Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Place for Women to BE ~ An article from ChristianWeek - September 2009

A month ago – or slightly more ~ the ChristianWeek newspaper came out in Winnipeg, and within its newsprinted pages was an article that was written by Angeline Schellenberg, after an interview with me over a big cup of coffee.  I thought I could lift it off the internet, but couldn’t ~ so I have finally typed it out, to share with you.
Health and Heart ~ A place for women to be
By Angeline Schellenberg
ChristianWeek Columnist
This article was in the September 09 issue of ChristianWeek.  A huge thanks to Angeline for her story!  To God Be the Glory!
“In 2000 Joy Klassen prayed, “Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes and accept Thy will for my life.”  In return, God gave her the dream of opening a women’s retreat centre.
“God showed me very early in my ministry that there are a lot of women who don’t realize how valued they are to Him,” says Klassen.  She emerged from a deep depression in the 1990’s with “a thirsty heart.”  Inspired by the story of the Samaritan woman’s search for living water, she named the centre Women Refreshed at the Well.
In December 2001, Klassen left her childcare career of 25 years to move toward her dream.  Instead, God led her to a seven-year pastoral ministry at McIvor Mennonite Brethren Church (ending this September).
But as she waited, God confirmed the vision.  A woman at McIvor who knew nothing of Klassen’s vision for a retreat centre shared this recurring dream:  “You went to the well.  You then proceeded to seek out a woman who needed a drink and you went to her with your dipper.  I wondered why you didn’t use a bucket.  It came to me that you were meeting people’s needs individually, and that what one person may require form the well is very different than what the next person would need…Does that mean anything to you?”
Klassen’s vision grew through the devastating loss of her grandson Jay at birth one year ago.  A sermon she preached about her loss opened many women to sharing their experiences.  “I had never thought I would ever walk such a dark valley of grief,” says Klassen.  “God is saying, I’m going to use that brokenness.”
Plans for the center expanded to include a chapel where women who have experienced loss will receive prayer and comfort.
After Jay’s passing, Klassen sensed God saying, “Get the ball rolling.”  He prompted her to talk to Jerald Peters, an architect from her church.  Providentially, one of Peter’s university assignments had been designing a spiritual retreat center.  On a paper placemat, he began drawing her dream ~ for free.
In March Klassen and her husband Alvin made an offer on almost 19 acres of land, east of Henderson Highway, 13 kilometers north of Winnipeg.  The Klassens bid well below the listed price.  At first the real estate agent didn’t like the offer, but when they heart what the land would be used for, the owners accepted the offer.
“It is a very exciting time for us.  Having ‘perked’ on the back burner for seven years, it seems that God is definitely bringing it to boil!” says Klassen.
Plans for the 3,700 square foot home and retreat center include five guestrooms, a library, an exercise room, a creative room and space for a counselor and a massage therapist.  The living area will have plenty of room to “sit in your pajamas and read,” says Klassen, and the grounds will feature prayer paths and gardens.  The Klassen’s plan to build a barn with a large loft meeting room this fall, with the house scheduled for completion fall 2010.
Some people critique retreats as “running from reality,” but, says Klassen, “maybe this mom with three kids just needs five hours of sleep” or to process a decision.  “So often we get caught up in the whirlpool and we forget what it means to be still.”  Women Refreshed at the Well will be “place women can come and just be ~ not only believers, but any woman looking for renewal,” says Klassen.  “We hope to help women feel how beautiful they are in the eyes of God.”
Anyone interested in seeing the property, praying, and enjoying smores around a campfire is invited to a free “come and go” event Sept 13, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

...her name on His lips...

Today I went to my daughter’s blog (www.tolovelikethat.blogspot.com) and found a poem.  As I read the poem – I kept thinking “God, this is me!  This is me!”   I realize that my daughter Ashley likely wrote this to express her heart at this time, but as I wrote a comment on her blog – I realize that she expressed the hearts of many women (and likely many men).  So – I am sharing it with you here.  
the air is still
her steps are labored
but she moves ahead
the ground is gray
crunching under her feet
the fog is thick
moving forward
reaching out
longing for a drink
walking for days
moving ahead
moving back
not moving
moving again
eyes closed
coolness beneath her fingertips
a friend
a glass
filled to overflowing
a drink
of love, sweeter than honey
a friend
her name on His lips
love, sweeter than honey
a drink
of peace, like rain on dry land
a friend
her name on His lips
peace, like rain on dry land
a drink
of hope, like a breath of fresh air
a friend
her name on His lips
hope, like a breath of fresh air
a friend, her friend
meeting her
loving her
refreshing her
at the well

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dreaming ~ Designing ~ Drawing ~ Drinking Coffee

We have had the joy of dreaming~and drinking coffee at Mountain Bean with Jerald.  It has become our place of looking over plans, talking about details, and dreaming.  Jerald ~ continues to be a gift from God to us and ultimately to the ministry.  We met a week and a half ago to go over some more details such as room size, master suite should include what?, putting in a lift for wheelchair access, windows in the basement, moving the shop forward about 15 -20 feet and on and on.  In fact our coffee cups were long emptied before our discussion wrapped up.  This is a very exciting time for all of us.  The thing that Alvin and I are so thankful for is that it is obvious that Jerald and us are on the “same page” when it comes to dreaming about what the retreat house will look like. 
This past week receipts have gone out and I have also heard that our friend Wayne is willing to do our bookkeeping stuff.  That is such a great thing!  And when I went to the mailbox yesterday ~ there was another donation!  This is a very exciting time. 
Now, we need to sell our home in Anola, so that we can have the money that it will take to build our home/retreat house.  So ~ for our praying partners out there, here are some requests for prayer:
  • pray for Jerald as he works on the plans, and Lordwilling are able to meet this week.
  • pray that we can sell out home in Anola.  It will begin to be shown on October 1st and we are praying that it will sell quick.  I believe that God has already prepared the ones who will buy it.
These are very exciting times!  To God be the glory – Great things He has done and is doing and is going to do!
the road is put in

the barn/shop is photoshopped in - to scale

Monday, September 21, 2009

Long and overdue - A huge THANK-YOU!

Today is Monday, September 21st ~ and this post is long overdue.  The COME and GO ~ WALK and PRAY has happened.  It was overwhelming ~ and I give God the glory for the whole event.  The other day a good friend said that she could really feel the presence of God at the land.  I totally agree.  God was fully there!
It was an amazing day.  We didn’t totally think ahead, and didn’t leave enough time to fully prepare before the first cars began to arrive.  Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without family and good friends who came alongside ~ helping to bake (my daughter had her own little bake-off!!) and to set up, to prepare coffee and to help talk with people.  You know who you are ~ thank you so much!
Like I said, it had barely turned 3 pm and the cars began to arrive and people began to walk and pray.  The land was “SOAKED IN PRAYER” during the full 2 hours of the event.  I saw people walking around the perimeter of the land ~ not as far back as we go ~ but certainly a ways back.  We had some hand-outs to give those who wanted to know what to pray for.  Others just prayed as God gave them the thoughts.
We had a campfire ~ stuff for smores ~ and lots of goodies, including a fair amount of chocolate.  WOMEN AND CHOCOLATE = a must!!
We thank God for each one of you ~ some of you are old friends, some of you were totally brand new on that day!  We thank God for each and every one of you.  We are thankful for the prayers offered on our behalf and on behalf of the ministry.   It was our desire to soak the land in prayer before we began to dig… thank you for coming!! Thank you for praying!!  Thank you for your support.
In the morning, there was a “thank-you” event at McIvor Ave. M.B. Church, as I have recently concluded my formal pastoral ministry at McIvor.  The thank-you was overwhelming.  As part of the thank-you, people were given the opportunity to give a financial “love-gift” to the ministry.  With the party over – I walked into the church service blessed with about $500 in my purse. When I came out of the service, a couple gave me another cheque – and additional $200 more toward the ministry.
The COME and GO ~ WALK and PRAY was not a “fund-raiser”.  However during the course of the afternoon, an older couple gave Alvin a “bulging” brown envelope which he immediately hid in his truck.  As we were pulling away, Alvin told me to look under something ~ there was the envelope.  I found it, and opened it up, only to find a couple hundred dollar bills and a fistful of 20′s.  Within that envelope, I counted $1000.  I wept.
You see ~ the $1700 that came in as love gifts ~ are affirmations that we are in the will of God ~ and that following Him is what He wants.  We realize we are up to our eyeballs following Him ~ and if He didn’t make it so blatantly clear ~ there would be time when we may wonder “really God?”
So, this thank-you is long and overdue.  A huge thank you to say THANKS for coming and blessing us with your presence and with your prayers.  A huge thank you to those who could not come, but said you would pray.  A huge thank you to those who helped make the event happen.  A huge thank you to God, through whom all of the glory and praise goes!!  He is fully in control  We just continue to be the conduits through which He works.
Thank you for your prayers.
If you want to continue to pray, here are the things on our prayer list.  Thanking you in advance for “standing in the gap” on our behalf. Please:
  • pray for Jerald Peters as he works on the design of the barn/shop and the house (combined personal and retreat)
  • pray for Lorie Mayer as she works on the logo for the ministry
  • pray for safety for each one involved in the physical build of the barn/shop and house
  • pray for the ministry’s current baord members, as well as those who will join the board in the future
  • pray for additional board members
  • pray for the women who will come here for rest, refrehsment and renewal.  We are excited about each one that will come and be our guests.  Pray that epople will experience God in this place.
  • pray for us as we figure out the financial aspects.  The land, barn and home will be funded and owned by us personally.  We will be working with an accountant to figure out how to carry out the ministry and the financial obligations.
  • pray for a strong prayer team to surround us.  If you would like to be part of it, please let us know atwomenrefreshed@gmail.com
  • pray for the financial support of the ministry.  We are a recognized non-profit organiation, and we are able to issue tax receipts.  The money that is raised with help furnish the retreat portion of the house.
  • pray for our neighbors.  As we come into the neighborhood, please pray that we would be a shining light and that we would also get to know our neighbors in a positive light.  We don’t want them to be afraid or skeptical of what we are going to be doing.  Perhaps this will be a place of rest for them too.
Thank you for your prayers!!  Please feel free to email at womenrefreshed@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sept 13 ~ Hope To See You THERE!!

Alvin and I (Joy) would love to see you this Sunday, at our new land, and the future home of Women Refreshed at the Well ministry.
We are having a “come and go” event – so that you can come, walk and pray at the site…
WHEN: this Sunday ~ Sept 13
TIME: 3 – 5 pm Come for five minutes or two hours or anything in between ~ you choose!!
WHERE: we are the lot immediately NORTH of Corpus Christi Catholic Church – 5819 Henderson Hwy.
Directions: from Henderson and the North Perimeter – drive NORTH for 13.3 kms. We are the lot next to (north of) the church on the EAST side of Henderson.
WHY COME? We would like to bless and pray over the land prior to the beginning of our build ~ we want to include the Lord in all parts from the beginning to the end of the build and into the ministry!
So, we invite you to come. Wear good shoes if you want to walk. Bring a lawn chair ~ as we will have a fire going ~ and some refreshments.
This is GOD’s Vision ~ and we are just the vessels He is going to use ~ and I have a feeling He is going to use many more of you too.
So please come ~ if you need any more info ~ call me at home 866-3638 or that day on my cell 223-5467.
Hope to see you then!! Remember bring your LAWNCHAIR!!
See you Sunday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank you Lord! One step closer!

Well as promised, I am writing to update you on how the council meeting went at our Rural Municipal office!!  We thank God for answered prayers!  We thank you for standing in the gap on our behalf – and on behalf of Women Refreshed at the Well ministry.  I would be lying if I said I was not nervous.  You sit there and they have your future in your hands – with a yes or a no vote!!  But then again, they didn’t stand a chance with God on our side, and this is HIS Vision – his ministry.
So, we were there, and asked to answer a few questions.  We left at about 7:30 – relieved that it was over and very thankful that we found favor in the eyes of council!
Lord, we thank you!  We thank you for going before us – for helping us to find favor.  This is your plan Lord – and we are only your conduits.  Thank you for everything you have done and are going to do! We love you and praise your name!!
Great are you Lord!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Please pray that we will find favor in their eyes tonight!

I am sitting here at home, with a couple verses running through my mind and over my heart.  BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.  BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING BUT IN ALL THINGS WITH PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD.
Sorry, I may have quoted that a little off, not sure ~ but the reality is I know why God laid those on my heart just minutes ago.  You see ~ tonight is the night that we hear whether or not the Rural Municipality that we are moving into (Lord Willing) will grant our requests or not.
We had to take our information to them ~ the plans, the site plan, letters and reasons why we want to do what we are asking them to grant!  And  almost $500 per request.  ($1000 total)
We had to do that three weeks prior to their council meeting, which is tonight at 7.
We had to do this, as the plans that Jerald and we have been pouring over, are plans to first of all build a “barn” and then next summer to build the “house”.
And, the thing is ~ the barn is bigger and higher than they allow.  And the house, in order to do the ministry, we need to apply for the bed and breakfast permits.  And, under that ~ they allow 2 bedrooms for use as B&B.  We are planning for 5.  (Jerald had wondered why I picked 5 vs 6 for instance ~ and all I can say is that 5 is the number that God gave to me for the max number of women at any one time for retreat)
So ~ tonight we find out if we are permitted to do both requests.  Once granted – we can begin to build.  Flip side ~ if not granted, we lose the money that accompanied the request, and there is no appeal.  SO…. “Joy, be anxious for nothing…”
This is HIS Vision ~ and we are just the vessel God is using to do it.  We are trusting Him to move their hands on this one and we have been asking our friends to pray!
So, please pray that we will find favor with the council tonight!  I will let you know later!
Be anxious for nothing!  Lord God ~ ruler over all things ~ you are the one who laid this Vision on my heart, and have entrusted it to us to bring to fruition.  Lord, I am anxious,  perhaps I am “council shy” in some ways, but I ask for peace as we go tonight and sit in on the meeting.  I also ask Lord, that you would help us to find favor in their eyes.  Lord, this is your Vision ~ I have absolutely no doubt of that ~ so I know that you are in control.  Not me.  Lord ~ we give you all the honor and the glory!  Amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

~Come And See ~~Walk And Pray ~

We would like to invite YOU to a: Come and See ~ Walk and Pray event at the future site of Women Refreshed at the Well!!
WHEN:  Sunday, September 13th from 3-5 pm
WHERE:  the land right next to the church (Corpus Christi) at 5819 Henderson Hwy.  We do not have a number sign yet, but it will be marked!!
WHAT:  we would like to give you the opportunity to come and see where we are Lord willing, planning to build and where the ministry will operate from.  When you come, you will be invited to walk and pray!  And then, make sure to pull your lawnchair around the fire and enjoy a cup of coffee and some refreshements and fellowship. 
WHAT TO BRING:  a lawnchair, and good walking shoes.
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend!  It will be a day of blessing the ministry and the land!
If you need more info – feel free to email us at  womenrefreshed@gmail.com

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Unexpected gifts from God!

Well ~ God works in mysterious ways and gives “gifts” to us from time to time. I love that. One of the unexpected gifts I have experienced lately is the interview I had with Angeline Schellenberg with Christian Week.  Long story short ~ through Ashley (my daughter) working at the Canadian Conference office and talking about Women Refreshed at the Well ~ someone she works with told Angeline that perhaps it was an idea for a story for Christian Week.  And, sure enough, Angeline and I met and talked. Okay, I talked. For two hours. Yep, it is such an exciting story!!
I love talking about the Vision and what God has done since 2000. She seemed very interested in the story too. So, it will be in the September edition which will come out the last week in August. This, is a gift from God, and I am so thankful. I just continue to see how God’s heart just beats and beats for women! If only we all knew and lived in the love that he has for us ~ even though I KNOW it, so often I just forge on ahead without him. Not sure why! Guess it doesn’t matter whether we are women or men ~ we all often try to be self-sufficient.
Anyhow ~ this conversation we had over coffee at Mountain Bean ~ it was a gift and Lord ~ I thank you for these unexpected surprises.
Stay tuned ~ and watch for the September edition.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coffee talks & plan making and a request for PRAYER!

So ~ it has been a while since I have written on this blog and a lot has happened. We have met twice to go over plans for our house/retreat house combined.  What an exciting time it is! Believe me ~ after we meet, I can hardly go to sleep. The conversations, the plans, all of it just continues to run around and around my mind.
The last time I met with Jerald ~ he shared some preliminary plans with me.  Alvin was at work, so I had to relay all the exciting news and papers with measurements, plans, etc. I really love meeting with Jerald, as it seems that God is laying as much on his mind as on ours and it shows up in the way that we come to the table with the same ideas, and seem to be on the same page.
Right now however, we are at the point where we solicit your prayers!  Before we go too much farther, we have to get permission from the council of the Rural Municipality that we are in (St. Clements) as we are wanting to build a bigger and higher barn than they allow, and we are also asking if they will allow us to have 5 rooms committed to bed and breakfast (which is the closest thing we can find to describe what will happen).
So, after also soliciting the expertise of my son, and his knowledge of photoshop (see the picture of the land with the barn in it
So, please pray!!  Pray that we would find favor with them, and that they allow us to build the size we feel we need to build, for both shop and for the house.  From the beginning God has indicated that we should put in enough bedrooms for 5 people!  Okay, I didn’t write that in my letter ~ that would have perhaps been pushing it if one isn’t used to getting their instructions from God! (smile)
So, please pray!!  Pray without ceasing.  Pray believing that God has begun a good work and will bring this ministry to fruition.  To God be the Glory!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Land purchase!

The other day when our son Josh gave us a little pep talk and said, “if you are going to do it, you have to just DO IT” I told him it would be really hard, and tear-filled when it came time to move away from the place that we have called home for the better half of our lives!  He agreed! 
Funny thing is it seems like THIS IS THE TIME. For the past year when God kept saying with even more urgency “GET THE BALL ROLLING!!”  It seems that within the past year, many people have asked me, and told me that for some reason, God had laid WRATW on their heart.  People are praying, telling me of dreams and visions they have been given in regards to it.   While it has been “simmering on the back burner” over the past few years, now it seemed that God was turning up the heat! 
So it was, with a combination of anxiousness and excitement (actually great excitement) that on the morning of March 18th – Dave (real estate agent) came to where Alvin was working, to write up an offer to purchase.  I have to say that we fully expected to have to respond to a counter offer.  We were praying about it.  If this was the time – God would make that clear.  We had no doubt about that.   So, would this be the land that would become the future place of our home and Women Refreshed at the Well? 
David was one guy who I had shared the Vision with back in 2001 and I will never forget him praying for WRATW in Perkins that morning years ago.  He was going to share the Vision with the people who owned the land.  Only God knew what would happen.  We trusted Him for the best answer.
Later that day, while I was having supper with my daughter and son-in-law – my cell phone rang.  I recognized the caller, even though it said “BLOCKED ID” on the call display. I knew it was David, our real estate agent. My heart picked up a few beats. My thoughts were, well here goes, we will have to give a counter offer.
David began….”well Joy, they didn’t like the offer.”  (I think my heart sank momentarily) You know somehow I had really prayed that I would trust and not worry or fret, and let God be God. Lately I have had a hard time with this one, and the waiting part of God’s timing.   Perhaps they didn’t like the offer because it was low.  It was $25,000 less than their first listed price, and $15,000 lower than their “reduced” listed price. BUT THEN….this is where the “GOOD NEWS” comes into place!   David continued on ~ “they didn’t like the offer, but they were glad to hear what the place would be used for, so they will accept the offer you gave.”
Oh my ~ God, you have decided that this is the time, this is the place~ I was wonderfully caught off guard! 7 years ago David and I had talked about the Vision and now ~ he was telling me that we have just bought some land!  I am sure that my smile was a foot wide!
I think both Alvin and I were shocked, as were our kids. (Isn’t that so like God to shock and surprise us!) Shocked, surprised, excited. Thankful!!  God, I am so thankful. We are one step closer to the vision that God entrusted to my heart many years ago.  The ball is rolling!
I want to say again – this is not my Vision. This is HIS vision laid on my heart…. I am just the conduit…. the clay vessel that He is using to bring this about. God give both wisdom and strength to follow on.  Oh that He would find me faithful!
To GOD BE THE GLORY….. and as my good friend Lynda said to me many years ago, in regards to this vision, “fasten your seatbelt Joy, you are in for a ride!”
I think we all are!! 
Location of the land:  about 13 kms from Henderson Hwy and the perimeter.  Travel NORTH on Henderson and you will come to the community of NAROL.  We own almost 19 acres right beside (to the NORTH of) Corpus Christi Catholic Church.  We are on the EAST side of Henderson Hwy.  (not the river side).  Not sure what our number is, but the Catholic Church is 5819 Henderson.  Go and check out the location!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

God is going to do something with Women Refreshed at the Well in 2009

At our church, there are a couple of women with prophetic gifting. In January, Sarah expressed that she felt that God had something in store for Women Refreshed at the Well in the New Year. What? No idea. The thing is, I also had had a very strong sense that God was moving. Afterall, He had been urging me for over a year, to “Roll the Ball” ~ I knew that God was going to do something in regards to WRATW if we were willing to move with Him.
Toward the end of December, 2008, God impressed a name upon my heart. He told me I needed to get together with Jerald. Jerald is a fellow church family member, and he happens to be the one who “called” me into pastoral ministry back in 2002.
Now, Jerald was not a stranger to this idea, as I had shared it with him seven years ago. I have learned that when God lays something on my heart, or speaks to me about someone or something, I need to listen. So, after many emails, we met, and I shared with Jerald what we were now thinking in regards to Women Refreshed at the Well.
Because of Jerald’s profession (architect) I felt that I needed to ask some questions of an expert ~ such as how do we build a combination personal home and retreat house. I loved the idea (proposed to us by our kids Josh and Leah) but I was not sure if this was even feasible. So, we talked. At one point in the conversation, Jerald told me that he would be willing to take the project on (no charge) if he could be on board from the beginning, and also if he could do it for me since we are friends. Okay ~ I have to tell you, this totally thrilled my heart! I had not expected this at all!
Our conversation there at The Old Spagetti Factory cemented ~ over and over to me ~ that God is in all the details. I found out that during Jerald’s university time, he had to design a Spiritual Retreat Center. With a turned over paper place mat, Jerald drew a diagram of an idea that we could do. He told me that he was not at all surprised that God was stirring this up again.
Before we parted ways, Jerald told me that as soon as we found some land, to let him know, so that he could come and “walk the land” with us ~ as it is important to put the right house on the land, not just any house.
You have to know that I drove home from that lunch so excited!! At this point, we did not have land picked out. However ~ God was working on those details!!
Shortly after this visit, I left my pastoral position for an unpaid leave of absence. I had requested a leave of three months. A number of things made it very clear that I needed to totally “step out of “ ministry and take care of myself which included begin to walk through our grief . I felt like it had to be stuffed inside while I ministered to others where they were at. On January 15th, I worked my last day, and left to begin my leave. There were no expectations other than I knew I needed to do some “sitting with God” ~ I knew that I needed to just “BE”. (Now if only Women Refreshed at the Well was open to go to!) I have to say that the words of scripture “Be Still and Know that I am God!” were constantly resonating in my heart!
One day, in the beginning of March, Josh said to Alvin and I, “If you guys are thinking of buying land for your home and retreat center, you need to just do it, otherwise you are going to be sitting in the same place a year from now.” (I really thank God for the wisdom and support of our kids, all four of them!) The next day Alvin and I, along with Josh, Leah and Michael ~ went and “walked a piece of land” that Alvin and I had seen on Henderson Hwy.
Alvin and I had talked once in a while about owning property on Henderson, but little did we know that God had something exciting in store for us and the ministry SOON.

Friday, June 19, 2009

2008 - Grief, joy & hope meet

The Mark Center trip Oct 08 0602008 began with a strong feeling that God was doing something.  I began the year, January 1st with an entry in my journal that said:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”  I Peter 1:3
Today is the 1st day of 2008. Lord ~ what will this year hold?
Jeremiah 29:11 New Living Translation: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. ”They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
Lord, I believe you plan only the best for me. I know that and I know that no matter what happens ~ you are in control and you will carry me through everything!!
Lord, I give you 2008 and all it entails ~ from today January 1st to December 31st. All of it.  May I grow in you, more and more with each day… O Lord, do your work in me.
Little did I know what 2008 would hold. I see why we are not “let in on things” ahead of time. We would literally be stopped dead in our tracks with fear! I believe that.
Anyhow, I knew that God was at work, and He was also “turning up the heat” on the Vision, and it was coming to a full boil on the back burner. Last year, while at the women’s retreat, Karen (a friend from high school, and also from church) told me that she had also had a dream, and she felt it was about the Retreat Center. Again, I asked her to write it out for me, and here is what she said:
(I am so thankful that I save emails, and that I journal and stick the emails into my journals!!)
April 29, 2008 
I had the dream in January ~ I tried to call you but, I think you had left on your mission trip. It took me a bit of time to even muster the courage to call (kinda new at this stuff) but, God kept prodding me in that direction and reminding me of the dream at strange times. I should have written it down…this is how I remember it:
I was an observer ~ not active in the dream. You and Alvin were standing with huge smiles on your faces. Alvin kept saying how excited he was and giving you reassurance that it would all be OK. You were “showing” and just beaming. There were people off to the side from McIvor (our church) ~ not specific people that I could identify.  They were saying things about how unbelievable this was ~ didn’t you know any better etc. I would classify these random comments as varied ~ some unsupportive while others were kinda “coming around” to the news. Again, I can’t say enough about how both you & Alvin seemed almost oblivious because of your joy.  I also think the dream points to your idea about the retreat centre moving out of an idea and is more visible to others. 
I also feel your project of a retreat centre is a God thing ~ bigger than any of us.
This is what I felt too ~ that I was literally “sitting on the edge of my seat” again. And then we were thrown into the deepest, darkest valley of despair and grief that I have ever ever known. Our little grandson Jay Benjamin was born silently, one day before his due date. Feel free to watch our little Jay’s beautiful tribute atwww.jeremyhiebert.ca/jaybenjaminklassen
Leah had an amazing pregnancy and a drug-free delivery. But then all our hopes and expectations and joys came crashing down on July 24th, 2008. Our hearts felt like they were literally blown into a million tiny pieces. Life for us stopped at 12:02pm that day, when Jay’s heart stopped. 
While I can not yet make sense out of it all, and will say again, Jay’s death is a mystery only God himself understands ~ I believe there were two things that I learned through my precious little grandson’s birth and death.  
1) How to care for others and 2) God again (very, very strongly) impressed on my heart that I had to get the Vision going! Don’t ask me to explain why I heard that so strongly. I just did, and mentioned that to someone very early after the 24th. 
Shortly after that day, while our kids Josh and Leah (Jay’s Mom and Dad) had gotten away for a little trip, I got a text from my son Joshua asking me about the Retreat Vision. He told me, all through texting on his cell phone, that he and Leah had been talking/praying about Retreat Vision and Life Plan. I remember texting back and telling him that I was so thankful that they were part of all this, to which Josh texted back “these are big plans Mom”. When they got home from their trip, we sat around the supper table and talked.
First of all Josh asked me to explain again, what exactly God laid on my heart. When I retold the Vision details, the one thing that I left in, was that it was to be in the city, close to a bus stop. Josh said this was the only difference, to which I replied that I thought God was changing that up too.  (Perhaps this was part of the charred but whole building? Was God burning something and raising something a little new?)
What has come out of our visits and conversation since then? Their thoughts were that we needed to put our home up for sale (we had been talking about that for a number of years). And, that we should build a combination personal home and retreat center. As the 4 kids sat around the table, they drew some pencil sketches of some ideas. I remember that night Josh said “Mom, people don’t come to your house because of the way you have it decorated, they come because it feels warm here, warm because you live in it!  You will never get that feeling in a retreat house that you come and go from as needed!” Josh also said that they had thought that it can not be in the city either (they were quite adamant that Alvin and I were NOT city people, that would be just wrong!!).
And, since a bus would not run out north of the city (where Josh was already suggesting) it meant that we would provide transportation if needed!
Well, Alvin was unfortunately at work during this conversation, so I quickly brought him up to speed on the suggestions. We talked a lot about this. What could it look like? I have to say that the idea exhilarated us! Honestly though, we were so deep in many things ~ first of all, our grief was consuming us. Then there was so much that I had to get done at work with a new ministry starting up. 
In the midst of the deepest sorrow came a reprieve of deep joy when our daughter Ashley married Michael Thiessen on Sept. 26th.  It was quite something how the greatest of grief met with the greatest of joy.  
Back in January 08, when we were in Thailand on the mission trip ~ I had a good time over coffee with Louise (one of the missionaries that we went to work with). It was a “heart to heart” which I wept through. I was weeping a lot those days too. I shared with her how God was at work and I felt that He was shaking things up in my life ~ and perhaps “gently removing” me from ministry at the church. I also shared the Vision with her, and how it felt like God was moving in that again. Louise encouraged me to take some time and go to retreat center that she has gone to in Abbotsford, BC called THE MARK CENTER (www.themarkcenter.org). She encouraged me to speak with the founders/directors Steve and Evy.
In October 08 ~ Louise was in Winnipeg, and again she and I spent a few hours together over lunch. Again I wept as we talked about losing my grandson.  Again Louise gave words of comfort, and words of wisdom. She also knew the grief of losing one of her little girls shortly after birth. Louise looked me in the eyes and said, “For sure NOW Joy, you need to get away, and go to The Mark Center for yourselves.”
Alvin and I decided to see if we could get into a suite at TMC. I called. I had seen that on the website that the whole center was booked.  I thought I would phone anyhow, and spoke with the admin woman named Joy too.  (What are the chances?)
She told me that yes unfortunately for me, they were full for a month with the “TREK team” through Mennonite Brethren Mission Services International (MBMSI).  Then she asked me when I was thinking I would like to come to which I replied “next week”. She paused and said that just that morning, they had a cancellation for a suite, and we could have it! I booked a flight for us immediately. 
Alvin and I “retreated” at The Mark Center. We also got a chance to spend time with Steve and Evy, to hear their story, their joys, their struggles. We prayed together. The time was very good!  We came back with renewed passion for WRATW. 
The rest is history, and a very pleasant memory. Before we had left to go to The Mark Center, Betty (once again) shared another dream she had for me personally. However, she felt there was a connection to the Vision and felt that the time to tell me was appropriate. She told me that she felt that something was going to happen in the New Year in regards to the Vision. I just tucked that away in my heart.   

Friday, May 22, 2009

Next steps

We met a few times as our “BOARD OF DIRECTORS” for Women Refreshed at the Well. Originally, I was encouraged to surround myself with people who believed in me, my walk with the Lord, and were willing to come alongside.
The original board was: Ken and Carolee Neufeld, Jody and Tim Thomas, Maxine Gacek, Josie Schellenberg, and Alvin and I. However, with that mix, too many of us were “not at arms length” so at that time, upon suggestion by our lawyer, we changed to the Board of Directors being: Carolee, Jody, Maxine, Josie and myself. And Tim, Ken and Alvin became and “Advisory” part of the board, with non-voting rights. You just can’t have too many relatives on the same board when it becomes a registered charity.
As well, in 2005, after some prayer and asking ~ I asked another friend with both private and non-profit background, to give us some advice. John and his wife Brenda met with us to get a feel for what was happening and what needed to happen.
2005 and 2006 came and went in a blur. I landed up in the hospital in June of 05 and then again in March of 06 and as a result was slated for surgery in May that same year. As well, God chose to take our Dad (John Klassen) to be with him, following a brief struggle with liver cancer. We did not meet as a Board of Directors during those years. I had some conversation with John during the year about fundraising. John said he felt we would need about $500,000! I think my eyes likely rolled back when he told me this. But what was I expecting? We would need to buy a house, furnish a house, and maintain it. Plus we were also hoping to raise enough for a salary for a year while we established the retreat house.
I will be honest with you ~ fundraising has never been something I enjoyed. I had more experience with fundraising during my non-profit childcare career. I knew how tight it was for non-profit organizations to make ends meet. I felt completely stopped dead in my tracks, so to speak, whenever fundraising was discussed. I continued to feel that God wanted us to have the retreat house in the city, and that it was to be somewhere in North or East Kildonan. I did remember however, one comment that was made to me. Ken had once said “sometimes God takes something and puts it to death, and something rises up that looks a little different.”
The one part of Ellie’s vision, the part about coming upon a house that was completely burned but whole ~ this intrigued me a lot. When I spoke with our discerning/prayer team about it (in 03 after Ellie gave it to me) some of them thought perhaps God would “burn” something to do with the Vision, so that something would rise up out of the ashes. Sort of like when a farmer burns a field so that it comes up better the next year.
In the summer of 2007 I started hearing God speak again. I love when I hear Him ~ and I have come to quit doubting if it is really God, and just trust that it is! I often record His thoughts as he rolls them out to me, and my journal is such a roadmap of this journey with God! At the time, His words were “get the ball rolling!” That was what I kept hearing him say.
That fall (of 2007) Alvin and I met with John and Brenda and another couple, to talk “retreat” ~ I felt I needed to talk to them. Irv and Lil were friends of my sister, and I had gotten to know them. The other thing was that often when I saw Irv, he asked how the retreat vision was going. God impressed on my heart that I needed to talk with them, so we got together over supper at the Olive Garden and talked. I have to admit, I walked away from there, not quite sure about why I needed to get together with them. But, the one thing I knew for sure was that God wanted me to, and kept telling me “Get the ball rolling… get the ball rolling.” And like I have said before, I know that when God tells you to do something, I have learned (and yes, sometimes the hard way) that He means it!
It felt however, that with me employed in full time church ministry, life was so full ~ I was having a hard time “finding the time” to roll the ball. Alvin and I began to dream about the possibility of building a retreat house combination with our place to live. We did a lot of talking! I did a lot of asking God to clarify many things. I did a lot of praying. The really cool thing is that when I asked people to pray about WRATW, some of them told me that they already were because God had already laid it on their hearts to pray! I love that about God! When He wants our attention, He gets it IF we are tuned toward Him.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"I will go before you - DON'T FEAR!"

January 5th, 2004 my journal entry says: “It’s Monday. One of the sweetest times was spent this morning in the (prayer) chapel (at church) ~ sharing, praying, waiting on you Lord. At the end when Diana prayed that you would speak to us, I saw a “picture” of mountains and hills, with a road entwined back and forth through them. I heard (God speak) the phrases “I Love You” ~ “Don’t fear” ~ and “I will go before you” (not sure if that’s a verse portion or not?).
It is! (I checked my Bible concordance) Deut. 31:8 ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid – do not be discouraged!’  Thank You Lord.”
April 7, 2004 my journal entry says: “Lord ~ I know, without a doubt that the adventure with you has begun. I know you have called me into ministry. I feel the call is specific to women. I also know that right now, in the interim ~ my ministry is with all at McIvor (my church). I have no idea what you will ultimately do. At this point God gave me John 14:20 which I just recorded but did not look up.
Lord, you know I so badly want to see the Vision for the retreat house come to fruition and I do want to be involved there. But I believe that my heart beats strongest for women’s ministry. But that being said, Lord I know I am called to ministry and I know you will do your will through me. Lord ~ help me to not fear. Help me to fall more and more in love with You Jesus!”
At that point, I looked up the verse in John 14:20 which God had given to me while I was prayer journaling. John 14:20 says: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me, and I am in You.”
Later, in the month of April (actually the 20th) I was told that there had been many applicants for the pastoral position, but that I was being asked if I would allow my name to go forward. I was shocked. After all, I knew that they were looking for someone with a seminary degree. That was not me. I said I would gladly let my name stand, and the official process continued. I was asked to give my testimony. It was here that I testified to the grace of God, as well as to his direct leading in my life. From there, I knew that, as it is the custom of our church, the congregation would discuss it and put it to a vote.
During this time, the verse from Joshua 1:9 became my mantra! “Be strong and courageous ~ for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I read a devotional called “The People God Calls” and part of the reflection said “In today’s church we are often concerned with professional qualifications for those we call to ministry. How do we react when God calls unlikely apostles and prophets to challenge us today?” I kept finding that God would send me little “kisses” along the way to affirm that I was following Him…even though I couldn’t quite see the path!
May 11th ~ my journal entries are full of thoughts and quotes on SURRENDERING TO GOD!! “Surrendering is not for cowards or doormats! Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience! You say, ‘Yes Lord’ to whatever He asks of You” (sorry I do not have the author of the quote written down).
William Booth ~ Salvation Army said “surrendered people are the ones God uses!!” Oh boy, God was teaching me a lot about this!!
The congregational meeting was to take place in May. That day I struggled with God (silly me!) and asked God “Okay Lord, what do I do if the vote is 92 or 89… I know you have told me it should be 93!” I shared that with Alvin and Ashley as we drove into the meeting. After the first part of the business, we were dismissed, and the debate began. Even for our church, “women in leadership” was still a debate. Alvin and I went home to await the answer. Later that night, Bob (the moderator) called and said “Joy the vote was overwhelming affirmative – it was 93%!” I was literally blown away ~ God had done it once again ~ showing me that HE IS IN CONTROL RIGHT DOWN TO THE VOTE!
I told Bob the story, to which he replied “Hang on Joy, I am putting this on speaker phone, I want you to tell the rest of the Council executive!”
I was commissioned early in June ~ blessed as a woman, to minister in a pastoral leadership role. At the time people were thinking, and some were bold enough to ask if I had let the Vision die? To this I replied that for some reason God wanted me in the pastoral role at McIvor for whatever time He saw fit for me. He had made that absolutely clear in my “call into ministry” in the church setting. While it hurt to hear people express that they thought the Vision was dead in the water, I assured them that NO, the Vision was not dead, but it was “simmering on the back burner” until such time as God saw fit to bring it to a boil again.
It simmered, and simmered and simmered. 2004 seems like a long time ago. I have to admit that back in 2000–01, when God laid the Vision on my heart I never thought it would take so long! But someone told me that “God’s TIMING IS ALWAYS PERFECT” and I believed that He would let me know when I needed to get going with it again.
In the meantime, I saw how God was using me in my pastoral role, for HIS purposes and making it very clear to me why WRATW was on His heart. Since I was a woman in a leadership role, I worked a lot with women of all ages. I also got the opportunity to present the story of the Vision at women’s groups, and churches other than my own. I loved this, as I felt that it has always been God’s heart to have this ministry for women of all ages, from all walks of life, from all denominations, as well as for women who were just getting to know God, or maybe don’t even know that they need God!
As I worked with women within my ministry ~ a few things happened. I got to hear the “hearts” of many, many women of all ages. I have had the joy of seeing God at work in many lives, and have also had opportunity to pray for many, many women over the 7 years I have been in my role.
If there is anything that I have seen is that women of all ages need to experience, and know the amazing grace they are covered with, and the love that God wants to lavish on us (men too, but this became obvious in regards to women)! I have seen too many women who do not know how beautiful, how precious, how loved and treasured they are in the eyes of the Father! I have felt His love, His blessing, His embrace and have realized how much I want other women especially to just fall more in love with Jesus and also feel this amazing unconditional love! This is one thing that is so obvious to me reagarding why God put me into ministry for this time. He just really wants women to know how loved you are!! We are precious in his sight!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

God speaks directly as well as through dreams & visions!

Little did I know what God was going to do next! One thing I have learned through these past few years is that God speaks clearly! He uses many ways to get His word to us! We just need to be open to hearing Him!
Our church council meets on the second Tuesday of each month (our Council is like a “board of elders” ). The meeting was over, and one of the council members asked if she could speak to me. At the time I didn’t know that Betty had prophetic gifting, but I was soon to find out! She asked me if I had applied for the pastoral position, to which I told her yes, that I had, but I had not told anyone. Then she told me that she needed to share something with me. It was a recurring dream that she had been given and God wanted her to share it with me. I also asked her to write it down, which she did and emailed to me so I had it in written form (for such a time as this!).
Email from Betty, sent June 17, 2003 ~ Subject: Women at the Well Dream
Betty writes “I can’t even begin to tell you how honored I feel that my dream meant something to you. I will attempt to describe it for you: You were wearing a blue robe with long sleeves. It had a tie at the waist, but tied to the back like a dress. You didn’t speak, but your expression was calm and searching, and you were very focused on seeking need and meeting it.
You went to the well (which had a few other women around it too, but they didn’t interact with you) and dipped in your dipper. You then proceeded to seek out a woman who needed a drink and you went to her with your dipper. I wondered why you didn’t use a bucket, as this would be more efficient. It came to me that you were meeting people’s needs individually, and that what one person may require from the well is very different than what the next person would need. You were indeed honoring people by quenching their thirst on an individual basis rather than being efficient and thereby risking missing needs. This use of the dipper also ensured frequent trips to the well for yourself. It also seemed that the women you were ministering to couldn’t quite make it to the well themselves, and required you to intercede on their behalf. Perhaps that is why you didn’t interact with the women who were already at the well (actually, it was not that you didn’t wish to interact with them, but I had a sense that they were already engaged amongst themselves and it would have been an interruption if someone had approached them). You seemed focused on going where the need was, rather than where a need was already being met.
This dream struck me as quite significant, and I experienced an ongoing nudging: that I needed to share it with you.”
The night that Betty told me in person, once she was done I asked Betty if she knew anything about my story, to which she said she did not. I told her what God had entrusted me with ~ His Vision for women! Women Refreshed at the Well! Her eyes filled up with tears, and I felt like the hair was standing up on my arm. To this day, as I recall that story, I still get that feeling!
Well, little did I know that God had even more in store for me! Later that week, on Thursday morning, I received a phone call from another woman in our church named Ellie. Ellie also had prophetic gifting, which included receiving visions. I remember asking her that morning, how the visions happened. Ellie told me that when she had a sense that she needed to pray for someone, she also would ask God if He “had something that He wanted to give her, to give to the person that He laid on her heart”. And then the vision would roll before her eyes like a movie clip. She is fully awake, but seeing something that God gives her. After Ellie shared her vision with me, I asked her if she could give it to me in writing. Here is what Ellie gave to me:
“I saw you standing outside looking up at a night sky. You were alone looking at one star that kept getting brighter and brighter. The start suddenly shot out of the sky like a comet and swirled around you. You kept dodging the comet, but showed no fear. Suddenly the comet shot away and you began to follow it into a dark tunnel. You lit a match because it was pitch black and the light seemed to comfort you. Moving ahead in the darkness a train appeared and you stepped aside just in time. The tunnel came to an end and train tracks continued on far as you could see. To the right, and left, were sharp drops so you had no choice but to follow them. You were fearful of another train coming, (thinking) where would you step out of its path. Suddenly a stair case appeared on the left side of the tracks so you began to descent, relieved to leave the tracks. You saw a hut ahead that was black and burned, though whole. You walked past it into darkness. Hope this blesses you Joy.”
Now this vision was strange. Betty’s dream seemed very straightforward. Ellie’s vision had me wondering. Ellie told me that she did not have the gift of interpretation. I asked her what her “gut feeling” was, to which she told me that she felt this vision had to do with my work at church, and directly related to WRATW. She encouraged me not to lose sight of what God had called me to with the Vision. Even though she said the work at church was very good. This was an encouragement to me to keep moving forward with the Vision. Don’t lose sight!
Later that month, the Prayer Ministry team at our church, met for a prayer evening. I went, and they spent some time praying for me, and for some intrepretation of the vision that Ellie had given to me. One woman (Ursula) who was there that evening had a strong impression of the train track. Her words to me were “You are where God wants you right now.”
Regarding the part about the hut that was black, burned and yet whole ~ some of the impressions were that perhaps it was the death of the original vision ~ or a “changed” vision. These are some of the things that I tucked away in my heart and have pondered often over the last 6 years!
Well needless to say, I went into summer with these many thoughts on my heart! Here is an excerpt from my journal, dated Sunday, July 13th ~ “And Father ~ WRATW ~ what is your will for us ~ please reveal it to us. Thank You Lord for this opportunity!”
During the summer it became clear that more women were hearing about the Vision, understanding what it was about, and aligning themselves with its purpose. One woman told me that if I needed someone to clean toilets, to count her in! I had many offers of help during the summer months. I felt a peace and an assurance that the Vision God entrusted to me, was growing. And even though He had affirmed that I needed to apply for the pastoral position at our church, that He was still ultimately in control, and had everything in His hands…even though I could not see it all at the time!
During the summer, I also heard God speak again, and this time He gave me the number “93″. At the time I was not sure exactly what that was about but had no doubt that this number (for whatever reason) was a detail given to me ~ from God (and some people have told me they don’t think God cares about the fine details!!).
In fall the “search” committee did a formal interview with me. At one point, one of the men asked me if I realized that there would be a vote (if my name went forward as the candidate) and if so, what would I expect? I said without hesitation “93”. People looked a little surprised. One of them even said that “that’s a little high!” Me ~ all I knew is that is the number God gave me ~ and if there was one thing I had learned was that God speaks and I needed to listen! Little did I know how hard that would be over and over again!
All summer I fretted about applying for charitable status. Ken Neufeld encouraged me one day through a phone call, to just complete it and get it in ~ and not to see it as so daunting. So I did! And that fall we were excited to see that our application to become a registered ministry was processed! Women Refreshed at the Well was officially a non-profit ministry with a charitable number! Now, we could give tax receipts for donations given to WRATW.
** note: Should you feel that God is calling you to invest financially in this Vision for women ~ please contact us. All donations are tax receiptable and will go into the bank account for this ministry! There will be many opportunities to donate in the future too, BUT perhaps God is nudging you now, just let me (Joy) know. Thanks in advance for your participation in this ministry.