looks pretty bad out there


Ponoka Fair, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.
Just passed by the Ponoka Fair and tents are blowing past me on the highway.

Feels like the morning after the night before

Wow, feels like I got hit by a truck somewhere in the middle of the night.

Back in the office this morning, bright and early, and I don't want to be here today. I think the appreciation for my retiring co-worker last night just solidified the fact that she's gone from her work here, a part of which meant being around here often.

Sigh.

So I'm trying to get lots done, then I'm going to go find an out of the way place to go and pray and sit with myself and my, gulp, feelings for a while.

Funny that I just said "I'm going to go find an out of the way place" when I'm already very much in an out of the way place. Maybe it's all relative.

Natasha appreciation evening.

As she retires from youth ministry, the community gathered to say thank you.

A question for ya

Lauralea and myself are this very year, celebrating hanging in there with each other for 25 years, which, like most things when you look back at it, seems a whole big deal. So we are thinking of a bit of a celebratory tour and we are having trouble making up our minds. While we don't want this to be the reason we lay down our 25 year relationship, we do want to have a bit of fun. It's just that with such an abundance of riches, we are having trouble deciding.

I was wondering how you might decide.

Think one week tucked away on a Scottish Island in late October in a small place right next to the sea. Long walks through the Scottish heather covered moors, warm fires with cups of good tea and during meals of halibut chowder, enjoying a cold glass of Tennent's Ale. Quiet with places to pray where people have been doing that for hundreds of years.

or...

Taking a small apartment in London in the cool of October, seeing the beautiful art exhibits, and taking in noon hour concerts at St. Martin in the Fields. Walking through Hyde and Green parks through the big orange leaves, stopping for a pint or hot drink at the oldest pub we can find. Spending a day in Charing Cross with hours just for the used book stores that smell of old leather and paper bindings. Maybe take in an evening show in the West End, or a concert or two. Then hop the Eurostar and in two hours be in Paris for two days. The Eiffel tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, french bread, strong coffee, outdoor cafes, Champs Elysees (To look and not to touch...)


See, it's a tough call.
If you had such options, what would you choose?
And if you know, then answer why you would choose that way.


Go ahead, dream a little.

Not rural like we knew rural

Barb commented in a previous post, "You must be feeling at home there" and by there she meant here in the Field.

I would agree, we do feel at home here, we're making it our home and trying to do those things that would help it feel more like home, so that is coming along. We are moving towards having people over more often but for now it seems like a part of the process of taking ownership of the space is that we're trying to make the space our own, first. It's a weird feeling that the guests we have over to the house know more about the house, and where things are, than we do. But as I said, that's coming along fine.

I continue to think about the church dynamic here and just how very different rural ministry is to most churches that exist in our western culture. I'm not sure there are ways to teach this stuff in the classrooms of our seminaries. I realize sweeping generalizations are made here but I suspect you can only teach a few things about God and scripture and history and spirituality and character, and then you let them go trusting the Holy Spirit to teach them about the places they may end up.

My dawning conclusions about the rural church dynamic here are that it's just really tough to get a good fit to a place that is culturally rare. By that I mean that you couldn't just take a guy or gal fresh out of seminary who have lived their lives in a city and plunk them down in a rural church location and expect them to make a go of it. Oh there will be a few rare birds who have experienced a bit of life and could work hard to fit, and by the grace of God it could happen. But on the whole I'm not sure our schools are teaching people how to pastor in rural cultures any longer.

This is a culture without any single parents in the church, and none or very few children with Fetal Alcohol Disorders. It's a place without a local physical community and so no local neighbours to chat over the fence with. So you don't get the casual drop in visitors or the strategic befriend your neighbour drop in.

If you disagree with the direction the church is going in, you don't leave in a huff and go to the next church because there is no next church, and besides that you've been here for a whole lot of years so you aren't going anywhere. Last one in can be the first one out if tensions arise.

In the rural community there is no anonymity, even in spite of the big distances between homes. Everybody knows when you burp and when you are not getting along with your kids or your spouse, and that can be a good deal of stressful life to live into.

You have people in the community who run multimillion dollar farms making huge decisions each day that will effect many people, and you have people who are just as hardworking who don't have that much security. That can be a silent tension that can be like the elephant in the room, if the people want it to be.

They are generally good people who would give the shirt off their backs if they saw you without. When crisis times come they step up for one another and serve each other and support like you've never seen it before, because that's who they are inside.


There are ways in which it feels like a church that has been in a time warp, simply because many of the maladies that have effected our city churches have not yet found their way here. In fact so many of the ways I have learned and been trained to care for city churches simply do not apply here. So if you were to take your new skillset fresh out of school and apply it to your new pastoral ministry in a rural setting, I can see the frustration growing already.


I'm beginning to understand how sometimes the rural culture with it's unspoken set of rules and expectations (and those being different than a city church,) could break the man or woman who goes into the place to serve as a pastor, fresh out of seminary.


Thankfully there are men and women out there who have done the internal character development work that is needed in any tough ministry location. And there are people who have gifts that allow them to minister in cross-cultural situations. I just don't think we've looked at our rural churches as cross cultural ministry opportunities yet.

And maybe that's where I'm ending up on this little rabbit trail. We've not seen our rural churches as cross-cultural missions requiring unique training and preparation. Then when our rural churches struggle and fail we are surprised because they seemed so quiet and serene when we look at them from our cities.


-


Yes I suppose we are feeling at home here in The Field, and I am studying this church and community like it's my dissertation I'm working on. I am learning lots, which is something I enjoy. But yes, thanks for asking. We're doing ok.


A Sunday morning in June

The birds start early and the frogs are still croaking from the previous night when the sun rises in the northeast on a bright Sunday morning in June. Trucks and vans and a few motorcycles begin to arrive and park on the churches side lawn which is the parking space. Kids pour out of the SUVs and vans and the elderly pull up to the front door concrete pad to deliver their car loads of widows who have shared a ride from the city. The air is still except for the buzzing and humming of a few insects and occasional small bird. With the hundred plus people who gather in this old church building there is a welcoming buzz as people catch up from the past week, sharing their stories with one another. This is Sunday morning in June, in The Field.

There is an expectation in the air and God is already present. People are already responding to Him even though they may not recognize it. The worship is quite contemporary with a band and we continue to sing the old hymns as well as the new worship songs. We read scriptures together and share our stories and pray for one another and our local community and the world. Sometimes as people request, we gather around another and anoint them and pray for them for healing and we've seen some powerful miracles happen as a result. We have a preaching/teaching time and during the winter months we have something for the little children that is helpful for them in their simple beginning relationships with God. We work at being multi generational so that all ages can feel like they fit and they can experience God too.

Because people travel from a distance to gather together and worship, we like to create time to chat and talk a bit more in depth before everyone heads home. So after worship everyone is welcomed downstairs for something to eat and drink and we all take turns bringing and preparing snacks for the whole church. It's a great after worship time to care for each other, and the kids often head outside to play on the lawn and chase each other through the trees.

Then mid afternoon, people begin to leave for their homes and prepare for their coming week. Silence descends on the field and nothing remains except for the song birds and the buzzing of the insects once again.

A morning prayer

Gracious Father,
your might is beyond measure,
your wisdom beyond knowledge,
your love beyond all telling.
you have put eternity into our hearts,
and made us hunger and thirst for you.
Satisfy the longings you have implanted
that we may find you in life,
and find life in you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

First stop today


First stop today, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

Is a bit of a pilgrimage.
I lived here for a few days an eternity ago.

"My soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning."

The skys are very Harry Potter-esk out there tonight.

Rolling clouds, howling winds, sheet lightning make for a sky watching evening.
No tornados scheduled for tonight.

Julia Cameron in The Sound of Paper

When we ignore ourselves for too long, we become exhausted and weakened from trying to get our own attention. We become disheartened - without heart.

Julia Cameron in The Sound of Paper

I am so ready for tomorrow

Well, midst a week wherein I've been away for a few evening meetings and have had a kind of huge fight or misunderstanding with Lauralea, and it's been crazy hot in my office, and the pastor of youth and families resigned and moved on, and the anniversary (If those things are called that) of my dad's death, it seems I have another meeting tonight.

All this on a week when I was suppose to lead a retreat that was about contemplation and reflection and prayer, but we had to cancel it due to lack of interest. Yeah, I know.

So tomorrow I am taking the day I had reserved for retreat work and I am going on my own self directed retreat. No I won't tell you where it is, but it will involve things that make me think bigger thoughts and heal a bit, and do some writing and reading.

So bring on tomorrow already. I'm all ready for it.

Remembering Dad

Dad

October 17, 2003

Notes on a Tuesday that started early and is ending later than it should

Tuesday of a very busy week over here and things are chunking up pretty quickly.

Talk about chunking up, the internet here seems to be doing it's share to try to increase patience in me. Seems to come and go at it's own will, even with things mid post or download.

Father's Day is usually my favourite day of the year and I got to talk to the kids and that was great, but it was also a bit of a different day this year. My brother Jeff and his family came over and Dixie V. was over for Saturday night too. It was fun and we'll have a few memories to bring up in the years ahead. But it was also different and it feels like I missed something, but I don't know what...

It's a busy week too and like today I think I was done three meetings before nine am. Good people meetings to be sure, but it's nine pm and I am about toast. Tomorrow is more good people meetings and then it's time to get ready for the weekend.

Oh yeah, tomorrow. Tomorrow I believe is my co-workers last day here. Sigh. She's retiring from youth ministry and that's never easy especially if you want to stay and be a part of the community. How do you cut what relationships with what kids? That's a hard one. And whatever the kids say, I'll miss her most of all. I've only been here a year and a half, but we've talked through and shared a whole bunch of years of history and life in that short time.
Nope, I'm really going to miss her here. It's already so much quieter...

Tonight to sort of cheer myself up I bought a months worth of VPN. Think Internet access to Hulu, and Pandora, and British comedies, all from my home in Canada which isn't normally able to access those treats. Well it seems like my internet pipes going out of the field won't allow the pipe or tunnel to be created. Dang.

Maybe I should just go to bed.


I know that a couple of you are hurting a good deal tonight because, well, people are selfish and life can sometimes have that sucking noise as everything good is sucked out of your insides. It is the deeper and truer thing that we do to sit with our pain and not push against it in ways that just create greater pain for ourselves. Nor is it wise to deny it and create a lie that all is well anyways. The greater and more difficult way is to let the pain have it's way with us. To sit with it and not rush it's leaving. Not to wallow in it, but to let it be, for a time. To sit with others who understand and can be silent while you sit. This is a grace, and I promise, a way forward.

And I'm praying for you this night.
Peace to your souls.



From The Field.

Tornado watch for this area

Tornado watch for this area

So if you live in this area, keep your eyes open for a while this evening.

Don't get caught by surprise.

Tonight I remember

My last Father's Day with my dad.

We had a good time gathered as family. Little did we know that within days he'd be gone.

just thinking about him tonight.

Dad

The Happy Cookers


The Happy Cookers, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

Lauralea and Dixie.

Fathers

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

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

Thank you for asking about my back...

Dear ______________;

I've been thinking about your email, asking about the back pain and how that has been progressing in my day to day life, and I wanted to respond thoughtfully so I've been thinking about it all.

For me living a life of relative comfort with little occasional pain and no chronic issues has really been a blessed life. At least that's the way I have chosen to see it after seeing others struggle with so many different things. Pain has not been a part of my story so far, at least not until last summer. Then the pain came quick and sharp and I was mostly able to handle it. Throughout winter it did increase and it became more of a constant a companion, to the point where I was beginning to plan any long journeys with room to rest regularly, which seemed to be the only help. It was diagnosed as a herniated disk where the disk was pushing against a nerve going down into my left leg. This would cause my leg to quickly go numb and nerve pain to shoot throughout my lower back and legs. It was deteriorating to the point of causing spasms throughout my upper and lower body and this was a new kind of pain to deal with.

By late winter it was obvious that the trouble was intensifying and I was going to have to do something about it. The local doctor could offer only surgery, and the chiropractor could only offer limited help and the disk would have to respond appropriately, which is seemed not to be doing. I wasn't willing to concede failure yet and my options still seemed twofold. I was willing to explore some alternative methods to treatment, possibly a naturopath or acupuncture and I began to gather information on people who might offer these options in the area here, who also had good reputations and successful practices.

The other option I wanted to explore more deliberately was God's ability to heal it.

I had certainly been praying about the pain for the year, trying to discern if it was something that I should live into God's grace for, not unlike Paul who asked for healing but received grace and strength to live through it. I had gone through seasons of discernment with God to see if the pain might be due to choices of sin in my life, which can cause physical sickness and even death. I also sought to discern if it was simply a demonically caused thing which has occasionally caused me different pain before, but mostly easily dealt with. So I had been in conversation with God about the pain and some possible solutions to it.

The next step for me was to act in a more deliberate way. I really do hang on to James 5 where it asks; "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

I see it kind of like, it's our act of obedience to ask God for help in this most specific way, and it's up to Him to do what he will do. We try to be obedient to this scripture and faithful to God and sometimes we are healed by him and sometimes we are not. I don't always get why, but that's not my place. My place is to ask, in faith. So I started asking deliberately for prayer for my back and the pain it produced.

I had had a couple of opportunities to model this kind of prayer during the previous year here in the church so I felt like hey let's jump in and see where this goes. During a regular Spiritual Leadership or Deacon meeting I asked if they wouldn't mind anointing me with oil and praying for me about this ongoing trouble. Though I sensed a little awkwardness at first, they really rose to the occasion as God began to move in that time of prayer. It was good and freeing and my spirit was deeply effected both by God's work there in my body and by the love and gift these people gave me in their prayers.

I noticed that the pain and numbness was still there but I wasn't about to declare it a failure just yet. I left it alone and over the weeks began to notice that I was noticing it less and less. I would head to the mall with the family and walk and walk all day with less of the symptoms and much less of the pain. Walking upright and without ongoing debilitating pain was a treat and a constant reminder of love really. A few weeks back I woke to a good bit of pain and wondered if it was back, but it felt different and I remembered that the previous day I had spent in the garage lifting heavy boxes and moving things and cleaning the place out. It behaved like pain should behave after a day of that kind of effort, and by the next day the muscle pain was gone again.

So I am in a place of rejoicing that once again pain isn't setting the direction for my life and my choices. Part of me doesn't believe it and a part of me feels unworthy, but the biggest part of me feels loved and cared for and that God is in control of things. He could have given me grace to live with it every day, or some other ways to cope with life and pain, but for reasons that are his and his alone, this is where I am today.

Some people we pray for are healed of terminal cancer and of the flu and genetic liver diseases, while others we pray for are not. I can trust God with that, and I can trust him with my future and I can trust him to be a big enough God to make the right decisions and not just the ones I want. I like that my God is that big. But I also like that he invites me to ask and seek and knock in faith. That's an amazing thing I think, that he invites us to ask. So I always encourage people to ask, and to submit to others who will ask on their behalf. That is in itself an amazing thing how he makes the church need each other and rely on one another so that we can't even just ask on our own, but we need to submit to others who will carry us to the throne and ask on our behalf. It's very humbling. Thankfully He says he gives grace to the humble.

And so that's my updated story. Plans that Lauralea and I had put on hold we are talking about once again and exploring the possibilities of. I don't have to preplan my excursions any longer and we just live in a constant sense that God is providing for us daily.


And thank you for asking, and for loving enough to care. I know your struggle with pain is ongoing and I know that there are different ways God provides. So may your provision each day be enough for that day, and for the plans you still want to make for the coming days.



You take care too.

Randall

World Cup News

Ok so while it is indeed a delight to watch Slovenia beating the USA while I'm eating my breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and coffee, it really isn't any fun waking up and the BBC on my clock radio telling me that Serbia surprised Germany with a win before I've had a chance to watch the game later in the day.

I'm just saying.

Interesting what lurks inside

Earlier this spring when I was off to the Edmonton International Airport to pick up someone or another, as I was walking alone on the enclosed walkway from the parking area to the terminal, I suddenly stopped short and looked out the windows at the airport. It felt a little queasy as I tried to reconcile my present reality to whatever was going on inside me.

Finally it dawned on me that the view of the airport was so much like the Glasgow Airport, which we flew into and out of during the time of the attack on the airport there in 2007.

So the other day when we were taking Johanna to the airport, I snapped a picture with my phone, and though I didn't get the right angle, the two airports are quite similar.

Glasgow Airport
Here is Glasgow just after the attack.

Edmonton International Airport

And here is Edmonton.

Lauralea noticed it too and commented on the security official standing beneath where we were taking the picture.

Back in Glasgow they had security police all over the place as well, except they all were well supplied with very large black guns.


Shudder.

Even after 11pm the sky is still bright

Its like dusk out there even after 11.
Only a few more days of that then the days get shorter.

One of the most amazing pieces of music ever written

is Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, op.11.

I know that when you read the title of the post you may have thought of many different genres of music that might well fit that declaration, for indeed there are many. And a good tune can be so subjective. But this is one of the most moving pieces I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.

I confess that last week when I was having difficulty with my hearing I was afraid of not being able to enjoy music in all its creative stereophonic glory as I can with both ears working. This is one of the gems I would have lost forever.

This recording was made just days after the 9/11 attacks and you can hear that in the playing as well.

So on this beautiful Wednesday afternoon in June with the days still getting longer, here is Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings, op.11. Uncut. Do sit back and close your eyes if you trust your spouse not to do something troublesome while you are not looking.


Done. Finally.

Today began 18 hours ago with the guys early prayer, and ended late tonight attending a reception for a missions organization in Edmonton. It was a good day, people wise, but it sure was spread out a good deal.

Sometimes I feel out of touch here, at least with the rest of Christendom. The needs of the local church are unique to this place, and that can be so different than the church in the city. Oh the core needs for love and relationship are the same, but the how that's done is different here.

Going to places and meetings with the broader church help re-balance me nicely.

So it was a good, effective day here in the field. Tomorrow? Tomorrow I'll try to remember the good results of today, and lumber forward.

And for tonight I am exhausted.
So goodnight internets.


Yesterday I made a Jello Mold

Last week Johanna, Lauralea, Micah and I did a bit of used stuff shop exploring and I came across an older Tupperware jello mold maker for $2.00, so I bought it.

Yesterday I created my first jello mold. I made a raspberry jelly (Jello) and though it wasn't as tall as I wanted, it was every bit as red as I hoped it would be.

IMG_4291

It tasted great too.

That's another first for me. I can cross "Make a Jello Mold" off my list.

Isaiah 53

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

We needed a fire truck to reach the old rugged cross

The old rugged cross on top of the Malmo Mission Covenant Church has been residing atop the building for I believe some 25 years and this year has become more rugged than normal. So, how to get on top of a very tall church to replace it? You bring in a fire truck of course.

Now it just so happens that there are two ex-firetruck owners in the church here. Matt owns a pumper truck which you see we used for the kids day at camp. The other. Barry, owns a ladder truck.

The rest is history, except to say that there was no way on this green patch that I was going up in the bucket. No way at all.

The whole picture set is here.

Free Rides

Kids Day 2010

Each June we as a church head out to camp for the day and celebrate worship outdoors. It's a great Sunday and there is good worship and food and some crazy games.

As you can see, today was a pretty beautiful day out there.

Thanks to all those who made it possible, and for the Sun for cooperating. Here is the evidence of the beautiful day.


Just Fishing

The Gang - Back

Firehose fountain 2

Here is the link to all the photos from the day.

Oh and the watersliding was a blast too.

See for yourself:

Visitors to the Field

Johanna has been visiting for the past week and it's been a good time. I don't think she's been with us by herself for a good chunk of time like that since she married Nate.

It's good to see how they handle life and each other and the confidence she has in life. She just goes at it really expecting the best from herself, which is then what happens.

It's been a good week, and its been fun to listen to her laugh again. I've missed that.

Anyway, in a few minutes we are heading to the airport to see her off. Her and Nate are booked for a big concert in the big city tonight.

I expect we'll miss her.

Supper out with the family who are here.

Johanna is here, Hillary is in Saskatoon, and Thomas is in Winnipeg.

Looks like Micah should stay in Ponoka for a checkup.

Wave Your Flag

And as the World Cup begins today with France playing Uruguay this huge sports extravaganza gets going and its hard not to get caught up in the excitement. It's one of those world class events that only happen once and a while.

So here we go. Halfway through the game and there is no scoring yet.

I know that some of you won't be seen again until the games are over. So I hope you have a good month. May your teams do well as you Wave Your Flag.


Yep, we've moved

Here we are, full circle back at Blogger where we started 3,770 Posts and 11,082 Comments ago.

When I left here there was no commenting, and the templates numbered about 5. Thankfully they have improved, a bit, and slowly. They still are not perfect, but they have improved considerably.

I've been using Cold Fusion over at Prairie Fusion and then Wordpress when they turned over to that system. It's a good system and I really have very few complaints if any at all. But at the end of the day maintaining the site and databases, backing up etc. is something I'd like to not have to deal with any more.

And the pain of the change is not lost on me. I realize all the links will no longer work, inside the blog for itself, and external links. I am sorry about that, but maybe that means that the rugged followers will join us here.

I expect that using a system maintained by a larger company can mean I won't have to do this again and I can just worry about content for a good chunk of years now.


Now, if you are still with us, welcome.
Let's see what the next years bring.

Your Farm report

IMG_3941

Well it's a rain day today again as this area of the world seems to be taking a turn for the better, moisture wise. This past month we've seen rain return to the pattern of life and that sure does make all the difference in the colour of the land and the attitude of the farmers.

A couple of weeks ago we dug a grave and the moisture was down a couple of feet but had not yet permeated to the 5 and 6 foot depth. With this gentle rain the ground is sure getting a good soaking.

It's an odd twist of fate that we watch as Saskatchewan farmers are still trying to get their crops in the ground and can't because they have had too much moisture. And the crops they have in are being killed by floods and frost.

Reports are coming in that the value of the crops our farmers here are putting in the ground is beginning to increase significantly as it looks less and less like Saskatchewan farmers will get any crops this year. One province reaps the benefits of a hurting neighbouring province.

I suppose that in the hundred year old average of things it's just another year in the life of the land that some years produce and other years it just doesn't.

...and that's your farm report for today.


… i will wait for the Lord.

I will wait for the Lord.
My soul waits, and in His word do I hope.
Lord, You have always given bread for the coming day; and though I am poor, today I believe.
Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day; and though I am weak, today I believe.
Lord, You have always given peace for the coming day; and though of anxious heart, today I believe.
Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials; and now, tried as I am, today I believe.
Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day; and though it may be hidden, today I believe.
Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine; and though the night is here, today I believe.
Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe; and though you be silent now, today I believe.



Tonight, exhausted from a long full weekend of ministry and a hardworking church leadership meeting tonight, these words from Lauralea's and my evening prayers were gracious and gave me real words to pray.

I know that whenever I am completed church ministry at whatever age that may be, being privy to the inside of church leadership will not be something I shall miss. There are reasons Paul says it's not for the young in the faith.

Anyway, a good prayer helps and on nights like this when I'm all out of words, these bring hope.


Night.

Getting better

All through the day today the audio slowly has been returning to my right ear. This is good.

Sometimes I can still hear the babbling brook sound and the shrill noise is still there, but a bit less.

So I am grateful.

Lauralea is home and Johanna has come home to visit for a week, so this week is looking a good chunk better.

For now I am tired. Micah and I hit the newest Apple store and played with iPads this afternoon. Then we went to a TacoBell and ordered the family pack of tacos and ate tacos till they were coming out of our ears. Good times.

Now to bed.

Night internets.

Saturday Evening Sky over the church




"Sometime I can't feel God and that makes me think that it's forced and fake"

Dear: ________________

You're never a bother, so we can strike that lie off the list right away.

When it's time for God to take you to a new level, he lets go of your hands, just a bit. Like a parent teaching his child to walk. The child doesn't like the feeling of being alone, standing there under their own power, unsure of things, and they start to cry. For us too when God is teaching us to stand up and walk through life, he sometimes lets go of our hands just for a second, to encourage us to begin to walk and relate to him on more grownup levels.

To us it feels like he isn't anywhere around, and the lies we hear are just shots at that insecurity sent during those moments of vulnerability. But the truth is he's right there and acting on faith that he's there isn't a lie, or fake. That's faith.

That muscle of faith will grow and grow and you and him will go deeper as a result. Just because we can't feel him doesn't mean he isn't there. If that were the case then our faith would be built on the subjectivity of feelings, but it's not. It's built on trust and his work on our behalf, and it's built on our history together.

If you go into sin and it feels like a big separation between you and him, then yes he'll let you know that is the problem. But when you are just living life and it feels like he's not close all of a sudden, thats where your faith can grow and soon you'll see that he was there all the time.

This faith can grow to the point of you being in great storms in life when all is swirling around you and you haven't "Felt" God for days, but you are anchored to him beneath the rough waves of life. That faith will get you through many tough times, trusting him when your surroundings say otherwise. Seems like he is in the process of growing that in you a bit. That can be a tough thing, but it's also good.

So keep walking the direction you were moving in when you last heard him speak. And trust him, grow faith, and ignore the lies that tell you it's fake or unreal. When you learn to trust him it will grow like a big safety net and you'll feel better daily, even when you can't feel him.

I'm praying for you and you should pray too even if your head says it's pointless, stretch the faith a bit more. And it's always good to get others to pray for you because there is deep power in that.

Take care out there.


Night.

On youth as a prophetic voice, how two ears are better than one, and Thomas

I'm back from a couple of incredible days of conversations with with people in their teens, twenties and even thirties. I really consider it a grace to have the opportunity and honour really of listening to these kids and walking with them through a patch of life.

Their opinions on life and church and God are real and insightful, and the gifts they bring this world are just staggering. Even when they see what they think are great weaknesses in themselves, to be able to show how that "weakness" is a great gift to the community and the world at large, and then to watch their eyes open like the first time as they see themselves differently, well it's just breathtaking.

They are a very honest bunch, generally speaking, and I respect that integrity. They nail the church truthfully and more or less without prejudice. They wonder why the church finds it easier to give a buck or run a program than it is to live life like God really cares for the poor.

These ones have always been the ones to remind me, to call me back to first things. These "young" ones. No their faith may not be refined and their communication skills may struggle, but their questions need honest answers and until the church figures out ways to answer them honestly we will continue to loose them.

Anyway, that's a freebie for tonight. Churches, listen to the children, they will lead you.

* * *

Some of you have been asking about the hearing and no it isn't any better.
It really freaked me out about going to the city to listen to people, when I can only hear half as well and any crowd noise or background noise just resonates loudly. The ringing or screeching in my head takes that outside noise and messes with it and I can't hear the small voices. It was difficult work to listen and this gives a whole new meaning to listening being work.

This is day four of no hearing in my right ear. The better part of me on good days expects it will just snap back in place all of a sudden one day. The worse side of me on bad days is fearful that that day will be far far away or maybe never arrive.

I'd feel better if I had whacked my head with a big basketball or something. I'd feel better if it hurt or if it was infected or I had a cold or sinus problems. But there is nothing like that. I'd feel better because the problem was caused by external shock or health issues and when those cleared up so would the deafness. This leaves me wondering if it will ever come back.

I am really surprised how quickly you forget what sound with two ears sounds like.
It's like forgetting what someone looks like and you construct an image in your head. So too you know the sound from the radio shouldn't sound like a tin am radio, but you only know it should be fuller and when both ears are working, it's a dream. Like stereo over mono audio.

It seems to be adapting to the point where sometimes in the night when I get up or when I'm in the shower with all the noise, I can't tell that it's not working and I think I'm better. Then I plug my left ear and it's all still externally silent.

And phones. I switch back and forth usually to keep each side of my brain busy, but now I forget and switch to the right ear and think the person went away on me. Don't get me started on alarm clocks because I took extra time to hear mine this week when I slept on my left side.

I just hope it goes away quickly, but in the meantime I'm having an amazing learning experience. How I cope with things like this, how I listen, how I talk, how the body responds to these kinds of things. All would be missed without such an experience.

* * *

And Thomas. It was good to spend a little time with him this week too.
He's off to serve at a Manitoba camp next week for the summer and we won't see him again for a long while. I'm glad for him because he's making good decisions with his life and I hope and pray he has a good summer. But we will miss him, lots.

And don't get me started on Safeway who cut pretty much all his hours once he gave them an end date. It's really unfortunate that they operate that way.

* * *

And now to bed. Sunday I'm leading worship with only half my auditory skills in place, and all the piano players are at ladies retreat, and, and, and, it could end up being quite entertaining. Gong show and all, you might want to stop by.


Night from The Field.

I never thought of this

It seems that with one ear not working you have a 50% chance of waking up on time.

Because if you sleep on the side that works, you won't hear your alarm go off in the morning.

Tomorrow morning may be worse as I won't have Lauralea beside me.

I'm off to Calgary, late.

A dark day on a beautiful patch of earth

You've heard by now of the violence that gripped a normally quiet corner of the United Kingdom this day. Twelve people were killed by a gunman who went on a rampage across Cumbria in north-west England.

A good friend Rachel, works for the United Reformed Church in that area. Today she emailed me, asking us to remember them.

I find it hard to believe that 6 months and 2 weeks after the Cumbrian floods I am again blurring my private and work email address lists to ask for prayer for people on my patch. But if you've seen the news, you know that currently it seems that 12 people are dead and 25 more injured in a shooting rampage that began in Whitehaven and spread to many other small West Cumbria communities before the local gunman killed himself.

These are communities where everyone knows everyone - there is no chance (if there ever is) of the emergency services and local clergy feeling detatched. From the floods we learnt how long the effects are felt - those wounds are far from healed, and just last week kids from the same neighbourhood were in the bus crash in Keswick - in fact the funeral of one of them was taking place as the shooting began.


So tonight as you head off to sleep, spare a thought for those who are left in this world with pain and hurt after a day like today.

I used to dislike my big ears

I am suppose to be on the road to Calgary by now, for my most recent visit to the Life Together House there. However, it seems that I have developed a bit of a strange health situation. Strange because it never happens to me.

During the day yesterday over the length of the day I began to loose my hearing in my right ear. That troubles me quite a bit because I never have problems with my ears. Well at least the hearing bit, I could have used smaller ears when I was younger.

It seems to have continued to get worse through the night to the point where I can only detect heavy sounds in that ear. I don't feel sick in any other way so it has an effect in me that troubles me more emotionally than physically I think. Listening is important to me and I think I'd rather go without sight than without hearing.

And the whistling that now fills that ear with noise is enough to make me crazy. It's even worse when I'm sitting in silence because it fills the silence with shrill squealing noises.

Like I said, it's bugging me more emotionally than physically.

So instead of being on the road to Calgary where I am booked to listen with people, I am scheduled for the Doctor this afternoon and hopefully he can tell me it's all just a temporary thing and I can pull myself back from all the paths my mind is racing down as I sit in this noisy silence.

If you can spare a thought or a prayer, that would be a generous gift to me.

And so in the meantime with Calgary rescheduled to tomorrow and Friday, I'll spend time here getting things ready for Sunday. With a planned power outage in The Field this afternoon, I'll need to type like a crazy person, before the computer and lights and water well and garage doors all cease to work.