Saturday, October 23, 2010

You Asked For Updates, You've Got Updates!

Once again I've gotten side-tracked and not been faithful in making some posts to keep you all updated. I don't know what's been going on lately with me! One would think that I would have lots of time with two birds out of the nest.

But nay-nay.... lots going on. When I make a list of everything I've been doing, I imagine that I could have it all completed in just two full days.... so why has it been a whole week? I don't know. Maybe I just have trouble focussing. All I know is that before I know it, I'm crawling back into bed after a full day and have to wonder what filled up my whole day?

I know some of you can relate.

So because I've been running into many folks who keep asking about how the boys are doing, I'll give an update here today.

I have a bit of time today for blogging because Jared had to miss today's hockey game. Jared fills in on one of the Bantam league teams because there were not enough Bantam-aged kids to form teams. Midget players were brought down to help fill in and build up the numbers. (Some Peewee players may have been brought up to play as well; I'm not sure about this, though.)

Yesterday at the highschool's soccer playoff game, a Moira player's knee connected with Jared's front thigh, and down Jared went. He hobbled around for a bit and was able to finish playing, but after the game the leg was pretty sore. He was in a lot of discomfort last night and this morning, so he decided it would be too painful to play hockey. (Sorry about that, Coach Clark!)

That boy gives his all when he plays. It amazes me. In fact, I've told him to STOP playing so hard! He doesn't care if he gets hurt! I will tell you right now that he did NOT inherit that trait from his Momma! He's had more bumps and bruises and cuts and skin ripped off his body. He has sat with his leg up some evenings after a game and we have watched his leg, where the skin has been ripped off, literally ooze!!!! It's not pretty, folks!

The boys on the PECI Panther teams (Junior & Senior) have done an excellent job on the soccer field this season. I am so proud of all the players (even the opposing teams) who go out to play soccer (or any sport!) to support their school. I'm glad we have programs like this. Thank you to the teachers and the coaches (that's you, Dave Mather!) who volunteer their time to these kids. It is greatly appreciated.

So Jared will spend today relaxing to rest his leg, and hopefully he will feel better for the Midget hockey game on Sunday evening. My goodness, I'll go through withdrawal if he can't play! I'll have to just go to the arena anyways and watch his teammates play! haha.

As many of you know, Jake has been working in Georgetown with Jon's friend who is a landscaper. As soon as Jake graduated from high school, he was outta here! He has enjoyed his time up there; but 'tis the season for him to move on. The landscaping work pretty much comes to an end this time of year.

He could've stayed on to do some snow plowing, but since you never know how much snow you're going to get through the Winter, Jake has decided that he would like to truck with his Dad over the Winter. I told him I thought it was a great idea; however, we are of the understanding that he'll be returning to the landscaping business in the Spring. He assures me this will be the case.

Jon and Jake are just now leaving South Dakota with a load of pork and heading to Toronto. They seem to be having a good trip together. Jon says that just having Jake with him feels like he received a blood transfusion. I told Jake to ensure that Dad doesn't sleep in the bunk while Jake unloads the trailer by himself! haha. They just finished updating their Facebook statuses, so I think they're good to go!

Poor Jake must return home this week in order to receive a root canal on one of his teeth as well as a wisdom tooth extraction. He's been in a lot of pain, but the antibiotics have been doing their job and settling the discomfort in his mouth. He was bet and bound, though, that he was going with Dad in the truck! I expect to see them return home some time on Monday.

As Tuesday rolls around, we will breathe another sigh of relief as we anticipate Blake receiving his next dose of Remicade in New Brunswick. Things are all set up for his meds to be administered in Saint John.

His discomfort has been quite minimal, although he did have a bit of pain and fatigue a few days at the end of September or beginning of October. He missed classes one morning and I believe there was another day where he laid down for an afternoon nap and slept through his class. (But he felt better after the nap!)

He was home for Thanksgiving weekend, which we were thrilled about, and he seemed to be feeling relatively well. I was talking to him on the phone the other morning and he asked me to hang on as someone was at his door. I overheard the conversation; and when Blake returned to the phone, he clarified to me that the person was someone from the maintenance department who had very kindly taken the time to make Blake a crockpot of homemade soup! Blake said he'd been talking to her about a month ago when she asked about his health situation, and then she shows up with all this soup for him! What a blessing! Oh how New Brunswick reminds me of Prince Edward County! People are so kind.

So Blake's friend, Aaron, will graciously drive Blake to Saint John early Tuesday morning for his infusion. Blake said that he was supposed to have an exam that day, but his Professor is kindly letting Blake write it the next day. (Thank you, Mr. Professor!!!) Thankfully Aaron has no classes scheduled until later that day, and since Blake's appointment is 8:30am (I think), then there shouldn't be any problems in getting back to the school in plenty of time.

Blake has conveyed to me that his workload is extremely full... overloaded....; however, he says the work comes quite easy to him, he understands it very well. He says, "There's just a LOT of it!". It's apparently very time consuming, along with the hours that he is required to put in at the library. He works 8 hours per week. Now add the fact that he cooks his own meals and must do his own dishes and cleanup and add some laundry in there...... and don't forget about chat time with his sweetheart (Hi Anelyse!), it gets to be a jam-packed schedule. I think he's getting enough sleep; but I also know he's like his Momma and if that sleep time gets broken or cut short, look out! hahaha.

So overall, he's doing well. I so appreciate the school that he's attending. They are a very caring bunch of staff and students and community, and I would recommend Bethany Bible College to anyone!

So, what's up with Jon? Pretty much the same-old-same-old. Jon is still enjoying his life in the trucking industry. He's happy out there doing what he does best. These shorter runs ('shorter' meaning that he's gone 5-7 days as opposed to 10-12 days) seem to be working out really well for him. If he does come home tired, a good night's sleep seems to suffice; whereas he used to come home and sleep and would never truly get caught up.

Jon is thrilled that Jake is travelling with him for the Winter, and I think they'll have a good time. Jon is a hard worker and gives his all.... good attributes to pass on to his children. He has more love for me and our boys in his big toe than many have in their whole heart. He never gives up and he's willing to help anyone who needs it. I am hoping the boys forget our bad habits and traits and are able to focus on these good ones. I am a very fortunate woman to have Jon in my life.

And speaking of me and my life, it certainly has been busy lately. I am very happy that much of my time is spent with or for my boys. I thoroughly enjoy heading to all of Jared's sporting events (even like yesterday when I was bundled up with three sweaters, a winter coat, ear muffs, gloves, boots, a blanket AND a sleeping bag on the soccer field sidelines! It was c-c-c-cooooold!). I am happy to sit in the hockey arena bundled up, sitting on a blanket, and cheering on those kids!

I spent one afternoon this week at a funeral for my friend Linda's husband. Steve became ill early this past Summer and was given only possibly a few short years to live. Unfortunately he lived for only approximately another four months.

Now I know that we're programmed in this world to believe that a funeral is not a good thing. And of course, none of us are happy about someone dying. However, I have attended some amazing funerals where it was a celebration of their life topped off with a parting "see you again one day". If you've never attended a funeral like that, I can assure you that you are truly missing out on an amazing event!

I have attended many funerals of celebration where the service was a testimony of our Lord in their lives. And I left with the assurance that I would one day see them again in eternity. I would leave those funeral services and think "THAT's the kind of service I want when I leave this earth!".

Well, that's exactly what I said when I left the funeral service for Steve. After we heard an "Amen" praise song by two local amazing musical artists, we spent the next 45 minutes or so of the service hearing story after story about Steve. It was non-stop. We heard of things he'd done and said, impacts he'd made on others' lives, his love for family, friends, community, his job..... as well as the love that others had for him! And then the service turned to about ten minutes of God's thirst-quenching presence in our lives. It wasn't "preachy", it wasn't "flowery".... it was to the point. It made an impact. A brilliant presentation of an acapella Amazing Grace was given once again by the two amazing musical ladies, whose voices in that old United Church with the high ceilings and amazing acoustics sounded like that of angels!

Meanwhile, throughout the service, you could just see it was hard for Linda to sit still in her seat. She was itching to jump up and praise Jesus throughout that service. As the casket was wheeled down the aisle to the back of the church, Linda's face beamed with radiance and a smile stretched from ear to ear. She clapped her hands to the song which was blaring through the sound speakers... Life Is A Highway... apparently one of Steve's favourite songs.

Oh, Lord, that I would be able to praise You like that under such circumstances! It's the heart's cry.... Fill me, Lord; mold me; make me; use me....... ANY time, ALL the time...... even at a husband's funeral. What a testimony to the saved and unsaved!

It was truly a celebration. God is alive. Even at a funeral. His presence is everywhere and with us all the time. Even during the dark times when it's hard to maybe sense His presence. He's there, folks. He's always there. Ask Linda. She'll tell you the same thing.

God bless you, Linda, as you grieve the loss of your husband and friend, and know that God shone through you on Wednesday. We love you.

Well, friends, I have more to write about, but I think I'll save it for another post. Jared and I are excited to watch some good ol' Saturday Night Hockey In Canada tonight as we watch the Leafs defeat the Flyers (might want to pray for this to happen because I have SO rubbed this in a friend's face (all in good fun) and don't want to stand with egg on my face or have to eat humble pie! haha).

Trusting that you enjoy some great quality time this weekend with friends and family. We truly do not know how long we have with them. Cherish every moment and opportunity.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

33 Chile Miners Praising God!

Were you like me yesterday? Glued to the screen? Watching one of the most amazing rescues of our times in Copiapo, Chile, South America?

Thirty-three gentlemen trapped in a mine approximately one kilometer in the bowels of the earth for 69 days. Over two months of wondering every moment whether or not you will soon meet your Maker.

The tomb served as their home, and their co-workers were now their family.

After a disaster in the mine, they were all able to reach the underground shelter where they were careful to ration what food they had. Over time the workers above were able to drill a hole to them the diameter of a grapefruit, where they sent down food and water for these survivors.

It appeared to be a rescue mission that would not be complete until Christmas time. (That's right.... CHRISTMAS TIME!!!... can you imagine???) Families camped out at the site for the 69 days, never giving up hope. In fact, that is what they called it.... Camp Hope. God moved in a mighty way; and through the hard work of officials and rescue workers, things started clicking.

In the evening of October 12, 2010, the rescue mission was about to begin. At midnight, just as the calendar turned to October 13th, the mission began where Phoenix 2, a large capsule which would one-by-one bring the men to safety, was lowered into the earth.

One man at a time was winched back up to the earth's surface by a large metal cable, provided by the country of Germany. What joy filled the hearts of millions of people around the world as each one stepped out of the capsule and onto solid ground, donning sun glasses to protect their eyes from the natural sunlight that they had not viewed for well over two months!

And as soon as he was unharnessed and cleared his way from the capsule, it's door was shut once more and lowered back to the bowels. (Kevin, just so you know, it's my blog so I don't need permission to use the word "bowels".... [wink, wink]. Sorry folks, just a little friendly joke between a handful of friends).

As I timed the rescue from Miner #12 to Miner #19, each one seemed to surface approximately every 40 minutes. As I had plans to attend my son's highschool soccer game that afternoon, I had to leave the screen. It was a very difficult thing to do. I wanted to watch this amazing rescue and see each family greet their beloved husband, father, son, uncle, brother, nephew.... But I knew I would be able to watch the rescue once I returned home.

Imagine my amazement that in just a matter of less than six hours, they had rescued eleven more men!! Wow. They must have cranked up the accelerator on the winch because I had no idea they would be that far along. Earlier reports suggested that they would not all be out of the shelter and back onto the earth's surface until some time around lunch on October 14th.

After the 33 miners were rescued, they returned the capsule six more times to the ground to retrieve six rescue workers who bravely stepped forward to travel down into the mine to assist the miners.

Can you imagine being the last man in that hole? All by yourself? Watching the second-last man go up the long dark tunnel, leaving you all alone? My heart ached for this dear lone man.

Communicators on the earth surface kept talking to him on the phone that was down there, and after what seemed a very long time to me, the capsule finally poked through the hole once again to bring the last man to safety. He turned to the camera and waved goodbye, stopping only to gather a few pieces of loose rock from the mine floor to keep as a momento.

The other men who climbed into the capsule always had someone else to shut and latch the door for them, but this man had to do it on his own. I kept thinking, "I sure hope that latch is accessible from the inside!". After giving a shout and flashing his light, which was the signal that he was ready, the capsule once again, for the last time, started upwards on it's long journey to millions of people watching and praying.

And then, at approximately 11:30pm (Eastern Standard Time), the capsule appeared and the last of the 33 miners and 6 rescuers was safe at last.

I don't think I've cried that much since 9-11 back in 2001.

But those tears had no sadness. They were all tears of joy for these dear brave men.

And just in case you're one of those folks that likes to play with numbers, check this out:

33 miners were saved on October 13, 2010. The date is written 10/13/10. If you add that together, look what you get: 10+13+10 = 33.

I thought that was very interesting. Much like the disaster in the United States of America on September 11th, 2001, which was the ninth month, eleventh day.... 9-11. (911 is, of course, our emergency number when dialling for help).

I was so happy that many of the men gave thanks to God... not just a "Oh-yah-thanks-God" attitude, but rather true heartfelt deep praise to our God who proved today that miracles still happen. One miner dropped to his knees in praise to our Father before they could even unharness him as he came out of the capsule. Another miner described it as meeting God down there as well as meeting the devil, but God won.

I can only imagine that each one has gotten his life into perspective over these last two months and how they have plans to make some changes. One miner sent a message to his girlfriend of 25 years saying that once he returned to earth, they would marry and have a church wedding. I'm willing to bet that wedding will be a televised event! haha.

The President of Chile, President Pinera, remained faithful at the site and greeted each miner as they returned. He also spoke with each rescuer who entered the capsule to descend into the hell-hole deep within the earth and was there to greet each rescuer upon their return. He took time to comfort family members.

When asked about the cost of the rescue operation, the President replied that the cost did not matter.... what mattered was saving the miners. When asked if it was in the millions of dollars, the President hesitantly replied (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Yes. It's in the millions. But it doesn't matter! What matters is that they're alive and safe."

Greetings and well wishes were being sent to Chile's President from officials all over the world. He promises to make changes to the mining industry to make things safer. Apparently this mine was closed down many years ago, but was re-opened by a small independent mining contractor. It's a hard enough job when conditions appear to be safe, but to have this happen in an already-previously-closed mine makes it difficult to swallow! I am hoping this Chilean President is true to his word.

Accidents like this don't usually result in a happy ending. In most mining accidents miners are dead before even reaching an underground shelter. In this case, to have 33 miners make it to a shelter, survive for 69 days, and then travel approximately half a mile through the earth's crust back to the surface with no problems, no glitches,.... well, it's amazing. It truly is a miracle.

I am thankful I was able to witness a miracle. I am thankful our Lord still sits on the throne. I am thankful of His promises that He never ever leaves us (Psalm 121).

And one more little miracle to note.... One miner's wife delivered their beautiful baby daughter while he was trapped some 700 metres below. He is the proud father of Esperanza, which is Spanish for Hope.

And after we just finished celebrating our Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend, it's 33 more reasons for us to be thankful!

God bless you, Chile.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

I am very thankful this year for the hundreds and hundreds of people who have surrounded us this past year (actually the last few years!) with your compassion and generosity during our very difficult times.

I mean it when I say that I am one blessed woman!

I pray for your Thanksgiving 2010 to be full of love and blessings with much gratitude to our Father for what He continues to pour down upon us!

I simply want to share some cute Thanksgiving Day comics with you to make you smile. Enjoy!

[Oh yah.... PS to Blake: I was thinking maybe you and I should be first in the "chow-down line" since we were in the hospital last Thanksgiving! What do ya say? ;o) hahaha]

From our family to yours, have a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Never Let Go

There are moments in this life when time seems to stop,

when your breath catches you,

when you get that knot in the pit of your gut,

and then it turns to a sick churning in the deep of your stomach,

when your heart physically feels like each chamber is breaking, being ripped apart.

Every parent feels it when they hear the news.

It doesn't have to be your own kid because you instinctively put yourself in the parents' position.... knowing in your head, knowing in your heart, that one day it could be you getting the phone call, the policeman at the door, the doctor walking the long hall.... to tell you your life is about to change in the blink of an eye.

To tell you your loved one is gone.

Gone from this earth.

All that's left is the body. In this case, a body that couldn't survive an automobile accident. A now broken body. Another boy tries his best to revive the motionless broken frame that lies limp on a roadside.

As humans, we do what we can. Sometimes we can wrap our mouth around their's and blow life-giving air back into their lungs; sometimes we can manipulate their chest and make the heart believe that it's still capable of more years of beating.

And sometimes we can't.

Sometimes no matter what we do in our mortal flesh or in our spirit's outcry to God above, the decision has been made by our Maker that one's time on earth is finished.

That we will no more walk this earth.

That we now come face to face with God our Creator, Who had our lives planned from beginning to end before we were even created in our mother's womb. Our frame was not hidden from Him, for He knit us together; we were woven together in the depths of the earth. All the days ordained for us were written in His book before one of them came to be.

And October 1st, 2010 was the last earthly day that a young eighteen-year-old boy would live here on earth.

Left behind is a mother and father and sister. Ohhhh, as a mother my heart feels the mother's writhing pain. As I watched them hug their son in his casket, the tears filled my eyes and literally gushed down my cheeks along with others in the sanctuary, hundreds and hundreds of students and friends and adults and family watching.... feeling the pain..... shedding their own tears... feeling their own hearts break.... knowing that this mother's heart could never ever hurt more than at this moment.

Stories are told of a kind boy who wasn't afraid to every day verbally share his love to everyone he knew with three simple words.... "I love you". How those words will be missed from the curly red-haired, freckled-faced kid.

I can imagine his mother telling him those very words as she leaned onto his lifeless body and gave him her last goodbyes.... not wanting to let go.... not wanting to let go of his body, to let go of her baby....

As his casket is closed and driven to a cemetery and laid in the ground, she must feel her arms are empty because she's had to let go of him in the physical sense, never to feel his freckled skin again.

Sometimes we have to let go. We may not want to, but we have no choice. In this instance, we cannot hold onto the body. We must let go.


the memories,

the pictures,

the stories,

the conversations,

his favourite toy,

his favourite shirt,

a video of him laughing and talking......

these things we have in our possession, in our minds, so that we never have to let go. These things stay etched in our thoughts and in our hands and in front of our eyes and in our hearts so that we never have to let go.

We have a Saviour Who never lets go of us. He carries us, He walks beside us and before us and around us. He never lets go of us when we're hurting or sad or in pain. Even when we're happy and content, He still doesn't let go.

He surrounds us and lives in us and lives through us. He is there to lift us from the pits and help us through the valleys. He protects us in the dark shadows. He knows what we're feeling, He understands our pain and even our anger that we sometimes direct to Him in times like this. And He still never lets go.

Friend, I would encourage you to call on Him. Be honest with Him about how you're feeling, about your pain, about your confusion, about your anger, about your hurt. Ask Him to help you. Ask Him to comfort you. Ask Him what you can learn from this tragedy and how you can make a difference to help someone else.

He promises that He will never let go. Ever.

Below is a video with a song called Never Let Go. Before listening to it, please scroll to the very bottom of the page and hit the PAUSE button on the blog's music. Then return to this spot and hit PLAY.

Never Let Go - David Crowder Band

Our very deepest condolences to Kathy (and Barry & Ian), Bill (and Rebecca), & Kaitlyn on the loss of your son and brother. Never let go.

God bless.

Tyler McConnell

May 13, 1992 - October 1, 2010

*Photo from Ethan Todd's Facebook Photo Album (Thanks, Ethan.)

He Listened
by Joseph Bayly
Written after he laid three of his sons in the grave

I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God's dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, he said things I knew were true. I was unmoved except to wish he'd go away. He finally did.

Another came and sat beside me. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Grandma's Pie Secret

With our celebrations of Thanksgiving here in Canada this coming weekend, I wanted to share something with you regarding Grandma's pie secret.

This really is confidential, so please keep it hush-hush.

In case the print comes up too small for you to read, here's what it says:
Grannie made such beautiful pies. One day I asked her, "How do you get such beautiful pies with the crimps around the edge so even?"
"It's a family secret," she said, "so promise not to tell. I roll out the dough, then cut a bottom layer and carefully put it in the pie plate. Then I slowly pour the filling, making sure it's not too full. Next I cut a top layer and put it over the filling. Finally I take out my teeth and just run them around the edge of the pie crust and they make the nicest even impressions you ever did see."
So, folks.... enjoy your Thanksgiving pie!
And remember..... Shhhhhhhh!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Do Others See Jesus In You?

Do others see Jesus in you?

"... He chose them to become like his Son... " Romans 8:29 NLT

Bill was a drunk, converted in a Skid Row mission. Before his conversion he had gained a reputation as a tramp and an alcoholic for whom there was no hope.

But when he gave his life to Christ everything changed. He became the most caring person at the mission. He spent his days there doing whatever needed to be done. There was never anything he was asked to do that he considered beneath him. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some sick alcoholic or scrubbing toilets used by men who had left them filthy, Bill did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets, undress him and tuck him into bed when he was incapable of taking care of himself.

One evening after the mission director delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of solemn men with drooped heads, one of them came down to the altar and kneeled to pray, crying out for God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, 'O God, make me like Bill! Make me like Bill! Make me like Bill!'

The director of the mission leaned over and said, 'Wouldn't it be better if you prayed, "Make me like Jesus"?' After thinking about it for a few seconds, the man looked up and asked, 'Is He like Bill?'

Live, so that others see Jesus in you!

Taken from The Word For Today with Bob Gass at The Vine Today