Sunday, December 28

back rubs, nighttime conversations and memories

"he would like to say good-night ..."
As our kids came down the steps after having tucked the boys into bed, we knew that we had the chance for a goodnight kiss, a few words and a tuck in of two of our little "grands"
It was a chance for us to watch the boys tonight, and we got there in time for the tuck in (which is one of my favourite times as it is a chance to talk about stuff.  You know - boy to Granny stuff.
The kind of things that make a granny's heart "full" to overflowing.
Tonight was no different.

So here are some of my thoughts, my take-aways from tonight's tuck in of one little boy, our oldest grandson this side of heaven.

How I love tucking you in - sweet five year old.
Yes, you reminded me that you are no longer 4.
Five years, when did you get so big?
At what point did you turn from the baby to the toddler
To the four year old and now the five year old that seems older than his years?
Where did the time go?  Does that mean Granny is getting older too?
I love tucking you in.  I love tucking each one of my grandkids in!
You love the fact that I am patient in the back rubbing department!
Really, I am patient because I love this time with you.
Granny, your hands are cold!  
So I suggested that I rub your back on top of your jammies instead of under your jammie top
but you insist that no, you want me to rub your back right on top of your skin, its okay if my hands are cold.
You are wearing the dinosaur jammies we gave you.
You love the fluffiness of them, and you are cozy.
You are covered with the fuzzy grey blanket that was part of your birthday present.
You love the feel of the cozy blanket and now you lay there wrapped in it.
Cuddling your stuffed animals
Otis your horse and Milo your cat.
You tell me that your blanket has two names.  By day it is called snakie but at night it is called cozy.
I rub your back and you tell me of all the things that are running through your thoughts.
"We are feeding PINKEYPIE (Matilda's fish) ~ Auntie (and uncle and Mattie) are gone for 8 days - Granny what day is this?  I wonder why Auntie didn't take us with here.  Remember our pool in Florida and when I went in, and it was deep and Auntie got me (yes, I said, which is when Daddy said you never were to go into the pool without an adult)."
You remembered that.  Florida is a warm wonderful memory of being together for all of us.
You continued on "I wish we were there together too.  
Did you know that Dinosaur's eyes are scary when you see them? Except for the T-Rex, they are different and not scary. 
At this point Poppa came in and said good-night.  He had just finished putting your brother to sleep. 
I continued to rub your back - watching you as you arranged your blankie, and got yourself into a more comfortable spot.
I told you how when I rubbed your back and watched you, you made me think of when I was a younger mommy and when your daddy was small.
"You look so much like your daddy when I used to rub his back at nighttime."
"Granny one day I will be a daddy and a poppa or a grandpa.  And Roger will be a daddy and a poppa or a grandpa.  I am going to get married to (slight pause) _____  
Oh yes I said, you told me _____ loves God.
Yes, and I love God too.
Everyone at our church loves God."

I continued to rub his back and figured he was nearly asleep and yet when I got up to go he quickly looked up and asked where I was going.
I said to go and talk with Poppa, and I would be back.
Within minutes he was fast asleep ...
You don't need me to come back up for another back rub or kiss tonight.
You my sweet boy, are fast asleep
Maybe dreaming about 5 year old things, or about one day being a poppa or a grandpa
about dinosaurs or Florida family memories.
Or maybe just so cozy that you are soundly sleeping with no dreams.
Regardless sweet boy, you are precious, beautiful, and a gift to me
Tonight I just rubbed your back, not the other kids
But I know how blessed I am by all my grandkids
so very 
back rubs
nighttime conversations
this granny loves these precious times

Friday, December 19

It wasn't the $5 but something about his eyes made me come undone.

Today was a dreary but very mild day. Above normal for this time of year - December in Manitoba.  My window wipers were on constantly, and I was hoping I would not run out of windshield wiper!  There were obviously people out Christmas shopping by the amount of traffic on the road!  I found myself waiting at numerous red lights and that gave me time to watch and to think.

I came to a stop at a red light, and I was at least 6 cars back when I saw him.  He limped.  His limp reminded me of a homeless man who used to come into our church to visit.  Which come to think of, I have not seen Barry in a very long time.  Barry is in a very addictive lifestyle, a permanent resident of "the street" or wherever he can find a place.  This man was not him, but he sure reminded me of my old friend.

I knew what this young man was doing on the boulevard, and I rifled through my purse and found a $5 and then wondered if I would stop at the light by him, or just have to follow the green light through.  I watched.  One person handed him something.  Then another car driver threw some money out the window as they went by on the green light.  I realized that I would be able to stop at the light.  I wound down my window and put my hand out.  He seemed to recognize the gesture as being a positive one.  He limped up to me.  While it was not real cold out, he had a scarf on and pulled up.  But then I saw his eyes.  He looked at me and thanked me so much, and wished me a Merry Christmas.  That is when I came undone.  My eyes welled up with tears, I could hardly wish  him a Merry Christmas back.  He just looked me in the eyes.  It seemed like a long time but it was likely only mere seconds.  But he looked. And there was an exchange of thought, without either of us saying a word.  It was as if he knew that something was going on with me.  And I wept.  He turned and limped back to his spot, waiting for another "gift".  Believe me, it wasn't the $5 that brought me to tears - it was something about his eyes.

Many blocks away, I was still in tears.  Undone.  All I could think of was B ~ one of my siblings who I have not seen in almost a year.  I can not get hold of him because I either get his voicemail, or no answer at all.  It is a long story with a sad twist. A story that began when he was about 5 and totally abandoned by his parents and put into foster care!  His baggage includes getting beat up and starved in foster care, not to mention missing all his siblings.  At 5 years of age - you remember a lot.

My brothers story is a long story of "stuff" including what he described to me was a "three headed dragon" which he told me in his own words "you have to kill all three or nothing will help."  In the world of addictive behaviour, I am likely naive.  But I do know that my struggle with overeating is akin to an "addictive behaviour" at times, and eating differently is HARD WORK!!  Not eating under stress or emotional stuff is HARD WORK.  So I understand a little bit about overcoming addictive behaviours however of course, my "vice" was absolutely acceptable. A quick look around us tells you that.

Seeing this young man today, at the same time that Teen Challenge was doing their radio challenge was really enlightening.  Steve P from  Teen Challenge said that more people are using marijuana  today than ever before.  But not only that.  Young Adults are using it and saying that is all it will be, it is just a "herb"  and one T.C. graduate said that "marijuana is just a gateway drug to worse things ... and you are just fooling yourself if you think it won't lead to anything else."  That was when I remembered coming home on my lunch hour and finding my mom in tears, as she had found a bag of weed in B's room which she threw out.  Ya, a gateway drug .... gateway to bigger, badder, stronger, and life changer forever.

The three headed dragon has not been killed. I remember the day that I was visiting with him while he was in Addictions Foundation Manitoba.  That is when he told me that his addictions are like a "three headed dragon" and  For the past few years there have been times when he has worked hard at trying to get clean, admitting to us that he has never made 30 days.   And the thing is, it is no longer marijuana but something more, something greater, something more deadly, something that puts him at risk over and over again.  Something that has taken his beautiful family, his home, his job, his money, his friends, his self esteem, and instead given him pretty much nothing except a few belongings which include his old KJV BIBLE and a very few belongings.  The three headed dragon has forced him to live under a bridge at times, or in the downtown mission (thank the LORD for Siloam Mission) or perhaps scoring a rooming house to live in once in a while.

I saw him last on his birthday.  He turned 54.  Two years younger than me, and yet years away from me.  It is never easy.  So much life has passed him by.  He loves the Lord, but the pull of the addictions keep him in bondage.  And besides that face to face visit, I managed to get ahold of him once in late summer. The last time I talked with him on the phone I told him the same thing "Okay, good-bye - I love you." Normally he would say, "ya, I love you too" before he hung up, but last time we talked I knew that he did not want to talk to me, and he was not in a good way.  As I write that, I remember the day that we had to return him to his foster home until he joined our family forever.  (That is how the Children's Aid Society worked it - if you were adopting a child you had an overnight visit to see how it would go and then took the child back to the foster home until the papers were drawn for the permanent placement in an adoptive family.) I remember I went to hug him good-bye and he recoiled which totally threw me for a loop, as we were family that hugs (to this day, no matter where, no matter what - a hug and kiss are part of our coming and going).

Not sure where my brother is.  But he has a phone (if he has money to put minutes on it) and I know he has my phone number.  Somehow over the years, he has never not had my phone number.  I have heard from him at all hours of the night, in all stages of despair.  I am not sure where he is, but I do know that there are places in the city that love on men and women with no home.  I am not sure where he is, but I do know that my heart stops every time I hear of a stabbing, or a beating, or anything like that.  You see, the three headed dragon is not a giver of peace, or joy, or love.  No, the three headed dragon steals, kills and destroys and as much as I pray for him only HE will be able to help B but only if B is totally willing.  God does not force Himself on anyone! In the meantime I will continue to give a hot drink, or food, or a $5 bill to the ones like the man today, whose eyes reduced me to tears.

Lord God - only you can do what is needed in the life of my brother.  Only you God.  ONLY. GOD.
Break my heart for what breaks yours O God.  May the tears that come, accompany prayers on behalf of the least of these, which include my brother.

No one made the choice to just live on the street. Dragons are hard to contain and even harder to slay.

This was in 1968.  Back row is me (Joy) and my mom.
My brother T is in front of me, and then my brother B
This was taken within a month of when B joined our family through adoption.

Wednesday, December 17

New thoughts on "praying for clarity" ...

The other day, I heard something, or read something.  Honestly, I can't remember.  I "think" it was Chuck Swindoll on the radio CHVN talking, but I am not positive!!  But he was talking about when we pray for clarity.  And yet when we are wanting "clarity" we are saying "God, I need to see very clearly regarding this ______ " and instead we should just step out, and trust even if we don't see clearly!  I know I did not do him justice, but this is what I got from it.

I was thinking of that, as hearing him speak brought back highlights from our journey to the ministry we are now doing.  Oh how I prayed for more from God - for Him to show me - to speak to me - to make things clear.  And at times it seemed He did just that.  Other times we walked in blind faith!
I actually like that expression as it means you are literally walking in faith, not seeing anything but God leading you, trusting Him for the next step in the adventure.

When we began this, we had no clue - absolutely NONE - just what He was going to do.  A journey of 13 years from hearing Him speak "make a place where women can go to just be" to the point where we had our Ministry grand opening and dedication!  13 years!!  Blind trust.  Sure, along the way I have asked for clarity.  I think that is just human nature, as it is easier to step out when you know where you are stepping right?  It is easier to write cheques to pay for the house you are building, when you know how long it will take, or how much it will cost right?

We have found that following Jesus is NOT for the weak kneed or faint of heart.  Following Jesus is not always easy!  In fact, sometimes it is down right HARD!!  Following Jesus is not always comfortable.  Believe me, He has pushed this girl out of her comfort zone!!  Following Jesus is never predictable!!  I think that is what I came to love as it always keeps us on the edge of our seats!!  Following Jesus is not always safe!  It is risky, and fully of adventure!!  Thing is - following Jesus is literally the adventure of our lifetime, but we have to step out - to risk - to trust - and to keep following him, even if we can't see our step ahead of us!

And oh, it is so worth it!!

So should we ask for clarity?  Believe me, I have used that phrase often when praying for others.  People I know have asked me to pray for clarity for them.  Maybe I need to stop praying for clarity and to instead pray that God would continue to take them (and us) on the adventure of our lifetimes - and showing us how to completely TRUST the only ONE who is trustworthy no matter what!!
Maybe instead of clarity, I need to pray for obedience, for a willing heart, for boldness, and for a good seat belt to fasten as we are taken on the ride of our lives!  Jesus is all about that!

Just a few thoughts from someone who has been on the adventure of our lifetime and has literally been ruined for the ordinary!  Thank you Jesus for what you are doing - and make us bold, and willing to trust and risk it for YOU.

Wednesday, November 12

An Open Letter to my Dad

Hi Dad ~ 
I have been thinking about you today, on Remembrance Day, and I just saw that cousin Thomas Thomas (you great nephew) posted your war picture on Facebook.  I was struck once again with how handsome you were Dad.  No wonder Mom fell in love with you, although the way you tell the story, I think you were smitten first.  It is a great love story!  Today was a full day for me, and I think it is the first time in at least 40 years that I did not watch any tv shows in regards to Remembrance Day services.  I actually feel kinda guilty about that - in a weird way.  I always felt a reverence and I think that is why I loved watching the service on t.v.  It actually always made me think, and wonder what it was like - to sign up as a young man (barely a man) and leave your family and your home.  No doubt a sense of adventure in many respects, and yet a naive understanding perhaps of what you were signing up for.  You told me once that everyone wanted to fight for the King and the country.  You did.  The rest of your life, as I watched you walk with your telltale limp.  And as I (as a tiny little girl) sat on your lap and asked you about your shrapnel scars.  You never wanted to talk about it.  Mom said you woke up often in a sweet with a night terror about war.  I don't think we ever realized the toll it took on you in more ways than just the obvious of losing a leg.  In your later years, about 10 years before you went home to Heaven, you spent your time talking to kids in school auditoriums STRESSING to them the importance of PEACE and that WAR SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.  Your story is part of my story too ... thanks Dad for sharing your thoughts with us.

I have also thought a lot about you at the beginning of November, as the date rolled to the 2nd, I will never forget the afternoon that you ended up being taken to the hospital, and within a couple hours you had a massive heart attack.  I stood by you as you were having an episode, with my arms around you, trying to help you sit without slumping forward.  So scared.  And then, orphaned.  I miss you so much Dad.  17 years often seems like yesterday.... but often seems like forever.  You and Mom - I wish you were hear to talk to, to see what we are up to, and how God has blessed us and the ministry.
I think you would be proud, you always were.  You would be proud of your grand kids, and I know you would be here often - visiting, calling, praying.  You were an amazing set of parents, and as a dad I loved that you were not too proud to say you were wrong.  Which you knew you were sometimes.

I wish we had more time - I was only 39 and without parents.  But God knew when your time here was done, when your purpose was fulfilled, and God is sovereign.  I know I will see you again - and that you are enjoying my grandson Jay - your great grandson!  I just wanted to tell you again how much I loved you.  How much I learned about the attributes of God, by having you as a father.  You also prayed for me, and I was so blessed.  You and Mom were a force to be reckoned with.  I actually was told that an uncle thought that I got "the best qualities of each parent" to which I felt blessed.  

You taught me how one follows God with all their heart.  You taught me about following when the steps are unclear, and yet the call of God is on your life.  You did that with Faith Bible Camp ... you and I did that with Sugar-N-Spice Kiddie Haven ... I wished you could have heard about and seen this new adventure God called me and Alvin into.  I know you would bless us in it.  You always did bless us Dad.  I remember your encouragement to me when I was finding it hard to leave the church you raised me in, when I got married.  You told me to go and worship together, to get involved and to serve God and not look back!  That was some of the best advice you could have ever given.  I will never forget when you blessed Alvin and I BOTH (not just Alvin) as we were commissioned as a DEACON COUPLE.  I always think that you were much more progressive in church stuff, than some of the people realize.  I loved how you accepted people regardless of status ... how you invested in lives ... how generous you were.  

O Dad ... I miss you.  Seeing your picture on Tom's Facebook page reminded me again, just how much.  I wish you could read this letter.  But I know you are having the time of your life in heaven - walking and running with two strong legs.  And you wouldn't trade it in for anything.  So... until we meet again Dad, I just wanted to say thanks for being my dad - and I love you!


(dad would often call me Jo-gee)

Wednesday, October 22

routine: tragedy

The sun rises as I sit in the hot tub with my sweet man
We talk
and drink coffee
...what will this day hold?

I drive to Niverville for an appointment
the ride is good to my soul
long enough for some good thinking

the ride back never seems as long
a quick stop for some salads from Subway
and home to eat late lumch with my husband
he is dusty from working on patio blocks
about 140 spaces needed to be filled with blocks
accurately cut and placed into spots that had been left empty
some more good conversation
i love that

the afternoon passed quickly
clean up
more clean up
go to vote for our municipality - mayor, school trustee and councillors
the city is voting for a new mayor too
a much bigger vote than our little R.M.
but none the less, an exercise of our rights as adults
more clean up
more laundry
and now thinking of getting off to bed
seems pretty straightforward
pretty routine

and yet a listen to the news is anything but
and a reminder that this world is in such trouble
a soldier is gunned down
while he does nothing but stands on duty at a war memorial
and tonight, parents are grieving the death of a son
my heart breaks

in our city
a woman is arrested
as the remains of 6 babies are found in her storage unit
6 babies
what would have made her do that
how desperate or depraved
its hard not to pass judgment
O Lord, have mercy

in our church
we are praying this week for the city police department
how do we pray?
we protection
for justice
for mercy
for compassion
and for light to shine brighter into a city that has a really bad record for murder and crime

my day
routine and good
life around me
is anything but
I pray because I know God hears me
and even though I don't understand why any of these tragedies happen
I know that God is in control

I will keep praying
I will keep living my life for His glory
my part may seem small
but God can use my part for bigger things

This world is out of control
satan is running rampant

Monday, October 20

living life to the fullest: the impact of Jake's funeral

Today was the second day I was at a funeral.  Two days.  Two funerals.  I hope this is not the new normal.  It is however a reminder that we are getting older.  And that our days are numbered by our Almighty God from the time of conception till we go "home" - God knows the number of our days.

Today's funeral was that of a friend. An older man, he was 79 although you would not have known that.  NOT that 79 is OLD but let's face it, it is 9 years more than the "3 score and ten" that the Bible refers to.

Jacob Klassen.  Same last name but not a relative.  It is like that in the German world ... many Klassens around.  (which also I should say, I have learned how to play the Mennonite Name Game with the best of them - having been immersed in this world for 40 of my 56 years!!)
Jake as he was often called, was a man within our congregation that affirmed me in ministry.  He was also always more than willing to help out in whatever way he could.  I appreciated many things about Jake - and among them was his willingness to serve, and he served with a willing heart and a ready smile.

Today I heard more about Jake.  I also saw pictures that he painted, and heard about poems that he wrote.  His nieces and nephews attested to his love, his help, his support, his always using the moment to be a "teachable" moment.  A true teacher to the core of his being.
There were pictures on his memorabilia table that gave visual proof to his travels - and his love for adventure.  We joined him on the mission trip to Thailand.  We will remember those memories.

I was blessed by the memories and reflections shared by his extended family.  I was blessed by the worship songs that were chosen.  I recited aloud along with the congregation - Psalm 121 which was a Psalm he loved.

I spent time connecting with people - Jake's funeral drew us back into the church that was our church for 32 years as a couple, and for almost 8 years as a Pastor.  I sat in the back overflow room, and looked around, recalling the times of sitting in the pews, of bringing my own two kids into the Sunday School rooms, of preaching many sermons, of praying with people, of joining women for Bible Studies and on and on.  Later I found out that Alvin was having the same sweet memories.  Jake's funeral brought us back into a place that helped raise us, and Jake and Agatha were two of those people who spoke into our lives, and later into my pastoral ministry with love and prayer and encouragement.

One of his great nieces, Angela, shared how Uncle Jake was a lover of the stories, and passed down stories and was writing his story too.  She shared how with him gone now, it is still necessary to keep talking about the history, about the life of the family as it passes down.  Its funny, because I have decided that I need to write my story.  Not sure if anyone would read it, but I am going to do it for my kids and for my grandkids.  A story of faithfulness.  A story of adventure.  A story of highs and lows. A story worth sharing, worth recalling and passing down.  My legacy.  Jake's life has encouraged me to do just that.  To "feel" life with all my being.  To live fully and allow God to take me the places that He has yet for me still to go.

I am only 56.  I feel young.  I have been told that I am a young Granny.  Apparently I do not look 56 although WHAT should 56 look like?  LOL   Even however at 56 I am so aware that my life is ticking by a day at a time.  And I really want to live fully .... I really want to GO BIG before I GO HOME!
I want to live with abandon to the ONE who has given me life to the full!  O Lord Jesus - you are such an amazing God.  I am 56 but I have lost peers in recent years.  I am young I feel, but age means nothing in the grand scheme of the "plan and purpose" that God has for me.

I am going to write my story.
I am going to continue to thank God for each day and live fully in the NOW.  I know He holds my future, so I need not worry about that.  God please give me grace and strength for each new day.
I am going to live without fear of the unknown future.  Fear only prevents us from the adventure!
I am going to enjoy the sound and sight and smell of life ...
I am going to have more sleepovers with my grands, and enjoy some spontaneous fun!
I am going to continue to live life with less rules and more spontaneity ... just because
(I tell Alvin that when it comes to things, he is the rule keeper!! :)

I just want to love life - and live it and write about it, journal, blog, draw, take pics or talk over a good fresh cup of bold coffee!  Just because!

Jake Klassen - you have lived a life of adventure but mostly a life of glory to God!  You have run the race - and I can just imagine that you heard God say "well done good and faithful servant - well done!"  Thanks for supporting me and affirming me in ministry - for always helping out when needed - and for showing us that you can live life fully and GO BIG until God calls you HOME.

Sunday, October 19

life is but a vapour ...

life is but a vapour 

I don't think I am the only one
that sits at a funeral
and wonders about my own
or about my spouse's
(depending on which of us goes first0

I don't think I am the only one
that wonders what would be said
or things that would bring a chuckle
or the songs that would represent me
as pictures of my life scrolled down the screen
for all to see

The Bible says that God has ordained the number of our days
before even one of them comes to be
The Bibles says that God saw us from the time we were "knit together in our mother's womb"
and knows which will be the day we take our last breath
The Bible says that "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death"
He is there with me
And I
I (with all my heart) believe that the Bible is TRUTH.

life is but a vapour 

Today I sat in a funeral
where tears rolled down cheeks at times
and chuckles were heard during a tribute
where there was the singing of ABIDE IN ME to begin with
but also songs of praise to end with
where the life of the deceased was talked about
and one knew that God was honoured through the life well lived

I am in the stage of life
where friends, and acquaintances are getting sick
and dying
where friends and acquaintance's funerals become a type of "social" life
I remember those days when a phone call with my mom, would bring me up to date
on which funeral they had been at
or who had just gotten a diagnosis
or died

I remember thinking that their (my parents) lives were full of attending funerals and memorial gatherings
of saying good-bye to those they knew and loved
a time of writing out sympathy cards
responding with a visit
or a meal
and praying
oh the praying ...

life is but a vapour 

Today I sat at the funeral
and before it began
something happened that perhaps brought a big of a "gasp" to my thoughts
You see - somehow I don't feel like I am getting older
(what do you mean my kids are 32 and 29!!)
Before the funeral began however
I felt like I was confronted with the reality of life in the lives of my peers my age or thereabouts
My daughter's friend hugged me and we chatted a bit
About being "too young" to have a friend that has lost a parent.
I was 37 and then 38 when I lost my mom, then my dad
I felt too young to become parent less!
And then she said it does feel very hard, very surreal - to realize that the parents of her friends are getting sick
and dying
My mind caught that "her friend's parents are dying"
her friend - at least one of them, is my daughter
her friend's parents - well, we are in that category

and while we are currently in good health
this funeral today
as well as ones coming up
remind me that our lives are but a vapour

and then
 ...  gone

life is but a vapour 

today's funeral made me think
the processional
the objects that were lovingly placed upon the casket that housed his earthly home
the roses
the music
the reflections
the mediation
the eulogy
and the band's rendition of It Is Well With My Soul gave me goosebumps
and God knows that
as well as the number of my days

tomorrow is another funeral
another friend
another service of celebrations
no doubt there will be pictures too.
and I will once again sit
and reflect
on what has been - what is - and what will be
my life
from beginning
to today, the present
to the future

our life is but a vapour 

O Lord God - for each one - each family that is mourning the loss of loved ones - Lord God - please be their strength.  Flood their memory with sweet memories.  Overwhelm them with your strength and your peace.  Surround them with those who will hold them up in prayer as they walk through each day.  And may each one know the hope that comes, with their loved one believing that you are God!  And Heaven is for real - and will be part of the story, and something to look forward to, as one day - we will be reunited.  And Lord God - please help me to live - each day FULLY abandoned to you - the giver of life!  Amen

James 4:14New International Version (NIV)

14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

life is but a vapour 

vapour (mist)
appears for a little while
and then 
.          .

Wednesday, October 1

autumn: my bittersweet love story


the sights
the sounds
the smells
my senses are heightened
and in tune with this season we call autumn

the leaves grow more brilliant with every day
colours that dazzle in splendour
God is showing off once again,
in the way that only God can
Creator knowing his creation
and changing it with the seasons
which flow one after another after another
just like our lives

autumn winter spring summer
this season where we oooo and ahhh over the beauty
where one day the leaves are rustling in all their colour
and the next day the wind whips them off
and they fly in the wind
spinning circles in the wind current
circling up and then down
accumulating in a pool of leaves
different sizes
different colours
but all together

i love the sound of autumn
the sound of the leaves rustling
and the sound of the leaves crunching once they have fallen
the sound of laughter coming from children playing in heaps upon heaps of leaves
raked up
jumped in
and repeat
autumn joy

the sound of bullrushes dry and swaying in the wind
and dried corn stalks keeping time in its field

i love the sound of the blue jays at the feeder
or the woodpecker that makes the tin pecking noise
 (doesn't he know the feeder is not a tree)
i love the sound of geese honking together
and the sound of their powerful wings flapping
i love the sound of campfires crackling
and chainsaws cutting wood up for winter
i love the sound of waves lapping up onto the beach
in anticipation of the freeze that will be coming all too soon
i love the sound of the motorcycles
getting in the last good ride before they are covered up and packed away for the winter

my senses take in the smell of autumn
black mud taking in its last rains before the rain turns to snow (it is coming)
leaves that fall in heaps in the bushes, and decaying as they form their natural compost
there is a smell that comes with walks in the bush .... the wet leaves
the smell of wild sage
the smell of campfires and farmers burning their stubble
the smell of the last wiener roasts of the summer,
good coffee and toasted marshmallows
and in the house the smell of pumpkin pies
turkey and stuffing
while the thanksgiving meal is being prepared
o Lord, I am thankful

oh i love you
and yet you hold such bittersweet memories
it was in autumn that i took a year off to walk in my depression and its healing
it was in autumn that i had the last great conversations with my dad, before his sudden death
it was in autumn that my kids both went away to school, and my house became an empty nest

autumn ...
creation dies ... the seeds fall into the ground ... go dormant for winter
autumn ... beauty just before the starkness of barren trees
autumn ... the season of thanksgiving in so many ways

there is no season like you
and you speak deeply to my being
you engage my senses
my thoughts
my imagination
and while my camera captures some images
nothing will ever just really capture the beauty of the actual season, and the moments this season holds

i love you
my bittersweet love story


Saturday, September 13

sunshine, squeals, and bike riding on the deck

the sun shines
and birds sing
some stop at the bird feeder
oblivious that we are on the deck

two boys
two bikes
a big deck
and lots of time

one very experienced
one learning
but he surprises me
his speed
his balance
almost like his brother

the deck
lovingly made by poppa
did he know
the bike racing that would happen
on a sunny afternoon in August
poppa is a little more cautious
and may perhaps think that this is not a good idea
but granny decides it is just fine
and sits where the one grandson has asked her to sit

a good place
by the steps
and she takes the role of the race starter
and the finisher
and the all out encourager

streaks of green and yellow
wheels turning
feet running
screams of delight
sudden stops
the occasional bump

the birds continue to feed
still oblivious to the races that are happening
the sun continues to shine
on the boys
on the granny

lap after lap

ever looking for the teachable moment
for the life lesson that God has in each moment
the granny knows this is such a sweet glimpse into life

into living all out
squeals of delight
curves and straightaways
occasional bumps

into living life with family
and friends
learning together

and the granny
videotapes the moments in time on her iPhone
and continues to shout encouragement
and smiles
oh she smiles
and stores all these things in her heart
knowing that today
these moments
these bike races
these grandchildren and the others who are not on the deck at this moment
continue to teach
and overwhelm her being with great love and thanksgiving

oh yes
she knows
i know

Wednesday, June 4

things that make me smile!

Lately, these are the things that have made me smile!

  • the sight of two women in heels, one with a shopping bag, trying to gather a couple goslings that were trying to follow their parents (geese) across a busy street.  The geese were honking like crazy as they watched their goslings going opposite ways.  There were only two, but they were shoo'd across the highway as cars stopped to give them safe passage.  WAY TO GO LADIES IN HEELS!
  • my grandson telling me "Granny, you have different rules"   "Really?  What do you mean?"  "Well Granny you have different sugar rules, Mom only lets us have one sugar thing".  BUSTED.  
  • breakfast with a sweet friend who loves to laugh.  
  • going to CURVES to work out seeing how different people are when they use the recovery boards between the machines.  Some jog, some walk, some do weird exercises!  Hmmm…. 
  • unexpected connections as I play the Mennonite game with the best of them!!  Some say there are 7 degrees of separation, but in Manitoba - I think it is far less
  • my bouquet of tulips
  • coffee with a friend tonight.  Did I mention that BOTH friends paid for me because it is my birthday this week.  SPOILED I KNOW!!
  • My husband Alvin has always joked with the grandkids from the time they are little - he says "Who's the best?" And then he says (with arm pump in the air) "Poppa" to which the kids laugh with him.  The other day, while babysitting my youngest grand, I tested her to see her reaction.  She is a year and a half old.  I said "who's the best" and she promptly said "Poppa"  Later I told my daughter to ask - and the answer was the same.  Mattie had not done this before. Poppa was pumped to get a video on his iPhone
  • the sound of bluejays but better still - seeing them
  • CHIPPY our chipmunk has become our thorn in our flesh (fills our car vent with birdseed) A pain, but at the same time makes me smile - because well, chipmunks are just perky and cute little guys.  I think it is the stripe!
More things that have made me smile lately:
  • occasional soft ice-cream at Half Moon (its a little too close to where we live)
  • our first convertible ride of the summer (love the freedom)
  • learning how to cut our front lawn with our big riding mower (bigger than anything I cut lawns with before)  I loved the straightaways!!
  • the outhouse that just got put on the beginning of our property (there is a reason)
  • beautiful little finches in the trees
  • watching a bald eagle soar
  • hot tubbing in the early morning
  • beautiful hanging flowers that I put up tonight after my friend picked them up and delivered them
  • my kids celebrating my birthday (birthday is tomorrow, but we celebrated Tuesday night since the guys work tomorrow) and watching my grands being so excited about the gift they were going to give me!
  • feeling so loved, appreciated and special
And a few more things that make me smile
  • spending an impromptu tea time and conversation (couple hours) with a very special aunt and uncle 
  • talking about high school and my early years of dating my husband (tomorrow I turn 56 … we dated at 16 )
  • pushing my grandson on the swing - for what seemed like hours.  There is something wonderful about a swing.  I am looking for a big one for our front tree.
  • making a birthday cake for one of our pastors, and I will deliver it - he and I share the same birthday although I am a year older 
  • watching YouTube with my husband (ask our kids about that)
  • sitting in our gazebo - listening to the birds
  • sunsets
  • sunrises
  • smell of fresh rain
  • dandelions …. even if they are weeds.
  • My kids, my grandkids and well my husband and I laugh a lot!!  I love my gang.
  • YOU … if you are reading this - I hope it has made you smile too.
Don't forget to count your blessings!  Night.

Wednesday, May 21

A belated birthday post, for a daughter who is a gift from God

I am blessed.
Simply yet profoundly blessed.
I have two daughters.
Both gifts from God.
One through birth.
One through marriage to my son.
Today, I want to write this birthday post (although belated) 
to the daughter who is a gift from God
through marriage to my boy

Happy Birthday to my daughter Leah!!
your day was on Monday, but today, I celebrate YOU

How my heart overflows with praise, and thankfulness for you.
As we have just celebrated your birthday again this year
I look back and see the many years you have been in my life…
first as my son's girlfriend
then his fiancé
and now his wife

You are my daughter
And I thank God for you.

I watch how you live your life
with intentionality
with determination
with great love 
with grace

I have watched you, but I have also learned from you
about loving God
about loving your husband
about loving your children
no matter how hard, or how easy
no matter how complicated or simple
no matter whether the day was grey or sunny
You my daughter, have loved well, and continue to do so

I have watched you and learned about living simply
you don't seem to want much
you seem content
you are happy with the simple yet beautiful and eloquent in its simplicity
I love that, and have learned from you

I have watched how you love-on your siblings (on both sides)
I have watched how you love-on your friends (of whom there are many)
I have watched how you carefully decide where your energies will be used
within those relationships, within the relationships at church as well
You seem to know how to guard your time, so that it is used for God's best intent for you

You listen
You learn
You research
You make decisions
HOWEVER you have also taught me that sometimes a decision made
has to be changed for a better decision
I see how you parent your boys. 
with grace and mercy
and with unconditional love
Hard work sometimes, but you are thankful for the energy and strength and grace God gives you

You my dear daughter, have taught this Mom a lot
I have spent many hours with you talking
in silence
in togetherness
just you and I
but often you and all of us
I love going on outings with the kids
as well as spending times after a good meal together, just talking
(after the kids are in bed)

You have taught me a lot, as I said
and I know I will learn more from you.

I see your strengths and your weaknesses
I also see how you know them as well - 
And you are not a quitter
I love that.  
That in itself, has taught me a lot about persevering under tough times
and how it is so worth it.
I love your laughter - your sense of humour
I love watching you and Ashley together - as sisters
I remember that in those early days, it was so important that Ashley also connected with you
As she only wanted the best for her brother.
And you are the best.
Together you make an amazing whole.
Together you compliment one another
However first, you are individually strong, gifted and multi talented
Amazing how God uses you individually and together.

So my sweet daughter
better late than never - today I say
~ Happy Birthday Leah ~ 
You are loved greatly - more today than all those years ago
However our love will only keep growing.
It is my prayer for you, that this year brings many many blessings,
Many new and exciting things
Many "aha" moments
as you live life fully for God, with Josh, and with that gang of boys you have.
(who we love so much I might add!)

Happy Birthday dear One 
You are greatly loved 
and greatly cherished Leah!
I look forward to this year ahead
and all the others too!

Mom K

Wednesday, May 14

Healing is complete

Ben's fight is done here on earth.  He is in Heaven - and I just have wondered if Ben has met our Jay yet.  I can't imagine how many children are in heaven.  Sometimes the thoughts are overwhelming.   When I read the newspaper article that was posted today, I sat in the parking lot and wept as I prayed for strength for Mindy, Andy and their kids.  I can't imagine their sadness … and pain of loss.  I just can't imagine losing a five year old.

Last night I went to our prayer meeting at Eastview again.  We meet on Tuesdays, and begin with some teaching on prayer, and then we began to pray.  Well, I should say that the others prayed last night.  I was not able to … it had been a really emotional day, and I was struggling.  I just could not accept easily that God was choosing not to heal Ben on this side of Heaven!!  I hard really felt that He was going to.  Well He did!!  But not the way I was praying.

We began to pray, and Kelly was praying for Ben I figure, right at the same time God was preparing to take Ben.  When I saw his mom's post about Ben breathing his last here and going to be with Jesus about 8:05 pm, I just could not help but think of how our prayers were being spoken on their behalf.
And, well - Ben is healed - completely healed.

You have to read Mindy's post, if you haven't already.
It is so beautiful.  She has given us permission to enter into their lives through her writing.  I for one thank God for the privilege of being able to pray for Ben, and for them all.  And, I will continue to do that.

And, I will imagine that Ben and Jay at some time, will meet, and run together.  I am not sure how that all works in heaven - as I know there are many many people there.  But I get delight in thinking that they will meet, and play together.  One day, we will all be united again … what a day that will be - for many reasons.  Till then, I will continue to live life here - and to intercede for others as God gives me strength.  In the meantime Ben knows that Heaven IS for real!!  Absent from the body, and present with our Lord!!  Ben's healing is complete.

Lord, please be their strength now … carry them, dry their tears, wrap your arms around them.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 13

"I do believe, help my unbelief"

I went to sleep last night, after posting the previous entry.  And as I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, the tears rolled silently down my cheeks.  I woke up this morning, with a heaviness.  We sat in the hot tub bright and early.  Well maybe not so "bright" as it is dreary, grey and rainy here again today.  But the hot tub was a good place to talk out loud about some of the things that are heavy on my heart.

First of all, I can not stop thinking about little Ben as he gets closer to being with Jesus.  Why is it that a family that I only know through being directed there by a mutual friend, and yet, they feel like family that I know well?  I don't get that, but I believe that this is an example of how the family of God works.  
My husband is very taken aback with all of this too, and last night's blog post by the mom, Mindy has greatly touched his heart as well.

People are praying.  I have to tell you - about something that took my breath away, although not sure why - as we KNOW God works in mysterious ways.  But we have begun to pray on Tuesday nights, at our church.  We are very aware of the Holy Spirit at work, and this is just one piece of where the H.S. is moving.  The thing that surprised me so much, was last week, when on our online prayer site, a prayer request came marked URGENT and it was about Ben and his family.  What?  So when we got together for prayer, they mentioned that the request came in, although none of us know the person who asked for prayer on their behalf.  Oh, that is the family of God - surrounding people in such crisis.
So we petitioned God last Tuesday, and since.  

I guess my heaviness this morning is just a mess of things:  brokenness over a a family losing their little 5 year old.  (My heart knows what these little ones that age are like, as my grandsons are around that age).  I can't imagine the pain.  My thoughts are confused.  I honestly, really and truly believed that God was going to answer with physical healing.  And it seems like the healing will only happen in Heaven.  I am confused at why at times we have this assurance of God going to move and do something great … and then become confused because He doesn't seem to "act".  I know I know …. God's ways are not our ways.  But for some reason, I just really believed He was going to act the way we were praying.  My thoughts are confused and complicated because they draw me right back to losing our Jay.  If I prayed with boldness - it was then.  God chose not to answer us the way we prayed.  I have prayed with boldness for little Ben.  It appears like once again, God is choosing not to answer us the way we prayed.  Alvin said this morning, is it because we did not pray "hard enough" or "with the greatest faith" ???    What in the world does it mean to pray with faith - just even faith the size of a mustard seed.  Now, do you KNOW how big that seed is?  Pretty tiny.  But in the scope of faith - that is all that is needed.    What about praying so that we say to the mountain MOVE IT!!  And, it moves.
O God, my head and my heart is such a broken muddled mess.  Lord God, help my unbelief!!
Give me faith - the size of a mustard seed.  Help me not to pray with entitlement or with demands, but in align with your will.

This morning I said to my husband.  So, when we get together - is there room for us to talk out loud about our dismay, about our confusion, perhaps even our doubt as to whether our prayers even are necessary or not, or that God answers them or not?  Don't worry, I KNOW our prayers are necessary.  I KNOW he answers them. And whether I share my confusion and dismay tonight or not, God knows all my thoughts.  Because I know, my God knows my heart.  He knows my cries.  My unspoken words.  My confusion.  HE KNOWS.

I sometimes have thought that we pray at times as if we are "giving God an out" so to speak.  NOT like God needs us to give him anything, let alone an "out".  However, too often I hear people praying and tacking on "if it be your will" at the end of every thought, every request, every petition.  I want to think that because of my relationship with God - my walk with him - HE KNOWS that I am praying HIS WILL on things.   My friend  lost her son in a car accident back in 1998.  I will never forget when she said to me "Joy, we gathered around the car that morning and prayed"  and she also told me that her husband said, "God just does what He wants anyway, why bother praying."  

I remember talking with her about the analogy of having our kids come to us, and sometimes we answer them with a yes.  Sometimes we say no.  Sometimes they are angry at us because of our answers.  Sometimes we just want the kids to sit on our laps with their heads leaning against our chests.  But regardless of the answer to their requests, we delight in the fact that they are coming to us, and we reserve the right as their earthly parents to do/allow/not do/allow the things in their best interest.  Or sometimes we would grant things knowing that they would go through something hard as a result.  While our kids don't say, "Mom if it is your will, please ….."  NO they just come, cuddle up, sometimes stand in defiance, sometimes sit unable to speak and just weep … but they come to us because they KNOW us, and that they are loved, and listened to …

So I am trying to put all of that into my spiritual perspective, to get some insight into what is happening - and bold praying, and prayers not being answered in the way you think they should be - and trusting God with it all - all the pain, sorrow, extreme sadness, confusion, disillusionment, despair …

This morning, my quiet time takes me to Acts 3 - the first section where Peter and John come past the temple gate called BEAUTIFUL … and there is a beggar there - he can't walk.  People bring him there every day.  And he calls out to them, hoping someone will hear and give him what he needs …. which he believes is money.  They stop and Peter tells him "look at me".  I can just imagine this man, raising his eyes and gazing into Peter's eyes, fully expecting to get something from Peter.  LOOK AT US!!!  and then hearing Peter tell him - I don't have silver or gold to give you - but I have something better - so in the name of Jesus Christ - WALK!!!!  And Peter extends his hand, placing it over the beggar's hand - and instantly it says, his feet and ankles get strong!!  He gets up and walks, and jumps and is praising God.  WHAT A MIRACLE.  Crippled from birth - now walking and leaping and people recognize him and are filled with wonder and amazement!!  

I want this Peter faith.  The faith that makes me look someone in the eyes - and extend my hand - believing God will heal.  I want the mustard seed sized faith - that moves Mountains.  I want to believe in the amidst of my confusion, in the midst of my brokenheartedness, in the midst of knowing God is God - and is still sovereign ALWAYS and no matter what.

I realize that all of this messy faith stuff relates fully with my word for this year - ABANDON.  Being abandoned to the Lord Jesus Christ - fully, without hesitation, knowing it is risky, and not always easy, and that being abandoned to the Lord is about leaning into him even when I can't see the sun for the rainclouds.  So today, with all of these thoughts, I just say - like the man (Mark 9)  who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus disciples, and they could not cast out the demon because they lacked faith.  And the man asked Jesus "if you can" and Jesus answered him,  "what do you mean IF I can, anything is possible if you believe"  and the man says, "I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief."  

So Lord, I do believe too.  I know you are at work in us Holy Spirit.  I know you are doing miraculous things - more than we could ever ask or imagine.  So I ask you - increase my faith Lord - please increase my faith.  I believe - help my unbelief!!  AMEN.

Monday, May 12

there is so much I just will never "get" this side of Heaven

My heart is so broken.
Broken for a family - little Ben's family
A mutual friend told me about them back a few months
And I began to pray
and with great hope
that God was going to do a miracle
I guess I thought I knew what this miracle should look like
I am thinking that many of us who prayed, were praying for the same miracle
As the mom Mindy said in one of the early posts - that the ground was ripe for a miracle
I remember she said "Only God"

Here I am - 56 years old (almost) and once again questioning God
Oh yes, I know God is sovereign.
I know that.
I also know that I just don't and can't wrap my head around this 
why God would give them twins
and then, when they are 5 … take one of the twins to heaven
that is what breaks my heart
and at the same time, takes me back to our prayers for our little Jay
something seems familiar

Little Ben isn't in heaven yet, but as his mom wrote today on the blog ( they know that Ben is in his "eleventh hour".
Soon it seems, their sweet Ben will be in heaven with our Jay too.
God - I can't even fathom how many children are with you 
my mind is way to small to imagine this
But I know it is true.

I think that because I am a granny to boys that are this age - my heart just can't fathom the pain, the sorrow, the reality that God is not going to answer with a healing on this side of heaven.
Even if we thought that his healing would bring great glory to His name.
God … i just don't get it.

And that is when I am reminded that I have been here before
Petitioned for a miracle
And felt like God did not answer
at least now how we wanted, how we asked, how we thought He should.
For me, that is the hard part … especially when it involves babies, and little 5 year olds.
Oh God … I am on the periphery of what is happening,
just got to know this family through blog posts
but prayed, O I prayed.
and I feel like they have become part of my family
and when I read today's post …. I hurt so much for them.
So very much.
There are no answers
Only God has those answers
and we will never know
and when we are finally able to ask him, once we get to heaven
getting an answer will no longer be important.
So in the meantime Lord God, please answer this . please wrap your arms so tightly around little Ben as you transition him home to be with you.  Give strength to his parents as they see him edge closer to heaven.  Lord, walk through this with the other children.  And for any grandparents - O Lord, give them strength in this journey.  I don't know what else to ask for Lord . they need you . O Lord, they need you so much.  Please Lord, hear the cries of their heart - for their son, for their other children - for themselves.   
Please God.
Please.  Amen.

In the midst of these broken hearted thoughts, has been a tune running through my heart.
All I could hear were these words:  My heart will sing, no other name - Jesus, Jesus.  So I googled those words and found the song.  We've sung this in church - it is beautiful.  May this be our heart cry as Ben and his family are running to your arms!  O Lord … even if you did not answer the way we wanted you too …. you are still sovereign, you are still good, you are still love….