Saturday, December 28

It is well with my soul

The snow is falling again.  It began last night.  I can't help but feel bad for my son (in-law) who does snow removal and has been so incredibly busy since winter started.  It seems that snow never falls at the least opportune times!  Usually picks the same day as family gatherings are on.  And, I know he is not feeling 100% with a cold that continues to revolve within our family and their spouses and kids.  But this is winter.

There is something about this day - as I sit in the warmth of my home, with the fire on in the fireplace, and I don't have to be anywhere right now (I do have to go grocery shopping eventually, for the meat for tomorrow's post Christmas extended family gathering here) BUT I think I will wait a while - until perhaps the snow stops and the wind dies down, and perhaps there is more than just a trail to travel out on.  Worst case scenario, I will improvise and check to see what is in the freezer.

I have been doing some clean up - just the main things, laundry (which somehow seems never ending) and just puttering around.  And in my being, I have noticed something very distinctly.  I can feel that my soul is well!!  I used to have a pastor whom I loved greatly.  Pastor Herb would always give me a big hug and ask me "Is your soul well?"  I liked that - because it made me think.  It always made me feel that I needed to answer THAT question truthfully.  (Unlike sometimes when we walk into a church and someone asks us the typical question, "how are you" to which I (and I know that you do too) often just answer "good" and walk by.  Yes, I know you answer that one!

The other day I was at my kids church (which I thank God that my kids are plugged in here) and I was coming up the steps as another grandma was going down the steps with her grand kids.  We asked one another "THAT" question and we both replied "good" and then Ingrid said "well actually that isn't true " and she laughed ... and then I said "ya, I would agree" (as I was just in the throws of the cough/cold virus that is still hanging on three weeks later).  We laughed as we realized we were doing what is SO typically done in churches.  (wearing the mask)

But today, while the wind howls and snow swirls I can honestly say my soul is well.  I still have a cough that has combined with my asthma.  But my SOUL is well.  I feel a contentedness.  I feel hopeful.  I feel joy - deeply seated joy.  It does not mean that all is perfect, because let me tell you, I don't think anything in my life is perfect.  It does not mean that I do not feel sadness over the loss of family and friends who have gone to heaven.  It does not mean that I have it all together (because ya, I don't)  However - it is WELL.  And I feel that - right in the core, the center of my being where God resides!!

It is well!!  O Thank you Lord for that today!!


Thursday, December 26


A few years ago,
(actually many many years ago, because I was in my early 30's)
I was having a conversation with one of my pastors at the time and I shared with with him,
how I always wept when I prayed,
and he said, "it sounds like it is your prayer language"...
I have thought of that often.

You see, I weep a lot
I almost always weep when I pray
At first I used to feel like I had to apologize
or explain
but now, I just let the tears roll, and fall where they may
and grab a Kleenex when we are done praying

I weep over my own stuff
As I talk with my Lord about what is on my heart
I have lots of stuff to weep over - believe me!!

I also weep easily when I see someone,
or hear something
or remember some memory
that is attached to someone I love and have lost

This week - I have wept a lot
Sometimes I use my travel time (alone in the car)
to talk with the Lord
and sometimes it is a little embarrassing when stopped next to someone
I always think that they must think I have bluetooth in the car, and I am talking to someone on the phone
Oh, if only they knew exactly WHO I was talking too
at least then it would explain the tears

I called to encourage a friend who is the "hub" of a pretty amazing prayer chain.
I got their voice mail, and I was actually happy, as all of a sudden I was feeling a little weepy.
I left the message, and then heard a call coming in.
Oh shoot - now I had to talk in person and repeat my message.
So as I was "encouraging them" I was weeping.
It seems that the prayer line has been the hub for many prayer concerns lately, some very very hard ones.
Many times God answers the way people want, you know what I mean ...
when people ask for healing,
or for deliverance from depression,
or for a job interview,
or for the safe arrival of a new baby,
or for negative test results.
But sometimes -  God answers prayers by taking the person to be with Him.
GOD IS STILL GOOD even when a person dies, but oh, it is usually NOT the way we want the prayer to be answered!
Lately the prayer concerns that have gone out, have been deep and hard.
I was pretty sure the "hub" of the prayer chain was feeling the same way I was.
Sometimes you just know when another person is experiencing the deep burden for others.
So anyhow there I was weeping as I talked, explaining that really, I was just trying to encourage him.
And after I said good-bye, I wept.

I have wept over a family member
who continues to be caught in a cycle of addictive behaviours
and consequences from years of addictions.
Last week I wept again, as I wondered what kept him going,
when all that was ever important to him, is no longer in his life.
I have wept when I realized that anything I could give is merely a band aid.
Lately I have wept tears over him again, wondering and asking God what it is that I should be doing,
or being, in his life.
God? What is my role?
It is actually easier to reach out to the "least of these" when they aren't related to you in any way!
I have wept tears over and over again, but felt helpless as to know how to help.

In the last month, I have prayed with tears for friends who I knew were just days and hours away from being in the presence of the Lord.
And then have wept for those they left behind reeling from the loss.

I have witnessed the sweetness of my grandchildren and have prayed for them often,
with tears rolling down my cheeks -
especially as I give them to the Lord,
and ask for them to give their hearts to Jesus when they are old enough to make that decision.
I weep for my children and grandchildren a lot -
and that is NOT because they are in any trouble that I know of, but because of my great love for them, and the knowledge that our Heavenly Father is even more head over heels in love with them all too!

A couple days ago, the 24th to be exact
I had a little bit of stocking stuffers to get still, so off I went
I was leaving the stores and at the lights at Regent and Montana's restaurant (not sure the street)
And I saw a man, with frosted beard, and rosy red cheeks.
His sign said he would take a job, or donations
Now I know, many of us have seen the show that I think it was 60 Minutes did on "professional" beggars
You may have seen the show.  It followed around a guy who begged on street corners as a job.
Yes, a job.
A job that he would drive to, and park a block or so away, change to his "begging" clothes and proceed with a sign and a backpack to a favorite corner.
I am fully aware that each person needs to make their own decisions about whether to give money to someone who is begging, or squeegeeing your windows, or whatever
And, to each their own.
Personally, I have chosen to help out when I can, whether it be hot coffee, some food, or money.
Maybe the people behind me think that "oh there goes another one being taken for a ride"
I don't believe that anyone would actually want to stand in the cold, on a winter day in Manitoba and beg if they didn't have to.
I also have another reason.
I have someone very close to me, who has been homeless often, and may just be someone who has been the beneficiary of kindness of such kind.
Anyhow, there I was, at a standstill.
I rifled through my car for some money, found the bill, and wound down my window.
"Thank you - God bless you" came the response as he reached his hand out to accept what I had to give him.  And back he trudged to his place on the corner - watching to see if anyone else was so inclined.  And I wept as I drove away.

I went into the jewellery store as I needed to get something I had seen the other day.
The young man who waited on me was just wrapping my small purchases.
I had chosen something for my sister.
I told him "I would like that, my sister has just lost her daughter this year." (choking back tears)
I paid, and he proceeded to wrap the gift, and when he brought it to me he said, "Have a Merry Christmas!"
I looked at him and said, "You too."
He smiled, and then I also said, choking back the tears once again,  "I want to thank you - in this day and age when it is not politically correct to say Merry Christmas, you still risked it and said that.  I want to thank you for saying Merry Christmas - because that is important."
I can't really remember what his response was, other than to smile.
I walked out, and wept again.

Yesterday, late in the day,
I was on my way to my nieces house to meet with some of my extended family.
I was thinking as I was driving the north perimeter - which then became the west perimeter.
I think a lot on this stretch, as it was the place my niece Keri drove the morning that she lost control of her car on the stretch of perimeter that was like a sheet of ice
As I passed by the intersection of the perimeter and Hwy 6, I slowed, looking for the white cross that was lovingly made and place into the ground as a marker.
I passed it, thinking about her and how much we miss her,
and I wept.

I have been with loved ones, who did not want to cry tears,
as they felt they shouldn't do that around people,
or that maybe people didn't know what to do with the tears.

Yes, tears sometimes make people feel uncomfortable,
but I think that is okay.
I have been with people who keep apologizing for their tears, as if they are wrong!
I think tears are healing.
I think they are important in our journey.
The Bible says "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
I also think that the word "night" isn't just ONE night, but during the "dark night of the soul" when tears become our closest friend.

When I walked through my deep depression in the late 90's. I came across a verse in the Bible that blessed me so much!
Yes, it is about tears!!   It is this verse:

Psalm 56:8

New Living Translation (NLT)
You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

Isn't that verse amazing!!
Can you imagine - God collecting our tears in bottles!!

When I got my tattoo after we lost our grandson Jay Benjamin, the Scripture reference was from Revelation.  The verse says this:

Revelation 7:17

New International Version (NIV)
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[a]
    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[b]

I love that one day,
God will wipe all the tears from our eyes - and there will be no more tears!!
That will be something.

However, until that day comes,
I will continue to talk with my Lord,
with words,
with moanings that the Holy Spirit intercedes with on my behalf,
and also through the language of tears!

And, if I happen to be praying with you, well, just pass the Kleenex when we are done!!

Tuesday, December 24

Missing my sweet friend Audrey, on her birthday.

I have been thinking about you a lot my friend
how you are with Jesus
and how we, who you left back here almost a year ago
we (especially your husband and son)

Often I look out my back yard
across the field and to the left
and think of the times we sat and talked
over a cup of coffee
toward the end,
Arnie always made it for us
those were sweet times
and I miss them so much.

Often I think back to the first night we met
finding out we were not only going to be in the same care group
but also neighbours
something happened in my heart that night
you instantly became my friend

It was a hard journey you had
The first year, you took it in stride
and beat that monster
or at least when we celebrated,
we thought you had
but I won't forget that time when you and I were together
and you shared about something you found in your leg
surely just a varicose vein
but then
you found out,
the monster was back
and the lump in your leg was all a part of it.

I don't think I ever thanked you my friend
for allowing me into your life
and into your life with cancer
as hard as it was
there were times when we laughed
and I came to see your "Audrey smile"
and I came to understand your wit and your sweet sarcasm

Your second fight with the monster
was harder
and took more energy out of you
and more time out of your life
and it scared the heck out of your husband and son
and the rest of us
You and I talked about how we both had this strong sense that this round would take you to be with Jesus
that was so incredibly hard
to feel that so strongly
but to continue to pray boldly for your healing.
O it came alright
the morning you entered into the arms of Jesus.

I will never forget this time last year
when I baked a cake (although it was very sweet)
you had told me once that your mom used to make angel food cake for your birthday
and Julie and I showed up, with candles in hand
but your day, your BIRTHDAY
was not such a good day, in the midst of a really bad time.
But we visited
and talked
and we prayed.
It was so hard to say "Happy Birthday" seeing you and knowing that it was going to be your last
this side of heaven

I will never forget sitting by your bed
holding hands
and often neither of us saying a word
just enjoying one another's presence
and letting the unspoken words, speak into our hearts.

I miss you my friend
O how I miss you
and writing these words bring tears
that run down my cheeks.
but I realize they are just tears for me
because the reality is
You sweet One
are seriously having the time of your life
Heaven - I bet you could tell me some wonderful things
And there is no sickness, no tears, no death.
You are completely whole.

But for us who just really really miss you
Our hearts are still pretty broken
Although we do know
it is only for a time ....
till we meet again.

So my friend - this year, in spite of the brokenness you have left behind
I can honestly say - Happy Birthday Audrey
I can only imagine how happy you are there.
but my tears flow because I miss you so much
your gentleness
your friendship
your wisdom
I miss you so much because we became sisters
and I loved you
So happy birthday dear One - as you spend it with Jesus - the giver of the greatest gift of all
Which you have gotten to experience before any of us.
Our loss losing you
But your great gain - going to be with Jesus.

So our tears will fall
our hearts will ache
our memories will fill in great stories
until we are together again!

Happy Birthday with Jesus Audrey!!
I love you my friend
and I miss you.
More than words can tell.

This song, one of my favourites - is for you!
I will always love you my friend.
Happy Birthday in heaven!

Tuesday, December 17

slow dance of the snowflakes, deepfreeze and broken hearts

The sky is grey and overcast &
nature  around us looks bleak, 
a mixture of greys and blacks with the dark green of the pines mixed in ~
like a promise that all is not dead, but merely asleep for a while.
The freezing cold has let up a little
and I actually ventured outdoors to sweep off the deck without a jacket.
Compared to the deep freeze of the last week
it felt like a wonderful reprieve.

Although the sky is grey, and the sun is hiding~
there is a strange calm.
a peace
a tangible stillness
that makes me want to stand still and drink it all in
one frosty breath at a time.

Snowflakes are falling. 
It reminds me of a slow dance with a beloved partner
or of the snow globes I loved  to shake as a child.
(and even more as an adult)
The flakes fall and accumulate  in a fresh white and fluffy blanket
covering the dark earth below, that is asleep ~
sound asleep
for a few months.

Birds are coming to the feeder that is covered with a few inches of snow
however with a flick of their head and beak
they find and grab the seed that is hidden under the  snow
and fly away as if they have a hidden treasure.
(if He cares about these birds, how much more He cares for me)

how can it be
so silent?
and yet oh so loud
as creation sings.

do  snowflakes make a sound as they touch the ground
do frozen and barren branches play music as they rub against one another in the wind
do icles tinkle as they break or drip in the  sun
and do the birds speak in a  language of their own, as they call one another to the feeder
O how it sings!

And I
take in the sight
the sound
the feel
of winter
my heart and thoughts jumbled
and tears fall frequently
as if the emotional roller coaster is on a ride
that doesn't stop.

sometimes the awareness of such deep hurt and grief
of pain and loss
of shattered dreams and broken hearts
is more than I can bear
and He reminds me I don't bear it alone.

the pain of loved ones
stumbling through their days
with grief that is so fresh
even though months have passed by, one after another.
sometimes too slowly
other times all to quick
time  ~ are you our Friend or our foe?

my grieving has taken on a new season too
and even though it looks somewhat different than it did five years ago
it is still ever present
which I was reminded of the other day
when  I spoke of a kindness done for me
that of a young woman asking me  (in the fresh rawness of losing our Jay) 
if I would like to hold her newborn
I wept then
and I wept the other day as I shared that story with her dad

my heart is freshly broken
for family and friends~
so new in their walk of grief
that they are still just trying to stand
before they trust their legs to carry them on the journey...
trying to get up from under the incredible pain
and  likely never believe that there will ever be 
beauty or wholeness or laughter
in their lives again.

and as this snow falls
it somehow brings a tranquility
an assurance
a peace
and solitude.
there is just something about the newness of the snow
life giving.

we watch as this season of ice and snow
of winter wrath 
sometimes dumping its fury
and other times reminding us that it is winter
but spring will follow.
and for that I am so thankful

our hearts
almost dead feeling
cracked under the pressure of the season
they will experience the beauty of rich warm soil
hot sun 
and warm breezes
I know this
because it has been my experience
and because I know
for sure 
that Spring and Summer always follow winter