Micah's Guitar Song

Thursday, April 26, 2012
It has been a decidedly heavy emotional time around the field this week and tears and anger have been poured out in my presence more than probably any other time in my years here.

So  maybe it's time for a bit of a good news story. Sort of good news anyway.

Micah has been using my old guitar for years now and has worked hard at it and done well with it and it's old limitations. He's wanted his own guitar for a few years now, and new guitars are not that affordable. So when he heard that there was a song writing contest and that the prize was a new guitar, he got to work on it and wrote a song and submitted it.

The day came when the winner of the contest was announced on air, and it was not him. Well he kind of was lower than a wagon rut for a few days.

Then he was contacted by the store that was offering the prize for the winner of the contest, and they communicated to him that if it had been up to them, he would have won first place. Wow, cool. They wanted to give him a gift certificate towards the purchase of a guitar.

The Turner Guitar Studio deserves a link here.

So today he is off to the store after school to meet the owners and receive his award, and probably look at a few guitars.

I know the certificate will probably be enough for a case or something like that, which isn't insignificant  but still it's pretty cool that they would step up like that.

And the song that he wrote as an entry?
Well here it is. My Guitar Song, by Micah Friesen.


RIP Rosebrier Community School

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Tonight the final vote was cast to shut down this hundred year old institution that resides a few miles down the road from here, just north of us.

Most of the people who have lived here in the area during those hundred or so years, have had something to do with the school. Though her attendance has never been in the hundreds, she has hosted many many children over the years.

She's not been just a school either. She's been a community center as well. People from the fields would gather there for social occasions and play sports or sing in community choirs or work with pottery or a whole host of different things that people in a field would rarely have a chance to try.

But these years things have been more about money and cost projections and things like that. So tonight after a long and hard fought battle, Rosebrier finally lost.

In my line of work I've been present at many many deaths. The txts and emails and calls I've been seeing tonight brings home the stark reminder that this is a death.

The kids looking lost and confused with tears in their eyes. The parents who have no idea where to turn for school next year. The teachers who have worked there over the years whose livelihood is now threatened.

It is a death. There is a deep sense of loss and pain and if you are in the midst of it you will know grief these days.

So if you are one who is feeling pain because of this decision tonight, be gentle with yourselves. Allow yourself some emotional room to swing back and forth for a while.

And I'd encourage you to read this short piece on grief. It will help you understand what may be going on inside of you these days. Even knowing what may be happening to you can be comforting. Here is the link.


If you are the parent of a child who is hurting, talk with them and listen to their words. Invite them to tell you how they feel about it all, and take time to listen and honor their feelings. Give them a sense that you are watching out for them and that you will work out where they will attend next year together. It will be ok, even if it's different.

If you are one who doesn't understand that you can experience grief over such a loss as this and you'd like to just tell your friend or spouse or child to get over it, can I invite you to silently support your hurting friend/spouse/child.

Loss may effect one person in deeply emotional ways, and not effect the next person in the same ways. It's the beauty of being unique, we all react differently to events of loss. So respect one another's processes as you go through these rough patches.

Don't assume that you are not effected by this loss just because you don't experience it like others are. It may come later, in June at the end of the year, or more probably next September as your routines are suddenly different.

Just be gracious with yourselves, and be patient with those suffering near you.

As for what lies ahead, I don't know. All we know is that tonight we received some difficult news. And it hurts.

The hurt and loss come from how highly Rosebrier was esteemed and supported by you.

I think that we honor the school that way. After all, we don't grieve the loss of something we don't know or love. No, you hurt because you loved.

And to be loved well is the greatest honor.


Well, at least no one died. (Course its still early)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Now, follow along as I recap a delightful day off.

It was to be a nice day in the big city with lunch out and our favourite used book shops to celebrate Lauralea's birthday which comes tomorrow but none of us will be around tomorrow to celebrate properly.

Both Lauralea and I awoke tired and groggy, you know how that is occasionally right?  Just kind of mentally and emotionally stuffed up, not ready for a big fun day.

But we got in the car in hopes that the lurgy would break while on the road. Our first stop was to vote in the provincial election, ( GO ___________ Party), which ended up not being on the way to the city but the other direction. Ok we can suck that up.

After the drive to the poling station we were feeling like that 15 minute drive was already enough for the day. So we changed plans and headed to Ponoka which was 15 more minutes away, the closest town from where we were. We could still get a nice lunch, and hit the bookshops for a sweet deal.

We got ourselves to the nice restaurant in town and the sign said "Closed on Monday." Great. We sucked that up and got ourselves to the next nicest (we thought) restaurant in town. Surprise, it was open Mondays, but upon reflection, it should have been closed.

I won't share its name but it's initials were the Iron Horse. Lets see, small chicken caesar salad with rotten lettuce, nachos with stale old chips, and two french onion soups without any melted cheese and one crouton made up of a dried piece of loaf half sunk in the bowl of warm, chicken flavoured broth. 40 Dollars.

The theme of the day continued as we got to the book store and found it too was closed for Mondays.

So still trying to redeem the day yet again we walked over to a used junk store, maybe find a book or two. What we did find was a used tape player that Lauralea can use to listen to some old tapes we found that used to be a part of Lauralea's childhood. Finally the day was taking a turn.

With that one win in our pocket, we decided to give up on the day and just get to the safety of home. So we stopped for groceries as Lauralea is cooking for the Moms of PreSchoolers meeting this week, and headed for home.

As we were driving we started looking at our week ahead and then the following week too. I knew it was getting busy, (I have three different meetings to be at tomorrow night,) but I never thought it would be 15 days before I saw an evening off again.

It's ok, we can do this.
It's only a few weeks. Everybody has seasons of work like that. We can do this alright.
And we are not big birthday celebration types of people, so that's ok.

We got home and unpacked the groceries, and cleaned off the old dusty tape player we had purchased, getting ready to crank some old tunes.

You've got to know by now if you've been following the day so far, that I plugged in the player, turned it on, stuck in a tape, hit play, and discovered that the player is, dead.

Of course it is.

We'll start over tomorrow.


Who knew an old radio could mean so much?

Saturday, April 21, 2012
When I was younger, in my early teens in fact, one of my deepest wants was for a new shortwave radio so that I could reach bands that I had no way of reaching with my tiny old shortwave radio.

Finally after much work and effort and insurance money from my stolen bike, I was able to get a DX-60 from Radio Shack, and the rest was history.

That radio got me through high school, and college. It got me through two baby girls and one baby boy when it started to give up the ghost. After the fourth child came along and grew, I donated it to the eldest boy to use as he liked.

Then we moved and I lost track of the old workhorse.

Then last weekend I received a notice of a package in the mail and I drove to town to pick up the mail and run some other errands. There was a large box waiting and it was addressed to me. That never happens.

Here is the video of what happened when I got it home.

It turned out to be a gift from Jason Reese, from Tennessee. The Realistic DX-66. The baby of my DX-60. Wow. I was speechless.

Now there have been a few gifts in my life that have left me speechless, like that gift from our church to the Isle of Iona in Scotland.

But this?
This was not only a gift of a radio, but a connection with my childhood that stirred up parts of my heart and childhood that have been too long unfelt.

It was like going back in time as I held the familiar radio in my lap and instinctively turned it on and the deep rich tones of that great solid speaker sprang to life.

Then up and down the dial I went. Like old friends I headed to the busy parts of the shortwave dial. Back and forth through the frequencies, through my childhood, thorough my fondest memories.

Of listening to the Happy Station from the Netherlands on Sunday nights when I was young, and then over to the BBC for news in the mornings. Listening to all the communist countries, especially Radio Moscow and Radio Tirana. Learning of the heart of Africa from radio stations actually there and broadcasting to me.

Radio Nerd good times I guess.

Last Saturday Jason reconnected me with so many good memories. It was, very very thoughtful.
And I am very, very grateful.


all out of words

Friday, April 20, 2012

The words just are not here this afternoon as I sit and work in my office trying to get ready for Sunday so I have something to say and don't look like some pastor-wannabe. I've been working on it for some time now and the words just are not falling into place.

Funny how the words were there for the delicate emails I had to write this week. They were there for the congregational meeting and the other meetings I took part in. They were there for my visits with people going through difficult patches. They were there when community people asked if I could help them a bit to prepare strong words to say to the local school board to dissuade them from closing the local grade school out here in the field.

But here it is, Friday afternoon, and the words just aren't coming for Sunday morning.

I've done this too many years to be freaked out by being wordless on a friday afternoon. But I am, disoriented. Praying, listening, reading, watching, for the right words.

Looking for the right words that will challenge and encourage a group of people who worship in a field.

Alright see, there were even words there to offer you this distraction for a few minutes on a Friday afternoon. But none for Sunday.

I'll be working this weekend, and there will be words.

And for you all?
Do something fun this weekend, especially if you don't have to work.

It may or may not involve words.
Your call.


Icehawks Win!

Sunday, April 15, 2012
The sledgehockey team Micah is on, the Icehawks, won the season yesterday in fine form. They came back from a two goal deficit to beat a team they hadn't beaten all year, the Calgary Scorpions 3-2.

It was very exciting.

And not being a family with many sports exploits, we got Micah receiving his medal on video.


April in Canada -with snow


Birthday Boy

Thursday, April 12, 2012
Twenty two years ago this day, our son Thomas was born, and I excitedly realized that it wouldn't be just myself and three ladies in this family.

His sensitivity and humor have been wonderful gifts to us in this family and he's doing really well at life.

Oh and he is all kinds of good dangerous in the kitchen. Takes after his mom there. His butter chicken is to die for.

Lately he's been in his darkroom, learning the old school ways of the photo enlarger and chemical trays.

He's becoming a man of many talents.
Happy Birthday Thomas.


Presentation on the closure of the Rosebrier Community School

Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Tonight I gave a presentation to the Wetaskiwin Regional Public School Board as it has announced its intention to close Rosebrier, the local K-9 school here in the field. The dynamic of being under constant financial pressure, I think, has caused them to move towards options that are nearsighted, at least for the unique dynamic that is life in this field.

They will have a final vote on April 24th, and until then we will try to give them a picture of what their decisions will mean to people who dwell in fields.

This is included here, for the record.


Good evening.

My name is Randall Friesen and I am the Senior Pastor at the Malmo Mission Covenant Church, a vibrant one hundred and fifteen year old church located four miles south of Rosebrier School that is experiencing a significant growth of young families who are returning to take over the family farms once operated by their parents.

I am also the parent of a past student of Rosebrier, and a friend to numerous current students presently attending.

Finally, I lead a team of parents and community people who work hard to create a quality youth program each Wednesday after school, held at the church, in which fifty plus children come for a time of food, games and activities, and study. A good number of them attend Rosebrier, and I have had opportunity to know them and their families.

I appreciate the opportunity to be heard at this meeting, and It is with respect that I address you here today. It is a respect born out of a sense of understanding of where you find yourselves these days as board members. I too have been an elected representative on a school board where we eventually felt like we had no other option than to close the doors of the college we were given charge of. While today I regret our final decision to close those doors its not been without its educational purposes in my life. The big lesson there, for me, was that dollars and cents rarely end up increasing after the institution is closed. Oh, estimations are made and projections laid out, but the bottom line is rarely as optimistic as predicted. The costs associated with closure and trying to convince families to remain in the school system are not as easily projected as they seem to be before the closure.

The other lesson for me was that many people with varying agendas can make the dollars say whatever they want them to say, depending on what they want to see accomplished.

I wish to challenge your current direction regarding Rosebrier by inviting you to view the larger picture of the education of our children. I know that working in an ongoing context of financial shortages begins to take its toll on boards and administrative staff. While we would all like a full, robust, and creative educational process for our children, it just seems that finances rule our educational systems more and more these days. I remind you that there are more things to consider than the almighty dollar.

I believe the reason for the large turnout at the Rosebrier community meeting was simply because the school represents a Community dynamic that sees the school as central to the life of the community. That is to say, Rosebrier isn't just a school out there in a field. It's a place of gathering and supporting. A place where christmas concerts happen and where families go to skate. It's a place where people from the surrounding farms gather to raise money for good causes and they visit and talk over pie and coffee. It's where you go to help out with your kids' classes because they need you and because it's in your neighbourhood.

As such, Rosebrier is the only community building in that area, and as such it is a place that people have identified strongly with, even if their children have long since graduated from there. It provides a focus where there is not much else besides fields. People are willing to step up at times like these to show their children how to be people of character. People who serve and participate in community and step up when things get a bit difficult. People who contribute cash over pie and coffee. People who are a part of the greater whole, the broader community.

Rosebrier is a focal point of the community that surrounds it, and the educational process for kids doesn't just happen in the classrooms, it also happens in the context of community.

As I’m sure you would agree, the education of children requires more than teachers and structures. It requires a community commitment as well. Things like character are more caught than they are taught, and a healthy participating community helps that educational process take hold in a young person's  life.

The Community is a viable, solid partner in seeing these values instilled in their young people. You see, these community people are deeply invested, not just in a building, but in the idea that educating children demands more than classrooms 40 kilometers away.

They are invested in the fuller educational lives of their children; teaching them the values of service and community and stepping up when needed. They are teaching their children that it's worth fighting for something of great value when it may be taken away.

Those are not things that can be easily taught in a classroom, but they are indeed lessons that the generations need to learn, and we need places like the Rosebrier Community where such values are being taught so as to raise up good citizens of Alberta and Canada.

The threat of the loss of Rosebrier means the loss of the solid partner you have in the community investing itself in the next generations. With Rosebrier gone, so also would the presence of a “Rosebrier Community" be gone.

This is simply not the same result that you would have with the closure of a city school.

And what of the dreams and desires of our First Nations families? Yes I appreciate some of the delicate political maneuvering that happens, but beyond all that political necessity are simple families. Grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads with kids who need an education and for whatever reason, have identified Rosebrier as a place where that can happen.

Yes, I've met some of them, and heard pieces of their stories. Some of the most humble people in difficult circumstances are trying to make a difference in the lives of their children, and for them Rosebrier represents hope. Their simple dream is to provide their children with an education outside of the daily pressures of Hobbema; pressures that sometimes make their way into Wetaskiwin schools as well.

Not only is it a help to them that the school is located where it is, but the class sizes are helpful too. In a larger school the quieter kids get lost, and all children find greater opportunity for reaching their potential in smaller classrooms.

Yes, it's a bigger choice for the First Nations families because of the distance, but they are willing to make it work because they see value in it for their children. They have dreams for their children, and they've identified Rosebrier as a place where their children have a chance to chase those dreams.

We can continue to have a part in helping those families raise kids who will make a difference in their world.

While I choose to believe that you are on this board because you care that our children receive a quality, well rounded education, I fear that the profit and losses column rules the agenda these days. Your insistence, in email and public responses, to only value the number of children who were registered at Rosebrier on a certain day in September, because of the money that can be drawn against their name, rather than to value the higher number of young hearts and minds present after that day in September, is a harsh reminder to us that you are in the business of managing money, not building people.

Your responsibility as board members is greater than just being keepers of the purse. Because of your willingness to be involved in leadership, (Which I appreciate,) you hold a moral and community wide responsibility for the educational development of our children, and if the powers that be above you create unmanageable conditions for you to operate financially, then I challenge you to consider creative responses that will allow communities like Rosebrier to continue to participate in their children's education, growth and dreams.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully submitted, Randall Friesen


Is this still Tuesday?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Tonight as I stood in the shower leaning up against the wall and letting the hot water warm my bones, I was trying to get prepared for tomorrow so my first task was to remember what day it is tomorrow.

That was more or less when I remembered slowly that today was still Tuesday.

Tuesday, early prayer with the guys. It was a good time today.

Tuesday, I had to drive Lauralea into the hospital for some tests by 8:30 am. I say I had to because when she's fasting her blood sugar levels goes crazy, and as her blood goes, so goes she.

Tuesday, when I did the service at the hospital, which was convenient since we were there anyway. Thankfully no big "Pastor, pull my finger!" joke tellers in the crowd today. It did seem like a big deal today though, it doesn't always.

Tuesday, I was in the office in the afternoon trying to get ready for tonight.

And Tuesday when I went home to grab a nap and when I was awakened for supper, it felt like the middle of the night to me.

Tuesday night and I headed over to the school board offices to make a presentation against the closure of our rural school out here in the field. Probably more nervous than I had a right to be.

Tuesday and a shower and to bed.

Tomorrow is Wednesday and that starts with a 9am ministerial meeting in town.

I'm declaring Tuesday officially over, for now. We'll do it again next week.

Night Tuesday.


Christ Is Risen!!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What she said.
In Haiku no less.

He's risen indeed.
And fear ran away.


For those who enjoy Classical Music

Thursday, April 05, 2012
This is the weekend of the Hall of Fame top 300 classical music countdown at ClassicFM.

Classic FM's Hall of Fame has become a highlight of my year. Somehow mixed in with the special activities of Easter as I am able to steal a few quiet moments, I turn to www.classicfm.co.uk and just enjoy the best of the best music.

So starting at 9am on Good Friday, that's British time, you can go to the Classic FM site or visit this page for a good link to the audio: http://tunein.com/radio/Classic-FM-1009-s8439/

It will be continuing all through the weekend so you can enjoy as you are able.

Welcome to Classic FM's 2012 Hall of Fame
You voted in your thousands, and now the ultimate chart of classical works has been revealed!
From symphonies to sonatas, concertos to choral works, it's all here in this definitive guide to the nation's 300 best-loved classical pieces. Start your exploration of the Hall of Fame 2012 with NS&I right here…


Back to the snow for Maundy Thursday.


Love left a window in the skies

Wednesday, April 04, 2012
A reminder that this is Holy Week.
Can't you see what love has done?

The shackles are undone
The bullet’s quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The GRAVE is now a groove
All debts are removed
Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

Love makes strange enemies
Makes love where love may please
The soul and its striptease
Hate brought to its knees
The sky over our head
We can reach it from our bed
You let me in your heart
And out of my head

Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

Please don’t ever let me out of you
I’ve got no shame

Oh can’t you see what love has done
Oh can’t you see
Oh can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

I know I hurt you and I made you cry
Did everything but murder you and I
Love left a window in the skies
And to love I rhapsodize
Oh can’t you see what love has done
To every broken heart
Oh can’t you see what love has done
For every heart that cries


Bún Ba Màu and self loathing in Edmonton

Tuesday, April 03, 2012
With the threat of rain tomorrow and truckloads of snow promising us a visit by Maundy Thursday, it seems only right to reflect upon Mondays glory.

Plus double digit temperature and lots of sun meant that Lauralea and I were on a break of immense proportions. Spirit-wise and sun-wise at least.

To be fair, I did sleep in a good bit, mainly because I had been up quite late the night before, working on a presentation I needed to have done. So with half the day before us and the beautiful sun in the sky, we headed to the big city for the day.

I needed to stop for a quick errand to pick up some things for the church, and herself was agreeable with it all, and so we did stop, briefly.

Then off to lunch at Doans Vietnamese Restaurant for some of what this body and spirit craves. Interesting, colourful, flavourful food from a different culture. Lunch was delightful and for dessert we shared a coconut ice-cream around a mango sherbet ball which was a white ball of happiness for the mouth.

It was a great lunch and as we left the place, the sun was warm and we were in the mood to walk and explore some shops. But I with my watch, estimated the time left for our other errands, which also had to do with me, and concluded that we probably shouldn't consider walking because we had other things to get done.

That was about when the clouds began, I think. Not so much for herself, because she is gracious, but for me as I began to push against the inner demands I had placed on myself to get some things done that day. It became cloudier and darker in the car as I struggled with the expectations I had given myself and the day. Pressure to accomplish things which were probably undoable, especially given that it was suppose to be a day off. Yet I hoist these expectation on me and my time frame and herself often just gets caught in the self loathing.

Why do I do it?
Why do we do it indeed.

There is no deep life lesson there, at least for the reader.  For me it underlines how I can't do it all and when I try, I end up doing less than I maybe could have achieved in the first place.

I thought life in a field had taught me how good things take time to accomplish.
I guess I'm not done with the lesson just yet.

At least I'm loved by a patient woman. That was the good lesson of the day for me.

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