Fine Wine and Fireworks (and a little politics)

January is Mike’s birthday month and the anniversary of his passing. If you are a Facebook friend, you’ll know because I always post something. January 5, 2019 marked four years from when Mike left our presence – I’ll never get over it. Chris and I found the only quiet place that day at the airport in Cabo San Lucas for me to let it all out. I had no idea I needed to let it all out – the tears came unannounced. We were waiting to board our flight home after spending a glorious week at the beach where Chris took me to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Chris and his late wife Heather were there four years earlier and watched the fireworks on New Year’s from where they stayed, at the resort next door from where we were. I felt so honoured to go back to that spot with Chris and take in the amazing fireworks display with him. He was remembering a beautiful moment in time that will forever bless his life. I know the feeling and it was fun to walk down memory lane with him and to create beautiful new memories of our own. I don’t think he could possibly know how much those fireworks meant to me. I was reminded of my first New Year’s Eve without Mike where I stood on my balcony recollecting our stroke-of-midnight kisses and spotted a few fireworks in the distance. I was convinced Mike set them off for me.

I can’t believe it’s a new year already. Each one seems to fly by a little bit faster than the last one. I never seem to accomplish everything I think I should. A couple of months ago while my daughter Erin and I were talking, I told her that I had hoped my book would be finished by now. I told her my goal was to have it written by the end of the year. She replied with something so wise. She told me that maybe all the events that are to be written about in this book haven’t happened yet. She suggested the story wasn’t over. I immediately became hopeful about what was still to come and stopped beating myself up for not being a more disciplined writer.

Sure enough, some things have happened that add to the story. Like this thing: In early December, Chris and I got a call from our MP (Member or Parliament), Dan Ruimy inviting us to come to Ottawa where some MPs were hosting a reception for people of the Christian faith. They called it, Christmas on the Hill. He explained that on the Hill they honour different days and events celebrated by people of different faiths, so they agreed it would be nice to do the same for some of their Christian constituents. Dan said that after hearing our story from Chris, he was so impressed by our strong faith in God, that when this Christmas on the Hill event came up, he thought of us. 

Chris told Dan our story on their recent trip to Malawi. Dan and his assistant Khalida joined Dad and Chris in November to see first hand three more wells drilled (Khalida sponsored one in honour of her dad and mom).

Dan and Khalida and Dad have been friends since Dad went into their office to check Dan out and to introduce himself, shortly after Dan was elected. Khalida and Dan, have been extremely kind to Dad and to our family … they tirelessly and joyfully serve the communities of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

Of course Elanna and Dad were invited to Ottawa as well (Peter could have come, but someone had to stay home and work, plus I think the air mile points had surely run out). 

It was an honour to meet our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and present him with a copy of my book, Hold On, Let Go – Facing ALS with courage and hope. Dad shook his hand first and told him as a Christian missionary he prays for him every day. You could tell the Prime Minister was touched and very grateful. Dad made sure I was next. I definitely wasn’t as articulate as Dad. I said a few words and Justin Trudeau graciously accepted my book and then I introduced him to Elanna and Chris. While Chris and he compared socks (Chris knows he’s a sock guy and asked to see them), I realized I didn’t get the picture I wanted. I quickly elbowed my way through the crowd to notify Justin’s assistant, who was now holding my book, of my dilemma. She was way too busy for my problem as she was trying to keep the Prime Minister on time and slowly usher him to the exit. I stayed close to the crowd as everyone took their turn meeting him and getting their picture taken. I didn’t want to be greedy but I just had to get that photo; I stayed hopeful. Sure enough, as his assistant gave him the final head-nod ‘we’re done here’, he looked right at me, stepped forward and reached for my hand. I apologized for taking more of his time and explained the situation. In one motion, he took my book, put his arm around me and smiled handsome for the camera.

It was a thrilling three-day adventure. Dan and Khalida took us on a couple of tours of the Parliament Buildings including the House of Commons. We met a number of other MPs and Ministers. We also sat in on a question period where Dan honoured Dad in the House again. Some of his speech went like this: “Mr. Speaker, You may remember a year ago I rose to celebrate my constituent George Klassen’s 80th birthday and the work he does drilling wells with Project Wellness. Well, Mr Speaker, I took a week of personal time to join George and what an incredible journey it was. I saw first hand the impact fresh water brings to a village. They can grow crops and they no longer have to drink from the river they bathe in. This leads to less sickness and disease which leads to better health.” Composed Dan, showed a little emotion at the end when he concluded, “Mr Speaker, this Christmas will be the most special to me.” It was so well said and Dad received a standing ovation. (Both videos can be viewed on our website: projectwellness.ca)

I’m not really into politics. I aways had to ask Mike (who was very much into politics), who’s who and what’s what. Now Chris (also knowledgable in politics), gets to answer all my questions. I rarely participate in political debates – especially on social media and I try to take my judgements to the Lord. I pray about certain issues that I really care about of course, but since our trip to Ottawa, I’m taking my duty as a Christian, to pray for our politicians and leaders more seriously and to fervently pray for our nation – may hearts be turned to God and His will be done!

I thought it was pretty cool that the following verses showed up in our daily reading the first few days back from Ottawa: 

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16 (ESV)

December was a whirl wind with a couple of trips, Christmas and the death of a friend. The passing of our friend Chuck happened first actually, on December 2nd.

In my last blog post, Good News of Great Joy, I wrote about my amazing warrior friend Shonia, who has persevered beyond what most people could, in a heroic battle with cancer. I also mention another friend in hospice. That was Chuck.

Chuck was diagnosed with MS in 1975, he had to give up working in 1986 and he quietly and patiently endured increasing pain and suffering all these years. One thing mentioned a number of times at his memorial service last weekend, was his positive attitude and his incredible perseverance. This wonderful, gentle man that family and friends described, was exactly the man that I knew. He always wanted to know about you and he had the most beautiful smile.

While I was visiting Chuck a couple of weeks before he died, I tried with all my might to make him smile. It was always really easy to get a smile from Chuck. But on this day, there seemed to be no way, until I mentioned our first meeting in heaven. When I said how I looked forward to seeing him in heaven and hearing all the things he’d been trying to say, a smile came. When I reminded him of the new legs he was getting and that there is no need for wheelchairs there, his smile increased. I assured him that the best was yet to come! His wife Beth said that’s how she spoke to him. My sister Elanna said the same thing.

I’m sure ‘the best is yet to come’ conversations brought joy and hope to Chuck’s weary bones and that the Bible verses Beth read to him in his final days brought reassurance and peace. By the grace of God, now he’s free – the best has come for Chuck!

I started a new blog post a couple of weeks ago. My idea was to take off from where I left off in my last one. I had miracles on my mind, in particular, Jesus’ first – where He turns water into wine. Once I got started researching this story, I could’t stop. The topic lead to writing a whole chapter for my book. Compared to the others, I thought this miracle was just ho-hum – it’s the complete opposite!

In my water-to-wine chapter, I list some quotes and notes regarding different views and opinions. I focus on two that really speak to me and are very unique. I’ll keep those between me and chapter thirteen for now and share two others that work well with this piece: 

1. ‘The best is yet to come’ OR ‘The best for last’. “As in the case of Jesus’ first miracle, He saved the good wine for last. As you continue to seek Jesus, you will be changed from glory to glory and grace to grace.” Rabbi Schneider

2. “It’s a demonstration of Himself as the source of all true and lasting joy. Don’t settle for cheap wine. Anything you try to fill in that place of ultimate joy will eventually let you down. Jesus says let me show you what I’m capable of. Replace that cheap wine you’ve been drinking with the best wine imaginable.” Jason Fritz

I’m not a wine drinker and I have no idea what to look for in a good bottle of wine. The few times I’ve bought wine, to take to a host or if someone was coming over, I shopped for it by the label. If the label was aesthetically pleasing—certain colours and design—sold!

Anyway, I share the first quote in light of Chuck’s passing and since then, my Uncle John’s passing (Dad’s brother), who endured Parkinson’s Disease for many years. I share the second quote because it fits with a sermon I just heard.

Once in a while, I go to a church called God Rock in Port Coquitlam on Saturday nights, where my son Nathan drums sometimes. I wrote about a really cool experience I had in this church last year. This isn’t the kind of church most people imagine when they hear the word “church”. This is a church where a lot of people in recovery meet (recovering addicts). It’s not a church for someone who has a problem with a bunch of smokers lighting up outside the front doors. People don’t get all dressed up here – they come as they are and let me tell you, God is there! 

The sermon was convicting and filled with the grace, love and power of the Holy Spirit, like the other ones I’ve heard. This young, buff, on-fire-for-Jesus, preacher named BJ, gave a message called, Gospel 101 – How to Become a Christian (and how to share your faith with others). He started, “We are going to talk about how to be set apart to the glory of Jesus Christ. I have four points. Number one… “ Right away I thought about the little booklet my dad uses to share his faith and how he has taught countless others how to do the same. 

BJ’s points: 1. God is great. 2. We reject God. 3. God gives grace. 4. We give God all of our life. Dad’s booklet points (just from memory so not exact): 1. God loves you and has the best plans for your life. 2. Sin separates us from knowing God. 3. Jesus came to die for our sins and make a way for us to know God. 4. We must accept and receive Jesus. Dad’s booklet has a little picture of a throne and asks the reader, where are you and where is God in relation to the throne of your life?

BJ’s and Dad’s points are worded differently but it’s the same message, they both urge the reader/listener to give their life to Christ. BJ had his own “throne” illustration at the end. He told us that ‘believing’ isn’t enough. The Bible says that even the demons believe (James 2:19). In order to receive Jesus and become a Christian, you must give all of your life to Him – you relinquish your old sinful life for a new life. He explained it as an exchange. Enthusiastically, he proclaimed, “All of Him for all of me? Yes please!” 

He told the congregation it can be a struggle of course. It’s hard for everyone to leave everything with Him and then not try to take some things back again. I’m pretty sure that Chuck and my uncle John, who both recently entered into the presence of God, would testify, it’s an amazing exchange! Cheering us on to give it all up for Him! 

As much as I thought a couple of months ago that my book would never be written, I now feel like I’m getting close. The story isn’t over though of course.

Hey, if you have breath, your story isn’t over yet; God has great plans for your life! So what do you say? If you’re still settling for that cheap wine, why not replace it with the very best: Jesus! Praise God for His blood that washes away every stain!

Happy New Year friends! And Dear Chris, thanks for the fireworks!

fireworks

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