavenly Father into words. It is hard to put into words the feeling that fills my soul because of knowing how "fond Abba is of me".... but I am wanting to bask in that today...

Later, I will go and stop in to see and hold my little grandson. I will watch as his parents dote on him, as they smile at his every squeal, and cuddle him close. I will smile as I watch his daddy smother him with kisses and make him smile in return. Everett KNOWS his Daddy... and he KNOWS his mommy. I hope that as he grows the love of his mommy and daddy will in turn help him to come to know and experience intimately the love of his Heavenly Father too.
That is my prayer for my grandson... for my family... for my friends... for those of you who read this but I may not know... and for me!

I was just about to finish and post this blog when a song came to mind. It is actually one of my favorites too!! Written by Chris Tomlin, here are the words.

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior's love for me!

He took my sins and my sorrows,
He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calvary,
And suffered and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me.

So as I close for this blog post today - it is my prayer for you dear reader, that you would truly experience how fond the Father is of you, dear child! It is my prayer...

That today ~

you will "feel" the love and fondness of your heavenly Father - your Abba.

That today ~

you will know how much He loves you and delights and wants you to be his child.

That you today ~

can also stand amazed in the presence of the one who gave his life for you!

Today ~

this is for you, as well as for me!

with great love!

Thursday, May 6

beloved and content

I am enjoying Brennan Manning's book - and have finished the chapter called THE BELOVED. It reminded me of a dream I had years ago, and I think I blogged about it in the past. A dream that came at a time when I was asking God to help me experience intimacy with him and a love that was only through Jesus... and out of that came the dream.

So, this chapter has enveloped me in love again. I love the word "BELOVED" Just the sound of it brings a warmth to my soul. In the book, Manning has said some things that have just "whooshed" into my heart again, coming in with a freshness, and awareness of how great the Lord's love is for me! I needed that again - a reminder. Sometimes the "everydayness"of life causes me to forget this! And this morning, some of the things that spoke to my heart were quotes like the following (from Abba's Child):

"It is God who has called us by name! The God beside whose beauty the Grand Canyon is only a shadow has called us beloved. The God beside whose power the nuclear bomb is nothing has tender feelings for us." (page 59) (tender feelings for you and I!)

"...But when the night is bad and my nerves are shattered and Infinity speaks, when God Almighty shares through His Son the depth of His feelings for me, when His love flashes into my soul and when I am overtaken by Mystery, it is kairos - the decisive inbreak of God in this saving moment of my personal history. No one can speak for me. Alone, I face a momentous decision. Shivering in the rags of my sixty-plus years, either I escape into skepticism and intellectualism or with radical amazement I surrender in faith to the truth of my belovedness."

"Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion." (page 60)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that line - and in the book I wrote, "I, Joy Klassen define myself radically as one beloved by God!!"

I realized as I have sat here in Mountain Bean (yep killing time again) (and I should add, on my second big mug of coffee!) I realize what my heart feels... and I realize that today, it feels overwhelmingly content... overwhelmingly loved by God. Some of you may think - "whatever - Joy you should feel content - you should feel loved. You are at home - able to do whatever you wish for the day - no pressures .... " But let me interject here - this overwhelmingly contentedness - even I - "Joy the unemployed - recently resigned pastor" struggled/wrestled tooth and nail with being at home - struggled with trying to find my purpose - struggled with resting in the Lord - struggled with identity and all the insecurities that abounded during those first few months. (I sound ungrateful don't I)

But I realize that I feel different - I feel that even though I have "jumped and I am free-falling" while God works out the details of life... that even in that, I feel this excitement - this anticipation - this tangible "electric" sense that is only God. I know that without a doubt. And there is this overwhelming contentment in my soul, and my whole being. That being said, I do believe that I know for sure that intimacy with the Lord only comes out of spending time in his presence... like a child with their parent which is an example I can relate to both with my parents and I, and my kids and I. I also believe that intimacy comes from a prayer life. For that reason alone, I am thankful for this time off that has truly been a gift to me. A gift from God, and a gift from my husband as he has blessed me in staying home. The struggle to enjoy, to recognize the gift - that was my struggle, and I thank God He has taught me through it!

Such it is, that as I first sat down here at the Bean... I pulled out my bible/journal and went to Philippians 4. After reading it - I penned some thoughts. Here they are - word for word from my journal - for what they're worth!!

This is my reality - I am feeling content
Paul says he's learned the secret
that in every circumstance - whether in want or in need
the answer is Jesus

When I think of word pictures
I "see" a cat laying in the sun
legs out
the sun warming her fur
the slight breeze rushing past her whiskers
but a soundness of heart that allows her to lay flat out..
enjoying a few moments peace
enjoying the warmth of the sun.

sitting in a coffee shop
surrounded by people
yet alone.
Feeling a peace -
that covers my soul, my heart, my mind
Unexplainable other than ... JESUS.

NOT complacent
My heart bristles at that word
But it breathes deeply of contentment and peace
Peace that can not be counterfeited
Peace that can't be described other than that..
it seeps into every nook and cranny
every corner and crease of my being
top to bottom
head to toes
fingertip to fingertip


Fix your thoughts on what is true
lovely and

You are all these and more
on my own, I am nothing
in YOU - I can do anything
Because you fill me with strength.


Contentment in and thru any circumstance
knowing that no matter what -
You will supply my needs
Not because you have to,
but because you want to and
You know all about me
You know about my needs
You know my heart
You love to hear me come to you -
with cares, concerns.
with praise and adoration
with thanksgiving
with confession
You Lord, love to have conversation with me - and I am so thankful.

"...all glory to You God - my Father - forever and ever. Amen." Phil. 4: 20

"Peace overflowing from an active prayer life lends contentment."
Beth Moore

I encourage you this morning - whether it is 5 minutes or 50... spend some intentional time - QT as I call it (quiet time) with the Lord. Honestly - you will never regret the time you take OUT of your day to SIT with the Almighty. Yes, He is with us wherever we go, and we can talk with him regardless. But as you love to sit with a good friend - so He delights to sit with us. You will only desire to spend more and more time... trust me, I can vouch for that!

Enjoy His presence today.
May peace and contentment flood your heart and mind today!

Wednesday, May 5

Brokenhearted Love!

It is a melancholy morning with the weather! Damp, Grey, and cold (in comparison with what we were experiencing last week). I just went outside to put in a new suet seed block for our birds, and already hear the calling of the jays! Kissed by God again!

The robins are enjoying this weather ~ as it helps in the worm finding! Our neighbors ducks were enjoying the high ditch on the other side of the road from where they actually should be. It was a funny sight, two big white ducks swimming around. (that was at 6:30 am when Alvin needed to be dropped off at Josh and Leah's so they could head out to work at the beach). I wondered how they got to the other side, and we figure they must have been swept through the culvert with the rushing water! Regardless, they were enjoying it!

Today is a lazy day... I have been procrastinating on a couple things (one being my run!) but will get there shortly! But I wanted to "quickly" check my emails (okay, honestly there is nothing quick about dial up even when you WANT to be quick!). And I get an automatic email from a website (Leah told me about Molly, shortly after our little Jay's birth)

This morning's email had the link to her post called brokenhearted-love-give-it-live-it and it was so good to read. It is quite something to read that other people who have experienced such broken-heartedness over loss of a child feel/experience things said/done that are similar to our experiences. There was a comfort, almost a healing salve when I read her blog. She is responding to people who are not the ones who have lost a child but want to know HOW TO RESPOND to those who have, and Molly says "Ask God to give you brokenhearted love".

Those of you who know me, know that we experienced some great hurt on top of the intense sorrow of losing our grandson Jay. When on top of what we felt, we were told that it was our "perception" of what happened, that hurt even more. And to cap it off, being told that we blamed others for our hurt and did not take any of the blame or responsibility ourselves, then that just added more hurt to our already shattered hearts. When I got the email telling me that we had totally blamed them but did not take any of the blame/ownership ourselves ~ I sat at my computer and wept. When the person came and stood in my office door ten minutes later, I asked "how, when walking through the loss of my grandson, was I supposed to take ownership or some of the blame? I don't get what you are talking about?" I didn't quite get what I was now in turn being told. I told him that we were just trying to survive, as that is what it felt like.... each day, new day, gotta get through this day.... I was hurt and tired of being told that what we were feeling was based on "our perception" and "our assumptions that were not met". At that point, I was just so heartbroken, and tired of it all that my response was to just keep giving it to God and ask for grace, and for forgiveness, and for change in my heart to see it all...

The thing that was I think the hardest and at the root of it all - was some of those involved were people who were my friends, and yet we realized that they didn't really hear me/know me like I thought. (again, my perception right? but it was MY EXPERIENCE). We realized, it is a reality that some people just do not get it. Especially if they have not encountered loss. I do have to say that I don't believe anyone truly meant to be hurtful, however that being said, if you know what you have done WAS hurtful, and say nothing... do nothing.... then that in itself is wrong.

Anyhow, I am so thankful for God's grace and mercy, and for the many walks in the back, and for the altar at which I laid down names and instances and hurt... but believe me it is hard to "not remember" when I see a face associated with the hurt. I remember walking and weeping and asking God "Lord, please change my heart toward them... please do a work in MY heart, do whatever you want in theirs, but in MINE Lord, help me to change" And praise God, He has. Now that being said, I am not looking to sit down for a tea party with them, but the "stuff" no longer rises to the surface and boils! That, was just not good. (I also thank God for Mary who walked with Alvin and I through this during our counselling sessions). We have learned a lot through it all. Unfortunately our kids were witness to some of it, and it bears some marks on them as well, which is both sad and unfortunate.
So - back to Molly Piper. She is responding to people who want to know how they can and should respond to those who have experienced loss, and broken hearts and her answer again, was "Ask God to give you brokenhearted love." WHOOSH... oh, did I just feel a fresh breeze blow by?

We will always live with our grief over losing our first born Grandson Jay Benjamin. We DAILY think about him/talk about him, we imagine what he would be like and what he would be doing. We imagine how he would be poking and prodding his little brother. We mourn what we will never experience with Jay here but can hardly wait to see him again, which brings such comfort! His pictures bring joy to our hearts.

We DAILY celebrate the life of our second little Grandson Everett, who is uniquely himself! We watch his expression, we hear his laugh, we hear his little squeals. We imagine what he will look like once he starts to stand, and then craw and walk. Poppa imagines what it will be like walking with his little hand in his... and having him ask "Poppa what's this .... poppa what's that?" I can hardly wait till his first little sleepover alone... or for him asking "Granny can I have a treat" (okay, I promised the kids that I would give carrots as treats!!)

We celebrate our TWO Grandsons. Yes, we celebrate differently, but we do celebrate!! We are thankful for those who continue to include Jay in our conversations - those who continue to ask about Everett. We are thankful for those who have made trips to Sunnyside and tell us. We are thankful for those who continue to check-in with us and ask how our hearts are doing... for those who are not surprised when tears flow from these Granny's eyes ... we thank you for not forgetting what we remember daily.

Alvin and I talked yesterday about how we have changed. God is taking our brokenness, and using it for His glory... He is redeeming the brokenness, we can feel that. He is picking up the broken pieces and putting them together. Will we ever be the same? No. Will we ever forget? Not in our lives! We will ever stop remembering and talking? Never. Will joy and sorrow co-exist all our lives? Yes... but He will somehow "make all things beautiful in His time" (there is a song like this).

I didn't actually mean to write all this, but Molly's post just brought it to the surface again, and well, I just had to write it out. (guess this is part of my healing, and you are in on it.)

One more thing.... today is May 5th. 14 years ago, we said good-bye to one of the most beautiful women we knew... my mom, Dolly Thomas (real name was Verna Mildred Elsie). After a week of being in the hospital, a week where we knew she was dying slowly day by day... we had the gift of being by her bedside when she breathed her last - slowly and without pain, and entered into the presence of the Almighty! My mom was 74. She was one of the most gentlest, grace-filled women of God. She was one of the greatest prayer warriors in my life! I felt too young to lose my mom (almost 38) little did I know a year and a half later, I would also lose my dad. My mom was a Proverbs 31 woman!! And I rise up today again, and call her Blessed!!

Lord - will you tell my Mom how much I miss her,
but also how comforted I am
that she is able to be with our little Grandson Jay - her GREAT Grandson.

Can you tell my mom how much I love her
and always will!
And one more thing Lord,
can you give her and Jay both a big hug today,
oh, and a kiss too... from me!

Tuesday, May 4

the "imposter"

Today, after I sent Alvin out the door with prayer, a kiss and a hug, and the lunch for the boys, I went and hopped into a warm bath. Beside me on the tub were a steaming cup of black coffee and the book by Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child. A chapter later, I got out – freshly bathed and heart full.

Today’s chapter was called THE IMPOSTER and is all about our “false self”. The imposter/false self that is preoccupied with acceptance and approval. The self that needs to please others, having a hard time to “say no with the same confidence with which they say yes.” Manning says on page 34 “And so they overextend themselves in people, projects, and causes, motivated not by personal commitment but by the fear of not living up to others’ expectations.” (ouch!)

Manning talks about a few things… about our narcissism, about self-importance, about needing to be noticed. He talks about how often “appearance is everything” and living life of pretense.

He quotes Augustine, who said “There can only be two basic loves ~ the love of God unto the forgetfulness of self, or the love of self unto the forgetfulness and denial of God.”

The imposter loves to draw their identify from personal achievements, but also from interpersonal relationships with others – wanting to stand well with prominent people because it raises their “status” or their “resume” and for sure their “self-worth”. In my years of working – in both the secular and in the ministry, I have seen this, and also have allowed my imposter to do this as well. I think more so in ministry I saw it, when people sided up to the “rich and famous” in order to also get in on some of the fringe benefits. Somehow I didn’t get into those circles…. I think it was because I was called into the ministry without a degree or without seminary, and so I automatically was not included into those networks. (even though I didn't get the invites, I struggled with that...I have to say I struggled A LOT with this – with feeling “less than” others who ministered with a degree. I felt an insecurity. I felt rejection. (whether just perceived or actually happening, it none the less felt very real to me!) While this feeling got less over time, it was still there every time I got up to preach. I think it was God’s way of keeping me humble.

Manning talks about when he was in retreat in the Colorado Rockies and heard a message from God. It went like this: “Brennan, you bring your full presence and attention to certain members of the community but offer a diminished presence to others. Those who have stature, wealth, and charisma, those you find interesting or charming or pretty or famous command your undivided attention, but people you consider plain or dowdy, those of lesser rank performing menial tasks, the unsung and uncelebrated are not treated with the same regard. This is not a minor matter to me, Brennan. The way you are with others every day, regardless of their status, is the true test of faith.” (chapter 2, page 38, Abba’s Child)

The way I am with others every day is the true test of my faith!! Isn’t this part of the greatest commandment – that we should love the Lord our God with all our heart, our mind and our strength AND to love our neighbor as our self! (to which was asked, WHO is our neighbor!) I think our “neighbor” is every person we encounter through each part of our day… day in and day out.

I think of the times that I have been speechless (if you can believe it!) and have acted powerless or assumed a passive role – was often out of fear of rejection (or feeling rejected) and therefore not responding authentically. Oh God, forgive me for those times when I have let the imposter/false self rule in my life! There have been times that I have chosen NOT to act… Lord, forgive me for those times too.

I have come to see over and over again, that the more intimate our walk with the Lord gets, the smaller the imposter within us becomes. Our walk with the Lord means that we come humbly, honestly before the throne, knowing that in order to live fully, we must die to self. I think I will always struggle with self-confidence and self-worth. But I also know that it is not man/woman that gives this to me – but my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Jesus shows us over and over again throughout the gospels (in the Bible, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) how to love-on and act toward ALL people. ALL!

Getting rid of the imposter is also about loving ourselves the way God loves us, and wants us to love ourselves. The imposter is all about self-hatred! And self-hatred usually comes out in the form of a behaviour that is destructive! (hmmm, my struggle with food perhaps?)

Carl Jung in his book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World Harvest Books, 1933) page 235 wrote:
“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ – all these things are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most imprudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved – what then? As a rule, the christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering: we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”

Hmmm. Wow…talk about not just "food for thought" but a “smorgasbord” of thought in that paragraph quote itself. I need to get into the word – into the gospels to not only see how Jesus walked among, ministered with and to, healed, preached to, touched, lived with, blessed and loved the people! Because there – in the gospels… I see ME!

At the end of the chapter – Manning says that on the 20th day of his stay in the retreat in the Rockies – he wrote a letter to “the imposter”… and at the end of this letter he writes
“On this last day in the Rockies my gift is to take you where, unknowingly, you have longed to be – into the presence of Jesus. Your days of running riot are history. From now on, you slow down, slow very down.

In His presence, I notice that you have already begun to shrink. Wanna know somethin’, little guy? You’re much more attractive that way. I am nicknaming you “Pee-Wee.” Naturally, you are not going to roll over suddenly and die. I know you will get disgruntled at times and start to act out, but the longer you spend time in the presence of Jesus, the more accustomed you grow to His face, the less adulation you will need because you will have discovered for yourself that HE is ENOUGH. And in the Presence, you will delight in the discovery of what it means to live by grace and not by performance. Your Friend, Brennan”

To which I could also could write and sign off ~ Your Friend, Joy

Oh Lord – please help me give up my struggle with self - my insecurities, my feelings of low self-worth and rejection - to give it all to you! Help me to live IN you today – to experience your Presence in a tangible way. To see you in those around me, and that others who I encounter will see YOU through my actions and that I will have the fragrance of yourself! Lord, forgive me for allowing the imposter to rule at times! Help me to make you Lord over all I do, I think, and I say. You O Lord, are Sovereign! Jesus, be the center! Amen and amen.

Monday, May 3

first Monday in May

my kitchen window ~ my sanctuary!
I am always in awe of what God surprises me with just outside the window!
The tree that the jays love to sit in - is on the left of the picture.
Of course once the leaves come - it will be harder to see them.
Perhaps I will have to put the feeder on a stand.
I took this picture last week Wednesday.
I heard his call - and there he was just on the front flower bed.
I had spilled some seeds there when I refilled the front feeder!
He is enjoying them.

Today is Monday. Rainy. Dreary. Cold (in comparison with last week's temps). But it has been a good day! Sure there has been some of the "usual" which makes every day wonderful (usual means I have had a chance to talk to at least the female half of my kids both in person and in texts).
It has been good because I ran this morning - started WEEK TWO - day 1. I dread the exercise and I love the exercise... especially when it is done! Can't figure this love/hate relationship out - but I am thinking by the time I run my first goal of 5K (Lord willing in Sept) I will be in a love/love relationship I hope!!

Monday - it has been good because I had an impromptu coffee with my friend B. I have to tell you about her (perhaps have blogged about her in the past). Her and her husband have become very very good friends... like family! And often on a Monday - it starts out talking impromptu on Facebook, and then leads into the occasional impromptu coffee at _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
My most FAVORITE place. Ya, you know!
So today we met - always with a hug. Usually a visit with laughter. She loves to laugh and has this sense of humour that makes me laugh too! We sat and visited over a large cups of coffee. Today was a short and sweet visit since me and the "girls" as B. put it ~ well, we had a "bra fitting" app at Curves. (Ya, they brought in a bra specialist, and I had a 2:15 fitting). Our visit ended with a hug again, and a couple "i love you's" shared. You know - that is something I love ~ when friends can say I LOVE YOU without feeling silly.
Then off I went (with my girls) to Curves. I was able to buy 3 new bras for the cost of the last one I bought at a boutique (each bra bought was at a 35% discount!) and then well, since I was there, I did my workout. (which meant I got to change the exercise ticker on my blog, and now - I have really done some good intentional time, over and above the 4 hour goal I had!)
Then back to Mountain Bean - to use the wireless internet with my computer and book a couple flights to Calgary (me and my mom in law are going next Monday for a few days). It is just easier with wireless. Usually with dial-up by the time I go to book - it is timed out!!
Now I am home, but Alvin isn't yet. I have supper ready for the most part. I had the kitchen window open and got a few "kisses" from God a few moments ago... I am just so thrilled at the amazing creation around us. I don't think I have been so aware of nature as I have been since I quit working. The time to just take it all in - has been a gift to me. I am eager to enjoy the new land too! (and will be quite sad to leave this beautiful property we have called home for the past almost 27 years). But - back to a few moments ago.

I opened the window because I could hear the bluejays... once you know what a jay sounds like - you can identify them even with the windows shut! Just outside of the kitchen window - in the back yard is a french lilac tree. I had a bird feeder in there until the big fat squirrels found them again!! So, a couple weeks ago, I found something else - a little "cage" thingey that hangs and in it you drop a block of suet/birdseed. The one I put in was especially for the jays and woodpeckers... although they all seem to love it. I heard the jays, and looked, and there was one again - in the tree - hopping from branch to branch and up onto the cage and started chowing down on the suet block. It is actually quite beautiful to see them. He is a big bird, and the jays are actually a bit of a rascal bird... chases away everything else, including his cousin the redheaded woodpecker. This is the same tree that a week or so ago, I saw THREE blue jays in it at the same time.
You know - I love what I see outside of my kitchen window. It has become a "sanctuary" spot to me - lately I have been hand washing a lot more dishes since we had a bit of a situation with our dishwasher and have to pick up and install the new one. So, I stand there many times during the day! On my ledge is a picture of our little Jay. With a "willow tree" ornament of a woman with blue birds on her outstretched arms. The title on this ornament is "happiness" and I actually bought it after Jay's birth but before we knew little Everett was on the way. It was a reminder to me that God would redeem our brokenness for joy. Who would think that doing dishes would be a place of peace! And the scene from my window such a joy as well!
There are many little birds that come to the feeder, they are not all so pretty as the jays and woodpeckers, but we have many varieties including many many sparrows! The robins are constantly walking around pulling up worms. The other day Alvin and I watched three squirrels chase each other (I think they were young ones, but they were healthy ~ go figure, we are feeding them cracked black sunflower seeds straight up!) We also watch deer in our yard on a daily basis and well - there is the occasional stray cat.
I can't help but be reminded of what it says in the Bible about the birds. I ;am sure you know which verses... I went to and here they are:

Luke 12:6-8 (New International Version)
6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies[a]? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

8"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.

and Luke 12:6-8 (New Living Translation)

6 “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins[a]? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

8 “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man[b] will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.

Imagine how precious we are in the eyes of the Almighty!

Now that just makes my Monday complete!

Sunday, May 2

A Song given at supper!

To God Be The Glory

Author: Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915
Musician: William H. Doane, 1832-1915

To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the lifegate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro' Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To ev'ry believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing thro' Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

To God be the glory, the vict'ry is won;
Our praise to the Saviour has only begun;
In heav'n's radiant splendor we'll join with the throng
And praise Him forever in jubilant song.

I am not sure why, although I believe God gave the song to my heart... but while Alvin and I were sitting down at the table to have supper (an hour ago) this hymn came to my heart and into my mind! Now, I honestly don't know if I have sung this hymn in the past 10+ years, but I "grew up" singing this song.

So there we were at the table ~ humming, singing the chorus (Alvin and I). I figure that, if nothing else, God gave this song to me to remind me of HIS goodness in my life! A reminder that I need to (regardless of anything or everything that may or may not happen) say "To God be the Glory - great things HE has done!! Praise the Lord!

I hope that He brings a song to your heart too! And, after you sing it, make sure to stop and thank Him!

Just now I checked the details about Fanny Crosby (who wrote this hymn) and have included it next - should you wish to read it!

Frances Jane Crosby (March 24 1820 – February 12 1915) usually known as Fanny Crosby, but sometimes as Frances van Alstyne, was an American lyricist best known for her Protestant Christian hymns. A lifelong Methodist, she was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blind since infancy.[1] Also known for her public speaking, during her lifetime Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States.

To this day, the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work. Some of her best known songs include "Blessed Assurance", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home", "Praise Him, Praise Him", and "To God Be the Glory".[2] Because some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 100 different pseudonyms during her career.

Early life and career
Fanny Crosby was born in Southeast, Putnam County, New York to poor parents, John and Mercy Crosby. At six weeks old, she caught a cold and developed inflammation of the eyes. The family physician was not available, and a quack who came in his place recommended mustard plasters as treatment.[3] The botched procedure blinded her.

Her father died when she was one year old, so she was raised by her mother and grandmother. These women grounded Crosby in Protestant Christian principles, helping her, for example, memorize long passages from the Bible. Crosby became an active member of the John Street Methodist Episcopal Church in New York City.

At age 15, Crosby enrolled at the New York Institute for the Blind (now the New York Institute for Special Education). She remained there for seven years. During that time she learned to play the piano and guitar and to sing. In 1843, she joined a group of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. arguing for support of education for the blind. From 1847 to 1858, Crosby joined the faculty at the New York school, teaching English and history. She married Alexander Van Alstyne, a blind musician and fellow teacher, in 1858. At his insistence, she kept her maiden name. They had one daughter, Francis, who died while a baby. Alexander died on July 19, 1902.