Saturday, December 31, 2005

Not Despairing

I am not in despair. I have been, but I'm not any longer. If my poetry leads people to believe I'm doing really poorly, well it's not so. I have had lots to think about lately and a lot of it has been really painful. But this valley is needful. Please don't think I'm at the end of my rope. Oh and by the way, yesterday I read this. "Do you know God's address? It's at the end of your rope." Kind of corn-ballish I know, but something to consider.

Yesterday I had a glorious day. My family went to Calgary, about 3 hours away, to visit good friends. I am "travelled out" and knew I could use the recharging of being alone. So at 5:45 am I saw my beautiful family off. It was bittersweet. I wanted to be with them, but I knew I'd benefit from the time alone.

I went back to bed and enjoyed a deeper sleep than I've had in a long time. Iwrote a couple letters and spent time chatting with my aunt and my mom. After some much needed house-cleaning, I made myself biscuits for supper. My family definately would have felt cheated by biscuits, but I found them decadent and nothing less.

"As we lay our hearts before God, our hands are free to let go." Rich Mullins

Be blessed today everyone.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

All Things Work Together

Salty tears,
Bitter remorse.
All things work together.

Deepest valleys,
Darkest nights.
All things work together.

Mournful memories,
Unresolving guilt.
All things work together.

Tangled thoughts,
Disjointed emotions.
All things work together.

For my good,
Yes, my good.
All things work together.

Last night I read this latest poem of mine to Gordon. He let me finish and then said, "One of your lighter little ditties, eh?" He is so funny.

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New Pets

Deborah got a hamster for Christmas. She named him Harry. When Gordon took the girls to the pet store to pick up supplies for Harry, they came home with a surprise for me; 2 new mice. I was less than enthusiastic. I love animals, but mice? The girls begged and pleaded and I reluctantly agreed to the new house mates. Two hours after they arrived, the house stank. I went to Hannah's room and the stench about knocked me over. "This is not a good sign," I said. Hannah sheepishly agreed.

By evening time I could smell them in my bedroom. I shouted, "I can smell those rats from here and they've gotta go." No one argued. The smell was pretty convincing.

The next morning Gordon took the girls and their mice back to Petsmart. He told the clerks that the mice stank and they matter of factly said, "Oh yeah, mice stink, especially males." (Ours of course were males). Did you know mice stink?

An hour later my family arrived home with 2 new hamsters. Dusty and Smudge bring our rodent population up to a bustling 3. I'm fine with hamsters, I even like them. We've had several and they've all been loved.

World, meet Dusty, Harry, and Smudge.

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New Rodents

Hannah and Dusty
Deborah and Harry
Rachael and Smudge

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I Must Tell Jesus

In so many of our churches, the battle rages: hymns or choruses. I personally love both. Does that make me a well-balanced person? :-) Anyway, I grew up with hymns and personally appreciate the good theology many of them proclaim, although I went through years of hating them. I have come full circle and now commonly experience the need to sing hymns or even think hymns as a form of prayer and intercession.

I play the piano sort of like I sew. I sew minimally and I play the piano minimally. If it can be played in the key of C, I can make a pretty good stab at it. When my heart is heavy, I often am drawn to the piano and I play this song over and over. God knows my heart and it seems playing this hymn over and over is a type of prayer. Sometimes I can't pray. At times like those, I often find myself at the piano playing "I Must Tell Jesus."

I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I Must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior,
One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus,
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.

It's been a piano playing kind of day. Can anyone identify with me here?


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Morning and Smore Time

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Merry Christmas

We are on chocolate overload. At this point (I know this emotion is fleeting) I never want to see another chocolate. I have a reputation for loving chocolate and I've definitely had my share over the past couple days.

We were awakened by the girls around 5 this morning. I was pretty grumpy and told everyone to go back to bed. At 7 we got up and found them all sitting on the sofas waiting for us. Holy cow, how do they go on so little sleep?

After reading the Christmas story from the Bible and praying, we began opening presents. As usual it was a long drawn out affair with lots of excitement. I am pleased with how the kids show kindness and gratitude.

A subtle shift has taken place in the gift giving. Rachael and Hannah are getting fewer toys and more young girl type gifts. Rachael got her first loop earrings and they both got body spray, a watch, and incense for their rooms. Oh my. What happened to the doll and lego days? Deborah still loves toys; Polly Pockets, Barbies, My Little Pony.... She also got a hamster cage and tomorrow will be going to the pet store to pick out her little rodent.

After gift giving we went to church. None of us really wanted to, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We got dressed in a hurry and away we went, looking like we just rolled out of bed. We were so glad we went because it was such a warm, intimate service. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls were called up to light the advent candles. I had totally forgotten that I had agreed to that. Thank God Rachael dressed appropriately. She looked like a perfect lady. Hannah looked like a farmer in her overalls and Deborah had on the same dress she's had on for 2 1/2 days. Yep, we sure made an impression, I feel sure. I had on my favorite sweat suit. Anyway, it's not about how we looked, is it? It really was a good service. I was thankful we went.

Gordon had to go to work this afternoon. We found out on Friday that he got a promotion. I'm proud of him. He has a "good name." He's a hard working man of integrity. I'm thankful for him.

Later on, the girls and I will watch It's a Wonderful Life and make smores as we do. Several years ago, Stephanie got us this nifty smore maker and boy do we make memories with it.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

No Presents Under the Tree - Yet

People often ask why we don't have presents under the tree. Well it so happens that I have a very good reason. For one, where would Frodo sleep if there were presents under the tree. He has claimed this spot as his own. Doesn't he look cute?

But the real reason I don't put the presents out is because I am trying to teach the children that presents aren't what Christmas is about. Since we've done it this way all their lives, they don't think it's strange.

There is great excitement in the house on Christmas Eve and their expressions are priceless when they walk into the living room on Christmas morning and see a huge stash of presents. It's a fine tradition. I'm glad we have it and I'm glad my kids are starting to "own" our traditions.

This year, because of Frodo, we don't have ornaments on the bottom of the tree. He found everyone of them that were within reach the first day. I promptly moved them out of his little snout's reach.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Merry Christmas Everyone, especially you Mama. All the pictures are for you. :-)

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Christmas Eve at the Dykstra Home

It's been another delightful day. We had our big Christmas meal today. After plenty of time allowing it to digest, Gordon took Rachael and Hannah to see Narnia. Deborah and I stayed behind for some quality time together. I wanted to see Narnia too, but Deborah didn't. We've heard from several people that Deborah looks like Lucy on Narnia. Since Deborah doesn't like the way Lucy sounds like she looks in the book, she isn't fond of the idea of looking like Lucy. She has a tiny bee in her bonnet regarding looking like Lucy. Having a dog named Lucy doesn't help.

The highlight of the day was opening our stockings -- our Christmas Eve tradition. Everyone was excited and slightly goofy through the whole thing. My girls are so sweet. After pulling out each item, they would hug the giver and say thank you.

Our Christmas crackers had these silly crowns in them which is why Gordon and I have on paper crowns. His highness insisted that I put my picture on the blog if I was going to put his on. Everything in good clean fun, of course.

It's been a great day.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Rachael Christine
December 23, 2005

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We started our Christmas festivities tonight. First we had a "finger food" dinner with wine (non alcoholic, of course :-)) then we watched Ernest Saves Christmas. When that was over we took hot chocolate and went to view Christmas lights.

It's been a fun filled family evening.

This is Hannah and Deborah.

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Light

I sit in silence
The ticking of the clock is the only distraction
The fir tree in the corner lights the darkness with delicate intrusion

"He is your light," they say
"He lights the way"
"His light drives the darkness away."

His light is His gift to me.
My gift to Him? Receive His light.
Let Him light my dark path.

He is in my darkness.
Only in darkness can I experience
the the dawning of a new day.

Only by dying can I be resurrected.

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i do not know.
the in-between is painful, unclear.
questions. what it truth?

emotions are raw,
hurt is palpable.
afraid of the truth,
afraid to know.

alas, i know.
i cry.
i hurt.
i surrender.
i accept.

now it is clear.
truth is in the open.
no more nagging unsettledness.

painful? very.
seering? yes.

truth! it will set me free.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Deborah loves to dance. Here she is dancing to Beethoven.

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In keeping with my latest theme of church and of writing thoughts down so they can be congealed in my head, I will share another unclear thought.

I have paper thin nails and usually cut them once a week to keep from tearing them and living with pain from a too short nail. For Stephanie's wedding, I pampered my nails with strengthener and grew them longer. For me, they were long. I got somewhat obsessed with them because the strengthener peels off so cool-like. I love to tear it off trying to get it off in one peel. I find this very entertaining. During this time of digit pampering, I've become quite acquainted with my nails.

I noted an interesting thing. Every single nail has an indention in it straight across, right in the middle. Because I'm easily amused with the simple things in life, I showed it to Gordon and we discussed when I might have had a change in my diet or something like that to create this indention.

I decided it was the hysterectomy and I saw a wonderful parable in this. My hands and fingernails were not directly involved in my hysterectomy, yet because that are a part of my body, they were affected. They suffered "trauma" through my surgery and now that trauma is visible.

I thought of the passages in Romans and 1 Corinthians about if one part of the body of Christ suffers, every part suffers. Through my fingernail, I understood this teaching better. I was impressed.

Whether I notice or not I am bearing the markings of the pain of my brothers and sisters. And likewise, they are bearing the marks of my sufferings.

I'm sure I didn't say it too well, but there is a lesson for me in my fingernails.


Monday, December 19, 2005

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Church According to Little House on the Prairie

William Faulkner said something to the effect that he couldn't know his own thoughts clearly until he had written them. I can identify with that thought. Therefore I shall try to work through some of my thoughts, in writing.

Recently my church has been through a difficult time. Our pastor (and good friend) resigned under less than ideal circumstances. Over the past couple years a number of wonderful people have left. What I use to consider a vibrant, alive church now seems dry, and even lonely.The spirit of love and concern for each other is very strong. I love these people. We are like a family. However, my own excitement for going to church is gone.

When I was in Arkansas, I saw little churches dotted throughout the countryside. They were simple, white, old church buildings. They reminded me of my grandmother's church when I was growing up. I was impressed by their simplicity and wondered what their services were like.

I thought of the church services on Little House on the Prairie. By our standards today, church on Little House on the Prairie was dry and stale. But the essentials were there; praise, prayer, teaching/exhortation, and love and care for one another. There were no programs.

As I drove past these country churches, I knew they each one had their problems, but wondered if they were closer to the target than our more polished churches. (Certainly they are closer to the Little House on the Prairie model.) Perhaps we've complicated things with our programs and our technology.

This morning before others arrived, I sat in my church sanctuary praying. I felt discouraged and lonely. So many friends no longer attend church with us. Our music can be pretty rugged, whereas it used to be full and alive. There are few programs left that my family can participate in. As I thought about these things, I recalled again how they did church on Little House on the Prairie. I remembered the commitment of the people to be there; I remembered their participation in un-glamorous song; I remembered the sermons by the un-dynamic pastor.

Two times now, the Little House on the Prairie model has come to mind. Could it be that God was speaking to me? Henry Blackaby said that any encounter with truth is an encounter with God. Could God be leading me in these Little House on the Prairie memories?

This morning after my thoughts on Little House on the Prairie, I lowered my standard and tried to be a congregant like the congregants on Little House on the Prairie. It helped. I prayed, I sang.

So I lay out my Little House of the Prairie thoughts to you, dear reader. What do you think about the Little House on the Prairie model of doing church?

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Back From Arkansas

Gordon and I returned home Monday after 5 days in Arkansas where we watched my sweet Stephanie wed John Mark. It was a glorious occasion and Stephanie and John Mark make a handsome couple.

Stephanie's dad and his wife did up a gorgeous reception. I trust Stephanie and John Mark reveled in the evening and have pleasant memories for years to come.

I had a delightful evening reconnecting with people I've not spoken with in years.

Stephanie has clearly married into a wonderful family and I'm thankful for that.

Christopher blessed me with a wonderful honor. It's not something I can blog, but it was definitely the highlight of my trip down. Actually, it was probably the highlight of my year. It wasn't just the "gift," it was the snap-shot of his heart. I simply can't express my awe at what I saw in him. He actually became my hero. I saw a humility, a wisdom, a boldness, a righteousness that I didn't know a 16-year-old could exhibit. It was amazing. He is amazing.

Every time I travel back to Arkansas, I lay more ghosts to rest. This trip was significant in that way too. More ghosts buried, more victories won. I read a billboard today that said, "Only the humble improve." I can't take home any awards for being the most humble, but I can say that I continue to see God's grace revealed to me and it's clearest when I'm walking in humility. I have so far to go, but praise be to God, I'm not where I was 15 years ago, 10, 5, or 1 year ago. I'm thankful to God for that.

Highlights of my trip:

- Gordon was with me and we had a great time together.

- Seeing Stephanie's dream come to fruition.

- Laughing hysterically with my family over and over and over.

- The food down there is great.

- Christopher, I learned a lot about him and grew to love him more.

- My Mom and Pabob, my brother Michael and his wife Lawana, my sister Diane, my dad, Misty, Mindi, Amy, and Jeff. I loved my time with all of these. I loved the connecting and I loved the laughter.

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Not the best picture, but this is Stephanie and John Mark Posted by Picasa

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Valerie and Gordon Posted by Picasa

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I'm so proud of this boy. Posted by Picasa

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Jeri and Bob Posted by Picasa

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Charles Spurgeon

God will not be absent when His people are on trial; he will stand in court as their advocate, to plead on their behalf. -- Charles H. Spurgeon

Amen and amen.


Lucy and Frodo Posted by Picasa

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm Back

I've missed blogging. My writer ego took a horrible beating several months ago and I've not gotten back on the proverbial horse since. I applied for a Communications Program and had to submit a portfolio of my writing. One would have thought I was applying to single handedly operate the space shuttle. I didn't realize how involved "getting accepted" would be. Besides 4 hours of testing, I submitted what I thought was some of my best work -- stuff that has actually been published and I got paid for. (It may have been a pittance, but I did get paid.) My heart sank when I read what the prof thought of my writing. "Potential, but definitely needs instruction!!!" "This story has humor potential but lack succinct delivery." He said that about my most hilarious story. I was so deflated. Anyway, I was accepted to the program, but just barely, and was very excited. Afterwards I didn't want to write. Have I mentioned my inferiority complex?

Since then, I had to drop the course for health reasons and at this juncture have no desire to resume it. I can't explain that except to say my feelers were badly hurt.

On August 28 I had my hysterias removed. Yes, I had a hysterectomy. Seems the ole uterus had just played out. I've recuperated well and quite like life without a uterus. It served me well and gave my 5 babies 9 months of cozy abode, but alas, the poor thing tuckered right out.

Gordon and I make our way to Arkansas in a few short days to see my delightful Stephanie marry the love of her life, John Mark. I can hardly wait to see Steph and Christopher and my other family members. Unfortunately, we can't take the kids with us. But I am looking forward to the time away with Gordon. We are going to have a blast.

Gordon's mother kindly agreed to come here and tend to our children and pets. We've added a Chihuahua to our menagerie. I sure love our little Frodo. Chihuahuas remind me of Stephanie. She won't be impressed with my blogging that detail. I think it's the shaking they do when they're nervous or excited. It's a curious thing, I admit.

Last week Frodo entered adolescence. I know because he mounted Lucy twice. Frodo weighs about 3 pounds and Lucy is about 70 pounds. Frodo is about 1/2 the size of Lucy's head. We about split our guts laughing at the sight. Frodo was putting everything he had into the experience and Lucy continued gnawing on a bone, seemingly unaware of the activity of Frodo. I'm quite sure it had funniest home video potential.

I'm going to try to get back into the swing of blogging. I have missed it. I quit my subscription to the Edmonton Journal last week and I'm going through withdrawals. I LOVE the paper and am like a retired old man with his paper. As soon as I get up in the morning, I retrieve my paper and get my coffee and read every detail, (except the sports and business section), enjoying my coffee at the same time. I have to do a fast several times a year from the paper just to prove I can live without it. Not only am I fasting from the paper, but now I don't get my daily fix of Sudoku either, because my daily Sudoku puzzle came in the paper. In shame, I admit my addictions and will now try to do better.

I wonder if anyone ever comes to this sight anymore. I guess I'll soon find out.

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