My Dad and Me


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Shirley and I meet with three or four other couples on Monday evenings to look at Scripture.  We don’t all attend the same church and we are not meeting to see how we should interpret scripture, but to see how it can help us to be better Jesus followers.

When we read 1 Peter 4:8, Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins, I was intrigued and have continued to think about what it says to me. I did peek at what the scholars say about this verse but to me it is quite simple.

If I love people whole heartedly we will both become different.

Perhaps some of my insensitivities (sins) will be covered and I will become different. If I see the person, not their short comings (sins), and love that person unconditionally, they too will become different.

A while ago Janelle wrote a blog about loving bad kids and I thought about the passage.

Janelle’s post from yesterday showed a picture of Carter sitting patiently in the pasture with a pail of oats trying to win the attention of the young donkey he got for his birthday. I wonder if the same principle doesn’t apply.

Recently I have thought about people who have few friends, folks who may be struggling with same-sex attraction and older people who can no longer be in their own homes. And I am challenged by these words from The Message,

Love each other as if your life depended on it.  Love makes up for practically anything.

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Actually, what I said was that I am so incredibly behind in so many things, and that I really need to take some time off to catch up.

How does a mom take time off?

This mom asked for it, like this.

I am behind, and getting behinder. I’m wondering if it would be okay with you guys if I spent the rest of this week catching up. I’ll still be here. I’ll still feed you and stuff, and if you really need me I’ll stop what I’m doing and help. But if you could work away at the things you know you need to do, and go outside once in a while, and do your chores and such without me needing to ask… if you could do all that and if I could just spend some time on the things I need to do, well, I’d really appreciate it.

And my cool kids said, sure, Mom, and so here I am. Writing my first blog post in a week. And with a list beside me of all those things that are keeping me up awake at night with their undone-ness. And with a sweet sense of relief in my heart.

Yeah, I can do this.

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This post is part of the My Dad and Me series that I write with (surprise!) my dad. (Click the tab at the top of the page to read all the My Dad and Me posts.)

I love hearing his thoughts on all the different things we’ve written about. Dad has been a busy guy his whole life. He and Mom are still some of the busiest and most-engaged-in-community people I know. Wouldn’t you like to hear from him some of his suggestions on how to get it all done?

Looking forward to hearing what Dad has to say about this, or whatever else he decides to write about, next Tuesday.

Grandma making buns with Carter

Grandma making buns with Carter

Mother’s Day: We got up early because she was doing what mothers with loving hearts often do – getting ready to serve others.

We went to bed late because she was doing what mothers with loving hearts often do. We were visiting friends. He’d received word on Saturday that his brother had unexpectedly passed away. There was a need to visit, to eat pizza, to look at an ongoing project and to just be there.

In between we went to early church, worshipped, visited with people and came home to finish preparing dinner. A friend who’d had surgery on Friday to remove a brain tumor was our guest. As our family and his family sat around our kitchen table we were blessed by his wonderful attitude, enthusiasm and faith.

Mother’s day:  It was busy. She did receive some flowers from a daughter. There were some texts, cards and a phone call, but the mother in our house was busy serving others. These are the things I learned:

God is good and family is important.

He doesn’t keep us from experiencing difficulties but He extends His grace if we do –  often that grace is extended in human form.

I am blessed by the “grace extender” that lives in our house.

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Here’s what I’ve found.

A lot of people talk about simplifying their lives. They talk about doing less, living on less, scheduling less. Maybe even eating less, buying less, and rushing less.

Less has become the mantra of the simple-life-seekers.

I wonder.

I mean, I’ve embraced this whole simple life thing, but its like I’m a recovering addict without any steps or sponsor to help me. I slip sometimes. I forget. My intentions fail me, or I just get tired.

Because a simple life is not an easy life.

Here is what simple is not.

Simple is not pain-free or responsibility-free or work-free or challenge-free. It isn’t doing-what-I-want-all-of-the-time. It isn’t just about reduction, or learning to say no, or putting limits on activities. It’s not just about the cutting out.

Simplicity, I think, is a kind of discipline. Yes there is an aspect of letting go involved. Getting rid of the extra.

But simplicity is so much more.

It’s about making space for what really matters. Which means I first need to figure out what those things that matter are. Otherwise, this whole simplicity thing becomes just one more possible lifestyle in a culture bursting at the seams with lifestyle options.

Meaningless simplicity is, well, meaningless.

Here’s where I am on this journey.

Living simple, I think, is a holy thing. It’s a spiritual discipline – which is an uninspiring term for something that is supposed to bring me closer to God. Let’s work on thinking of a better one, shall we. Spiritual discipline just doesn’t cut it for me. Maybe holy practice, or something? Anyway …

Simplicity, to be meaningful (to me), must be a holy thing. Reduction for a purpose. Cutting out so something can be added in. Making space for the better thing.

Saying no so I can say yes.

Surrender.

I’m a stay-at-home homeschooling mom raising three boys in countrybumpkinville on the Saskatchewan prairie. My simple life is unique to me and my situation and my calling. You are who you are, living how you live, where you live. Your simple life mission, should you choose to accept it, will look different from mine. I can’t tell you the how of it. You will need to figure that out for yourself.

This is a good thing.

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This post is part of the My Dad and Me series that I share, of course, with my dad. He’s been writing a lot lately about spending time with elderly people, and I’ve found his stories very beautiful. Last week, while Dad and Mom were staying with us for a few days, we went to visit a friend in the hospital. He won’t be leaving. He used to be a big, strong farmer. Now he’s skinny and failing in health, and it was precious to spend a few minutes with him. Talk about reduction. Four walls and a bed. But when he sang for us that old song about love and the Red River, I was touched. And when he talked about his wife and the farm and the days now gone, I was blessed. And when we were leaving he quoted scripture and shared a few thoughts, and the time we’d spent together, simple though it was, was sanctified. Holy simplicity in a hospital room.

Last year I started to assist at the Nose Creek Valley Museum as a volunteer guide for student tours. Recently we had several grade two classes visit and I was responsible for the topographical map showing what the area was like many years ago. I also worked in the blacksmith shop and  farming area. As I talked about the one room school houses, that the farmers hauled their grain to the elevators by horses and wagon, and as I noticed the things used in the early homes and what was sold in the general store, I became aware that most of the questions the students asked were about things I was part of as a young child.

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(photograph from Nose Creek Valley Museum website)

Museum pieces – they are old, dinted and in some cases don’t really work. The things that do work are out-dated and couldn’t be used in our fast-paced technical world. Some sit idly on shelves, others are behind roped-off areas to be looked at but not touched. There is a certain beauty to old things though, and they teach us about what went before and how we got to where we are now.

Last weekend we helped celebrate a good friend’s eightieth birthday and were also  privileged to drop in on another friend’s ninetieth birthday party. We also visited relatives and friends in care homes and senior centres in two different communities. On Sunday we attended church with our daughter and family and as I looked around at the congregation I noticed people I had attended  a little country church with as a small child, a person from my grade twelve graduating class and others I had known for many years. I noticed dents and wrinkles and it looked like some body parts didn’t work very well. I also noticed a certain beauty that is attached to age. I heard some wonderful words of gratitude, some very wise comments and some funny stories. I heard people say thank you and received and gave hugs.

I am grateful for museums and elderly people.

Dad’s post from last week made me think about the books in my life. Some have been life-long friends. Some hung out with me for a while but over time we’ve lost touch. Some are new acquaintances, and the relationship has yet to be proven.

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Of course there are old friends like Anne, way over there in Eastern Canada, and Tom and Huck and the Mississippi that was their playground. But there were others, less popular maybe, who loved me well. I could never relate to Nancy Drew, but tomboy Trixie Beldon drew me right into her mystery-driven world. My first romance was found in the pages of Daddy Long Legs. The Dragon Riders of Pern series gave me a taste of fantasy, and every bite was delightful.

As a girl, I read and read and read. As I grew, my interests and maturity led me to works historical and theological and psychological and classical. Words upon words upon words. Book after book. How blessed I’ve been. How richly blessed by this life-long feast that has nourished, informed, and entertained me all these years.

When I was pregnant with my first son, and was so sick for so long, I read the entire series of  Anne of Green Gables books again. All the way through her growing up and marriage and children and the awful war. I’ve read Anne and many other favourites with my children. We’ve pioneered our way through the Little House books. We’ve laughed over The Borrowers and we’ve cried over Where the Red Fern Grows. We’ve been Around the World in Eighty Days, and we’ve been shipwrecked on a deserted island with the Swiss Family Robinson. We’ve sat at the round table with Arthur and his knights, and we’ve travelled all over the world with stories far and wide.

Stories. They raised me and they’ve raised my kids. And a good one, found among all the many, many words out there today, is still a great gift.

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A number of years ago I read a few books written by Zane Grey. As a boy I was enthralled by the stories of the west where the good guys generally won. But I read rather quickly or skipped completely the descriptions of the burning sun, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the mountains and valleys and the desert fading away into the horizon, to get to the story.

A while back I discovered that many of his books could be downloaded free on my iPad and began to read him again. I discovered that what I had passed over as a youth was the story; it was what gave the newcomers from the east the ability to understand who they were and to re-create themselves. They began to notice things, become aware of their surroundings, meet the challenges they offered and grow into the people they were meant to be.

And I began to wonder what would happen in our lives if we began to really become aware of the things and people around us: the intricacies of nature, the laughter of a child, the face of a homeless person we passed on the street, the confusion on the face of an elderly person we love or the smile that lights up someone’s face when he is truly appreciated.

I don’t want to focus on the mundane and complain about the weather and the government, but rather see the beauty that surrounds me each day. It might be the sunrise, the snow-covered mountains, the majesty of a March blizzard or the smile on my best friend’s face when I recognize her love language.

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