Tuesday, November 30

the last day of the month before the last month of the year!

November 30, 2010 ~ wow, tomorrow is December 1st.  I am sitting here in Mountain Bean again, since I am in the city - this is the best wireless place to go to.  It has been a couple days since I have checked email, as we are temporarily displaced citizens!!  Just joking.  We are however living at Mom K's condo just for a few days while some things are being completed at Josh and Leah's loft. Our life is always an adventure, and I am really glad that we are able to go with the flow.  (I know sometimes my kids will say I handle the flow better than other times, but this is really quite fine.) 

It has been an experience living in Mom's condo.  Every time I open the door to go in - I am always disappointed when I realize again, Mom is not there.  Her house smells like TIDE powdered detergent.  I think I will always associate that with Mom.  The Tide smell wafts out of the container in the storage room.  Mom's house is a little in disarray.  I can't help but think she would be a little upset with us for having things a little out of order!  Mom was such a tidy housekeeper.  We are in the middle of packing up - and distributing her stuff among family.  In the meantime we have things in little piles.  The phone is disconnected, as is the TV which means that it is pretty quiet in there.  I miss her so much.

I came to the Bean to meet Kim and have a cup of coffee and catch up on friendship.  It was good.  And now - I can catch up on my blog.  It just seems like my return to work has caught me a little off kilter!  I am still working about 24 hours or so a day - but I am still zonked at the end of it.  (Although it is a long day once in a while - yesterday I worked 9:45 till 8:15).  I am loving it though.

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is December.  I just took a little stroll backward - looking through the blog from November 2007 until now.  Funny - some thing don't seem to be much different!  What does that say about me?  Perhaps that some things are very deeply rooted.  Not really proud of that, but I have to say - life has been both a journey AND a process!  And a hard one at that!

Regardless of what I have or have not accomplished ... I do know that I am a different person, and God is at work - and will be at work till my dying breath.  I have also realized that life IS hard OFTEN.  And, if you have not experienced that - believe me - you will.  It is not a matter of IF but WHEN.

It was a year ago that I erected the altar in the back forty at Anola!  I was thinking of that last Friday, when I heard Steve Bell singing HERE BY THE WATER when we were at the Siloam Mission Banquet.
Immediately the thoughts of the day that God told me to go and gather rocks and build an altar...
And my thoughts went to the memory of what I must have looked like - with tears in my eyes, and with Oreo my dog sitting quietly as I sang the same song to the Lord!

Later I took more rocks - and Alvin laid a huge one as well.
Later God instructed me to take a felt pen and NAME some of the rocks - which I did.
Later I wrote a Psalm out on one of them (only to find it gone after the spring thaw!)

Sometimes I feel like I need to build an altar again, although I have not received a word from God to do that physically again.  HOWEVER I know that somewhere along the way - I seem to have taken those rocks back upon myself!  I just need to lay them down again.... or perhaps it is a continual process of laying down!

Life carries on - and I continue to walk through the journey...
I know that it is only in HIS power that I can do this.
I know that it is only in HIS power that I can lay them down - and that HE makes them HOLY!

For as long as I live - I am sure the pile of rocks I lay down will make a mountain!  I just really want to keep laying them down. 

Saturday, November 27

desiring to be broken?

Today I was at a craft show at the Vineyard church off Main.  I will be honest - I think that my crafting days are over.  There is very little that truly excites me when it comes to crafts. (especially since for a few years I was heavy duty into the crafting scene - even part of a group that hosted a weekend sale in our home!) Those crafting years seems like eons ago.  A few years ago, when Alvin and I painted our house - I got rid of ALOT of crafts...  yes granted I still had SOME but for the most part, I purged alot of stuff.  All of a sudden "STUFF" just made me feel claustrophobic!  BUT that being said, I still go to the odd craft sale - just because.

Anyhow - that being said, the sale at the Vineyard church building was really done well.  Good publicity.  And some very very unique crafts! 

That is where I talked to my friend Tanis Gray - BROKEN CLAY  http://www.brokenclay.ca/
and looked over some of her necklaces again.  I met Tanis for the first time last year - I think I may have blogged about that.  I met her at the Scattered Seeds Craft Sale in 2009.  It just seemed to be God-ordained.  Since then we have had the pleasure of chatting over coffee at Sam's Place.  So, since it has been a while - it was good to chat briefly today (since it was pretty busy). 

Immediately one piece caught my eye, and the eye of my daughter as well.  I loved the colors - this one piece was brown with some green.  But what intrigued me even more was the name of the piece.  It was called:

Ash and I looked at it.  And in the back of my mind I thought "I would really like this one" but at the same time I thought "But Joy - do you really DESIRE to be broken?  You have been BROKEN but did you and would you in the future DESIRE brokeness?"  oooooooooooo...

I didn't buy it - although I want to email Tanis about it to see if she could put it away for me so that I can buy it.  But I had to look up her little write up on her website to explain why she chose the title DESIRE TO BE BROKEN.

This is what Tanis says on her website about this piece she created:
"I Fused stained glass onto the clay and found out it crackles as it cools and looks even more beautiful. The key to unleashing the Holy Spirit within us is simply allowing ourselves to become broken. When we have been broken , the things of the flesh removed from our lives, that which is valuable can flow from us and affect others that we come in contact with in our daily lives.All of this and much more will be unleashed in our lives if we learned to simply be broken. Being broken isn't easy. In fact it's painful. As God reveals the things in our lives that need to be released, our flesh will struggle to hold on to them. But if we allow the Spirit to have His way, we will end up a completely broken vessel that affects the lives of others in ways we never imagined. Don't just desire to be blessed. Desire to be broken…."

She then used one of my favorite Scripture:  2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (The Message)

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, He does in us—He lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!

So since then I have been thinking of that ... of being broken.... of DESIRING to be broken.
That for me - seems like an even different thought.  Although we know that we are to LAY ourselves DOWN for the Lord... but desiring to be broken?

I think so often I have the wrong picture of brokenness.  I think when we see something that has been broken and fixed, it seems like it just doesn't measure up.  It seems like it becomes a "second" because something is wrong with it.  BUT when we read the Scripture about clay vessels - the whole idea of brokenness is turned on its head.  All of a sudden it makes sense.  All of a sudden brokenness seems to have a purpose.

But - being broken hurts.  I know that.  Many of you know that.  There is nothing, nothing NOTHING that feels good about being broken.  And sometimes we feel like we are broken not just into two pieces but into a million.  And yet - in this Scripture is says that even we we are sometimes "thrown down but not broken" ... I will be honest, I have to stop and think about that.  WHY?  Because I honestly felt broken in a million little pieces so if I wasn't broken, then I can't imagine how much more painful that would be TO be broken.
Okay, I am likely not making much sense. 

THE BOTTOM LINE:  does anyone desire to be broken?  really and truly?  I honestly just thought "it happens" to us.  I honestly have wondered "why Mr. Cranky over there continues to be so cranky and yet floats through life untouched" ...  I have honestly wondered why God allows some things for some and not for others.  I feel like I have encountered brokenness over and over and over again.  But honestly, not sure I ever "desired to be broken".  Hmmmmm..... 

Yes, I am "talking out loud" again - me, the verbal processor!  And you, are likely wondering where I am going with all this.  Well here are some of my summations (is that a word?) as I look through my experiences with brokenness.  In most cases they have involved loss of something.  Loss of those I loved so deeply.  Loss of health, when I encountered my depression in the mid nineties.  Loss of mobility at times, with my fibromyalgia.  Loss of trust with people.  Loss of work (even though I resigned, it was still a loss).  And if you have read my blog you will know about my greatest loss of my grandson Jay. 

For me - I associated brokenness with loss.  With tears.  With emotional anguish.  With broken hearts. 
I associated brokenness wtih things that were painful in one way or another.  BUT... just this week - I was talking with people about this.  And I see where my brokenness has been woven into the great plan and purpose that God has for me.  I am not sure that I can honestly say THANK YOU LORD for the brokenness... but I can see how He has taken my brokenness and brought healing, and growth and used it for his glory.  I have seen that in the brokenness - how I walk in it - depends on me and whether I am bitter or whether I allow God to carry me through it - so that I see something beautiful come from it.  I don't know - maybe I am just rambling now...

But, the neckace today has made me wonder about that... about desireing to be broken.  Part of me is scared that if this is my true desire - perhaps it would get so bad that I would not be able to stand under it.  However God speaks about that too, doesn't He... in the Word it talks about not being given so much that we can't bear it!  (I don't know - I actually felt like I crumbled under our brokenness of losing Jay.)

I am just really wondering about this.  I am thinking that if Tanis is around for coffee .... her and I should talk.  I know she has walked through hard stuff too, and think she can give her perspective on it!

We are given friends in life - so that we can bear one another's burdens' and carry one another's sorrow.  We are given friends so that we can hold one another up - listen to each other - cry with each other.
But then again - Jesus is the greatest friend of all.

Desiring to be broken.  Can I actually desire that without being aftraid of what all He may allow in my life?
hmmm....  think I need to mull this around over another big cup of coffee.

.. thanks for listening to my rambling.  Any thoughts?  I would love to hear them.

Saturday, November 20

brrrrrrrrrrrr..... winter

I will make no bones about it - I hate winter.
I know, I know .... Hate is a strong word.
Maybe I should "rephrase that..."

I love the idea of winter
Beautiful snowflakes lazily floating down
A blanket of white snow covering the dirt fields
Crisp air that meets my nose when I breathe
Beautiful Sunshine and Blue Skies reflecting off the blanket of snow.
I like that.

But I really hate the blustery days
when the car slips all over the road
and the wind really bites your skin.
When you can hardly walk from your door to the car without freezing.
When cars get stuck

That is what I hate.

Yesterday was one of those days.
But I didn't have to take the bus (thankfully, even though now I know how to open the door!)
(see previous blog)
Yesterday I got driven to work AND picked up by my husband!
But it was a very cold blustery day
The kind where hot chocolate, fireplaces and reading a good book seem to be the order of the day.

Oh well.... we will deal with it
One snowflake at a time...
or should I say, ONE BLUSTERY DAY at a time!

 looking eastward - out of the loft window
 Josh and Leah's long driveway, before it was plowed.

Thursday, November 18

the Countrymouse rides TRANSIT

Today is November 18th and I am almost done my first week of work.  Tomorrow I work another half day, and I will be in a "classroom session" learning the new computer system.  Today I spent 4 hours in reading/computer training on the system, albeit in "self-study" time.  The time went quickly.

I have to tell you about today.  I decided to take the bus.  Okay, you have to remember that since the year I went to MBCI and HAD to take the bus (that was in 1975-76) I have hardly had to take a bus, so today was a little scary!  My daughter Ashley figured out the route for me - actually gave me a couple options.
I got permission to park my vehicle at the church she works at, Rowandale Baptist.  I took a coffee to her, and had a little visit with her first, and then proceeded to catch the first bus. 

Ash suggested I go a little earlier "just in case" ... well, I waited and lo and behold, there came the big bus just a minute or two later than its scheduled time.  At this point, I had been waiting for 10 minutes so I was glad to get on the bus. 

Down Henderson Hwy it went, over the big Disraeli Bridge and onto Main Street... and there was my stop.
Okay... what was the protocol - do I use the front door or the back.  I must have looked completely miffed, but went to the bag after some hesitation.  And well - I didn't know HOW to open the back door!! And the bus started to go .... one block, two blocks, three blocks.  My heart sank.  I was glad I was wearing my runners.

It stopped and the girl behind me told me how to open the back door.  Okay - it didn't take a rocket scientist but I just wasn't smart enough on my own!  I truly felt like a COUNTRY MOUSE on her first day in the BIG CITY!!  So out I went, and in my best "fast walk" I went as fast as I could back the three blocks that the bus had taken me against my will!

Ah, finally - there was WILLIAM... now just had to walk to KING.  OH NO.... is that the bus.  Okay, really I could have likely TRIED to run, but I am really not in good shape, and there was a red light, and then.... there it went, JUST as it was almost within my grasp!.

OH NO!!!  At this point I was ticked.  I was thinking "Man, I should have just driven myself... for Pete's sake, now what!!"  I called Ashley and she just confirmed what I already knew.  The next bus was not for half an hour.  SO.... again, glad I had my runner's on.... off I went! 

Those were VERY VERY long blocks... Main to KING, to PRINCESS - to ISABELLE to SHERBROOK .... and finally Tecumseh! I got there in time for work, and in time to change my shoes, hang my coat and look like I was "together" enough to get to work!  It took me about 20 minutes.  My friend Mary said she could do it in 15 I think she said.  Obviously I didn't walk as fast as her.  Did I mention the big bag of stuff I had to carry!

I kept thinking.... oh you are such a country bumpkin!  Can't even get the back door of the bus open!  I had to laugh really.  But I got there, and got a second walk in for the day. 

At the end of my shift, I was just going to leave, and went down to get my coat only to find that where I put it - it was locked up TIGHT!  So, there I go, looking for security, and wondering if I was going to miss my bus going home!  I got my coat (thanked Joe the security guy) and bundled up - went outside and heard a honk.
And there was my daughter, who had waited for me, after running an errand of her own, and so graciously rescued her mom from another bus ride!

So now - here is the dilemma....
There is no where to park that is cheap.  A day of parking in the parkade costs $10 bucks.  But - the bus costs $5 return (almost) and I think it is going up.  Plus an extra half hour of my time going, and half hour coming.  So is the $5 saving worth the hassle?  Hmmm.... What do you think?

Now I am at home and the bus ride seems a long way off.  It is almost 8 pm.  We had a great supper.  The place is cleaned.  Alvin is reading.  Christmas Jazz music is playing.  I have a cup of coffee by me!
I am glad to be home. The snow is softly falling, but more is on the way.  A famous "Alberta Clipper"...
I am glad to be nestled in the loft, safe, sound, and not riding around on a bus, or walking on William Avenue.  I am thankful for this time. AND... tomorrow is Friday! 


Tuesday, November 16

back to work and completely zonked!

So yesterday I returned to the "working force" and although it was a short day (4 hours) it was good.  I got my security clearance tags, and an email address.  I got briefed on a few things, and saw a HUGE binder of SOP (standard operating procedures) that I need to read through in the next month.  I went home excited about this new opportunity.

Today I went in for 7:45 and shadowed an amazing woman named Lynn at the clinic.  It was a great day - working till 5:15.  But honestly, I am completely zonked!  Couldn't go right home as the house and loft were being "shown" since it is up for sale.  SO I went to the land to wait for Alvin, and then we had an impromtu invitation to our good friends Betty and Willy's for supper.  We are so spoiled!  Good food, good conversation.... amazing friends. 

Now we are home - and my man is fast asleep in the big chair, and I am ready too.  It has been a long day - and I am just not easing into work as easily as I would have 10 years ago.  BUT ... I am so excited about this job, and feel it is God-ordained!  Thank you Lord for the experience.

Also - many of you have encouraged me in this... thanks so much!
love to you all and GOOD-NITE!!

the pillows are calling me!!

Saturday, November 13

my life lately

So, we are home. In fact at this point, we have been home for 4 sleeps in our own bed.  That has been good in itself, however it seemed that we were "off and running" before the wheels of the plane hit the Canadian tarmac. I felt it the morning we landed in Calgary. Hard to explain, but the feeling is so "there" and "tangible". Perhaps I realized that the feelings would resurface after I rejoined "reality" ... I can't help but feel that since summer, life has been turned on its head so to speak. If you are just reading this blog now - without having known what life had been like, I will just recount the last 6 months for your sake. (like you really want to know?)

  • in May we sold our house. We praised the Lord for that. It really did feel like HIS TIMING. (so why am I wondering now if it really was?)
  • July - we worked like a "mad" family - packing, purging, packing more and moving. We praised God for the help of our kids, and our many good and dear friends and sister and brother-in-law who came and worked hard in some high temps! We worked till literally "the eleventh hour" .... we praised God for the help! My biggest and saddest regret as Alvin and I took the last few things in the dark... I had wanted to do two things that never happened. One was to walk one last time in the back - past the altar I had put up to praise God with, and as a memorial to his faithfulness, and TWO was to walk one last time down SPRINGFIELD ROAD where many hours and talks happened as a family and as a couple and as just me! Neither happened. Those are my two regrets. Oh well.
  • August 1 - we moved into the loft at our kids place... and really didn't get a chance to even think through the move (after 27 years in one place, I figure I should have spent some day mourning this move?) and next thing we knew Mom was in the hospital.
  • August 10 - October 13: a bit of a blur. Mom was close to death a few times, and brought around with some aggressive drug intervention. I think by the time I was done with parking meters/passes, the total was a couple hundred in parking alone. I loved loved LOVED being able to spend time with Mom but I know I did not take care of myself during this time. Long days at a bedside... emotionally involved in letting her go (she has been mom to me just a couple years less than my real mom!) My exercise was haphazard at best. My eating was more in line with "comfort food"... you know.... stuff that is usually not the best for you! Coffee was too available!
  • Sept 15 I took a resume in and applied for a part-time job. The closing date was the 16th. I did not hear for a month, and then out of the blue - got a call - come in for an interview! Go figure. Here I had thought God had decided it was not the right timing.
  • October 13th - Mom came home to her place. As we drove home it was like she was seeing things for the first time. Everything seemed new. She was glad to get back home, although we were not sure what her timeline was. It was our desire to allow her to be at home - as long as pain was kept under control.
  • October 19th - had the interview. Was told that if I got the job - would likely hear that Friday (being the 23rd). Friday came and gone.... no word. Guessed I didn't get the job. That was okay... cause I was not sure how long Mom would need care, cause at this point she was still getting around. AND I had a holiday planned with our kids. God knew.
  • October 21st - pain was back - and the extra strength Tylenol was not cutting it. Called the palliative care nurse and began giving mom hydra morphine under the tongue
  • October 22nd - pain was not controlled sufficiently, so Doctor came, changed method of giving her the drug (now we put it into a little port that was placed under her skin. We began this new method, and mom's pain was now managed. However her weakness increased with each day.
  • During the next days, Mom spoke less and slept more. When I prayed with her - she sometimes spoke - one time saying "YES LORD" when I asked "Lord, please take her now." After praying with her I would recite her favorite scripture - Psalm 23. Right up until Monday night - she still said some of the words. She was not fearful - she said this.
  • Monday night - October 25 - after returning to stay for the night, I read from her Bible and read through the Psalms, one by one.... her facial expression and body language from time to time, seemed to acknowledge that she indeed did hear the Word being spoken - and believed it. I was also able to tell Mom that we loved her, that she had been a good Mom, and that she could go, that we would be okay. How hard that was, and yet how important it felt that I needed to do it.
  • Tuesday night - October 26th - as I kissed Mom good-bye and prayed with her... she did not respond. Somehow I had a sense her time was close, as when I said good-nite, I said "BYE MOM" instead of the usual " bye mom - see you in the morning." Elleanore was staying the night since I had stayed the night before.
  • Later that night - actually at about 1:30 am - Elleanore phoned to say that Mom had just died. I wept. I rejoiced. Better for Mom, but so sad for us.

So.... amidst funeral plans, I also had a hair app. I was telling my stylist (who is not a believer of Jesus, but her heart is soft) that so much had happened... about Mom (who she knew) and about the job resume, interview and not hearing. I said to her "Guess it was not the right timing, but God knows all that." Honestly, not even 10 minutes later, as I was being "bagged" (because I had a color done) it was the call saying - that I was being offered the job!! I thanked God.... HIS TIMING. I am to start on the 15th after our trip was done.

YA... on top of this - toss in the trip that we had talked about since winter, and planned for October 31st. What should we do about this? I had told the Lord all about my apprehensions about this - even though our Klassen family was all saying we needed to still go.... I just prayed about Mom - and about God taking her and not letting her suffer... and about HIS timing with all of it. Because Ashley was starting her second new job (working two new part-time jobs) it meant we could not postpone... and my new job... As it worked, Mom passed away on the 27th, and her funeral and burial was on the 30th and we left for our trip as a family, on the 31st. God's TIMING? I think it is all pretty obvious.

Which now brings me to today... that old but family feeling that is back. Something I recognize as old and vaguely familiar! While we were gone - it was so easy to imagine just running away - leaving it all behind - being with your kids together - and with our little grandson. Endless sun... relaxation...not to mention family time... oh, and the buffets! It was amazing but honestly it is not real life right? You can only run away from the over-fullness of life for so long! 

While on holidays, the things of the past are put on hold for your return. And no matter how amazing it was - we were ready to return and face reality again. And believe me - it is a FULL reality... with more things, and more stressors than I will even add here! But that is life right? STRESS is part of life I was told once... but how you manage it - that is the biggie. So I have to figure that out. And really, I do know what I need to know.  (And my conversation with Elizabeth through SKYPE this morning - affirmed it for me, thanks E.)

In the meantime - I will continue to rejoice in what God has given me in the here and now - and thank Him for what He has given me in the past - which includes a strong legacy of faith handed down from my parents and Alvin's parents - and a strong history of faithfulness of God in their lives and our lives. He has also given me a strong body that wakes each morning... and I truly am grateful!  These past few months - okay, past couple years have continued to shape me/break me/stretch me.... but, I am still grateful that God, my God, is in full control. 

I am so weak. But HE (my Jesus)  is so strong. I sing that song to Ev sometimes... "My God is so Big, so strong and so mighty... there's nothing my God can not do!" Gotta take that to heart - especially when life gets to feeling a little overwhelming - because that only tries to rob my peace and my joy!

God - this is your day!  And this, THIS is my life.  Thank-You.

Friday, November 12

it is well with my soul... isn't it?

it is well with my soul
when thoughts swirls
somewhat like the winds around a hurricane
or the whirlwinds that whirl across the dusty fields

it is well with my soul
when tears fill up my eyes to the brim
and slowly make their way down my cheeks
falling silently onto the table below

it is well with my soul
when the elevator stops at the 7th floor
and the long walk down the hall to mom's condo
culminates with me opening the door
to silence
to emptiness

it is well with my soul
even though parents are all gone home now
two Moms
two Dads
present with the Lord
and I...
I am missing them so much.

it IS well
isn't it?

though the sky turns dark
and the wind comes.

though the cold winds blow
and the cold rain will turn to ice pellets.

thought the nights get longer
and the days shorter

my soul.

IT IS...
with MY soul.

O God...
Father to the fatherless (which includes ME)
thank you

It is well with my soul


We are back from a family holiday we had planned.  We left on the heels of Mom's funeral - in fact the next day.  It was rather surreal - as we talked about Grandma and how much she meant to us.  But when you are laying around the pool enjoying the sun, family being there together, and drinking funky monkeys and pina colada's ... somehow the reality of the past few months just did not seem "real".   We are thankful that we were able to take the kids and our little grandson and get away.  It was a gift....

We went to the RIU PALACE in beautiful Los Cabos San Lucas, Mexico.  It was grand!  Leah said that her and Josh talked about imagining how King David's Palace must have been, just by imaging and enjoying the PALACE we were in... can hardly imagine King David's!

Thank you Lord - for the beauty of your creation.  Whenever I think of  heaven somehow I always imagine palm trees, tropical air and the sound of waves!  Thank you for family that we love and laugh with ... and for my little grandson Everett - who brings so much joy into our lives daily!  Thank you Lord.