I was given a gift certificate to Ten Thousand Villages this Christmas. I love that store.
There is so much to choose from!
Hand-made musical instruments
Flower and garden pots
There is also coffee...
GOOD coffee.

I walked around the store for about half an hour (sipping a sample of...well you know), and ended up buying the items that caught my eye from the start.
A love-erly scarf from here.
And some whimsical stars from here.

Think I'll string the stars along our headboard in our bedroom.
Or wrap them around my neck along with the scarf.
Either way they will add some cheer. And CHEER is good.


Christmas 2012

What a wonderfully memorable Christmas we had this year.
Lots of intentional, encouraging conversations on the Neufeld side.
Calm and cheer-filled fellowship with the Rygiels.
Matthew "singing" along to Sound of Music
Adorning birdhouse ornaments in memory

Grandma thought of everything.

A feast
Probably my best Christmas yet!


Songs for the season

This morning I felt like a 500 lb balluga whale as I shuffled about the house nibbling on stale chips (left out from the night before), and drinking pop straight from the bottle. My head pounded and my stomach felt squeamish (which is why of course, I was eating chips?). I had the unfortunate luck of picking up Liam's 24 hr flu, and was inevitably drowning my sorrows in an irrational junk food fest.

You see, I  had hoped to take the kids down to Winkler this afternoon and kick start Christmas 2 days earlier than we had origanally planned. I needed a break from the house....more specifically the visual nagging reminder that nothing ever is truly "done" (shopping, cleaning etc. etc.) unless or until the premises are DeSERTED.Out of sight and out of mind! And...l needed a break from being a wife for a little while if you know what I mean.... (maybe you don't-which congratulations is a good thing!!!)

So yes, last night Liam started puking (poor kid), and I woke up this morning feeling like steam-rolled piece of scrap metal (an obese piece of scrap metal may I add). And proceeded to purposefully wrap myself up in an attitude of despair and self loathing for most of the live long day...

It has been mentioned here before that I rarely sit down at our piano for anything other than solitude and comfort. I don't play well enough to entertain anyone but myself and the occational family member. And i like to relax at the keyboard. There is something quite theraputic for me about singing and pressing the piano keys (even when hitting a million wrong notes). The music stirs something within me....and sometimes changes my toxic thoughts to heavenly hope. So this evening was no exception as I slumped down at the old keys and began to play my favourite Christmas song, "O Holy Night". The lyrics and melody flooded my mind with happy Christmas memories from the past, when our family was complete. And when my Dad would unwind after a long day stretched out on the couch, eyes closed listening to the stereo. cranked. Like I mean so loud you could hear the cello line or bass thumping outside.

Playing and singing (screeching more like), turned my heartache to joy as I imagined my music-loving Dad surrounded this Christmas with a celestial chorus more wondrous (and loud) than anything ever heard or experienced on earth!

If you have a chance read or listen to verse 2 of "O Holy Night".  Those words really did me in...(broke the downheartedness if for a moment.) The lyrics are full of worship, adoration and hope- so very relevent for us even today. "And in his name all oppression shall cease".

For all those who have loved ones in heaven this Christmas, let us find comfort in the knowledge that they are participating in live worship...falling to thier knees as they hear the Angel chorus!!


I haven't felt like blogging in a really long time and I'm not sure whether or not that will change anytime soon. For now though I'm officially "closing it" (without deleting it). ..keeping it tucked away on a really big virtual bookshelf. Thanks for stopping by.


I love how the four seasons of the calender year (for us anyway) herald predictable sights and sounds.
January to December.
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.
Yellow daffodils, ripe watermelon, scarlet maple leaves and glistening snow.
Robins chirping, strawberry picking, pumpkin patches and snow angels.
Puddles to splash in, gardens that grow and produce, combines out harvesting fields, and Christmas trees lighting up our homes.
Breathing the warm earth in spring, watching waves crash and recede on a lazy summers day, listening to a crackling fire on a chilly autumn evening, and tasting winters first fallen snowflake.

No matter what joys or hardships may be present, I am grateful for these magnificent events that hallmark each passing year.
I am thankful for the holidays and traditions that provide structure and give life.


time of worship


You meet us in our mourning

                       faithful forever
perfect in love

       You are Sovereign over us.

                                                                               In the Living Room album


sweet Jesus Christ my sanity

This evening my mom emailed just to check in and tell me about her day.
we do that now more than we ever used to.
she mentioned that "the boys" (my two brothers) helped her sort her bedroom closet and pack away my dad's clothes. I guess she hasn't had the heart to do it herself, and I guess I haven't had the heart to offer. 
my "emotional setting" since the funeral hasn't moved past numb.
its left me inwardly sorrowful but complacent to any outward expression...
more aptly put, I haven't cried.
I'v been stuck.

Visualizing the three pulling out hangers of his suits and dress shirts,
sweaters from christmas and hockey Jerseys for those games "in the city",
folding them all up and then deciding what to keep and what to donate;
set my emotions into motion...cracked open the dull expressionless ache and rendered the hurt.
Tears flowed refreshingly, soothingly
He is gone.
Completely gone.
In a flash. Just like that.
I can hear him saying my name.
I can see his eyes soften and crinkle when he smiled.
will my memory of DAD eventually disappear and be packed away like his shirts and sweaters?
death is cruel in its finality. its permanence.
This song brings comfort to me.
It is simple. It is soft. It is strong.
Mystery by Charlie Hall.

Praying through Ramadan

This is a prayer request that came through recently in our prayer chain: 
Hi praying friends, I thought as many of you enjoy the pleasant summer we are having, that you might take a moment to pray for the Muslim world. Here are some ideas. It will only take a moment, to read each morning at breakfast, or in the evening. Maybe encourage your children to read each day's request and pray.
My son and his wife have returned to the MIddle East to work among the Muslims and they have reported that often during this time tempers flare because of the fasting. Yet it is also a time where they are spiritually seeking and believe in visions and dreams. Pray that Jesus will reveal Himself to whole families and communities. Pray Greg and Terri and others who serve in various Muslim countries, as well as muslims in Canada and the US.
Thanks, have a prayful summer. Love, Mary

The suggestion to pray specifically each day during the Ramadan holiday really resonated with me, and I thought perhaps you might be inspired as well.  Although we've missed the first few weeks of Ramadan there is a wealth of information to glean from the prayer items in the days leading up to August 2nd.  Will you join me?
Mosque in Pakistan

Sunset on July 19 begins the fasting month of Ramadan since Ramadan officially begins on the 20th.  Join with us as we pray for the salvation which comes by grace through  faith in the Lord Jesus, who according to 1Corinthians 15:3-4 died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.  This is the essence of our salvation.  Will you also consider fasting from sunrise to sunset one day of this month?

July 19:   Many Muslims anticipate the beginning of Ramadan with great expectation.  It is a time when greater emphasis is placed on spiritual matters.  Ask the Father that those who truly desire to know Him will begin to see their need for a Redeemer.
July 20:   This month there is a greater emphasis on good works, hoping and endeavoring to please Allah.  Ask that those fasting would be faced with the startling realization that all their good works are like menstrual rags to God and will not gain them access to Heaven.
July 21:   Ask that those fasting will be blessed with a thirsting and hungering  after Truth and not cease endeavoring to satisfy this hunger until they partake of the Bread of Life.
July 22:   Women must rise early each day to prepare a meal which her family will eat before the sun rises.  As women tire because of this schedule ask that in their weariness they would encounter True Rest in I AM.
July 23:   Children are encouraged to fast and participate in Ramadan activities.  Many do so to gain approval from their parents, their community and their peers.  May God create unrest in their hearts, replacing it with a longing to be accepted by Him!
July 24:   Giving to the poor is emphasized during this month.  Those who have more are expected to give and those who consider themselves poor anticipate receiving from others.  Ask that each of these, both the giver and the receiver will consider and understand the poverty of their spiritual lives without the Giver of All Good Things!
July 25:   Ask that those fasting will be blessed with a deep thirst for Truth and will not cease endeavoring to satisfy this thirst until they partake of the Living Water.
July 26:   Ask that the eyes and hearts of believers would be opened and they will diligently and faithfully pursue the seekers encouraging them along the path to Christ.  Ask that the spirit of fear and apathy in their lives and hearts would be defeated.
July 27:   Ask that believers would respond with passion and compassion, demonstrating the love of Christ in very tangible, life changing ways.  Ask that in addition to helping meet physical needs they would also work to meet spiritual needs.
July 28: Ask that believers would be bold and take every opportunity to share Christ.  The season provides wonderful occasions for believers to visit in the homes of friends and break the fast with them.
July 29: Ask for new believers to see how they can remain in their culture, being salt and light and obedient to the commands of Christ.
July 30: Lift up believers asking they would hold firm and true to I AM in the face of opposition and pressure they face in this season and all year long.
July 31: Ask that He will use the Seeds planted during this season to bear His fruit in the fullness of time.  Praise Him that His Word never returns void.
August 1: Ask that the simplicity of the Good News would draw many to I AM during this fasting month.  “By grace you have been saved.”  Ask that He would give grace to many in need of His great mercy.
August 2: 2 Corinthians 2:15 & 16 speak of the dark veil which covers the hearts of those without I AM.  Ask that the veil would be removed and many would experience new found freedom in Him.
August 3: According to Romans 10:20 ask that He would seek those who are not even looking for Him.  Ask that He would reveal Himself to many who are not even asking for Him.  Rejoice that we serve an amazing Redeemer.
August 4: Muslims very often associate Christianity completely with Western culture.  Muslims often believe that Christians are being deceived.  For many Muslims, the word “Christian” signifies materialism, a lack of spirituality and moral failure.  Ask that the Father would provide true followers of Jesus for them to see.
August 5: Muslims often believe that the Book has been altered and corrupted.  They will deny its authority because they see it as not being authentic.  Ask that many would be drawn to read portions of the Book and would be unable to forget the truth of its precious Promises.
August 6: Muslims believe Jesus was conceived miraculously by God in the womb of Mary.  They believe  Jesus is only a prophet and that He did not die on the cross.  Ask that those fasting would be confronted by the Truth of the Word which became flesh.
August 7: According to 2 Corinthians 4:4 the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.  Seek the Father, asking that HIS LIGHT penetrate the darkness of those fasting this month. 
August 8: Muslims all over the world pray memorized ritual prayers toward Mecca five times a day.  They must also ritually wash before these prayer times.   Ask that as they pray God will reveal that He is the Way, the Truth , and the Life and that no man can come to the Father except through the Son.
August 9: Muslims believe the Holy Trinity implies a belief in three gods.  Many Muslims believe that the Christian Trinity is made up of the Father, Mary and the Son.  Ask that this month God’s Spirit would break through false concepts about the Trinity, replacing them with truth.
August 10: Muslims believe there is a Day of Judgment for all people.  Ask that the Lord would provide someone to tell them the truth about this coming day and that Jesus is the Judge!
August 11: This week those fasting anticipate the “Night of Power” ( Leyla Al-Qadr), which is expected to fall during the last ten days of Ramadan: around August 9-18, 2012.  They ask forgiveness for their shortcomings firmly believing that Allah accepts their prayers more readily during this night.  Ask that God in His mercy would reveal that forgiveness is found only in Jesus Christ.
August 12: Ask that the power of I AM override the Night of Power so that people will be freed from the darkness that consumes them.
August 13: It is believed that on the “Night of Power” angels and spirits descend and carry out the commands of Allah. Muslims are often encouraged to stay awake during the entire night, and pray for blessings and forgiveness.  Ask that families and communities will testify of Jesus visiting them and calling them to follow Him.
August 14: Because many expect visions, dreams, signs, wonders and proper interpretations during this season and particularly during the Night of Power, ask that people will experience these and be led to seek I AM.
August 15: It is tradition as Ramadan comes to an end that children return to the home of their parents, asking forgiveness for wrongs which have been committed against them.  Pray that as they seek to honor their earthly fathers they will see the Living God as their Father and desire His forgiveness.
August 16: It is also tradition to ask forgiveness from friends, coworkers, and neighbors for wrongs in thought and deed committed against them.  Jesus alone offers forgiveness.  Ask that this truth be planted in the hearts of Muslims.
August 17: As the month of fasting comes to an end tomorrow, Muslims prepare to celebrate with family, friends, neighbors.  Would you continue to pray for their spiritual eyes to be opened so that the angels in heaven celebrate because He has drawn new children into His family?


Dad is needed

I put a few more miles on the car today and drove our youngest up to Faith Bible Camp. A beautiful camp out at Victoria beach where Kent is working as this weeks camp director.
As much as I try to create fun, full, planned days with the children in his absence, there isn't anything quite like time spent with the real deal. Time with DAD.
When mom attempts to be funny or silly (like dear old DAd), her children look disturbed concerned instead of amused. When mom attempts to "play" video games with the children-as DAD loves to do, she is politely asked to quit mid-game so that it can "really be played." well! When mom attempts to tell bedtime stories like Dad, she again comes up short because she just isn't as "interesting".  SO, let it be known that I cannot be mom and dad to our two beautiful, sweet, endearing, tiring, hungry, bored, electronically-addicted...did i mention hundry? children. I just can't.

Thankfully I won't need to invest a whole lot more time trying (whew). As of today, the calendar has been turned to August, and with that progression to a new month comes the promise of a family reunited. Yay! (*until I take off for my own personal vacation*) Yay!


Big big sky

I am so small compared to golden fields and vast blue skies...
The drives out into the country remind me of God's power, goodness and sovereignty.
I am thankful.


Edward Sharpe & the magnetic zeros

i posted this video/song on facebook (because it made me happy and that's what you do these days when you are happy, by golly you share things on facebook and hope maybe one or two people actually read/watch it)... my friends, i felt the NEED  to get it "out there" just a little more. Its a kinda catchy, kinda different sounding song (which is why i like it-and because they use the word damn). Yes, for me, its a "summer song"... proclaiming the worthy anthem that one needs to forget all else to get down and dance!
I must confess my children are forced to listen to Eddie Sharpe. I crank it on our drives out to "the country" while we cruise down the highway.. breathing in the sweet smell of canola and wheat fields, and waving at combines and grazing cattle. It just seems to be fitting.
A Johnny Cash-esque interpretation of folk music perhaps?
The video showcases many varieties, variations, what-have-you..of dance. People who have soul, vision and a ton of rhythm.
Man on Fire (official video) 
... with my one guitar and two dancin' feet.
come dance with me
over heartache and rage
come set us free
p.s. I can't make the video any larger, I highly recommend 
making it "full screen"-gotta see all the great moves and faces. 


Dear Liam,
You are awesome. You have incredible courage and determination.
You love meeting new people and potential friends! It was such a pleasure to watch you this past week interact and make friends with the two boys in your class.  I am SO very proud of you.
The Lord knew that I needed a little boy in my life who wasn't afraid of making noise and a big splash now and then.
Keep it up!
Love Mom


I'm sorry

I'm sorry.
I feel helpless when you are in turmoil and deep pain, when your eyes resemble those of a frightened animal and your body is forced into constant motion. You are afraid of the future. I can see that. You are afraid to think too much of his absence. You are afraid of life now...without. Without....protection, companionship, and love.
I notice all of this, but I cannot reach out to you. I hear the grief and pain in your voice but I turn my head away in avoidance. At night I am aware of your sleeplessness but i cover my head with a blanket to muffle out your insomnia. 
I'm sorry.
It is just too much for me to take in, it is too much for me to bear. This is foreign territory for me. I am fighting the realization that you are not the same strong woman that I've always relied on. I am resisting the sobering truth that I must in some way be strong for you, the woman who raised me and modelled life in a gracious and giving way. You have always had the answers, the right words to console my anxious heart or reassure my self doubt. I recognize that you cannot be the same from this point forward. I understand that your world is upside down. Yet somehow my heart is deceived into believing you'll get through this with the same determination and strength as you always have before.
I'm sorry.



We said goodbye to Kent and his team this afternoon as they left to do 2 weeks of mission work at the Agua Viva Ranch in Ensenada Mexico. I feel so excited for the team consisting of 10 (correction) 6 youth and 4 leaders. They are about to experience something really incredible!!
This afternoon at the church before they left, I ran around hugging as many of the youth as I could...felt a tug in my heart wishing that we were going along- yet i know that it wasn't meant to be, especially after my dad's death.(I need to be home this summer).
It will be an incredible experience for everyone-I just know it!!

If you want to follow Kent and the youth group from our church, you can read the emerge ministry blog, 
Below are some pictures from the last time we went to Agua Viva in July, 2010. Maybe our family will go together next time around...
 the welcome sign for us in the dining hall at the ranch.

 The Agua Viva ranch is surrounded by beautiful hills. On top of one of these cactus laden hilltops is a large white cross.
 The dining hall being renovated. The group this year will be in the new facility!
 Mexican staff serving us our meals every day. Such beautiful people.
Our friends Jeff and Ineke. Americans who at the time were full time staff at Agua. This was right after a breakfast of eggs, tortilla's and of course...beans. Please join me in praying for the safety, unity and work of our team from Winnipeg.
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