We had a lovely family game of Monopoly tonight and I AM THE MOMOPOLY MASTER OF THE HOUSE!!



I have a zit on my right cheek that requires it's own area code.

Support Your Local Nurses

A friend of mine and I were "talking" this week and she was telling me about her Christmas Day as a nurse. She works in a hospital here in Saskatchewan, and it's been anything but great for her.

I realize sick people can be pushy and angry and demanding, she does too, but there has gotta be limits on how nasty we can be, and still be human.

With her permission she wrote:


My Christmas was spent at work taking care of sick people. A few highlights of today were:
- our department was so overwhelmed with patients that we didn't get a break - I worked 14 hours and the only time I sat down was when I had to pee
- I listened to people complain about the wait all day and take out their anger on myself and coworker and hear them turn into simpering happy people the moment the doctor walked into the room
- I took care of a drug overdose that when woke up called me every name in the book plus a few more that I didn't know about, fought, kicked, spat - I'm the proud owner of several new bruises, and a sprained wrist.
- patients daughter yelled screamed at us for holding patient - and had the nerve to call the RCMP to report us - hence lots of paperwork - and then daughter ran off when RCMP went to arrest her
- followed by another patient that after waiting 10 minutes proceeded to tell me what a worthless human being I was because the doctor hadn't see them (they came in by ambulance but weren't actually as ill as other patients, despite this being explained, I was again physically threatened, and verbally abused,
- the hospital was suppose to give us a platter of food for nights - our department was completely missed
- and the cherry to this day was coming home to read an email from someone I hadn't talked to in six months rubbing it in my face they were getting married so basically whatever Christmas gift I had gotten was worthless and beaten by their engagement.
- dare I mention I have a cold? And by the end of my shift my coworkers were fearful for my health?


I know the nurses in this province are overworked and life is anything but easy. Systems drive people ruthlessly and the larger the system, the less accountability there is. So we need to humanize the health care system a bit better than we are. And that starts with us.

Yes I know we can get desperate and tired and broken, but so are many of the front line people, like nurses.

Give them a break, cut them some slack, support them, encourage them, bless them, and most of all, just cultivate an attitude of thankfulness for them and their work, rather than sharpening an attitude of entitlement that makes you think you have a right to mistreat them.

To those who are there on days when they would rather be elsewhere, thank you. Because you are there, my life is a good one.

Thank you.

Post-Christmas

Well, a DVD from the kids and one from my sister, a couple of starbucks cards, some candy and like that. That's what I got for Christmas.

Oh and Lauralea got me a really nice clock radio, really nice one. I can listen to most of the continent on the am dial with this little Sony. Very sweet, very nice gift.

But strangely this year for me hasn't been about the gifts, at all.

I love getting gifts, but this year it was different. Just not a big deal is all. Maybe I'm growing up.

Christmas was kinda lowkey for us this year, which i kinda enjoyed too. Not all crazy and desperate or stressed. I had a few stresses of my own to deal with.

We've been in a process that would see us with a newer vehicle, and the timing has been a bit difficult. It's all happened the week before Christmas, and now we are driving a 1996 Grand Voyageur. Time for the Velvet Fog to go the way of all dinosaurs. (Van for sale, lots of new parts, call me or email me.)

I'm onto my homework now. I have a big assignment due next week so I'm at it again.

Hope your Christmas went well.

Peace, goodwill to all, kind of thing.

Back from the Big City

We partied at my brother and sister inlaws place this Christmas.
It was good.
Not too crazy, just chilled.

And today we hit a few stores so the kids could spend their gift cards at Old Navy, etc. and it wasn't even really crazy. I returned a video at Walmart and waited 20 seconds, no one was in line. Not bad at all.

(More pictures here.)

We gather at my brother & sister-inlaws

All Alone.

I can't recall ever being alone on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I guess it's one of those things I've never had to face or deal with. I'm not too sure how I would deal with it, to be honest with you.

I mean I think there are things I would do to try to ease my alone-ness, but I don't think there are any easy answers, to give or receive.

So tonight I'm thinking of those who celebrate alone.

Those who come home from work to an empty home this 24th of December. Those who have been doing a bit of baking and there is nobody to eat it with. Those who see an interesting or funny christmas special on TV and there's no one to laugh with.

I have family and friends who celebrate in those ways, and its hard, you know? I think those of us who have people around us, don't always realize how tricky this time of year can be. We are somewhat oblivious to them. We say goodnight and wish them well as the leave for home, alone. Off we go with our families.

Yes, I know some of them may prefer it, and I know for some it's their desired choice. But sometimes life has a way of turning out in ways you never expected, and it's just really hard. Really, really hard.

For all the joy that may be shed abroad in peoples hearts this holiday, there will also be great sadness for many others. And it's them, you, that I'm thinking about tonight.

There are a thousand stories of how we lost the ones we loved, or never even met them. However you find yourself alone this Christmas, if you read this, I'm talking to God about you tonight. I want you to know that even if you feel like no one knows you exist or care, tonight I'm asking God to check on you, to be near to you, you know?

Even if this is a season of sorrow or pain and anger for you, its ok. It's alright. He can handle that.

So, if you find yourself alone these days, here is someone who cares.

Be safe, take care, and God be with you.

nite.

Christmas Eve

Sitting, eating, looking at and eating the Gingerbread Houses, generally sharing life.

I like that as the kids get older we can sit and talk and less and less people have a freak out or a spaz or in general need to be put to bed.

Merry Christmas, from our house minus two, to yours.

Nearly done

Things are getting in place for tonight and tomorrow. Micah and I are at the church right now setting up tons of candles for tonights service. I'm done my part and I'm waiting for him to do his part.

In the mean time I'm watching Jason clean up his house getting ready for the big day. He's got a couple of "It's hard to sit, I'm so excited I must say" kids running around the place. Reminds me so much of years gone by for us...

Anyway, I need to run a few more errands before a quick supper and off to church for the service tonight.

If you are in the area and everything is ready and you want to come out to a service of carols and scripture, come on down tonight at 7 pm. 1500, 15th St. East, Prince Albert. We'll welcome you here.

But for now I'm off to get a few more things done.

Taylor Caldwell on Christmas


This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone."
~ Taylor Caldwell (1900-1985), English novelist.

Back at the office

... I need to get some things ready for tomorrow night, so I'm back in the office.

Nice and quiet here on a Sunday afternoon.

I just realized I didn't have an office party this year. That's nasty.

I hope I don't complain to myself.

UPDATE:

Paperwork is all done, slides are done, it's 7:40 and I'm going home.
See you tomorrow.

Nite.

IBBT

The people around this place haven't been going to bed early for too long a time.

This makes them very cranky, just like they were when they were two years old.

So tonight I am trying to implement a directive from head office, In Bed By Ten.

IBBT is designed to get people caught up on their sleep before "C" day arrives, and we need people to be in top form.

So as of tonight, well it's 10:52 and the house is quiet, but I notice a few bedroom lights are still on, but it's a start and I'll take it for now.

Tomorrow we do it again.

yeah, I was at the mall

I live in a city with 40,000 people, and after today I'm ready to move to a town of 200 and make my own gifts.

Traffic. People. Madness.
Glad I'm home.

"Party a Success"

Well I think that if early indications are anything to go on, that the 2007 Open House was a hit.

The live Cam was an even bigger hit, as people from around the globe were able to check in too.

It was difficult, because of the camera, to get a wide angle view of the kitchen, so the viewer was never really aware who was in the room. In fact there could be many people standing at the sides of the room who were never even seen by the camera. So that was a little difficult.

While the party was ongoing, I received messages from people on my cell phone, which was also cool.

"looks like you have a friendly place there"

"Greetings from Aberystwyth in Wales UK"

Someone from Clyde from the UK checked in at 7:51 pm.

Jason from Nashville txted me at 9:45 pm.

The best moment of the night came when "Confused Foreigner" (A friend of ours living in Asia) txted my phone saying they were watching. Then I went into the kitchen and mentioned to the people there that CF was watching, and they all said hi, which CF heard over the cam.

I believe CF left a comment here to that regard.

Now that was technology in good use. It was a very cool moment.

So thanks to all you who came, in person and virtually.
It was something to remember.

Welcome to our Open House

Ok, so if the screen is blank or says it isn't on, then reload the page. We can host only limited numbers of watchers, so you may have to hit reload a couple of times.

Secondly the sound is a frustration to me. There is a high pitched squeeking that may be the mic picking up the internal fan. You may have to turn up the volume.

Thirdly, wish you were here.
Leave a note.

Just a heads up

So,

Tomorrow when you come to my house, you better notice and ooh and aah over the cleaned washroom cause it just took a couple of hours of my life that I'll never have back.

Testing testing

This is a test of the RandallFriesen Emergency Broadcasting System.
If you see a live feed from me, leave a comment.
That is all.

Queen Elizabeth II, 21 April, 1926 - Whom God Preserve

A couple of hours ago Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest British monarch in history.
Even surpassing Queen Victoria's 81 years, seven months and 29 days.

You know it's gotta be a good day when you live longer than your relatives.

pictures anyone?

You are cordially invited...

to our yearly "Christmas Party at the Pastors," otherwise known as our Christmas Open House.

Tomorrow, Friday Dec. 21 from 2 till 9 pm, you are invited, nay, encouraged to stop by and eat some Christmas baking and drink some of Lauralea's Christmas cider.

She's been working on this for a long time, so there should be lots to go around. You can feel comfortable just stopping by and having a cuppa and heading off again into your day.

Blog readers of this space and Lauralea.ca in some ways are a part of our reality, and so we wanted to invite each and every one of you too. Even if you have never met us in person, if you get to our door you will be welcomed like old friends from out of town.

So, please do consider dropping in for a bit. Old friends and new, do come down.

1179, 4th St. East
Prince Albert, Sask
.

Usually the FriesenCam would be up and running for the day, but as you can see, I haven't been able to get the thing working this week. It's been an exercise in frustration.



Hope to see you tomorrow then.

heading home

The day began here just before seven this morning and ends here at twenty till eleven, and I am on my way home.

We had our yearly budget planning meeting tonight, and it was good.

Yes, I said that. The budget planning meeting was good.

We've come so blooming far in these years. More and more of our money is going right out the door into the community and province and the world, and that just makes me glad.

We have opportunities for caring and loving our world, and we are making the most of those opportunities in real ways.

It's good to be able to say the budget planning meeting was fun.

We have much to be glad for.

Nite.

Dan Fogelberg ~ August 13, 1951 - December 16, 2007



Dan Fogelberg passed away on Sunday from cancer.

The news caught me by surprise because I've long been a fan of his storytelling songs.
He had a way with words that could create a clear image in my head that was better than TV.

Here's one of my favourites; "Same Old Lang Syne"



So, now he's gone on to his future.
I hope it's a good one.

He's well known for this song he wrote about his Father, a Big Band leader.

Leader of the Band

An only child Alone and wild, A cabinet makers son
His hands were meant For different work
And his heart was known To none --
He left his home And went his lone And solitary way
And he gave to me A gift I know I never Can repay

A quiet man of music Denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once But his music wouldn't wait
He earned his love Through discipline, A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls Took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through My instrument And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy To the leader of the band.

My brothers lives were Different For they heard another call
One went to Chicago And the other to St. Paul
And I'm in Colorado When I'm not in some hotel
Living out this life I've chose And come to know so well.

I thank you for the music And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom When it came my time to go --
I thank you for the kindness And the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don't think I Said I love you near enough --

The leader of the band is tired And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through My instrument And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt To imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy To the leader of the band.


Here's one for my friend Dixie

She who is the biggest Gaither fan I know, and who now has high speed so she can see this clip.
(Poor quality video, good audio, good message)

Enjoy Dix.


Prayer

Only two of us for prayer time this morning, well, three if you include God.

:)

But it was so good. And it's difficult to explain why.

Just sharing our stories with one another, being heard, and being able to go someplace with our concerns for one another.

That is possibly one of the greatest things about prayer. It gives us a place to go, a person to talk to about our deepest needs.

May God be with you this day.

Now you too can bs like nobodies business

"I would want to matrix world-class deliverables and orchestrate one-to-one partnerships in a deployed global mindshare that would enhance viral infrastructures."




See that, I just wrote that sentence in no time at all, with a little help from the "Web Economy B***S*** Generator" (Pardon the language...)

Now you too can write meaningless reports for your bosses who will think you are a genius and promote you right on up the ladder.

We'll see you at the top of the ladder.

musicians rule.

Music practice for Worship on Sunday is completed.

These musicians are like machines, 18 different songs, all practiced and up to speed on.

Good musicians are to be valued, yea more than Gold.

I think it's in the bible someplace.

A Christmas Reminder

Snowflakes"It was during the dark winter of 1864. At Petersburg, Virginia, the Confederate army of Robert E. Lee faced the Union divisions of General Ulysses S. Grant.

The war was now three and a half years old and the glorious charge had long since given way to the muck and mud of trench warfare.

Late one evening one of Lee's generals, Major General George Pickett, received word that his wife had given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Up and down the line the Southerners began building huge bonfires in celebration of the event.

These fires did not go unnoticed in the Northern camps and soon a nervous Grant sent out a reconnaissance patrol to see what was going on. The scouts returned with the message that Pickett had had a son and these were celebratory fires.

It so happened that Grant and Pickett had been contemporaries at West Point and knew one another well, so to honor the occasion Grant, too, ordered that bonfires should be built.

What a peculiar night it was. For miles on both sides of the battle lines fires burned. No shots fired. No yelling back and forth. No war fought. Only light, celebrating the birth of a child. But it didn't last forever. Soon the fires burned down and once again the darkness took over. The darkness of the night and the darkness of war.

Christmas Star The good news of Christmas is that in the midst of a great darkness there came a light, and the darkness was not able to overcome the light.

It was not just a temporary flicker. It was an eternal flame. We need to remember that.

There are times, in the events of the world and in the events of our own personal lives, that we feel that the light of the world will be snuffed out. But the Christmas story affirms that whatever happens, the light still shines, because Christ is the light."

~Brett Blair

So live in the light of Christ-mas. Make a choice to let the light of Christ rule your heart, and to let it shine out around you.

Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone, "I love you." Give something away--anonymously.

Santa Lucia Day 2007 Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work.

Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.

And let the message ring out this day, not that we are surrounded by darkness, but that the light came into the darkness and the light cannot be destroyed.

For Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all generations. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a saviour who is Christ the Lord.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

You know, for a smaller church like Gateway Covenant, we have really been stepping it up over the years to change what Christmas is all about. I really like that about who we are becoming.

For instance, we started off Advent this year by bringing our simple, many varied talents, to our Advent Concert where anyone who would like can share what gifts they have brought with the rest of the church.

We are participating in the Saturday Soup Kitchen we helped get going here in P.A. a couple of times over Christmas and the New Year.

We have already disbursed nearly $600 to people in our community who could use a bit of help this time of year.

We have had a wide variety of people volunteering to ring their bells and manage a Salvation Army Christmas Cheer Kettle, to raise funds for their work.

We take volunteers to a couple of care homes to spend some time with people who can't get out any longer. We usually bring gifts and sing with them and drink tea together.

For our church Christmas party we gathered and each brought a little snack and shared that with each other and we used the time to raise $500 for another church we know of that is trying to meet the needs of their community.

The Santa Lucia gathering, and our open house on Friday are low key, hospitality, caring, kinds of affairs.

And, Christmas Eve will be relatively simple. Some candles and lots of singing and scriptures, ready to speak to the need of the individuals looking for some connection with God at this time of year.

Yeah, I am pleased with who we are becoming.

Less about getting, and more about giving.
Less about production, and more about people.
Less about us, and more about God.

Keith Green's first television appearance at age 11

For those of you old enough to remember Keith Green, the impassioned young man who met God one day and redirected his life accordingly. Here is a sweet little clip, from YouTube.

He had just signed a deal to make rock and roll records.
And this was how he looked.

Enjoy.

Eggnog. Not just for parties anymore

A parishioner dropped off some left over eggnog last night. I guess it was left over from their work party.

Anyway, wow, some good eggnog there.

I don't know why they call that stuff in the stores in milk cartons Eggnog, because it isn't anything near to this stuff.

This is eggnog awesomeness.

I was going to have some for breakfast, but there may be a bit of rum or whatever you put in it, in it, and I figured that wouldn't go great with eggs.

But I am enjoying some now.

Remember this comercial?

From the mid 1970's McDonalds chain.
I remember it. It ran right about the time of my career with the organization started to take off.





Ah yes, good times.
I remember wearing the paper hats.

oh, a BUNNY game

a game with a Bunny, Christmas bells, and some nice music.

Check it out.

On how not to spend your night.

Well, last night at 2:37 am and again around 4:10 I promised myself that if I lived to see a decent tomorrow I would never blog again. There are more important things in life, like going to the toilet and when you are done, having it go away from you down pipes, to a safe and distant land.

Let me summarize my evening:

At 11 pm I went for my evening shower. It's all good.

11:30, I get a drink and am heading for bed.

12:00, Thomas comes to tell me that there is water coming up in the basement shower, and the toilet is acting strange.

12:02 I quickly realize there are big problems as the sewer is spewing fluid, rather than receiving it.

12:33 Thomas and I have managed to stem the flow of sewage entering the house. Hillary is less than impressed that her shower has ended so abruptly.

12:45 I have gone through my problem solving list. Thomas is helping think it through, Hillary starts offering to make coffee, Lauralea and Micah are fast asleep.

12:50 I conclude I need a plumbing snake. Walmart is open because of 24 HOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING!!  I go.

1:00 am. I get in line at an unbelievably busy Walmart, and stand there waiting for the line to diminish till 12:15.

1:30 Thomas and I have shoved the snake it's full 15 feet into the sewer, and we've reached nothing. Hillary offers to make coffee.

2:00 I go to the church, mainly because I need to go to the washroom, but also I need a longer snake and I hope there is one there. Thomas starts calling Plumbers emergency phone numbers. Nobody is at home.

2:15,  No long snake at the church. I decide to put my friendship with Phil to the ultimate test and call him. I believe he has a longer snake.

2:20 Not only does Phil have a plumbing snake but he offers to bring it over and help out. Yeah Phil!

(Let the reader note my increasing tiredness and absolute desperation to get this fixed, even as I was trying to diagnose the problem)

2:30 I am snaking out the main sewer in my basement, and through much hard work and frustration, I am able to snake till the clean out valve in the front part of the basement sewer line.

3:00 Thomas, Phil, and I are outside on the top of the ladder trying to check if the plumbing vents have been clogged. Nope, all clear.

3:20ish, I thank Phil and send him home to get some sleep.

3:30, Thomas and I decide to open up the main clean out for the sewer line in the front of our house, basement. Desperation and hope and exhaustion melding into a blurring of focus. Hillary offers to make coffee. I send her to bed.

4:00 We have extended the snake into the sewer line out into the front yard about 25 feet. I don't know how far to push, since I'm not sure how far the main line is out there.

4:25 Since we have found no blockage in the front yard line, the exhaustion and desperation I feel because soon people are gonna need the toilets and showers, drives me to conclude that we must not have pushed far enough with the snake in the basement sewer to find the block. It must still be inside the house.  I conclude that we must snake the inside the house line again.

4:30 Thomas goes to bed.

5:00 Still snaking. Weird thoughts go through my head. Irrational thoughts.

5:30. I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Still snaking, finding nothing.

6:00 I'm out of ideas. People are going to be moving soon and needing a washroom. I feel like a failure, unable to provide the basic needs for my family. I am unable to fix this problem.

6:30 On the couch, tired beyond reason. I'll try to sleep a bit on the couch, because I'm covered with sewer water, and because I don't want to wake up Lauralea, and have her need a washroom.

6:45 Can't sleep.

7:30 Wake up and go back to searching for the blockage in the line.

7:50 Lauralea is up, and I tell her the news. She offers her help by asking if I have tried flushing the toilet. I look at her with my exhausted look and she quickly realizes the madness of her suggestion. I send her to the church to wash up.

8:00 I start with calling plumbers again. I reach a rotor rooter guy. He offers his expertise on the phone and is willing to come down. His fees are double for Sunday and he gets paid by the feet of snaking he has to do to reach the problem. His minimum is 60 feet, then every foot after that costs. I am strangely impressed by his business. He's a good guy.

8:30 I need to be at work, but I first remove my snaking efforts from the basement sewer, and clean up the space a bit.

9:00 Rotor Rooter guy comes with one big sweet machine.

9:30 "Mike" the rooter guy, finds the blockage 27 feet in, and cleans the, uh, crap out of it.

9:40 I am off to church. Service starts at 10 am. I leave Mike with Lauralea to pay for the sixty foot minimum, doubled.

It's not a complete waste of a night. I have learned things about myself and my family. They are good, helpful people, Thomas is a big help. I learned that Hillary can now make coffee. I learned or re-learned that Lauralea (and Micah) can sleep through mostly anything. I learned that if there is water at the main sewer clean out opening at the front of the house, then it means that the blockage is past that space, out in the street.

I am smarter now than I was 24 hours ago, at least sewer wise.

hoping that tonight will be considerably better,

I bid you goodnight.

Nite.

Tree is up. next stop Christmas.

First we turned on The Grinch on YouTube.



Then we went to work.







I took a moment to get creative.



And of course, Baby Jesus, held against the XBox in the background.



A festive evening indeed.

Thomas came home with his news, and we played a game or two of Uno.

Next week, we buy a few gifts.

Ho Ho Ho

Thomas came home from a long mad day at work at the mall with the news that somebody hit our car while it was parked there all day.

In fact, the culprit was still parked "In" the front of the car.  Significant damage was done.

We really didn't need this now.

At least he had his cell phone to capture the offending vehicle.

Gently Falling Snow

For all the noise I sometimes make about the cold, it also brings unsurpassed beauty to my life.
Just driving to work this morning, the snow started to fall in huge gentle clumpy snowflakes.

When I got to my office, I pulled out the camera and tried to capture a bit of the beauty to share with others, especially those who live in places where they never get to see such wonder.

Enjoy.

Snowflakes

For the rest, click here.

Another night, another party

So in about an hour we gather at the church for our Christmas party.

It's a dessert/fundraiser party thing as we try to look beyond ourselves and our needs this year.

Don't know how it will go, but we'll give it a try.

Oh and Hillary made it home. I just went and got her from the Bus depot.
24 hours on the bus, reminds me of my college years.

But three of her "Mother of all, we could fit anything into these" suitcases didn't complete the journey with her. They are somewhere between here and Northern Alberta.

I hope we get the tree up this weekend. It needs to get done.

UPDATE:

Well, $450 was raised for a worthy cause tonight.
Nice work Gateway.

:)

I may sound like a sea captain but

she's a beautiful morning out there.

A big, bold, fresh prairie day dawning.
Hope it'll be a good one for you.

Sunrise

Tonight our small group will meet

...and we will eat little left over snacks we have found in our cupboards and tell stories and remember the past year.

It will be nice and good.

It will also be the third night of leaving the guys alone.

It's not always fun being left at home while others come and go. I am keenly aware of that.

But it is what it is.

Hopefully we can catch up on the weekend.

Time for some Christmas Cheer

Any chance you remember when, in Christmas's past, the Wishbook Catalogue would arrive and you would spend hours pouring through it, picking your favourite toys?

Well, now you can go back in time.

www.wishbookweb.com has a number of different stores Christmas catalogues you can look back through. It uses a bit of bandwidth so it may take a bit of time for the thing to load, but it's fun when it does. Just be patient grasshopper.

(Click to enlarge)





Ahh, love the hat!



My buddy Dale got this for Christmas that year. It was awesome.
We thought technology was amazing.

Enjoy

Warning: This site may cause significant loss of valuable time.

U.P.S. Doesn't turn Left

This is big thinking. New thinking.
Use a computer to plan your routes for the least waiting at lights, left hand turns.

Cool.


It seems that sitting in the left lane, engine idling, waiting for oncoming traffic to clear so you can make a left-hand turn, is minutely wasteful — of time and peace of mind, for sure, but also of gas and therefore money. Not a ton of gas and money if we’re talking about just you and your Windstar, say, but immensely wasteful if we’re talking about more than 95,000 big square brown trucks delivering packages every day. And this realization — that when you operate a gigantic fleet of vehicles, tiny improvements in the efficiency of each one will translate to huge savings overall — is what led U.P.S. to limit further the number of left-hand turns its drivers make.


Last year, according to Heather Robinson, a U.P.S. spokeswoman, the software helped the company shave 28.5 million miles off its delivery routes, which has resulted in savings of roughly three million gallons of gas and has reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons. So what can Brown do for you? We can’t speak to how good or bad they are in the parcel-delivery world, but they won’t be clogging up the left-hand lane while they do their business.

More...

Simple Faith

Tagged by Lauralea who asks me how I would define simple faith in Christ.


At the center of almost every snow crystal is a tiny mote of dust, which can be anything from volcanic ash to a particle from outer space. As the flake descends to earth the crystal grows around that speck and its shape is altered by humidity, temperature, and wind.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says that God has set eternity in the hearts of mankind. I see that as being the tiny mote of dust or the particle of the cosmos that rests within my heart. There is a hunger or desire there at the core of my being, a simple desire to connect with the eternal beyond myself, because myself isn't enough.

For me, raised in a good Christian family, I had a direction to move in, and it was simple and small, but it was a start. I knew God and Jesus Christ, and had a childs faith in them. Of course they existed, even though I couldn't see them. I couldn't see the wind either, but that had power too right?

But, like adding layers to the snowflake causing it to grow into a beauty, so life sends you challenges. This was how it was for me as I went off to college and had to own my own faith in God.

I recall during one serious bout of depression calling out to an unseen God seeking the comfort of knowing he was really there and that I wasn't just fooling myself. That night was one of the darkest I can remember, but he led me through that night and I remember some levels of comfort coming to my spirit.

I also recall some months later waking up, and being surrounded by a glorious lightness in my spirit. It was like being in love -without the presence of another human being. That sense followed me for days, lighting my path and lightening my load. I was being shaped. An active relationship with Jesus was being formed and grown.

Since that season of my life I have never really doubted that he is here and I am his. Not like I used to doubt anyway.

And our relationship continues to grow. Layers are added to me that cause me to look unique and, at least in God's eyes, make me look beautiful.

We interact together. I seek to be available to him, and he is always to me. Through these years we have grown this relationship together and I find that he is The Eternal I was always seeking.

And it's good. Not always easy mind you, but nothing of value is ever really easy. It began with a simple faith to choose to believe, and from there we have grown together through these years.

Faith for me was a simple response to the eternal I felt in my spirit, and as I took steps towards God, he was able to reveal himself to me, and we grew in relationahip.

It can get quite complex if we let it, just as most relationships can get I suppose. But the simple heart of the matter is captured in that childs song that we all need to keep singing:

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

SANTA LUCIA - THE QUEEN OF LIGHTS

December 13th, Lucia Day we all get up early and go up to a friends home to eat buns and cheese and visit and listen to the Lussibrud sing Santa Lucia. It's become a part of the Christmas Tradition around here, and we enjoy it.

I took a few pictures this morning, and people were surprisingly awake for 7:30am.
Santa Lucia Girl Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucia, or Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights. In the early hours of the morning of December 13 a young woman, dressed in a white gown, and wearing a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and blazing candles, would go from one farm to the next carrying a torch to light her way, bringing baked goods, stopping to visit at each house and returning home by break of day. Every village had its own Lucia. The custom is thought to have begun in some of the richer farming districts of Sweden and still persists although the crowns are now electric lights.

In Norway and Sweden it is still a custom on December 13 for a girl in a white dress (representing the Saint), to bring a tray of saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake the family. She is called the Lussibrud (Lucy bride) and her pastry (saffron buns) is Lussekattor (recipe and photo). Today many families have a Lucia-Queen in their own home, often the youngest daughter, who wakes the rest of the family with song.

Santa Lucia Day 2007 Lucia symbolizes light and growth for human and beast as she emerges out of the darkness. She is said to have been beheaded by the sword during the persecutions of Diocletian at Catania in Sicily. Her body was later brought to Constantinople and finally to Venice, where she is now resting in the church of Santa Lucia. Because her name means "light" she very early became the great patron saint for the "light of the body"--the eyes. Many of the ancient light and fire customs of the Yuletide became associated with her day. Thus we find "Lucy candles" lighted in the homes and "Lucy fires" burned in the outdoors. Before the Reformation Saint Lucy's Day was one of unusual celebration and festivity because, for the people of Sweden and Norway, she was the great "light saint" who turned the tides of their long winter and brought the light of the day to renewed victory.

Santa Lucia Day 2007 Before the calendar reform, her original feast day (the day of her martyrdom) happened to fall on the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice was December 13 by the Julian calendar rather than December 21, which it became with the change to the Gregorian calendar in the 1300s, linking it with the far older Yule and Winter festivals of pre-Christian times. Lucy's lore survived the Reformation and calendar reform, which brought the solstice to December 23.

More here.

The House is Silent now

Finally, the best part of the day unfolds.

Silence envelopes me again and I find my spirit renewed. Odd how such a simple thing like stillness has such a powerful effect on me.

The freshly fallen snow is so light and it makes everything sparkle out there. It looks like an enchanted forest in the back yard.

The bright colours from the Christmas lights make the white snow glow with many hues.

My sister, next in line to the throne, was born this day many years ago. And though life hasn't always been easy for her, God has given her a beautiful voice and a good heart.

Tonights sparkling, colourful display must be made just for her.

At least I think of her when I look outside and see the beauty.

Happy Birthday Gaylene.

May your year be as full of colour and wonder as my back yard is tonight.

A Public Service Announcement

I just realized that there are 13 days untill Christmas. Only 13.

That means we need to get bus-ier.

I aleady am out every night this week for work stuff, and we need to get the tree up, and, and...

Hillary will be home by Friday and Johanna and Nate will be in Wisconsin for the season. So it will be different again.

I better get shopping tonight. I think I can online shop while I'm in my meeting.

Thanking God for the Internet.

Close only counts in hand grenades and Ang's exam results

Wow.

To bring you up to speed, she's working and taking night classes to try to get into Nursing school.

Read what happened yesterday.

Remember Summer?

Remember Summer?

I miss it.
Or maybe I just miss them.

I definitely miss wearing my African Jesus shirt.
You can't wear that in winter you know.

If you're up at the Safeway this afternoon after 3 UPDATED

then bring an extra fiver.

I'll be working the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle up there and I'm willing to do most anything to get some extra cash for those for who life hasn't been so great this year.

UPDATE: 

Ok, so it dawns on me halfway through my shift that I've only taken in two dollars so far and all the mad grinning I'm doing from ear to ear isn't helping. Sheesh this is a tough gig, income wise.

And forgive me dear reader, but I started to wonder if it would be better to have a shorter person standing there. And a more feminine, softer version of my bell ringing self. Someone who smiles more naturally, with teeth and everything.

Well, as my shift ended, a young lass showed up to take over for me. She was short, somewhat pretty and exhibited a great smile.

Now I was curious so after I had run some errands for the next hour I walked past where she was standing with the kettle and dear reader you wouldn't believe it. My three dollars had grown and multiplied to more than five fivers and a whole bunch of change covering the bottom of the bowl.

Wow.

My conclusion is that tall, dark people like myself should be the counters of the money, and you short pretty ones out there should be the bell ringers.

Hey what can I say, it's for charity.

Blessed are the empty wombs


Daughters of Jerusalem,
do not weep for me,
but weep for yourselves
and for your children. For the days
are surely coming when they will say:
Blessed are the barren
and the wombs that never bore
and the breasts that never nursed!
Then they will begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us,
and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do this
when the wood is green,
what will happen when it is dry?
Luke 23: 28-31, New Revised Standard Version

Yet Jesus, whose own cousin put an end to the covenant of children for the childless, lays a blessing on the barren. He blesses the barren as barren for the first time. He takes their curse away. But not in granting a child—that blessing is not to be given anymore. Jesus' blessing is a hard blessing; it is a divine blessing, for it kills as it makes alive. It does not answer the deepest longing of husbands and wives to make babies together. It does not even dignify the grief and honor the curse. It casts away the curse, and the cure to the curse, the one with the other, and instantiates a new blessing altogether. Blessed are the barren, blessed are the empty wombs, blessed are the dry breasts.




Some more very good words can be found in this piece by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson who is the pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Trenton, New Jersey,

White Christmas

On Sunday I invited the people to jot down a couple of their favourite Christmas carols and put it in the offering plate, so that I would know which songs to make sure we don't miss this year. I received about 20 responses.

Interestingly, more people requested "White Christmas" than requested "Joy to the World," or "Angels we have heard on High," or even "Away in a Manger."

Silent Night won the day though, with nearly half the votes.

Interruption

This template interruption is temporary as I repair my older one.

Your patience is appreciated.

Please stand by.

Warmth

I'm wearing my North Park University hoodie because I am cold.

It makes a real warm warmer upper.

The guys are at work and cast parties tonight, so I might suggest to Lauralea that we go find some WonTon soup up at the Golden Palace or Lion or something else like that.

Warm soup would be good too.

So, we went to a birthday party tonight

It was a literary theme and you had to dress up a bit.
Lauralea and I went as two Wilkie Collins books. She was the "Woman in White" and I put on my black bathrobe and went as "The Black Robe."

Before my battery gave way, I was able to get a few shots in.



30th Birthday party Marc V

Here was the Birthday Boy himself, in all his Tolkien glory.

And there are a few more incriminating photos on my Flickr account.

Slipping

Winter on 4thI suppose there are days like this to keep me quite sure of the fact that generally my life could be a whole lot worse.

Feeling sick and exhausted this morning even after nine hours of sleep, I stumbled out into the cold cold world to go offer care and assistance to people often worse off than myself.

My first call was a mission of mercy to get to the shop and purchase some supplies for a sick mom at home with her sick little ones. As I returned to the van I noticed that the rear passenger tire was nearly flat on the ground. Sigh.

Once I did get to my office, I cranked up the heat and sat there, shivering and miserable. I don't believe I accomplished anything of lasting value this morning, but I did survive it.

:)

This afternoon I had two appointments with people and as it turned out, they were both encouraging meetings. Life somehow gets transfered through our interaction, in spite of ourselves. I had a distinct impression that what I had to offer simply wasn't enough to win the day. But at the end of my ability, I could sense God showing up and doing what he does best, creating life.

The afternoon wasn't without it's tensions too. Boys who needed rides out of town for their evening activities kept my phone ringing and me praying.

Branches of SnowAnd I fell twice today. I hate falling, but especially today on the small patches of ice on the brick sidewalk. The first time I was able to mostly catch myself by falling into the side of a building, but the second time I wasn't so lucky. I went down hard and suddenly on my knees then my hands. It hurt much more physically than it hurt my pride. I am getting past that pride thing now and I suppose that's the good news of it all. There just is no way to fall with grace.

I think that is a new total for me this winter. I believe it's up to 3 or 4 falls since the snow came. I'm keeping a record.

And tonight, after a frustrating argument with Lauralea, we ate supper sans enfant, and watched a movie together.

On days like today I wonder whatever happened to that quaint little exercise where the Northern European Doctors would tell their suffering patients that they must travel south for a long season to enjoy the warmth and healing qualities of the sun. I think I should like that kind of medicine.

Snow clean upAnyway, I'm just waiting up for the boys to return home, then I'm off to bed.
It seems best just to get this day behind me.

Nite.

No BS this year!

The regular (Well at least since December 9, 2003) reader will remember my last bright "December is a good time to paint" idea. I decided to turn the entrance walls a lovely BS colour. (Burnt Sienna for you Neanderthals). There followed regular daily updates on my fight with translucent paint.

I learned a great deal then, so this time we didn't go with a see through paint.

We went from three shades of Yellow, to one shade of White.

Kitchen RePaint - Before

Before

Kitchen RePaint - During

During

Kitchen RePaint - After

After

Kitchen RePaint - After

After again

White on White

And again.

Done and done.

Now, on to better things.

(More Pictures)

Kitchen is done

Well cupboard doors have been replaced including new handles, a new lighting fixture has been installed above the sink, all the electrical outlets and light switches have been replaced, and cleanup is done.

It should last a few thousand miles now, which is good cause I don't want to do that again soon. I get kinda intense and focused on it too much.

I'll post some pics tomorrow, but for now I'm off to bed.

Nite.

white is accomplished

well I think the painting is now done, and I have the exhaustion to prove it.

Herself conveniently had a home and school meeting to attend, and they met at a coffee place no less. I didn't see her for over three hours.

So I painted alone.
Like Vincent.

December 4th

It seems to me that December 4th is the anniversary of my ordination.

It is a big deal, making that level of a commitment to God and vocation, but really nothing much changed from one day to the other.

I was always gonna do what He asked me to do anyway, ordained or not.

And so, here I still am, trying to live out what he asks me to live out.

Just these days I can place a Rev. in front of my name.

For whatever that's worth.

Thank You Freakin BC.

Warnings
Prince Albert - Shellbrook - Spiritwood - Duck Lake
12:20 PM CST Monday 3 December 2007
Snowfall warning for
Prince Albert - Shellbrook - Spiritwood - Duck Lake issued

Heavy snow tonight and Tuesday.


A strong weather system forming over British Columbia will move into southwestern Saskatchewan overnight, then track southeastward across the Dakotas on Tuesday. Heavy snow will fall to the north of this system, and current indications point to amounts up to 15 cm for a swath of regions from the northwestern grainbelt across to the southeast part of the province, including the Battlefords, Saskatoon and Yorkton. Lesser snowfall amounts are expected on either side of this track. There is also the possibility of freezing rain overnight and Tuesday morning from outlook towards Moose Jaw and Regina and southeastward to Estevan.


via.

Painting a masterpiece

I'm finding it difficult to get motivated for much of anything, house repair wise these days.

But today is the day we start painting the kitchen.

I was able to delay it till after Lauralea and I went out for coffee this morning. But alas, I've run out of ideas, so I guess I gotta paint.

White, here we come.

Wee bit of a basket case are ye then?

Well, here we are at 11:22 pm thinking I need to get to bed.

But I'm not ready yet.

It still feels like I am trying to exercise some odd feelings I can't quite identify.

I have been a basket case most of the day. I sat in the drama this afternoon and wept. Just wept.

I don't cry at dramas, ESPECIALLY Little Women.

Then tonight Lauralea and I watched a favourite movie, and I wept again.

Today I have been overwhelmed by love and emotion and it's all catching up with me I suppose.

Actually I think it's the week that has finally caught up with me. And I am undone.

I miss my dad. I miss my girls. I find it hard to let go of friends.

And Christmas is coming.

If I was a girl I could blame the calendar. But I am a guy, so it's probably my fault.

Not that I'm allotting blame, or accusing myself of anything other than being human.

But as you know, some nights it's just difficult being human.


It's an ok season to walk through. It'll get better I know.

But for tonight I feel, lost.

And it's ok feeling lost. I have the comfort of knowing that He knows where I am.

As long as somebody does. That way I can focus on the tears at hand.

If that makes any sense.


Nite.
Take care of yourselves.

Little Women

Thomas has been working on the sound and Micah has been working on the props for this dramatic presentation of Little Women.

Lauralea and I went to see it this afternoon.

Wow.

I think the finest compliment I can give it is that their presentation makes me want to see the movie.

And that's saying alot!

Bravo, and well done everybody.



There will be two shows of Little Women, based on the beloved novel by L.M. Alcott, at the St. Mary theatre, 380 14th St. W. on Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. The four-act play about family, friendship and faith is presented by Watch Shop Productions. Tickets are available at Canadian Tire and Harold’s IGA and are $10 for adults and $8 for students and groups of six or more.