Sunday 31 October 2010

giving ourselves for others

October 31, 2010

I've been reading some blog posts on Google Reader, after posting my 3-part story on Kenny.  (part 1) (part 2) (part 3)

ReformedLostBoy (aka Bobby Auner) just posted an article that totally follows up on that story.  Because Kenny wasn't out there trying to make a name for himself.  In fact, a lot of people who didn't know him probably thought he was one of the lowest of the low. But despite his own struggles in life, Kenny knew Jesus' love, and he gave of himself to others, especially to those who could not give back.

Here are some quotes from ReformedLost Boy's post:

Widows, orphans, and travellers; these are the folks that have nothing to call their own and nothing to offer to others.  These are the lowest of the low, the poorest of the poor and God demonstrates his greatness and power by taking care of them.  To be the greatest is to serve the lowest.  The first shall be last, the least is actually the greatest....

Christ shows us what greatness is...what real obedience is.  It is to be humble and care nothing for ourselves but rather to give ourselves for others...
You'll want to read the rest of that post!

Kenny might have been low in the eyes of many in this world, but he was great in the eyes of Father, and in the eyes of those who experienced Jesus' love through Kenny.

Kenny (part 3)

October 31, 2010

Pastor Peter spoke.  He told of meeting Kenny some years ago.  Kenny managed a coffee shop.  Not a busy place.  Kenny used to come and sit by Peter.  They talked about God.  About Jesus.  Kenny asked questions.  But it was often Peter who was learning. 

Kenny had his ups and downs.  But Jesus was always there with him through it all. Peter spoke of how Kenny always wore a fanny pack, with bandages and vinyl gloves and disinfectant.  How no matter how sick, no matter how low Kenny was, he always was looking out for, caring for, the guys on the street.  Patching them up.  Being their friend.  Loving them because he loved Jesus.  Sharing Jesus' love.

Kenny came by the Sunday morning street church breakfast 7 weeks ago. Someone had a video camera.  Took a clip of Kenny and Peter.  Sitting on the steps on a chilly morning. Reading together from the Word and talking about the Lord. Kenny was having a down time. But Jesus was with him. 

We watched the video clip on a screen while Peter read a poem Kenny had written a week later.

"Thy will be done
Keep our family
strong for what
we do in life
echoes in Eternity
Strength and Honor"

That was Kenny.  Kenny's love for Jesus extended always to those around him.  To Kenny, they were not strangers.  They were not good or bad.  He did not judge them. They were family.

Pastor Peter prayed.  It seemed that the service was over.  But one young woman stood and spoke of Kenny's care for her.  Another stood and spoke.  It seemed that everyone wanted to speak.

We moved into another room where coffee and snacks waited.  Peter said we could continue to share about Kenny there.  And people did, in pairs and small groups.  But still, there were those who wanted to share with everyone.  So more folks addressed the group.  This time the elderly folks.  Those who knew him from the Friday evening street preaching.  Others who knew him through his dad.

Tears dried.  Happy faces reappeared. 

Who could stay sad?  Kenny had gone home.  He was with Jesus, who had loved him always.  Jesus, who Kenny had loved always. 

Kenny's family.  So many who had been touched by Kenny's care.  Who had been strengthened by his care.  Who have met Kenny's Jesus, because they met Jesus in Kenny.  What Kenny did in life, even in his struggles and pain, is echoing.  In eternity.

We'll see you again soon, Kenny.  And meantime, you are with us in our memories and our hearts.

Strength and Honor.

Kenny (part 2)

October 31, 2010

Kenny's cousin met him for the first time on Saturday.  She sat at his bedside and talked to him.  He was unconscious.  Could he hear her?  She sat again by his bedside on Sunday.  Held his hand.  Talked to him again.  Tears ran down his cheeks.

She picked up her guitar as we listened.  Then she sang, clearly yet hauntingly, John Denver's final song, the song of Coming Home. 

"oh-ooo oh-ooo oh-ooo oh-ooo"

The cry of the the wolf.  Will you sing along, she asked? 

"oh-ooo oh-ooo oh-ooo oh-ooo"

The audience joined in.  The coming home call.

"... oh the buffalo free,
Oh, my brother the wolf...
Oh, the love in my heart, a wilderness song...
Oh, my brother the wind, my sister the sea...
Oh, the mountain top calling to me....
Returning, forever returning, coming home
Belonging, forever belonging, never alone
Oh, the mystery...
Oh, the beautiful way, the sweet coming home
oh-ooo oh-ooo, coming home oh-ooo oh-ooo."

Kenny (part 1)

October 30, 2010 4:40 pm

"Returning, forever returning, coming home
Belonging, forever belonging, never alone"
(John Denver, "Yellowstone, Coming Home")

Kenny was a cowboy.  I know this because of the picture on the front of the memorial card.  A young Kenny topped with a cowboy hat, sits on his horse.

Myself, I never saw Kenny wear a cowboy hat. That would have been something to see.

Actually, I only met Kenny a couple years ago.  Kenny loved music.  He loved to help organize the summer evening performances in the park.  He could also sit down at any piano, even old ones in need of a good tune-up, and coax beautiful music from it as his fingers lovingly tumbled over the keys.

Kenny was born in 1969.  He left us a week shy of his 41st birthday.  My husband, who is a Care Aide at the hospital, was talking to Kenny a couple weeks back.  Kenny was shivering cold, no matter how many blankets they piled on him.  But still, he wanted to go outside and sleep on the ground.  Maybe it was the cowboy in him.  Maybe he was just ready to go home.

I suspect the funeral chapel really didn't expect many folks to turn up.  As it turned out, the chapel itself was filled to overflowing.  So was the adjoining foyer.  There was Kenny's dad, Ken Sr., and Kenny's cousin.  There were a group of elderly folks from the Friday night street-preaching group.  Kenny loved their music.  They loved Kenny.  There were a few elderly folks who knew Kenny's dad, and were there to support him.  There were folks who, I suppose, had met Kenny in the park, or who had listened to his music, when he dropped into churches before services and asked if he could play the piano while folks came in.  There were health workers.  Social workers.  People from the street church where Kenny often dropped in for breakfast.  Pastor Peter, Kenny's street pastor.  Many of Kenny's street friends.  All family.

Kenny's dad and cousin arrived a bit late.  So the service hadn't started yet.  One of the street guys got out of his chair.  Walked right up to the front.  Faced the crowd.  Eyes glistening, he told of his love for Kenny.  How Kenny had been his best friend.  "Hallelujahs" and "Amens" came from the elderly folks.  Tears started flowing.  He rushed down the aisle and out to the foyer. 

Another of the guys got up and stumbled to the front.  Kenny was his brother, he told us.  Kenny took care of everyone on the street. He f-ing loved Kenny.  "Yes, he did," many voices responded.

A third street guy came up, faced the group, spoke words of care.  Tears were flowing throughout the group.  Happy and sad tears, all at once.

Kenny's dad and cousin arrived.  Ken Sr. got up and told us about Kenny's younger days.  His birth to a 15 year old young woman.  Four foster homes in his first year or so of life.  And how God brought him to a newly married couple in their forties who asked God for the child He wanted them to have.

He told us many sweet, happy stories, of Kenny's love for music, of his quick mind, and his sometimes mischievous nature.  And most of all, of Kenny's love for Jesus right from his earliest years.  And quietly, sadly, at the end, he mentioned that Kenny had also had his own personal demons.  Wrapped up in drugs and alcohol.

Saturday 30 October 2010

links to great blog posts ... coming up!

October 30, 2010  4:30 pm

Although I have not been writing much for the past couple months, I have been following several blogs.  And saving really awesome articles.

A lot of bloggers seem to do a "blog posts of the week" feature.  Well, I'm going to do a "blog posts of September and October 2010" feature. 

So keep your eye peeled for links to useful writing-related posts on my Pen And Paper Mama blog, and links to interesting church-related posts on this My Church Journey blog.

(Confession:  To be honest, it might also be a useful way for me to let my favorite bloggers know I'm alive and writing again.  And that I haven't forgotten them, of course.).

Joy cometh in the morning

October 30, 2010  1 am

Last night I closed my laptop, disappointed. I had only written 5 very short paragraphs, late in the evening.  I knew the topic I was writing about had potential. But that potential was eluding me. 

So I gave up.  Parked the laptop on the bedside table. Switched off the light.  Burrowed under the blankets.  Drifted into dreamland.  But on the way I stopped to confide in Father.  Told Him about my writing troubles.  Asked for help.

And woke just now, at 1:00 in the morning, knowing what to do.  So I'll be starting that story over. 

I also realized that I hadn't just written 5 short paragraphs yesterday.  I'd written several emails. And facebook comments.  Encouraging ones :-) And bits in my journal, too.

No I didn't make 1667 words yesterday.  But I'm not disappointed anymore!  I'm looking upward.  Thank You, Father.  Big smile.  Joy cometh in the morning!  Very early in the morning, as it turns out.

Thursday 28 October 2010

The Bottle Shatters

Thursday some more.  4:30 pm.

My children (all in their twenties - but of course they are still my children) really do love me.

How do I know this?  Because when they saw that I was taking an emotional nose-dive, but didn't realize it, they stepped in.  They insisted I go to the doctor.  And they've been keeping a close eye on me ever since.  I have wonderful children.

I wasn't exactly appreciative at first.  Actually, I was freaked out.  And angry.   I splattered raw emotion all over my poor daughter who had been appointed by the others (who live far away) to come and gently talk to me.  She was wonderful.  I wasn't.  Quite the opposite.  And I am sorry.

In the four or five days until I could get a doctor's appointment, I cried.  Slept.  Wept.  Slept.  Wailed.  Slept.  Scribbled down my feelings.  Slept.  Scribbled More.  Slept.  My poor husband and son, who live with me, had to tiptoe around me.  I am sorry, again.

What poured out of my pen?  Bottled up fears.  Bottled up sorrows.  Bottled up exhaustion.  Bottled up memories. 

I knew I was tired.  I knew I was getting forgetful - which I had put down to being tired, because the only other reason I could think of was too terrifying for me to contemplate. 

I also knew that while sometimes I did over-react to relatively small things, overall I was pretty non-reactive.  I told myself (at least I hoped) that I was actually getting more mature, less emotional, as I aged. And perhaps getting mature spiritually, too: that maybe I was finally learning to trust Father.  So that things didn't get me as excited as before.  (But what I didn't notice was that it was mainly my cheerful nature that was disappearing).  Overall, I was actually pretty pleased with myself.

But cracks were forming.

And when my daughters expressed their concern, the bottle I'd been carefully, secretly, subconsciously pouring things into for a long time, pretty much shattered.


Thursday still.

When I left off with this blog a couple months ago, I was going through old posts, and creating pages specifically about street church, and about the "church journey" I have taken over the years (see the links at the top of the page).  I will continue to do that, but I will also explore, in the blog, what I have been learning, emotionally and spiritually, as I've gone through this dark place in my life over the past couple months.

And while I am involved in those activities here, over at Pen and Paper Mama I will continue to explore writing and publishing, as I had planned.  And maybe I will add some new stories over at Conversations, Reflections and Meditations.  Do feel free to check out whatever interests you at any of these sites.

Been awhile - but I'm back!

Still Thursday.  3:17 pm.

The last time I posted on Pen And Paper Mama was August 28 and 29 - and that was basically to apologize for not posting since August 08.

The last time I posted on My Church Journey (this blog) was September 1 - and I suppose if anyone was following at that point, they might have some idea of why I petered out.  I was feeling pretty dismal...

And I haven't posted at my other sites for even longer.  Conversations, Reflections and Meditations - July 3.  A Mother's Journey - years, I guess.  The Hill Gang - a wee bit of updating sometime during the summer.  Novel Under Construction - ha!  May 18.  Reminds me of a local building site where they got the skeleton up a couple years back and it's been sitting there sad and lonely ever since, getting rusty.  Oh dear.  And I haven't even added any photos to our flickr account since last spring.  Well, at least I've occasionally posted a small item or two on facebook.

But hey - I am back!  At least to the first two of the aforementioned sites.  It's a start, right?

Off to a Fresh Start

Today is Thursday, October 28, 2010, and it is 2:32 pm.  I have just come out from a short but brisk walk on a slightly chilly, gray, breezy October day. Still, the beautiful colored leaves and the fresh air have me feeling alive and excited to get back to the real world.  Back from the world of grayness - which I was enveloped in again this morning, after slowly but surely coming out from a long dim period in my life. 

When I realized I was sliding back into the dull sadness (for whatever reason - I don't really know), I knew I had to get outside.  Yesterday I went for a long walk in lovely sunshine with my friend, G, all the way to Okanagan beach and back.  And I arrived home tired, but the sunshine had worked its way into my heart. 

I want to stay in the sunlit space.  Thank You, Father, for urging me not to give into the darkness seeking to press me back, but instead to get out into the light of Your beautiful Creation.  And of Your beautiful Presence.  Perhaps it was just the dark enemy trying to pull me back?  I don't know, but oh, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit!  Here I am, with You!

Well, actually, I've been with You all along.  You've been with me all along.  Even when I was too tired to do anything but just lay there, knowing You would never leave me. 

I have been thinking about doing the NaNoWriMo challenge again.  It starts in four days.  Yet the mere thought of trying to be creative seems to wear me out.  Still, I think - I'm sure You've told me - it would be a good way to get out of this huge block, this huge fear I have developed, of doing anything.  Especially, of writing.  Maybe not that I should write a novel - I still don't have a story (or maybe I do; maybe where I've been the last while is a story in itself), but I still can write.  Write whatever comes to mind.  (Which is part of the NaNoWriMo thing, to some degree, isn't it?). 

I've been afraid that my dream of writing had turned out to be just that - a dream.  I've been afraid that once again, I've failed.  That I just wasted 5 months trying to develop something that was never meant to be.  That now that I've slept the better part of another 2 months, maybe I better just get a simple job - like the one I saw posted at Orange Julius - and earn some income to contribute to the family coffers.  And not take on anything at which I'd have to really work.  (And, yes, something at which I'd possibly falter or fail.  Again.)

A couple weeks ago or so I was really excited about the thought of possibly working at a job I applied for at Coles Book Store.  I love books.  I would love to share that love with others.  So I applied.  And then the deadline came and went.  And I haven't heard a thing.  Guess that got me down.  Which is probably why I decided I should just try for something simple.

But You know me.  The girl who likes a challenge.  Adventure.  Brain work.  (I'd like some human interaction, too.  It's been a rather long lonely couple months, mostly stuck home, pretty much alone a lot of the time (hubby and son being at work a lot of the time) (and not much company) (but thank You so much for G, and G and J, and M) (and, oh yes, my family, when I do get to see them!).  And especially, thank You for You.  Always here with me.  Even when the eyes of my heart have been too dim to really interact with and appreciate Your Presence.  (But always I've been in Your comfort).  Thank You.

End of entry one in my fresh start.  664 words.  The NaNoWriMo challenge works out to about 1667 words per day on average.  Just 1000 words to go today!  In another post.