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