Did you know that...

Thursday, May 31, 2007
Randall Friesen backwards is Lladnar Neseirf.

That's not too bad in the grand scheme of things.

"Hello Lladnar, how's it goin?"

Almost a bit of Gaelic in there seems to me, from what I know of Gaelic. Which is absolutely nothing.
And what's Neseirf, would that be Greek or something from the middle east?

I may have to live into my backwards name and wear a towel around my head to keep the sand and camel smell out.

And did you know that Randall means:

Origin: English (Root: Ralph)
Meaning: Wolf Counselor

"Wolf Counselor"

Kind of like an intense guy who helps you sort out your problems.

Or a guy who counsels only wolves and versions of some dogs.

In ASCII binary randall friesen is...
01010010 01100001 01101110 01100100 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01000110 01110010 01101001 01100101 01110011 01100101 01101110

But you can call me 010.

Oh my, just tons of fun here.

Now, go check your own name.

You know you want to.

Lladnar has spoken.

Eugene Peterson, on the god of self

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
“A new twist on non-Trinitarian ways of reading the Bible has emerged in our times. It has reached the scale of an epidemic
and requires special attention. It can be understood best, I think, as a replacement Trinity. . . . Here’s how it works. It is
important to observe that in the formulation of this new Trinity that defines the self as the sovereign text for living, the Bible is
neither ignored nor banned; it holds, in fact, an honored place. But the three-personal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is replaced
by a very individualized personal Trinity of my Holy Wants, my Holy Needs, and my Holy Feelings.”

Eugene H. Peterson, Eat This Book, A Conversation in the art of Spiritual Reading

As the stomach turns

Well, I talked with my Cell Phone company and since I am on a three year program I need to continue to pay that amount each month, and I need to replace my phone.

The cheapest one they had was around $150, and now I need to purchase it outright.


The one I had was probably double that, but came "free" because of the longer contract.

So this morning I called all the pawnbrokers in town and no one had seen such a phone yet this week.

So it probably isn't going to be pawned.

Probably ends up in a garbage can some place.

Sheesh. That is frustrating.

And now I get to lock my office door every Sunday while I'm in the place too.

Tom Bandy on a strategic issue for leaders

Change is inevitable, even if we stay the same. Therefore, no matter what we do, somebody will be dissatisfied. Somebody will leave church. We cannot keep everybody happy, and complete harmony is forever beyond our grasp. Therefore, the painful question every Board member faces is:

“Are we willing to lose a few so that we might reach the many”?

The only solution is to develop criteria about who you want to keep and who you are willing to lose. What would Jesus do?

Jesus would keep the ones who are disciplined about worship, spiritual growth, and total outreach to the “least of his brothers and sisters”.

Christians are called to lead the mission, not be the mission. Those people “out there” (hurting and helpless) … they are the mission.

Tom Bandy in Roadrunner

I had a meeting with a young pastor yesterday  who's church has been having some of these struggles lately.
Sometimes when people leave the local church, it's not a failure but can indicate church growth.

Just in case I thought God wasn't behind this trip...

Monday, May 28, 2007
Yesterday as the news was settling upon us, Lauralea and I were talking, looking at a map of the U.K.

She said she would love to be able to stop in the town where her ancestors came from. She said it was a place called Kendal, so we found it on the map and wondered if we would be able to make our way there. It looks a bit off the beaten path.

And that was all there was to it.

This morning there was an email waiting in the queue of morning mail in my account. One caught my attention because it was an offer of a bed in the lake district.

It was from Rachel and her generous offer was a pleasant surprise to me. She's a reader here and like most of you, a quiet reader.

I thought this might be a good opportunity to meet somebody new. It was kind of cool.


Then I read the bottom of her email, with her name and address.

Seems she lives on Burneside Road.

In Kendal.

Aye, There's the blessing then.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
Our church this morning, in an act of graciousness and generosity, presented Lauralea and myself with two tickets to Scotland to start our Sabbatical. It includes a week on the island of Iona at a B&B, and another week before the plane returns, to be filled with visits to some of you. (Any of you want a couple of Canadians hanging around for a couple of days? Talk back)

I really can't remember how long I've carried about in my spirit a desire to do a pilgrimage, and if possible to have as a part of that journey a physical trip to a place like Iona. A place that has become known as a Thin Place.

Uh, yeah, “Thin places.”
Places where people feel most strongly connected with God’s presence. It is in these places where the seen and unseen worlds are most closely connected.

For me then, it is a place where it is possible to touch and be touched by God,
I've experienced those kinds of thin places in my life. Places or times when Christ's presence has been particularly close.

Of course those places and times exist elsewhere, and are not just limited to a couple of places on the earth. But there are places that people have been going for hundreds of years to hear or connect with, or simply to be with God.

I, have wanted to go to the island of Iona for a long long time.

Even though the truth of my life is that God is near and not far away, pilgrimage for me is a search for God and God’s goodness. Pilgrimage has to do with a change of heart. The outward, physical journey serves to frame an inner journey: a journey of repentance and rebirth; a journey which seeks a deeper faith, and greater holiness; a journey towards God.
Yeah, that's what I'm after.

So, around June 20 we need to get to Calgary to catch a flight to Glasgow. Then a week on a Scottish Island where God has been meeting with people for hundreds of years. Then a week of time to do what else there is to do there. Then back to Calgary and home for the rest of Sabbatical.

And yeah, this summer is to be about Spiritual renewal, discernment. It's about hearing and walking for extended seasons of time, with the God I serve.

It's about pilgrimage to the cross again, and to hear God tell me how he's made me to be, and how exactly that fits into the next portion of my life.

This is shaping up to be the marker for the next half of my days on this planet.

I know that's a lot to watch for, but I also know God's ability to meet with me. And I sense that this summer is turning into a much bigger connection between him and I than I originally believed.

Bring on the Sabbatical.

Lovely way to spend Sunday lunch

I saw her as she pulled up on her bike outside the church door, our service was nearly over.

She had a pretty skirt on, between 16 and 19, and she asked the usher if she could use the washroom. He directed her around the corner, and to the first door on the right. She seemed thankful.

Unfortunately, my office is the first door on the left. And sometime between when she entered the washroom, and left the church a few moments later, she took the opportunity to enter the door on the left.

She saw my keys, wallet and cell phone tucked beneath some books.

She went through my wallet, then grabbed the cell and left. That quickly.

I am grateful she didn't just take the wallet, but rather went through it. I don't think there was any or much cash in it. But she did grab the cell, a relatively new one with a few years of monthly payment left on it.

And so because theft occurred I have to talk with the police. They took my statement over the phone, but would like to talk with me, at the church. So here I am, waiting for the police to arrive.

At least it was only dollars that were lost, at least on this end. A few hundred should fix me.

But I don't know what the cost is to her.

What did she loose in the theft?

Because sometimes its just good to remember

Friday, May 25, 2007

Elementary, my dear Watson

I find myself these days behaving a bit like Sherlock Holmes, searching for snippets and clues to the reason my spirit is disturbed.

Probably within only the past five years have I begun to be comfortable with the nature of my own personality. There is a sensitivity in there that I grew up in denial of, yet only recently have I begun to see it as who I am. I'm still learning how it works, how I work, and I am no longer in denial.

The nature of how I'm formed is simply one of sensitivity.
The more I walk in this new “Understanding” of myself, the more I discover about me and how I fit in my surroundings.

And sometimes I am frustrated with this part of me.

Like today. My spirit is restless and a bit disturbed. It feels like I am picking up a vibe from many of the people I care for, that feels different or strange.

I am wondering if this sabbatical they have offered me this summer is part of the cause.

The last time a pastor had a sabbatical from here, he left the church within a year after his return. And hey, statistics play out that truth, that nearly 90% of pastors leave their church within a year of their sabbatical.

I wonder if people are pulling away perhaps, in self preservation.

But there is a subtle shift in the church here too.

It's a good thing, an achievement kind of thing.
It's a “What's next for us,” kind of thing.

So maybe that's it.

Or maybe its just that everyone has bad gas.

Whatever it is, it has me restless these days, looking for the source.
I don't like feeling like this, it makes me cranky. And I end up asking people more often than I probably should, how they're doing, as I sort out clues to our life and sense of things.

But I end up at the place of prayer. Praying for these people again. Praying for my family and myself and our future together. Praying for peace for my spirit, or the right direction to dig in.

I think I'll go find a quiet corner for a while, and just talk and listen.

That's always good.

P.S. Did you know that the complete phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" does not appear in any of the 60 Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Well now you do.

In Saskatoon and looking for a faith group to connect with?

Here's an option.
The next Freehouse will be Sunday, May 27th at 8:00 p.m. at Albert Community Centre (map and directions).

The theme for our worship gathering will be Mustard Seed vs. McWorld, a name we took from theologian Tom Sine's book of the same name.

Jesus let us in on an astonishing secret. God has chosen to change the world through the lowly, the unassuming and the imperceptible.

Jesus said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." Mark 4:31-32

Looks like a good way to spend an evening.

More details here.


Thursday, May 24, 2007
Here's a good life story.

Life isn't always easy out there.

Thanks Peg for living the life.


Now, Sir Richard Branson must be a smart man

he of the great 350 companies comprising the Virgin label.

But it seems one of his companies, Virgin Mobile has people running it who, shall we say, are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Thomas, who has a Virgin Mobile phone, pointed this little piece of comedic writing out to me last night. It's in the FAQ section for their mobile phones.

When talking about downloading ringtones or images to their phones, this is what they have to say:
19. Will I be charged for downloads that are not completed?

Charging your phone usually involves plugging your phone into a socket. Every phone has its own charger. Learn this – and all kinds of other interesting stuff about your mobile – by checking out your full phone user guide.

Oh. Brother.

I'm thinking my desk isn't nearly as messy as I thought it was a moment ago

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Al Gore's Desk


My G-G-G-Generation.

Your morning smile.

The Lost Generation?

There's a lot of truth in this little video.


Blair will be welcomed into Catholic fold

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Tony Blair will declare himself a Roman Catholic on leaving Downing Street, according to a priest close to him.

Father Michael Seed, who is known for bringing high-profile politicians and aristocrats into the Catholic fold and who says Mass for the Blairs in Downing Street each week when they are in London, made the prediction to friends at a recent memorial service.


Camden Locks

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Victoria Day

The rain continues to drizzle down this morning, and of course I am good with that.

Course it may have had something to do with getting up earlier this morning. I was planning to sleep in, but my bladder wouldn't let me.

So I was up earlier.

I did a few chores and I'm ready for my last day of aloneness.

In a rare twist of my metabolism, I feel hungry this morning. I may have to go in search of some breakfast type food.

Nine years ago, this holiday monday

Sunday, May 20, 2007
...my dad got the phone call his life depended on. A new liver had been donated and his flight was leaving in a few moments for Edmonton where he would undergo an all day liver transplant surgery.

Every year around this time I get to thinking about the family who lost their loved one, and had the courage and forethought to make their loved ones organs available.

After Dad's transplant, the organ donation team offered to give the donors family a letter from us. Dad asked me to prepare one and we sent it off.

I found it today, and all the memories came rushing back.

I am a grateful man for those extra years my Dad had with us.

Here's to those who sign the donor part of their health card. It is a gift of life that we offer.

Thank you.


Dear Donor Family;

My father was a recipient of your loved one’s liver, late in May of this year. I have wanted to write you for some time to thank you for this gift of life. I guess I kept putting it off as dad has had a long series of setbacks and struggles that have brought him near death a few times. Right now he seems to be doing well - more good days than bad, and I need to express to you my gratitude.

Dad began to get sick over three years ago. He was informed that he had a genetic disease, and that his liver was dying. Since then we have watched him deteriorate, month by month. He lost his health, his business, his savings, and some days, his hope.

For he and my mom, and us as kids, the one thing that got us through was the hope of a liver transplant. How we clung to that hope, when everything else seemed hopeless. We waited and watched as dad got sicker. Many times we wondered if he was too far gone, that the Doctors would give up on him and send him home with no hope. Our Faith, usually strong, was tested deeply those days.

One weekend this spring, my wife and I and our four kids went to see mom and dad. We wanted to spend a little time with them, and get my kids a few more memories and pictures with their “Papa”. As we drove home that evening, my wife and I talked about “what if”: what if there wasn’t a liver for him? What if he would die? Shouldn’t we start saying our goodbyes, rather than living like “Everything will be ok WHEN we get a new liver?”

We spoke our fears till late into the night. We talked about the gap he would leave behind if he were to go; about my Mom’s and siblings needs, about possible funeral arrangements, and finances. We slept restlessly that night.

Early the next morning the phone rang. It was dad. He said that Edmonton had called and they had a possible liver. He would be on a plane within the hour. The next two days were an emotional roller coaster ride as we waited and prayed, and waited and prayed.

Since that week there have been many up’s and down’s, but we are grateful for each day we have with Dad. My kids have been able to go and stay over for the night at their house, and they have enjoyed it so much. Papa is better and their prayers answered.

On behalf of my wife and our four kids, on behalf of my three siblings, my mom and dad, on behalf of myself and many, many friends and family, we want to thank you for you’re your act of love, and your gift of life. Your loved one’s donation continues to give life, and all that comes with it, to my father. We will be forever grateful.

Also know that we are praying for you, especially during the times of year when the loss of your loved one will be brought into sharp focus. As we are preparing to spend Christmas with my parents, please know that your gift has made the difference. Thank you.

Gratefully Yours
Randall Friesen

I want to say how pleased I am with the church I serve

Sometimes, often in fact, I would LOVE to be involved in the kind of church development that I highlighted in the previous post. The one where the church is also a community Third Place.

This however, has not been my calling.

My calling has been to walk alongside a group of people for a long time, and through that time, see them grow and change to become a healthy vibrant part of The Church.

Often during the past ten years, I confess frustration with the pace of health we have experienced.
Then there are days like today.

Today I was so proud of them.

When I first met them, so many of their decisions were made based on fear. Fear of loss of control or power. Fear of change and New. Fear that others could not be trusted with power.

Fear was always at the core of their motivation.

But to see them today, exercising trust and confidence, you would hardly recognize them.

Yesterday we as a church reached the "third level".

I had always believed that given our difficult past, we needed to first of all get ourselves forgiven of our past mistakes. Then we needed to draw near to our God, to begin to see him as the head of our church and our hearts. Then finally we could reach out to our needy community with a gospel that was tried and true and lived out in our daily lives right here. That’s kind of been my three step program I’ve been working towards here at Gateway.

Well, lately God has been bringing up before us the needs of our city and more specifically the marginalized in this city. We have been asking how we can help with the needs here.

Yesterday 8 or 9 of our people together in a group somewhat representative of the church, headed over to a weekend food kitchen a couple of churches started up for the weekends. There is no hot food available here on the weekends and that is a need here.

But our involvement in this outreach signifies for me a real milestone. It was always where I hoped we would one day be, together as a church.

Today a bunch of them got up in front of the church and told us their stories from yesterday. And for a guy who’s been here ten years, hoping for us to one day reach this level of looking beyond ourselves, well it was a real emotional day.

Now I’m not the one who has fixed them. I have no sense of that and frankly, I’m just not that good.

What I have sought to give them is a sense of stability.
It’s one of those things I feel deeply in my bones, that the calling or gift of being a long time in one place can create a safe place for people to explore their own growth and healing. And I have tried to give them that.

I like how the Abbey Way Covenant Church has made stability one of their core principles:

Stability calls us to a committed way of life with a certain group of people for the long haul. Stability in monastic tradition would also add the willingness to be grounded in a geographic location from which mission and ministry is birthed. From a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community's charism and calling is discovered.

In particular, stability requires a interior stay with-it-ness when external or internal forces toss us about, making us want to flee.

The principle of stability is deeply rooted in God's faithfulness to us. It is promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." It is in this promise of God with us through His constant abiding presence we are able to commit ourselves to each other in God.

Yeah, that’s how it’s resonated in my heart too.
It creates a safe place to be myself, and from that place, to grow. And to reach outward.

Now as we enter this summer and autumn, there seems to be a shift happening in the church. I don’t know what that looks like or where it goes, but I am excited to see it unfold.

And honestly, it has the feel of graduation in it. Like we as a church have graduated from one level of growth and are preparing for the next part of our life.

As the Abby Way church has put it; “From a place of deep listening to God and connection to the people around them, the community's charism and calling is discovered.”

I think we might be ready to see what it is that God has been shaping us for.

And I have some suspicions but for now it’s just good that we enjoy the graduation ceremonies.
We have come so far. Let’s celebrate that and enjoy our progress.

Tomorrow we can decide which University to go to.


Pernell Goodyear telling what the Salvation Army is doing in Hamilton.

I've been watching it for a while and it's really quite exciting.
Here's a video clip from 100 Huntley Street.

Their website is http://www.frwy.ca/

Supper is Done

Yep, it's 9:30 and supper is completed, I think.

I had a can of mini-ravioli.

A piece of Cheese.

One small piece of cold pizza.

and one cup-o-noodles.

And only one bowl and one cup and one fork to wash.


Heather Persson leaving Prince Albert

Saturday, May 19, 2007
On Thursday the P.A. Daily Herald ran this announcement;
Persson leaves Herald
Publisher Ian Jensen regrets to announce that managing editor Heather Persson will be leaving the Prince Albert Daily Herald.  Persson accepted a position with the Star Phoenix in Saskatoon.
She came to Prince Albert in the spring of 2004 and her three plus years has been fruitful, said Jensen.
“I would like thank Heather for her dedicated service and wish her well in her new position,” he said.
Persson said, “Prince Albert is full of amazing people who made it a difficult choice for me to leave.
Friday is her final day of work. A new managing editor has not yet been selected. In her 14 years in the newspaper industry, Persson also worked in weekly newspapers in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Dear Heather;
Prince Albert will miss you.
The loss of your care for us and love of us will make us the worse for wear.
The loss of your affirmation of who we are, will leave a gap that might leave us less.
Your education of us about ourselves will need to be taken up by others, so that we will not repeat our mistakes, or continue in cycles of brokenness.


I will miss you.
The loss of your smile and quick friendliness will make me the worse for wear.
The loss of your inquiries on my well-being and your desire that I am well will leave a gap that might leave me less.
Your help in my development as a writer will need to be taken up by others, so that I will not repeat my mistakes.

Thank you Heather for being with us a while. The city is better because you have been here these past three years. And I am better too.

Your encouragement to write was perfectly timed, and as a result I have been growing in that area. Thank you for that.

We wish you the best in your new endeavour in Saskatoon. We know you will succeed in your professional life and in your personal life.
Whatever you face in your new city we know that it will be a better place because you will be there.

So, it is our loss. But we don't begrudge you the opportunity.
We wish you the best, and expect to hear big things about you.

And as you go, allow me as a pastor to share the blessing:

May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Thanks Heather.

We'll be seeing you.

This is so freakin weird

Friday, May 18, 2007
So, Lauralea is at her friends house, in Victoria.

Micah is in Strathmore Alberta at a Jr. Hi retreat.

Thomas is in Strathmore Alberta being a helper at a Jr. Hi retreat.

Hillary is in Strathmore Alberta being a girls leader at a Jr. Hi retreat.

And Johanna is still in Switzerland.

Do you know what this means??

I am in my house, alone.



I watch whatever channel I want.

I leave the door open when I go to the washroom. (Ok, sometimes I do that anyway just to play with the boys heads...)

I don't have to make supper because I'M NOT HUNGRY!

This is sweet.

I don't think I've ever experienced this before, really.

Anyway, it comes at a good time, after a long difficult week.

I shall enjoy this feeling while I have it.


Now, back to watching five channels at the same time.


the temperature reached a balmy +27C.


It's snowing out there.

hey, I'm Canadian and if I fail to mention the weather once a day I loose my membership.

Charles Darwin on Change

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

- Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin

Single Parent: Day Three

Thursday, May 17, 2007
So, while Lauralea is off sunning herself on the beautiful beaches of Victoria BC, (Hey, don't they have nude beaches down there?? I better see some tan lines...)

Yeah, while she's there, I'm here being single parent man.

It's not been too hard, although coming home from a hard day and then starting supper is just in no way fun for me.

But to date I haven't lost any children. Yesterday I made frozen pizza for supper, today was mac and cheese, not to hard.

And I haven't died either. Today I'm having some shortness of breath, but hey it's been that kind of week.

This weekend looks like it might provide me with an opportunity to catch up on a few pieces of work that need to be done around here.

So yeah, not bad and getting better.

But being a single parent just isn't for me. I better make sure Lauralea has lots of reasons to stick around for a few years.

Maybe I should go lift some weights and buff up a bit.


School For Dummies

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
It seems a bit of an irony ("incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs,") that the course I'm taking on spiritual direction; listening, discerning, etc. seems so fraught with stress in my daily existence. Some days it grants me strength for another day, while other days it completely takes all the strength I have to remain in it.

I am so discouraged by it these days. I feel as though it is a mountain too great to climb, and I was made for the flatlands.

But even as I write that I know it's not true. The tools I'm learning and the experiences I'm having in the practice of the discipline/craft/art, are totally life giving to me.
I think the problem is more that I hate school.

Really, I'm not good at school and I never have been. At best I was always a C student, and every grade I got was hard fought for. Studying hard, working overtime, being attentive in class, not being the kid the math teacher threw his piece of chalk at, all that and still I could barely get by.

But I am not stupid. I learned coping mechanisms, skills to help me get by. Like, I couldn't ever remember that 7x6= ..... hang on, I'm thinking... 6+6 is 12, + 6 is 18, now what's 18 + 18, hmm 8 and 8 = 16 plus three ones = 3 so its 36 plus one more 6 = 42. Taa Daa!! "42, the answer is 42!"
Yeah, I still do that. And its easier to do that than to remember that the answer is 42. Seems like anyway.

Anyway, now you know how to keep me busy for a while. Just ask me what 8x8 equals.

As a result I've always had to work hard in school situations. Always with similar, mediocre results.

This course I'm in now is a pass/fail model. That means there are no shades of grey, no 62% or 56% depending on the pass or fail point here. It's either all or nothing. And I really really don't want to fail. I. Hate. Failing.

So I notice the coping mechanisms coming up again.

I over-compensate on the homework. Try to read more than the required amount. Try to make the papers perfect, better, right.

Maybe if I delay their submission I can still improve on them, tweak them a bit.

Gotta gather more information, don't want to miss a piece.

And so it goes. Coping, working, worrying...

And I know, for some people it's just a piece of paper to hang on a wall or like I do, line the gerbil cage with it. If the gifts and calling are there to do the work then continue to do it. And I will. I have been doing this type of care for a long time now.

I suppose I wanted to take the course to make sure I was doing it right and to enlarge my experience and growth.

I like learning, it's just the schooling that kills me.

So, I guess at any turn my pass/fail number could come up fail and I'd be done. And learning to deal with failure could be the best learning experience of my life.

I just don't want to have to learn it this way. But then again, do we ever like to learn through the hard times?

Ending on a more positive note, one of my simplest deepest pleasures is that our kids are smart, well for the most part.


The jury's still out for a couple of them, but they didn't seem to get my ability in the classroom, which is good.

But when they do work hard and only get a C, I'm the guy in the room who knows better than the others just what that feels like.


Candace Derksen killer arrested

Wilma Derksen writes about her daughter
It was a Friday afternoon, November 30, 1984 and I was occupied with all the Friday afternoon trivia of trying to tidy the house, getting ready for a busy but fun family weekend. Our oldest child, Candace, was eagerly anticipating her friend from summer camp, Heidi, spending the weekend with us.

The telephone rang. "Mom?" It was Candace.

I glanced at my watch. It was almost four. "I thought you'd be on your way home by now," I said.

"I know," she paused, then giggled. "David just gave me a face wash!"

I had been hearing that boy's name more and more. She asked me to pick her up from school which I often did, but I hesitated. There was lots more tidying to do. The other two children, Odia, nine, and Syras, two, would have to get bundled up, and they were already cranky and tired. I asked her to call back in five minutes so I could call my husband Cliff, to see if he could get off work early, and I could pick up Candace and Cliff all in one trip. No, that wouldn't work, he had to work until 5. If I picked up Candace, that would mean waiting in the car a half-hour with three tired, hungry children.

Candace called back. "I can't pick you up now," I said, "but tonight we'll go shopping alone for the groceries you want for you and Heidi," I promised. She assured me she had money for the bus, so she would either take the bus or walk.

"Hurry home," I said.

"Yup, see you." The telephone clicked.

That was the last she would hear of her girl who would later be found murdered.

Wilma and her husband Cliff began a difficult journey of living out their Mennonite faith, by choosing to forgive the individual who killed their girl.

It's been quite a story of faith, all these years choosing to forgive rather than to be destroyed by bitterness and hurt.

23 years of choosing to walk in life, rather than living in death. Tough like I will never know, hopefully.

It's an amazing story, check it out if you have a moment.

Well anyway, today at a news conference in Winnipeg, the Police announced that they have finally made an arrest in the case.


Cliff's response?
“Even though we fully expected to carry on with our lives without ever knowing the details of what happened or why, having answers does make a difference in our lives and will to everyone who remembers the crime.

“Justice is important. Finding truth and holding someone accountable for their actions re-establishes a sense of safety for us all, so we are grateful for this moment.

“We also want to take this moment to express our gratitude to the many people of Winnipeg who over the years have continued to be so very supportive in the healing journey of our family.

“Thank you.”

Lord, have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

It's who you stand in line with

This morning on my way to work I was in a pretty good mood having finished a major assignment yesterday and not loosing any kids on my first day as single parent man, so I decided to stop in for some Tim's Tea.

Good plan, except the line up was all ready outside by the time I got there.

I took my place at the end of the que and began waiting, my good mood slipping dangerously close to Postal Worker Rage.

Then a friendly older guy came and stood in line behind me and we struck up quite a good chat. It's always a bit of a crap shoot if the conversation with a total stranger will go places you are ready for it to go at 8:30 in the morning, but hey, the sun was shining and I was in a good mood.

Then an inoffensive morning person (Yes there are those too.) woman got in line next and started us laughing. One more friendly guy came next and off we went, the long wait took a turn for the good.

I was almost disappointed when ten minutes later it was time to order my tea. We decided on a reunion line up in a few years. Morning person lady will send out the reminder notices.

So here's to the distinguished, retired gentleman, and the large, (Who use to be 100 lbs lighter and work at the Casino till she moved over to Indian Affairs) morning person lady, and the tall, heavyset farmer, who made my morning wait in a Tim's line up, much more enjoyable.

There is a lesson in there some place. I'll let you decide what it is.

Jerry Falwell. August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To a distant observer it seemed he had his politics all mixed up with his religion.

Or was it that his religion was all mixed up with his politics.

Either way, this is the part where I'm glad I'm not the Judge.

For those applying for Passports...

Since America made it a bit of a law that Canadians flying to the USA need to produce a passport before they enter, the line-ups at Canadian Passport offices have been ridiculously long. You now can expect to wait for only a couple of hours in line. Thats after it became normal to wait for four, five, or six hours in line.
Well, this morning, Lauralea and I arrived at the Saskatoon Passport Office at 8:45am. I dropped her off and drove around the corner to find some parking.

I arrived in the fourth floor office five minutes later and as I entered the room I saw 10 or 20 people there in the line up. I looked for Lauralea but couldn't see her in the line anywhere. I turned and looked to the left and there she was, already at the counter on the left side of the room.

Seems that when you do your application online, and go down to the offices, you get moved to the front of the line!

Both our applications were processed and we were out of the office by 9:05 am. In three weeks the little booklets should arrive at our doorstep.

Let me encourage you, work through the online application process, it's easy and quick and will result in you going to the front of the line.

It's good to see my Tax dollars at work in a good way for a change.

Homeward bound

Monday, May 14, 2007
Well, it's nearly 3:30 in the morning and I'm heading home from the office. Another major piece of my year is completed and hopefully that's just another thing I can wipe off my list,

I knew that the major paper was due tomorrow for class, I just forgot that there were no extensions given. One day late and you get a fail and out of the class and program and all.

I toyed with the sweetness of no more of this work to do when I got the email tonight at 8. But then I decided too much work and reading and effort has already been done to walk away from it.

So later on today I'll proof it and finish it and send it in.

But for now I'm going home. I have to be up and on the road in three hours to take Lauralea to Saskatoon to stand in the freakin line to get passports done there because they don't process them here.

Life is Beautiful.

The Gift of Being Yourself - David Benner

For class.

A keeper.

Surrender To Love - David Benner

For Class.

The Celtic Way of Prayer - Esther De Wall


For class.

Mothers Day

Well, the day started off with me talking in church a bit on how God cannot be limited to just having the qualities of a male but that he would also carry about in himself the qualities of a female too, and all that that leads to.

Then we went to Saskatoon to do the ultimate parenting thing, helping your daughter pack all her earthly belongings from her apartment into your van, so she can move back home.

And ended off the day at mom's a bit.

Today is between day.

Tomorrow Lauralea and I have to be on the road at 7 am to get to Saskatoon by 8:30 so we can stand in the Passport line up for a few hours, hopefully fast enough so that she can make her flight to Victoria later in the morning.

So today is about laundry, paperwork, clean up, buy food, get the next week sorted out, and a "day off."

Another crazy time at the Friesen's.

Nate and Johanna

Saturday, May 12, 2007
Nate and Johanna

It's all good. Circle of life wise.

I'm an old old man

We caught our first big rain storm today, the gutters were running over and the water gathered quickly in the low spots in the road.

You could see the depth of green in the grass increasing with every drop of water. Life returning after a long harsh winter.

Tonight the scent is of wet tree bark. A spicy smell that takes me back to camp and the summers of my youth.

My youth.

Seems so very far away.

My kids think I'm too old to be on Facebook, and they may be right. The skin beneath my eyes is drooping more each morning I look into them. I'm back in Seminary, in way over my head with the classwork I'm so far behind in. Yeah I'm getting old, and this is the kind of year that makes me feel old.

The past twelve months saw my daughter graduate from Grade 12 and head off to University, my other daughter graduated from Bible College and moved to Switzerland. My dad died, suddenly. So did the Covenant Bible College I was on the Board of.

The bags beneath my eyes should be down to my waist already.

The next twelve months look like Hillary heading off to a new school, Johanna returning from Switzerland and moving to the coast, and my continued coursework. Then it gets interesting. Johanna getting married to Nate (Which isn't so much of an announcement as much as it is a statement of fact...), Thomas graduating from High School and Micah graduating from Elementary School.

Yeah, within twelve months the bags beneath my eyes should be hanging down near my feet.

If I'm not too old already I will be within a year. Then maybe I'll get my saggy butt off of FaceBook.

In the meantime hang on. This wicked ride is only half done.

Enjoy the fresh air...

Innovation is alive and well in Kitchener

The diapers hold nine cups of fluid, are made of six layers of cotton and micro-fibre, dry in an hour, are reusable and come stylishly in white or burgundy with Velcro closures.

A company in Kitchener, Ont., is advertising them on the Internet for $35 each - two for $60 - and say they are a perfect fit for "gamblers at all-night casinos,"

I don't know if I find it more disturbing that all night gamblers can't take time out for a wash room break, or that these diapers are reusable.



Friday, May 11, 2007
Here it is, the middle of the night and I'm trying to fill out online passport forms, because this is the time of day that they are accessible and I've been going mostly hard core all day long, so it's the only time I've had free.

I was going to do this next week when Lauralea was away, but it seems we have to stand in line, each of us by ourselves in Saskatoon to apply for our new passports. Stupid.

So that means an extra trip to Saskatoon, in the middle of the night to get there early enough to hopefully get through the lines by the time her plane leaves in the morning.

And it means in a couple of hours we need to get up to get passport photos taken.

This is all too much.

I mean, it's just so crazy I wonder where it's going to hit a wall. I might actually morph into a black hole and suck myself into myself and disappear.

It's looking like the urgent stuff will continue to push hard against me till the end of May, then I can work on the more flexible stuff.

Dang I hate this.

I gotta go fine more proof of my existence.

Sorry I haven't been around much. I can't wait to do some good writing in this space. I miss that a lot. But until other things are accomplished, well, I'll dream of happier times.


Micah turns 13

Thursday, May 10, 2007
And so this draws to a conclusion the number of "Children" Lauralea and I have.

We now have 4 teenagers.

Where did that time fly?

Happy Birthday Micah.

Micah's 13th Birthday

Micah's 13th Birthday

And, of course, the video to prove it!

Here's to a great 13th year Micah.



More and more I think that the Internet will provide ways of viewing Television that will make the old ways simply unnecessary.

Already I can watch older TV shows online for free, and more ways to watch streaming channels are cropping up each day.

I've been watching Joost.com for some time now. They are an Internet startup by the boys who brought us Skype, so they have some history in the field. And things seem to be picking up nicely for them.
Joost is:
...a new way of watching TV on the internet. With Joost, you get all the things you love about TV, including a high-quality full-screen picture, hundreds of full-length shows and easy channel-flipping.

You get great internet features too, such as search, chat and instant messaging, built right into the program - so you find shows quickly and talk to your friends while you watch. And with no schedules to worry about, you can watch whatever you want, whenever you like - as often as you want. Joost is completely free, and works with most modern PCs and Intel Mac-based computers

Joost has been in Beta mode for some time now, and I haven't been able to get an invite, till today.

I've been taking a look at it and it looks like it might really present some solid options for television viewing.

I like that it offers me viewing from other countries, and that it also includes independent films that you just cannot see on regular cable channels.

This is one I want to keep my eyes on.

If you want an invitation to try out the Beta version of Joost, I have some free ones to give away. Just email me at joost@randallfriesen.com and I'll see what I can do for you.

I may just be ready to cut the cable TV.

For Lauralea

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
who loves this 70's song.

Better living through good smells

It's beginning to smell like summer rain out there this morning. I love that scent.

It's fresh and alive and, full of summer. Just like Jazz Flute.

It's somehow connected to past memories for me and in some strange way gives me hope for the day, and the future.

It's amazing how a scent can change a mood, give hope.

It's taken me a while to recuperate from the weekend. Not just the emotional stuff of it, or the hard decisions our board has had to make, but in the midst of it my flu/cold/sore throat thing came back with a vengeance.

The past couple of days I've felt out of place and a bit lost, but as the week has progressed and health returned, I'm in a better place.

A fresh scent, a bit of rest and better health will go a long way towards a better life.

What American accent do you have?

Monday, May 07, 2007
Thanks Marc!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast


The Midland

The South


The West

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Hmm, for a while I did live just off of Lake Erie... and I do prefer "pop" to "soda."

So maybe it got me right!


Kita sent me an email this morning and it made me smile.

It's probably been doing the email circuit, especially in Europe, but it's the first time I'd seen it.
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".
Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c"  will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where! more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.  Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

I'm Home

Sunday, May 06, 2007
Safe. Yes.

Sound? Don't know.

Going to bed.



Saturday, May 05, 2007
I'm in my room, trying to get ready for the Commencement Service tonight.

I need to be here this weekend, because I am on the board that had to make the final call to close the College. And I need to be here to help own that decision.

But its just not great.

Like being at an extended funeral where you were the one that helped cause the death...

I hate that.


Its So Difficult To Be Here Today. I Feel Like I Want To Be Sick. Mostly Because I Hate Saying Goodbye.

Commencement Banquet

Friday, May 04, 2007
Not sure what the best part of the Banquet was tonight. Could have been the salads, gourmet vegetables, the chicken and roast beef, or the multiple chocolate dessert options.
Or it might have been my "Date" the board chair, Wilf.
Might have been the company at the table I ended up at, a delightful bunch.
Or it could have been the individual who came up to me and asked me if I was the Randall Friesen of this Blog.
I'd have to say it was her and her encouragement and smile. Nice.

So here's to Deb from Calgary, and all those like her who drop into this space and read a bit and leave encouraged.



Between Meetings. Cant Believe Its Only A Year Since I Was Here As A Parent. So Much Has Changed. its So Good To Be Here This Weekend.

And the Academy Award for a bad haircut goes to...

I haven't beat myself up over a bad haircut for a long time now.

But that isn't the case for Thomas.

(I give it two thumbs up!)

Made it

Thursday, May 03, 2007
Drove hard, stopped once for a nature break.

Really only the last 2 hours were rainy.

But mostly a good, uneventful day.

Now, I think I'll go find some food.

Looks like Alberta is the same time as Saskatchewan.

At least I don't have to change my watch/phone/computer.

CBC Comencement. One. Last. Time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Funeral/Prayer Service/Wake/Memorial for George Goulet is accomplished.

A full house of stories of George.

It was so good.

Now to pack and get ready. Tomorrow bright and early I'm off to Calgary (Strathmore really) and the final CBC Board Meetings, Commencement, and Good Byes.

I think the emotional toll this weekend could be huge. I'm glad I have 7 hours there and 7 hours back home. The miles will be good for my soul.

Blessings, God's blessings, on you and yours tonight.

Today I reach a new milestone in my career as a father.

It's a place I knew would come eventually, I just find myself overwhelmed that this is the day "It" has arrived.

I am caught, somewhere between being pleased as could be, and bitter-sweetness that the day has actually arrived.

It's all good, trust me. Just me being me.

Probably because my dad never knew what this day felt like for himself.

Yeah, it's all good.

I'm just going to enjoy it a bit, not rush on ahead.

Don't mind me.

Tom Poston Dead at 85

Ah, I missed this one on Monday.

Tom Poston in the role of George Utley in the television sitcom series “Newhart” in 1985.

I liked him best in “Newhart,” where he played George Utley, the handyman who couldn’t fix anything at the
New England inn run by Bob Newhart’s character.

Interesting tidbit, the show "Newhart" ended it's run by having Bob Newhart wake up on the set of his old show (The Bob Newhart Show) thinking the previous years and show were only a dream. He woke up in bed next to his old show's wife, Suzanne Pleshette. Who happened to be married to...

Tom Poston.

"Just" a frustration

In a featured Letter to the Editor printed on the opinion page in today’s Prince Albert Daily Herald, a Tony Thompson wrote:
"Editor, Daily Herald:
The ministerial of Prince Albert, made up of various Christian denominations within our city, recently forwarded an e-mail to me requesting my participation in a planning event to respond to city council’s approval of the application for a gay pride parade. The response would focus on ways to “touch our city with an awareness of what is good and not good in this situation.” My vision, as a faithful and committed Christian, of what is good and what is not good is somewhat different from that of others within the ministerial."

He responds to this email with his opinion, taking time to discuss some of the differences in the history of the Church and how the church has historically dealt with those who saw things differently than they did.

He touches on the arrogance of his colleagues, and our human ability to make mistakes, and a few other broad brush strokes he paints the ministerial with.

Then he winds up with this:
"As a Minister within the United Church of Canada, and as one who is called to raise my prophetic voice in support of justice in our time, I commend city council for its decision to grant approval to the application for a gay pride parade."

There you have it, “justice.”

Now, just as you're getting your typing fingers ready to go, let me clarify that this isn't a post on pro or anti gay pride parades. It's not even a post on "Homosexuality: Is it sin or isn't it."

It's a post about the fact that no such email went out from, or was forwarded by, the ministerial.


I'm on the ministerial and I didn't get one. And I searched through my email to check if I missed one, but I don't think I have.

There was an email that went out from one single church, to others in the city. But to say the email was forwarded by the P.A. Ministerial just isn't true.

And it doesn't help things either.

With this kind of mis-information out there it removes any opportunity that any churches who are on the ministerial had, to enter into a helpful discourse with anyone. We are all painted with the same brush strokes instantly and unfairly.

That frustrates me.

And before you get all hot and bothered about the "Gay Agenda" or bla bla bla, simply remember that by doing so, we may become guilty of the same things Mr. Thompson has accomplished. Passing along misinformation that confuses and accuses.

1997 Red River Flood

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Jordon reminded me that it's been ten years since the 1997 Red River Flood that happened in North Dakota and Southern Manitoba.

We were living in South Winnipeg at the time, and I don't think I've lived through anything like that.

First it was preceded by the blizzard of the Century. Days of cold and snow and wind the likes of which I'd never seen in my lifetime, let alone in April! The Saturday of the great blizzard I got wrapped up in my warmest clothing and ventured out to get some supplies. I nearly got lost crossing a parking lot to get into Safeway. I returned home as quickly as I dared and cancelled church for the next day. It took us days to get out from under that one.

But then the sun came out, and the snow began to melt, fast.

A couple of weeks later we had been hearing of some regional flooding down near Grand Forks, but most Winnipegers seemed to take it in stride, mostly because we had the Red River Floodway to handle the excess of water which came through each year.

But I remember the day things changed. I think it was on a Friday evening that the news was reporting that Grand Forks was in big trouble. They showed the video feeds from that town and how absolutely devastating it looked. The downtown was full of water, homes were under water, it was visually sobering.

The next morning I was at a men's breakfast and people in the cafe were talking with fear in their words. They had seen what had happened to Grand Forks, and all that water was headed straight to Winnipeg. There was a much more subdued tone to their words now.

The city began to shut down the south end of the city. As the water levels grew, roads were closed. Some big dump trucks full of sand dropped loads of sand and bags on our parking lot and I or Lauralea and the older kids would go out and make sandbags night and day.

Each day the pressure grew because the water was rising and it was moving Northward with amazing speed.

The call came from some of our friends living just south of Winnipeg in St. Norbert that they needed help moving stuff. So while Lauralea stayed home with the kids, because we had received notices warning us to be ready to evacuate in a moment, I went down into that part of the city. It was bizarre.

We would go from home to home walking right into strangers homes and into their basements and help carry up their belongings to trucks and cars. And if they didn't have those, we would bring everything to the highest floor in the home, stacking their dryers and washers and everything they owned at the highest place we could stack.
And so we went all day, from home to home. Frantic people trying to save their belongings. Running and carrying and doing their best.
Rumours would shoot through a street like lightning, and the fear was visible on peoples faces.

By mid afternoon I decided to shift my own focus so I went to the edge of St. Norbert to start to help sandbagging.

Hastily formed teams of us would work on a low spot to shore it up as quickly as the water was rising it seemed. We would move from yard to yard, franticly working to build dams.

I remember walking up one street, behind which the river was growing in volume. I was dirty and tired and I came across this elderly lady who was desperate. She franticly called to me in broken English to come and help her if I could. I went out to the back yard and saw very little work done on her sandbags, and the water was already creeping up the lower layer of sandbags.

I remember quickly throwing down a few more bags then went for some help and more sandbags, which they would deliver wherever they were needed.

I got a couple of guys and we went at it hard for a while. We were able to raise her sandbags a few feet, then the call came from a neighbour who needed the help more, and off we ran.

I remember being exhausted, and dirty and tired. I remember loosing track of time. I remember the sun setting and it getting dark in those back yards and we couldn't see what we were doing.

I remember that we had to call it a night and that all we could do through the night was to pray.

I realized I was hungry right about then. No lunch or supper, and it was late. A Salvation Army cook van pulled up on the middle of the road and called people to get something to eat. I never though I would be served from such a van, in fact I thought it was for those who lived in those homes we were evacuating. But they called me and said no way, I was eating with them tonight too. I don't think chilli ever tasted so good.

By the time I got home that night, Peter Mansbridge and The National were reporting from downtown Winnipeg at the forks. I remember watching that.

The days pretty much continued like that. I remember lots of praying, lots of hard work, and afterwards lots of cleaning up to do.
There were many more stories from that time that I recall, but maybe I'll save them for the 20th anniversary.


St. Brendan's Prayer

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?
Shall I turn my back on my native land,
and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy,
without silver, without a horse,
without fame, without honor?
Shall I throw myself wholly upon You,
without sword and shield, without food and drink,
without a bed to lie on?
Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and
begging forgiveness,
tears streaming down my cheeks?
Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach,
a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?
Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?
O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?



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