November 2014


Faith is living without all the answers to the why questions.

That’s what the preacher said, the other Sunday, and I wrote it down so I could remember to think on it a bit.

I do have questions. I want to know why Jian Ghomeshi?, and why Ferguson?, and why slavery?, and why ebola? It’s hard to put those things together on the same shelf as God loves and Jesus saves, you know?

I wish the world was better. I wish we lived better in the world. I wish the horror and sadness and evil would stop. Just stop.

If I’m honest, my faith is pretty wobbly, most of the time. It’s there, and I’m thankful for it. But it’s tinier than the tiniest mustard seed most days, and I haven’t moved many mountains.

But when the why’s begin to overwhelm and the questions shout, I try to remember these things:

Why such aching beauty?

Why so many selfless people?

Why children’s smiles and goodnight hugs and clean kitchens?

Why Christmas and music and art and homemade cookies?

Why parents and heritage and the seasons’ changing glories?

Why grace?

These why’s haunt me, almost more than the tragedies out there in the world. I have been gifted with all of these good things, but I forget so often the wonderfulness of them. I let them slip through my hands like they are sand instead of diamonds, and I miss the treasure.

Why have I been so adorned?

This is my faith as much as anything. To accept the good gifts and to be thankful, even as the world groans around me.


I’ve done this a thousand or more times, I’m sure. Dressed them up for snow play, undressed them for the potty, tugged mitts back up and under parka sleeves, tied scarves, tucked bangs under toques. It’s the repetition, putting on and taking off, the doing and undoing of caring for children that exhausts me.

I get darn tired of it, if I’m honest. I want competency and a quick exit.

With children, though, quick rarely happens. Instead I kneel, and maybe it’s a kind of prayer in its own way. To kneel on the puddle-y floor and tie another shoe or find another sock or kiss another little nose.

I have to slow myself to kneel, I’ve learned. Or rather, I’m still learning. I have to slow and bend, and I can do it sweet or I can do it swift, and the way I choose makes a difference.

They grow and learn and get faster, it’s true. But the kneeling, the practice of going slow and meeting needs and looking into eyes? That’s the kind of thing that changes me without me knowing it. I think (in the moment) that it’s about getting them out the door, but really it’s a lesson for me. To learn to do the thing that needs doing, or doing again, with love.

They teach me patience, if I’m willing to learn. They give me such gifts, if I’m willing to accept them.


I was at a women’s thing a couple of years ago and at the end of it we were all supposed to get up and talk a little about ourselves and every single woman talked about a challenge in her life, and most of us (including me) became teary as we spoke. Except for this one beautiful woman who got up and talked about how much fun she was having and how excited she was about what was ahead. I don’t remember much about what anyone else said that day. I don’t even remember what I said, but I remember her.

Have you noticed this? Most writers/bloggers/speakers, especially the mommies, spend a lot of their writing and speaking talking about what a mess they are. I’ve spent many of my own words saying that very thing. And sometimes, it’s true. But I’ve realized something. I’ve had an epiphany, of sorts, which is: I’m not a mess all the time.

I think there has been a kind of solidarity in mommy-messiness, or woman-messiness. I think we have needed to affirm each other’s reality and to not pretend that life is a huge, sweet lollipop from which we get to take a giant lick every day. I think talking about our struggles and challenges has been fabulous and healthy and beautiful, and I don’t want to suggest for a second that we should stop doing that. I mean, just this morning I had an “issue” with a three-year old over why she keeps asking for food she doesn’t eat, and now she’s sitting on her bed and I’m sitting at the computer, and I’m not sure whether the struggle was over food or control or who’s-in-charge, and I think I might have handled it less gracefully than I could have. And sure, the house is kind of a wreck after the weekend and I can’t find my broom and my boys didn’t get outside to do chores until 10:00┬áthis morning.

The thing is, this “mess” isn’t the whole of my world or my family or my day. The reality is bigger than that. The reality is less messy in a life-is-so-hard way, and more sometimes-life-is-ridiculous-and-even-hard-but-mostly-I’m-happy.

Mostly, I’ve found, life is pretty hilarious.

And even as I write that, I know it’s not that way for everyone. I know there are some really tough situations that some of you are facing. I know there are places in the world where horrible things are happening. I know it can be very, very hard.

I guess I’m just saying that truth can be all kinds of things for different people at different times, and sometimes, truthfully, life is fun.


Here in Canada, we’re about two weeks into the whole Jian scandal. If you aren’t Canadian, or if you are and you’ve been hiding under a rock or in a cabin in northern Saskatchewan or you’ve been lost at sea for the past several days, our Humpty Dumpty of radio took a great fall.

I don’t need to go into the details. They are there, like all scandals, in scarlet internet letters. Let’s just say the host with the most, our national treasure, the CBC’s so-called greatest asset, has been toppled from his throne amidst what began as a Toronto Star news story and has evolved into, as of now, allegations he assaulted and sexually abused nine women and a man. The Toronto sex crimes unit is investigating at least three complaints against Ghomeshi. No charges have been laid. Ghomeshi has hired a criminal lawyer.

This story has been sadly interesting to follow.

I kind of loved Jian Ghomeshi, you see, the way you love someone whose talent you respect and whose work you follow. I didn’t listen to him every day because, well, I’m a busy homeschooling mom. But when we travelled, say to Moose Jaw for shopping or to Regina for dentist appointments, I was happy if the trip coincided with Q, the CBC radio program he hosted.

Listen, I’d say to the kids. This guy is the best interviewer I’ve ever heard. He does his homework. He’s a great example of someone who knows how to use words well. He’s living inside his talent. I hope you find ways to do that in your lives.

So it’s been sad. And interesting. And rather curious to watch as the public (including myself) responds in various ways.

Mostly, people are rushing to assure each other that they are against violence toward women. Mostly, Jian has lost public support, in spite of his early assertions that all his activities were consensual and nobody’s business. Mostly, even those who initially agreed with him that what happens in the bedroom is out-of-bounds, have turned on him. He doesn’t seem to have many friends left.

I’ve wondered about my personal response to all of this. Initially, I was so sad, but when I voiced that sentiment publicly it was interpreted as support. I think. Who really knows what anyone means within the limitations of social media conversation? But that’s how it seemed. That being sad was unacceptable because, by gosh, he’s a horrible person who has done horrible things.

But, you see, I’d just found out about the horrible things and I was having trouble reconciling the horrible assertions with the voice I heard on the radio.

Honestly, I’ve moved on from sadness to disappointment to barely reading beyond the headlines anymore because the story has become, as all these stories do, a media thing. There will be jokes and stories about what the maid or the chauffeur or the guy who sat next to him at that fundraising dinner said, and who knows how it will end up when all the chips have fallen.

The thing I’ve learned, or relearned, maybe, is that talent isn’t representative of character. So what I’m saying to my boys now, is, Listen. This guy was a talented guy. He lived inside his talent, but talent isn’t everything. Be the most caring, loving men you can be, because that’s worth more than a silver tongue any old day of the week.


Once in a while, on a Sunday afternoon, you need to run in back pastures with leggy llamas. You need to race the wind across an empty prairie, golden grass underfoot and wind in your face, and everyone watching and cheering and laughing.

Honestly, it’s what I want for them, all these ones I love. I want them to run their whole lives, chasing the things that challenge them and make them gasp for air because the running is so happily exhausting. I’ll watch them, and cheer and laugh, and I’ll sit them down at my kitchen table for tea and brownies when they need to catch their breath.

And when they call to me, from across a field or a country or an ocean, I’ll listen. I’ll cry or laugh or encourage, whatever. I’ll remind them of these prairie boy, llama-racing, windy days, and of how they grew up learning everything they need to know to keep on with it.

I’ll do my own running, too, of course. A little slower, and maybe a few more stops to rest and more potty breaks than I used to need, but that’s okay, because honestly, this crazy racing life is still so much fun.