Friday, November 23

Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder!

Last night Leah and I went on the Pineridge Hollow Christmas Home Tours 2012.  And as we drove up to each home, we had absolutely no idea what beauty lay within.  If you have never gone - this is what happens.  First you buy a ticket for whatever time of the evening, and which ever day you want.  I think this year they are running from yesterday, the 22nd until the 25th I believe.  Then once you have the tickets you mark your calendar and wait with excitement!!

When you buy your tickets you get a map to the houses.  Last night there were 4 houses to see, and then at the end you finish off at Pineridge Hollow where you can enjoy wine and cheese, and purchase any of the beautiful stuff that you have seen in the homes!

So last night Leah and I pulled up to the first home - actually the home of people we know.  It is always beautiful to see homes, their layouts, and their decor.  The fun thing is that Pineridge Hollow comes in an works their decor magic throughout the home.  Of course not all of the rooms are open for view.  You have to keep some mystery right!!  This year, the tours included "special events" at the homes.  So the first event was a demo on making flambe blueberry tea or Spanish Coffee.  Of course you could "sample".  The second home - was also very beautiful - and it was an event where one of the PH chef's made an appetizer.  (I think, we actually missed the turnoff and by the time we got there, the event was done, just some food was there to taste).  The third home, which belonged to the daughter of the owner of PH - I think this was my favorite.  It was so cozy and a cute layout and home.  Before we went in, we had our pictures taken outside! (it was a blustery night, so I really admire the dedication of the photographer!!)  I loved seeing the rooms all decked out.  The whole house was open for display.
Then we went to the Regehr's home (owner) as it is always a part of the tour.  An amazing beautiful home!  It puts the stuff from Pineridge Hollow at its finest display! At this house, we went into the basement and made centerpieces which we all got to take home.  AND THEN ... back we went to Pineridge Hollow (the store and restaurant itself) for appetizers and shopping for all who desired!

It was a fun night out with one of my girls.  Last time I went with Ashley and some friends as Leah and Josh's house was PART of the tour and they needed to be there to host.  Perhaps next year we can go again, the three of us - this year with Matti being born a week ago - it was just a little too soon.

The Christmas decor is almost overwhelming at times.  But absolutely beautiful!  It is amazing what people can think of, dream of, decorate with!  Each home just came alive with CHRISTMAS!

But there is a part of these home tours which I have not mentioned yet, and the part that when I heard - simply knocked my socks off!  As I was working with Jan on our furniture order (at Pineridge Hollow) Jan just nonchalantly mentioned that each year they give the proceeds from the event - to a charity - and she has chosen our ministry, Women Refreshed at the Well.  I was blown away.  I hardly could speak.
Not only was she giving me some amazing deals on furniture - her generosity was extended in this way.  And I was overwhelmed.

Last night as I heard Deb (from PH) speaking at the first house - welcoming people, telling her about the Home Tours and then about the chosen non-profit that will benefit from the proceeds - I could hardly stand there!  It seemed surreal that we were getting that much closer to the opening.  Leah asked me how I felt when I heard Deb speaking.  (Deb told me that I was "hiding" while she spoke) I think in some ways - it made me feel overwhelmed, and sort of scared!  Once again Lord - "you called ME?  REALLY ... Lord give me strength, energy, know how, and ability!"  This is SO NOT about me but about HIM.  Really and Truly.

So last night, as we drove to each house, as we chatted about what we saw and liked, as we talked with other women - we saw beauty in it all.  As I thought of this gift that Jan is giving to us - I see such beauty in her generosity.  It overwhelms me when I realize that other people BELIEVE in what God has called us to!  Absolute affirmation, and confirmation!

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  Beauty is all around us.  The other day my little grandson Everett came into the house and looked at our Christmas tree - which was lit up but is not decorated yet and I heard him say, "Granny that is beautiful!"

Oh ... my heart is full of thankfulness, of song, of Beauty!  Bless the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me - bless YOUR holy name!

God's Provision in Unexpected Places

This morning I am just in the midst of my Quiet Time (affectionately known as QT) with my God.
I do may things during my QT.  I (lately) have started off by just focusing on a verse or a passage of Scripture.  I have also been pairing up my QT with reading from a book called YOUR EARS WILL HEAR ~ A Journal for Listening to God, written by Steve & Evy Klassen (founders/directors of The Mark Center in Abbotsford, BC).  I know them, as Alvin and I have had the privilege of booking into The Mark Center, as well as in September I participated in a Listening to God morning session with Steve at our church's (Eastview Community Church) downtown campus One88.  After that Steve came home with me, and spent some time chatting (the three of us) and then talking some more while I drove him to his next location.  SO ... I am really being blessed by YOUR EARS WILL HEAR (which by the way, I have some if you want to purchase one).

ANYHOW back to this morning.  Here is the portion of Scripture that I meditated on:

           Job 11:7

              New International Version (NIV)
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God?
  Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

Job 11:7
Amplified Bible (AMP)
Can you find out the deep things of God, or can you by searching find out the limits of the Almighty [explore His depths, ascend to His heights, extend to His breadths, and comprehend His infinite perfection]?

The question that Steve encourages the reader to think of/ponder is this:
When has God provided in unexpected ways?  As you pay attention to how God has been providing for you, focus is on this element of the unexpected.  How is God revealing his character to you as you receive provision from unforseen places?

I have been thinking alot lately - about how God - being God - NO ONE can even begin to fathom the deep things of God!  You know, sometimes my mind goes there, and my finite thinking just makes me overwhelmed.  God - His greatness, His might, His power, His omnipotence, His mysteries, His limits ~ CAN NOT BE FATHOMED!!  Sometimes I have said about something, "it is a mystery only God understands".  There is way more to our relationship with God, way more to the way He moves, acts, blesses, guides us - than we can even ask or imagine!

When I think of how God has provided in unexpected ways - I am continually blown away by the "UNEXPECTED" ... and I love that about my God!  Being a somewhat spontaneous person, I love the surprise element (well, most of the time) and I just have loved the adventure that God has us on - with the building of our house, that we are using for ministry.  I am loving the fact that once God laid this vision on my heart - that HE has also done HIS thing over and over and over again, and that He has brought in the unexpected into this adventure.

Let me list you some of the "unexpected ways" that God has provided thus far:

  • names of people that we needed to connect with
  • volunteers that have come and donated their time and effort
  • unexpected cheques in the mail
  • land purchase with no conditions, no counter offers needed
  • neighbour with dozer who helped do some landscaping
  • some help with reduced costs from 4 different businesses - covering landscaping to mattresses to soil to furniture.  BLESSED!!
  • an architect who designed the retreat center, and we were so "on the same page" that very little changed in the design from start to finish
  • brothers who KNOW codes and gave sound engineering advice
  • a friend who listened to our hearts and designed a landscape plan for us and has informed us that someone is ready to donate the rock needed for the yard
  • opportunities to share my story of this adventure to women's groups
  • last night - the Pineridge Hollow Christmas Home Tours 2012 started, and Jan Regehr has selected Women Refreshed at the Well as their charity of choice and we will received proceeds from the home tours.  (OK that one knocked my socks off)
  • Christian Week story (2009) Manitoba Cooperator (2009) and the MB HERALD (coming next month) all wrote stories about the retreat vision.  (I am one of 2-3 written about in an article in the Herald, but CW and MC were exclusive about the Vision!)
  • more cheques that come unexpected
  • people speaking prophetically in our lives and us seeing how the words they have been given for us/ the dreams and the visions - match fully with this adventure God has us on!   
  • and on and on....
How is God revealing his character to you as you receive provision from unforseen places?  I love thinking about this question Steve asks.  God - He is such an amazing God!!  This is what I think about his character!

I think personally, that God LOVES to surprise us.  If you are a parent, you could think in those terms (although our parenting comes NO WHERE close to what God is as a parent to us)  I loved to give my kids surprises .  Even still as they are older.  Personally, I have been surprised over and over again by how God is in the details of my life, and in the details of this adventure He has called us on!  I think that the unexpected ways show us that God is way bigger, way greater, way more beyond our comprehension - that show us how He loves to guide us.  I love that the unexpected things we encounter are like continued road markers along the path, or like continual "kisses" that help us to remember again that even though we don't SEE him in person, we hear him, and see how he works through people, and circumstances.  Personally I believe there is NOTHING coincidental but that God knows, allows, puts into place at times, ORDAINS things along this journey!

I am seeing that God - MY God - is way bigger than anything I could ever think.  He is blessing us more than we could ever ask or imagine - and I just really stand in awe and thanksgiving.  This is HIS vision - we are merely the vessels through which He is building, through which He is bringing to be - a place where one can "just be" and experience rest, renewal, and refreshment.  WOW .... what a God HE IS.  

also posted on our ministry blog

Wednesday, November 21

post partum thoughts from a Granny's heart

Today is November 21st.  It is a week since we welcomed our little granddaughter Matilda Joy into this world - and into our arms.  This time last week I was so incredibly tired.  It had been a very long haul - physically, and emotionally.

The next day, I wrote a post for this blog.  I wrote it and saved it.  But later, decided to post something different, and let this one sit.  I tossed around whether or not I would actually post it - and I think that now, I will.  You see - having a grandchild - or more-so for our children - when they have a child - we do not take that for granted.  We have learned other things too - and that is that God - He is GOD.  He allows some things to happen that we will NEVER understand EVER.  We have learned that HE (being GOD) does not OWE us anything.  We are NOT ENTITLED to anything!  We have learned that Life is great - full - fun - but also HARD and even in the midst of that - in the midst of the sometimes pain and anguish - that God is still in control (even if we think he isn't) and that God is Sovereign (no matter what)    An aside:  you should check out the latest sermon series at our church's website - it pertains to this too.  Check out

I have come to realize that I hate it when all I hear is "oh, this and this happened ~ God is GOOD!"  Or, "so and so was healed ~ God is GOOD!"  OR, "this miracle happened ~ God is GOOD!"  Sorry, this is where it is raw and I kind of put it all out there.  I am really tired of just hearing people exclaim GOD IS GOOD when GOOD THINGS HAPPEN!  You see - the reality of God's goodness is that HE IS GOOD even when life really sucks!  HE IS GOOD when my friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  HE IS GOOD when my friends husband loses his job.  AND the reality - HE IS GOOD even when we lost our grandson JAY.  It is those HARD THINGS that we just can not even explain how or why we can/or can not say that, but we KNOW in the hard stuff what we believe - and that is that GOD IS GOOD!  All the time.  No matter what.  Joy or in sorrow.  In sickness or in health.  In prosperity or poor times.  GOD IS GOOD.  (okay, sorry, I just had to say that out loud)   This is really when I appreciate what Delbert said in our sermon on Sunday.

ANYHOW last week I wrote this following post, and today, I have decided to post it.  It is raw.  It is emotional.  Don't read it if you don't want to.   Why am I posting it?  Perhaps just so you can see a window into my being - and see how once again joy and sorrow walk side by side.  
I did not post this last week - because somehow, I just wanted to celebrate our little Matilda Joy's life.  The thing was - in the shadow of the great joy, was the sorrow, crouched down and weeping in the corner.  In the midst of the great joy - was the reality of an incomplete family on this side of heaven.  In the midst of the waiting and the praying and the rejoicing, was the memory of the waiting and the praying and the wailing in grief.  

Here is is .... my journal waiting for my granddaughter to be born:

Today is November 15th, a day and a half since we were blessed with our 4th Grandchild, who happens to be our 1st GrandDAUGHTER.  We knew she was a girl.  Actually, I knew she was a girl before Ash and Mike told us she was a girl.  I don't know if it is a "gift" or not - but I have always been accurate with my "gut" feeling about what a person is carrying.  Accurate almost 100%.  I was wrong with a set of twins, whom I thought was a girl and a boy.  They are both girls.  ANYHOW ... it was hard keeping the secret, and well, I oops once or twice on my blog (which Ashley and Leah detected and Ashley was able to change since she knows my blog password!)  At this point, it doesn't matter!

I can't believe that I have not written yesterday.  Thing is - it was all I could do to have a coherent thought yesterday.  By the time Mattie was born, I had almost been up for 24 hours straight.  I had gotten up quite early (5:30) Monday morning, with a headache.  So, by the time Alvin and I got home yesterday - I had been up for a day and a half straight, and was so very tired.  That was not the only thing though.  I was also very very emotional.  I knew going in to be part of the "coaching" team (along with Michael my son-in-law) that it would be emotional.  My baby was going to be having a baby!!  That is emotional in itself.  I knew it would be hard to see my daughter working through labor and delivery.  Little did I know how emotionally hard it would get.

I am going to share with you a part of my journalling from that day/night and today as well:

Tuesday, November 13 about 3:45 pm:  It's been a long week ~ especially with Ash.  We left home @9:50 for her doctor's appointment and went from there with our hopes up that today will be our babe's b'day.  We are still hoping and praying.  LORD? Please hear our prayers.  Please Lord.  There is anxiety there again.  Please take it Lord.

Wednesday, November 14th at 1:54 am:  I sit here in the coheir - with the two nurses doing their thing.  Mike is asleep in one chair and you are asleep in your bed - briefly waking to breathe through contractions.  They started oxytocin about 15 minutes ago ~ of course it is a little concerning - especially when I hear them talking about things that are "not typical" (not sure what they were referring to, but heard those words).  

O Lord, please help this little one to be born safe and sound.  I would be lying if I said I am not afraid - because I am - anxious. Please Lord - help our little one to be delivered safe and sound.  Please Lord.

It feels like my worry level is up.... Ash, you are such a trooper.  Not sure what other word to use.  I honestly did not know/believe women could be in labor for days, and you have been (since Sunday when you first went into the hospital and got sent home).  My sweet girl ~ bring my sweet granddaughter into this world.  

O Lord, please bring her safely.

journal entry @ 2:15 am:  Ashley is in the washroom, and I can hear Ash is having another contraction in there.  The oxytocin will likely be kicking in soon (to help speed dilation).  O Lord, please - help our girl and help our little girl BOTH to be kept safe and sound during L&D.

To My Sweet Little Granddaughter:  I have been praying for you little one - right from the start.  
Praying for your health, your grow ht, your delivery.  Your birthday - which will be today November 14.  O Sweet One - the nurse just asked your mommy if she knew what you were - and your mommy said "Yes, a girl" to which the nurse replied "She's a stubborn one!"  

journal entry @ 3:01 am:  Dr. is in and going to check.  I have been praying - that things would be progressing and it sounds like things are changing.  O Lord please.  Please ~

and that is when everything started to become a blur!  Shortly after I journalled the above - I put down my pen and listened to the doctor.  She is an amazing doctor!  I was so impressed with her - and I know that Ashley loves her as a doctor.  She had come in and I heard her say to the nurses that things were good"  And then she watched the baby's heart rate on the monitor.  That is when it was obvious something was awry.  Matilda's heartbeat - which was normally in the 140's to 150's was now low - 90.
Within seconds I hear her speaking some orders - we are going to do an emergency c-section now.  Get the team in place and ready.  Let's take her down.  You guys come with us.  BIM BAM BOOM
Nurses were all doing a job - it seemed they had rehearsed this - there was no one out of place or not doing something.  Within literally seconds they had Ashley wheeling down the hall toward the high-risk section and Michael and I were chasing behind.

I will be honest.  Just prior to the activity I was anxious.  But this change in plans - this emergency brought absolute terror to my being.  I sent Alvin a text.  He was in the front lobby of the hospital with Michael's mom, dad, sister and brother.  I think my text said "they are doing emergency c-section.  Pray"

I was scared to death that this little one was going to die.  And when I went to talk with Alvin and I saw the horror/anxiety on Alvin's face, and behind him noticed Jeannette and Phoebe (mom, and sister) ALL I could think of was "O God, NO, please no"

As I sat with Michael I had no words - just NO words.  Then I remembered the look of him, with his head in his hands, not uttering a single word or sound .... that is what he looked like when he came to the hospital when we lost our firstborn grandson Jay.  

Michael was taken to gown.  I was not able to join them at this point.  I went to get my camera for him to take into the room, and I was pretty tearful at this point.  I looked around the abandoned room.  Just mere minutes before, the "baby mix" was playing ... now everything was eerily quiet and askew.

Coming back - I saw Michael was done gowning up and now waiting.  I prayed with Michael, bravely trying to pray without losing my composure - as that would not have been helpful for him going into the OR.  I knew that he was feeling/thinking/experiencing pretty much the same thoughts/feelings/memories.  I didn't need to ask him.  We didn't need to talk.  I prayed together - it was short and sweet.  My heart cry:  Please Lord - we pray for a safe delivery.  Safety for our little granddaughter.  Please Lord - help her to come out screaming!  Michael went into the OR to be present with Ashley for the delivery of his little girl.

Before I walked out, the nurse that helped get things in order for the c-section assured me that the baby's heartbeat had recovered.  I shared some of our story with her - about losing our Jay.  About the fear of losing this one too.  I wept silently as I walked.  She had tried to assure me, but I needed to hear that she was born safely and soundly.  I could not help but think "you can not assure me of anything FOR sure ..."

We sat in the front lobby.  I cried a bit more.  Phoebe didn't say "let's pray" she just started praying. I was not the only anxious one in that circle of chairs at 3:55 am.  I also knew that Josh who was at work, and Leah, who was pacing at home, waiting for news - were also praying.  Phoebe prayed and just before she said AMEN, my phone beeped - with a text.  I looked at it when we were done praying and it was from Michael and said "She is screaming!"

More beautiful words could never have been heard by anyone - nor such beautiful screaming.
We thanked God.


a "p.s" written about the above post:  I have watched our little Matti over the past week.  I am so thankful.  I have watched our little Everett and Roger over the past week - and my heart is even more thankful.  I have been blessed with 4 Grandchildren - 1 in Heaven, and 3 here with us.  Last week - we were thankful.  But once again, I could not help but say - "why Lord, Why didn't you answer our prayers for Jay?  Why"  I have been thinking a lot about that.  About how some families breeze through Labor and Delivery without ever giving it a thought.  But it was in our minds and hearts from beginning until the end.  Joy and Sorrow just continue to walk closely.  We are thankful for all of our grandchildren - and grateful to be able to cuddle, hold and love the three that we have here, this side of Heaven.  And know that one day - we will also get to hold our Jay!  Till then, we say, God you are Sovereign.  God, you are Good.  God, we are thankful.  

Friday, November 16

Announcing our Matti (yes, I know I am late with this)

I had to wait till all the kids friends were told! But here it is now - 

Our hearts overflow with praise to God!
He has given us a GrandDAUGHTER to love, to hold, to teach, to read to, to kiss boo-boos
to sing with, to laugh with, to bake with, to watch grow Lord willing from babyhood till WE her poppa and granny are old and grey!!

She is absolutely beautiful.  Fearfully and wonderfully made!
She is our 1st GrandDAUGHTER, and our 4th Grandchild.
She is the 1st child for our "baby" daughter Ashley and son-in-law Michael Thiessen.
She is a new cousin for Jay (who is in Heaven) and Everett (who thinks she is cute) and Roger (who will grow up with a cousin born in the same year as he is!)

She is Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice as the nursery rhyme goes.  But most of all - she is a gift from God!  We praise Him!

Meet our little bundle of sweetness:
Matilda Joy (Matti)
born 3:58 AM on Wednesday, November 14, 2012
weighing 8 lbs 3 ounces 
(almost identical to her mom, who was 2 ounces bigger)
and she is 20 inches long.

Mom, Dad and Matilda Joy are all doing well!!  
They are very very very HAPPY.
And Poppa and Granny - we are celebrating too!

Here is our little one - BRING ON THE PINK!!

"fearfully and wonderfully made"
To God be the Glory!
Our hearts overflow with thanksgiving for the grandchildren He has given us!

Saturday, November 10

Snow Day Thoughts

It seems that today, at least in Manitoba, is supposed to be a snow day!  Apparently a big snow storm, what is known as a "colorado low" is supposed to dump record breaking snow on us.  Right now, it is just lightly falling.  However, we believe that what they say - will be true, since it is more than a "chance".  So, we will just stick close to home (unless of course Ashley calls to say it is "baby delivery time" which (let me tell you) will be music to this Granny's ears!  With Alvin home, I have NO DOUBT that I would get to the hospital IN TIME as the work truck is a 4x4.  (I am so excited as my daughter and son-in-law have asked me to join them in the room for L&D).

But, with no phone call yet - we wait.  And we will work through some of the stuff in the house.  We are still moving in, so to speak.  We are still unpacking boxes, still furnishing, still finishing trims, etc.   A snow day is a perfect day to just stay warm, and work, and stop for coffee along the way.  A restful day, a day of solitude in some ways.  Just Alvin and I working together at different projects.  

It is quiet in here right now.  And I am thankful.  Sometimes (actually alot of times) I just love the "quiet" of this place.  The outside scene of serenity, just adds to this inner feel.  It is like God is laying his hand on my shoulder, ever so gently, and saying "shhhh.... enjoy .... be still.  As you work, see my fingerprints all over your day.  Feel my presence beside you.  Shhhhh.... enjoy!"

So, I am going to.  My cup of coffee beside me.  The fireplace switched on and glowing.  A chair beside it to sit in, and my bible and journal. A quiet start to our snow day!  

Enjoy!!  And maybe later you can make some snow angels!

I got this e-devotional from INSIGHT FOR LIVING and it just seemed timely for today.  So, I am sharing it.
I am also posting this same post on our ministry blog, as it seems to fit both my personal blog and the ministry one (

November 10, 2012
The Benefits of Solitude
by Charles R. Swindoll
Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who
take refuge in Him. 
Proverbs 30:5
The Scriptures are replete with references to the value of waiting before the Lord and spending time with Him. When we do, the debris we have gathered during the hurried, busy hours of our day gets filtered out, not unlike the silt that settles where a river widens.

With the debris out of the way, we are able to see things more clearly and feel God's nudgings more sensitively.

David frequently underscored the benefits of solitude. I am certain he first became acquainted with this discipline as he kept his father's sheep. Later, during those tumultuous years when King Saul was borderline insane and pursuing him out of jealousy, David found his time with God not only a needed refuge but his means of survival.

God still longs to speak to waiting hearts . . . hearts that are quiet before Him.

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Wisdom for the Way (Nashville: J. Countryman, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Wednesday, November 7

gentle healer

Have you ever prayed for healing?
for yourself
or for someone you love.
I have.

When I was so sick in 1995, and then when I was sick again in 1996 (the time that my sister found me in what we think was the nick of time) ... I prayed Psalm 103 over and over and over again.

Bless the Lord, O my soul ...
.... who heals all your diseases...

Lately, well actually for the last almost 2 years, we have been praying for healing for a friend.
And it seemed like she was healed for a time.
Or perhaps it was just a short remission.
We are praying again.

fervently praying

Sometimes it is hard to pray
I know that I want my friend to live
to be able to enjoy life again
without chemo
without pain
without lack of energy
but I also know that God loves her ever more
and that sometimes He chooses to heal people by taking them to be with him.
and that
is really too hard to think of right now

I just heard a song, by Selah called Gentle Healer.
and I could not help thinking about my friend.
In fact - as I lay my head upon the pillow shortly,
I think I will still be thinking about her
her family
and our friendship

Gentle Healer 
Selah & Amy Perry

The gentle healer came into our town today
He touched my eyes and the darkness left to stay
But more than the blindness
He took their sins away
The gentle healer came into our town today

The gentle healer came into our town today
He spoke one word that was all he had to say
And one who had dies just rose up straight away
The gentle healer came into our town today

Oh he seems like just an ordinary man
With dirty feet and rough but gentle hands
But the words he says are hard to understand
Yet he seems like just an ordinary man

The gentle healer He left our town today
I just looked around and found he'd gone away
Some folks from town who followed him they say
The gentle healer is the truth, the life, the way
The gentle healer it the truth, the life, the way 

Tuesday, November 6

really, do I have to write another cheque?

We have been in the house now, for over a month.  It is feeling more and more like "home" but I have to admit that there was something hard about moving in.  That really sounds dumb I know.  But hey, this is my blog - and that is what I feel!! LOL.  I have been trying to figure that out, and well - I think there was something quite safe in staying in the loft.  Even though it had been the third place we had called "home" in the 2 years.  I had actually become quite comfortable living with just a few things.  I had actually come to enjoy the simplicity of loft living!  I also did not want to move into our house until it was totally finished.  But I gave in.  You know, it was just easier on Alvin if we moved in, and then he could putter around the house - working on things, and the funny thing is - he LOVES to know I am home and around.  I guess that is just about being married and comfortable with one another - even just knowing the other is home.

So, we have been finishing stuff.  I told one person that sometimes the "TO FINISH" list seems longer than the "TO BUILD" list did!  I will say that we are not great on the finishing part.  It just feels like it is taking forever - and well - maybe to others, it has taken forever, but that is our story.  Who knows how long Noah took anyhow?

We are now furnishing things.  That is fun - but then again - it is time consuming, as I investigate everything thoroughly on the internet first - and then purchase and order it either to go to Pembina, N.D. or to our place on Henderson.  Jan from Pineridge Hollow has been such a wonderful help in furniture selection for the retreat portion of the house.  (Our furniture from Anola has all gone into our private suite in the lower level).

Thing is - these are MAJOR decisions to be made by a woman who was not used to makeing such major and costly decisions. WHAT DOES A COUNTRY MOUSE KNOW ABOUT FURNITURE!!  And, with every decision, there has to be a credit card, and eventually a bill payment has to be made.  We are furnishing way more rooms than I have ever in my life had to furnish all at once.  While it is fun picking colors/fabrics, etc - it is nerve wracking.  (Not good when you find out that the chair you picked does NOT fit into the space it needs to fit into!)

I have now finished working, except for the odd casual shift.  I am not even sure how long I will do that even.  I loved working because it helped out financially.  Let's face it - we are NOT made out of money - and well, who wants a huge line of credit to pay off?  Sometimes, this has added some stress.  Okay sometimes it has added a LOT of stress.  Financial stress is never good is it?

Today I popped 3 cheques in the mail - and on Sunday I dropped another one off.   I still stress over them.  I still drop them in the mail with some fear and trembling!  I would love to NOT have to write another cheque - seriously.

Soon we will be done furnishing.  (I can hardly wait, as the cheque book is coming to its last!)
Soon we will be ready to do some test runs.
Soon we will be ready to take our first paying retreater!
Honestly, it will be nice to bring in some income finally and to be mailing out less payments.  We are a non-profit registered organization - but the bottom line is, we still have to cover our expenses, so the daily rates have to do that.

As I was checking out the color of a duvet cover that was delivered today (and unfortunatley will have to be returned) and I was thinking of the choices we have been making.  (we are really having some trouble with SPRING!)  And I was reminded again of the prophetic word that was recently spoken to me.   It said nothing about the cheques I was one after anohter after another HOWEVER it did encourage me in the furnshing the rooms, and the special details.  God is in the details!  (see post, October 31 @ for the complete "word" )

Really, it is fun.  But we are tired.  It has taken up every waking thought - and often the sleeping ones too.  We just really want to get it done - and get going - so that we can settle into a more normal pattern of daily living.  But then again, what is normal anyhow?  I hope that normal means I am not going to be writing any more big cheques but I also hope that we continue to live fully in each moment! Actually, "normal" may equal "status quo" living, and well, I don't ever want to just live status quo - so I am eager to live outwardly and see what Jesus is going to do with all this, and with us!

Sorry, I realize that this likely makes no sense other than some ramblings from a tired woman married to an ever more worn out man! (and dreaming of a nice holiday in the new year, Lord Willing)  It may sound like I am whining ... and really, I don't mean to.  I just feel like this is a "sigh" or two!

The thing is - God continues to give joy, and strength and courage at times when we need it AND he is also laying this vision of His on the hearts of others. And THAT my friend - is pretty exciting - and stirs up these weary bones!!

Night!  (and hey, if you are the praying kind, I would love it for you to keep us in your prayers.  God calls us to things and he does equip us for the journey.  We feel His leading and guiding, but right now we ARE just feeling like it has been a LONG time.  So we covet your prayers for joy and energy and strength and grace for each day!!  God is good!)

Monday, November 5

intrigue & curiosity surround the story!

intrigue and curiosity

Whenever Alvin and I go to Pineridge Hollow, or Sunnyside or even when I go to get my hair cut in Anola - we usually go past this house.   The other day - I decided to take a picture.  I am not sure WHY it intrigues me so much - but it does.  It is an unfinished, boarded up, abandoned house.  A house that was going to be some one's home - but it never got finished by the looks of it.

It intrigues me.  Actually it intrigues me a lot!  I can't help but wonder WHY it did not get finished.  Or why it was never lived in OR if it was lived in - has not been for a while.  We had some friends who once began a house - and it was planned way bigger and more expensive than they ever anticipated.  They trudged on - and used up their money - and the bank would not advance them more until certain things were done - and they just kept getting more and more over their heads.  Alvin had done some work for them right at the beginning - and he was pretty nervous FOR them.  They didn't seem to even see the "writing on the wall".  Oblivious it seemed.  Unfortunately, they ended up not finishing - and selling - and divorcing.  A sad story.

I guess I look at this house - and wonder if it was someone who was building, and their spouse died.  Or perhaps they ran out of money and just walked away from it all.  Or maybe they ended up divorcing and instead of paying out one half - they just refused and no one got the unfinished house.  You can see how my mind wonders about the story of this place.

Over the last couple months, it has started to go downhill more and more quickly.  The deck is falling down off the front.  Someone has cut the grass in front - I am thinking perhaps because if someone ever dropped a match, or there was a lightning strike - the long grass would have burned quickly toward the house.

On either side of this place - there are homes.  Sometimes I think that if I saw someone walking on the road, I would stop and ask them.  I would ask them about the "story" ...
Does that make me nosy?  Or just plain curious?  Not sure - either/or/both!

As I drove past it - I realize that we all have a story - and perhaps parts or all of our stories cause intrigue for another person.  I realize that we all have a story - and what we see/or others see is part of an even bigger story - that God knows - start to finish.

I have a story.
A story about how I - a sinner saved by grace - fell in love with the true lover of my soul - Jesus Christ.
It is a story about amazing grace - as there was nothing I could ever do - to earn my way into heaven.
Except allowing Jesus to become Lord of my life - and walking in a relationship with him.

It is a story about an ordinary woman - whom God has called and equipped for his purposes.
A story about a woman who is a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a co-worker, and ex-pastor, an ex daycare founder/director, and currently a vision caster and ministry starter.

I often want to write my story - which is full of God moments along a journey that has taken me from the highest highs of joy ~  to the deepest darkest lows of grief.  A story about hearing the voice of God!  And of enjoying the times that he has spoken into my life!

We all have a story - that is just how God made us.  One day, I am going to write my story.
So that my kids, and grandkids, and great grandchildren can find out a little bit about me - and my relationship with the Almighty!  That in itself is a story all of its own.

One day I will write it.
It may not go public
perhaps just written on a laptop and stored away.
But whether it is published or not - doesn't diminish the fact that we all have one.

hey - if you live close to either Elmhurst or Pineridge Golf Courses and know the story - I would love to hear it.

Sunday, November 4

24 things to celebrate about Michael

Ev is sitting close to Uncle Mikey during present opening

Josh lighting the 24 candles that Ev helped put on the cake

the torch is lit!!

and then he gets to blow out the candles!!

Sometimes I am "a day late and a dollar short" as the saying goes.  For sure this time, I AM a day late.  However, that does not mean that I don't have 24 things about our Michael.  And, actually, I just realized - we celebrated 1 day early!!  SO that means today is his REAL birthday and I .... I AM ON TIME!!!  (SMILE)

Happy Birthday Michael - our "son" whom we love more and more as time goes by!  We have celebrated 6 birthdays with you now!  And, like I have done for the past year - I have written as many things about the "birthday boy/girl" as their celebrated years.  So today - I want to share 24 things about our Michael.

 1)  I actually watched Michael grow up a little.  The first time I met him "formally" where I was introduced, was when I was over visiting with his mom Jeannette (whom we affectionately call JT)
and Michael was cozied up in his bed already.   I believe it was the summer of 2002.  He was so polite!!

 2)  I remember the first day that Michael came out to the farm.  It was the same day that Ashley had confided in me that they "liked" one another.

 3)  Michael was born in Africa.  His parents were missionaries in Burkina Faso.  From what I have gathered - Michael was a great gift to his Mom and Dad.  AND STILL IS.  The African rythmn is deep within his being!!  He hears the music - and he drums to the beat!!

 4)  One of the favorite pictures that I remember seeing, is of Michael - as he played in a mud puddle.  He was curious then.  Still curious now, although doesn't play in mud puddles!!

5)  Michael is the best drummer that I know, and have heard.  Just yesterday he said he wondered how he was going to be able to play when the baby was born.  To which Ashley assured him that there would be times when the baby wasn't sleeping - and he could beat on those drums.

 6)  In his last drum concert (first and only one I went to) Michael played along with his drum teacher, to the song WIPE OUT!  I was so proud of him!

 7)  Currently Michael uses his gifts and talents to drum in two bands, as well as two worship teams, one at their old church (McIvor M.B.) and one at their new church (Kilcona Alliance).  He LOVES to play!

 8) Michael helped out on two mission trips - one with Calvin Christian School and the other with McIvor Ave. M.B. youth group.  Both times the mission trips were to Mexico

 9)  Michael graduated from Calvin Christian School.

10)  Michael LOVES cars!!  Need I say more?

11)  The first car that Michael fixed up was an older stationwagon.  It really was his pride and joy I think.

12)  Michael has had the same two best friends for a very very LONG time.  Even though they don't see each other alot - they are always there for him!  Michael is a faithful friend.

13)  Michael is very easy going and laid back.  Hard to find a more gentler person!

14)  Michael came out to the farm and Alvin and he "worked" on his car together, but we had been given the heads up that at some point soon Michael would likely ask for Ashley's hand in marriage.  We had gotten the heads up from Josh, who strongly encouraged Alvin to go easy on Michael.

15)  Michael is very gracious.  I had to eat humble pie when, the first meal I made for Michael was not fully cooked yet.  And he still ate it.  It was lasagna.  I was cooking it when I found out he had to go back to the city early.  So, yep, the lasagna noodles were still not fully cooked.  Not CRUNCHY but well, still had a bite to them!

16)  Michael proposed to Ashley in Cuba.  We were going as a family - and well - we decided to take Michael along.  Originally I think he was going to propose at the end so as not to "take away" from our family vacation.  However - we encouraged him to propose right off the start so that he could relax.

17) Michael and I had our first mom/son coffee and chat in March 2008.  I just had to find out a little more about what made this guy tick in relation to my daughter!!  It was a good coffee date!

18)  Michael LOVES to build.  He is a young "BOB the builder" as Everett would sing the song!  He was a framer before he got married.  Lately he has worked for Blue Jay Family Works (our business) and has not only framed - but has learned many many more tricks to the trade!  We are thankful for his help - especially with our build.

19)  Michael LOVES family.  And we LOVE HIM!!

20)  Michael also loves cats!!  He and Ashley own 2.

21)  In our family we affectionately call Michael  -  "Mikey".  That shortened version of his name I believe started when we were away in Cuba.  Ev always calls Michael - "Uncle Mikey".

22)  I always tease Michael that I am going to give him a mother/son kiss on the lips!  (yes, some of us have been known to be lip-kissers).  So last night - when I was leaving from Josh and Leah's I had my hands full and told the kids they were all getting kisses!!  So Michael warmed up to that idea and actually kissed me too!!  NO not lip kisses but still!!

23)  Michael is going to be a great dad!!  He is just waiting to hold this little one that is coming SOON.
I know that there are some anxieties - after all who is totally prepared to being a dad??  But he will be a good one.  Everett thinks he is such a great Uncle - I can see this when he asks if Uncle Mikey is coming and when he likes to just be with Uncle Mikey for a book - or to play with toys.

24)  Michael is a younger brother to his brother Donovan and his sister Phoebe.  He is now a younger brother to Josh and Leah.  HOWEVER a younger brother could not be more loving or more LOVED.  He is a gift to our family!

Michael dear Son, you are a gift to us - to Ashley first - and to us as a family.  You seem to accept our quirks - and just love us.  You have learned, or should I say ARE LEARNING to work alongside of your Father in law - which is not always an easy task!!  You are so willing to help me out too!!  We prayed for you before you knew it - and we thank God for you.  On this - your special day - your birthday - we just want to tell you that!!

Happy Birthday dear one.  
Happy Birthday.
This "mom" loves you!!

Mom K

Friday, November 2

he whispers

The other night, I crawled into bed, and snuggled up by my husband, who minutes before had just also gotten into bed, but was now fast asleep.  I had not turned on the light - but found my way in the dark.  I have for the most part - been quite okay with the dark.  I am not afraid of it, although I know some people are.

As I was trying to fall asleep, i was very aware that one of these days - we will get the call that we are excitedly awaiting.  The call for me - hold a "bigger call" because it means that I need to grab MY bag and head to the hospital, to join my daughter and son-in-law for the labor and delivery of my 4th little Grandbaby!  YES I have been invited to join with them during that time!  I am very excited.
I was thinking of that as I was trying to fall asleep.  And then it happened - as if it was a literal wash flooding over me - the anxiety hit.  Cold.  Real.  Freezing me in time.

I did as I normally try to do.  Give it over to God - who is the giver of PEACE.  I know that.  I have experienced that.  For some reason however, tonight was harder to give it and leave it with him.
My sleep did not come easy.  In fact - I had trouble falling asleep - and then would wake up and be confronted with fear and anxiety again.  AGAIN - I gave it to God.  I feel like I prayed my way through the long long LONG night.  (seemed longer than any other night).

You see - if you have read my blog - you know that our first born grandson is in Heaven.  You can read about our little Jay - if you go back to posts around July 2008.  I am not going to go into this now - but our experience with our little Jay - overshadows most of what we do in life from that point on.  It is a different way of looking.  Not much gets taken for granted any more.  And while I laid there, and listened to the deep breathing of my sleeping husband, I struggled with my fear.  With my anxiety.  With my memories.  I felt like I was frozen in it.  "God - please take it ... "

It seems that fear and anxiety comes during the dark nights.  Makes sense.  Things are quiet and still.  People are asleep.  And if you aren't sleeping - you do feel alone.  That was me.

The next day - I was chatting with my daughter - and then saw an email that she sent out to a few - sharing that she was also struggling with anxiety.  Yes, like I said - we have all been affected.  We have all been changed.  I shared an email also with some close to me, and also shared my anxiety with those in our care group when we were together last night.  We had many things to pray about during our prayer time.

I know that God is answering my prayers and the prayers of the family of God - who are praying for me, and for Ashley, and Michael and our family as we anticipate our little ones arrival!  We are praying for a strong healthy cry of this little one!!  We are praying for a safe delivery - and for a healthy baby.
I have felt less anxious.  I have been able to sleep.  Ashley has also been blessed with prayers of those around her.  Michael too.

The other night, and again today - I kept hearing something.  I realize that it is God.  He whispers.  He whispers slot actually, and it has been very simply this:  Be Still - and know that I am God.
In the silence of the night ...  he whispers
In the silence of our circle (care group)  waiting on God last night - he whispers
In the stillness of my day as I was sitting and just relaxing - he whispers
Now - as I keep one ear open to the sounds of my grandsons, and as my husband once again has fallen asleep on the couch (as we babysit) he whispers
Be Still O my soul
Be Still.

thank you Lord - giver of peace
thank you