My Patch

I was thinking the other day, about travel times and visiting and community and deep stuff like that. I was thinking about it because I was in the north part of my patch for a meeting, drove home, and then received an urgent call from someone in the south part of my patch. I ended up being on the road for over two hours that day, just connecting with people from our church.

So I set out to map my patch, and Google Maps makes this pretty easy.

mypatch

Turns out My Patch is 1,367.2 km² in total area, and is 182.24 km in circumference. So it would take about two hours to drive around.

This is pretty cool. It answers questions like why am I tired from visiting a couple of people, or why does it take me most of a day for a couple of visits in different areas.

When I look at the land this way, it just really helps me understand myself, and my church much better. Especially when I remember that my last patch was 25.41 km² in area.

So today, with only two meetings and one visit, and two hours on the road, I'm tired.  I can look at this and not beat myself up. All things considered, we did pretty good.

I like my patch. Now before winter I need to upgrade the car for one with low kms. That's my next project.


August 17, 1985

I can't believe it's been thirty years already.

Randall &  Lauralea

I remember she looked beautiful.
I remember I couldn't stop smiling.
I remember that my face hurt from all that smiling.
I remember it was such a good day.

Married thirty years today


Life with Lauralea has been pretty amazing.
I'm thankful to God for her, and for knowing me well enough that He knew what kind of a soul I needed to journey through this life with.

She is constant reminder to me, that God loves me.
And now here's to another thirty years.

P.S. Here are some of the original wedding day photos.


He restores my soul

Cool rainy late summer morning

It's +9C, a cool rainy, restful day out there.  I would consider it the perfect day.

I know, there are friends of mine who will be freezing today. I mean you no ill will but you had your days this week. Now it's a day for the moody, the brooding, the cozy low sky lovers, like me.

It has been a busy week here in the field. Work has been full, there are many to care for out here. And Lauralea and I have been working on something for a month or so, pretty hard at it physically and emotionally I guess. And yesterday that all came to naught. So we are pulling ourselves back together, tending our wounds, and getting on with the business of life. This day helps us.

She's at home baking a cake for a Barn party tomorrow, with the windows open, the fireplace on, and ClassicFM on the radio. And I am in the office with my windows wide open, the trees rustling in the breeze, the smell of rain in the air, working on the service for tomorrow.

Yes, this day helps us. It restores our soul.
Our cup is full, and God is good.



Wanna know what in the world a pastor does on a Thursday?

My Thursday...

8:30 am. Answering emails. I discover that our music leader is unavailable for this Sundays worship service. Hmm, need music leader. Email a few people.

9:00 am. Spiritual Direction with a pastor who is on stress leave from their church because of community relationships. Painful beyond words.

9:50 am. Impromptu meeting with the chair of the trustees and the treasurer. A good meeting with good people but could have stressful implications.

10:15 am. Starting to select music for Sunday. Planning on leading the music myself as all the leaders are unreachable. Sunday morning could end up being the Randall Friesen Hour. Never a great idea, but I'm willing.

10:30 am. Start working on the message for Sunday.

Norah Skype
11:30 am. My granddaughter Norah is skyping me. Of course I'm answering.

12:00 noonish. Head outside because I hear a car. There is a man getting into his Buick and driving off at the front of the church. Hmm whats up. It looks like our church sign has been repainted by a random stranger! What in the world?

12:30 pm. Vintage Car tour group arrives to use our yard as a lunch stop area. Pretty cool. Delora our admin person and I welcome them and after a picnic lunch Delora gives them a tour of the church and our photos of old cars parked in the church parking lot. They leave a small donation (Nice of them) and head off back down the road.

1:00 pm. I head home for lunch. Lauralea is away today so I prepare food and eat alone. Halfway through I don't feel so good and I end up throwing it all up. I start over.

2:00 pm. Back at the office putting Sunday into place. Make and return phone calls.

Church Sign
3:00 pm. Following up on word I received earlier in the day that one of our people is suddenly in the hospital. I head off to town to check up on him.

4:00 pm. Do a few more hospital visits. Some elderly are struggling. Praying with them all.

4:30 pm. Stop to reply to txts from church people about things in their lives. Things they are going through. Get the prayer chain going for the person I came to see, who's going to surgery.

5:00 pm. Start for home for supper. Got word that our house guest, a pastor who is doing some work in the area, is going to be late for supper. That buys me a bit of time to get home before he does.

Old Car Tour Picnic
6:00 pm. Our house guest is going to be really late. Lauralea and I eat supper.

7:00 pm. Writing this while the Edmonton, Montreal football game is on.

8:00 pm. Headed over to feed the neighbours VanderCats while the family is away. What practical jokes shall I set up in their house...


And now you know what this pastor was doing this Thursday.
It was a good day. Well except for the barfing part. :)


Mocking Death

Today I've been sitting with people who have received bad news. Their physical lives on this blue orb will change. The test results were not great.

We read together Psalm 23, the Psalm about life and how our good and loving shepherd cares for us. It was comforting, and the eyes were glistening as they face another hard challenge.

But faith was there too in those moist eyes. Faith and hope, and love. Tested already through fires aplenty in this life.

We joked and were free to be ourselves without judgement, because really, when you've stared death in the eye and the best it can do is temporarily threaten your bones and blood and skin, it can be mocked.

It can be mocked because it is powerless to destroy the real you. Your spirit, your loves, your joys, the real you.

We know of one who has faced death even as we do these days. But he died and a few days later he came back to life through that door. He did it to put death in its proper place. Beneath his feet.

So that today followers of his can have hope in him and his experience with death. That he had power over death and he's more than willing to share that with all those he knows.

His name is Jesus, the Christ. And he's looking to know you better. All of life's perspectives change when you get to know him personally, intimately.

It was he who said;
"The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life."

So consider his claims, and his promises. Pursue him. Do whatever you need to do to know him better.

Mocking death is only one of the benefits of knowing him, and being known by him.

A Day Off

Feels a little lost today.
It's a day off, which is a good idea after four days and around forty hours worked.
But it feels a bit anxious. And, lost I guess.

So I'm trying to rest today, rebalance.

August is happening and well underway now and the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler. Change is in the air.

Plans need to be made. Plans to celebrate thirty years of marriage, plans for leading retreats in autumn, plans for travel, plans to care for the kids. Lots of plans needing attention. But they need to wait until we've got some clarity on other things.

I guess we've been fairly busy living life this spring and summer.
But deadlines are coming and, as I said, plans need to be made.

So on this first day off in too many weeks, I'm pressing myself to work on the plans when maybe I just need to rest a bit. Conflicting.

Straight on to our field



Instead, because its a good creative exercise for me, I'm writing a bit.
Trying not to overthink things. Trying not to worry. Trying not to pressure plan.

And maybe in a bit, I'll go feed the neighbours cats. Cause that's what I do.

Finally, a quiet day off. Now to enjoy it.


Another year older and I'm still figuring it all out

It seems that the only thing harder than loving a child or grandchild from a distance is watching as they try to love you back.

This is the truth as I've experienced it.

"When will you live closer?"  Is a question that echoes through our conversations with little ones closely related and even with those not as closely related. "When will we see you again?"

Turning fifty two this week gave me pause to reflect on these calls from people, little and big. "When" indeed.

The calling we answered some 29 years ago has cost us over the years. But when you are young and counting the cost, your mind has no idea of the costs to come over the years. Costs of distance and miles, of stretched relationships and laid aside dreams. The costs seem as real today as they did 30 years ago when I set my course to answer a calling I felt in my spirit that was bigger than I was.

These past few years have taken more from Lauralea and I physically than I can recall in previous years. We are finally starting to feel it in our bones and bodies. I don't know why but that surprises us a bit.  Perhaps its because we don't feel like we are aging. But there you go, its all relative. We're only in our fifties so its nothing yet. But it is something.

And the desire to answer the call faithfully is as strong as it's ever been. Even though the cost is becoming dearer in terms of not being close to family. The desire is strong. "Lord I believe, help my unbelief."

Here now with our fifties firmly underway we are looking at new opportunities to grow faith, to be stretched in new ways to serve God and care for people. And again we are invited to move from our comfort zone down roads God seems to have laid out for us. The doors are opening up in this community and believe it or not, people in Alberta need Jesus too.


It feels good to know that God is leading and not following us. And that it will cost us something, because that tests my motives.  I don't know where the road goes, because against my pushy suggestions, He doesn't seem to be of a mind to show me the whole picture.  So for now I'm just working to be faithful to what He has been showing me.

And a clear part of that obedience, for now, includes living at a distance from family.

So thank you God for Skype and care packages. For phones and for people who care for us from miles away, and up close. And thank you God for your faithfulness even when we struggle. And for long obediences in the same direction.

Happy Birthday, to me.