Holidays Day 3

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Brakes went again. Sailed right through a stop sign.

And tonight I get to drive people around town.

And tomorrow everything is closed, again.


When do the locusts arrive?


i'm a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad boy

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I'm so tired of being considered a bad boy.

Walmart goes through my stuff, at Zellers I must walk through overly sensitive sensors that buzz when I bend over, and now, today, just tops it off for me.

I got a ring for Johanna at the Silver sense store here in the mall. Very helpful place and I found a ring I liked. It was really quite inexpensive, and I bought it, even though I was ready to spend more. Well, it turned out to be a little large on her finger.

So today, Micah has a $50 money gift burning a hole in his pocket, and he's been talking about getting a cool drum. Well, they have them at the Silver Sense, so I suggested we go look at them there. While we were there I thought I'd see if they even had a smaller size in the ring. So I took the bag with the ring in a ring box from the store and off we went. I didn't take the receipt because Johanna left it in Saskatoon, but I didn't think it would be a real problem since I simply wished to look at a smaller one, same design.

So Micah was looking at the drums and we were getting sold on them, and I went and asked about a smaller version of the one in the bag in the box I set on the counter. Without even looking at it, the response from her mouth was, "Nothing is done without a receipt. Company policy."

Huh? I tried to explain my need for a smaller size. Same line.

I said I didn't want money back....  Same line.

By now, I'm feeling like I tried to rip someone off. So I say thanks for the help and get Micah and leave without the drums.

So Silver Sense is out another $50, and I've got grumpy word of mouth.

Just because stores have to assume that everyone is out to get them, and will rob them blind, doesn't mean I will. And I resent that, just a bit.



Friesen Christmas

Monday, December 29, 2003

Well, the noses are drying up, the head lice is gone (I hope), the van is getting a new Master Cylinder, and we made it to Saskatoon and back yesterday, for our extended family christmas getogether.

Actually it was at "Henry's" in Martensville, and the food was great!

It's always nice to see these people again. We are able to connect on deeper levels quickly even though we might not have seen each other for a year. We share the same memories and jokes. And Grandma and Grandpa aren't young any more, no telling how long they'll be around.

But i did get some pic's of the day, and I found out that some of you who read this are family members, so i put up some pictures for ya. If any wish to have the originals, just email me eh?

So, it's gently snowing out here and the van is unavailable, so the guys and I are off outside to play some street hockey.

It's nice having a week off.



What else I got for christmas?

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Ah yes, I got two kids with major spewing, coughing colds. I got one kid with head lice (Yeah.) I got one family van with no brakes, and I got a sleepless night last night.

Actually I just re-read that last line and it's a wonder I'm in a good mood at all!

The stresses of this Christmas seem to have tensed me up a bit. I find I need time to chill out and just enjoy things, so this Christmas has been a little hard on us all.

The kids got sick just as Christmas day was upon us, and the van's brakes began to fail the night before Christmas. We had to drive about 140 kms to my folks on Christmas day, so we made it there and back. But of course no shops were open to help fix it! I've got an appointment on Monday for the van.

Then, we discover one of the twerps has visitors on their head... say no more. Um, maybe I should say more, the kid uses MY hairbrush!!

But last night Lauralea and I walked over to some friends for a nice time of visiting and exotic foods and drinks. It was fun. Tomorrow I've arranged to use a friends van, so we are off to Saskatoon to a larger Friesen gathering for the late afternoon. Actually it's supper in a town called Martensville.

Then I get our final week of holidays off, so I'm really looking forward to that. Hopefully we won't be stranded at home without a van the whole week!! Just hang out, do some things with the kids and Lauralea.

Tomorrow I'm speaking at church. The first Sunday after Christmas, especially such a close one, is always a difficult one to preach, I find. It's not a good time to be doing any deep teaching sermons, nor do a lot of people feel ready for a sermon. So I usually try something a bit different. Tomorrow I'm going to use Brad's parable of the other night, and read it (With proper credit!!) and talk a bit about grace and Gods love. I think it will be a real nice morning.

So, I trust you'all are doing well. Keep chilling and visiting.



Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2003

So, I got caremellos and 2 DVD's and "The Italian Job" computer game, and a door hanger, and slippers, and a Classical CD, and a chocolate bar, and a ....

it's not bad when the kids get older and get jobs and are able to buy you cool things too.


Merry Christmas everyone.


Blessed Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2003
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Nearly there

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Well, I'm feeling a bit flu-ish tonight, so as soon as I pick up Johanna from her job at Zellers, I'm back home and off to bed.

Lauralea tells me that for the first time in many years, we are done the day before Christmas Eve. The gifts are bought, the food baked, the things, well, thinged. (Whatever!) So tomorrow morning, after our 6:30 prayer time at church, we are going to crank up the old Beeb and enjoy a yearly tradition. A cup of strong tea and the Festival Of Nine Lessons And Carols.

Wed 24 Dec, 15:00 - 16:30  90 mins      
Live from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge.

"It's 75 years since the first Carol Service was broadcast from the magnificent fan-vaulted Chapel of King's College, Cambridge - a service which for many people all over the world marks the beginning of Christmas. As the sun sets over Cambridge, the nine lessons, read mainly by members of the College, from a Chorister to the Provost, tell the story of the loving purposes of God as revealed in the Bible. The Choir sings carols old and new and leads the congregation in traditional Christmas hymns."

I think we first began listening to this on the old Shortwave radio, on the World Service of the BBC, but now we have the luxury of stereo internet. 

So, tomorrow at 9am local time on BBC 4, we'll be listening to that young boys pure voice singing out, "Once in Royal David's City..." 

Isn't technology wonderful?


Family Portrait

Monday, December 22, 2003
Now, I don't know about any of you, but around here getting a family picture taken can be like, well, hard work.


So this Sunday after church, we got everyone outside for a family portrait. And it wasn't too bad, mainly because Laura started laughing, and couldn't stop, so that got everyone else laughing. It turned out to be not bad at all. Probably the best picture we've ever taken where one of us isn't frowning!!


Here then is my Christmas Miracle, our family portrait, December 2003.


Born in a barn? not.

So, here's a quote, three blogs deep. I found it on Brad's blog and was refreshed by it. Take a read, and if you're interested, check out where it's from.

It's from a Will Willimon sermon:

You know by heart how the story goes. Mary and Joseph come to Bethlehem for the government's enrollment and there, because with everyone from out-of-town, there is no room at the Inn so Mary is forced to give birth to Jesus in a cow stall because "there was no place for them in the inn."

But scholar, Kenneth Bailey points out that what our Bibles translate as "inn" is, in the Greek kataluma, which means literally "guest room" not "hotel" or "inn." Later, in Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan, the wounded man is taken to a pandokheion which does mean "inn," but here, Luke says that there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the kataluma, no more room in the family "guest room" so they had to be placed elsewhere in the home. The actual wording does not really say "there was no room in the inn" but rather "there was no appropriate place in the guest room."

In the typical Mid-Eastern home, says Bailey, there is a designated room for overnight visitors. It would be unthinkable, according to the dictates of Eastern hospitality, for out-of-town relatives to be sent to an inn by their own family. Mary and Joseph were among relatives. They were back in Bethlehem because Joseph was "of the house and lineage of David." The problem was, there were undoubtedly many relatives back for the government's enrollment. By the time Mary and Joseph arrived, the guest room , the kataluma, was filled and so they had to be placed in the next best place in the family home, which Bailey says would have been the outer room where the family's animals were brought in for safe keeping during the night. Especially in cold weather, the family livestock was brought in to this outer room where they stayed the night, then they were led away at morning, the room was swept, and used for other family activity. That's where the manger was, the feed trough for the animals, in this outer room.

Some of you who are home for Christmas will sleep tonight on the sofa in the living room, or curled in a sleeping bag elsewhere, because there is no "appropriate place" for you in the guest room. Uncle Oscar from Hoboken commandeered that room before you got here. Well, that's probably the case for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Rather than send you to the Washington Duke, because the family loves you so much and is so delighted to have everyone home for Christmas, they are giving you the honor of sleeping on the floor in the play room.

All of this puts the story of that first Christmas a bit differently. Jesus was not born in the stable of some cold, impersonal hotel, but rather born in the front room of a home where doting aunts, uncles, and other random relatives doted on the new baby.


Christmas Presence

I got a cool gift yesterday.

A while back a friend of mine had been diagnosed with cancer. The original tests indicated a clear presence of cancer and it didn't look good.

She reports that a few weeks ago, while I was praying for her, she felt her back become warm and suddenly she felt "Freed." She says at that moment she knew God had touched her.

Later on during the followup tests, no problems were found. She is considered free of cancer.

It's been a year or two since I've experienced a blessing like that, but God is still in the business of healing bodies.

And I am still in the business of asking him to.



There are usually around 100 of you who visit this site on a given day. Some of you leave comments, but most of you don't, and that's ok, lurk away!


But among you all, three of you participate regularly in the comments section. For that I'm thankful, cause otherwise this would just be me talkin to myself, which would be weird on so many different levels...


Since Toni lives across the great sea, I haven't been to any of his parties ...yet. So I have yet to secure a good picture of him. But yesterday at the church party I got a shot of two of these people, side by side. So, here to give a face to these faithful comment-ers is Sharon and Linea. The Party Girls.





Saturday, December 20, 2003

Well, it's about 4:40 am and I just got back from the hospital.

I'm the clergy on call this week, and it's been a quiet week, till about 2:30 this morning. I got called in for a code blue. A 51 year old guy had a heart attack as he slept.

His wife woke when he fell to the floor.

Their grandaughter who just started her holidays, was staying with them. She was there tonight, weeping quietly. His wife had just made his favourite Butter Tarts yesterday, and she only let him have a few, the rest had to wait till christmas...



It's gonna be a long week for that family.



This party's pooped

Friday, December 19, 2003

Well, after days and days of baking and cleaning and prep work, the 2003 Party at the Pastors is now officially over.


It was a great time. I believe just under 50 people showed their faces here today, which was a neat thing.

The award for the longest distance travelled to get here would have to be Leighton T. from Saskatoon, of The Heresy fame..

One of the fun-est parts was when I introduced him to some of our guests this afternoon, Joan looked at him a moment and exclaimed "Leighton, from the Blog? oh I read you all the time!!"

See. LT has fans of all ages and degrees, even up here in Prince Albert.

Now we are exhausted, so we will go to bed. Here are a few of the better, clearer pics that turned out.

Enjoy and good night.



Party at the Pastor's

Party cam

Welcome to our yearly "Party at the Pastor's", we're glad you could be here!

If you are able, come and join us, from 2-4 this afternoon or from 6-9 tonight. The food will be happening, the fire will be burning out in the back yard, and people will be partying. (1179 4th St. East. Prince Albert, Sk. Canada)

Our plan is to share this day with whoever cares to join us, even over the internet.

We will be attempting to load a new picture every minute, so hit reload on your browser to see the next picture. (Hit "Ctrl" and your reload button)

If you are within range (about a 5 house limit from our house) you can also pick up some Christmas tunes we will be broadcasting on 97.2 Friesens FM.

So, if you can join us, that's great. But if you can't, just get some warm apple cider, some shortbread, and cozy up to the screen. We'll try to include you in the party.

Breath of Heaven

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary, with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done
Holy Father, you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven

Breath of heaven
Light up my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy

Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Breath of heaven




Another great Christmas gift idea

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

"You no longer have to be embarrassed by the untimely passing of intestinal gas among your friends or family. GasBGon has been designed and tested to absorb the odor and sound of flatulence. Malodorous gas is a naturally occurring event, obviously affecting some people more than others. Yet, clinical studies show that the average person produces one to three pints of gas and passes gas 14 times a day.

Buy one today for yourself, a loved one or a friend.

Purchase one for the home, the office, the car -- any closed space where you'll be sitting with others.

Choose from several designer styles."


I've got some relatives that I think would really appreciate such a lovely, heartfelt gift.

Check it out here.    (From BoingBoing)



Hangin in there

It all begins with a Jewish priest, Zechariah, who lived when Herod was king of Judea. Zechariah was a member of the priestly order of Abijah. His wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary and burn incense in the Lord's presence. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

Zechariah was in the sanctuary when an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was overwhelmed with fear. But the angel said, "Don't be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or hard liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom."

Zechariah said to the angel, "How can I know this will happen? I'm an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years."

Then the angel said, "I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! And now, since you didn't believe what I said, you won't be able to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time."

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn't speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures that he must have seen a vision in the Temple sanctuary.

He stayed at the Temple until his term of service was over, and then he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. "How kind the Lord is!" she exclaimed. "He has taken away my disgrace of having no children!"

(Luke 1)


So, God sends an angel to communicate an answer to one of Zechariah and Elizabeth's lifelong prayers, for a child.

Did you ever notice how this Servant of God couldn't believe, yet his wife received it with joy?

No, "Where was the angel 50 years ago when we were younger?" No, "Sorry God, to little, to late!"

Just joy at having a child. And answered prayer.

Makes me think about those prayers I've been praying for many years. I need to keep praying, and guard my heart against frustration and bitterness, so that when the answer comes, I too will be overjoyed.



Head gear

Nice hat eh??


Deep Thought ...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003
"I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There is no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward."
-John Mortimer

Sensitive kinda guy

Monday, December 15, 2003

Did ya ever notice how one day you can make a joke and everyone in the family laughs, male and female. But later on in the month you make the same joke and the reaction by half the family just isn't pretty at all.

I notice things like this.



Open House

Sunday, December 14, 2003

If you are within reach of our home this Friday, December 19th, Lauralea and I want to invite you to stop by for a bit. From 2-4:30 and from 6-9 we invite you to get yourselves to 1179, 4th Street East, here in Prince Albert.

We usually have some coffee, tea, and hot apple cider, and we run sweets and cookies etc. This year Laura's found a recipe for some spinage dip thing...

Anyway, the point of all this is to say come on down and just hang out with us a bit. It's usually lots of fun and we have a blast.

For those of you in different countries who don't think you want to pay for a plane ticket, I forgive you. And to show you my good intentions, I'm going to try to run a semi-live webcam during the day, so you can visit online and leave a comment or two. You will have to reload your page to get the updated pic.

So tonight I'm testing it out. It will take a new pic every 3 minutes, and, as I said, you will need to reload your page to get the updated pic.

So please, if you can come, then do come, otherwise get yourself some shortbread, a warm drink, and cozy up to the webcam. This could be some fun.

And hey, the entrance is ready for the open house!!



No more BS

Saturday, December 13, 2003
Alright, in the light of day it doesn't even look to bad. It's just gonna take three weeks to cure!


Here you go. And I should confess that with all this build up you may be looking for a gilded ceiling or something, with the trim done in the gemstone Amber. Well, sorry if I over did it. It is just an entry way in a 1973 bungalow, painted with a Burnt Siena color, and a white trim.
















You can click on the pictures to see larger ones.

Thanks for humouring me.






BS Day 5

Friday, December 12, 2003

For the record, it's 1:48 am Saturday morning.


and it is finished.


BS Day 4

Thursday, December 11, 2003

4 Days.

6 Coats.

1 Demoralized perfectionist.


Things I've learned this week:


When doing home improvements, double the time estimates and the cost estimates.

When changing the color of a wall from light to dark or dark to light, always use a primer.

I think I'm Anal-Retentive.

Don't try opening a can of paint with a screwdriver, while standing up.

Easy remove painters masking tape ISN'T easy to remove.

I'm using my free time to paint the room. That seems to be early in the morning, over the lunch or supper hour, or late at night. (read: I don't seem to have a life!)



I think the Anal-Retentive revelation came somewhere between coats 5 and 6. I could still see through a few places on the walls, and I didn't like that, at all. Probably the only reason I'll stop painting is that I've run out of another gallon of paint and I'll be jiggered if I have to go face the Paint Guy again, that's for sure. (I guess that gives me hope, I'm not that anal-retentive!)

But, I do work hard at the details. I want to make sure a quality job is done, and that's not evil is it? It's just German. 

The deeper question is, how in the world do I exist as a pastor AND a perfectionist.

Being a pastor (at least in a congregational context) is kind of a weird mix of being a leader, while not having any real power. More like a persuasive power.

I guess I see the perfectionist stuff come out when I'm responsible to get something done. The baptism last weekend, or a wedding or funeral. I work very hard to make them a blessing. Maybe to hard.

That's one of the reasons I love Lauralea. She always was the spontaneous one. I need to hang around her more.

But, for tomorrow? Tomorrow we go at the trim.

Nearly done.



BS Day 3

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

3 Days.

5 Coats.

1 Sigh.


BS Alert

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Ok, not BS as in a farmer, but BS as in a painter.

Burnt Sienna.

So, my goal has been to repair the dented wall and repaint the entrance, before our Christmas Open House which is next Friday. (You, faithful readers, are all invited!)

Since I've been busy with the Baptism and Advent stuff, I got to the room Monday morning. I finished the repair and sanded it.

Now for the Burnt Sienna. A good friend had given us a gallon and a half of left over paint they had used, and we were looking at something like it, so we considered it a cool gift. We took it.

So, mid Monday I got to painting. I painted it once and, naturally, it looked crappy. So I painted it again and could still see through it clearly. A friend pointed out that to use dark paint, you needed to use a tinted primer. "Tinted Primer?"

So, off I go to buy tinted primer, (The paint guy just shakes his head at me...)

It's lunch on Tuesday and I quickly prime the whole room. The primer goes on well. It soaks in and covers everything completely.

So, it's later on Tuesday night and I just finished painting again with the Burnt Sienna. The walls look like they might work after one more coating, BUT, while I had half the paint left, it seems to have soaked into the primer like it was a sponge. Good grief. Now I have to go buy another can of Burnt Sienna and face the paint guy.

I tell ya, those "24 hour change your whole room into something else before you get home" shows are really just, BS, (and I don't mean Burnt Sienna!)

So, if you're keeping score, I've painted that room 4 times now. Tomorrow I go buy some more paint and paint it at least once more, probably twice with my luck. Then I need to work on the white trim. That should go better, I got some of that industrial cover anything kind of white paint.


So, when you come for the open house, next Friday, make sure you notice the BS on the walls, k?



Baptism celebration

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Well, we got it done today. Five people were baptised this afternoon.

Here we've got, me, then Molly, Emily, Sara, Johanna, Logan, and youth guy, Steve.

It was a real blast and they all did well. I was proud.

Now, I'm tired and heading to crash a bit, but I wanted to get this up for you.

For those of you who are interested, here's a MOV clip of Johanna being baptised. (Patience please, it's about 5 megs.)


Enjoy. And thanks to those of you who reminded us to God today, it all went very well.



Going home

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I don't know what time zone you read this in, but over here I'm still doing Saturday.

I've been at my office, working all day, getting ready for tomorrow. Usually it's not so bad, but this week I did a funeral for a local funeral home, and the family turned out to be quite broken. Took alot of time and energy helping them. It wasn't nice. But today I got a call from them thanking me for the wonderful help I'd been. I confess I don't get alot of those calls.

Then too, tomorrow afternoon we are having a baptismal service. It's been a while since I've done one of those, and being a bit of a detail guy, I've been working on the details all day.

We've borrowed a cow water trough from the Nazarene church here in town, and set it up to dunk those wanting it. We set it up on Friday and got a real scare. We set it up and put some water in it, then went for lunch. When we got back, half the church stage was soaking wet, we started to freak out just a bit. Then I saw that the water seemed to be coming from a Pointsetta plant on the stage. The problem was that this plant was plastic!! I found out the cleaning team had been through and had watered all the plants. That was to close for comfort.

Anyway, Johanna is one of the kids getting baptized. (When did she grow up and get a life of her own?) There are enough downsides to having your dad as your pastor, but I hope this is one of the upsides.

I hope the day goes well.

If you think of us, send up a note or two to God.





Week end

Friday, December 05, 2003

Well, what a week.

Bit of advice from a "Professional". If you are an aging parent with two children, do not make them co-executors of your last Will and Testament.

Oh, and what I always tell my children, give the guy who bury's you something to work with.

Guess what I did this week.


Simply Christmas

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Some time ago, I sat at a table relaxing and enjoying coffee with a few people. We began to talk about Christmas and I asked them if they were looking forward to it. Their response was interesting. They wanted to look forward to it, they enjoyed the season, but they didn't have much hope that this Christmas would be different from any of the past few.

The consensus seemed that there were too many expectations: too many family functions they were expected to be at, too many socials, too many pageants and programs, too many cards to send, and too many gifts they felt pressured to buy. They wished for simpler times and celebrations, for opportunities to reflect and enjoy the real celebration of Christmas; to be able to sing and worship, to ponder and think about this baby and his young, inexperienced mother and father.

We wondered aloud what it would mean for us to take back Christmas. To celebrate the birth of Jesus in a way that would honour his simple coming into the world. Our conclusion was that the whole thing was too big to fight against. It would mean family members could be hurt, and co-workers and friends might misunderstand not getting a card or gift this year. That could cause offence which wasn't intended and make the rest of the year very long.

We wondered when Christmas moved from being a magical time, to a time of such pressure and expectation. We decided it must be sometime between childhood and being an adult. I remembered my own childhood Christmases, and I had to agree, those were the times that Christmas really shone.

I remember plenty of preparations. We had to learn lines for the school program, and we also had to memorize our lines for the Sunday School program. This was not as hard as actually getting me up in front of the whole church to say those few words. To even get me out of the house to go to the program my parents had to take drastic measures. One year, (in desperation I think), my parents promised that if I did my bit without being a problem, I could open one gift when we got home. I agreed to the deal.

I recall standing in front of the very dark stage, dressed as a Wiseman in his bathrobe, and the spotlight shifted to me. Everyone went quiet, waiting for me to utter my few simple words. I wondered what kind of deal had I made, this was so unbearable!! I stumbled through my lines then returned quickly to my seat.

By the end of the evening I had recuperated. It helped that each child got a bag of candy and peanuts from the Sunday School. Later at home, I got to open my gift, it was a yellow toy earthmover. I fell asleep that night in peace. My bag of goodies on one side of me, and my new yellow earthmover on the other side. Joy to the world.

The day before Christmas would find me in fine form. My home made gifts were ready, we had seen our favourite shows, Charlie Brown Christmas and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and now we just needed to wait for the big day.

Christmas morning would find me wide awake and filled with excitement after a somewhat sleepless night. I would wake up my younger brother and send him upstairs to see if it was OK to get up, or if we had to go back to bed for a while. (Some years earlier we had awakened in the middle of the night, thinking it was morning. We got up and opened our presents before mom and dad were awake. We were impressed that this was never to happen again.) If we got the "All Clear" signal, we would all meet in the living room, around the brightly lit tree.

Thus began a day of excitement and meaning. It included family and gifts, church and God, food and visiting, playing and singing, weariness and finally sleep. A good day all around.

Memories are generous things; they are often better than the real thing was! Still, I figure my childhood was pretty standard, and as I reflect on it, we were busy then too.

What would it mean for us to simplify Christmas just a bit this year. To allow more moments to enjoy what Christmas is really about. To remember and give thanks that the God of all creation gave up His status to become human. Not even to become a rich, well-placed human, but to become a baby born in a stable. A lowly, simple entry if ever there was one.

Perhaps we don't need big, extravagant celebrations all the time. Maybe we should look to Christ's example and celebrate in a simpler way this year. What could we do to make our Christmas less cluttered this year?

Parents, why not take some of the money set aside for the children's gifts, and give it to an organization that works with poor children. Get your children to help you decide where it should go.

Dads, try to take a day or two off while the kids are on their school holidays. Take them along on your last minute errands, or go play a game of street hockey with them. Spend time with them, and share your life with them.

Moms, get the children to help you with some baking, or decorating the house. Help to make good memories that will last a lifetime.

Grandpas, tell your adult children that you understand the pressures they are under with commitments and activities. Don't let guilt motivate them as you plan your celebrations. Enjoy the time you have together - sharing and making memories.

Grandmas, why not cook one less kind of vegetable for the Christmas feast this year. Or better yet, get your guests to help by bringing a dish, and have kind of a potluck Christmas dinner. This would take some pressure off you.

Kids, why not clear the neighbours' sidewalk of snow for them, then go to the door and wish them a Happy Christmas. It's a great gift, and only cost's a little bit of love.

Take time this year, to really celebrate the life of Jesus by following His example. Let's look for ways to un-complicate Christmas and enjoy it more. Let's make great memories and remember the things that are important.


From our family to yours, have a Very Merry CHRISTmas.


Advent Service

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in Advent, and every year on that day we have a Advent program at the church.

You see, first we do what so many churches do best, we gather at 4:30 and eat a potluck together! Then we have a kind of program where anybody and everybody who wants to can get up and play a tune or sing a song. I'm always amazed by the willingness of many kids to get up there and give er all they've got.

Well, this year Micah wanted to participate. So he selected a song and got his name on the program for the night. He got Janet to play for him, and by george if he didn't get up there and sing.

Here's a short clip of him singing "We fall down" (Sorry about the poor audio.)

Johanna has been taking voice lessons this year, so she was "Encouraged" to sing. (Hey, I wanted to see that money at work!!)

She did a good job on a somewhat difficult song. Here's a clip of her singing.

All in all, a very musical evening for the Friesen's.

(If I could get them to quit complaining about one anothers loud eating habits at the table, maybe we could put together a family singing group and get an old school bus and paint it with the leftover colours we have around here...    )




A Quote

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


I have so much to do that I am going to bed. -- Savoyard proverb





This morning, during my meeting with Steve we heard a bit of a commotion outside my office door. Then we heard water running. My office side door enters into a hall across from a washroom. So Steve took a look.


And what to our wondering eyes should appear? But a man, standing there, using the toilet with the door wide open.


Steve looks back at me with wide eyes mouthing the words "Who is that?"


Since I don't know, I signal for him to close the door, which he does. We pause, staring at each other in disbelief.


He finishes, and flushes and then wanders into my office to seek directions for a place he's been looking for for an hour. He's late for an appointment. So we draw him a map, and off he goes. Blissfully unaware.




So goes another day in the life of a pastor. 



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