Thursday, January 24, 2013

Audrey's Garden

Just over a week ago, I was visiting my friend Audrey, who had just gone into Riverview Center - a place for palliative care.  It was hard to follow the stretcher car as it took Audrey from Concordia to Riverview.  We all knew that this was where Audrey would live out her final days here on earth.  
Audrey Voth - had become my friend just two years ago, and yet I can't explain it (other than God) but we were sister - friends, and I felt like she had been family for a very long time! We were part of the same church.  Part of the same caregroup.  And we were part of the same neighborhood.   There was just something special about our friendship.

The week before Audrey went into Riverview, her and I had spent the better part of a Tuesday morning just talking.  She was talking - and I was recording what would become her eulogy.  She knew this was the intent, and seemed glad that I was willing to put it together.  For me - it was a window of finding out about a life well lived!  

One of the things that I loved about Audrey was her love for flowers - and specifically for gardening.  At one time, she had said that perhaps she could come and help out at the retreat house.  But then cancer reared its ugly head for a second time, and that never did happen.  But as we talked, she shared with me - that she loved daisies

 and gazanias

 and tulips

 and echinicea. 

I told her how I loved caring for people but that I was utterley helpless when it came to gardening (or in other words, caring for anything green!) She smiled the same smile that she gave me often! I told her that I wished we had known each other longer so she could have imparted some of her gardening wisdom to me.  You see - we own a lot of space, and my friend Maxine has designed a fairly big garden - with many "gardens" within it.  Then, I had an idea.  

So it was last Thursday (a week ago today) I sat by her bed and told her that I was going to plan to make a garden within our garden plan, and I was going to name it "Audrey's Garden" and I wanted to plant the flowers that she told me she loved, and I also hoped that I would be able to get some plants from her house too.  I asked her husband Arnold if he could weld together an arbor (I have oohed and ahhed over the arbor he made Audrey) and Arnold agreed to this request.  

I wrote about my friend Audrey - in my personal blog, last week Thursday.  This week - Tuesday morning about 8:45 am, Audrey left this place and went to be with the Lord!!  So happy for her - but so sad for us, although our good-bye is really only "for a time".  

So now, more than any, as I think about the garden and the intent - I think Audrey's Garden will be a celebration of her - and of our friendship.  I hope it will be mixed with colors - and with beauty.  I hope it will be a part of our garden that will always bring me to remember just what an amazing friend she was - even though we only knew one another for two short years.  In fact - I can hardly wait to get some help planning it.  More than that - I also hope that when other women see its beauty - that they too will be reminded of a loved one, who has passed through their lives too - and has left behind a sweet fragrance of friendship!

I thank God for the beauty of his creation.
I thank God for the beauty of relationships 
I thank God for the beauty of a friend
as a friend reminded me today, with a quote (not sure who said it) but it went like this:
"True friends are hard to find, harder to leave and impossible to forget."

Lord, thank you for my friend Audrey and the impact of her life on her husband, her son, her family and Thank you for what we shared together - good talks, laughter, and also tears.  Lord, it is my prayer that the plan for "Audrey's garden" will be a place that brings joy to others - and where it brings wonderful memories of friendship - and where it brings an awareness of who YOU are God, and how you are in our lives - in our friendships - and in everything that happens - Yes, even in our grieving.  YOU. ARE. HERE.   I pray Lord for your insight - your plan into this space and that the planning, the tilling, the picking of plants, the weeding, the enjoying of your creation - that all of this ultimately will bring you honor and glory!  May this be a place that brings honor to you, from a life well lived by Audrey.  Lord thank you for my friend.  I just imagine that now - she is WHOLE and absolutely healed and in your presence.  No more pain.  Oh Lord - until we meet again - Audrey and I - may the fragrance of our friendship be in this place!  Amen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

unexpected blessing from unexpected places

I am a little tired these days.  Tired but so thankful.  Tired because well, it has been a long haul, and we are still finishing up loose ends.  Or should I say Alvin is.  After all - he is the one doing that kind of work.  We really want the loose ends to be done by January 31st, but time will tell.  There is always more on the go than meets the eye.  lol

Thing is, even in the midst of the loose ends  and in the midst of being a little bit tired - God continues to assure us of HIS hand in all this.  He continues to send people along our way that are blessing us - unexpected blessings - from unexpected places!!  My mouth has dropped open several times lately!

For instance, we (the ministry) got a check sent for the ministry on Friday.  When I opened the mail and saw that, I was so blessed by this couples support of Women Refreshed at the Well.  And then, I went to church on Sunday and was greeted by another friend, who gave me a white envelope which I stuck in my purse.   When I remembered to take it out and look - I was once again totally blessed with another significant donation (same amount as the first one) which again totally knocked my socks off (so to speak!) as again God said - Trust me on this!

Today I came home and Alvin gave me a parcel from Amazon.  I thought it was a book that was on back order, but it was not what I thought.  I looked at these books and thought, "hmmm don't remember ordering these BUT I remember talking to someone about this author" and I checked the slip in the box and saw they were lovingly bought and gifted to our ministry! Again ... God, it was like I just could feel His smile!

Not only that, but we have received emails, and phone calls, and drop in visits (out of the blue, people passing by) asking when we are open for business.  All of this while I continue to shake in my boots! (remember that post?)

God has been speaking to me through verses that I am choosing to memorize.  Actually all of Psalm 139 is on my agenda to memorize in 2013.   But so far, it is the first 4 verses for this month that I am working on.  Yes, it does get much harder as one ages!! lol

Lord, you have searched me
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you know it completely, O Lord.

Psalm 139: 1-4 NIV 

I think these verses are timely - because they are just a great reminder once again, that God knows it all.  He knows all of my thoughts regarding this adventure he has us on.  He knows that sometimes I shake in my boots.  He knows about the ministry and the details ... and he knows about each person who will walk through our doors to find rest, renewal, refreshment and retreat!!  HE KNOWS.

Hope these verses can bring some assurance into your life today too!!  And while we are in the middle of finishing up jobs, and writing guidelines, and furnishing and all of that - it brings great strength to know He is truly in control!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

memory verses in the midst

There is so much swirling around in my thoughts these days.  So much.
I find that I am constantly carrying around a notebook and I have a list in there that I can check off when the task it achieved, or the item is delivered, or purchased, or a phone call made .  You get it.
In other words, I don't just depend on my 54 year old memory any more!!

I go to bed with these same thoughts swirling in my mind.  In fact, sometimes they swirl so fast that I can't fall asleep (as was the case yesterday).

But in the midst of all those swirling thoughts and tasks (as fun as they all are) I have come to realize the importance of storing God's Word in my heart.  I have chosen to partner up with many other women who are challenging one another to learn memory verses along with Beth Moore.

Today I finally got around to writing down the verse in the little coiled book, as well as I posted it on the comments on her blog.  She asks that you write your name, where you live, and the verse reference, and translation.  

I have chosen NIV and this is the verse - 
Psalm 139: 1-2
O Lord you search me and you know me
You know when I sit and when I rise
You perceive my thoughts from afar

I think that I would like to memorize all of Psalm 139.  But right now - these verses are very timely for me.  Because - in the midst of all the details - the finishing, the decorating, the purchasing, the phone calls - in the MIDST of it all - HE does search me.
he DOES know me
He knows it all!

And well - it is a wonderful feeling - a deep sense of peace - and of calm - that God KNOWS.
He truly KNOWS me.
And I can't describe how, in the midst of it all - how it makes me feel!!
Thank you Lord for that reminder tonight.

reading part of our story in the MB Herald

As I walk by my island in the kitchen, I glance down at the MB Herald that I received in the mail in December, and I am thankful.

God is pulling out all the stops on our behalf, and hooking us up with people/places/things that cause us to stand in awe at how greatly He is involved in this ministry that He has called us to, and called us to build.

SO I thought I would just share the story link with you - and you can read for yourself.  In the herald itself, in the paper form of the magazine - it does not have the picture of the guys planting, but one of the fireplace in our home!

Here is the story if you want to read.  I am so pleased to be written up alongside of Steve and Evy Klassen and the Mark Center.  Lord willing, we will partner in some way with the Mark Center.  Time will tell - and only God knows.

here is the link:  enjoy the read! (just cut/and paste it into your browser.