Today she is two

I don't blog much about my kids here anymore, mostly because they are adults, at least in view of the law they are. But they are busy writing their own stories, creating their own lives, and doing a pretty good job at it I should add.

But some of the things they do still effect me.

Two years ago today I became what my dad was to our kids, a papa. A grandfather, grampa, papa. Two years ago little Norah was born and the world, my world hasn't been the same since.

We work hard to know her and to let her know us, but sometimes on days like today, it's hard. We are really glad she gets to live by family and to know the love of an extended family, that's pretty cool. But for now we need to live in different parts of the world, her and us. But we do make the most of it when we are together.

And today she reaches the awesome age of two. She's walking and talking and she knows more sign language than I could ever keep up with. She's bright and fun and a pleasure to be with. Her mom and dad do make great babies, and now small children.

So happy birthday Norah. We pray that your life continues to be so blessed and that you will know the roads where true blessings lie.

And maybe one day when you are older and you wander down the timeline of this blog of mine, you will see this post and remember that you were always loved and loved deeply by this papa from miles away.


Thomas took this picture of us last year. I think it perfectly illustrates our relationship.




The new pants. (Trousers for you UK-ites)

So I bought some new jeans the other day. And I bought like a guy buys. Park, run in, go to the jean section, pull out my size, try them on, pay, leave.

I decided to try the middle aged, below waist jeans this time, and they were snug, because of the waist and the straight leg cut which I wanted.

$24 each so I grabbed two pairs. Done.

Nice, until day one with them on. Wow, snug is the word. Can't cross my legs, can barely bend my knees. I really hated the baggy jeans years, but this is really close comfort I may need to get used to.

The beauty of them is that I think it's impossible to fall down in them. There isn't room to collapse in them, kinda like leg braces. So even if I slip on ice, I stay up. Not bad at all.

I'm liking them I think. Might even go with my red runners I got in So Cal. (See what I did there? Instant street cred by talking about my recent trip to Southern California)

Now I just gotta get comfortable with my shirt hanging out over my trousers.

Hey people, it's a journey.

Facetime with Norah

So what do you do when your baby is sick?
You give her tea and call papa.

Thanks for the visit Norah.





Need a bit of a nice dream for this Saturday morning?

On this Saturday morning in February while I'm stuck in my office doing office things, I'm going to throw you a summers memory. Or if it's not a memory, it might be a dream of yours.

You foodies and green thumbs out there will enjoy this. It's a half hour show about the amazing things you can do with tomatoes and onions that you can grow yourself.

Buckle yourself in and enjoy. Fork to Fork, tomatoes and onions.





In Search of Scotland

At supper tonight Micah asked me like he usually does, what did I do today? I usually then take the opportunity to list the items of my day, some of the people, some of the stories of the day like I'm trying to convince myself that the amount of work that I did was superhuman and normal.
:)

Today my answer was more along the lines of I don't really want to revisit the whole day, so I don't want to answer.

I think its just due to an emotionally demanding day after an emotionally demanding week.

We had a friend stay for night last night who drives in occasionally from a good distance away for some good talk and Spiritual Direction and care sorts of things, so this morning we had a great conversation about things. It was good and awesome and God was there and it made me smile.

Earlier in the morning I was up and praying for a friend who was going in to surgery today and just asking God to provide for her and care for her as she went through the tough process of going under the knife. Word came back that it was all good for her. Thank you father.

Noon hour got me into the office to help with the bulletin and various administrative duties, then I raced home to head into town for a dicy counselling situation in the afternoon. That was a very tough conversation, but God was there too. We talked for a couple hours and it really was good and hopeful.

I stopped and got some water and headed for home, getting here around 5 pm.

The stories this week were one after another of struggling families, personal sicknesses, people changing work, very sick children, some wanting to follow Jesus, and on and on. There were a few times this week that I crawled into God's presence and begged for help. That I couldn't hear another difficult story and could he carry things please?

To that end, the results of the week were delightful, gracious, hopeful and for me, satisfying work done faithfully. God was in the week, in the stories and leading the way.


I keep trying to get back to my fun reading, In Search of Scotland, in my efforts to take care of myself. Maybe tomorrow night, after we tackle the Sunday plans I'll find a bit of roooom to reeeeead. Before then I'm going to need a sermon and I know that Marc my "Associate" has been working on some plans for the day already.

But I for one am ready to put this week behind me.
See you Sunday.

As news goes, it isn't great


Tonight I'm tired and feeling on the edge of it all.

The week feels like it's been one bad piece of news after another and the people I care for are riding roller coasters of emotion, as Ron Burgundy might say. So by tonight, I'm feeling it.

Then last night I heard the news that a friend is sick. Sick as in there is nothing they can do for him, so go home and wrap things up. Go home and say what you need to say to the people you love. Go home and if you're a praying man, pray. But its done.

I called him today to check up on him and he's doing as well as one could expect, maybe even a bit better. We talked and shared a while, and as we said bye I realized how angry I was.

I've known people, family even, and others who I've walked with when they get that news. I started counting the people I've known and walked with through these valleys, and it's too many.  But this time I'm just angry about it, and sad and confused and, frustrated.

To be expected I suppose, but it doesn't make it better.
The only thing that would make this better, is 20 more years to hang out together and talk together, and be able to call him up.

It looks like that isn't going to happen.


Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, winter wise.

Just to summarize, it is still winter and this is still Alberta Canada. Snow is to be expected, for a while yet.






Thoughts on two naps and low level stress

Whenever there is a stat holiday on a Monday, which is my usual day off, I'm to take the Tuesday off as my statutory day off. So today was just such a day. I think to say that it was a quiet day around here would be an understatement.

I got to the guys early prayer time at 6 here this morning, and got the coffee made and things lined up for prayer. It was a good time and there were seven of us there today, and the prayer was good.

I got home by 8 am and ate some toast and chocolate milk while the house was quiet, then went and had a nice extended morning nap which I gotta believe I needed. After a bite of lunch with Micah who was headed off to work, and Lauralea who was knitting up a storm today, I took my headache and headed in for another nap, part two. So lots of quick sleep was had and enjoyed today. I can usually tell that I needed it by how quickly I'm out when I lay down. Normally it takes me a good chunk of time to sleep when I lie down, but not today.


When I used to live in another city I was a part of the rotation of Clergy on call for the hospital, and about every six weeks I'd get the hospital cell phone and whenever there was a serious accident or emergency was involved or whenever a Code Blue was called at the hospital, the cell phone would ring and I'd have to go off into a high stress situation. I really enjoyed being a part of that opportunity and some of the life experiences it gave me I wouldn't change for the world. Some I'd change in an instant. However, I began to notice that during those weeks when I had the phone there would be a constant low grade sort of stress that would come along with it. All my plans for the week would be secondary to that phone and whatever calls would come in, whenever they would come in. day or night. I saw it as a part of the work that these expectations would come with it. I was usually glad after a tough week on call was completed and I could hand it off to another guy.

I've been remembering those days as I've been thinking about living here in a field - beside a church, in front of a cemetery. There is a similar feel to life here in a manse, owned by the church, living beside the church and at the place of work. Though it's a lesser grade stress than used to be present with an emergency cell phone, I think I've identified a similar feeling to being on call, except here it's where I live. It's the same sort of low grade stress that is ongoing, constantly. The regular "on call-ness" of it all, that at any time, day or night, I'm ready to go.  Though I don't make my plans accordingly on a short term basis, I do make arrangements if its a bit of a longer time away. I think this is a part of the challenge of living in a rural community in a public place.

I'm regularly trying to dissect the feelings I experience here and why they exist, because I want to learn how to do this work better and to be better and longer at it. And this is one of my recent discoveries. Living here in public in the home provided by the job, there is a similar though lower grade stress that is a constant thing.

So maybe on days like today when two naps are possible, it's a good thing. :)


Family Day, 2013

It's a stat holiday here in Alberta, so today I;

Slept in.
Watched BBC Canada with Lauralea
Ate cold pizza with Lauralea watching me.
Showered. (Alone)
Visited with Norah our granddaughter on FaceTime.
We decided not to go to the city because it was too far.
Sat on the couch with Micah and our laptops working on web-domain ownership.
Will eat chili supper with Micah and Lauralea
Will watch some movie tonight.

Family Day 2013, with a mini family.
Completed.


Miracles


I'm coming to understand the word miracle in a different light these days, probably because I'm aging and there are new perspectives with age. Yes I see the glorious power that is at work when God makes a sick man well or when He provides funds just in time. Those are indeed miracles. But how much more is the miracle of protection and provision given for each day, day after day, year after year, life after life. It's like God could give you, in one instant, the needed funds to purchase a house in one miraculous moment. Or he could give you enough cash to make the monthly payment, month by month, year by year. Which is the greater miracle, the one holy moment of miraculous income, or the ongoing holy moments given each month for years and years?

I'm not old enough to know the answer to that question yet, but I suspect that both are needed for different occasions in life, with the latter one being more, miraculous shall we say.


Hope you had a good Saturday

I have been here at my office since this morning.
I've written some correspondence, I've finalized tomorrow, I've cleaned up a bit.
I've talked with the person who thinks through and arranges the physical space for the services, I talked with my mom who called, I answered txts about some arrangements we need to make for a church purchase.
I even laughed at a few youtube videos I was directed to.
But the reason I came here was to work on my talk tomorrow morning. The sermon or message or word for tomorrow is struggling. It's not finding an easy way out.

Tomorrow starts Lent, and I want to talk a bit about how we get ready for that. How we look at our own hearts and see the gap there and acknowledge the need in ourselves to look to God again. I want to be transparent and honest, but that's a risky deal.

And now it's 4:45 pm and I need to get home for a bit today yet too. So you see my struggle.
These are the sorts of days that I dislike, the sorts of struggles that go on, inside and outside my life.

My prayer is simply that God shows up tomorrow morning, and fills my emptiness with his provision. Living with "emptiness" is hard.  But it can give God more room to speak. This I know.

May your Saturday be better than mine.


Exploding meteor over Russia

Given the recent history of the world and the fighting and wars and attacks, the incident this morning in Russia would be enough to really frighten a city.
I may have had to change my shorts.

Here's the story from the CBC.




San Diego is a lot like the Field...

...Just less snow and more palm trees.

So each year the Evangelical Covenant Church invites it's pastors to gather together for great workshops, world renown speakers, and awesome worship and usually we gather in Chicago. Well this time in an "about time" sort of thing, they called us to meet in San Diego. February in Southern California. Let me just say that it was no surprise to me that I saw pastors there that I had never seen at midwinter before.
:)

It was beautiful. Plus teens and 20's centigrade all week and no rain till the last morning there. I have never gone from snow to sun in one flight, and that was the shocking piece for me. It was the physical highlight of the week as I walked around in my shirtsleeves.





























The best piece for me emotionally was to be able to connect with other pastor friends who care for me and check up on me, to see how I was doing. Some very honest conversations were had and the back and forth of real friendships was the highlight of the week in that sense.

I suppose the spiritual highlight for me was that God had some fairly determined things to say to me personally about self care and me aiming for the long run. I'm learning that the things that have sustained me in the past are not necessarily the things that sustain and grow my soul these days. I need to keep working hard on those pieces of my life, so that I can finnish well. It was a tough word to hear and process but boy it's dead on and that's a part of life I need to continue to grow.

So in-between the worship and workshops and speakers I took my camera and got some great shots of the week.

If you want to, you can check them out here.
Or see below.






"You stay classy, San Diego"

In a few hours, after I'm done the busy work of this morning, I am catching a plane for San Diego.

Three and a half hours to Phoenix then an hour and a bit into San Diego. It's for our annual pastors meetings for the Evangelical Covenant Church.  It's called Midwinter and it's a mix of workshops, graced preaching, good worship, and because we are a very relational bunch, visiting.

I'm really so-so on the whole San Diego thing, mainly because I'll be in a hotel at meetings and events, so it's not like I'll inflict my pasty white body on the beaches or sip the manly equivalent of strawberry daiquiris on lounge chairs by the pool. No, it'll be like I said, some good speakers, hopefully a good workshop or two and some connections.

This year I'm heading into it a bit lower on the energy scale than normal, mainly because I'm tired and it's been a bit stressful lately with annual meetings and reports and such. So I'm seeing it as an opportunity to hopefully recharge the batteries.

I am trying to choose only the extra meetings that will help a guy out, and I am declining the requests for other activities. So I'm trying to be wise with my time and energy. Wednesday afternoon is free of events and so I'm thinking of trying to get over to the Ham Radio Store near by. A treat of being in larger population America. That will be fun.

And the beauty of San Diego is that there should not be a "Blizzard of the Century" like we had in our Chicago meetings a few years back. And I'm not bringing my winter coat, although I'm nervous about that because I don't know what to bring.

I'll try to post a few pictures from there as the week progresses.

But for now it looks like a very full Sunday morning. I best get at it.