And just like that, the world changes

It's been an amazingly emotional day around here today, good thing we were snowed in and had no place to get to. Lauralea and I just enjoyed the little bits of news as it was txted in to us.

Of course the news is that Johanna and Nate's little baby was born this morning.
"Norah Darlene, 7 lbs 4 oz, 22 in long, born 9.20 am Our time. We're all doing well. Feel free to spread the news.:) pics to follow"
And just like that, to me at least, the whole world changed.

The day got really emotional, and I noticed something new in the air, the feeling that this day could in no way get any better, no matter what. And it was true. All that joy, it caught me by surprise.



And so now I am a grandpa by role, a Papa by title. A new job with new responsibilities.

She is beautiful. May this life she's been given be full of grace and peace and blessings, and very few tough times and broken hearts.

It just. Keeps. Snowing.


It just. Keeps. Snowing., originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

The least of these

Through my history in ministry, feeding people food has always been an important thing and I've had opportunity to serve at and start different kinds of food ministries.

So yesterday a number of us from Malmo, including a bunch of youth, headed off to Edmonton to make and serve supper at the Mustard Seed.

It's a great time and if you ever have a chance, you should give it a try too.

Of course hairnets were the order of the day.

At the Mustard Seed

It runs in the family...

At the Mustard Seed

And all the kids were serving. They seemed to have more fun than it looks like here.

Helping at the Mustard Seed

We served three hundred meals Saturday.

On how the urgent takes away from the important.

Feels like the busier I am, the less I achieve things of deep value.

I want to create moments of lasting value.

So I need to work smarter, make better choices, be available in healthy ways.

Say "no" better, and more often.

Free others to use their gifts more. Teach others to do the things they may not know how to do.


Yeah, it's a journey.

Are you coming? Or are you stuck in urgent-ville, too tired to care?

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Last night was our first Board meeting of the year and so we had lots to do. It went late and I'm usually still in work mode late into the night after those times, so I was up late.

And side note, sometimes you work and work to see change come to some area of the organization you work with, and after a couple of years of hard work and people not seeing the value of the change, there in one quiet subtle moment the change happens just like that and it isn't a big deal but more of an, "Of course we should do that, it just makes good sense" sort of thing.

Wow. We here are covering a good deal of ground as we grow and take the right steps to health and life and faith. The future is bright.


And speaking of bright, look what awaited me when I got to the breakfast table this morning.

A Breakfast of Champions.


Thanks, I'll take it.

Glimpses of Dad

I need to get along home because my eyes are watering and it's hard to see the screen now, but I need to say things like this.

Over the past while my dad has been flashing through my mind in surprising ways that emotionally catch me off guard. Images of him as an old man in a care home and he's calling for help and no one is coming. Images of him seeing my strengths and desires and supporting them by encouraging me forward in those directions. Images of his personal strength in weakness and his care for me, even in his last week. I don't know why they are circling around me now, but they are.

We all need a dad who loves us, whatever that love looks like. We need his protection and support and his prayers. We need his example of how to live. We need him watching out for us.

Funny, I do most of these things for my kids without making a mental decision to do so. I may not always love them like they would like me to love them, I don't know. But I do.


For whatever reason, I just really miss that. And him.
And I go looking for him in my memory, and I connect with places we've shared and a few of the times I felt connected with him.

Maybe I just miss him is all. Maybe I miss his wisdom and his input. Maybe I miss watching him getting old, see how he would do it.

I'm getting closer to the age he was when life was getting difficult and a long illness eventually took his life. I sometimes wonder how I'll live without his example, in those later years.

Sometimes I wonder.




Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden (1913-1980)

Captain of the Enterprise - with product placement.

Captain of the Enterprise - with product placement.

Today I've been at a morning youth planning committee meeting, looking for a new song in an old file system I had, decided to ignore ten desperate emails looking for me, been planning worship, taking phone calls, arguing with Lauralea, done work on the sermon, walked through the pre-teen Wednesday party, got the mail, bought office supplies, connected with 6 people at various levels of depth, and now just before the youth group descends for the evening and we feed them supper, I'm trying to prepare for a funeral I have tomorrow morning.

And I think to myself, Self, it would be good on days like this, to work in a small niche bookstore where few people come and go on any given day, and I am free to help those who come in and maybe dust a little or unpack new books for my benevolent, very wealthy, shop owner and manager who prefers to be elsewhere, and who likes the laid back version of myself and lets me read when the dusting and shelve stocking is done, and after a stressful day of three customers I walk home to my wife and family and in the evening I head out to play in the bowling league I'm a part of with guys I've known since birth and who won't criticise me for only getting one strike the whole evening and instead they buy me one single beer to celebrate with, and we drink it with gusto and with that success puffing up my pride I return home and make love to my wife who is surprised because it's not Thursday night and I sleep the sleep of the contented man because tomorrow is another busy exciting day.

... or maybe not.


ok, back to the prep work for tomorrow.

Sunrise in the field

Sunrise

Walking home from early prayer at the church.

The sky is changing quickly today. The wind came up and the temp is dropping now. But the result is a beautiful sky.


Blessings on your day.

It's Sunday again

IMG_6816

And it's Sunday again.

Sunday of a week when death and decay seemed to be all over the place. Sunday on a week when Spring tried to make an appearance and tried to convince us that hope was around the corner and warm weather would return quickly. Sunday on a week before Valentine's Day when men start to scurry around looking for cards and chocolates and flowers that are appropriate to communicate their love to their partners.

Yes it's Sunday again.

So what do I get up in front of the people and talk to them about on this Sunday when all this life has been lived and all these activities pursued?

I think that today I get up and I talk again about the great love story, about how loving Jesus Christ isn't all about doctrine and it isn't all about proper order. How loving God isn't just about doing and saying the right things. But that loving God can be about a romance. How loving God can be about depths of intimacy and relationship and connection.

I know some people have difficulty with that kind of language when we talk about our relationship with God. But it's there in the book. It's in the nature of being created as human beings with intimate needs. It's there in our lives and our searching. It's there in our pursuit of relationship and our desire to connect with humanity. It's there written in the DNA of who we are that we need intimacy. We need to love, and we need to be loved.

And so on this Sunday before Valentine's Day we'll talk again about love and will be stretched to make choices about how we want to live our lives, and learn to love deeply.

The unfolding of the day

IMG_6892

The day starts early now with a regular appointment I have with a Spiritual Direction client from the big city, so I'm up and getting life sorted here in the field before the day gets going.

Today will also include a visit to the town hospital where we have an elderly woman who's health has taken a sudden turn for the worse, and then a trip to the north of Edmonton to a hospital where we have a young mom who's been struggling with health issues for over a month now.

Life in many respects stands still for those who are in health institutions as they wait for their health to improve, while for their families some semblance of life continues on, but with this gaping hole in their lives. Today I will try to connect with a couple of them and care for them, hopefully in ways that will encourage them or let them know they are not forgotten.

It will mean three to four hours on the road today too, depending on the traffic. That will be ok on this day when the outside temperature promises to be above freezing.

And now, best get ready. My 8am is nearly here.

So much pain out there

IMG_5753

Seasons come and go for most people. Physically as well as emotionally, mentally and spiritually too.

It may just be a season but my oh my, there is an abundance of pain out there these days.

A good piece of my work generally is simply praying with those who are in those different seasons.

So it's sort of sad days around these parts. Heavy going, like moving through heavy piles of snow.

Just the season is all.

Midwinter 2011 in point form


I nearly didn't come, but I am immensely grateful that I did. 

I enjoy being anonymous in a crowd. It balances the part of me that has to be front and centre in a fishbowl. 

I really enjoyed the freedom to attend things I wanted to, to sleep when I needed to, and to connect with others when the opportunity arose.  

We experienced the third worst blizzard in Chicago history that dumped over 20 inches of snow on the city. 

Lots of these people have and use iPads quite well. I wonder if pastors use technology more than other professions/jobs. 

The Spiritual Direction hour I took with a director was holy and powerful and maybe even just a bit life changing. 

Great helpful workshops. Stuff I can take with me into the future. 

It's been 13 years since I've lived in a city that has it's own TV Studios and programing.  I like that. It makes you feel a part of the city. 

There's a pastor here who is a double for Steve Jobs. 

The Field is a thousand miles and fifty years from here. 

I love taking pictures when I have great subjects. It connects with a part of my creative being that makes me feel complete. 

All sorts and all kinds are called to pastoral ministry. It's more about "the calling" than it is about the type of personality. 

Today all the Canadians are going out for authentic Mexican food for supper. Who says we are meek or quiet Canadians. 



Tomorrow afternoon I have a few free hours so I might try to get downtown yet. Take some more pictures.  Tomorrow night I head home, better off for having been here. 




Steve Jobs is at midwinter?

Morning Worship

Chicago Weather

Still building up steam


Chicago Weather

When I was waiting for my plane in Edmonton I again checked Chicago weather and was surprised to see a blizzard watch out for the coming week. 

Since I've arrived, that's all the city has been talking about. 

The light snow and wind started last night, and the big snow is scheduled for tonight until early Thursday morning, then it lightens up a bit again. 

They are expecting 12 to over 20 inches of snow, with ThunderSnow, yes that's as in thunder and lightning, ThunderSnow dumping possibly up to 4 inches an hour. High winds are expected as well, which will make things so much worse. 

Last night the news announcers were encouraging people to gather water and food for the duration, and the Dominicks store I was in was crazy with people and quickly shrinking food supplies. 

Schools are already canceling tomorrows classes based on the predictions, and I guess the last time Chicago schools closed was in 1999. 

Scheduled flights are being changed for free and airport closings are expected. My only comfort is that my flight is Friday night so hopefully things will be running again by then. 

Tomorrow is our free evening here in the big city, and plans are/were in place for a trip downtown. I guess we'll have to see.    

Yesterday this was being called possibly the worst blizzard in Chicago history. Thankfully they seem to have decreased that rhetoric and are now saying one of the three worst storms in history. Not that comforting I think. 

So today inside should be alright. I have a very full day ahead so I'll stick around here. Tomorrow we wanted to get to the loop for supper, some jazz, and some photo opportunities. We'll see how things look then. They are putting blades on the front of the subway "L" trains, so travel may be doable. 


And that's the weather in Chicago.