If the application is this hard...

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Well, it's late here now, and I've just completed my 7 page written application for that course I'm looking at taking. The committee's meeting tomorrow to decide such things, and I've been warned that because it's my first try it may be postponed a year. No prob. I'm just leaning into God for it. He can make what he wants happen, when he wants it to happen. It's in his care now and I'm ok with that.

I do feel very very gross, flu like even. But I'm nothing compared to Lauralea who is a walking coughing snot bag right now. Her eyes are puffy and closed, she keeps hacking and nose running. It ain't pretty.

But I'm glad to have that piece of work behind me.


I gave Toni a call today and had a good chat with Chris, his wife. For all she's been through, she was a delight to chat with. God is really with them these days, just keep praying for them.  

With that thought and prayer for them, I'm off to bed to see what kind of sleep I can scrounge up, as I lay beside a sick invalid.



Old friends, bookends

Today has been a cool day.

This morning working hard at my desk, who pops in but Becky and Jerry. Nice. Totally made my day.

Old friends, bookends

Then Lauralea and I had Nigel and Kate over for lunch. Two old friends who now live and work in Falmouth. (Falmouth even has a webcam! Go figure.) They used to work here in the church as youth workers.

We remembered our war stories, and reminded one another of our dreams.

It's so good to have friends.

I'd advise everyone out there to look into getting at least one for themselves.



Deep thoughts on the road. Part 3

Monday, May 30, 2005

I've been doing this for about three years, this month.

If I continue writing here, will this space be a complete copy of my mind and heart? 

And will my children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren etc. etc. be able to come to this space and read my post's and get to know what I was really like? Like sitting across from me and having a chat?

And the deeper question is, how much will Leighton charge me for running this space for a hundred years.


Deep thoughts on the road. Part 2

I wonder, 20 or 30 years down the road when I have Dementia, and I read these pages for the first time, will I like me?


Deep thoughts on the road. Part 1

There is one amazing aspect about God that says so much about who He is.

It is this.

He causes rain to fall in places on this earth where there are no human beings.

Think about it.

Think Deeper.


Good day's travel

Well, it actually took 4 hours to get to Lloyd, but we had a great visit with Sam and Julie, and Reena.

The country is very beautiful these days, very green and the the low spots are full of dark blue water.

But boy it was a trip. We're gonna do it again, just allow more time for travel.

Thanks Sam & Julie, and especially Reena.



Road Trip

I'm off to this borderland called Lloydminster today to meet with a pastor friend from Edmonton.

Three hours there, three hours back and a two hour lunch in between. This is how we keep encouraged in the Great White North.

The city sits on the Sask. Alberta border, and Alberta doesn't charge sales tax.

Wish I had a bit of time to shop too!


Lovely day for a suicide

Sunday, May 29, 2005

he lives alone with his pretty 16 year old daughter

her mom, his wife, killed herself a few years ago and their daughter found her

today was a beautiful sunny warm weekend day

a perfect day to do himself in

leaving her all alone

to find him

and she did


Public Service Announcement:

If you are at a particularly difficult stage of life and the only option seems suicide, please stop a moment and think about the person who will find you, the person who will be left behind.

Think about them. Stop thinking about yourself.

Brought to you by the pastor who sat with the shocked girl all evening in the hospital. 


Hillary Jane pulls it off

Another milestone was passed Friday morning when Miss. Jane (She does look older now!!) passed her drivers test. Sounds like she was on the line but she knew what she had done wrong, and admitted it. He passed her.

Hillary's pretty relaxed behind the wheel which I thought would help her get it. I guess her first test was a bit stressful, but she pulled it off on her second.

And I've hardly seen her all weekend!

Way to go Hillary. I'm proud of you.

The timing is impeccable. Last week Thomas got his learners and now he's suppose to practice driving.

Sigh. Good thing we discovered Birth Control between having him and Micah.



12 Years Old - With a Camera

A while ago now, (Three years??) Thomas and I took the pictures he had taken, and put them to music. The result was a fun video-ish view of life from a 12 year old's perspective.

I came across it today as I was looking for more space on the drive, so I watched it. They grow up and change so fast...

If you wish, you can check it out here. It requires a Real Player and probably a highspeed connection, I'm not sure.

12 years old - with a camera.


My Version

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Ok, this two people, two blogs thing is getting dangerous. (I can't spin as easily!)

I'm going into Zellers with Her hot on my heels. How many times have I asked her to walk alongside me, not behind me...

And as I grab the door and pull, I feel this sharp pain in my elbow. It's her nose.

And then her eyes water and she starts to laugh. And laugh. And laugh, and giggle and snort.

I pick up speed mainly because I don't want to be associated with a laughing, snorting, attention draw-er. (In this city of ex-cons and parolees, keep a low profile.)

Two things.

A) Yes, she is that short where her nose comes up to my elbow.

2) And yes, she will often be completely unaware of her surroundings.

I think that's why she married me. I can see further than her, into the distance, and I'm usually very aware and on my guard of my surroundings.

Just so you know my side of things.


Bring your kid to work day

Friday, May 27, 2005

This afternoon Micah is hanging around with me as I busy myself with the presumably important matters of pastoral work.

I'm studying for the sermon, then I'm to meet someone to listen to and share their story. I didn't plan this very well. He's sitting there, watching me read and write stuff. How very exciting. I should have planned my care home visitation for this afternoon and he could have come along.

But, he did have some good questions for me. We've been working them through.


Question #1:
How old were you when you started to be a pastor?

I think I was about 22 when I started to be a pastor.

Question #2:
About how many people do you think attend Gateway Covenant Church?

It's around 80-90 people for church services but around 150 people call it home.

Question #3:
Why did you choose this job?

If it was up to me I wouldn't have chosen this job, but God asked me to do it.

Question #4:
What do you do as a pastor?

I study God's word for sermons, & classes. I study Theology and languages, church history. I study current affairs, Meditation, practice the disciplines... Planning and prepping other aspects of worship, attending and traveling to meetings. Counseling, visiting, encouraging, listening, helping, praying...

Question #5:
How much do you get paid?

I receive about $_____ during a year.

Question #6:
What do you have to do for the church services?

I try to find out what God wants done. Then I have to make sure someone's planning it. Then I prepare a sermon, then I have to be there on Sunday to make sure it happens.

Question #7:
If you have a special event, what would it be for?

If we have an event it would be to tell people about Jesus, or share his love with them. Or to learn and grow ourselves.

Question #8:
When did you know you wanted to be a pastor?

I worked in camps in the summer of 1983. After that I knew God was asking me to work for him.

Question #9:
How long have you been working for?

Around 20 years.

Question #10:
How many more years do you want to be a pastor for?

As long as God wants me to be a pastor.

Question #11:
Do you have any days off?

Yes, Mondays are my days off.

Question #12:
If you're suppose to be at work, do you come home later and do something you think is important?

I try to, but it's not always that easy.

Question #13:
If you go out for a drink of coffee, how long do you think you take?

I usually grab a cup of coffee and bring it back to the church.

Question #14:
Do you like your job? Why?

Usually I do, because I get to help people.

Question #15:
Why did you become a Christian?

I met God and what can you do when you meet him but believe in him.


"We do not grieve as those who have no hope..."

It's amazing to watch as Toni and Chris, and Ben walk in the grace that is Jesus Christ. The poise and clarity they are being given on a daily basis, by God, is simply profound.

Their emails are consistent with their public words and language. This I know.

So, we continue to ask God to be all over them, and Dan, who was Sarah's good friend, and who was driving at the time.

And word comes this morning that the other girl in the car, Gemma passed away during the night. So we ask God to be with her family, as he is with Toni and his crew.

The funeral will be next week, and I'll be there, in the Spirit.


Before the throne of God above

Thursday, May 26, 2005

In Church on Sunday we sang "Before the throne of God above." An old song redone in the 1990's and made fresh again.

The words are solid and the new melody is haunting. And Sunday Lauralea and I sang it through tears.

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea:
a great High Priest, whose name is Love,
who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on his hands,
my name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
no tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair,
and tells me of the guilt within,
upward I look, and see him there
who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God, the Just, is satisfied
to look on him and pardon me.

Behold him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
the great unchangeable I AM,
the King of glory and of grace!

One with my Lord, I cannot die;
my soul is purchased by his blood;
my life is hid with Christ on high,
with Christ, my Savior and my God.

(Words: Charitie Lees De Chenez)

Tonight her and I went for Rootbeer at you know where, and she announces she wants that song sung at her funeral.

She does this to me, out of the blue she announces she wants this or that done at her funeral. Like I'll still be around to make it happen. And I'm trying to keep a mental list, should the day ever arrive and I need to pull it up. Let's see, she wants a Rich Mullins tune, "If I Stand" done too. And she wants it to be a party, with cake.

Exactly. That's what I said too.

I better write this stuff down.


Today made up for paperwork Tuesday yesterday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Today was one of those wonderful kinds of days where you meet with lots
of different people and are able to help or care for them in deep
meaningful ways.

Early prayer time found me praying for many of you
people. Then I ended up at the Hospital waiting with some of you as
your husband and dad went into surgery. It was good to share some time
and prayer with you.

Then I met with one of you for lunch and we talked about the deep
things of life and God and the future and how amazing the Rhubarb and
Strawberry pie was. If God can create things as awesome as sex and that
pie, well then baby Heaven's got to be something to experience.

The afternoon I spent a bit of time with some co-workers. One is about
to move to another town and church and we will miss him a lot, but he
goes with God's blessing on him and his family.

The other guy we tried to encourage as we blew each idea he had out of
the water. Just one of those days I guess.  He's off to the center of the universe for some Methosdistic Meetings this week.

My co-worker was next on the list. Steve
always encourages me, well, mostly always. Today was no exception and
he stepped up and blessed me good. Mostly by trusting me with his
stories. Being a holder of people's stories always energizes me. I'm
constantly amazed that they trust me with these glimpses into their

Tonight was no exception as a friend told us about a son she had given
up for adoption many years ago. He had just recently contacted her and
they had had an amazing reunion. Cool.

And finally, I got to share some time with a friend. An amazing person
who has every right to despise and hate the church (at large) for all
the stupid things it's done to her and her family. But she's learning
to trust again, and it's risky business.  She wants to trust and
tries to make it work. But it's hard dangerous work. It could chase her
away forever and the church might never know. But I will know, and
grieve over it's behaviour and what it's lost in her.

And as I close the day with a prayer, I'm thinking about Toni and Chris
and Ben and Dan and Lionel and Mildred and Marc and Ron and Daniel and
Steve and Margaret and B.

God's Blessings on you all tonight. You and your families.


Under the heading: "You gotta celebrate when you get the chance"

Micah brought home a test on the Canadian System of Government which he had taken last week. He received a mark of %80. I was relieved. We worked for hours on that stuff!

He remarked that the two kids who normally get the highest grades in the class had only received around %60.

It seemed important to him to find that out.


They can turn it on and off like THAT!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I warned The Family that we would be taking a family photo this past weekend and that they should be ready for it.

I didn't tell them to make like a Monty Python Sketch.

...an instant later, The Pose is struck.


God is good, all the time

Monday, May 23, 2005

A couple of weeks ago I borrowed my brothers telescope from him. I figured he'd have enough of heavenly bodies to explore for the next little while...

We've been seeing some amazing things. Saturn, tilted just on it's side, looking into the rings. Jupiter with it's moons, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto and Io, all visible as tiny specks of light, moving around Jupiter.

It's been amazing really. They've been out there for thousands of years. Before I was walking this planet, they were there. And long after I'm gone, they'll still be out there, doing their thing.

So tonight I went out and looked up into the sky, and Jupiter was still there. Sparkling like a diamond in the night. 

People come and people go, and still it sparkles like a beauty.

I ask "Why?"

"Have you visited the treasuries of the snow? Have you seen where the hail is made and stored? I have reserved it for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war. Where is the path to the origin of light? Where is the home of the east wind?

Who created a channel for the torrents of rain? Who laid out the path for the lightning? Who makes the rain fall on barren land, in a desert where no one lives? Who sends the rain that satisfies the parched ground and makes the tender grass spring up?

Does the rain have a father? Where does dew come from? Who is the mother of the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens? For the water turns to ice as hard as rock, and the surface of the water freezes.

Can you hold back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth?"

I suppose it's about perspective. The view from here, as opposed to the view from heaven.

These are tough questions God is asking of Job. They were God's response when Job, with a bit of attitude, asked God "Why?"

Why indeed.

The answer is enough for now. God knows what he's doing. I've never known him to fail an individual, or a sunrise. I've not seen him mess up the movement of the stars, or forget and just cause rain to fall on the places people live. He is faithful. He is love. He is all powerful. These things I know to be true.

Tonight as I looked up into the sky, I knew. God is good, all the time.



Sunday, May 22, 2005

Last night I went to bed early, I was tired. So I awoke early too and got online and began to check on friends.

I got to Toni's site and my heart sank.

His and Chris' little girl/young lady was in a bad auto accident yesterday, and died on the scene.

I read and my eyes wouldn't believe it. My heart couldn't keep up to what my eyes were reading. I called to Lauralea and told her, between chokes, what had happened. She came and through tears, read the news.

Toni's been around here as long as anybody, and has a deep passion for God things, and life things. I've had some great moments with him as he shares his heart with me, and I with him.

This mornings news sent me into tears like I haven't known for a long time. As I left for the church, Lauralea was asking how much credit we have with the bank. I knew what she meant. When a friend goes through these things you go to be with them. You sit with them and pray, but mostly sit.

I went to the office and closed the door and began to sob. I got control of things and called him on the phone. All things considered, he sounded good, and it was good to hear him. I think he consoled me more than I did him. And that's ok. The rest of the morning I was pretty much dazed and confused. And the worship time saw more tears. 

You've got to know, I've never met Toni in person. We've talked via email and online, and I've phone him once, but I consider him a friend. I've prayed for him and Chris, his wife. I've spent time praying for Sarah and Dan and Ben. I know exactly what it's like to be in my early 40's, with a family.

And this is where the net breaks down. You can create friendships and life giving connections here, but at the end of the day, you need to sit together, in the same room, and laugh and cry.

God is there, cocooning them, sustaining them, carrying them. I wish I could just drop by, and sit a while.


Remember them this week will you?


An amazing day

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The wedding was perfect, the day was wonderful.

It's great to take a day now and then and just celebrate love, and all that it means to us.

And today these two were obviously in love.

And it was great.




It's Not All In Your Head


By Randall Friesen

Some time ago I read an article on how scientists in laboratory studies had been able to stimulate parts of the brain which induced feelings associated with faith and religion. They were able to mimic the sense of joy and peace an individual had experienced through their faith. Their early conclusions were that perhaps faith was all in one's head.

When I read those things I mostly just ignore them, because of days like today.

If your soul or spirit were located in a place in your brain, then things like today wouldn't happen. I went to visit an old friend who is in the advanced stages of alzheimer's and we had a wonderful visit together.

No, he couldn't tell me where his room was, and he wasn't sure of my name a number of times. He forgot which bed in the one bed room was his, and he had difficulty recalling his family. It hurts, but it is what it is. Sickness.

Then I got out the Bible and asked him if I should read a Psalm. He eagerly agreed to it. I turned to Psalm 121 and began; "I lift my eyes to the mountains." Without missing a beat, he continued; "Where does my help come from?"

As I read the rest of the Psalm, he mouthed the words along with me. It was in there somewhere. Somewhere safe and true and unbroken.

Later on I prayed and as I closed with Amen he launched into a simple prayer that again reconnected us with God.

If our soul or our spirit was a product of our mind, wouldn't it break too when our minds were broken?

The person with only a small part of their brain functioning, don't they have a soul? Or those with mental illness, are their souls broken too?

What of those born with a mental handicap? Do they not have a spirit? It's been my experience that they are very open to spiritual matters, more so than many others who have great intellectual abilities.

No, once again today I was encouraged that even though the mind can become ill and suffer and even die, the soul of a human does not. Because the spirit is not located within the confines of the mind.

And, while I don't know which part of the body contains it, the heart, the stomach, the brain, the spleen, or right leg, I am confident of the fact that people are spirit, just as they are physical.

It may surprise you to know that Scripture tells us that God is Spirit and we were created in his image, thus there is a spiritual component to us as well.

So, what does it mean for us to spend all our time chasing after and fulfilling the needs of our physical bodies? Or for that matter, stimulating our minds and senses with all manner of intellectual activities, without giving proper consideration to our spiritual needs?

St. Augustine said that within each human spirit is a God shaped hole. That we spend our days empty until we meet the one who alone can fit that space inside our hearts. And then we are complete, whole, fulfilled. Reconnected with the heavenly. Reconnected with God.

We do spend a great deal of money on our physical desires, and an intellectual education today costs thousands of dollars. How much have we invested in our souls?

How much money have we spent on soul development, without trying to buy off the guilt we have?  How much time have we invested connecting with God and his body, the church. How many Sunday mornings have we gotten out of bed and attended a House of Worship just to recognized that there is a God and He is greater than us and because of that He deserves to be worshiped?

When we age everything starts to break down. Our jobs, our loved ones, our health, maybe even our minds. Our soul or spirit is the last thing left and that's why someone who knows God and has taken time to
cultivate a relationship with God will find comfort even in the last hours of life. They have taken time for their Spirit to be made whole, in Christ, and they are reconnected with the source of eternal life, God himself.

Why don't you take a little time and work on some soul development this week.

Randall Friesen is a local husband and father who pastors Gateway Covenant Church. He writes regularly at randallfriesen.com


A year ago this morning...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Grandpa died.

You had to wait at the door or in the car as he visited and cared for people.

You had to be embarrassed while he took pictures of you in public places because he was proud of you.

Sometimes as a family you got caught in between the clarity of his calling and his desire to obey God.

Sometimes those people who have a clear sense of direction and calling from God can appear arrogant, inconsiderate. When in fact they are only following God with a clarity the rest of us will never know.

Because he was human, he didn't always handle it well.

He tried to be fair, sometimes thinking that meant being equal.

He tried to give people, including us, no reason to stumble, or to blame him.

I wonder how he's celebrating this anniversary?


"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."  
1 Corinthians 15:58


Everybody now; "Here comes the bride"

Well, the day really turned around for me.

After the two incidents this morning, I got hard at it at the office and completed the wedding ceremony. Everything I need to say is on paper tonight. Everything is thought through. Everything is backed up, twice. (I have back up pens for my back up pens!!)

I think I'm good to go on this one. I think I'll be a bit more nervous than usual, playin to a home crowd and all, but I am determined to celebrate this one well.

I always thought Jeff would be a good catch, and hey, I'm a guy, and his brother!!

So, this weekend this thirty eight year old guy, with a shaved head and a gimped back, marries this twenty five year old redheaded princess, (whose job by the by, is caring for the elderly, -laugh now).

And a party we shall have.

Indeed. We're gonna party like it's 1999. (Like when she was still in High School!!!)



I hate being late

Well, two for two so far today.

Micah forgot his jacket in the van this morning, and he's off to Band camp today so i tracked him down to give him his coat. So, I was late for the breakfast.

After that, around 10 am I thought I'd head to the Hospital to give myself lots of prep time for the service there at 11. As I was walking down the hall, i heard some nice hymn singing going on.

I read the new sign they have up there for services, and discovered that the services now begin at 10 am.


They were gracious, and we had a good time.

But, like i said, two for two.

Now, onto the wedding.

Hope it's not three strikes, you're out.


Hump day done

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Well, it's 10:30 pm and it's been a loooong day. I'm tired.

The busy-ness of the week has been keeping me a bit on edge. Tomorrow I'm doing the service at the Hospital and the evening finds me at a church congregational meeting. The in-between time I will be at a breakfast get together for any of the church guys that want to hang out for coffee. And the afternoon I'll be getting ready for the evening meeting and prepare for the wedding.

I think I've heard enough from the significant voices in my life (Including you) that I will apply for the Spiritual Directorship program at North Park. That kind of excites me. It's an area of care I love being involved with. This course will formalize my work and certificate me. And they have extended the deadline, bless their hearts, so now I have a few days to work on the application. I'll need every spare moment.

Anyway, to bed perchance to dream.

Thanks for thinking of me these days, and the notes, thanks.

You are appreciated. And prayed for.


Rain, rain, rain, showers

The rain falls with determination from the darkened sky this morning.

As it hits the ground and grass it echos the sound of "Shusssssssssssssssh."

It's like an old friend has returned to town. A friend I haven't seen since last Autumn.

And it triggers memories. Memories of winter in Southern Ontario. Memories of November in London. Memories of walking home for lunch with my yellow raincoat in grade three.

It looks so light, so gentle, yet it is as strong and constant as the Northern Star. It fell before my birth, and it will fall long after I've fallen.

So the news of today pales in comparison to the power of the rain.

Politicians change sides.

The Queen is in town.

A Pastor has resigned his church.

My brother's getting married.

These things come and go, but next week, next year, next decade, next ... whenever,  It will rain again. And somebody will be sitting at her desk early in the morning, thinking about how beautiful it sounds, and she will be flooded with memories.

Just like I am.

Have a good one today.


Life, education, and politics

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Life has been so unbelievably busy of late... And I'm trying to unbusy it, as a result of last week's "Correction" if I may.

This week is congregational meeting and service at the hospital and ministerial treasurer stuff, bla bla bla.

Good stuff is that my brother is getting married this weekend and I get to do it. that should be a party, at least after my part is done.

But, I'm also struggling with a decision I need to make this week. About a course I'm considering taking over the next three years. It really lines up with my gifts and area I'd like to pursue, I'm just not sure I have the energy for it. Or the cash, I guess.

Hey, maybe if any of you have had experience with a Spiritual Director, why not shoot me an email and tell me about the experience. Did it help, did it hinder. Are you presently meeting with one, would you meet with one again. 

I'm looking at a course which would kind of credential me, give me some credibility. And there are scholarships available for it, now.

So, I'm kinda looking to see some light on it.

Got to go help Micah study his Canadian Government material.



Hey, all the cool moms are doin it

Monday, May 16, 2005

Well, Wendy's been doing it for a long time, and Christy's been doin it for nearly a year. In March Lauralea started, and May saw Dixie and Debbie begin on about the same day.

All these Mom's are entering the blogging world.

Now, this is a very good thing. They have amazing voices and have something to teach us about life.

Just interesting what's going on in the heart of God these days that he's getting mom's to tell us stories of the secrets of life. 

Stay tuned, this is gonna be big.


WBZ Boston

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I came across a great site the other day that host's the audio for WBZ Boston. Radiomat.com.

When we used to live in Southern Ontario I used to tune in to 1030 WBZ on the late night drive home from work and listen to the latest news radio from Boston. I've often missed it since then and so I was pleasantly surprised to listen again the other night.

Like an old friend, it played some of the same intro's and station ID's. Kind of cool.

I discovered that radiomat also host some of my other favourite stations from out east.

880 WCBS New York, 1020 KDKA Pittsburgh, 780 WBBM Chicago, and 950 WWJ Detroit.

I love listening to local news and talk radio when I go to sleep at night. Nothing puts me out like a disconnected voice out there blathering on and on and on. Kinda like a preacher.

It also seems to work better with Internet Explorer rather than Firefox. Sorry about that.


Sanctuary - Chris Rodriguez (Streams)

Seems I left the innocence of Eden long ago
Tempted by my heart to go it on my own
Beyond the garden
Somehow through the desert of my wanderings alone
You have never let me go

I turn from You and still You cover me
I fall so far - you find me in the deep
Anywhere I am, anywhere I am
You sanctuary me

I have felt the separation deep within my bones
Brought me to my knees crying out for hope
Beyond the garden
Somehow through my tears You heard the words I
Could not speak, You were there to rescue me

I turn from You - and still You cover me
I fall so far - you find me in the deep
I lose my way - you're reaching out to me
Everywhere I go
Anywhere I am, anywhere I am
You sanctuary me

Written by Michael W Smith, Mark Harris and Loren Balman


This day (and week) has ended

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Tonight finds me at my office late, it's been a long day.

This morning was clean up the church day, so people gathered and cleaned and raked and washed and it even smells nice now.

This afternoon Lauralea and I were at the city prayer gathering prepared by the Salvation Army. Lauralea had a hand in planning it and we wanted to support it. Afterwards we stopped in at the Bison Caf? to drink summer smoothies and check out their new exhibition on display.

Tonight we attended the last production of St. Mary's "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," in which Johanna acted her last, as a highschool student. It was well done.

Thus I'm at the office late, trying to put into writing what I want to say tomorrow.

This week has been a fight for me. I know there are things God has for me to do, and I know there are depths he wishes to take me. Yet I find myself fighting him, saying "Later I'll do that," or "Let me do this first ok?" And it's not ok.

As I stated earlier this week, it's like He entered the room, and the room is messy. He points to this pile of stuff asking if it's necessary, and I quickly grab it holding on tight, while with my right foot I try to hide some stuff behind me.

It's all quite futile really because when God really enters the room you're in, you know it and you fall down and start repenting. It always happens that way. As soon as that part in you that is connected with God realizes his closeness, you become very small, almost ill.

And you start repenting. Saying sorry for trying it your way, for not going with his way.

That's really what's been going on in my space these days, a visitation of sorts. It sifts, He sifts, and you throw some stuff away. And suddenly you're freer, lighter than you've been for a while.

A part of what he was asking was about my motivation for randallfriesen.com. That's why I pulled the commenting section for a while, I really wasn't sure of my motivation for doing this stuff. If my motivation was to be popular or gain sympathy or respect, or to make people like me, then it's just about my ego, and the thing needs to die. (both my ego and the site!!)

I'm still not always sure of my motives, they can be tricky beggars. But I enjoy this writing, and I've come to love the friends I've made here. I've given it to God and he seems to be entrusting it to me, for now.

And I'm taking some steps in a few other areas of life to implement his desires for me. Trusting for it to go well.

And, as my mp3 player leads into Third Day singing Agnus Dei, I should end this for tonight. I have to be back here in a few hours.

Peace and God's blessings on you and yours tonight as you sleep, and tomorrow as you rise to meet the day


It doesn't make sense...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

... when you open the local paper and you're staring at a life size picture of your kid, on the cover.

You go girl. (Johanna's in the red, singing like her life depends on it)

click on image for a bigger picture, if you can handle it.


And death comes...

The men and women who challenge my faith the most are those who have encountered deep brokenness and loss, and have come through the times better, sweeter, more smelling like Christ than bitterness.

Each day they face a new bump or bruise or setback. Each new struggle faced with the same trusting faith, doing what is needed.

Occasionally frustration or fear may poke itself up, still they labor on again and again.

Life is filled with bumps and bruises, more for some than for others.

And God doesn't ask if we would like to go through struggles of difficulty or defeat, but does seem to allow them to work in us.

The things we go through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler people or they are making us more critical and fault finding, and more insistent on getting our own way.

The things that happen to us either make us evil or they make us more saintly, depending on our relationship to God and our response to the struggle.

How we respond seems to be the key.

Our example is Christ.

We find him in the garden, struggling with his own will and desires, seeking to submit to his father, who had a larger view of things.

Three times he went to prayer to ask God to take this cup away from him. Three times the answer was no. Three times he responded with "Not my will, but yours be done."

When things happen to us that seem very very hard, when surprises hit us and overwhelm us, we have a choice.

To become angry and hard and bitter. Or we can run to the garden with our anger and hurt and confusion. And we call out to God "This is to great for me, I can't do this."

And finally we bend low, confessing "Yet may your will be done."

In that garden we find the blessing of peace. Though the sweat may pour like drops of blood, we find the blessing of grace poured down upon us. We find the promise of joy yet to come.

Not an easy life, or comfort, but blessing.

We may have to return to that place two or three times to gain his perspective, his victory. Yet, when we finally submit to him and his will, we give up the right to bitterness, anger and hate.

When we say "Your will be done..." we can be encouraged and comforted that Father is working according to his own wisdom, accomplishing what is best. For us and our future.

He knows the end from the beginning. He has his eyes set on eternity and he is busy in us, conforming us to the image of his son, Jesus Christ.

Though the circumstances seem overwhelming, yet can we say like Jesus, "Father, not my will, but yours be done."

And death comes.


Nouwen on Drinking the Cup

Kind of a timely piece came in the email this morning.

Drinking the Cup

After firmly holding the cups of our lives and lifting them up as signs of hope for others, we have to drink them. Drinking our cups means fully appropriating and interiorizing what each of has acknowledged as our life, with all its unique sorrows and joys.

How do we drink our cups? We drink them as we listen in silence to the truth of our lives, as we speak in trust with friends about ways we want to grow, and as we act in deeds of service. Drinking our cups is following freely and courageously God's call and staying faithfully on the path that is ours. Thus our life cups become the cups of salvation. When we have emptied them to the bottom, God will fill them with "water" for eternal life.

Henri Nouwen


I need to move on

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The past few days it's felt as though God is asking questions of me, questions I don't feel particularly ready to answer.

It's as if he's sifting me, going through a list of sorts. Asking me questions about this and that in my life. And as I said, I feel quite lost with the dimensions of the questions he's asking.

I know what my sunday school answers are, but they are just not sufficient for these questions of his. I need to go deeper, lot's deeper.

A couple of weeks ago he showed me some of what I considered amazing secrets into my life. He included some direction for me to pursue, things I need to follow up on.

But it's hard, real hard. And I am by nature a lazy beggar, looking for comfort.

The road isn't clearly marked out before me, but I need to take steps. I need to travel down ways that will lead to death of choice and comfort. I don't know if I have the courage to go there, again.

And hey, it's not like He will hate me or leave me if I don't go down those roads... But I know I need to go there. I just know.

It's not bad taking an occasional journey to that place of death. You go there and lay something on the altar, and a few days later, you're back from the journey maybe living like you've forgotten it.

I think he's asking me to spend more time there, on the altar. Living in the fire so that it purifies. Living in the land of "It's not my choice anymore."

I shouldn't set this up like I'm some kind of a martyr, cause I'm not. I'm not a hero or a great guy. I am a guy who fails and sins and does really stupid things. I don't really want to go where he wants me to go. And it's getting worse these days.

See, I'm getting older. I'm starting to have to lay aside dreams I've always held in my heart. Private altars of things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go. Looks like some of those things need to be torn down, ...again.

If it were about levels, I suppose this would be the place where we would be going to the next level with God. I just publicly confess I don't want to go. I want my comforts. I want my future. I want to decide. I want, I want, I want.

But he alone speaks the words of eternal life.


Why do I write this down here?

Well, I confess, putting it into words has helped focus the inner struggle. And it makes me a bit more accountable for my future choices.

And I guess I want you to know that at my very core I can be a very not nice man. A part of me wants you to know what a martyr I am, what a self-sacrificing pain in the ass, (sorry mom,) backside I can be. I want to name that pride, and by calling it what it is, diminish it's strength in me. And I need that these days.

So, when you think of me can you can pray a bit? I don't want to spend my life dancing around the same set of questions, which will happen if I get hung up here. I want to press in, to move ahead, to be blessed and a blessing. I do want to go where he wants me to go and live the way he asks me to live. It is a better place by far, than any place I could create for myself.

I'll end this monologue with the words from my favorite poem.

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to'another due,
Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly'I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you'enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Holy Sonnet XVI: Batter My Heart. John Donne (1572-1631)


Happy Birthday Micah

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well, today the Boy turns eleven. Wow.

Eleven years ago this morning we were wheeling Lauralea into the operating room to help this baby get born and we had a girls name all picked out but no boys name. That didn't matter because I was sure it would be a girl. So, as we were rolling her in she made me promise that if it was a boy, we'd call him Micah. I agreed.

He was the only one of our kids that I was allowed to be there for when he came out. It was amazing. I helped clean him off and welcomed him into this world.

Then I went back to Lauralea and reported, "Looks like we have a Micah!"

Eleven years later that name still suits him perfectly.

Have a great day Micah. Happy Birthday.


This morning we're not going to church.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Well, we are going to church but not our church. I just thought I'd use that headline to get people to read this!! What a hoser I am eh?

I'm preaching at a church down the road. A church that's going through a valley of brokenness these days. Where nerves are rubbed bare. Where communication is dying. Where conflict seems to be making itself at home.

Some days it's easy to do things like the world does, like my gimmick of drawing you in here. And some days it's hard to do the things Christ calls us to do.

Still He calls. And if we are to consider ourselves Jesus followers, we need to go where he went, do what he did, and say what he said. Maybe even die like he died.

So many choices, so few of them right.


She was here a day ago...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Saturday night, and all is well, I think.

This place has been in a bit of a storm late this week, and Mrs. Randallfriesen.com has been a bit stressed, to say the least. Add to her regular responsibilities some surprise outside expectations, some stressful meetings, a child's eleventh birthday, surprise company, and viola, you have the makings of a very stressful, unhappy place. Happy Mothers Day.

Things are better tonight. Company's gone, all her prep work for XSFJOY tomorrow is done, the youth garage sale is past, and like that.

We watched a movie tonight made in 1963 in which Doris Day was married to a Doctor, and she was a housewife, and, very proud of that fact. It's one of those old movies from the 60's that make us laugh a lot.

But it does make a statement. We as a society have progressed to the place where its shameful being a housewife. Rather than being proud of the work they do, today many stay at home mom's and dad's are embarrassed by their work. 

We should start a movement in which people are proud of their work. We should honour what they do and have T-Shirts made, and envy those who make the choice or are able to stay at home.

This week we hardly saw her around here, and the place began to fall down. The kids saw it and we experienced it first hand. Our conclusion? We will have to beat up anybody who says the stay at home mom or dad does nothing. We will get some big goon named Nicky or Vicky to visit your house and teach you to respect the work they do.

Don't mess with us.



"Unless you change and become as little children..."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I think Madeline's pretty much got it all figured out when she prayed her two and a half year old lunch prayer:

"Dear Jesus, thank you for the spaghetti and the peas...and for me.  Amen."

Thanks Marc. (Her dad)


Lacing up the ole skates

Faithful readers of randallfriesen.com (all two of you) will recall how two years ago nearly to the day, I went out on my first try at rollerblading. Remember how embarrassing it ended up, at the Doctor?

Um, yes, the beauty of a Blog. Here, Here, and Here, ok?

Now you're all up to speed.

Anyway, after the little incident my hand was bugging me most of the summer so I never returned to the sport. Then last year found me very busy and the weather was less than stellar. So I really never got back on those blades.

Until tonight.

First decent night off in a very long time, so I'm off to find some smooth pavement.

Wish me luck.

I'm gonna need it.


Yeeeah, no hospital visits tonight! Woo Hoo!


Disney's done a study

As Lindstrom sees it, there is a growing divide between youngsters weaned on computers and their parents, whom he dubs "the monologue generation."

Raised on more "passive" media, including TV, newspapers, radio and billboards, adults are content with linear entertainment experiences that unfold in a traditional story-like way. They are more patient (read: willing to wait in line) and, Lindstrom says, can cope with only about 1.7 channels of communication at once.

Children, by contrast, can simultaneously master 5.4 channels of communication (including surfing the Internet, text messaging and talking on the phone). They yearn for entertainment that is frenetic, multi-sensory and interactive. Used to video games that have different levels of play, they want to experience something new every time.

We knew this right? Now we have a number to place beside the idea. 1.7 channels vs 5.4 channels for kids.

What does that say for our children's church programing? Teaching? Caring? etc.



just settin

Last night we had our small group over for the meeting. We just sat out in the back yard in the Pergola, drinking hot drinks and watching the world close down and go to sleep. Eventually the stars came out and we watched them take their places in the skies above.

It was great. We talked a lot, shared a bit, explored a new job opportunity for T, and laughed.

I think I'm gonna really like that outdoor room.


On why I don't use a news reader

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

So, last Sunday Marc and I were chatting about newsreaders and sites like Bloglines that helps you read the feeds from various blogs and websites. I commented that I generally don't like to use them.

I mean, I've used them before but I've quit using them.

News readers are about gathering information, getting the latest posting and blog activity. They are about speed and streamlining the process. They kind of generisize (A Friesenism - "to make generic") all the different news and blog feeds so that they appear quite the same. They allow you to scan quickly to see if there is any new information posted on the sites you follow, thus allowing you to cover so much more than you normally could look at.

But I think that that process is a bit sterile. It formats the information to appear the same. It cleans up the data so it's not hard to view. It removes so much of the sites personality and uniqueness.

When I read a site, I want to view the aesthetic values the author includes on the page. I want to see the context in which the post is nested. What's happened before, what does the author read and what interests them. 

When I read the posts from a news reader, I get a generic version of the original post, all cleaned up and easy to read.

I don't feel that the internet is just for raw data information.

The message is also communicated by how it is delivered. It's found within the context of a larger discussion or page, and I want to experience that whole message.

The Internet was originally perfect for information freaks. My first experience with the net was on a local freenet which used a text based program with hyperlinks to travel the net. Text data was king, and you had to be able to read to enjoy the internet.

But surely the net has grown since then. Highspeed and graphics based programs have come along and changed the originally text based format to a variety of choices. Visual images, audio, video all are fighting for their place on the net. And for viewing Blogs, I don't want to sift all the information through a newsreader so that all I experience is text. That would be missing to much.

While I do agree that if I come upon one more blog that plays the theme from the Titanic as background music just because it can, I myself will stick a long sharp pencil up my nose until it tweaks that part of my brain that is able to process audio and all will be quiet forevermore.

But there are some amazing sites out there that simply add to the experience of processing the information the author is trying to communicate.

Nuanced colours, well thought out images, nicely designed code, hard creative choices all communicate the message to me far better than a line of text ever would.

There are sites I go to that do a wonderful job of communicating the feel of the place or person they represent. They somehow are able to transmit on the screen the spirit of the place they speak from. Even if you've never been there before, you can sense what it's about before reading one word of text.

By using a news reader, I think my internet experience would be a lot like Black and White Television with lots of Black and White channels. Boring!

So what I do is use the Firefox browser. I save all the sites I read daily into a folder in bookmarks. All the sites I read weekly I save in a folder called Monday Blogs, again saved in bookmarks. Then when I want to, I go into the folder and move down to the last choice which gives you the chance to open all the sites in tabs and let er rip. All the sites are loaded and I browse through them quite easily.

Firefox also has the Live Bookmarks feature that I've been exploring lately. If I could find a newsreader that would load the pages I want it to load, I would give it a try.

And I should say that I daily use a reader for podcasting. Doppler radio works great for downloading audio programs different people put on the web for downloading and listening to at your leisure.

Just don't shortchange yourself on experiencing what people are trying to communicate to you through words and other forms of language.


God still making old things new

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Founding Member of Korn Gives His Life to God

After 12 years, six albums, and 11 million record sales, Brian ?Head? Welch, founding member of the notorious alternative rock band Korn, has called it quits. He has traded the drugs, women and wild parties of Korn´s concert stage for Jesus Christ...



Tonight's visitation

Lauralea and I went to the home of some people who visited the church last Sunday.

Sheesh were they ever weird. He was talking without a care of who he would offend, and she was very cautious about what she said, never wanting to offend anyone.


That's a joke people!

Best part? Getting to hold a 2 month old baby while he fell asleep in my arms. Oh, and the Bunt cake too, that was awesome!

Fun evening. Thanks guys.


Today I learned this writers trick

I had a good day of visitation in the care homes and hospitals today, and I came away with a profound sense of God's goodness to us, more especially, to me.

Tonight as I was waiting for a child to call for a pick up, I sat down to write a poignant post about my days lessons. And it kept coming and flowing out of me, till I had a pretty reasonable piece.

Now, flashback to earlier last week when I realized I'm suppose to be writing an article for the Prince Albert Daily Herald once every five to six weeks or so, and nothings coming. Picture me humbly asking God for something to write on.

Finally, picture me realizing this afternoon that the piece I wrote for this space, should work ok, for the other space.

God is good. And you'll have to wait for it to go to print. I'll publish it here when it is printed in the paper. 

So, I guess my writing here suffers patiently a bit. 

I hadn't even considered all the angles of being a writer. But I guess I'm learning.


Sask. man survives bear attack


 "A Norquay-area man is sharing a remarkable tale of survival after he was attacked by a black bear...."

Good grief, that's where I was a couple of weeks ago.

Who would have guessed, seemed so qaint and quiet!



The mind is a funny thing

I had a dream about Grandpa Friesen last night.
In it, he was being his old self. Trying to teach me how to use a digital camera, even though he had never used one before.


He used to be quite a photographer, and I had forgotten just how stubborn he could be, but he was there in my dream, just like old times.

Interesting how the mind adjusts for things, after someone's gone. But I was glad for the memory today, it was nice.

I guess it's coming up on a year since he and Grandma passed away.

I think I'll take time to mark it this year. Maybe spend some time and roses out at the graveside.


Mongolian cherries

Monday, May 02, 2005

Today, after taking our sweet time to get up and running, Lauralea and I headed out to the Garden Nursery to check their stock.

We ended up buying two Mongolian Cherry bushes.

"Mongolian cherries grow on a small bush producing excellent dime size cherries, an overlooked species. Fantastic for jelly or syrup. Grows to 6 feet."

Lauralea's (Or, should I say "Lauraleas" Marc??) been wanting this plant for a few years since we found this shrub growing in her mom and dad's hometown. We picked a bunch then and it made amazing jam's and drinks etc. It's just like the Sour Cherries candy.

Well, since then we've been looking for them, and today I stumbled over them at the Nursery.

So, we got two of them and took them home and they are now nicely installed in the back yard.

Bring on the Cherries!!

Now, if I could only get Key Limes to grow...

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