February 2009


I was supposed to be heading to Saskatoon today for the annual Saskatchewan Home Based Educators conference. But, the arrangements I had for childcare and for Tyson’s karate tournament have fallen through. So, unfortunately, I am going to have to miss the conference. As a result, I am expecting some wonderful blessings from this weekend that I would have missed had I been away! Bring it on, God!

Here’s the plan. Today, the boys and I are going to load up and head to Regina. I have booked us into the Days Inn for tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll all go to Balgonie for Tyson’s karate tournament. (He is so pumped about it. It is his first tournament since he started back into karate.) Hopefully, the tournament will not last too late and we’ll be able to get home before dark. I’m hoping to get away by noon today so that we can do a little shopping and enjoy the waterslide at the hotel. Take full advantage, you know. Should be great fun.

The Days Inn is my new favourite place to stay. The rooms are comfortable, there is is a waterslide (at least at the three Inns that I have stayed at), and there is a complimentary breakfast. The free breakfast is a huge savings for us. The last time our family had breakfast at Smitty’s, it cost us fifty dollars.

Funny hotel story. The last time we stayed in a hotel, the admitting clerk mistakenly gave us a key card for an occupied room. We schlepped our luggage up the elevator and down the hall and entered the room to find it in quite a state of disarray. At first I thought housekeeping had just not cleaned the room yet, but we quickly realized that the room belonged to someone else. Luckily, the room occupants were not, ahem, busy when we barged in. So we quickly backed out of the room, dragged everything back down to the lobby, and got a different, empty, room.

Anyway, back to the weekend. I am almost out of water so I really should haul some before we leave. It is freezing outside, though, so that is not an easy or appealing proposition. I think I’ll get everything else ready and then decide. I do want to take the water tank out of the back of the truck before we leave. I feel like enough of a hick when I go to the city without driving around with a big water tank. Plus, it’s hard to park the big Dodge in the city at the best of times, so… the water tank has got to go. But we probably won’t get back till Saturday evening, and we would like to take showers before church on Sunday, so… maybe I should haul water this morning before we leave. (I’m thinking out loud. I think this is called “stream of consciousness” writing. Pretty boring, isn’t it!)

There is one other thing that needs to happen this weekend. Carter has asked for an adventure. In fact, he has not only asked for an adventure, he has prayed for an adventure. So… unexpected blessings for me and an adventure for Carter. That’s what we are after this weekend. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

The memo that says it’s okay for us to swear now. Apparently, swearing is the new way of being “relevant” in this post modern culture. But, only certain swear words, and only in certain contexts.

Elaboration…

I recently heard a preacher say the D word. In his sermon. In a church building. Really. He was asking the congregation if any of them cared about the future of their children. In what I understood to be righteous indignation he asked, “Does anyone give a d***?” Although I can’t bring myself to type the word (I’m such a prude), it obviously made an impact on me, as I remember the sermon and it has been several months.

I also see the “D word” sprinkled throughout various blogs written by religious folks. It is, I think, the most commonly used swear word. By religious people, I mean. The “F word”, though, is still off limits. But “shirt without the r” is, although not as commonly used as the “D word”, acceptable in some circles and within certain contexts. And the “child of an unwed mother” is also becoming more common. However, the use of the “finger” is still, as far as I can tell, too crude to be considered acceptable.

Hope that helps.

This is about the fifth time I’ve started writing this post. I can’t seem to find the words.

Sunday morning, my almost fourteen-year-old son was baptized. Wow. I can’t even begin to describe what that was like.  He had made the decision a few days earlier and we had had several wonderful conversations about it all. He was ready.

Now, I could preach a sermon on What Baptism Means… but, hey, I’m not going to! Anyone who cares can read and decide for himself. For Tyson, it was about relationship, peace, obedience, salvation. About reaching up to a God who is reaching down. I love that kid!

So… Sunday morning. The service is almost over. The worship leader calls for Tyson and he goes up to the front. Lyndon and I join him on the front pew and the congregation sings together while we wait for our preacher, Wendell, to change for the baptism. I sit there, my arm around my son, and marvel at the young man he has become.

When Wendell was ready, he called Tyson up to stand with him. Seeing him standing there in his bare feet, so confident as he answered the questions Wendell asked him… my heart was full of love and joy and wonder. I mean, I hate to gush, but it was just so incredible. Where had this young man come from?

Wendell and Tyson stepped into the water and my son was baptized. Our wonderful friends, Clint and Dawn and Garrett, stood up to sing Amazing Grace. Lyndon and I met Tyson with a towel as he came out of the baptistry, and hugged him. I hugged my dripping son, and felt him hug me back as his dad wrapped the towel around his shoulders. I couldn’t help but think of all of the times I had lifted him from his bath and hugged him to me, wrapped in a towel, when he was a child. I kissed his wet cheek.

Both sets of grandparents joined us at the front, as well as Carter and Colton. Dad prayed for Tyson, and the congregation gathered around and sang again. Wow. Of course, I cried. Buckets. It was an incredible, wonderful, amazing experience. I pray I will experience it two more times.

Throughout it all, I was struck by the weight of history. By the ancient meaning inherent in this act. By the consideration of the numbers of believers, over thousands of years, who have done as Tyson did on Sunday morning. God be praised. Amen.

This past weekend, our little town held a winter carnival. Typical small town fun: pancake breakfast, snowshoe egg relay (which Carter’s team won), potato sack relay (the funniest moment was when a little girl jumped right out of her sack but didn’t realize it and continued jumping all the way across the yard!), tug of war, spicy chilli and bun lunch, and (of course) bingo.

I haven’t played bingo for years. I think the last time was when I went with my (then) boyfriend’s mother to a fancy bingo hall at West Edmonton Mall. Easily twenty years ago. I remember the serious fun of it all. The regulars came in with their bingo boinkers, taped down six to eight cards on the table, propped up the lucky stuffed toy or picture of the grandkids, and they were set. I could not keep up with them. I was lucky to do two cards at a time, although I remember I won twenty-five dollars that night.

While not quite of the same caliber, our Saturday afternoon bingo game at the Parish Hall was great fun. I sat down at a table with a group of older women, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The cards were old relics from a bingo hall that had closed down years earlier. They were cardboard, with little coloured plastic windows that slid across to cover the number if it was called. I won the blackout round! But the most fun was visiting with the women at my table.

I discovered that two of the women, sisters, had grown up in my house. Their grandfather was the original owner, and the house itself was built by the father-in-law of one of the sisters. They described the house as it was when they lived here. They remembered sitting on the veranda on summer mornings, shelling peas or snapping beans. We had a wonderful visit, and I invited them to stop by any time to have a look at the old place. They said they were expecting relatives in the summer and they would give me a call and come by then.

All in all, a lovely Saturday.

Is there a sociological or psychological reason for this, I wonder? Why are all the conferences scheduled for these first few months of the year? All of Canada is not rural, so the reason can’t be that everyone is trying to fit in their conference before calving and seeding start. Hmmm.

I have spent considerable time these last few days trying to make my conference arrangements. In order of appearance, I’m hoping to attend: the Sister Triangle Ladies Retreat at Kenosee Lake, the Saskatchewan Home Based Educators Conference in Saskatoon, the Serve Conference in Caronport, and the Christian Women’s Trail Ride at Mitchell’s Meadow in the Southern Saskatchewan Grasslands. For various reasons, I am looking forward to all of these events.

The Sister Triangle Ladies Retreat is an annual gathering of Christian women, organized each year by the editors of Sister Triangle Magazine. I haven’t been for several years. In fact, the last time I was there I was pregnant with Carter and he will be eight (gasp) in a few months. The format varies from year to year, but usually includes a speaker, small group times, activities, and lots of visiting. The location is lovely. Walks in the park are a highlight. Although I haven’t registered yet, I am hoping to get there this year.

One of the reasons I haven’t been to the Sister Triangle Retreat for so many years is because it is usually scheduled within a week of the annual Saskatchewan Home Based Educators Conference. I have attended this conference every year since I started homeschooling and I continue to look forward to it each year. I always find or hear something valuable, and I come home encouraged and inspired to continue the homeschooling adventure with my family. I usually buy most of my school supplies there, and I love browsing through the vendor halls. This is also a weekend that Lyndon and I usually take together, staying either with friends or at a hotel. But, this year Lyndon has to work so I am scrambling a bit to work it all out. I hope I can make it happen.

A couple of years ago, I attended the SERVE conference at Briercrest with some other people from my church. It was an interesting conference with many valuable speakers and I am looking forward to going again in March. This is one of the things that my friend, Dawn, and I decided to do together after we got home from Mexico. We are praying that there may be others there with whom we can connect in our goal of finding family ministry opportunities.

And then… the Trail Ride, held each year in the southern hills, among the wolf willow and the sage. No showers, no electricity, no beds. But lots of conversation, sharing, discussing, visiting. I don’t sign up for any activities (although the activities, which range from riding to rock painting, are always great). I just go to listen, learn, visit, and meditate. I like to take a walk (or a nap, depending on how well I slept in my tent that night!), or visit with someone over a cup of camp coffee. It is always a wonderful time.

So… that is what is coming up on my conference schedule. There are many other events I would have liked to attend. I could easily become a conference junkie, I think. I love to listen to wise people. But, life is not LIVED in a classroom. Sometimes it is more fun learning about things than doing them! My approach is to enjoy the blessing of the atmosphere while I am there, and to try to distill the experience down to something succinct that I can bring home with me and apply in my life. It may just be one small thing, but I always find something that I can make relevant and applicable.

We had an awesome weekend. It was actually a long weekend, because Lyndon was home Thursday night. Friday morning we loaded the kids and headed for Regina for the day. The gang dropped me off at the hospital, where I had my eye appointment. The technician fitted my new glasses with a prism, so I’ll be trying them out for the next few months. I’m still getting used to them, but I think they’ll be okay. Post appointment, we met Lyndon’s mom and dad for lunch, and then we hit The Mall. The kids had Walmart gift certificates that my mom had given them for Christmas. Carter had already decided to spend his on the first Star Wars movie. And all three of the boys bought Jedi swords. I don’t know what it is about boys and swords, but there you have it. Ensuing battles, all weekend, with minor injuries. Which is pretty good, considering my fourth “boy” was also involved, which usually increases the risk-of-injury factor. You would think that having Daddy involved would make things safer, not more dangerous, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

Anyway, back to The Mall. I was able to get in for a haircut while the boys, having finished their shopping, decided to walk next door to Chapters. And that is where I found them. They were scattered throughout the store– the boys in the Kid’s Reference section, checking out the animal books, and Lyndon in the Adult Reference section, checking out a firearms manual. That pretty much sums up our family! They were quite happy to continue referencing, so I, with a Christmas gift certificate from my husband (he knows me well) burning a whole in my pocket, set out in search of worthy reading material. I came away with two books. The first, The Story We Find Ourselves In, is by Brian McLaren. I had just been talking with my dad and he asked me if I had read anything by this other. I hadn’t, but this book looks great. I’m looking forward to getting into it.

The other book is Dangerous Surrender, by Kay Warren. I started this book this weekend and I am absolutely loving it (as you would be able to deduce if you could see all of the notes and underlined passages with which I have defaced the pages). The book’s title caught my attention because “surrender” in a word I have been thinking about lately. It is a word that travels on the heels of the word “sacrifice”, which I’ve talked about before. (As an aside, I am finding myself almost obsessed with what I have come to think of as the “S” words: surrendor, sacrifice, and submission. They keep popping up… in my reading, my conversation, my thoughts. Anyway…) So far the book is great. I’ll post about it later.

Back to the weekend. On Saturday, we headed south to spend some time with our laugh-with, love-with, serve-with friends, the Mitchells. What a joy to spend time reviewing the Mexico trip, planning and dreaming for the future, and just having fun. We spent a beautiful Sunday there, worshipping with their unique church family. Colton was thrilled to sit beside the young couple who brought their three-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy to church. He only howled a few times. (The puppy, not Colton.) And Carter was thrilled to sit on the front row with his friend, Tristan. Carter made about ten trips to the koolaide jug during the service. When the little ones were dismissed for Children’s Church, they all went to the front first and the Pastor said a prayer for them. I noticed Carter was still holding his paper cup, and he looked like he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He was holding the cup upside down in his hand, so when the kids started to leave I called him over and stretched my hand out to take the cup. “I have a bug in it,” he whispered, in a seven-year-old whisper. I jerked my hand back and everyone around us started to laugh. I told him he could take his bug to class. Let the teacher deal with it. Carter had to zoom out again and go to the bathroom. Probably had something to do with the ten cups of koolaide.

Now I am facing Monday morning. Lyndon left at 4:30 and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I am treasuring a few quiet minutes before I get the kids up. I’m feeling thankful. For good friends. For family. For the week ahead. Let the games begin!