Monday, November 30, 2009

One down.....

The office Christmas tree was decorated today. It's as good as I can get it. So that's one down.
It is such a lovely tree and was purchased from Ray Gaudet's. He has beautiful trees.
We shall go this weekend and choose one for our home.
It shall reign over our living room during the coming Christmas season.
Sometimes though, there are Christmases that somehow just aren't right....know what I mean? This will be one of those in our home. It will be good but very different. And it doesn't help that half our children (one) will be half way around the world celebrating Christmas in Nepal....however they celebrate there.
So God, come to our little home this Christmas, in grace and love and peace and everything you've got God......just bring it on. We need you here. Amen.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy New calendar....

Lexie and Pastor Stacia
Kimia and Younde practicing the beat.

The Advent Wreath
Today begins the Season of Advent and is the first day in the church calendar year.
The color of this season is purple or royal blue....hence the purple candles on the advent wreath above.
Today the first purple candle of hope was lit. The second Sunday another purple candle, the candle of Peace will be lit. The third Sunday will be the pink candle of Joy. The fourth Sunday, the last purple candle - of Love....and on Christmas eve, the white Christ candle will complete the lighting of the Advent Wreath.
It was a beautiful day and Pastor Stacia's whole family was here visiting for their American Thanksgiving celebration. Her sister Lexie, helped in the leading of worship too.
It was all good.
And now, if Saskatchewan can hold on to their Grey Cup lead.........

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Forest Centre Tree...

Sapora (Sappy for short) Spruce
has yet to be adorned.
2008 - Bertrum Balsam withstood
humiliation by the masses with his
bowed crown and wiggly ribbons.
Sapora, the 2009 Forest Centre Christmas tree is awaiting her decorators to arrive. She has been well trained over the years for having patience to wait and looking regal in the midst of it all.
Many years ago when she was just a twinkle in the eye of the seed manufacturer she was destined for greatness. Planted in a perfect spot with just the right amount of sunlight and the exact amount of moisture, she enjoyed being at the bottom of the hill because there was always an abundance of water for her roots to guzzle. Not that she would admit to gluttony but hey, a girl needs to grow and hopefully grow with a shape that would bedazzle any expectant least that's what Bert told her. Bert was her older cousin who, just last year, was specially picked from the entire field to sit in the seat of honor at The Forest Centre. She was excited when Bert left. They had talked quite a bit about the day he would have to leave, so when it actually happened, she was happy for his good fortune. Bertie's whole story is here: But I digress....
Sappy was a spitfire of a youngster. No matter who came by she would get her sap flowing so that when they touched her she would hear yelps and cries and shouts of displeasure at their fingers sticking together. It amused her to no end.
As she grew each year amongst her friends at the bottom of the hill, Sappy grew more and more beautiful. The guys were always stretching their branches towards her but when the tree trimmers came by and saw what was going on, it didn't take long to put them in their place. Snip. Snip. Snip. The trimmers didn't want any of those trees interrupting the glorious shape of Sapora. They made sure she had all the room she needed. She was one shapely and all.
According to Bert, she most likely would have several years yet on the plantation before she was cut and bagged and shipped. So, like any young Spruce, she simply enjoyed herself by keeping and entertaining many tiny birds within her branches. She was a likable Spruce too...had a real personality and night after cold winter night she would spread her branches as far as she could to shelter and warm the family of rabbits and mice who happened by. Some winters the wind whistled and whipped her sturdy and delicate branches so hard, she wondered if she'd ever make it to spring, let alone her place of destiny.....wherever that would be.
So, November 23 came as a complete surprise to her. The people came and said "This one!". Before Sapora realized it...whirrrrrr....buzzzzzz..........plunk.......she was cut down even before the prime of her life, certainly sooner than Bert told her! She remembered what mother had said about always keeping an air of royalty and dignity about her, so as the large netted bag wrapped tightly around her sappy form, she kept her needles under close control and not even a hint of sap was released.
Off she went on the back of a very large truck. She thought she heard someone say "The Forest Centre", but surely she wouldn't be sent there, would she!? Time would tell.
It was a short drive. The weather was warm for this time of the year. She had tried all the way on the trip to keep her sap under control but alas, the warmth of the sun and her sadness in leaving all her friends behind...well, it simply got the better of her. She cried and cried. It's not easy leaving friends she'd grown up with and shared space with...winter and summer. She needed to get control of her emotions by the time she arrived, otherwise, her regal dignity would be in shreds.
Strong hands grabbed her tightly from trunk to crown. Off she went into....yes, it was the exact place her cousin Bertrum had been last year....The Forest Centre. It was exciting to be following in his footsteps and so putting aside her feelings of sadness and longing for home, she began to spread her branches quickly after she was gently placed in her stand. All thoughts of loneliness dissipated. Water was poured into her base and in a manner fitting royalty, she sipped for several hours and was satisfied.
People watched. People pointed. They stood in awe. They said things like..."She's a beauty!".....and.... "I wonder how they will decorate her?" ....and... "She smells so divine!"....and on and on the compliments went. She looked like royalty, upright and proud.....just the way she knew she was meant to be.
Sapora looked up and there standing on the balcony overlooking her spot was a lady taking her picture. The lady came down closer and took hold of her branches, touching them softly and whispering to her that she hoped that she would be happy here........ all the while taking in her soft spruce scent. Knowing that someone cared about her here made Sapora smile. No matter what happened in the next days, she knew that this was the place for which she was destined.
The lady smiled once more at her before she left the building that evening. She heard her say "I really hope they do justice to you dear Spruce! Last year was such a disaster! But I hope you will be given your rightful place in our building this Christmas season....with or without decorations. You are a Spruce of true beauty and no matter what happens, you will be loved and adored. A true ever-green!"
Sapora was grateful to hear those words and knew she would certainly do her best to be a great example to her entire Evergreen family.
And that is the story of "Sapora (Sappy) Spruce".
P.S. I'll have to give you further details on Sapora's decorative status in the days ahead.:)

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's a record...

Two hundred and fourteen spicy raisin-butter tarts.
It was a baking marathon beginning at noon and ending at 4:30
Five batches of pie crust and 10 times the single recipe for the filling.
So, now I'm ready for the baking exchange at work and I still have plenty to keep in the freezer for Christmas for ourselves...and guests.
The pie dough and the raisin filling made a mad dash for the finish line with just enough dough left to make one apple dumpling.
Husband helped. He was the "go-fer", the tart tin washer, and the time he put all of them into the freezer in buckets.
And I'm bushed.....and they taste pretty dang good too. Husband says they're the best ever...of course, he says that every year! :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

YOU are wanted....

2008 Advent Program
Emily and Cory were co-hosts.
Many people did many things....Fiona played piano, too.

Seeing that I'm responsible for getting the program together for our Advent Celebration on December 6, I need your help.
Do you sing? read? play an instrument? recite? act? ....and even dance - in a tasteful evangelical way, that is :-)
If you answer "yes" to any of these, it's YOU I'm looking for.
Yes, YOU!!!
God expects us to use our gifts that he's entrusted us with so, get over that shyness and get using that gift.
It would be good if it had some kind of "Christmas" theme to it.
Although one year we did have our youth pastor juggle some balls on the stage....much to everyones amusement...and entertainment.
I need to know what you'll be doing by December 3.
Call me, email me, hand me a secret note. All are welcome avenues of communication as to your availability for the program.
I may even take a hand to something myself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One man's perspective...

"A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes... and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Psalm 94 from the Message....

1-2 God, put an end to evil; avenging God, show your colors!
Judge of the earth, take your stand; throw the book at the arrogant.
3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder— how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast and crow about their crimes!
5-7 They walk all over your people, God, exploit and abuse your precious people. They take out anyone who gets in their way; if they can't use them, they kill them. They think, "God isn't looking, Jacob's God is out to lunch."
8-11 Well, think again, you idiots, fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn't hear, Eye-Shaper doesn't see? Do you think the trainer of nations doesn't correct, the teacher of Adam doesn't know? God knows, all right— knows your stupidity, sees your shallowness.
12-15 How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word,
providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil, while a jail is being built for the wicked. God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right."

That's quite a Psalm!!!

God sees and knows the hearts of humanity. And there are times in our lives when we must take heed of the psalmist and listen to his plea to God. And the psalmist doesn't pull any punches in his "discussion" with God, either!!!

There are times when it seems like there is no justice, when evil people continue on with their evil deeds, making life unbearable for others.

I'd say by the sound of this psalm, that anyone who is knowingly walking over people, who are arrogant and shallow; who brag and lie and scheme............justice is on it's way!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

A little ditty.....

Prince Albert - October 12, 2009

Where oh where has the snow now gone

Oh where oh where can it be?????

It's falling right now to the north and west

And I want some to come fall on me!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Something is amiss....

I feel an oppressiveness about me that causes me to wonder.....

If you are the praying type....I would appreciate some words on my behalf.

I acknowledge evil in the world but I also acknowledge a God who died to overtake it!

So, thanks.....for praying.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Did you see???

If you didn't...this is what you missed this evening.
What beauty!
What gloriousness!!
What a gift!!!
What a God!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Busy week ahead....

I can't afford to have this headache starting up....!!!

I shall attempt to will it away before it gets the better of me..."attempt", being the key word.
If I think about these ice formations long enough perhaps that will do the trick.
I may have to get an ice bag though......
Strange how ice forms into all types of patterns, each one unique and lovely. Kind of like us!!!
Ya, I'm off to get an ice bag....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Praise in architecture....

We took a look at the N.Saskatchewan river yesterday
and the freeze-up is beginning.
Next 3 pictures are of Holy Trinity
Ukrainian Orthodox church in P.A.

Architecture is phenomenal.


Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Cathedral, next 3 pictures.


Reaching to the heavens!

St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church
in Prince Albert.

(click on the pics)
We took a look at some of P.A.'s church architecture yesterday. I took many pictures. Many. There are other church structures too, in the city, but I shall have to save those for another photo outing.
People have a great need to reach to the heavens in praise of God...perhaps to be nearer to him or to attempt to touch him somehow.
It also calls us to be aware of His presence amongst us. The crosses and the edifices are prominently situated to enable us to see those reminders.
The cross of Christ. It can be an offence to some....but an offering of life to others.
To me, it brings life and hope and love.
The architecture is truly magnificent and a great human attempt at praising God.
(I can't imagine what I'd be like in a huge European city with Mr. Olympus around my neck!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter...warily winding it's way...

Lying in wait for the snow.
The Little Red River sported icy chunks.
Water desperately trying to stay on top of things.

Linear ice formations on the foot bridge.

River swirling and dancing before the inevitable hush
of winter's frosty blanket.

Squirrel announces he's ready for the next season.

Husband slept a bit while I wondered the woods.
It was another most excellent day with husband and Mr. Olympus! :-)
We took a trip to Little Red River Park where said river is trying ever-so-hard to put up a great fight but no doubt will lose the battle for free-running supremacy. Edges are now winter-hard and continue to gather forces to close up the gurgling little stream and put him to silence for another five long months.
It was a beauty of a day. Sky was winter blue. The muted tones of fall permeated the entire landscape and all was anticipation......
With close to above normal temperatures, the frost still won an easy victory over the November sun. The forest floor was crisp and the shadows long and thin.

It appears, all is ready for the onslaught.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day off?

Another not-quite-close-enough encounter with Mr. Jay.
Tall shadows of winter.
The back door awaits this year's Christmas decorations.

The front door Christmas decorations were put up
with only a few minor hitches....
My extra day off began at 7:23 a.m.
For the 89th time in a month..."Hi, is Clinton there?"
Disgusted..."No, as I've said before, Clinton does not live here!!!"
And under my breath after I hung up...."It's my day off, for Pete's can they dial the same wrong number for the 89th time ON MY DAY OFF!!!!!!!????"
OK. Got that out of the way. Doze for another hour.
Up and out the door by 10:30 a.m. to A&W for coffee. Chat away with husband.
"Let's look for plant ladders!", says I. "The climbing plants at work need somewhere to go. I need to get them a little ladder so at least they'll look like they're getting some exercise! They will be so much healthier!"
Ever try to find anything "plant-ish" a month and a half before Christmas?
N O P L A N T L A D D E R S.......we'll try Peavy Mart tomorrow.
"Let's get the car washed!! It looks like a grey vehicle with little red spots like measles!".
Husband agrees. Nine cars waiting in line to be washed. We'll wash later.
"Let's get up the outdoor Christmas lights then....", says I, with a great deal of fear and trembling.
Down come the boxes from the loft of the garage. Pick up the thingys that allow them to blink at intervals, some extension cords, pliers, little clippy tie things to hold everything in place.....and big smiles on our faces, to get things in the right Christian Christmas spirit.
Which garland goes where? Which lights go where?
"I shall put on the garland...down the step railings and you, dear, can put the lights around the garland once I get it up", says I.
I notice little bits of mumbling now and then what I believe to be from husbands lips. All I said was that I think garland needs to go around the top of the door frame!
"We've never had it around the door frame before!!!"
"Oh yes we have...... and if we haven't had it there before, then I think it's about time we had some there now!"
"Can you come and hold these lights then!!", husband exasperatingly expresses, as he teeters on the top step of the ladder. Walking up the steps I grab hold of what I thought were said lights, but apparently not.....
I heard police sirens come down the avenue. Perhaps the neighbors were tuned into our conversation regarding lights and hammers and a gun (staple gun, of course). When one only gets a partial conversation, one can come to all kinds of conclusions.
I ran in the house though when I heard the sirens coming.

Anyway, this evening, all is calm....all is bright.

I think it was a terrific idea to leave the back door decorations 'til next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lover & Warrior....

My dad - Philip Benson - 23 yrs. old, single, handsome
Finding the love of his life - Patricia - in 1937
(picture taken on Prince Albert train bridge)

Dad joined the army, married my mother
and had their honeymoon while dad was on leave in Toronto.

Tom Benson, dad's younger brother, joined the RAF
but too young to go overseas, stayed in Canada for flight school.

A Christmas gift of writing paper in a leather-bound case
to Phil with love from Pat and son, Garry.

Dad in allied tank. Although trained for tank action,
he ended up in the 18th Armoured Reconnaissance Division,
'C' Squadron - Special Commandos Unit , Communications.
His group of buddies. The ones with "x's" were those
killed in action. Dad is second from right, top row.

Mom's last letter to dad overseas, as she
awaits his arrival after 3 and a half long years of waiting.

Dad joined the XII Manitoba Dragoons in 1941 perhaps knowing
he would leave his dear wife to live with her parents, then living
in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
Today we spent 2 hours at the P.A. Armoury
remembering the sacrifices and praying for peace
in a world of continual war.
That was my father's life in a nutshell. He lived, he loved, he fought for democracy and peace and died a very loved man in April, 1986.
May God bless his memory and all those whose lives were and continue to be affected by the wars of men.

Monday, November 9, 2009

France, Holland, Belgium...

My father served with the XII Manitoba Dragoons during the 2nd World War.

He fought in France, Holland and Belgium...years of his life that were offered up as a sacrifice.

I wonder if anyone these days even thinks about that and remembers not so much the war and its battles but the decision to serve their country. We are so bent on keeping war at a distance, which is OK with me but there are times when some things are worth fighting for. Ya, I know. Many folks reading this will disagree with me on that one. Two things come to mind that are worth keeping in is one thing....and so is peace.

I read a bit of some accounts of folks who lived in Holland when my father's regiment came to free them...their entire country, actually. He said it was a day like no other he had ever experienced. People were set free! Even in their months of starvation, it was a time of celebration. I like to remember how my father was an integral part in the freedom process of not only Holland but France and Belgium as well. Here is a map of Holland and I recall him speaking of some of these places.

I shall remember the word "sacrifice" this week.....and remember too, the sacrifice Christ made to set us free.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Remembrance week....

From summer....
To winter......

From the mountains....

To the prairies.....
No matter where we are or what season of life we're experiencing,
no matter where we've come from or where we're heading,
the 11th of November is a day for all of us to remember a particular time
when peace crept out of a time of war.
It is a day that drives us to appreciate more of what we have, not only as individuals
but as a nation.
We have come from a time of war to a time of least the generation
before me did.
I have never known war in my country during my lifetime, never had to have my children leave
home to become a part of something bigger than themselves....bigger because war involved so much more than each person as an involved the sacrifice of entire families, and great parts of entire countries. I have not known that kind of sacrifice or loss.
So, November 11 reminds me of a world that is broken, a world that shared a great loss together. It reminds me of the importance of not letting greed and power overtake the world . It reminds me that God still loves people even in the midst of their self-centered worlds and that there is hope for humanity to see that love demonstrated through our relationship with Him.
November 11th. Sacrifice. Hope. Peace.
We shall remember.....