Summer storms start

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

After all that waiting for spring to arrive, it came suddenly on Sunday night.
Too early in the season though. It's bark was much worst than its bite.


Getting my Mojo Back

Saturday, April 27, 2013
It's been a tough month here at the ole mine face where the work is getting done, three steps forward, one step back. Two steps forward, one step back. You know how it is, you live life too.

But last night as Lauralea and I caught a bit of the show House Hunters International, I got really impatient with one of the house shoppers. The lady was searching for a house with her particular culture in mind, in a country that had a very different approach to room size, and all she could do was complain about everything. (By the way, why do people do that, pack up and move to another culture and get all whiny when it's not like their culture? Sheesh)

I could feel my blood pressure rising and so enough of that, off she went. I loaded up The Borne Identity and we watched Jason Borne find himself.  :)  That was better.

I've been noticing a few clues like this starting to call attention to myself that yes indeed, we need a break from things here.

I started looking at my calendar and realized that in the past six months only on Christmas day and Boxing day have I had two consecutive days off. That's not enough and yes I can see that now. So in one week we will take some time off. See if I can get my mojo back.

In the mean time, tomorrow here at the church in The Field, we will celebrate Holy Communion together. That's like a little holiday or a lush park in the middle of a busy city.

For me that's always something that engages me. An interaction with God himself in ways that I don't always get. But I always come away with more than I came with. More energy, more life, closer to Christ.

But it's also about being closer to the Body of Christ, the people gathered around. I come, with the others here, to Christs table to receive from Him. And they all come too, as paupers. People hungry for more. People aware of their failures and hopefully repentant of them, yet choosing to move towards Christ rather than running away from him. Together we come.

It is to me a life-giving break in the middle of the rush of life. And these days those life giving moments  are not unwelcomed.

Come join us tomorrow.


Turning fifty

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Fifty was always one of those ages that always seemed to be just a huge deal to me. That's like half a century for petes sake.  It's fifteen years from retirement, and grey hair and cheaper auto insurance. It's now whole channels on the TV and in some restaurants, a cheaper meal! It is a BIG deal.

So you can see that it will probably be a traumatic day when I turn 50. Kindly, God has given me a brave soul as a partner who goes into that deep dark future before I do. As a trailblazer for me. Lauralea, turns fifty today.

She, as she usually does, makes this look easy and even fun.  That's one of the reasons I love her.

She has a faith in God and an approach to life that, more than any other person I've known, can be described as childlike. Her wonder at colours, the tunes and rhymes she creates in her head in a moments notice, her ready smile even for strangers on the street all are in the mix that she is.

She's always concerned that the children have fun food to eat at potlucks. She's never spoken disparagingly about anyone. She treats everyone the same, like an old friend from out of town, and will stop every time to help someone caught in distress.

She hates any tight clothing around her wrists and she positively can't stand the feel of those silicone based handles on cookware etc.  She loves word games, and games in general. She's got like ten to twenty online scrabble games going on at any one time.

She used to get speeding tickets before she met me, and she needs a small car so she can see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals.

She can cook with the best of them, and she is a dedicated baker. Like a scientist would work for days getting the formula right, she works for days getting a recipe just right, and then tweaking it to perfection.  (See )

She has always loved wearing high heels and her size fives can still pull off a stunning look in those five inch heels. She can sew a new skirt or blouse for Sunday on Saturday and look amazing, and she sews me awesome dress shirts I can actually wear and look good in. She sews baby gifts and blankets and knits me slippers that are orange and fit perfectly.

She reads profusely and she loves mysteries which are like little puzzels to her. Agatha Christy and Martha Grimes are taking over our bookshelves like procreating rabbits.

Her love of teaching finds ways of fulfillment and in her early years she taught music and piano and theory at a small Bible School. Her favourite piano students have always been the little ones just starting out. Be it a piano or theory concept or a deep theological conviction, she loves when people "Get it" and the realization in their eyes gives her such a kick that its like raw energy to her.

She is a good teacher and her mind is sharp. She's always been smarter than I and in college, with me hitting C regularly with hard work, she would get A's by what seemed hardly any effort at all. That's why I'd have her edit and type my papers and my marks improved accordingly.

She has had an amazing memory and I could ask her where in the bible is this or that incident recorded and she could tell me the place and references and even the obscure little name included in the event. That was always an amazing trick she could do.

Her body has been the place of struggle for her and has been limiting for her. Her frustrations with her small hands limiting her ability to play a full octave on the piano only pushed her to learn to play different instruments like the flute and piccolo and saxophone and most anything else she put her mind to.

From babies to gallbladders she's had more surgeries than one person should ever have to have and she's already done a lot of living in that body so that by now she daily faces constant pain and struggles.
Whereas I have spent a life eating whatever I want, when I want, with no bad reports ever coming from the doctor, she's spent her life eating carefully and completely reinventing her diet again and again to improve her health. I really admire this in her.

Her faith is simple. It's all about Jesus and what he did for her. She understands grace like few of us ever do, and she in truth, lives it out. Be it with the kids or church people or complete strangers, she lives what she believes and trys to deal graciously with everybody because grace is what's needed.

Early in our life together, while she was still teaching at Bible School, well probably much earlier on, she decided that she wanted to be a mom who was intentionally present to her kids. She wanted to be there, at first caring for them and then more and more just being present to them as they aged. She wanted them to experience a good hot breakfast before they would leave the house. She wanted to be there when they came home for lunch and she wanted to be present to them when they came home from school to listen and care and help them along. It was a choice she saw as deeply important to who she was called to be and she has and still pursues it with a determination that is fierce.

She would read to the kids in different accents and while they ate they would have her reading the great classics with an english tongue. On their birthdays she would make them whatever they wanted to eat, as mad as that would sometimes get. And she'd host birthday parties for them with their friends and create these crazy cakes that would mark the day.

All that, and we were told we shouldn't really expect to have any kids.

I think one of the things I love about her the most is her enthusiasm for life.  Sometimes health wears you down and sometimes being pregnant too many times in too few years can make you exhausted. Sometimes being faithful to the places God leads you can be really depressing and sometimes just being married to me is emotionally exhausting. BUT she still gets absolutely excited and pleased about a brand new orange watch that she got. Or she can shriek out loud in the car nearly causing me to have an accident, about some wordplay on a store sign or the colour of a car.

She is pleased with the simple delights of life and I suppose that's why she's with me.

If you have a cup of something nearby let us lift a glass of cheer and good wishes to herself.

Happy Birthday Lauralea


Love, Randall


Just a thankful heart this morning

Sunday, April 21, 2013
It was while I was washing up this morning when the thoughts started randomly going though my mind.  "It's Sunday again" I thought, and then images of the different churches I'd served at started rumbling though my cranium.

The churches I went to as a part of a ministry group for college. The small churches, the large ones, the ones with twelve at a service and an old out of tune piano, and the large ones with hundreds and hundreds of people and lighting guys and timing guys. 

Memories flooded my brain from the first church we were lay ministers at there in Southern Ontario in a large Mennonite church where the second language was english and the families were big. To the church we served in Winnipeg for ten years and the families we loved there and the services held in a High School for many years and then a move to an old restaurant where we would meet and worship God and serve the community. Then on to Prince Albert and the people who were so wounded and meeting God in that wonderful space where God would show up week after week and challenge us that we could be whole if we wanted and that he would do it, and he did. To the rural life here in The Field as we learned another rhythm to life and how that rhythm effected church life as well.

Snapshots of these memories ran through my spirit there as I was washing, and I realized that was a lot of Sundays and a lot of places where Jesus had asked me to serve. And I thought about the things I go through before I ever get up in front of people, about how my relationship is with God and what He needs to do in me before I ever get up in front of people. The prayers I've prayed, the requests for the right words, for cleansing so I could speak from a right place. The calls for strength when I couldn't do it myself or when I felt lousy or lost or unable.  The cries for patience and for love for those who would sit in judgement of me that day. The prayer from my deep desire that God might visit each person present there that morning and that he would engage each one with healing and life and love...

And I was becoming overwhelmed there with the water running over me at what my Sundays have been like for, how many years? And my head began the math. Hmm five years here, then ten and another ten, plus three, then there were the Sundays at college and the different churches, and 32 years. Really, thirty two years I've been doing this on Sundays? That's ridiculous really.

One part of me was like wow, that's seriously a long time dude. I caught a hint of pride there in that thought. Am I that stubborn that I just don't give up? That I haven't been ground down to a fine dust yet and blown away by the winds of the day?

I remembered the difficult days. The days when my spirit was sick and off and wanted to be anywhere else. The times when I didn't want to continue in ministry and I'd call out to God for a little help and he would be there.  I realized that in spite of my pride and selfishness and stubbornness, God's been there. That even in seasons of tiredness and oppression and failure, God's been there. He's been the common theme throughout it all. It was humbling, and good.

I finished washing up and got dressed and headed to the church to pray the prayers afresh this morning as I do each week and before each service. Prayers of submission and personal review. Prayers of confession and contrition, of forgiveness and repentance. Prayers seeking God's presence and work in me and this group of people this morning. 

In my prayers I remembered that I do this before each service, each ministry opportunity, and that is the greatest blessing to me. Because of my role I keep short accounts with God. I have to or else I run the risk of ministering from my own place and not God's place. If I was to serve from my place, in my strength and wisdom, I would soon run empty and the quality of grace would be strained beyond its usefulness. "But thank God, He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume."

For all I sometimes hate it, this work has helped God make me into the man I am. I am grateful for that and I hope I can finish well.

Now, into another week.


A mushy love story

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So it comes that today is April 18th.
April 18, 1983 was the day that Lauralea and I chose to be, exclusive.
Thirty. Years. Ago.

In a relationship that was a good friendship, supportive and caring, somehow when the work of the college year was done and a short holiday up north with friends was undertaken, the obvious became apparent. We were meant to be together. And so we have been, ever since.

The above picture was taken in my dorm room, I believe, after a month of touring through Canada in different music groups. Both our groups arrived back at the college within a day of each other, and so we had a few days before we would part for the summer. Her to work at one camp in BC and I to a summer of more touring and working in different camps.

This photo was taken of Lauralea on Lake Superior by one of her tour group mates as they drove to Ontario that April to sing in churches and to represent the college in that part of Canada. It's one of my favourite pictures of her.

And so a few days after the first picture was taken, we parted ways for the summer. She went to work for the summer at Ness Lake Bible Camp, and I would be on tour with four others, singing in churches throughout Western Canada, and working in various camps across the area as well.

This picture came about because our team was driving through Prince George BC, near where Lauralea was. We were on our way west to another camp, but I was given a couple of hours visiting time by the guys, and so we planned to meet at this restaurant. When we pulled up, she was there waiting for me. As I got out and hugged her, one of my team mates took this picture. It's been with me ever since.

So thirty years has passed and we are still the friends we were then, only deeper, and richer. I've always found that to be good advice when people ask me for such wisdom. If you can, marry your best friend and work hard at it. If you're careful, the friendship can remain, and much more can be added to it throughout life.

Hopefully we can run down another thirty years, and still laugh together and share life together, and take some more crazy pictures together.


Six Months

Sunday, April 14, 2013

And so the latest storm to hit us came Friday night. 10-20some cms of fresh snow.
Saturday morning when I had a 9 am appointment in town, Lauralea and I headed out and got about 15 kms before we finally turned around and were barely able to get back home.

We've had constant snow on the ground here now for six months. That's SIX or 6 or VI months of snow.

That means only six months before winter starts again.


Of Paris, Mr. Blue Sky, and dreams

Friday, April 05, 2013
Just sitting here listening to a little bit of SuperTramp's live Paris concert and flashing back 33 years to when I was 16 and had purchased the double cassette for my enjoyment in the car. Now I'm sitting here in my living room and enjoying the accompanying memories as I listen to it over the internet, on My oh my. How times have changed.

How was the week you ask? Thanks for asking, it was Easter times two. Five of the last six evenings were spent in work related endeavours and as the schedule went, we did one service at the local hospital, and we did two services at care homes. Most of the busyness of the week was just schedule related, difficult schedules passed on to me by those who make such things. But it's Friday night and I grabbed some fun when and where we could get it. A late coffee out last night, a supper and visit with friends, time for a midday nap two of these morning, noon and night days. Simple pleasures that help get one through.

(Ok musical update as we've moved on to ELO's Mr. Blue Sky, circa mid 1970's)

And dreams.
Two profound dreams on two consecutive mornings, that ended gently and as they faded to black, consciousness returned to my body. Slowly waking me, on both occasions, just before the alarm went off.
Two emotionally moving dreams that reminded me that it's better to live in the present than it is to live in the future, and secondly, that it's better to live in the present than it is to live in the glory of the past.

At least that's what I think they were about. I didn't realize I was doing either one of those things THAT much.

But maybe I have been.  I probably need to listen a bit longer to the secrets the dreams hold for me. It feels as though they are like two book ends and between the two are volumes for me to learn.

Then tomorrow morning breakfast with Herself as we try to reconnect after a week such as this, and share more than five words, then some more work for Sunday.

(And on that cue ELO's Diary of Horace Wimp starts up and I can see that is another sign for me to be done for today.)

So I shall leave it there and head to the shower.
Glad it's Friday. It's been a long week and I'm looking forward to Sunday and Holy Communion with the local Saints.



Passed out

Monday, April 01, 2013
Last night I remember rolling over for the last time right around 12:30 am and that was really all I knew until I woke up this morning at 11:30AM!

Yeah you read that right. 11:30 am.

After a full busy week of evening meetings and Easter celebrations and a full day of Easter activities yesterday I think it all caught up with me, and boy did I sleep.

Today is quiet here in the Field, and we seem to just be chilling all day. I'm going to go play with my radios a bit, and maybe watch a movie with herself.

Then early to bed I think. Tomorrow starts early again and gains momentum.

But wow, what a sleep.

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