Effervescent Edmonton

  “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…”

Motorhome Meandering #12: I’ve talked to y’all about how wonderful Mabel is, how strong she is and how much we love her. While definitely worthy of these accolades, she remains, after all, a finite machine. So when the weather drops (unexpectedly, in a month belonging to the season formerly known as summer) to below freezing and snow blankets her roof and the ground all around her, her pipes will still freeze, her occupants will be denied running water and will furthermore be required to vacate her in order to safeguard both her existence as well as their own. I’m just saying.

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Edmonton is irrepressibly effervescent. There is a vitality to her that is palpable. I’m not just talking about her indomitable West Edmonton Mall. (We didn’t even make it there, actually.) The effervescence comes from her somehow seamless juxtaposition of farmland-melds-into-steel-cityness (well, seamless for a girl that was raised in Chatham and then fondly called Hamilton home for years), from the traffic constantly snaking along her impressive transit system, from the houses popping up relentlessly around her outskirts, from the very spirit of those who call her home…

  Perhaps it’s just me, but I think Jer looks a wee bit TOO comfortable with this rifle in his hand…

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think Jer looks a wee bit TOO comfortable with this rifle in his hand…

We ourselves called Andrew and Joan Geistefer’s Snow-White’s-Uber-Cottage “home” during our nearly two-week stint in Edmonton. Andrew is a Board Member for World Renew, and he was actually in London, ON and in attendance at the Commissioning Service held at Talbot Street CRC for the I Am Not My Own Tour this past May. He contacted me right after that service and invited us to stay with him and his wife, Joan (and his 20 year old son and their sweet dog, Rosie) whenever we came to Edmonton. These are the kind of people Andrew and Joan are: intentional, gracious, generous, and hospitable beyond compare. They treated us like family and on an especially memorable occasion, took us out to their acreage where we crashed their neighbour’s family reunion camp-out (Frank and Josie Vandenbrink and their fine family!) and had the time of our lives. Kiara got to meet some new friends, Jer tried his hand at skeet-shooting (turns out he’s a crack shot!) and Isaiah shot a 22. (What IS it with boys and these kind of toys?! I don’t think I’ve ever seen either Jer or Isaiah with SUCH huge grins on their faces. I don’t know about you guys, but I blame it on the Fall. Sigh.)

  Boys and their toys !

Boys and their toys!

Other highlights from our time at the acreage included roasting hot dogs over an open fire, partaking in the delicious potluck provided by the Vandenbrink family and riding ATVs: (Well, this was a highlight for everyone except for me, as I spent five terrifying minutes squashed between my husband and my son on the ATV, careening powerlessly down the deathtrap they somehow define as a pathway, praying that the ride would end quickly and without injuries of any sort, aside from the ones I intended to inflict on the person who convinced me to “come on for a quick ride with your boy. It’ll be great!” Gggrrr.)

  The princess and her cottage…

The princess and her cottage…

Andrew and Joan also hosted a lovely Wine and Cheese Night fundraiser in support of the tour. (Editor’s Note: They did this the night before they left the province for nearly a week, as they were off to Ottawa for a family member’s wedding. Which goes to show you just how selfless and generous these people are.) Andrew and Joan, you guys have been such a blessing to us in so very many ways. We are so grateful and we really miss you and Rosie! My kids are in doggie-withdrawal…

  Isaiah doing his duty at the info table downstairs after the service at First CRC.

Isaiah doing his duty at the info table downstairs after the service at First CRC.

Covenant CRC opened up their doors twice, first for Jer to lead worship on Sunday morning and then again for a Friday night concert. The following Sunday saw Jer leading worship at First CRC in Edmonton as well. A huge thanks to Pastor Michelle Kool (Covenant CRC) and Pastor Brian Dunn (First CRC) for offering their churches as hosts for the Edmonton stop on the I Am Not My Own Tour. Thank you to Jocelyn Perrin and Judith Slomp from Covenant CRC and Shelley Kraay from First CRC (and all the rest of the singers, musicians and sound people) for your work leading worship with Jer at your churches. We know the extra time and energy and organization it takes to make these times possible, and we are truly grateful. Over $20, 000.00 was raised during our time in Edmonton. Wow! We thank God for this, and for all of your incredible support. (And we’re not going to say anything about the Edmonton-Calgary, er, Calgary-Edmonton, rivalry thing we might have heard mentioned a few times in both of these equally wonderful cities. Not a thing.)

  The drumming circle at Covenant CRC.

The drumming circle at Covenant CRC.

We are also deeply grateful to Harold Roscher, the Director and Chaplain of the Edmonton Native Healing Centre, which was the local cause the Edmonton churches elected to support. To begin with, Harold attended Tuesday night’s Wine and Cheese Night and shared his vocals and drumming and teaching with all who came out to the Geistefer’s home for the evening. Harold opened the more formal part of the night by asking all of us who were there to give our names and where we were from while simultaneously keeping a beat on the drum he provided. Later, Harold explained that he does this in groups because drumming while introducing themselves in this way makes everyone feel awkward…and thus keeps everyone on equal footing. I will not quickly forget his words and the depth and truth they both reflect and reveal. Would that we would all pick up our crosses, shoulder one another’s burdens and carry our own drums. What a constant visual and kinesthetic reminder that would be to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God..and with our neighbours. Holy One, grant us ears to hear and hearts to obey!

  Michelle and her beautiful voice-and-drum combo…

Michelle and her beautiful voice-and-drum combo…

Harold and his colleague, Michelle, also joined Jer for Friday night’s concert. Michelle opened the night with a gripping combination of vocals that haunted and drumming that beckoned. Later, Harold once again led a drum circle and then invited everyone to participate in a dance of reconciliation: powerful visuals both that underscored Jer’s fervent reminder that we must connect our vertical worship of our triune God with our horizontal service towards His people and His world. Finally, Harold invited our own family-of-four to come for a time of learning about Alberta’s Plains Cree people, their worldview, the deep symbolism of the ceremonial artifacts used and the work of the Edmonton Native Healing Centre. It was a rich and holy time together, and, Harold, we thank you for making the time and sharing of your story and your life and your heritage with us.

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These Are a Few of Our Favourite Things...About Edmonton

Jer: Drumming with Harold at the Wine and Cheese Night, visiting the Edmonton Native Healing Centre and witnessing the cultural identity and community building happening there…and four-wheeling and skeet-shooting at the acreage.

Isaiah: Going to the acreage, shooting a 22 and driving a 4-wheeler, and going to the Edmonton Native Healing Centre.

Kiara: Rosie! I loved taking her for a walk and it was the first time I ever carried a dog, but I did carry a cat before that.

Lara: The sight of my kids both frolicking and cuddling with Rosie. Watching Isaiah drum with Harold. Listening to Kiara chattering away to Andrew and Joan, surrogate grandparents once again :). And reconnecting with my cousin, Nikki Flindall. Nikki, having you tell me that you see my mother’s spirit in my daughter’s eyes touches me deeper than I can say. God bless you, girl.

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about humility and grace again these past couple of weeks. Part of it is knowing that school is back in session, and I am (self) conscious about the amount of “home schooling” I have (not) done. While part of me finds life on the road truly invigorating, another part of me finds it enervating. The lack of structure poses definite challenges to such things as a school day. I am a whole-hearted believer in “life as school” and that book-learning is only one way to learn and to “be smart.” That being said, I also know that structure and intentionally-designed learning opportunities, etc., are important and necessary aspects of learning as well.

And so, discouragement and guilt can creep in…because I know what I have or have not done…and because I am a woman and a mom and mother-guilt is insidious and relentless. My stars! So each day I have to begin by talking to God. Or, more to the point, listening to God. That makes me a way better mom, wife, educator, person and friend… to myself as well as to others.

And, so, listen to this, from the passage I “happened” to read just as I sat down to pen this blog:

“Come to Me and Rest. Give your mind a break from its habitual judging. You form judgements about this situation, that situation, this person, that person, yourself, even the weather—as if judging were your main function in life. When you become preoccupied with passing judgement, you usurp My role. Relate to Me as creature to Creator, sheep to Shepherd, subject to King, clay to Potter…The intimacy I offer you is not an invitation to act as if you were My equal. Worship Me as King of kings while walking hand in hand with Me down the path of Life.” From Jesus Calling, Sarah Young.

And, so, here I am, humbled and thankful again for a God who Loves us, who knows us, who calls us each by name. May you rest in the Palm of His Hand again this day.

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This week’s Quote-to-Note falls under the category of “Keeping it Real, People:”

“Hey, Mommy! Do you like my farts? They smell like cupcakes!” Kiara, after a decidedly non-cupcake-scented burst of flatulence while our family sat in close quarters in Mabel, heading through the snow from Edmonton to Lacombe.

Nothing more to say, folks, not a blessed thing.

  The blessing of books! Fran from Covenant CRC passed on books from her now-grown boys to my growing boy…in addition to a few for me and Jer. Thank you for blessing us with your generosity and thoughtfulness in this, Fran.

The blessing of books! Fran from Covenant CRC passed on books from her now-grown boys to my growing boy…in addition to a few for me and Jer. Thank you for blessing us with your generosity and thoughtfulness in this, Fran.

  Pastor Brian, Shelley and the rest of the dynamic First CRC Worship Team.

Pastor Brian, Shelley and the rest of the dynamic First CRC Worship Team.

  A BBQ with Pastor Brian and his family at Pastor Michelle’s home…fun times had by all!

A BBQ with Pastor Brian and his family at Pastor Michelle’s home…fun times had by all!

  My beautiful cousin, Nikki!

My beautiful cousin, Nikki!

  Homeschooling with Wikki Stix in Mabel…in the snow.

Homeschooling with Wikki Stix in Mabel…in the snow.

  Believe it or not, Isaiah and Kiara in Edmonton a mere week before the snow hit!

Believe it or not, Isaiah and Kiara in Edmonton a mere week before the snow hit!