Sunday, February 15

just counting my blessings .... to the tune that old song running through my heart.

"count your many blessings name them one by one"
this is the first line from an old familiar song that was running through my heart 

sisters and brothers
neices and nephews

acquaintances past and present

life group

blessings galore

seasons that flood my senses
sunrises and sunsets
(birdseed everywhere, for which the mice are thankful I'm sure!)

food in fridge
food in belly
bread for each day - literally
and bold fresh coffee

great hair stylist
and good hair dye LOL

texts from kids
emails from family
phone calls
and occasional snailmail

eating right
feeling better
and losing weight 

a legacy of faith
history of faithfulness
to grandparents
to parents
to us 
and our kids

my Bible 
sharper than a two edged sword
God's greatness
HIS absolute best for us
in the form of JESUS

O Jesus - how I love you!

happy times
prophetic word
laying down ... picking up

Jesus- my everything
my ALL

oh, how I am blessed
this list is no exhaustive - just a few thoughts 
from the heart of a blessed woman
yep, that's ME.

"Count your many blessings, see what God has done!!"
(last line of the same old song)

Thursday, February 12

"done in" through Mission Fest 2015

Okay - so I think that perhaps some of you may think - okay, she says she is "done in" by Mission Fest, that can't be good!!  Usually when we say we are "done in" it has a negative connotation.  NOT IN THE LEAST ... please read on.

This is the first year that we have done Mission Fest.  I did it at the encouragement of our board of directors for our ministry Women Refreshed at the Well
They actually encouraged me for last year, but I already had bookings for that weekend.  So it was, after talking to my sweet friend Meggie, I decided to see if I could still sign up.  This was in November.  As I was so late I was not sure I would even get a table.  BUT I did.

I went to work with Regehr's Printing and Dave designed a beautiful banner and a table cloth.  I got it on Thursday, and put together a few things for the table, and on Friday my daughter and granddaughter picked me up and off we went.  First stop STARBUCKS (lol) and then second stop was for a beautiful arrangement for our table (designed by Melanie Bernadsky herself - go and buy from them!!) and then we made it to Church of the Rock to set up.

Matilda gets to spend a little time with Mommy's iPad

Our table - new banner and table cloth, and flowers by FreshCut Downton, Melanie!!

Matilda loved the wide open space :)

Mission Fest began with the prayer time in the afternoon for exhibitors.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  I had promoted Mission Fest during the years of being a pastor, but sorry to say, I had never attended myself, just got the feedback from others (and always wanted to go next year!)

Oh my goodness.  Only God knew what He was going to do in me over the course of that weekend.
I met people that I hope will be a part of my life in the future (thanks Nichole, I already feel like you are a friend).  I got to work side by side with my daughter Ashley (I am so thankful for her that weekend, as I was pushed out of my element lol)  I got to see other ministries, to renew friendships, not to mention being interviewed by Amy Davey from live at 6 pm.

Going on air live made me a little nervous.  I texted my kids and Alvin and asked them to pray.  Leah mentioned that Everett had also prayed for Granny.  Later when the kids showed up with the boys, I said thank you to Everett for praying for me, with eyes big as saucers he said "Granny, how did you know that!!"

The days were long - we left both nights after 10.  Mornings came early.  But my heart - O MY HEART!!  I don't think I could count the number of times, I was near tears, or perhaps shedding them.  The speakers were good - but a couple really moved me.  Pastor P.G. Vargis was one of them.
The other one was Danny MacKay from

God puts new friends into our family of God!  It was great to finally meet Danny and his wife Naomi.
Danny, my daughter Ashley, me and Naomi

I knew that my son had connected with Danny, and that he had a moving testimony and ministry. Josh had asked me to say hi to Danny for him.  Little did I know how moved I would be through his testimony and challenge to the youth and "young at heart" that morning.   He talked about the "Miracle Question" or a way to move into the life of someone you just meet.  "Hey, I believe God answers prayer, how can I pray for you?"  "If God could grant a miracle in your life - what would it be?"   I think the statistic he came about 98% of North Americans don't share their faith.  WHY ?  Top two reasons are 1) they don't know how, and too nervous as a result  and 2) they don't know what to share (which underlies the reason why we should equip and build disciples to share their faith).  Danny said "YOU HAVE A MINISTRY"  "If you are a follower of Jesus Christ - You Have A Ministry!"  "And, being a follower of Jesus, you have a message - a message of reconciliation."  Yes, Church does "come and see" well, but Jesus also says "Go and Tell."

Now I will admit, nothing Danny said was new to me per say.  HOWEVER it struck some new cords in me.  I know without a doubt, I heard God's call - specific call to ministry, that being Women Refreshed at the Well.  We believed so strongly in it, we invested our time (almost night and day) for two years of building, our emotions, our mental health, our physical beings (especially Alvin and the boys while they did the manual build) and our finances.  And, to boot, after all that, we made the conscious decision to have our private suite in the basement of the house we own, and built of ministry.  (seriously, I am not looking for a pat on the back, but I constantly stand in awe at what my husband has done for this ministry that God called me too first, and then him.)  I do not know any other man living or dead that would have done this!!  I am so thankful for him - daily.

So I know we are called to ministry, and yet what Danny said, made the call deeper - and fuller.

That afternoon, while the worship leader was speaking/praying she said "I pray life over all our ministries."  That was when I felt it - I took my journal and here is what I wrote:  "Worship leader - speaking/praying "life" over all our ministries - this very tangible warm "sparkling" zing in my body - O LORD, YOU are up to something !!  LORD - I stand in awe/waiting/expecting!!  This life you've given me - takes may breath away!"

The rest of Mission Fest was great - we connected with people.  Sunday morning I made my way there alone, to be there to man the table (or is it woman the table lol) during COTR two services.  Someone came up to me - she was very quiet - and her son was alongside.  We talked, she entered the draw.  Then God did it ... "Joy offer her a retreat - no strings attached - free/no charge."  God does this, actually has done this a few times where I know I have to offer it.  She shared a bit about her life - single parent, two jobs, two sons.  Never once did she say it in a complaining voice.  She shared how she really would love to come.  I looked at her and made the offer God urged me to give.
Our eyes locked, and hers filled up with tears.  Nothing exchanged but I knew it was a holy moment that was truly God ordained.  (one of many that weekend).  I asked her if I could pray for her - we hugged and I prayed, while my voice was close to her ear.  God gave me the words through my tears."

God at work - God on the move.  Oh my, He continues to do more than I could ever imagine!  I realize that a few things have happened since the new year, one of the things being that I keep asking Him "Please LORD I want more of you - please - MORE" and He continues to show me that all He wants is a willing heart!!

I am thankful that God continues to take my breath away.  I don't think I have ever been in a more exciting and wonderful time of life, with my husband and family praying/loving/supporting and feeling like we only see the tip of something that is much bigger!! ONLY.  GOD.  That continues to be my mantra.  ONLY GOD!!

Mission Fest 2015 - you did me in!!  I can hardly wait for next year too!!

Sunday, February 8

I will never forget ... ever

I will never forget the first time I heard I would be an auntie.
Barely a teen - I knew I was excited.
We were all very excited.

I will never forget the first time I heard that my niece would be born soon.
My sister was in the hospital and labour had begun.
Not in a hurry to come, the labour was truly LABOUR
And a little one was born into the world.
Keri Lee Klyne - born January 13th, 1973

I will never forget the first time I babysat.
A sweet little one
First attempts at diapering, feeding, watching her grow
I will never forget those toddling steps, and those little grumpy looks at times
I will never forget how she said all her b's as d's
And she made me laugh when she would say "Dack Duty" instead of "Black Beauty"
I loved her with all my heart.

I will never forget watching her grow up
Watching her become a big sister with all that it entailed
I will never forget wiping some tears,
picking her up when she would fall
or kissing boo-boos better
I will never forget when she stayed with us and liked to share my space
I will never forget her love for her Granny and Poppa
her love for her cousins
her love of course for her mom, dad and sister :)
her love for life
amidst the hard knocks, disappointments and heart break she encountered

I will never forget what I remember as being a very sweet time for her
as she stood by her sister's side in Cuba, the day of the wedding
so proud of her little sister
so happy to be away with family for such a joyous occasion
so beautiful in her bridesmaids dress
I will never forget that day
or the days we sat on beach loungers
or ate grilled shrimp (oh many she loved those)
or talked about life

I will never forget that summer
meeting her at Starbucks
to encourage her
to love on her
to support her
and hug her and watch as she drove off for the day
I will never forget it, as somehow life seemed to have gotten complicated for her

I will never forget hearing that she was expecting
and seeing her excited about the arrival of a little boy
we were all really excited - three babies within months
I will also though never forget realizing that life would be hard for her
although I don't know if I will ever know just how hard it would become

I will never forget visiting her in the hospital
with her newborn son
She barely looked old enough, even though she was in her thirties
She was so happy
She cradled him, talked to him, kissed his little cheeks.
I will never forget seeing my first born niece - as the first time mommy.

I will never forget conversations
the joking that the uncles gave Keri
I will ever forget worrying about her
and wondering how life would unfold
it looked hard from someone looking in
And we know now, that it was hard.
Incredibly hard.

I will never forget when she returned "home"
The Christmas hugs and tears
A sense of things being better with the world
Love flowed
It was tangible
And I realized the strength of this first born niece of mine
And I was amazed.
Truly amazed.
And thankful she was back where she belonged, with her son.

I will never forget the last Thanksgiving, and our conversation together
I will never forget the last Christmas, gathered together as an extended family once again.
I will never forget her surprise birthday
Olive Garden
Extended family
the hugest Jeannie's Cake
She was so surprised.
She was so happy.
She was now 40.

I will never forget the phone call that morning
the sound of my sister's voice
choking back my emotions and tears as I said I would come right away
I will never forget what seemed like the longest ride to the hospital
a ride that was given to me by someone who knew us all, and was there when the call came.
I will never forget the talking, the waiting, the doctors, more talking, more waiting
I will never forget watching the news report on the tv in the waiting room
And having a sense wash over me, that we were going to be saying good-bye to our first born niece

I will never forget being by loved ones side as we were told that her injury was incompatible with life
and hearing the doctor say they would need to make a decision
I will never
conversation ...

I will never forget being invited by her mom and dad, to join them in surrounding her bed
talking to her
watching her
in shock
oh, my goodness .... what pain to watch my niece talking to her sister
what pain to watch my sister and brother-in-law saying good-bye
what pain as family to watch one we loved so much,
the one who made us laugh and also made us pray so hard
the one who prided herself as Granny's favourite!!

I will never forget those last breaths
and then still but peaceful body
a shell ...
as her soul had already been with Jesus.
the lover of her soul.

I will never forget the weeping
the stillness
the love that flowed without a word being uttered
and the prayer that was offered from the lips of my son, as we huddled.

It seems like yesterday.
It has been two years.

My niece entered into the presence of Jesus
and was reunited with those we loved who have gone on ahead of her
While we don't understand ... we know that it is only for a time - and we will be together again.

I will never forget
the niece I loved
the cousin to many
the sister to her sister Mel
daughter to her mom and dad
granddaughter to Poppa and Granny
and most of all Mommy to her son.
It was only in her dying, that I really stopped long enough to see how strong this sweet one really was

I will never forget.

Love you sweet Keri - my first born niece - until we meet again - In Heaven.
I love you.

xoxo Auntie Joy