Lucid thoughts, insecurity, and twenty five years of temporary work

Maybe it's the new role of grandparent that has made me think about other parts of my life that are moving on, I don't know, but it feels like I've been having moment after moment of lucid thoughts and realizations.

Last night as I sat up, revisiting the days events, rethinking my responses to various situations and people needs, I started to wonder if I'll ever feel secure about the work that I do. I tend towards insecurity and feeling like a failure oftentimes. I was kind of surprised that I still sometimes feel that way about myself and the things that I do. Surprised because I've been doing this work for, what was it now, ten, fifteen, twenty years or so? I began to count on my fingers and the numbers began to add up to twenty five years of doing this work.

Wow, how did that happen? Twenty five years doing something temporarily, until God would lead me to my real life's work. Ridiculous, I know.

I did a lot of preaching in churches that needed a one Sunday Stand sort of guy, but it was in 1986 that Lauralea and I settled down in a small town in Ontario and was asked to become a lay minister there.

As I was reflecting on that late last night my heart skipped another beat, because as it happens, Lauralea and I will be near that small town in a couple of weeks and we are planning to go and worship there with old friends. Twenty five years and we are going back to visit the people who first recognized something in me enough to make a bold move and call me forward to serve them and God.

So that has me thinking, how will I mark the 25 year occasion? How will I celebrate? What food will be eaten and thoughts be considered? How shall I review the years and the thousands of stories?

I expect I'll celebrate by continuing on, doing the things I've been called to do. Working to be faithful and obedient to the One who asked me for my heart, and my life. At least until the real work comes along.


Ah there's the dinner bell, better get home.

From The Field.

Today I feel like I earned my keep.

Spent nine hours in meetings today, planning and doing ministry. So much good stuff happening, and people involved in serving others. It's fun to work with people like that.

The day started with early prayer, there were twelve guys out, and ended with a Malmo 101 membership class sort of thing. In between were some good youth planning and worship planning meetings. Those kinds of meetings with passionate, creative people just energize me.

Tomorrow I'll give my spirit a chance to catch up with me, and return some of your emails you've been patiently waiting for.

Night from the field.

A strongly encouraged, gentle reminder to listen and communicate

We have all of us, or most of us, a quiet current if intimate thought, which flows on, gently and resistlessly, in the background of our lives, the volume and spring of which we cannot alter or diminish, because it rises far away at some unseen source, like a stream which flows through grassy pastures, and is fed by rain which falls on unknown hills from the clouds of heaven. This inner thought is hardly affected by the busy incidents of life - our work, our engagements, our public intercourse; but because it represents the self which we are always alone with, it makes up the greater part of our life, and is much more our real and true life than the life which we lead in public. It contains the things which we feel and hope, rather than what we say; and the fact that we do not speak our inner thoughts is what more than anything else keeps us apart from each other.

Preface from Joyous Guard by Arthur C. Benson, 1913


A gentle reminder that our inner lives are of such importance and power, far greater even than our physical lives. Yet we take such little notice of them and make no great effort to review or shape them or get help when we seem to be inwardly ill or moving in circles that drag us downward. Having a friend to share our inner intimate struggles and dreams with can be as healthy and helpful as having a counsellor or Spiritual Director to assist us. Yet many do not even have this great gift of a confidant.

When we don't have people who can listen to us and who's opinion we trust, we become less than. If we continue down this path we can become hard and our spirits shrink. We lose our way, becoming confused and unclear, withdrawing from the world more and more.

Many of us prefer the perceived safety of being our own best friends and trusting no one outside ourselves. This is so dangerous. While our friends try to get our attention and our spouses try to communicate past our walls of protection or our children call for aid, we are obliviously propping up our inner lives we've created to please ourselves. It is the great lie that we are enough in ourselves. We are not enough, and we need others to speak into our lives as much as we need a touch, a hug, an embrace.

If you are not giving attention to your inner life in ways that share with others, a friend, a spouse, even a counsellor or Spiritual Director, then you are living on borrowed time.

Someone nearby may be trying to get your attention.

Of Caramelised Onion English cheese and Norah

English Cheese with Caramelised onion

The short story is that while we were at The Creamery at Hawes in England, Lauralea and I tasted an amazing Caramelised Onion English cheese which they didn't have travel sizes of, and that is the cheese we've been talking about ever since.

Till today.

Today we were down at the trendy Granville Island market here in Vancouver, and wandering past a cheese shop I offhandedly asked if the gentleman had ever heard of cheese with caramelised onion in it. He looked at me for a second, then with a smile on his face, pointed out just such a cheese. Our mouths fell open as we saw before our eyes, the only cheese he had with caramelised onions, and it was from that very creamery on the other side of the earth.

We couldn't believe it. We grabbed two precious lumps of it and paid nearly it's plane fare for a first class seat. After supper we opened one block and the taste was just as we had remembered. It took us right back to The Creamery in Hawes, North Yorkshire.

That was nearly worth the 26 hour drive here and back.

Well nearly. Norah has been the prize of this journey, but the cheese was the icing on top.

We start for home and the snow and drifts tomorrow. Back late tomorrow night, with a block and a half of cheese left.

Sleeping with papa


Sleeping with papa, originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

Picnic in March in Stanley Park

This love is strange.

She is a cuddlable, squeaky, sleepy bundle of joy, this new granddaughter.

It's an emotional time when you hold the baby with it's new baby smell still with her. Learning to eat and trying to focus her ever changing eyes. It's such an amazing time.

Half of you is full of hope and expectation for this little one, and yet half of you knows that life can be tough and doesn't always go like you hope or expect it to go.

So there is weight there, responsibilities, expectations, weight. Sometimes hope just isn't enough for a child who goes down wrong roads or for whom difficult things happen. That can be a weight.

For today though, it is enough to love her and hold her and pray for her and carry the weight for her.

One day she may do that for you.

It's Norah Time.

A very full day so far today, and hopefully a nap will be in order and then an early departure time tomorrow morning to get to the place where this little one lives.

A few precious days to cram in a bunch of living and loving and cooing and photos.

RADIO NERD ALERT: Old Radio Shack Catalogs now ONLINE

1979 Radio Shack Catalog

Are you kidding me???

This was my text book for my teens, and as I flipped digital pages on my screen, memory after memory came rushing back like some old friend.

I remember this page and how I badly I wanted the amazing Realistic DX-160 on the left, but there was never any financial chance of that happening. Then, miracle of miracles, my bike was stolen and I was able to convince my parents that I could use the insurance money for something better, a radio. It was enough to get the one on the far right page, the DX-60 for $69.95.


Wow. I just lost an hour, now I have to get back to work.


If you're a radio nerd you'll enjoy this link:

http://www.radioshackcatalogs.com/catalog_directory.html

Walking to the neighbours for coffee. A simple extravagance.

After playing phone tag with our new neighbours for a few days, Lauralea and I finally walked over to meet and have coffee with them tonight after dinner.

We were walking up the hill in the gently falling big flakes of snow and I was trying to identify a nostalgic feeling I was in the middle of. Then it came to me in a clear moment. It's been over two years since Lauralea and I have walked to somebody's house for coffee.

In the city we would often walk to visits or shopping or whatever. In The Field you need to drive pretty much everywhere, unless they are your neighbours and you can walk to their house. This was the first time since we moved here that we've walked to someones house.

And it was weirdly nostalgic, and made me smile from all the memories.

The icing on the cake was that the new neighbours seem to be pretty good people.

I expect we'll be taking that walk again sometime.

And a Happy St. Patricks Day to you then.

Lunch was a fine potato and leek soup with potato and cheese scones, strong black tea with cream and sugar.

I'm so full I fear what dinner may hold for me.

I don't say this nearly enough but it is a most blessed thing to have a spouse who is so creative and who loves to cook.

(Here is her recipe for the potato and cheese scones.)

Leek & Potato Soup

Prayer at Compline in The Book of Common Prayer

I know that as I head home tonight my heart feels heavy and I know there are those who watch and weep this night. As I go off into the night air, this is my prayer.

Will you pray it with me?

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake.

Amen.

So what have I been doing with my life?




...stuff.

Lunch in town, near the field.

Lunch in town, near the field.
One of those good food, minimal ambiance sort of places.

Japan needs help...


Japan needs help..., originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.

Up watching and praying.
We have no idea.
And now the tsunamis.

8.9 magnitude. One of Japans worst.
Lord have mercy.

"I am wondering if you have any scholarly insight into such (blogging) matters"

K. Blackwood writes:

Well, hello there. I'm going to be writing a paper for my class "The Digital Word" about blogging. I'm thinking of exploring the blog as a sort of modern confessional, and I am wondering if you have any scholarly insight into such matters (being both an academic and a blogger). I'm told that you are quite the celebrity in the blogosphere. Thoughts?


Hello Ms. Blackwood

Oh yes I have thoughts. For one, don't believe everything you've been told. (It was only one video and it's only gone farm viral. Celebrity? Non.)


Really the reason I started blogging was as a way to redeem a corner of the Internet with real stories of a real life lived out. In my opinion there were too many Christians out there using their blogs to preach at the digital void, and I wanted my life and choices and struggles and successes to do the preaching.

So I worked hard to be honest with where I was at and what I was encountering on any given day. Inside my heart and outside. Yes a bit dangerous and a bit exhibitionistic I imagine, but I felt like if it was going to be worth anything, then it had to be honest, and if it couldn’t be honest, then it should at least be quiet.

The surprising mail I received was encouraging enough that this was a good direction. Surprising in who was reading it. Broad age ranges, belief systems, non belief systems, etc. I was really surprised at who was reading and occasionally leaving comments.

Yes it was a vulnerable thing to do but I felt like the risk of being vulnerable for another person to be able to connect with a story or a feeling was worth it.

Sometimes that would push back on me and I’d get nasty comments or emails, which would usually ruin my day.

Still, more and more readers would drop by and see what life was like in my corner on any given day.

I broadened my writing as I found my voice and included thoughts on church life and where the Church needed to go. I talked about community issues and would include occasional inspirational material as I came across it online.

Those were probably the heady days for this blog as local radio stations around Saskatchewan would occasionally mention the blog or quote a story from it. Once in a while I’d get a call to be interviewed for a news story or about blogging in general.

But one day my address changed as I moved to The Field here in right of center, rural Alberta. I think that post on my resignation from my old place in Saskatchewan had the highest hits of any post in the past.

What I learned as I moved to rural life is that it is a fishbowl where everyone knows everyone else, and that there are limited opportunities for friendships and work and even places to live. There is no room for anonymity out here, and that’s just how it is.

So pretty soon you learn to live your very known life, in private ways. That’s so you can have a private life at all.

If you add to that fishbowl the discipline of every day telling the world and your local community, what you think of it or what you think of your wife or your job or whatever, then it ends up being that there are no secrets in your life.

So the blog has taken a turn and been silent much more than it’s been honest.

I find myself again looking for my voice in this context where I live. It’s tough, but I continue to look.

As most blogs go, when they stop being personally honest or become too silent, they stop inspiring.


I like the image of modern confessional in a way. It’s been in those moments of utter honesty and clarity that my words have assisted a few to be encouraged or to find their way through a very dark patch. It’s given the world permission to examine my life and to even contact me if they wish, to share relationship. They have done that and relationships continue through this day, that are a deep blessing to me, and have caused me to say it was all worth it.

I think in a way my early goal “...to redeem a corner of the Internet with real stories of a real life lived out” has been accomplished. The good blogs are not about what you ate for lunch, although there are many who like a good picture of your lunch before you eat it, as much as they are about your struggles and successes and failures as you go at life, one day after another. Honestly.

This ain't your auntys old church gestetner baby.

In fact, sometimes it feels like magic.

I was sitting on the, um, loo late tonight, looking through a book for a story I want to include in the service tomorrow morning. That wasn't the magic yet though. The magic came next.

I found the story then fired up a copier app on my iPhone, snapped a picture of the written page, and saved it as a PDF file.

Then I emailed the file to myself.

From my phone, I logged into my office computer and fired up my email, downloading my PDF.

I clicked on the PDF to preview it, hit print - double sides, and off it went to print the story on the photocopier.

Tomorrow morning when I arrive, it will be there waiting for me.


Then I put my phone away, and got to the real paperwork.


I think my aunt who used to make the church bulletins on the ancient gestetner would think it was magic.

Funeral Ready

Funeral Ready

On why I do silly things like this http://www.vimeo.com/20569519

Well it kinda started as a dare I guess...

Then took on a life of it's own, here.

...

I think some spiritual leaders can act like they have a pole stuck up their whatsit and that effectivly cuts off any healthy communication with people. Image for some is more important than life and relationship. Young people especially value integrity and honesty in life.

....

Life can be fun. There are things to celebrate and we can do things that indicate the joy with which we should approach those moments of celebration. This may not be one of those celebratory moments, but it sure was fun.

....

Shocking the kids. Isn't it fun to blow a paradigm?
I wonder how I might have reacted if it had been my dad doing something like this. But then too I would have taken it as a real example to live life to the full. Besides which, my dad did a couple of kid like things that gave him joy but I never could relate to.

....

Sometimes I take myself way too seriously.
I have a sense of humor that doesn't always know where it fits into this calling of mine. I get confused then, and always usually act on the safe side.

My uncle Marvin had that going for him too. Here is a video they played at his funeral. A man of God who cared for and served thousands of people, in the name of Christ. But he had a sense of humor that just never quit. (Yes the "woman" in drag was him)

.....

I am kinda surprised at the response in the community. Last night at the local country school fundraiser, people I never knew were walking up to me and talking like I was an old buddy from out of town. That was very interesting. Instant conversations.

There also seems to be a new sense of, a sort of respect out there. Especially from the younger people who are on facebook. The older people are not so much on Facebook so I'm not hearing that much from them.

And strangely enough, I got a few "I want to go to your church" comments last night.

I don't know if it's the childish nature of what I did that can cause people to relax and be themselves around such a fellow, or if The Church has grown to value such image sensitive, always the same face on, kinds of leaders.


It is a bit confusing, but I'm glad that for 20 minutes last Thursday I chose to have fun.

I still smile when I watch it.