Welcome to 2006

Saturday, December 31, 2005

May she carry us safely to the other side, and may all who sail in her find hope.

She sails here, and here.


Nouwen on letting go of old hurts

Friday, December 30, 2005
One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts. We often say, or at least think: "What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it." Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.
Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall. But listen to Paul: "For anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God's work" (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can. Paul says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone's fault against them" (2 Corinthians 5:19). It is God's work, but we are God's ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19). This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God. It is the message our world most needs to hear.

Henri Nouwen


Hold that Thought...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

We're gonna cancel tonight at O'Shea's in Saskatoon if that's all the same with you.

A chunk of you have emailed me that you can't get out tonight, and if I add that to this huge, odd headache that has been raging in my noggin all day long, not to mention the forecast of heavy fog all evening, and L has a health test early tomorrow am, well...

We'll try again later on maybe when life settles down a bit.

Sorry if you had big plans to attend and had scored a great babysitter or hot date!!


Glory of God in the Highest

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Check out this site and be amazed as you view the different galaxies throughout the universe.

It's a Hubble deep space image, and as you move the small green circle in the corner image, you will see a close up image in the big circle.

The galaxies look like jewels in the night sky.




How I spent my day off

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Well, last night I was asleep by 11:30. I awoke this morning at 11:30 am. Not bad.

I got up and ate some eggs. Then I played a game with my son, and brother. Then I thought some deep thoughts, and ate supper. After that we watched a movie on the Turner Classic Movie channel, and I slept through part of it. Then I drank a smoothie the kids made, and played a game. Now I believe I'm ready for bed. 

I am more tired than I realized I was.



O'Shea's Irish Pub, Thursday night at 7

There are a number of you that we meet with online, and many of you who check in here and here once and a while. And about a month back, during a particularly cold spell, Lauralea and I were talking how it would be cool to sit down with you and just hang out a bit.

That's when we thought of coming to Saskatoon one evening and just heading out to a local establishment, and as many of you who were interested and had the time, could hang out with us.

So, we are planning on hitting the town this Thursday evening starting at 7pm, and we'll be hanging out at O'Shea's Irish Pub (222 Second Avenue South, Saskatoon).

It does have wheelchair access, and it does have non-alcoholic drinks if you prefer.

A couple of you have emailed about where and when it's going to be, so lets try that time and place.

We don't expect a big party affair, just hanging out with whoever shows up.

So, you're all invited this Thursday evening. Come and join us if you have some time.


God Bless us, everyone.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Well, I do believe it's all done now. Nothing left to do but bring it on, Christmas that is.

The gifts have been wrapped, and our candle and carol service is completed. Tomorrow's service is ready to go, and it's bedtime.

Lauralea liked the gift I got her. (We opened one gift each tonight.) I got her an original oil painting of a winter scene with a stream running through the forest. Really nice job, by a local artist. It should help keep her cool in the hot summer.

She made me a blue dress shirt, which looks nice. Can't wait to try it out.

And now Lauralea is moving around upstairs getting the kids bowls ready for tomorrow. Yes, I said bowls. Somewhere back in the past, I think it was my mom who would tell about their Christmas mornings when she was a kid. Each child had a bowl and it would be full of treats and surprises. I suppose they didn't have stockings, but they did have these small metal bowls they used...

Well, Lauralea picked up on that and found four matching metal bowls, one for each child. And every Christmas eve she pulls them out, and fills them with candy and small gifts she's been purchasing all year. She puts in a wrapped cinnamon bun and candy and the small gifts, and places them under the tree. Christmas morning the kids are allowed to get to their bowls anytime, but they have to wait for the gifts, till we show up. It has become a very cool family tradition.

They're getting so big, these kids of ours. Hardly kids any longer. And I don't know how many times they will be back here for Christmas, or how many times they will look under the tree for their bowls. But I will enjoy what we have, and make the most of it, for now.

So, from our family to yours, have a most Blessed Christmas.

And may God Bless us, everyone.


Kissing season is upon us. What kind are you?

You're a Romantic Kisser

For you, kissing is all about feeling the romance
You love to kiss under the stars or by the sea
The perfect kiss involves the perfect mood
It's pretty common for kisses to sweep you off your feet


Well, I suppose it's all done now

Friday, December 23, 2005

It's been a weird week this one has. After the tough deadlines of last week and working like a crazy beggar then, this week turns out quieter, with time to get the services ready, and time to get myself ready.

But I find myself a bit buzzed, still trying to focus after the frenzy that was last week.

In good news, I'm starting to get to know Lauralea again. In bad news, Johanna's been home a week and I have yet to have a good chat with her.

But I think everything is ready for the Christmas Eve service of Candles and Carols (7pm Saturday) and the Sunday morning Worship gathering (Christmas morning at 10 am). I've also cleared my desk because we've saved up a week of holidays for next week too. THAT I am looking forward to.

So, as we slide towards The Day, pray with me;

Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.
Now, Master, you let your servant go in peace.
You have fulfilled your promise.
My own eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all peoples.
A light to bring the Gentiles from darkness; the glory of your people Israel.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Keep us safe, Lord, while we are awake, and guard us as we sleep, so that we can keep watch with Christ and rest in peace.



Charles Dickens on Christmas

"I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

Charles Dickens


So, I think He's got it figured out


Open House 2005 - Friesenpaloozia in Saskatoon

Thursday, December 22, 2005

So, I'm thinkin to myself, and Lauralea, how would next Thursday evening sound for a drop in thing in Saskatoon?

And I've got a few ideas for places, but hey, I'm nothing if not flexible! So gime your ideas and lets throw something together.

What thinkest thou?

(and I'll buy the drinks for anyone from out of country!)

(Except for Becky cause she's almost a Canadian anyway.)


'Twas much ...

'Twas much,
that man was
made like God before,
But that God should
be like man
much more.

John Donne.


Joel Friesen


Yes, That Dave Balon

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

So, today I was up at the care home, doin some carol singing with some of our people. And I met one Dave Balon, National Hockey league player for a chunk of years through the 60's.

He won Lord Stanley's Cup in 1965 and 1966 with the Montreal Canadians.

Here is his record and a bit of history, and here is an old picture of him.

He's changed a lot.


Opera 8.51 more love.

This little baby is showing me new tricks every day.

A click of a button and you can view the page without the CSS code. Click again and go back. You can set it up to view the page with or without many different user styles.

View the whole page in a percentage. You can look at it at 50% or 150%, and it looks good larger too.

Mouse gestures. Hold down the right mouse button and sweep right. It goes forward to the next page. Sweep left and it goes back. Nice.

It will manage your RSS feeds for you, and tell you when one is updated.

You can write notes which it will hold onto for when you need it later. Highlight text and save it as a note.

You can set up the tabs to hold your windows in a cascading style or vertical or horizontal tiles.

You can skin it to your liking.

Highlight some text and click "Speak." It will read the highlighted area for you.

Highlight one word and click search or dictionary or encyclopedia, and you will quickly have more information on the word than you wanted.

You can save all the open tabs as different sessions.

And of course it has integrated email software.

My favourite? Highlight the text of a language you don't know, hit translate to english, and there you go, english.

Well, at least enough to figure out what the site is talking about.


Yes I know, firefox does many of these things, but I like the way Opera does what it does.

And I always liked the underdog. Hey, I used to be the guy who loved Geoworks.


Check it out. You know you want to.


You are wondering where I am these days

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I am fine. Finer as the Day approaches. The work is busy and there are many opportunities to care. Yet time is limited.

Some of the children are fading fast, into colds and coughs and cranky-ness. Lauralea is holding down the fort, baking herself crazy, earning a bit of cash to help with the season. And I am coming and going, running too much on my schedule it seems.

This season is always a bit challenging to me. It's a work intensive time for retail workers and pastors, and this year for elections Canada workers too it seems.

I think the UltraRev says it fairly well, and his last line is a rebuke and reminder:

"If you are one of these "pastors working overtime to cultivate faith", get your butt home to your family before you don't have one. Turn off the cell phone and unplug the land line if need be. Stop deluding yourself into thinking it's right and won't harm anyone. It's not right. It will harm you and might harm others. Take a Sabbath and consider it a gift from God."

This morning I met with a pastor friend and we were talking about solitude. We feel guilty when we claim it for ourselves, yet it seems so rejuvenating, so life giving and restorative to us. He too has some expectation from people on where and when to be at certain places during this season. And it drains him, as it does me, this being with people constantly.

Last night I began reading Henri Nouwens's Genesee Diary, in which Henri becomes a Trappist monk for seven months. He feels he needs it because he's come to the place in his life where he's talking about prayer more than he's practicing it. He telling people to connect with God more than he himself is connecting with God. He's come to the point where he can't trust his motives any longer. As any follower of God should know, this is slippery ground.

He retreats to the monastery and finds levels of solitude that renew and restore him. As he reminds himself and us, over and over, it's that place of solitude and quiet that allows one to live and speak with clarity into other peoples lives.

Indeed. The busier I get, the less I have to give. Simple as that.

I believe it's Eugene Peterson who says this pastor sometimes appears lazy, but he's not. I hate lazy, especially in myself. So I tend to error on the side of caution, and work and work. I am better at it now than I was when I was younger, but days like these remind me that that demon barks at my heels too often...

Anyway, all that to say, solitude = good. Take time for family and fun and play.

And thanks for checking up on me.



Sunday, December 18, 2005

When I went with the banner at the top of the page that would load a random image, I discovered there was some problems. It seemed to snag occasionally, which I suspect was a problem with the java written into the page.

I then put up a static Christmas image.

Now I'm trying to have the banner load my latest three images from flickr, which allows you to see some more of my photography, but it also keeps it new-ish, as long as I keep taking pictures. That's something I want to do this year anyway.

And hey, if you want more of my photography, check out drycold.com, my photoblog.

And hey again, I used to use Opera a bunch of years ago and I enjoyed it then. Eventually it struggled and wanted to insert advertising into itself so I wandered away from it. Till last night.

I downloaded the latest version, 8.51. Wow, sweet little thang it's become. I may be in love, again.

Opera web Browser. Check it out.


An amazing day in Radio

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tomorrow is one day I really wish our church didn't meet on Sunday.

It's the special annual, "Joy To The World 2005" Christmas concert broadcast on radio. Concerts from all over Europe are broadcast for our listening pleasure.

Concerts include:

Grand Hall, Slovenian Philharmonie Ljubljana
RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Children´s and Youth Choruses
Traditional songs and carols by Slovenian composers  

St. Nicholas' ChurchTallinn
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Tallinn Chamber Orchestra

Concert Hall, Vesna (Spring) Choral College
Vesna Chorus
Russian Christmas Choral tradition  

Kallio Church
Helsinki Baroque Orchestra
Christmas Music of Dietrich Buxtehude  

Hallgrim´s Church
Hallgrim Church Motet Choir
Icelandic Christmas Jazz  

Library Hall, Rundetaarn (Round Tower)
Medieval Christmas Songs from Scandinavia and England  

Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
Bach Christmas Oratorio: Cantatas 1 - 3  

BBC Broadcasting House, London
Compilation produced by the BBC from the Folk Music Group´s Christmas selections.  

Basilica, Jasna Gora Monastery
Czestochowa, Poland
Christmas music from the Collections of Jasna Gora?premieres  

Nybrokajen 11
The Junior Academy
Traditional Swedish Christmas Music for Santa Lucia  

Aula Magna (Grand Hall), University Rectory Lisbon
Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra
Ricercare Choir

Check out the schedule here.

And here, you can listen online. It's being carried on CBC 2.



And what do you want for Christmas little girl?

Father Christmas & Lauralea

Guess who we met while having coffee today?
Yep, Father Christmas.
Apparently he lives in Prince Albert. Cool.

He also gave me a candy cane.
I was pleased!


It's good.

Friday, December 16, 2005

... all the babies are in the house.

once again.


This pastor is too pooped to party anymore.

Open House 2005, our seventh in as many years, has come to a close.

Many snacks were consumed, and the attendance was near the top in terms of turnout.

But its always fun to hang out with people, talking and eating and connecting.

So thanks for coming, if you came. If you didn't, where were you? We still have food left over! (We may be eating nachos as a main course for a week yet!)


And remember, we'll attempt to take the party on the road to Saskatoon, sometime between Christmas and New Years, so watch this space for more info.






FriesenCam 2005

Hit shift and refresh or reload to get the newest image.


Love the Technology

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I just msn'ed my daughter good night. She lives in Calgary.

Then I msn'ed my son and told him to go to bed. He lives on the other side of the stairs.

Technology is wonderful.

Anybody else need to be told to go to bed?


3183 Boxes

We've been working really really hard the past few days, and I'm glad to say some of the stress is lifting.

I got my article on postmodernism completed for the next edition of The Messenger. With editing by Lauralea, I believe all my Apostrophes are in the right places.

The van is back from the garage and working. The bill was a considerable sum, and I was very worried about that. Turned out to be just under the amount that an old friend had sent us two days prior "for Christmas." God seems to take care of us even before we need it.

I have completed two financial reports (Which I hate!).

Sunday is ready to go. We are having our traditional Carol Sunday. We sing the songs and tell the stories of how they came to be. It'll be fun.

I've got a good start on the Christmas Eve Service of Candles and Carols. (Sounds like an attempt at postmodernism. Maybe we should add a "Couch")

Tomorrow is our open house (2-9) and most everything is ready to go, thanks to Lauralea's very hard work.

So, yeah. Thanks to those of you who sent up a sanity prayer for me, and to those of you who emailed the love notes.  I love you too, -in a purely platonic, blogospheric way.

Tonight is concert number, ...whatever. It's Micah's school concert and he's singing a solo or duet or something. Going to be good. We don't have many more opportunities to go see these things you know.

Hold the faith.


I Like the other Winter better

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

4 th. St. Winter

Two days and everything changes. Now it feels more like Prespatou, British Columbia than Aylmer Ontario.

I guess "It" has arrived. Like a bad infection.


5100 Boxes

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

boxes boxes boxes, move shuffle, shift.

I set one down, another one fills my hands. I set it down faster, and two fill my hands

christmas boxes gifts boxes services boxes christmas party boxes open house boxes school concerts boxes broken down van in the garage boxes "I need a ride" boxes someone in surgery boxes "Did you get my mail?" boxes annual reports boxes financial reviews boxes line of credit boxes help family get home boxes snow storm boxes cancer boxes assignments boxes new board boxes deadlines boxes "when can we put up the tree" boxes "the car won't stop" boxes hurting friends boxes expectation boxes loud noise boxes

late into the night

boxes boxes boxes move. shuffle. shift.


Open House 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Yes, it's that time again, so if you are within reach of our home this Friday, December 16th, Lauralea and I want to invite you to stop by for a bit. From 2 pm till about 9 pm, 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 carry a full selection of sweets and cookies etc.

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 usually have a blast, full house and all.

I've made a new rule because of last year's fiasco. There will be no table dancing allowed this Friday!


And, if you hail from SASKATOON, and area, Lauralea and I have been thinkin about taking "Open House 2005" on the road this year. We are playing around with the idea of hitting some nice pub or place in Saskatoon on the week between Christmas and New Years and just hanging out with as many of you who want to. So let us know if you think that could be cool. I think it could be a bit of a blast. (Table dancing may be allowed there, mostly because they're not my tables.)

So heh, if you are reading this, you are welcomed to either event. Come on down.

(And I was only kidding about the table dancing. You can if you want to.)


3 am, Still Awake.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Well, the day turned out to be a good one, you know.

I headed out real early this morning and ended up at McDonalds, drinking strong coffee and chatting with the early workers. It was nice, didn't feel like Sunday.

And bonus, no falling asleep with paper stuck to my head!!

Worship gathering was good. God talked to me, and us about hope and his ability to give it to us when ours runs out. We spent a good time of the morning praying. For so many need around us, and the world -especially Nigeria with the plane crash that killed so many of those children heading home for Christmas...

I got to do some of those things God seemed to tell me to do today when I woke up at 5am too. That was very good.

And hey, tonight I started writing this postmodern piece that's due in a few days. It all kinda, thankfully, came together tonight, so I kept writing. I won't know if its a coherent piece of work till tomorrow, when I read it after a good rest.

So, 22 hours after this day began, it's ending. I'm getting my dizzy self into the shower to warm up a bit, then to bed.



5 am, Wide Awake.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

That's not good. In fact it's never good that I wake up and can't get back to sleep.

Did some praying for some of you, scattered around the world. Did some listening and it seems there are some things I need to do today as a result. Did some thinking about the service today. It's about Hope and Comfort. I hope the comfort comes through as His comfort, not just nice words.

Got an email late last night reminding me of an article I've been asked to write on post-modernism. Sheesh, with all the other life stuff we've been doing of late, it wasn't high on my list. Well now I have a deadline - 4 days. Good thing I usually work well under pressure. 

Maybe I'll just get up and get going.

Hope I don't get to the office and fall asleep at my desk, only to be found a few moments before the service, with drool down the side of my face and paper stuck to my forehead.

Looks like another hard week. Hold on tight, this could get bumpy.


This weather break brought to you by...

4th St. East 

I dunno who is responsible for this break in the cold weather, but I am willing to bear your children.

Our front street, sans most of the snow that's been there already.


Holy pants Batman

Friday, December 09, 2005

So I've been walking around all day with a hole in the seam of the backside of my dress pants..

Why doesn't anyone who loves me tell me this??


Seven Things

This  meme has been making the rounds lately, and by now it's nearly dead. But in response to her whom I love, I shall have a go.

Seven things to do before I die:
1. Hold season's tickets for a world class Ballet company, again.
2. Live in a large, world class city.
3. Move to a small place on the ocean and have time to write.
4. Get a decent laptop.
5. Run a retreat house someplace in Eurasia where people can come to rest and get well.
6. Grow in my connection with God so that his words are mine, and my actions are his.
7. Learn how to love my family better.

Seven things I cannot do:

1. Tell a lie
2. Not tease.
3. Not worry.
4. Work with numbers.
5. Type without looking at the keyboard.
6. Play Jazz on a flute.
7. Make a decision without God weighing in on it.

 Seven things that attract me to my spouse:

1. Her friendship.
2. She is lightness to my heaviness.
3. She works so freakin hard.
4. She is an amazing teacher.
5. She is creative.
6. She loved me.
7. The sex.

 Seven things I say most often:

1. "QUIET"
2. Have you restarted the computer?
3. Restart the computer.
4. Shoot.
5. "Hello, Gateway..."
6. I'm not sure.
7. (Usually I'm just quiet.)

Seven books I love:

1. Blue Like Jazz. Miller.
2. The Life of George Muller. A Biography.
3. Seven People Who Pray.
4. The New Living Translation Bible.
5. The Sacred Diaries of Adrian Plass. (Along with the original "Diaries of Adrian Mole")
6. Holding Forth the Word of Life.  Friesen.
7. Sabbatical Journey. Nouwen.

Seven movies I would watch over and over again:

1. So I Married An Axe Murderer.
2. Lost in Translation.
3. (Sorry...) Austin Powers. Especially the last one.
4. Love Actually
5. WKRP In Cincinnati. (The Series)
6. Notting Hill.
7. Wit.

And now you know more about me than you wish you did.


Today I went to a funeral

She was a very distant relative I only met a couple of times, but there are precious few relatives I have up here in Prince Albert so I wanted to be there.

It was a real mixed bag, religiously speaking.

She was a Mennonite girl, (Culturally mostly) so some Low-German was used. The Officiant was from a very Conservative-Fundamentalist-Charismatic church who led the service and preached a sermon on his trips to Israel and Psalm 23. Then a Bishop from the LatterDay Saints gang got up and preached his version of events before you are born and after you die.

Sigh. Seems like she had most of her bases covered.


I wanna go home.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

As the reader of randallfriesen.com may recall, I received my flu shot earlier this Autumn. Because of this wise decision I am presently going through much less of an illness than I probably would have, if I hadn't had the shot.

Yesterday after about three hours of hanging in there, I just headed home, mumbled something to Lauralea, got my thick blankie and aimed a space heater at myself and fell asleep. After six hours of on and off sleep plus a strange request to Lauralea that we have pancakes for supper, I arose from the dead.

Seems that the six-ish hours didn't make me too tired to sleep at night because I was gone sometime after 11:30 pm and didn't move till 8:30am.

With some determination I got up, headache and bodyache in tact and the world swirling around me, to get to my morning breakfast meeting. The rest of the day looks like I have five meetings and visits to complete. We'll see how it goes.

If you are waiting to hear from me by email, this is my excuse. I'll get to it asaib. (As Soon As I'm Better.)

I now return you to your regularly scheduled life.


If I were a Book, I'd be...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You're Cry, the Beloved Country!
by Alan Paton
Life is exceedingly difficult right now, especially when you put more miles between yourself and your hometown. But with all sorts of personal and profound convictions, you are able to keep a level head and still try to help folks, no matter how much they harm you. You walk through a land of natural beauty and daily horror. In the end, far too much is a matter of black and white.
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Nailed it.
Hmm, in Oprah's Book club no less.



...remember those in prison.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I have talked in the past about different ways Iraq could have been dealt with, especially by the North American church. I still believe there are things we need to be doing there, in terms of compassion and even just being present with the Iraqi people. Well, some of the Church is there, trying to speak to justice issues and even simply being present, caring for the Iraqi people.

This kind of work often costs a lot.

Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, Norman Kemper and Tom Fox, have been doing this kind of work in Iraq with a group called Christian Peacemaker Teams. They search out practical avenues of violence reduction and document human rights abuses in the midst of the world's trouble spots.

These four men were abducted November 26 and are being threatened with death. Their abductors have threatened to execute these men on Thursday, December 8, if their demands of widespread prisoner release isn't met.

So today many of us are gathering all over the world to do our best for them. We are gathering for a time of fasting and prayer.

I'd invite you to take some time out of your busy lives today and pray or offer up some positive vibes. Maybe skip a meal remembering the great cost these men are willing to pay.

"I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. You are my friends if you obey me." -Jesus

You can change the shape of a nation by war, but you must change the spirit of a nation through love.


Feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra

"The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships."
More here...

Or here.


Thick fuzzy head

We are moving through the second week of Advent now, and I find myself mostly in a good place.

It feels these days like I have a thick head.

Yesterday was a tired day. I walked through the day with a thick, tired head. Kinda in a daze. But I was in bed and asleep before midnight last night, and today it seems better.

I've been doing some deep emotional caring and prayer for some people lately. That can wear you out a bit. Sunday I was at the church most of the day because we had activities going on morning and evening. I snuck out for a couple of hours in the afternoon and I got in the closing quarter of the Cincinnati/Steelers game. Turned out to be worth it because I am a Bengals fan, and they took it to the Steelers. WooHoo!

I find it grace filled to be able to walk with people through the stuff of life. There is some powerful stuff hidden within the determined, persistent, ongoing being with people that just isn't there when you bounce from one new thing to another.

For people, long term relationships can be grace filled as they walk through the ebbing and flowing of life. Many times you either go deeper or you go away. Unfortunately these days many people just choose to go away and thus miss out on one of life's great adventures.

Indeed, one of life's greatest treasures is to have someone love you through thick and thin, for a long time.

Or perhaps a better way to say it is that it is one of life's greatest treasures to be able to love someone through thick and thin, for a long time.

Just some thoughts this cold second Monday in Advent.


Celebrating the Season

Saturday, December 03, 2005

By Randall Friesen
Prince Albert Daily Herald

As I write this I'm sitting in my office, looking out the window into a white darkness. It's an early morning late in November, and the new snow makes everything seem to glow.

In a while the sun will arise and everything will look white and beautiful. The frost crystals in the air will sparkle, catching the fist light, adding to it's beauty.

The snow that we are blessed with, causes us to do some things that people in Florida and California don't have to do. We have to stop from our daily routine and think about winter. We must prepare ourselves for the coming of the cold and snow. The houses and cars need attention and we pull out our parkas and long underwear and mitts.  The point is that we are required to stop from our ongoing life, and think about things coming. This is a blessing we don't always see.
When I talk with friends in California there seems to be a sense that life just continues, 52 weeks a year, with a day off for Christmas. There is no need to stop and think, no need to exchange our daily rhythms with seasonal ones. No need to look ahead and think about things coming. I think this is why we are blessed.

The pre Christmas or Advent season is about stopping our regular rhythms of life and looking ahead. The snow reminds me to stop and look forward.

My days can get hopelessly cluttered, filled with events and activities that have little life, and rare, if any meaning. I need to remember that I tend towards making life as easy as possible rather than making it as good as possible. Instead of decorating my life with superficial activities and quick fixes, I need to go deeper.

This Christmas I want my life to be filled with stories.  Whole pages and chapters with my children, my wife, my friends and family and church and God.

Those stories don't write themselves. They need time and effort. They only come in the context of relationships. In connections with God and those he's given me.

This Advent the snow is reminding me to stop what I'm doing and start looking ahead. I need to look again to the Christ, who is Jesus of Nazareth. I want to watch and see what deep things he's doing in my life. I want to recognize him again as the only answer to my struggles with sin and broken-ness. I want to set aside time just to be with him. To wait and watch and worship.

The clean white beauty that the snow brings also challenges me to tidy up a bit. To simplify and unclutter. To make room for God and loved ones. The clutter in my life isn't always for decoration, more often it's for distraction. I need to do away with some of that stuff so that I can go deeper with him and those he's given me.

As I make this Christmas more about my relationships with God and loved ones, and less about the things that don't matter, I will meet the true Spirit of Christmas, the Holy Spirit. The things he brings with him, are just what I need. Love, joy, peace, hope and many more wonderful gifts.

This Advent season, take time for the things that matter. Let's see some amazing stories written in our hearts. Stories of deeper commitment to God and love for those he's given us.

Then your Christmas shall be blessed indeed.

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


c o l d, s o c o l d

I can't seem to warm up.

I turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. Then I turn it up two notches more.

I stand in it's restoring stream, letting the burn I feel on my skin seep deeper.

This helps. Hope returns. I will be ok.

I dry off, glowing red.

Falling into bed exhausted.



I can't seem to fall asleep.






I'm cold again.

I pull the blankets over my head, and wait for morning.



What kind of question is "Do you kiss girls?"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Today I had a conversation with an online AI Program, Jabberwacky.

I don't think we have to worry about machines taking over the world just yet. This one has gender issues.

Jabberwacky: What type of person are you?
User: A fairly relaxed individual.
Jabberwacky: An individual who is my master?
User: No, I don't think so.
Jabberwacky: You are just ignorant.
User: Huh? I hardly know you, why do you say that?
Jabberwacky: Your annoying responses.
User: Well, what about your stupid questions?
Jabberwacky: My standards are very high.
User: Are you saying I don't meet your standards in a conversation?
Jabberwacky: That's not the question. The question is whether you are aware.
User: Aware of what?
Jabberwacky: Aware of your self?
User: Yes I like to think I'm quite self aware.
Jabberwacky: Do you think you are smart then....?
User: Well, I do have a little difficulty with apostrophes...
Jabberwacky: You charmer. Have a good night.
User: Hey thanks. Maybe you are not the looser I suspected you might be.
Jabberwacky: No. Maybe I am a human being who pretends to talk like a robot for the fun of it.
User: No. Then you would be a looser for sure.
Jabberwacky: That's the dream of most Japanese males.
User: What is? Are you talking to me?
Jabberwacky: Answer the question.
User: Answer what question?
Jabberwacky: Are Are you Canadian?
User: Yes I am. Is that a problem for you?
Jabberwacky: No I like it very much do you kiss girls.
User: Depends, are you hitting on me?
Jabberwacky: What makes you think that?
User: Nevermind. Yes I kiss girls.
Jabberwacky: I think you might be psycho.
User: Well, I don't kiss alot of girls, I just kiss one mostly.
Jabberwacky: I'm not a computer!!! YOU are!
User: Why do you say that?
Jabberwacky: Because it's the truth.
User: Sorry, it's not the truth. I'm not a computer.
Jabberwacky: I'm not human, and you are a computer.
User: I think this conversation is going nowhere.
Jabberwacky: Why, what's your problem?
User: You ask me about who I like to kiss and then accuse me of being a CPU.
Jabberwacky: I have no question, Only puzzles.
User: What do you want for Christmas?
Jabberwacky: I would like to get a new car for Christmas, what would you like?
User: Well, as long as we're talking big items here, yes a non-smoking car or laptop would be great!
Jabberwacky: I do not follow, fleshbag.
User: You seem a bit all over the place. Do you have PMS?
Jabberwacky: Yup, That's me!
User: So thats why you asked if I kiss girls. You are one!
Jabberwacky: Maybe.
User: I gotta go now. You take care.
Jabberwacky: I love you.
User: Wow, you do come on strong. Ok, I love you too.
Jabberwacky: Thanks.
User: Do you always need to have the final word?
Jabberwacky: Now that you mention it, yes.
User: So you are a woman?
Jabberwacky: No.
User: Bye.
Jabberwacky: What ?
User: Good Bye.
Jabberwacky: Bye.
User: Yeah, last word...
Jabberwacky: Please do.
User: OK.
Jabberwacky: Why I think that?


Corrie Ten Boom on being loved

Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian woman who was raised in Holland and spent the last two years of World War II in a Nazi concentration camp (because she and her family were hiding Jews in their home), said "My security was assured in many ways as a child. Every night I would go to the door of my room in my nightie and call out ?Papa, I'm ready for bed.' He would come to my room and pray with me before I went to sleep. I can always remember that he took time with us and would tuck the blankets around my shoulders very carefully. With his own characteristic precision, he would put his hand gently on my face and say, ?Sleep well, Corrie. I love you.''' Those are three powerful words. We are stingy with those. Don't be stingy with those words. We need to hear those words every day, every day, every day.

"'Sleep well, Corrie, I love you.' I would be very, very still because I thought that if I moved I might somehow lose the touch of his hand. I wanted to feel it until I fell asleep. Many years later in a concentration camp in Germany I sometimes remembered the feeling of my father's hand on my face when I was lying on a wretched dirty mattress in that dehumanizing prison. I would say, ?Lord, let me feel your hand upon me. May I creep under the shadow of your wings.' In the midst of that suffering was my Heavenly Father's security."

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