The Son in Law

Friday, October 31, 2008
Today I was in the office most of the day, cleaning, killing flies, and unboxing books. While I was opening boxes and placing their contents on the shelves, I was thinking about my son in law, Nate.

I don't talk about him much, mainly because he's his own man and he prefers to live without a lot of internet attention. I understand.

But I was thinking about him today because he was the one who packed up all the boxes of books back in my office in Prince Albert. And I was thinking how cool it is to have a son in law like him, who was willing to travel hard for 18 hours, and sleep on a lousy bed, to help his wife's parents get packed up and move. That's pretty generous.

And he was the workhorse when the over fifty crowd of guys showed up to help pack the trucks and move us to The Field. They breathed a sigh of relief when they saw him, and mentioned it a few times. Even now they mention his name in hushed tones...

Not only is he able to lift heavy boxes, but he's is a kind guy, and really a good match for Johanna. In classic style they play off one another's weaknesses, providing what is lacking in the other.  


So, here's to having a great son in law. 

Thanks Nate.

Tonight Micah and I went to a Halloween party

And a fun time was had by all. Besides, since Lauralea is up visiting the kids at school, that was one less meal I had to make for Micah and me!

Halloween Party

(more pics here)

Buzz Lightyear was there, as was Darth Vader, a few princesses, a crocodile, prince charming, oh and Don Cherry, so it was well represented.

The food was great, and what a great community idea.

So far, only BoPeep showed up at our door tonight, well, and one of her sheep too, so its a quiet night out here.

And I am alone on the prairie. Lauralea away, and Micah is off visiting some friends. (Has a nice ring to it.)

Being alone out here is, well, quite a feeling.

It's nice. I could get used to it I think.

Hope you had a safe evening.

Remember, All Saints day on Sunday.



Recently on Twitter 2008-10-30

Thursday, October 30, 2008

  • another gorgeous day out there today. #


Good morning, from the field

Sunrise .

Looks like another beautiful day.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-29

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

  • So. Many. Flies. Here. #


sorry, I'm booked

A very good man from church today offered me two very good seats at the Esks football game on Friday night.

A very good man indeed.

And, after my eyes got big and my mouth stopped flapping, all I could say was I think so.

Until I got home and remembered I have a previous committment that night.

Shoot shoot shoot.

I can't go, but, I think I'm liking this place more and more.

It is good here

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It is difficult to believe we have been here only one week. There have been so many experiences already that it feels like a month or two have gone by.

Tonight Lauralea and I popped open a bottle of sparkling white wine someone had given us a while ago, and we went out to the dark landing/deck area off the sun room and in the starlit warm night we toasted and gave thanks for the sale of our house. The conditions were lifted today, so by next week we won’t own any land or houses in Saskatchewan. So that means we are here to stay. I say that nervously, with hope that our next ten years of ministry will be as great and blessed as the last ten were, and the ten before that.

And we gave thanks for good memories of great friends who have cared for us and loved us well, and who let us love them too.

We are thankful too for this place, this field, and for how God has led us here for this time. I have come a long way from that late evening when I received that email asking if I would be willing to maybe consider coming here. I believe my emailed response was, “Oh Crap.”

Its been a good exercise in remembering who is god or God for that matter, in my life. Who leads, and who follows. It intrigues me just how gentle he is with me. He really knows who I am, and that I don’t just swap allegiances with haste, so he gently moves me forward. Quite amazing really, when he could just command or call forth my obedience. But no, with determination and strength and patience, he just begins to invite me to this new thing, pointing to the place this will lead and inviting me to go along with him. And so we follow, because he is good, really.

He is good. Really. And it’s really good to be the follower, and let him be God. In spite of the difficulties of life, of which we’ve experienced very little, he is simply good. And letting him be God takes a huge amount of pressure off of me, because honestly I just don’t have the energy or ability to be my own God. Yeah, sometimes I may try it out for a bit but pretty quickly I realize those shoes are too big for me to wear. So I repent and get back to my stuff, which is being a follower of the living God.

And yeah, I am nervous a bit about this work. There are some visible wounds around here and some people who have been caught in the blender of broken relationships. It will take some time to build bridges to those people. Time and patience. And there will be testing, lots of testing, although they won’t realize they are doing it. They will need to test me to see if I am who I say I am, to see if they can trust my care for them. The testing will take many forms, but it is the hard stuff of this work with people that really needs to happen, so that they can see that I really do care. My prayer is that I can make it through those seasons, consistently caring in the right ways.


Now if I can just find my beard trimmer, and my dental floss, which someone else packed for me and I just can’t find yet. Then things should be ok.


Nite, from The Field.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-28

  • Playing some sweet, old records. #


My morning walk

And I took some more pictures of the field I now call home.


Morning Walk


You can see them here.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-27

Monday, October 27, 2008

  • in town visiting the care home and bringing Chinese food home for supper. #


A quiet, quiet day

And I think my soul may be starting to catch up with the rest of me.

We’ve been not “Do-ing” much today, Lauralea went back to bed and slept most of the morning and I had a nap. Feels like the rest is a solid investment right now, and it’s a good way to use the time we have.

This afternoon we set up the record player/stereo and played some of our old old records. There’s absolutely nothing like the staticky click click click as you listen to a recording made by a German choir somewhere in Europe, 40 or 50 years ago.

Just beautiful.

And now we are off to supper at someone's home. It’ll be nice, and we’ll come home and head to bed early I suspect.

I wonder if the country air and slowing down and all just makes your insides slow down a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Now, toshiba or apple…


Today I went to a local church

Sunday, October 26, 2008 local that I, or rather, we walked to church. It was like 50 feet away, at most.

And I nearly had to carry Lauralea who was determined to wear her new heels over the gravel. What a trio we were as we hobbled across the yard, to the church.

The greeting was warm and friendly. The worship music was a good mix of new stuff, 1980's stuff and 1800's stuff. There was a band of Back up singers, (Male and female, which is a nice touch) Piano player, bass player, and a drummer with a small kit.

The pastor of youth and families did the preaching, and did a fine job at it, and I would say that even if she didn't read this space.


And after service, most everyone went downstairs for coffee. A nice touch. Seems that since many people come from town 20 minutes away, and the others gather from around the community, that coffee time is one of the only times they have to connect. That's a good idea, and the coffee was good too.

(And Lisa was there, with her three little ones. Steve was off to work for the day.)

This afternoon I drove into town to check on someone in the long term care home. It was a beautiful drive across the cool prairie October afternoon. And, before I came home, I found a great Chinese food place, and the food wasn't even too cool by the time I got it home.



This week I'm just setting time aside to pray and wait and to get ready for the beginning of work here. I feel like that's just something God is asking of me for this time. So I'm looking forward to the week.

I need to talk through some things with him, and to sort out a few of the things he wants me to be doing. It will help to set the direction for my work here, and I need to hear him on that.

Later on in the week Lauralea is heading up north for two days to see the kids at PRBI. Its missions week there and there will be a concert or two that the kids are singing in. The solitude will help give me space to be still.

So it will just be Micah and I for a while.

But it feels like the work is beginning. Even as it took time to lay it down at Prince Albert, so now we are taking up the mantle for this place and these people.

The transition is going well I think. Hopefully our work here will be fruitful and effective. That will be part of my prayer this week too.


But for now, good night from the field.


A note from #10

I follow a few people and organizations on, and the other day I received this email;
Hi, Randall Friesen.
DowningStreet (DowningStreet) is now following your updates on Twitter.
Check out DowningStreet's profile here:

Welcome to my Tweets Mr. Brown. Good to have your people here.

Apple or Toshiba

A while ago I received some money to go towards a new computer for myself. This 2 or 3 year old Dell Inspiron is doing a slow dance of death here but for now we are limping along fine.

Because of the cash, I have an opportunity to look at a MacBook. (And why doesn't Apple just sell the things for $500 less and in a year they would probably take over the world...) Because of the cost of the Apple products, its not an opportunity that comes along often, so I kinda don't want to blow it.

Yesterday I spent some time with the MacBook at the Apple store. It is just quite an amazing thing. I'm not a fanboy but that thing is just intuitive and simple in design. It does what it does with speed and grace and the small things and attention to details are the kinds of things that just please me in places I don't know that I want to explore right now.


The down side is that it is an Apple so it won't do all the things I may be used to a computer doing. And the cost. $1399 is unbelievable, to me anyway. I'm not sure I could live with that level of commitment to a computer.

It seems to me to be a bit of a Cadillac in the PC world, and I don't drive Cadillacs. It runs at 2 Ghz, Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB DDR3 Memory and a 160GB hard drive.

Then there is the $1000 Toshiba I saw. Good rugged solid windows machine although it has Vista and I don't look forward to learning that operating system now too.

It has a Intel Core 2 Duo Processor, 4 gigs of ram, 320 gig hard drive. 15.4 inch windscreen, wifi, and something called a DVD Super multi drive, which sounds like a new feature on a Jaguar.

All that to give you a sense of value vs cost.

My question to you, dear readers, is which should it be? Should I deal with my internal guilt of over spending and go with Apple, or reign it in and get the windows Toshiba and just work at getting it to the place where I want it to be?

I know there are both users out there, so tell me if you would change, and why? Why do you Apple users love your Mac's or you Windows users use them?

You don't need to quote scripture and verse from the Apple or Microsoft website, just one or two sentences on why, and which.

Or if you have insight into my guilt issues about spending, let er rip too.

I'm in a teachable moment here, so teach me.

Sunday mornin comin down

On this Sunday morning with six days left before I officially begin, we thought we'd head off to the nearest neighbours church which is a Lutheran one down the road, but we couldn't find out any information on it, let alone when it starts. So, we're thinking of poping into the church 50 feet away and joing them in worship.

We'll sneak in the back, at nearly 11 am, so as not to create a big stir. Hopefully we can just worship with them today.

I got word late last night that one of the people from here who is in the hospital, isn't doing well. So I'll head up to the hospital after lunch and meet him and hopefully get to know him a bit.

It's Sunday today, and I hope that wherever you read this from, you have a meeting place to go to, to gather with like hearted individuals and just take some time to be with the Lover of your souls.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-25

Saturday, October 25, 2008

  • goodnight internets. Sweet dreams. #


time for a bit of the Big City

Today being Saturday and Micah’s day off school, we decided to hit the big city and what a weather day it was. It was ok till we stepped out the door and got hit by 70km/hr wind and a farmer spreading manure on his field.


We got to the West Edmonton Mall and Micah with his savings, got an iPod at the Apple Store. And Lauralea found some very affordable shoes, within 5 minutes of Micah and I standing outside the store. Not bad at all.

It was good to get to the city, but I gotta tell ya, the mall on Saturday, not a great idea. Millions of people.

Heading back to the country the snow started in the wind, wow, it was blowing and snowing hard out there. Glad to get back home.

At the Mall 

Micah and his iPod.


At the Mall

Lauralea and her shoes.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-23

Thursday, October 23, 2008

  • Soft water is so, so, soft... #

  • ah free wifi at Safeway in town, while Lauralea gets food. I miss my wifi. #

  • Boy I miss good clear television news out here in the field. #


The problem with garage door openers

This morning I went to the garage to get another box and as I entered from the house, the one garage door was wide open. It freaked me out. Who opened it and how did it get open and how long had it been open and how many mice came in while it was opened?

Gross and made me jumpy. So I closed it and went back in the house.

A short while later I went out for another box and the same door was open wide, again. Now it was getting on my nerves. I was going to have to figure out how to lock the system.

As I turned to go back inside with the door closed again, it dawned on me, where were the remote openers that go in the vehicles?

I came into the house and found them in the drawer, at the back. Seems that every time Lauralea went into the drawer to get her scissors, or to return them, she slid the drawer and the openers were pressed and they would open the doors.

At least thats what I think was happening, and for now I choose that version of reality.

So much to learn.

it’s coming along

We continue to plod along, unpacking and sorting and moving stuff. Here are a few more images, updated.

You can see the whole pile of pics in my Flickr account.

Our Bedroom The Entrance

Front Room Kitchen

The Big Room we eat here

 This is where I get my snail mail The House Yep, he takes the bus Micah coming home

Yeah, it's going well.


I now know where I live.

On the south east corner of this intersection.,-113.172934&spn=0.004399,0.014666&z=17

In a field.

Next to a church.

In Alberta.

(I wonder if 911 works out here...)

I may need to buy a flashlight

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We arrived home tonight after supper with friends and an important shopping hour at Safeway in the big city. I was surprised at how warm it was, +10C out there tonight.

When we got home, I headed off into the darkness, to explore two flickering lights I saw the previous night in the cemetery. Unbelievable quiet, darkness, nothingness. I stood there soaking it up and it was renewing my spirit, or maybe better said, in the silence there was room for Him to renew my spirit. Either way, it was deep and true and good. I think this is going to be a good thing for us, and I am excited about it.

The cemetery lights turned out to be a clear red plastic rose that glowed with some internal light, and the other was a solar light someone else had placed near their loved ones grave.

The house continues to take shape and Lauralea is working hard at it. Occasionally someone will stop by the front door and say hi, which is nice. And today at two stores we met two different families from the church who knew us and introduced themselves to us. Also nice.

We have discovered that there are two phone lines on our house phone system. One is the church line and the other is the house line, so we need to learn when to answer which line. We are learning.

Everything out here seems designed to help us slow down. Something as simple as a 20 minute drive home from town forces us to slow down a bit. Thinking what to do with the garbage, or thinking through a need for light bulbs when you don’t live hear a store. The quiet. The walk to get the mail at the road. Its all forcing us to chill a bit, and maybe, just maybe, our souls will finally catch up to us.

But I do need a flashlight. It gets awful dark out here in the evening.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-21

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

  • slowly getting on the road. My hip seems out and hurts like crazy. No pressure. #


We’re here.

In Alberta.

In a house, beside a church, in a field an hour southwest of Edmonton.

When someone with a GPS comes by and gives me the coordinates, I’ll pass them on to you. But until then its really tough to say where we are.

But, its good. The people have been generous and helpful, the space is wide open, and the neighbours are silent. The house is larger than we are used to, so we have to yell louder to find where the others are. And I asked and got the rundown on the wildlife. Mostly the Coyotes will leave us alone, the skunks, and there are many this year, are unafraid of you so keep your distance, the many deer need to be watched for, especially at night when they move to the trees for sleep. If something needs to be shot, call the neighbour. Good to know.

We’ve been working to get settled, and it’s taken me most of the day to get Internet here. Seems on windy days you can loose the Internet, and phone for a while. Today was really windy.

Perhaps a couple of pics to keep you interested. And when I fix the wifi I’ll stream a bit of video for you.

I’m off to have a shower, in my en suite, then to bed. I never thought I’d say that.

Oh, and the stars are simply awe inspiring. Tonight we could even see the milky way. Jean and many others were right, the rural life is very different, but it has the potential to be amazing.

So take care out there in the distance.

Nite. From the field.

Kitchen Kitchen/Dining

 The Front room Out the back windows

 Out the back windows


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-20

Monday, October 20, 2008

  • a weak free wifi signal out there. Nite everybody. Night Sask. I love you .. #


the great adventure

Sunday, October 19, 2008
I am sitting in Gateway's worship service and Marc V. is beginning to preach. After the service we will be showing the house one more time, then we'll leave on our journey to the house beside the church in the field in Alberta.

The house is empty and clean. Goodbyes are said. Gateway's in good hands. And we are off on a new great adventure.

So we go, full of confidence that this is God and that he is leading us in this way.

I am excited.

Let's get this party started.

P.S. Marc is a good preacher.

Still moving

Friday, October 17, 2008
Third night up so late. My body hurts and I can't seem to talk in normal English any more.

Most of the contents of the house are in a truck outside. Not to much left to do tomorrow morning at 8:30 when the movers arrive again.

I had some deep thoughts about realizing why this is so hard, but I don't think I can communicate them well at this point in the game.

But i wonder if it's not about moving at all. It's about getting on with life without the kids around any more.

Tonight as I cleaned Thomas old room, that I really do miss them all, a lot.

Yeah, I do.

Anyway I'm off to sleep.


Moving stuff

Thursday, October 16, 2008
You need to know that I am looking forward to moving and living in Alberta again. I'm excited about winter in a field, about living in the country, about becoming a country pastor and connecting with my roots.

I'm interested in getting to know new people. People who will help me be a better person. People who will allow me to walk with them and we will discover new insights in that community.


dang if this isn't the toughest thing I've ever done.

Today as Lauralea's piano was moved out of the house, and late tonight as I packed up my office and left for the last time, leave me feeling ill, and so sad.

Of course it's not the things, rather it's what those things represent.

Piano lessons, and singing and remembering how long Lauralea prayed for that piano.
And the people I've met and grown to love as we have met to pray and share life in my office.

I guess it's also a solid reminder that the kids are moving on with their lives too. Less and less will they be a part of our lives. And because of this work that we do, there is little chance they will ever live in the same town we will live in. That's hard.

Tomorrow the moving trucks come and we will take the next step.

It's just a little tricky for now is all.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-16

  • got a haircut. Now I look like not me. #


Prayer of Surrender

Take, Lord, and receive
my liberty,
my memory,
my understanding,
my entire will,
everything I have and call my own.
You gave me all these gifts,
and to you I return them.
Dispose of them entirely according to your will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
This is all I ask.

St. Ignatius

I love Autumn

Well, I'm sitting here in my office surrounded by boxes of books. The funeral director just found his way in here and around the boxes to find me. Looks like this morning will be filled with funeral activities.

And its a beautiful day out there, Autumn in all it's glory.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-15

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

  • at the office all morning and I just can't focus. Dang. #


from somewhere there is strength

We continue to muddle through the haze that is our life these days. Another prospective house viewer has withdrawn which wouldn't be such a bitter pill to swallow except that we suspended packing and shifted into house cleaning and selling mode for two hours this morning, only to have them cancel. So we lost two hours.

I am getting a bit grumpy about the house I guess. I REALLY wanted and maybe even needed it to sell before we moved, but since that is in four days, my faith fails a bit. In spite of that, I feel held.

Tomorrow is the funeral I am doing here. I think I am ready for it, but my office is upside down. I probably have about five or six hours of hard work in here that I need to do, then more packing at home.

And, tonight difficult news comes of a friend I've been pastoring here. He has recieved news that his time is short, and he wants to see me. I will make arrangements to be there on the weekend.

Yeah, it's all just a sort of dark brown colour around here.

It's nearly 9 pm. I need to head home.


oh right, and it's election day too

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
We got home late last night to find out that one of the people from the church here has been rushed to the hospital in serious condition and has been placed in a drug induced coma. They may make it, or not.

Kinda takes your breath away.

And we found out that the person who was doing a second viewing on the house, hadn't come to view. And that the individual who was going to give us an offer last night, didn't.

And, today, before 9, I was back at the office, trying hard to get my head around prep work for the funeral on Thursday.

And the kids are slowly leaving for school.

And Johanna and Nate who planned to stay for the week to help us pack and get ready to move, have to wait till we know what we are doing on any given day to help us pack stuff.

It's all very gross I am afraid.

Here but not here. There but not there. Moving but not, home owners but not. Working but not, packing but not.


not done yet

Monday, October 13, 2008
One of our 92 year olds passed away late yesterday.

Connie has been a part of things at Gateway for all these years I've been there, and so I shall serve her and the church one more time.

But I'll start that tomorrow. Today we are off to Saskatoon for Thanksgiving, to spend time with our family.

Have a good one, and if you have a holiday today, do something fun eh?

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-12

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The last Sunday

Here goes...

It was a very good farewell.

The Service was fun.

And the dinner later was full.




Yeah. A very good day.

Toronto Maple Leafs Undefeated!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008
I was just checking the stats and the Toronto Maple Leafs are undefeated!

Wow, that's pretty good for the Leafs.

You fans must be very proud... I smell a cup in eight months.

Unfamous last words

I'm at the office again this morning, after being here three hours late last night. I'm trying to learn what to say tomorrow morning, my last Sunday sharing worship with these people who have become friends and family to us.

I suppose it's good that I don't have anything to say. It's not like I've been saving something to unload on them now that I'm leaving. Its not like I have ever stopped from saying anything I ever felt like I needed to tell them over the years.

So here I am, having said everything I ever felt I needed to say to them, with nothing to say.

A part of me wants to remind them of the great gift the local church is. Oh yes, it can at moments be total crap, but it is still a part of the body of the most high God, the temple in which he dwells. He gives it life by his very presence. We should probably esteem it more simply because it is the place the living God lives in.

A part of me wants to remind them how far they have come and how much they have changed, but I'll probably just start blubbering.

So, I've been waiting, and now the time is nearly here.

Perhaps it is fitting, though a little melodramatic, to use the last words of Henry Ward Beecher, an evangelist, who said as he was leaving this world, "Now comes the mystery."


I wonder, what comes next.


The kids have all arrived home

For one last weekend here.

It’s good.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-10

Friday, October 10, 2008

  • It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. So what are you thankful for? #

  • I am so tired. Trying to watch Life on Mars. So far so great. #


big date night. Updated.

Just Lauralea and I, and a bunch of youth, playing mini-golf.

It'll be fun.
In some ways it's them I will miss the most.


Gotta go practice my putting...

Nope. Only three kids availible to go, and that was still good, except that the minigolf place closed down 6 months ago.

So the kids went to a friends house, Lauralea went home to sleep, and I'm at the office doing some work.

Happy Friday Night all.

Credit to give and no place to put it

My twitter account (Which is like a little news ticker from people or news organizations I wish to follow) has been running the market and economic news a lot lately so I see what is going on around the world as the time zones change and the crisis spreads through each time zone. It is very concerning and I am really interested to see where this goes, so I'm watching.

I was impressed yesterday to hear that:

"The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that Canada will lead the G7 in economic growth next year and avoid a recession. Shortly after that the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based independent think-tank, released a report saying Canada has the world's soundest banking system. Canada's biggest trading partner, the United States, ranked 40th in the world for the soundness of its financial system, behind countries like the Barbados and Namibia."


What have we been doing right?

Well done, whoever has been causing us to be in this position at this time.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-09

Thursday, October 09, 2008

  • looks like a great day to stay home and drink tea. But I have a full day, out there. #


A few more good byes

Today and tomorrow I am saying goodbye to some elderly shut-ins who I've cared for and pastored for nearly eleven years. That is tough because it's obvious but goes unmentioned that we won't ever see one another again, here at least.

And a few are struggling with sickness, cancer being the primary disease. I'm leaving them with a prayer and a hope. I don't know if our parting is permanent, and none of us address that lingering question.

For each of them my leaving brings discomfort and concern. Not necessarily for what I give them on a daily or weekly basis, but for what I bring them as they enter their final days. My presence offers them comfort in death somehow. A pastor to pray with them and someone to bury them become a primary need at this point, and I am withdrawing from that work.

But the are gracious to me. They've mentioned these needs before, but for now they silence their concerns and bless me. I say my goodbyes, probably for the last time, and I leave with more tears in my eyes.

That is why I hate saying good bye.

Another beautiful day out there

I remember ten years ago, our first Thanksgiving in Prince Albert, and by Friday it was miserable and raining and snowing.

It kept snowing for days and nights and by Sunday morning I couldn't get out of my driveway. In fact, even the streets were mostly impassible.

The snow stayed all winter then. Boy it was a long one.

Hope that there are no plans for that reoccuring this weekend.

This is the kind of October I love. Long and warm and inviting.

So what animal do you see in this picture?

I just noticed a four legged animal in this photo.
Can you find Waldo?


Points will be awarded.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-08

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

  • I am getting hungry. Hmmm, I forgot lunch, and didn't eat breakfast. Makes sense. #

  • vacuming the house. Tomorrow is an open house. #


Feels like it's time for a Bob Newhart season 2 marathon

or at least a show or two.

Love the Bob.

Last ministerial meeting

My last ministerial meeting was today. They recognized me and moved on with business, bunch of new guys. I am one of the old guys in terms of time spent in this city, and I sat there thinking of all those who had come and gone over the years, there were only a couple of us old timers left.

I had coffee today with my friend Dennis, who is the Chaplain up at the hospital. It was he who created the on call chaplain work that a few of us were invited to be a part of, and that was about nine years ago.
I sat with him and we talked and remembered and did old guy talking stuff. I started to express my gratitude for being a part of that group, and how it helped me be a better pastor in trauma situations, which it has. I began reflecting on the hundreds of different faces of the people with the stories I had met over nine years of being called to the hospital in emergency situations.

And I remembered so many of them, and their faces, I remember their faces.

The 14 year old girl who found her dad killing himself. The six year old boy whose father had died previously, and who was in a roll over accident with his mom and landed beside her dead body where he hid till help arrived. The wife who found her lifeless husband in the driveway with the shovel in his hand. The guy who loved to play basketball for his high school team, and that night making a drive for the basket fell to the ground unconscious who was dead before he got to the hospital. The couple who were dancing the night away and he fell to the ground grasping his chest, dying in her arms. The lost little kids whose mom was brought in not feeling well and who died before the day was over. The guy who hit a moose on the road and was able to talk to me but couldn't feel his legs who died a week later as a result of his injuries. The two families who gathered at the hospital with both loosing kids. One the family of the drunk kid who drove head first into another vehicle with teens in it and three were dead. A doctors teenaged son is found in a car wreck on a lonely dirt road early in the morning and the doctor can't do anything to make his boy live. A young couple months into their pregnancy gave birth to a very premature baby who died and they were grieving and asked me to come and I held the little girl in the palm of my hand. One young lady who was so distraught at the death of her mother that she tried to kill herself and the RCMP called me in and I was able to comfort her and talk her off the ledge and they took us to the hospital. The young guy the ambulance brought in from an accident who I was able to talk with clearly who died while I was there.

They all were people with lives and activities, and their lives came to an abrupt halt. I seem to remember their expressions and lost looks.

Over the years I learned that people are who they are in life and death. Impending death does not change a hard heart. It doesn't make them willing to do anything. I've also learned that just because they are conscious now and awake and clear and feeling not too bad right now, does not mean they won't be dead within the hour. And I've learned that for some people it is a comfort and blessing to have someone, even a stranger, pray for you or the one you love, as they leave this world for the next.

I was surprised, as I drank coffee with my friend, that those stories and images were still there. They were quickly accessible, like they reside close to the surface of my memory.

And that's ok. It reminds me to pray, and it instructs me in how to live and how to die.

So here's to all the nurses, doctors and hospice workers, police, fire and emergency workers out there who regularly see this stuff. I hope you have places and friends who help you process this stuff.

And for the rest of us, may there always be someone to mourn when the number of days allotted to us completed.


There is a thunder and lightning storm out there right now!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
In October even!!



Ah memories.

Our first year of marriage. Our first home, a trailer. Our first kitchen table.

Well, none of it was ours actually. Truth be told it all belonged to other people.



Many things have changed, but she still has the most beautiful adventurous eyes.


a day for tears

Today I am working on my last official week here at Gateway, and Lauralea is at home weeping.

It’s just life, really. Well, life and death.

And death, though it’s avoided at all costs, can be an amazingly beautiful time.

Just look out the window.




Leadership Training Weekend

Monday, October 06, 2008

I was just west of Calgary this weekend helping out at our leadership training weekend at Entheos Retreat Centre.

Here are some pics I got of the place and people.



William Shatner does "Rocket Man"

It may just be a matter of taste, but I don't think this was what the inventors of the Internet had in mind when they came up with the World Wide Web.

(or at least don't throw up.)

William Shatner. A Great Canadian.

Toilet Blues

This morning as I sat in a stall in A&W taking care of business, little did I know the strange direction my life was about to take.

The guy who was standing at the stall when I entered the toilet, began to sing. Yes really. Sing.

He reached down deep and pulled an old blues song up from out of his depths, while he stood there, peeing.

He had a deep voice, but I honestly was distracted by the fact that I was sitting on the toilet, and he knew that, and he was standing at a urinal, draining his bladder, singing the blues.

I suppressed a laugh, trying to take care of my own concerns. After quite a long time, he came to the end of his song. A big, loud finish.

A few squeaks of laughter nearly slipped past my lips.

And then, it got worse. Out of nowhere, Harmonica noise filled the Toilet. Yes, that’s what I said, harmonica.

Loud, soulful harmonies rose above the noise of the fan, while he stood there, peeing.

I don’t know how he played it so well, because he was covering it somehow, and shaking his uh, hands, creating a vibrato with the harmonica. I mean I would think he needed one hand to, well to aim if I’m honest about it. Where did he get enough hands to play harmonica too.

It was just a very surreal moment, and I covered my laughter with my hands. 

And after standing too long at the urinal, singing and playing the blues, he zipped up his pants, and without washing his hands, said in a deep Elvis tone; “Thank you. Thank you very much.”


nearly done

Sunday, October 05, 2008
I have one more direction session and then we are heading home.

12 meetings in a day and a half, so I am blessedly tired. The stories have been amazing and the opportunities to pray are humbling. I head home tired but full.

Next up, our final week at Gateway Covenant Church.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-04

Saturday, October 04, 2008

  • 1 fox. 2 Deer So Far. #

  • 6 Am Through Saskatoo All Is Fine. #

  • Getting Gas In Owen. Running Late. #

  • really quiet here, except for the baby crying in another room. #


A new day in the woods

I'm sore today because last night on the way back to my room I fell hard over a rock or something I couldn't see in the dark. But I slept hard and well and now my day is filling up with people who want to meet for Direction.

God is here and it's good. It'll be a good day.

Oh and I ate porriage for breakfast. So I must be middle aged.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-03

Friday, October 03, 2008

  • There is a fly buzzing around my office window and making me crazy. I need a shotgun. #

  • office stuff done for now. Heading to hospital to visit. #


at the Entheos retreat centre

Well I arrived, after a long and beautiful day on the road.

A part of my contribution is over, and it looks like a great group of young leaders to meet with.

In a while I will start meeting with those who want some of my time. I'm looking forward to that.

But I'm feeling a bit off. My head hurts and I want to throw up, but I haven't really eaten anything yet.

Oh and miracle of miracles, there seems to be an open WiFi signal in here.

Course I'm here to listen, so don't expect returned emails very soon.

Peace to you today. The kind of peace that there is out here, in the pines on the edge of the Rocky Mountains.

Need a prayer?

Thursday, October 02, 2008
I'm leaving now and should be on the road for the next 7 or 8 hours, so I will have some time on my hands.

If you need someone to pray or think positive thoughts about you,

:) for the more mystical of you...

just shoot a note to my mobile there at the bottom of the page and I'll pray while I drive.

This I can do.

and, it's free.

Recently on Twitter 2008-10-02

  • If I was a spy and they wanted met to talk, all they would have to do is threaten me with an ultrasound and I'd cave. I'd be a lousy spy. #



I confess that tonight I am tired.

Trying to do too much I think, without a break. Looking forward to what I get to offer this weekend, but the journey there is long. Figuratively as well as literally.

I hope the house sells soon. I hope it doesn’t snow before we move. I hope the kids are well. I hope the drive tomorrow goes well. I hope it gets easier to say farewell. I hope all the tests come back ok. I hope… 

Of course, hope deferred makes the heart sick.

I don’t wish to be heartsick.

So I’m heading to bed for a bit. In five hours I hope to be up and on the road.




I was just up at the hospital doing visitation

and I came around a corner and there stood a 2 foot spiderman.

He looked up at me through one eye hole, saluted, and walked past me down the hall.

I must use this name for good

I’ve mentioned before that there is at least one more Randall Friesen here in this city I live in, and it’s been fun to get to know him and his wife a bit over the years. He is a surgeon and works up at the hospital.

He’s a good guy and a generous person, but his home number is unlisted so occasionally I have received in the mail a note of thanks or a receipt for a gift he’s given some organization or another. Usually I get those pieces of mail to him to read and appreciate. I’m ok with being misunderstood as being him. But I usually clarify that I am the Rev. Randall Friesen, not the Dr. Randall Friesen and when He’s is done with the people, then I get them.

Well, this morning I was up at the Hospital for some tests they wanted to do on me and I was running a little late so I handed in the papers at the desk and took my place in a line of chairs that many people already were waiting in. I was a bit grumpy because the line wasn’t moving that quickly and only one or two were called as we waited.

Then my name was called, and I hopped up and went through the doors to where my name was called from.

The pretty smiling attendant handed me a small plastic jar and she told me where to go to fill it. I looked at it with unbelieving eyes and said: “This is all we’ve got? I haven’t gone all night you know.” 

She grinned back and without loosing a beat replied: “You know that’s all we’ve got.”

Well, by then I was near to exploding so I didn’t mess around. I went in to the tiny room and made things happen.

She’s very friendly, I thought as I was in there. I prefer that to grumpy unfriendly guy anytime.

I exited the little room and she told me to have a seat for the blood work they needed. I bravely sat down and she started taking vials out of me and made a comment to which I made a quick reply. Then she said “I guess you’re use to giving the orders instead.”

And then it dawned on me, she thought I was the good Dr. Randall Friesen rather than who I really am. I smiled and explained to her who I was, and I told her the old joke between Randy and myself to which she dutifully laughed. She asked me about the church as she tried to get my mind off the blood pouring out of me and we had a good chat.

Quickly we were done and she smiled and wished me well.

I returned through the waiting area and saw a few of the same people still sitting there and it dawned on me, probably not but I wondered if my good name had moved things along so expeditiously.

I may have to send Randy a thank you note for the use of his name, again.


Recently on Twitter 2008-10-01

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

  • The sky seems to be falling. #


The Farewell Tour Continues

Another evening and another meal shared with friends.
The love being shared with us these final days is quite enjoyable. It's cool to be loved, always.

And, after another serious supper tonight, I'm ok with the fast I need to be on till tomorrow. I am not in any way hungry.


Now I'm in prep mode. I am doing some Spiritual Direction at a leadership retreat in Calgary this weekend. Friday very early, I'll leave to be there by noon.

And, as it happens the Roughriders are playing in Calgary Friday night.

I wonder...

I've preached 470 Sermons at Gateway

and that's way more than enough.
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