Monday, May 18, 2015

T'would Have Been His 79th Birthday

I'm at the lake, remembering my dad. It's late, I'm on the deck, in my pajamas, with my laptop on my lap, listening to the crickets and the creek.

Everything about this? Is perfect.

My plan had been to write out his story. Today. On his birthday. But I suck, and never got around to doing it.

I will do it, though. One of these days.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Best childhood ever.
2. My dad loved. Loved my mom. His kids. His grandkids. People.
3. This place. This time.


Sunday, May 17, 2015


Her: I think I'd like to try going to church again (she's been twice in the past year. Never, before that.) Do you want to come?

Me: Yes.

Her: OK.

She chose Westside.

(I'd never been to Westside before, but have heard good things. And it's Mennonite, so well, that's awesome, no? Haha. Also, their lead pastor, Norm Funk? Is not a stranger to me. His older brother was my youth leader, at Killarney Park MB, his sister and I went through youth together. And his other brother did the photography at my wedding. Norm was the youngest of the Funk kids, so he was the one I knew the least. Regardless, he comes from good stock. :)  )

Me: I'll pick you up? Say at 10:40 am?

Her: Come at 10:30, then we'll have time to get a coffee and talk first.

So I got up at 9:44 am (on a Sunday) and left for Vancouver at 10:07. I was at her corner on Commercial Drive at 10:31 am. We were shoving coins into the parking meter at 10:46 am (Pay to park to go to church...Haha )

There's a coffee by donation counter as we walk in. And free cups of ice water. We help ourselves and make our way into the auditorium.

Her: You been here before?

Me: Not for church. Last time I was here, I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ...

We choose our seats. Middle of the middle, near the front.

We're in church on the Sunday of the first big camping weekend of the year. I anticipate that it'll be empty. And that we'll get the "B" team re: worship and preaching. Haha.

Her: Do you think you'd have this faith, this belief in God, if you hadn't been raised with it? I mean, this is all familiar to you. You've known about God and gone to church your whole life. It's a part of you. You never doubted or strayed. Do you think, if you'd been raised differently, that you'd have this same faith today?

Me: Uh.

Her: You don't have to answer. I just wondered.

Me: Uh. Well, no one's ever asked me that before. Let me think a sec.

Her: No hurry.

She gives me space to think.

Me: I believe in a God who wants to have a relationship with me. And I have to believe that if I wasn't introduced to Him by my dad and mom, He would have revealed himself to me at another time, in another way. I'm a Christian because He called me into a relationship with Him, not because I grew up in a home with other believers.

Her: So what about your kids? They grew up in a home with a Christian mom ...

Me: That's the thing. Everyone decides for themselves.

The bands comes on stage ...

Her: I didn't sing last time. But I liked the music. Do you  sing?

Me: Yes.

Her, sounding surprised: You do?

Me, to myself: Well, I allow a noise to come out of my mouth...

The band starts to play. If this is their "B" team, they're pretty awesome.

Her, noticing that I'm not singing: Do you know this song?

Me: Nope.

Her: How does that work? Aren't there songs that all churches know/play/sing?Like, aren't they all quite repetitive? Or do you think this song was written by someone here?

Me: I think so, yes.

The next song is a new-to-me as well. Written in 2015. By a female who's name I didn't recognize. So, maybe another member of their worship team? Regardless, it was awesome. I loved it. And after the first verse and chorus, I was singing along.

Third song was a ramped up hymn. So good.
I sang/opened my mouth.

Norm came out after that.

So I was wrong.

Lead pastor IS in the building. We are getting the "A" team experience.

He did some announcements then exited and the preaching pastor delivered the sermon.

They're doing a series on James:

Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Her: Did you bring a Bible?

Me: I forgot to grab it.

Her: There's an Old Testament and a New Testament, right?

Me: Uh huh.

Her: Which one does this church use?

Me: Both.

Her: Really? Wha?

Me: The Old Testament was before Jesus was born. The New Testament starts when Jesus was born. All of it is God's story.

Her: How many years does the Old Testament cover?

Me: I forget. I used to know... Sorry.

Her: Adam and Eve and stuff like that are in the Old Testament, right?

Me: Yup.

Her: So how long did they live?

Me: OK. this is going to sound crazy, but they lived, for like, 700 years or something.

Her: WHAT?

Me: I know. I know.

Matt starts preaching. I'm listening for myself, wishing I'd remembered to grab my notebook and Bible when I left the house. (In my defence, I haven't been to a Sunday MORNING service in years.) But while I'm listening for myself, I'm also listening for her. Does any of this make sense? Is it applicable? Is it just confusing? I'm praying for us both as this service continues.

He winds up his sermon and outlines how the service will end; a few more songs (Yay), opportunity for prayer (those who want to pray with someone can meet with couples along the side) and communion.

(I was hoping there wouldn't be communion. It just seems like it's a confusing/exclusive thing to explain to someone unfamiliar with church stuff. God was not letting me off the hook. This Sunday morning? Was going to contain it all.)

Her: So, because I'm not a real Christian, I can't do communion, right?

Me: Right.

Her: I was baptised as a baby, though. And I remember being confirmed.

Me, praying: God? Why did  you choose me? I am so poorly representing You this morning. I think I'm making a mess of things. Just take over.

Me: I guess that's the difference between Catholics and Christians. We get baptised when we're older. It's our decision, not our parents.

The band is playing, we are standing, there are people at the front and sides praying, and at the end of the aisles, there are couples holding the communion elements. People are lined up in the aisles waiting their turn.

I look around to see how this works. I've never done communion like this before.

Her: Are you going?

Me: In a sec.

So, it looks like you take a piece of bread (whole wheat) (Or a rice cracker, if you can't have gluten) from the basket she's holding, and then dunk it into the wine goblet that he's holding. And walk back to your seat and eat (partake) it whenever you're ready. There's none of this "Take this cup, in remembrance of me" business. Interesting.

I squeeze past her and join the line. I take the bread, dip it in the juice, go back to my seat, pray, sing, then pop it in my mouth. Holy cow. That wasn't grape juice. I forgot to take my gum out, so now I'm chewing whole wheat bread, soaked in red wine and it's getting mixed up with some spearmint gum. Not much holy going on in my mouth.

The next song is Solid Rock. With a 2015 rock twist.

Me: That was an old hymn.

Her: I saw. Written in the 1700's.

Me: Yeah, they rocked it up abit.

Her: Do you prefer it done traditionally, or ...

Me: I like this version.

The last song is new to me. But very singable after listening to the chorus.

Her: That was my favorite.

Norm comes back out to remind everyone about an upcoming baptismal service and classes. And opportunities to serve. And then he prays for us all.

The service is over.

Her: Can we sit here for awhile longer?

Me: Sure.

Her: I have some questions.

Me: OK.

Her: So. Easter. Jesus died. Right?

Me: Yeah. We call it "Good Friday". That's the day he was killed. Crucified. On a cross.

Her: And ladies went to visit him after? At the grave? And he was in his grave clothes? And why would you celebrate the day he was killed? What's so good about it?

Me: Jesus died for us. He died for our sins. We are thankful for that. He died on the Friday. And in those days the graves or tombs were, in, like caves. So to seal the tomb, they had a huge rock in front of it. Jesus had been in the grave for three days when those women went to the graveside to mourn.


Me: Yes, three days after he died, when the women got to his grave, they found the stone had been rolled out of the way, and his grave cloths were left behind. He was gone.

Her: Where'd he go?

Me: He's alive.

Her, looking astonished: HE WAS ALIVE?

Me: He still is.


Me: Well, he stuck around for abit, and met his disciples and family and a bunch of people, but after a time, He went to heaven. He's still alive. And He and God are together.


Me: Oh man. This is going to sound freaky, ghosty .... but there's three of them. Like, a trinity: God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit. So when Jesus went back to heaven, The Holy Spirit is the one who is with us on earth. Like, if you surrender your life to God, and accept Jesus as your saviour, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. And I just said a bunch of words that I believe to be true, but I don't know if they just sound really dumb to you.

Her: No, no. I get it. I understand.

Her: So. When Jesus was on earth, did he get married? Have kids?

Me: Nope.

Her: So, Christmas...

Me: Yeah. So. God chose a young woman. A virgin. And made her pregnant. And she gave birth to Jesus. Who was God's son. She married Joseph and they had other children. So Jesus was raised in a family. And when He was 30 he started his ministry. He chose 12 disciples. And for three years he preached and healed before he was killed.

Her: So the New Testament was written by those 12 apostles?

Me: Hmmm. No, they all didn't write books of the New Testament. The first four books? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Those were written by 4 of his followers. Each from their point of view. Each from a different perspective with different purpose. And other books of the New Testament are letters to early churches. Paul, was a Jew, who hated Christians and was in the business of killing them. Till one day He encountered Jesus and became a Christian himself. He then became a missionary, and wrote letters to believers in the cities he visited. Like, the Book of Ephesians is a letter to the church in Ephesus. Corinthians is a letter to the church in Corinth. Romans to the church in Rome...

Her: Jews. Tell me about them? How do they fit in?

Me, feeling woefully unprepared: Jews were God's chosen people, in the Old Testament. And they were waiting for a promised Messiah. But when Jesus came, they didn't believe He was the one they were waiting for. They thought He was an imposter. So they had Him killed.

Her: IS that why the Christians and the Jews are at war? It goes all the way back to when Jesus was on earth?

Me: Yeah. This is a big part of it.

Her: Do you hate Jews?

Me: Haha. No. I don't hate them as a group. And I don't hate them individually.

Her: So why didn't the Jews believe that Jesus was who He said He was?

Me: Well. Are you familiar with history? Not just Biblical history, but regular history? The Roman Empire was a thing. They were out to civilize/rule the whole world and take it under it's control. It would go into a region and murder/make slaves of all the citizens. The Jews had been slaves for generations and generations. They were waiting for a warrior messiah. One who would arrive and defeat the Roman army. Their messiah would be a KING. And He would rule from a throne. And all the Romans would bow to Him. Instead, they got a baby. Born in a stable. Raised by a carpenter, from Galilee, which is probably like Surrey. And instead of killing Romans, what Jesus did when he began his ministry was forgive sins and heal sicknesses. They were unimpressed. And thought he was a liar. So they arranged to have him killed.

The church is emptying out.
I can see Norm at the front, as well as the worship band, chatting.

I'm thinking I should call someone over. I am certain I am making a mess of this.

She's quiet for a few minutes, then asks how she can apply this to her situation. She's got some shitty stuff going on, so how does this morning's sermon, as well as the info I've just told her, affect her? Where is the connection point? We talk some more.

I am out of my league.

I ask her if I can pray for her. And right there, in the middle seats of the middle row of a mostly empty 1800 seat theatre, I pray and she cries.

We talk all the way back to her place.
And after I drop her off, I pray all the way back to my place.

I'm 53 years old and this was the first time I've been asked to share my faith.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Westside Church. Their pastors. Their worship team.
2. Friends who ask questions. And more questions.
3. The home I was raised in.
4. The God I believe in.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lonnnnnnnnng Weekends are The Bomb

So I've been following VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival) on twitter for a few months. I mistakenly had thought that these film festivals happened, like, once a year, and lasted for a few weeks.

But not so with Vancouver.
From what I can tell, it presents movies all year 'round.

(Early releases, independent projects, documentaries, foreign films...)

So on Saturday, my mom and I went to a VIFF offering. A documentary. About Scientology.

It sparked my interest because last October, when Sandra and I were in Clearwater, Florida, we walked around their headquarters, as it was a stunningly beautiful building:

We walked around it, at about 11 pm, and were stopped by a young fella, in a suit, with a headset on. He answered our questions. Asked a few of his own, then went inside to gather some materials for us to consider. Very slick.

ANYWAY, other than knowing that Tom C and John T were members of this 'religion?', I didn't know much...

So I was glad for the opportunity to learn more.

VIFF's showings are at the Vancity Theatre, which is a great venue, complete with a balcony. (Which is where we sat, because I was NOT DOING THE FRONT ROW AGAIN.)

The movie/documentary was called: Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison Of Belief -

Or; Everything You Wanted to Know about Scientology, But Were Too Afraid To Ask. Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) teams with author Lawrence Wright to blow the lid off this secretive and sinister organization, a "religion" that incorporates the financial structure of pyramid scheme and bears all the hallmarks of a cult.
Gibney talks to 8 former Scientologists, including Crash writer-director Paul Haggis and several senior officials now alienated from the organization. The film gives us the history of Scientology, its bizarre founder L Ron Hubbard, and examines the central tenets of his credo, as well as exploring Scientology’s disturbing, symbiotic relationship with Hollywood celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and its dubious dealings with the IRS.


So glad I saw it. 
So many questions answered. 
So many people to pray for. 

So interesting that a guy who wrote science fiction comic books for a living, wrote another novel, THAT A RELIGION (?!)  got based on. 

If you get a chance, watch it. 
If you get a chance, support VIFF by seeing the movies they present. 
If you care, take a few minutes to pray for the folks still caught up in this cult. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Sleep-in Saturdays.
2. Matinee and dinner with my mom who was up for anything, really. (She's probably grateful it was a documentary, not like that time I took her to see Brokeback Mountain. HAHA)
3. Still two whole days in this long weekend...


Friday, May 15, 2015

Know what?

If you sit in the front row of a theatre and occupy the last two available seats which are at the very farthest end, right up against the wall, the faces on the screen are horribly distorted.

I'm sure the cast of Far From the Madding Crowd is beautiful in real life, but whoa nelly. Tonight? They were all lopsided. And mis-shapen.

Regardless, it was pretty. Stunning cinematography.

And there were a few lessons to be learned:


1. Put a fence up next to your cliffs.
2. Go for the shepherd.
3. (And here's where we both messed up ... Haha) Don't marry the first guy who kisses you.

Three Things I'm Thankful For:

1. Friends who have nothing to do on the Friday night of a long weekend.
2. Friends who are totally OK sitting in the worst seats in the theatre to watch a period drama.
3. Friends who suggest we go for coffee afterwards. To talk. At McDonald's. And eat McFlurries.

So random, so fun.


Three Things. Again.


Our afternoon coffee break at work was an English Tea. We ate scones with strawberry preserves and cream, and tarts, and quiche, and mini blueberry cheesecakes and everyone was supposed to wear a hat. Like the Brits do.

(Pics of peeps and hats will be posted tomorrow.)



I had my first foot treatment this afternoon.
Oh. My. Flippin. Goodness.

SO painful.

She's a reflexologist and deep tissue masseuse.
I had no idea what to expect when I booked the appointment.

She put lotion on her hands, then picked up my foot and squeezed the sides of my heel with her fore finger on one side and her thumb on the other. (My heel was healed. It's the metatarsal bone that's causing me grief.) But *justlikethat she found a sore spot.

Me: Goodness that hurts. I thought I only had one sore point that needed fixing. You found another with just one squeeze. Ow.

Her: I'll probably find a lot of sore spots. Your feet? Are wound up tight. So hard. I'm going to break up the scar tissue and it's going to hurt.


Her: Are you familiar with reflexology?

Me: Not so much.

Her: Well this? (And she does a deep killer massage on a sensitive spot.) Is connected to your lower back. It's one big knot. Do you have back troubles?

Me: Not worth mentioning. It's my foot that's been giving me issues.

Her: And this? Is your neck. Feel this?

Me: Uh huh. OW. (And I try not to pull it away from her.)

Her: This is great. Can you feel what's happening? It's breaking up right beneath my fingers. See? I press and stretch it and ...

Me: Uh huh. Yeah. That hurts.

Her: You are doing really good. The first session is always the hardest.

For 45 minutes she pressed and stretched and pulled and poked and I was so glad when it was time to leave.

I'm going back next Thursday.


Went to the other beach tonight to watch the sun set. 'cept this beach faces east. So we walked over to the park and watched it set there.

We got there just in the nick of time.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. English tea food.

2. Smart people who know about feet.

3. Friends with beach houses.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Three Things


This is a fun movie:
You should probably see it twice.

This is a haunting movie. (Russell Crowe's first shot at being a director.)
Story was sad, but good. And based on a time in history that I was previously unfamiliar with.


Just finished this book:

Hattie is an African american mom. The "tribes" are her people. Each chapter is about one of them. Some are easy to read. Others are not.

Which would probably be true about a book called The Tribes of Jane. We don't know the impact we have on our kids/grandkids/family/friends.

And I finished this book:

Chick lit. Tis about a set of triplets. All girls. And the happenings in the year before their 33rd birthday.

And third:

I am thankful for:

1. Eight hours of filing is DONE. Four out of five drawers at work are all current and organized.

2. Oranges.

3. Cards that come in the mail inviting me to Winnipeg, with the option of doing a drive by in Winkler to check out my dad's old stompin' grounds. :)

4. The Maylong is just around the corner.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Obros Say Happy Mother's Day

I'm one of the lucky ones.

I still have a mom on earth.

And I am a mom; with children who live in the same time zone as me.

I know. I know how rare this is.

So many of my friends are hurting on this day; their moms have passed away/not in their lives and today? Brings out the  'I miss my mom' ache x 1,000. Hugs to you friends... If this day causes a pain so deep you don't want to get out of bed, I'm so sorry for you. I prayed for you this morning, and hope today wasn't as awful as you anticipated it would be.


My day?
Was lovely.

Jule and I celebrated our mom at noon...
Along with our families, we gathered at The Old Spaghetti Factory for pasta. And bread. And conversation checking our phones...

My mom?
Is a prayer warrior.
And while it may look like she's praying here, I don't think she is.
She's waiting for her necklace to be clasped.

The hugs followed lunch:

Then we, (Clint, Max, Drew and I) hopped into Drew's truck and drove over to The Farm.

(You know you're in Surrey when...)

And parked in Billie's Country parking lot.
Where I parked for many years.
Then walked up this ramp.
Holding a little boy's hand.
And turned right, and into a magical place where creativity reigned.
And potpourri overflowed.

Amazing what a difference a fence makes.
This side?
That side?
Blackberry bushes gone wild.

From the parking lot, we wandered over to the site of the house.
We are standing in the area that used to be the back patio. With the firepit, gazebo, brick BBQ ...

And this is where the green barn used to stand:

Back lawn. My 'garden' area, off to the left:

Then down to the lower field.

Max and Drew went down first, then yelled at Clint to go slow and hold my hand.

(I made it just fine on my own.)

We scouted around the area where the barn/shop/suite in the lower field used to be.
(My youngest will finally be a man when he pulls his damn pants up.)

Then we checked out the driveway. The switchback one. The one I drove down daily, for years. And the one my dad and kids walked on, many, many times.

It's ivy-covered.
And lovely.

The kids are standing at the bottom of it, just before you turn the corner into the field.

From the bottom, looking up:

From the top, looking down.

I loved this driveway...

From there, we went to the lower-field creek. To check out The Tree.
When I was a teen, it's where I went to read.
And when the kids were little, it's where they went to play.

(Do you know how awesome this is?
For me to have warm memories of a certain place, and 20 years later, my kids made their own memories AT THE SAME PLACE?)

I am so thankful for that farm.

Anyway, this is The Tree:
(The one in the very centre of this pic. Can you see all three of my boys in that tree? Look closely. They're there.)

I thought this was about as close as I'd get to that tree because of this narrow log. I'd have to walk across it to get through the marsh.

It took a bit of prayer and the timely finding of a huge stick to use as a balancing stabilizer, but eventually I crossed it. Whoooo Eeeeee.

I had warned my boys earlier that I'd be bringing my camera. I hoped they wouldn't be annoyed, but I was planning on taking many pics.

They were accommodating.

From the tree, we decided to cross the creek.

There were a few stepping stones already set out, exactly for this.

The boys made it look easy.

After they'd all crossed, Drew called out, "Mom. Don't try it. That first rock is too far for you. We'll get it fixed up for you."

Me: Don't be silly. I can make that jump. Here take my camera. I can do this.

Drew: No. Don't even think about it. We can handle this. Max? Clint? Get some big rocks.

Me: I'm fine. I've got this...

Drew: NO, We're fine. WE GOT THIS. And it's not a hassle. THIS IS WHAT WE DO. We live for this stuff. We've been hauling rocks and making crossings in creeks our whole life. Bups taught us.

So I let them prepare a crossing for me and felt very loved.

We found a trail.

And another one:

Which were, apparently, boring. So were whacked our way through overgrown prickle bushes and made our own way:

We (they) whacked their way through this:

To get to this:

And we made our way (via four separate routes) to get to the top field.

I used to ride my dirt bike back here. The kids remember coming back here on the quad with Bups.
They played night stalker in this field. Plus there used to be a fort up here.

This was another fort location:

Jim had made a fort here when we were kids.

And Clint made one here when he was one.

And from there we went to the very back field.

It was the largest field, but you had to cross a clay-muck area to get there. My dirt bike got stuck in the muck when it was wet. And when it was dry, it was all bumpy and ridge-y and impossible to cross through without falling over. Wasn't any better walking through....

But today?

There was a wooden crossing set up.

So it was a piece of cake.

Have I mentioned that it was 25 degrees today?

We were hot.
And Max and I had prickled, scratched, bleeding legs and it didn't matter.

Back down to the creek to look for the (cow, from my youth) (quad, from their's) crossing.

That farm?
Just had so many magical places to hang out.

They decided to go look for the old cow shelter.
I decided not to.

I was not going to cross the creek again.

They got to the other side. Looked at the cow shelter. Then came back to the creek.

And then it was time to jump back over the creek AGAIN.

Drew, demonstrating the ol' Two Foot Landing:

Max, unsure about the ol' Two Foot Landing, as he'd never heard of it before, is undecided how to approach this obstacle.

Drew offers guidance and extends his hand.

Max reminds him that he's left handed.


In the end, Max's long legs can just step across.

But I love that Drew was right there, with his arm extended.

(He offered his hand to me repeatedly throughout the afternoon. I love that about him. Very aware of people's needs around him.)

After that? We made our way back to Billies'. On the trails.

And back to the house to wait for pizza...

Could have been my most favorite Mother's Day ever.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My mom. She's the absolute best.
2. My kids. They are not boring. And I love them.
3. Weekends.