This week on Twitter 2009-04-01


  • Overtime. Tied at 1 #

  • Dang twitter had me back at the hockey game I was at last week, this morning at 3 am!! #

  • You know i may twitter more if i had a personal assistant to do it for me. not a bad idea. Course then I would need writers too. #

  • Big date night tonight, Untill we got to the nice Italian place that had a 2.5 hr wait while they made 200 lasagnas. Ended up at wallmart. #

  • Alright already hit a different note piano tuner guy. #

  • Just thinking out loud ... does God build the church or do people build the church?? #

  • Off to Ponoka for supper with a gang of young parents. Isn't Ponoka known for something else around here? #

  • The snow looks to be melting from the middle of the fields. Brown grass is taking over the vista. #

  • Bonne nuit a Internet, bien dormir. #

This week on Twitter 2009-04-01


  • Overtime. Tied at 1 #

  • Dang twitter had me back at the hockey game I was at last week, this morning at 3 am!! #

  • You know i may twitter more if i had a personal assistant to do it for me. not a bad idea. Course then I would need writers too. #

  • Big date night tonight, Untill we got to the nice Italian place that had a 2.5 hr wait while they made 200 lasagnas. Ended up at wallmart. #

  • Alright already hit a different note piano tuner guy. #

  • Just thinking out loud ... does God build the church or do people build the church?? #

  • Off to Ponoka for supper with a gang of young parents. Isn't Ponoka known for something else around here? #

  • The snow looks to be melting from the middle of the fields. Brown grass is taking over the vista. #

  • Bonne nuit a Internet, bien dormir. #

April 1st tomorrow

... I'm thinking, I'm thinking....

life is movement

On any given day,
with any given decision
we are moving towards God
or we are moving away from God.

With our thoughts and our time
with our choices and our money
with our energy and our resources
we are moving towards God
or we are moving away from God.

And some days we might ask
where is the choice?
where is the decision
to move in either direction?

But it's in the subtle small affairs of the heart
its in the choice to listen, or in the choice to drown out
it's in the choice to serve the one close to you
or the choice to serve oneself
it's in the willingness to call out for help
or the hearts desire to suffer alone

we all move closer to Christ
or we move away from him.
Towards the cross
or away from it, rejecting its hope

And in that daily movement
we either push away the life and grace and freedom and confidence
or we receive them all, as gifts we could not create ourselves
because in the humility of being needy
we are able to receive them all


As we move towards God
or
as we move away from God.

Day off

It's tough to explain but sometimes a day off is just spent waiting for the next day so you can get back at it again. That is, unless you have something to distract yourself with. Today there were no big distractions, well, except for the headache.

This headache has been hounding me for a week now and I'm not a headache guy, so I'm sucking on Tylenol.

Anyway, Corner Gas is on in a moment, so that's a good thing.

Off to finish the day off.

Quickly, it's time

to arise from where you are now.
And to go out and find a gathering of people
Who have met together, setting aside their own agenda
To worship the living God
Whose image cannot be carved on wood or shaped in metal.
To gather, each with our own stories
and add them together into one voice calling out to God
that Christ might be glorified and lifted up.

Arise and come together, not for what you can get
but for what you can give.
Your time. Your energy. Your love. Your admiration. Your worship.

Come, now is the time to worship.

In the office today

Because mostly I'm not yet ready for tomorrow morning.

This week has in many ways been about people, which is good. But there are other things I need to be about as well. Expense reports, long term planning and initiating, filing, correspondence, phone messages, etc. This second tier of work can be put aside for a time, but left too long it will catch up with you and kick you in the pants. The first tier of work, which is people, can't be ignored because honestly that is why I am here doing what I am doing. And when there are perfect "God moments" that may only come occasionally in a life you want to make the most of them when they come by. This week there have been some great God moments with people, but my monthly expense report is a mess.

So I am in the office thinking, praying, about what I need to say to people tomorrow. I know that for some very large church preachers the work of preaching is a proclamation into the world of the listeners and you let the word fall on the people where they are at that day. While I like parts of that approach, I tend to preach in or to a local context in which I know that some of the people have had loss this week, and some are grieving. Some have found the love of their lives and others have had babies or received a promotion at work. I don't preach at individuals, but I develop the preaching time with their stories in the back of my mind, because that will help shape the word to be more effective, I hope.

So I am here thinking and praying through the stories I have heard this week, and the people I am aware of. I'm looking at the Word and what I am talking about tomorrow, and I am sitting with both of these for right now. Allowing the two to somehow become one coherent theme.

I am glad for the luxury of being able to do this, as I remember what it was like to work a full time job and pastor a large church on the side. Glad God didn't call me to live that life for a long time.

It's a beautiful day out there today, and if I lived somewhere where there were sidewalks, I'd be doing this work while walking and praying.

I may have to purchase some rubber boots soon.
Spring might finally finally be on the way.

Off to the hospitals

to see some of the elderly ladies for whom a visit with me is new each time I come by.

Then up to the city to check on a friend who has been in the hospital a bit.

Perhaps the time on the road will give me some needed time to be still, in a in my head kind of way.

"I HAFTA GO PEE!!"

Overheard from the 2-3 year olds care room next to my office.

Also over heard:
.

"Hi what's your name?"
"Sarah"
"Sarah?? That's three Sarahs here now!!"
.

About one child crying inconsolably:
"I think he's fake crying."
.

Guess what day it is here at the church??

Hint: I just helped a mom who had a crying child, by holding her 8 month old boy.

Yup, it's MoPS day around here again and it looks like a good turnout.

Such a cool opportunity for moms of preschoolers who are often stuck out here on the farm to gather and learn and care for one another and have their kids cared for too.

And actually I quite enjoy holding the little ones, especially when they are as good as this little boy I held today.

Makes me smile.

This week on Twitter 2009-03-25


  • Edmonton wins in an overtime shootout. That was a fun evening. #

  • Playing a late night game of Halo One with Micah. He doesn't have school tomorrow. #

  • Joan Rivers face; what's that about? Looks like an overfilled beach ball. #

  • 42x34, why cant i find you oh pants that fit. #

  • Twitter is rerunning a tweet I made four days ago. Come on Twitter, get with it. Context is everything baby. #

  • I have never seen #BSG and cha know waht? I'm ok with that. #

  • I'm hungry today, still at church. #

  • At ikea for lunch wondering what a lingon berry is. #

  • you all blew me away with the lingonberry answer. Now can you tell me how Ikea can sell a 10 meatball & potato gravy & berry meal for $2.70? #

  • Sitting in seat 12 row 12 waiting for the oilers and blues to start playing. #

  • Nope I'm not at tonight's hockey game, that's just TWITTER BRAIN FARTING AGAIN. I sent that tweet last week. #

Sometimes in a lowly cell

Sunday evening on Iona
Sometimes in a lowly cell, in the presence of my God
I stand and listen.
In the silence of my heart I can hear his will
When I listen despairing people flock to me
They expect that I can see the answers
They ask my advice, they say I am wise
I answer that nothing can deceive me, if I stand alone and silently listen
For I am but a servant who is guided by his king, when I listen
Sometimes in a lowly cell in the presence of my God I stand and listen

attributed to St Columba of Iona

Mad Cow in Alberta and British Snipers.

Made me laugh out loud.

Where am I?

I am still around, thanks for asking, however my head seems elsewhere.

*****

I am behind in many things. It's the kind of behind that would make me anxiously fretful in college. Behind in my filing and emailing. Behind in my initial connections with people, behind in what I would call my secondary line of work. I am behind and when I get that way it's like high school math, it's just difficult to get caught up again.

I've been having some good one on ones with people and some of those primary line activities. There have recently been some desperate and difficult personal stories of people here in the field, and they've trusted me with their news and needs, so that's been good. But I often just notice the things I get behind with.

*****

I've been thinking of my dad a lot lately. Actually my dad and grandparents who died a year before dad. Dreams have become vivid again, night and day dreams, and a part of me wonders and misses them. I wonder where is that picture I have of dad. It's still in a box someplace around here, and I search a bit till I tire of looking or I get distracted by some other thing.

That's new again. Thoughts of him, missing him, wondering what life might have been like if he could see and experience where we live now. He would have liked this place I think.

I discovered recently that when his parents and siblings moved to town from the country homestead, at the time they moved, he moved to attend High School & Bible school in Manitoba.

When my parents packed up their lives and moved to Ontario, on the day they moved I packed up and left for Bible school in Alberta.

And last Autumn, when Lauralea and I and Micah packed up and moved home, Thomas left for Bible School.

Three generations of families moving one way and their kids moving another.

Anyway, just been missing my dad lately, wondering who he has become.

*****

Continuing to pray too. The prayers have been more work because there's more at stake in some of that work lately. For the kids, for individuals, for myself, some of the praying lately has needed to be persistent or ongoing, until there is peace again and there is a season of rest.

Yeah, just praying through this time for now.

*****

So yeah, that's where I am. Feeling a bit of failure in the work, missing my dad a lot, and pushing through some difficult patches in prayer.

It's just a season, like winter, which should pass too one day.

Saturday night tonight,

and it's been quiet around here especially since I fell asleep at 6 and slept till 8.

There is a big weather warning out tonight for lots of snow and wind and so on, but so far things are quiet out there. Lauralea says it smells like snow. I just had a very hot bath and in my boxers and t-shirt walked out onto the front deck to cool off a bit, (You can do that sort of thing out here in the field without anyone calling the police on you). I stood out there in the -2C with the gentle breeze and its like the calm before the storm. Tomorrow is suppose to be nasty, very nasty. We'll see, it's hard to believe it on a night like tonight.

*****

On this Friday afternoon, how about some flat tracks of black wax

The video quality is terrible but the audio is fun.
Happy first day of Spring.

Friday Morning Prayer

Friday Morning - The Cross

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy cross you have redeemed
the world.

Jesus, Lamb of God,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, bearer of our sins,
have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
grant us peace.

.

Psalm 31.1-5

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.

Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, LORD, my faithful God.

.

We look to you to save and help us.
Jesus, saviour of the world, come to us in your mercy;
We look to you to save and help us.

By your cross and your life laid down, you set your people free:
we look to you to save and help us.
we look to you to save and help us.

When they were ready to perish, you saved your disciples:
we look to you to come to our help.
we look to you to save and help us.

In the greatness of your mercy, loose us from our chains:
forgive the sins of all your people.
we look to you to save and help us.

Make yourself known as our Saviour and Mighty Deliverer:
save and help us, that we might praise you.
we look to you to save and help us.

Come now and dwell with us, Lord Jesus Christ:
hear our prayer and be with us always.
we look to you to save and help us.

And when you come in your glory,
make us to be one with you
and to share in the life of your kingdom.

We look to you to save and help us.

.

Christ, who was crucified, and now is risen, may we find in you a sure ground for our faith, a firm support for our hopes, the knowledge of sins forgiven, and the assurance that life is eternal.

Amen.

.

The Rhythm of Life - Celtic Daily Prayer
David Adam

scenes_from_the_recession

I consider myself blessed beyond measure about most of the things that happen in my life, but in these days of worldwide recession that measure is deeper and wider than normal.

We live in Canada, in a province that so far is a "Have" province. We don't have great fields of empty houses or thousands of people lining up for a chance at a job here. I am thankful, not that I am not like those who are hurting, but thankful that those difficulties are not a part of my experience, for now.

...for now.

Here is a photo essay of the effects the recession is having around the world.

No pictures of Canada I notice.

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/03/scenes_from_the_recession.html

Thursday night

The past two days have been quieter than what they've been previously and when that happens it allows me to start to catch up on some neglected things. Kinda sad that as a pastor it still can be an adrenaline rush when you are busy, then when things quiet down you start to wonder of your effectiveness.

But there have been a couple of good conversations in the past couple of days. The kinds of conversations that might take a long time to trust the new pastor with, so they don't come up very early in the relationship. But that is another encouraging thing about the work here, it's already transitioning to more one on one work, which is what I find most rewarding.

Tomorrow there are another couple of conversations planned, then it's the weekend again. Just keeps rolling over and over, one day into another.

Nothing profound here tonight, just living life one day after another.

Night.
On the way to my office this morning I heard some amazing Birdsong. Listen if you like.

IMG_1099

This week on Twitter 2009-03-18


  • Watching a replay of the 09 Brit Awards. I love their live performances. They do it up big. #

  • My office window is open because it's so hot in here, and in the field the cows are mooing. Spring, is that you?? #

  • been working on getting a quote for our auto insurance since 9 am. Wow, this is a lost day. #

  • I'm here http://bit.ly/9yQvX and going to walk 50 feet due east to get home. #

  • The Office and 30 Rock. Could be the funniest hour on TV these days. #

  • Morning brings continued calls re. Insurance. Nearly done I hope. #

  • Beautiful day out here today. It better be spring cause April is only weeks away! #

  • The bottle of grapefruit juice on my warm desk for a week is starting to separate. Cool... #

  • In contrast to a million other people, I LOVE the new facebook look. Course, it looks and acts a lot like Twitter now. Hmmmmm. #

  • 42x34, why cant i find you oh pants that fit. #

  • And a Happy St. Paddies day to you all this fine snowy mornin. #

  • Sitting in seat 12 row 12 waiting for the oilers and blues to start playing. #

  • Overtime. Tied at 1 #

And now, off to parent/teacher interviews

and we shall see what shape Micah is in, academically speaking of course.

I'm sure he would love his dad blogging about the adventure that is his education.

It might be the warmer weather talking but...

this morning somewhere between pulling on sock number one and sock number two I realized that if I lived near this church, and if I were looking for a church, I would attend Malmo Mission Covenant Church.

ChurchThat's not always the case for pastors and their families.

I mean, it's one thing to be obedient to God and go and do the things he wants you to do. But it's altogether different to feel in one's gut that it's the kind of place you would want to attend.

This is the kind of place I would like to attend, that is if I wasn't working here or called here.

And that is really a good thing.

so a guy calls about a hockey game. Updated.

and has two extra tickets to see the Edmonton Oilers play the Saskatoon St.Louis Blues tonight.

So guess where Micah and I shall be.

And if the game is on TV, I will be the guy with the green painted chest and three leaf clovers covering my nipples.

UPDATE:

Row 12, Seat 12, in the corner. Very sweet seats indeed.

The Oilers beat the Blues in an exciting overtime shootout 2-1.

The last NHL game I was at was in Winnipeg in the spring of 1995 when we knew the Jets were leaving town. I dragged my four year old boy Thomas to the Jets vs. Toronto game so that he could say he had been to a game. He slept through the third period.

This makes me sad.



I don't know her and have only seen a bit of her work, but news comes this afternoon that Liam Neesons wife, Natasha Richardson is dying from a ski accident she suffered yesterday while on a day of skiing with her son near Montreal. She fell and initially felt fine, but there was some manner of brain damage that has progressed through today.

The news is reporting that she is being flown to New York where they will withdraw her life support.

Just a sad day for her friends and family.

via.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Iona Cross



A picture I took on a Sunday evening on the Isle of Iona, where a priest from Ireland launched into the north of Britain.

Hope your day is good, and that the spirit of Patrick is alive and well in many of you.

when guys pray

One of the graces I am loving the most living in this field is the discipline of early morning prayer that a few guys started at 6:30 Tuesday mornings. We take turns meeting in town or here in the field, and anyone is welcome.

This morning Wayne and I drove through the darkness and lightly falling snowflakes, and we talked of life as we drove into town. This morning there were eight of us gathered and when we arrived the coffee was already on and drinkable. We connect, share a few stories of our lives or of people we've heard of, and then we pray for a bit. Nothing long or big, no secret agenda, just guys gathered early to connect and pray for our families, church, community, and world.

It's good and I've discovered that I need these guys. I appreciate so much, not that they gather to pray, but that they gather to listen. To me, to one another, to God, they just listen, and then we go to God and admit our limited abilities with these things.

To me when men gather to pray, especially giving up sleep to do it, that's the real deal. There is amazement when each week, seven, eight, nine, or thirteen guys crawl out of bed, drive a distance, just to talk to God together. I understand that to be a powerful thing, and so far for me it's been powerful.

Next week, Tuesday morning at 6:30 am, we will be meeting at the church.
You are invited.

And 18 days later the car is ours

Some observations.

In Alberta to buy a car, you need to

-Select a car
-Pay for car and receive bill of sale from seller.
-Call or visit an Insurance Broker.
-Get quotes from Broker.
-Select quote you like. ($855 for me)
-Fax in signature.
-Receive complete forms via email.
-Visit the only privatized auto registration company in town which is only open office hours during the week.
-Buy and pay for a new plate and sticker for the year. ($70 per year. $70.40 if you use Debit.)
-Place plate on the purchased auto.

In Saskatchewan to buy a car, you need to

-Select a car
-Pay for car and receive bill of sale from seller.
-Call or visit an Insurance agent.
-Decide if you want more than the required coverage.
-Buy and pay for a new sticker for the car. ($650.00)
-Place sticker on the plate.

Living 35 kms from town makes the process a bit trickier but it's finally done.
And now I know how its done here. Hopefully next time it will be faster.

And if you're just moving here from Sask and need a little help, gimme a call.

:)

Oh and the car?

A 2001 Crown Victoria LX
The Crown Vic

Tonight the quality of the stillness is good

It allows room for God to move freely and he is.

The faces of people pass by my mind and my spirit is stirred and that usually means I get to pray for them. So that's what I am doing tonight.

Praying.

But by this point in my life, it's more of a clear prayer of my spirit and mind, rather than a list of things I want to see God do for these people. And as their/your faces move into my mind, my spirit is moved in certain ways for them. So I go and pray in that holy space, in my spirit, for you, in ways that God knows.

Yes, I know, strange, or weird even. But I love it. There is something of great freedom not having to keep up lists with God so that he will do the right things in the lives of the people I love and care about. And since he knows you better than I do, he gives me different things to pray for you than I would pray myself.

Prayer has become such a different gift to me over the years.

For years it's simple and basic, and then He introduces me to another level in the spaces of prayer. I pray there for a long time thinking that this is it, and then He takes me to another level. Each level more satisfying than the previous. I think that is how it is with God. You think you have it all and it's only a sliver of what he wants for you. There is more and more and more to know and explore of him, with him.

Sometimes life gets stuck in little eddies where you go round and round never getting anywhere. Maybe you need those times to get hungry again or to get desperate again, and then you shoot out into the current of his work in your life and you move forward again. Always new places to explore and grow into, with God. Always something you didn't know or places you've never been, with him.

You will never outgrow God and you will never out think him and you will never out know him. For on the day you do, you will become your own god. The pride of your own heart and mind will seek to raise you up, but you will fall and either admit your failure, or you will die.

I'm praying for you tonight, that you might not fall. Or, if you've fallen, that you might have the grace to admit it. And in that grace, to know life, like you've never known it before.

Night.
From the field.

Winter Sunrise

In which you find out more about me than you may want to know...

I just found this:
COLDPLAY ANNOUNCEMENT


Four Canadian shows announced
March 9, 2009 1:00 pm
More new shows in June

Good afternoon. We're pleased to confirm four more Canadian shows for Coldplay, to add to the previously-announced Toronto Rogers Centre gig on 30th July. The dates are as follows:

JUNE
15 - MTS Centre, Winnipeg
17 - Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary
18 - Rexall Place, Edmonton
20 - General Motors Place, Vancouver

Tickets will for all four will go onsale on Saturday, March 14th at 10am MST from here.


I'm "there" but it's not selling tickets to me...

Saturday morning thoughts on curling

This morning I headed into town where our church had a couple of teams entered in the Interchurch Curling Bonspiel (Which I guess is Scottish for "Hurry up and throw your rocks across the ice before I freeze to death"). Seems a lot of people out here enjoy the very Canadian pastime of curling.

She can motivate the boys to sweep

-She had all the guys motivated to sweep-

I was asked repeatedly if I wanted to play, but I had to get back to The Field before our afternoon of youth showed up. I haven't played since High School (I took Curling in High School?? Yes indeedy, easy credit I think.) But I may have to take it up again to participate in the local culture. That could be fun.

IMG_1058

But these guys are serious curlers.


You can check out their form here.

Looks to be a beautiful day

Spring wise anyway.

Looks like I am now an insured driver, and I have a better idea how the system operates.

Off to town to meet with some people, then another meeting, then back to the field to work on the sermon some more.

Tonight we are off to some new friends home for a movie night, and tomorrow all the church youth are descending on our house for a games afternoon.

But the break in the cold temperature helps everything seem better.

Well, that's almost the day then

I suppose I shouldn't be, but I am surprised at how much work it is just to get ourselves transfered from one province to another. The key I think, is patience grasshopper.  It just takes time I suppose.

This morning at 9ish the call came back to help us with an auto insurance quote. She was very helpful and explained the process and options with me. Immediately after that call I began the process to get my history faxed to me here in The Field. Immediately following that, I started the process to get those documents to the lady I spoke with this morning, and now I am waiting for a call from the lady with the next steps.

In the mean time we checked with Alberta Health on the status of our application. Apparently we faxed in the temporary Drivers licenses rather than the permanent ones that were required. Ah, good thing we called then. So we faxed in a copy of the new, permanent licenses, which has a photo of me on it in which I look like a russian mob guy trying to immigrate...

And that brings me to 2:30 pm and next up is the call from the insurance lady.

Pretty much the day there. I've written a few quick emails and a few other things, but nothing that requires my attention for more than a minute.

I think it might be easier to move from one European country to another than it is to move from one Canadian province to another.

Time will tell.

This week on Twitter 2009-03-11


  • Night internets. I think I can finally sleep now. #

  • Wow, what a change from yesterday. Bright, sunny and warm out there. #

  • School buses not running today. Snow day for Micah I guess. No snow day for me cause I can walk to my office. #

  • We are at a silent auction fundraiser for micah s school. I may have bought a load of grain. #

  • Off to a highschool fundraiser supper tonight. The bigband music should be good! #

  • Time change tonight. Loose an hour of sleep. Sheesh Alberta! #

  • So, what if I just choose to not spring ahead, couldn't we all live within our own individual time zones?? #

  • Long day on the road, bad snow, nearly home. #

  • Stopping in town for supper at the wok and roll. Guess the food. #

  • Laying in bed not sleeping, reading tweets of other people laying in bed not sleeping. Odd but strangely comforting. #

  • It's colder now than it was at 5 am. -34 C. It's March for pete's sake!!! #

  • I'm exhausted. It's been a long long day. Night Internets. #

I think you should know...

that as I type this I'm downloading Alabama's 16 Greatest Hits from iTunes.

In the early 1980's, the last time I lived in Alberta as chance would have it, I owned one of their cassettes which had Dixieland Delight on it. The other day I downloaded that song and it was like a pleasant memory of when Lauralea and I started dating. Well, the other day I had it playing in the car and she heard it and loved it and said if I could get any more like that, that I should get it.

So I am.


Yes I know, it's getting in my blood.
But just the old country. This new stuff is too, pop for country.

Three connections that make me smile

Story 1

My uncle and aunt, who are Saskatchewan farmers, stopped in Monday night for the night and we had a great visit with them. It was good to remember and to talk late into the night about things that mattered to us. Tuesday we went out together for breakfast and we talked some more. I was able to show off some of my newly found farmer language and knowledge, which pretty much impressed them I'm guessing.

It's cool to have family that you can quite instantly connect with again after a while apart. And it's good too to hear of life in the rectangle province again.

It was good of them to make an effort to stop by.

Story 2

So, last night Lauralea and I went with Micah to an orientation meeting at the high school he will be in next year. After the meeting I was approached by a lady who asked if I was John D. Friesen's grandson. To which I replied yes I was. She got a big smile on her face and told me that it was at one of his evangelistic meetings in LaCrete Alberta that she first met God in a real way.

That started a long conversation about her years growing up in LaCrete, and I asked her if she know of my uncle and aunt on my moms side who had been up there for years teaching in the school. Of course she knew them and their work, and how they had helped change that whole area of the north.

Lauralea and I while we were attending college up north at PRBI, and had at least once a year gone up to LaCrete to visit the relatives and have some fun with them, which reminds me, it was in LaCrete on April 18th that Lauralea and I started "going together." But that's a freebee to the story...

Anyway she replied with another thing in common when she said she went to PRBI for a year too, a couple of years after we had been there.

The final coolness factor was when it came out that she has a kid in Micah's class and that's how she started asking Micah and thinking this out. From Grandpa ministering in Northern Alberta, to relatives teaching up there, 27 years ago, to a small rural school in Alberta with two families who had moved around a bunch in life.

It was such an overwhelming confluence of events that really made me smile. Even out here in the field, we are connected in a small world.

Story 3

Our Insurance man stopped in today to get some stuff done on our house insurance and auto insurance, and we began to talk at the table over tea and brownies. Turns out he used to farm just north of Saskatoon in the area where my dad's family had their farm.

He knew my family, my grandparents, my uncle and aunt who had been here the day previous, and on and on it went, like some reunion tour.

Wow.

It's just cool to be known and remembered when you live in a strange land with new people and new cultures to learn and new ways to walk. Feels like God hasn't forgotten that we have a history too and that he's watching out for us, giving us what we need on any given day.

Yeah, a cool week to be me.

Letters on being a pastor

Dear *****

Thank you for praying for Lauralea and I. It's humbling and encouraging at the same time, and I guess I want to encourage you with it all. Often the noise God makes in our heads or hearts sounds a lot like our own voice. But if you follow the promptings and the voice leads you to good things, then follow along and obey the voice. The Father knows your desire to hear him and He won't let you down, if you desire to hear him.

In your letter you wrote:
But here's a bigger question for me these days: sometimes I feel like I don't have the words, like I'm not fit to do this. Some days I don't have that kind of confidence in anything and my faith seems frail and empty. Do you ever have days like that? What do you do with them? How do you get up and preach after a week like that?

I'm not sure if doubt is necessarily the word. I'm not sure what it is I'm missing, but some days I feel empty or dry or like I'm lacking something or like there is a disconnect between me and God. And that scares me more than any of these other concerns.

It scares me because I don't want to be a minister with shallow faith; I don't want to be a minister devoid of belief who just does it because it's a job; I don't want to end up like a Charles Templeton...

I don't want to just go through the motions; I don't want to carry on simply because I can or because I'm a dynamic speaker or because of this or that.

Do you know what I mean? You've always seemed like you are very sure in your faith and in God. But do you have days/weeks like that? What do you do about it? Do you just march on in faith, hoping, trusting, wishing that a better, more faith-filled day/week comes along?

Yeah, I know what you mean.

Tonight is kinda like that for me. I feel like I've failed a couple of times this week, and it's been a weird week anyway. Though I've had a few good moments with people and God has been in the room with us, my
heart still feels tired or heavy or perhaps just a bit lost tonight.

Tomorrow I need to get up in front of people and encourage them and pray for them and be with them, but my heart feels a thousand miles away. Or more likely, it feels like God is a thousand miles away.
Those are the Sundays I don't look forward to heading into. Those are the days I struggle with.

But of course those days will come because we are human and the dynamic we have with God is one of relationship. It isn't always the same, every day. It shifts and moves and bends and stretches.

So, what do I do on nights like tonight when I know God is out there but my heart feels empty, and I need to care for people tomorrow? Well I'm honest with myself and with Him and I tell Him that. I try to make
sure there isn't something between us that I've put there that diminishes our time together.

I make sure the things I have to say tomorrow have integrity, that my notes are ready and that I don't try to be something I'm not. That I'm not saying one thing yet feeling another. I mean there is room for
sadness in church at the front. There is room for lament or a sense of loss on any given Sunday, and you need to be ok with that and not try to cover it up or hide it. That just lacks integrity.

No you don't have to tell people all about your week and your feelings of disconnect, you don't have to tell them that. But you don't have to put on a happy smiley face and use your dynamic radio voice to "WELCOME ALL THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO THE HOUSE OF GOD WHERE THERE IS JOY ALL THE TIME IN THE LORD" stuff either.

Invariably when I admit my weakness to God and occasionally to a few others who know me, that's enough and it's ok. Sometimes it's just a quieter Sunday, but more often than not when I am so weak, God has
room to do some things in the church gathered and in me that he didn't have room to do before. Many times for me those turn into some of the most profound moments of my life in Christ. As I stand before his kids and tell them things from his letter to them, often his spirit moves within me in amazing ways that deepen the well within me. And I am healed.

And other times its just a quieter Sunday and I preach and meet people and listen to them and pray with them and go home and start again the next day.

I think the key for me is being consistent, honouring the struggle within me without denying that it is going on. Having integrity simply means that I am what I am and today I am thus and so, and that's just how it is. Allowing myself to be honest in those weak moments hopefully allows God to be God. Then he can do what he pleases.

Maybe that's what faithfulness is too. What was it Job said? "Though He slay me yet will I trust Him."

That's a long winded way of saying hang in there, and keep moving towards God. The seasons of drought can make you deeper, truer, and more gracious, when you walk them out with honesty towards yourself
and others, and faith that God has a clue what He's doing, even if I don't.

Night *****
Sleep well.

Randall

Friday night fundraiser



The small rural school that Micah attends, and enjoys attending I might add, is out here in a field a couple of kilometers from where we live, and it seems like its hard being a small, rural school these days. The kids are shipped to other larger schools in town and less and less resources are made available to these smaller schools, so they have to get creative and do a bit of fundraising to help with the costs.

So, last night there was a dessert and silent auction at the school. Micah's band played and sweets were eaten and many many items were bid on. Things like corporate backpacks, framed pictures of Wayne Gretzky, bags of feed oats, truck loads of gravel, concrete, and dirt, framed and signed pictures of Calgary Flames players, corporate clocks, and a magpie trap. Eclectic indeed, but with a rural feel to it.

It was fun to realize how many people we are getting to meet and to know in this community. Many friendly people, gathered in a prairie school gym to raise funds so their kids can continue to attend a local school.

We are becoming a part of this place, slowly but surely.

Snow Day

The call came early this morning and I stumbled into the other room to find the phone. It was the school bus driver informing me that because of the snow and wind, the buses were not running today.

Snow...?
Wind...?

I looked outside, and saw the new three foot drifts between me and my office.
So, Micah gets a snow day.

He's outside shoveling now.

Snow Day

I've spent the morning writing letters.

I suppose it's partly because of the nature of The Internets that I have opportunity to walk with different people through different phases of their lives, and at different times they invite me or entrust me with their stories, their lives. Letters are one way that I am able to do that.

As I write, I pray for each one, and in prayer I listen, because much of prayer is simply listening.

So, on this snowy morning, I'm in my office writing letters and praying.
It's a good investment of time, and I'm glad for the opportunity to do it.

May it be less snowy where ever it is that you are this day.

This week on Twitter 2009-03-04


  • Ahh I've got some hot green tea in my big Bison Cafe mug. That should help my headache go and my work get done. #

  • Nope, headache is not going away. We'll be great company tonight won't we then? Gotta get going now, another evening in town. #

  • Wow internets, it's -29 C out there right now. Dang that's too cold for late February. #

  • Pretty quiet here in the church after a morning of MoPs. All babies and little people have departed. Sounds like a good morning all round. #

  • Noname cereal with hard coloured marshmallows in it for breakfast. Sigh. #

  • At montana s for supper. Then on to the hockey game. #

  • Red deer is winning 3-2 in the third. #

  • I'm up I'm up. Who calls at 8 am Saturday morning? #

  • Who calls at 8:30 am on a Saturday? #

  • Alright already, I give... Who calls at 8:50 am Saturday morning? ...I may need a phone beside my bed if this keeps up. #

  • I'm groggy today. It's shaping up to be a crazy full week. We'll see how we make it. Anyway I only have to worry about today. #

  • Sitting down to watch Stardust. Ring a bell with anyone? #

  • Lauralea and Hillary are in the kitchen singing Mamma-mia songs. Good grief, they didn't invite me. #

  • The roads are bad and the snow and rain keep falling. In red deer. #

  • Funeral over. Gathering with family now a bit, then home. #

Done.

A surreal day of travel, snow storms, funeral, family, travel, and board meeting now draws to a close.

I am tired and a bit hungry, so I'm heading home to find a bit of supper.


But as I go, I need the blessing. Thanks Steve:

May the Lord bless and keep you
May His face shine upon you
May His graciousness be like an endless stream
May the Lord show His favour
To your house and your neighbor
Until the last remaining strains of striving cease
May he grant you peace

-For The Journey : Music and Lyrics by Steve Bell

Winter Storm Warning in effect

And we are about to hit the road for Calgary.

10-15 cms of snow today, and freezing rain. Right now it's snowing hard in the field.

Going to be a long day.

Thoughts on a Sunday night

Church

was good this morning. So much progress is being made here that it gives me great encouragement. God was in the space this morning in powerful ways that give people hope and healing. We need to continue to live out of that vulnerable place of our need and God's provision for us, and as we do that we will have something to say to a world that has deep needs too.

It was good.

*******



The kids

are home for reading week.
I know I might not have mentioned it yet, mostly because life is busy and things continue to roll on out here in The field.
So they are home, doing their laundry, catching up on sleep, trying to discern their futures. You know, classic young adult stuff. And tonight Hillary produced a movie she likes called Stardust and she wanted us all to watch it. I've been dubious of her movie choices in the past ("Ooooh the movie Saved is awesome! Let's all watch it!") so I was doubtful. However I was wrong, Stardust was a fun movie, possibly even better than Princess Bride.

Wednesday Hillary heads back and later on this week Thomas heads back.

********



Family.

You stand with your family in spite of their choices, especially through seasons of loss. You don't condemn, you don't judge, you don't use words that accuse or question. Instead you support and love and care about them.

We'll be heading to a funeral for a seven week old nephew this week. So many questions, so much opportunity to care.

********



The Field.

I talked this morning with a visitor to church for whom it took nearly two years to get used to their new town. That echoed the words of a pastor I recently spoke with who told me the same thing, that it took them two years to find themselves at home in their new city.

That makes a part of me sigh so deeply. It seems like such a long time to go before it finally feels like home. Another part of me feels good about that because it allows me to relax a bit, knowing that as good as this place is and as much progress as we are making at work, the reality is that it just isn't home yet.

Actually, in terms of feeling at home and belonging and having a shared history, dang this is just really hard some days. We don't talk much of it publicly in spaces like this, because it doesn't help, and people are well meaning. But some days it's so hard.

Some days it gets big and overwhelming, and it's just like the huge elephant in the room that you try to live around. You don't want it to define you so you try to carry on, occasionally ignoring it hoping it will get easier. Then you wake up the next morning and the elephant is still there.

Enough said.

*********



Some of my thoughts on a Sunday night.
Best I get to bed. It's going to be a busy week.

Night.