Sleeping Prayer

And now I'm heading home, after a long day of good intense work, and a long night of good intense writing.

All is well with the world. My daughter has come through a tough week of exams at U of S, both sons have been corrected and are doing fine with their behaviour, my brother is moving back to Saskatoon, and my other daughter is safely in Rome with her Nate.

Now I lay me down to sleep...

P.S. Oh yes, no one swore at me at the service I did at the care home today. Woo Hoo.
P.P.S. Shoot, my van has been sitting out there for eight hours in the cold without being plugged in. I hope it starts.

Earn extra cash at home

Ok, that picture at the right is making too many people happy, probably for all the wrong reasons. And the last picture of me in that space made people cautious about approaching me. So here we go.

If you can get me a picture of me that looks good and I'm smiling in a non-cheesy way and I use it for the site, I'll deposit into your pocket a cool ten bucks. Family members included.

So there you go, earn extra cash for the Christmas season.

And help me gain some self respect back.

I'll post the ones I get.

UPDATE:

Hillary has contributed these images;


And here are a few I could take;



Now, Toni enters the fray;

Keeping it interesting...

I'm trying to get ready to do the service at the care home this afternoon. But I'm really not too motivated about it, for reasons other than the fact that the last time I did a service like this the lady in the front row sat there the whole time swearing out loud.
Uh, yeah, you heard me.

"Our Father, who art in heaven,"

"G*# D*#&%"

"Hallowed be thy name."

"H*$$ S&*!"

And so on. Mostly I was able to speak louder than her and tried not to give her breathing room, and she did fall asleep halfway through the 20 min service. There are good ways to deal with these problems, but the middle of a service probably wasn't the place or time.

I don't know if that was harder to take than the fact that all the other residents who attended didn't even seem to notice.

Hmm, Don't know if I like that

at all.

A funny thing happened on the way to the office...

That's "funny" interesting, not "funny" Haha.

This morning while on my way to the office, I took a detour through the falling snow and stopped in at Tim's to get an extra large steeped tea, double double. Mostly because I don't know how long this snow will fall, but it"s a big snow and I might get snowed in at the office.

Anyway, I was standing in line thinking bagel or croissant, bagel or croissant, when the tall brunet in front of me turned around and asked if I was Randall Friesen. I looked at her trying to fit her in someplace, which is a game I usually loose. I"ll end up seeing cousins and thinking they are my old neighbour from the hood where I grew up, or I"ll meet a familiar face on the street an ask what an old cousin of mine is doing in Prince Albert, when really I"ve only ever seen them behind the meat counter at Safeway. Hey, it"s a gift.

Anyway, said brunet was standing there waiting for an answer, and since I couldn"t place her I mumbled something about being unable to recognize her. She answered that she knew Marc and Dixie and had read my blog.

She was very gracious while I fumbled around for words. I still haven"t gotten used to people recognizing me because of that picture at the side of this space, and it usually surprises me, in a pleasant way.

We chatted while we waited for our bagel and whatever she was waiting for. She volunteered that I didn"t seem the same in person as I did on my blog.»? “You"re taller,”? she offered and I laughed, hoping she was laughing too. She was.

I mentioned that many times meeting a blog writer in person, I ended up being surprised. Worlds collide because you have a preconceived idea of an individual based upon their writings, and then you meet them in person. Your brain goes into overload trying to reconcile everything you"ve read from this person, while chatting with them waiting for your coffee. It is a very weird experience.

My bagel arrived with the tea so I was off. It was a treat to meet her and I thanked her for that opportunity.

As I left the place I thought again, through my insecure self, what sort of image I must present to those who stop by here occasionally. The past year has seen my writing become considerably darker in tone, as I have struggled with depression, not to mention Dad"s death, and the girls leaving home. Then there are the mid-life issues, unfulfilled dreams and hopes, and settling again in a good place.

And, as I"ve said before, I don"t want this space to become my counselor, nor do I want to be writing only about these heavy hard things of life. So sometimes I would become silent for a time. But it is a place I really do try to be honest about life in general, my life specifically.

However, I think that picture of me needs changing. It looks like I"m frowning and with the brown turtleneck and arms crossed, looks a bit foreboding. I look pretty goofy when I"m smiling, because it usually looks fake, but maybe it would look better if I had a Santa hat on or something...

Anyway, thanks P for introducing yourself to me at Tims. That was a nice start to the day.

My wife used to be hot...

So hot that she would wear a spring wind breaker all winter long, even at -30C, she was warm. And I at her side would be wearing a heavy wool coat with my fur collar up over my ears and face, and a red scarf wrapped around it all.

How embarrassing. How unmanly.

But this year, probably due to diabetes, and significant weight loss, she's cold. Always cold. (well not always, but you know...) And more and more I look like less of a freak when I stand beside her, which is good cause I hate looking like a shivering mass of humanity.

And it seems ok to her to have the temperature above freezing in the house this winter too. Which is what I like.

So yeah, we've been together for 21 years and we are getting more and more alike with each passing year.

That's probably another good reason to stick with the one you're with.

But, if she ever shows up at home with matching sweaters or velour track suits, I don't care what anyone says, she's out the door. Hot or not.

Snow is SO overrated

Someone from Florida State University was taking a look at the blog today.

Ahhhhh, Florida.

Environment Canada's Official Weather Warnings


Warnings

Prince Albert - Shellbrook - Spiritwood - Duck Lake
3:13 PM CST Monday 27 November 2006
Snowfall warning for
Prince Albert - Shellbrook - Spiritwood - Duck Lake continued

10 to 15 cm of snow expected tonight through Tuesday.

Your basic difference between Toronto and Prince Albert

I used to live just south of Torona and on the occasions when I would venture into the Center, or should I say Centre of the Universe, I would find it quite easy to get caught up in the pace of life and activity that they enjoy.

Now I live in the relatively unheard of climes of Prince Albert, where the pace of life is simply slower. We love this city, but today I did have to bite my tongue when I got caught behind a very elderly small lady shuffling a cart down the cheese isle at Safeway.»? But I digress.

I think I have discovered the basic reason for the differences between Toronto and Prince Albert.

View the charted evidence below:

Here is a map of Prince Albert with it's Starbucks clearly identified.



And here is a map of Toronto with it's Starbucks identified:



Need I say more?

I thought not.

We're off to an Artist Reception

Today at the Red Door Gallery.
The Red Door Gallery at the Bison Café is proud to present a collection of works by renowned Christopher Lake Artist and Art Professor GEORGE GLENN."Known primarily as a still life painter, he works mainly in acrylics, oils and gouache. His work has been characterized as hovering between early and late modernism ...between representation and abstraction..."

Burger anyone?

I know it's 10:30 at night and I realize it's 48C below 0, but man am i hungry for a good burger.

Anybody wanna go?

Abby Way Covenant Church

I've been following this church start-up since it began in summer, and I am kind of attracted to it.
It's trying things in a very different manner, which I kinda like.
"Abbey Way's model of community centers in shared spiritual practices and corporate rhythms versus programs or events. With less energy put into developing and maintaining a wide range of ministry opportunities, more time is freed up to be together as a community of faith, sharing common life through meals, prayer, study, and play, while releasing people in mission within the context of their neighborhoods and workplaces. We desire to create a way of living the Gospel life together that will sustain and nurture each person in and out of every season."

You think that's a different approach, check out their outreach program:
In February 2007, once Abbey Way is past the initial six month closed core experience, on the fourth Sunday of each month, our worship will be open for what we are calling Guest House Sunday.

Opening the doors of the worship gathering on a limited basis each month to those outside of the committed core will help sustain the life of the community while providing a place for people to discern if Abbey Way could be home for them also.

Way to go for having the courage to try something different. I don't think they would be able to get this church planting model past allot of denominational boards, but they seem to be well under way down in Minneapolis.
Check out their website here.

Johanna Update 2

Today her and Nate are off to Paris for the weekend. I hope it's as romantic as it sounds.

How to make my day

... bring me a Venice House pizza to my office for lunch.

Thank YOU for that treat this week!

how could such a thin piece of plastic make such a difference?

Tonight I spent time covering the windows with plastic. So the last step in the preparation for winter has been completed.

Not a moment to soon it would appear.

It's snowing up a, uh, a storm out there tonight. And the temperature for Friday night looks to go down to -29C. So we're ready for it.

It really does make a huge difference with the plastic on the windows. Without it the furnace is on all the time and it's always cold in the place. So let winter come, we're ready.

(Course those could be famous last words, but I hope not!)

Johanna Update

Today she's in Munich for the day. Hoist one for me girl.

Reason #3862 for why blogging is cool

People from newspapers call you to interview you and ask you questions about Blogging in Saskatchewan.

It's always nice to be listened to.

If you live near Regina, watch the Leader-Post next week for Karen Brownlee's write up on Blogging in the great rectangle province.

What kinda church are you looking for?

I am having a couple of ongoing discussions with different people these days who are new to town and looking for a local church to worship God in. Rather than state outright that they need to get to the church I serve in, I try to help them discern God"s leading in the matter, and help them find a good fit in a local church expression.

The comments I"ve heard from sincere searching souls out there seem to run along a current theme, which is echoed in Darryl Dash"s latest piece for Christian Week. He writes:
I recently received a call from a new friend who has been through a tragically difficult year. A year ago, she had no time for God. She has suffered so much since then that she is now desperate for him. One day she called me and said, "I need to know if this Christianity thing is real, or if it is just a game that Christians play on Sunday. I don't have time for anything but the real thing."

In other words, she doesn't have time for "religious activity without transformation."

This is a completely legitimate frustration on behalf of those who are really searching and want the real thing. Church that is transformational.

They want a church that is real and honest about seeing changes in real peoples lives. They want to be with a group that wants to be disciples of Christ.

And the churches? So many of the churches are busy on life support systems, trying to propagate themselves so that their local “ministry”? will continue on for many years. And many will do whatever they deem necessary so that their goal is accomplished. The continuation of that local church. As one author has put it, they are busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

They want it to continue because they like it. They like it for the memories it gives them. They want it to continue for the relationships and friendships they"ve made in that place.

So they will change many surface things to attract the outsider, but the core of who they are remains. And often the core of who they are doesn"t want deep change. At least the kind of change that is necessary in being a transformational church.

Gathering together to worship the living God aught to transform us. Being part of a healthy believing body should change us.

People who are hungry after the real God are looking for those kinds of honest places.

And moving a church that is resistant to change into one that is transformational in it"s core, often requires a miracle»? akin to raising the dead.»? It"s a good thing that the God we serve has a reputation for raising the dead.

Sometimes God reaches down from heaven and touches the terminally ill person, and the person is brought back to life and health and they are changed. I"ve seen that.

But often God reaches down from heaven and uses the medical profession to, over time, coax life back to the person with treatment and care and meds.

I"ve seen God do the same thing for churches needing change. Sometimes he reaches down and stirs the place and it comes alive and so much is transformed.

But often times it seems he works in a place over a long period of time, creating a sense of safety where transformation can happen in people"s lives.


This is a season of evaluation at the church I serve, and it"s always a good time to stop and consider our direction and my part in that direction. After nine years here it is good that I can honestly say that we like it here, and though the work ebbs and flows, it"s usually a great place to be.

We have pressed hard these years for us to be a church that encourages change in people"s lives and values. While a growing number of people get that, there are still some who are frustrated by my not wearing a tie Sunday mornings, or by the music that the worship leader selects. Things that ought not to matter, but they do.

But we are here for the long haul because we believe that God really does like us a lot and won"t abandon us. Sometimes you have to live that out, long term, so that people have a safe place to explore the changes their own lives may need. That is what we are trying to do here.

May God help us value changed lives more than we value things remaining the same.

Did I say bad day?

Wedding at 3 pm, Parent/Teacher Interviews at 4.

I do.

In any given job there are days in which you simply don"t wish to get out of bed to greet the day.
You may be a plumber, a teacher, sell Avon, coffee, used clothing or electrical parts. You might lead a company, paint pictures, or cut people open, as a Surgeon or a killer. Whatever you do, there are just the days that you dread, for whatever reasons.

So too does this happen to the pastor. And today is such a day.

After a late and sleepless night, probably due to the fact that today would be A Day Like This, the morning bell at 6 am rang early, and here I am trying to coax myself gently into the day.

It"s not the normal stuff of the day that is hard today. The early prayer time will be ok and the small group in the evening will be good, if I"m still awake by then. But between the two I"ll be planning worship for Sunday, and reading a long past due homework book. Taking an online class, starting to prepare Sundays sermon, complete the responsibilities that came out of last nights Council meeting, and marry a couple.

Yes, I did just say that. Marry a couple.

It will be a very small affair, and held in my office. The bride will wear her work clothes and the groom a shirt and jeans - they"ve instructed me to wear the same, so I am.

This isn"t normally the way I do things, but for reasons I won"t go into I"ve decided that this is something I should do. So I will. Even though its not the best way to do it.

In fact, when people make choices that rob life of it"s joy and pleasure it"s a sad thing to me. They could have it so much better, but choices are made for now and you grab any joy out of life that you can grab, in the short term.

No, they aren"t pregnant, and in fact they are older than I am. But life hasn"t always been easy for them either.

So today I will make the best decision I can make to join these two in this holy union called marriage.

And the day will go on to be one of “those days.”?

Feels like it anyway.

ebb and flow

I think the stillness of this space during the previous week has more to do with catching up from a very busy autumn, travel and ministry wise, than it does anything else.

Sunday we prepared a contemplative prayer service for the start of our week of prayer, then we went out and cheered at a great Grey Cup party we participated in, over here.

Today we got some hard news about our finances that is definitely sobering. It will take some considerable time to bounce back from where we are at. Mostly about this summer and autumn costing us more to live than normally. We already made adjustments a while ago, but now we need to erase debt again. The ebb and flow of life I guess, but it is discouraging. Another opportunity to learn lessons and grow.

On the other hand, Hillary seems to be doing well in Saskatoon and in her spirit. That"s deeply encouraging. And Johanna, over in Switzerland seems to have gone silent. That must only mean that “The Boy”? has arrived and she"s only interested in looking at him and not some computer screen.

By the notes she sent me, they will be off into Europe in a day or so, I believe the first stop is Zurich.»? I hope they have an amazing couple of weeks together. Enough to last her till next summer at least.


So, today"s kind of been a quiet, sober day around here. Not despairing, not lost, but just a bigger mountain to climb and full of confidence in God"s ability to provide.

Blessings on ya.

Nite.

Prince Albert Christmas Parade 2006

Well, today was the latest edition of the P.A. Christmas Parade.

Took all of 6 minutes. Really.

Anyway, here are the pic's.

Remembering Harry

Sunday morning as I awoke and got ready for the day, I wondered into the kitchen to get some coffee. The morning paper had been brought in from the mailbox and was laying on the counter. The front page was full of Saturday"s major story, that Rev. Harry Lehotsky had died.

Harry had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer some six months ago, and Saturday it reached it"s conclusion.

While driving to Winnipeg I had considered trying to connect with Harry one last time, but it was to be a full and busy weekend, and by Saturday Harry was gone anyway.

Today, in one hour"s time, the funeral will be held for Harry. There will be some major dignitaries there, as well as many regular people.

You see, Harry was a force for change in the difficult part of Winnipeg in which he lived. Through the past 20 years of ministry Harry saw a lot of hope come to that part of town. And I am thinking about that this morning.

Harry wasn"t an elected official. He wasn"t a power broker or a back room dealer or a high paid official who dictated policy. He was a pastor to regular people in a hard part of town. And he loved the people of that place. He fought for them and defended them. He helped them get clean and sober and helped them get jobs and homes to live in and real lives. He helped them meet Jesus, and for many he was God with skin on.

Today they will bury this regular man. The top leaders of the province and city will be there. There have been bursaries set up in his name. Murals have been painted and streets are being considered for renaming in his honour. All this as a city says thank you and farewell to this pastor who cared. And in a day and age when the high and powerful pastors seem to be falling down, Harry and the fruit of his life are being lifted up.

For me, it"s a reminder that you can see things change when love is applied. Power shifts and history is rewritten when a single person of faith and love enters the picture. Maybe that is a fitting tribute to Harry and his God. That we too can see our community change when we love it. Whatever our community may be. In our houses or schools or offices or neighbourhoods, powerful change can happen if we are willing to risk loving.

Thank you Harry for being willing to pay the price of love.
And thank you God, for Harry.


Peace to his memory.

chacha.com

Ever have trouble finding something on the internet and the search engines are making you crazy and you just can't think of the right keyword to make the search happen flawlessly?

Now a website that comes to your aid. chacha.com

chacha.com has online operators who will do the search for you and give you the best information. They will work with you to find what you need. Kind of like having a nerd friend at your right hand!

They are in beta right now, in fact I'm not sure how they plan on making money, but that's not our problem.

Use them if you are having trouble with a search.

(I have some relatives who should go there now and bookmark the page, that way they don't have to call me in the middle of the night!)

To friends in Winnipeg...

When I come to town like I did last weekend for the retreat, I always try to take some time to look you up and hang out with you a bit. You have meant a lot to me and my family over the years, and you are still a precious part of my life.

But this weekend when I saw the schedule and my part in it, well, I'm sorry I didn't have the time to connect.

These kinds of weekends always leave me torn.

But I am glad that there are still people to connect with and hang out with, over there in the Peg.

And, if you're ever in Prince Albert...

:)

I. am. home.

After 13 hours on the road, five stops, and the last hour and an half in a blinding snowstorm with nobody else on the road, i am home. Safe and sound. and blessed.

And both vehicles are here too, working.

Nice that.

night.

Things picking up nicely

I have been meeting with different people all day, and it has been a very good day.

I am overwhelmed again by the quality of young people that I get to hang around with during times like these. I have every hope for the future of the church, even if it looks nothing like church does today.
The van looks like it only needs a battery, and the car is being worked on as we speak.

Things are looking up.

Gotta go, I'm leading communion next.

A day to forget

What a journey.

Yes, I made it here. But not until the van starter motor died, then we got into the car to drive and blew out a water hose. Then I was a jerk with Lauralea, then I got in the rental and drove hard all day, and arrived late.

An ugly ugly day.

I'm generally OK with having less than wonderful vehicles, but this day has challenged that a bit. Leaving Lauralea with two broken cars and no transportation makes me feel a total failure. I feel like I haven't done my part, I feel emasculated somewhat, and its not fun. It's ugly.

And now I have to guard against going out next week and borrowing a ton of cash just to buy a decent trustworthy car, so that I won't feel this feeling again.

Like I said, an ugly day.

In the midst of all that, God is here and doing his thing. That's been cool so far.

God with us

Tomorrow I'm off for balmy Winnipeg, (hey, at least they don't have any snow!), and the refresh retreat.

I've worked hard to make this week a bit more silent. I want not to be distracted as i prepare to serve and just hang out with others. But you know that in those weeks that I need to be ready, so many other things pop up that you would think suspicious thoughts, which I do, with reason.

Yet, in the midst of the activity there is an underlying current of Gods moving about. This assures me that he will be there too, and in fact, He will direct the traffic this weekend.

Traffic flows that I need to be a part of, connections I need to make, care that may need to happen for others.

He'll be there.

And it will be good. It's always good to be in a place when God moves or breathes, or just shows up in a person's life.

So, may God be with you this weekend, and may he be with me.

(and may he also be with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the playoffs!!)

Amen.

It's snowing like crazy here



And for those far away, here is our friesencam, looking out into the white abyss.

(new image every 2 minutes)

Well,

Finally.


Saskatchewan Roughriders 30
Calgary Stampeders 21

It's Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

It was after eight pm when I pulled into the Kindersley A&W to get a burger and rootbeer for my supper on the road. It was cold and dark outside, so I picked up pace and entered the somewhat retro burger joint.

I turned left inside the door knowing the way to the boys room from my past experiences there.

The men's room was surprisingly clean and I quickly got positioned in front of the only urinal in the place.

And then came a surreal moment. The speaker secured in the ceiling began to play, "Jingle bells." That was followed by "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

I think I was frozen in time, because it didn't take me two songs to take care of business. I was in some level of shock and unbelief.

The time of Christmas tunes coming at us around every turn has arrived.

I was surprised, and a bit nostalgic, and I started humming along.

But then I realized that it means we have two solid months of this stuff coming at us now.

And I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

Tired

Well, the trip went well and, surprise surprise, no snow till i arrived. They do have a lot of snow here now.

Just took a break from a long day of meetings, since 9 this morning, through the meals and all, we've been working. In just a moment I'll be off to another one at 8pm. But we are getting so much done, it's very productive, and hopeful.

Tomorrow will be another very long day, then when we are done I'm hitting the road to get home before Sunday.

So thanks for the covering.

gotta get going.

nite.

How about a prayer exchange?

Well, I'll be on the road all day today so I'm available and willing to spend some time praying for you, or a situation you want prayer for.

So why not hit the link, fill in the space and that will send a note to my cell phone.

And if you feel up to it, send up a prayer for me as I travel and attend meetings all weekend.

Blessings, and thanks.

Click here for Prayer

and...

It was late on a cold Wednesday afternoon and as she stood in the doorway of the downtown building the sky grew dark and snow began to threaten. The cold was pressing in and she could see her breath when she let it out from the depths of herself.

She was waiting to meet him, and the cars continued to rush past, each one making her hope he was near. They were going to meet and find a warm little café where they could sit and steal a few moments from the busyness of life.

She was thinking about the events of the week when the wind wiped a strand of hair across her face, she brushed it back behind her ear and burrowed deeper into the warmth of her coat. She didn"t mind waiting and she really never minded the cold. It always made her feel alive and happy. Even though he never understood how this worked in her, he loved her for it.

The week, she thought. A few doctors visits and tests to help them diagnose the problem. The problem was an increasing abdominal pain that occasionally sent her to bed. She wasn"t worried though, at least not enough so that it would slow her down. In fact it was her idea to meet him here after her appointment and they would have a few quiet moments together before the week rolled on into a busy weekend.

Suddenly someone grabbed her arm and snuggled in for warmth. She turned around and it was him. She smiled and he asked, “All ready to go?”?

They found the café, a darkly lit modern place on the ground floor of an office building. It was mostly empty at this time of day so they chose a table beside the wall of glass. Outside the promised snow was gently starting to drift down. It would be dark soon.

“How was the appointment ?”? he asked.

Ede

Because I am somewhat all knowing, or maybe because I am a know it all, I am aware that there are a large number of you who read this space on a daily basis, and you are quite content not to comment or connect in any formal way. I'm good with that.

But today I just wanted to thank those of you who stop by semi-regularly to read this space, and sometimes you do check in or shoot me an email.
I will never have the opportunity to meet most of you simply because of the distance. But I do want to encourage you that any attempts you make to connect via email etc. will not be received with a sense of disdain.

This morning as I arrived early at the office and opened up the computer, there was an introductory email sitting there from Ede who lives in another province.

It was an encouraging letter, and it was good to meet her.

It's always good getting the encouraging letters, as opposed to the death threats or threats of legal action...

So yeah, thanks for stopping by, thanks for checking in, and thanks for the occasional email that lets me know who "You" are.

You are a good bunch.

Movies

Since we changed our internet and tv provider to Sasktel Max last week, there has been a channel available to us, at least for a few free months, that has been pleasant surprise. It's called Movie Central - On Demand.

Basicly you can select from a list of movies and watch them whenever you like, pausing and restarting them when you have some free time. Or you can fast forward through the movies watching a whole movie in less than an hour!!

I've been able to see two well done foreign films, one Italian and one German/Turkish. They don't have the Hollywood sheen to them, but they tell provocative stories and portray life in a much more realistic sense.

Anyway, all that to say this, there are some really well done films out there that you never see, because they are not a part of the Hollywood thing. And as Rob Johnston says in "Reel Spirituality,"
"Rather than being simply one form of possible entertainment on a weekend night, movies have become the primary storytelling medium for our culture."

I was pleased when I saw that Blockbuster is promoting some of the more seemingly obscure, award winning films, made in places other than North America.

It's like a film festival in your living room.

Go check it out, and expand your horizons.

via.»?