Tuesday, May 25, 2010

::Galilee Lane::

aelah and I have become volunteers at our local hospital. When I first arrived for an interview I expected to be asked why I wanted my little girl to be involved in this with me. Instead Michelle-- the woman who is head coordinator of events in the seniors wing, told me a story. When she was very small her family took her with them to perform a play at a seniors home nearby. She was so terrified by the creaking wheelchairs and the strange smells that she refused to perform. Her wise mother asked her instead to hand out programs. And by the time she was done walking among the seniors--programs in her tiny hands-- she had "one hundred new best friends."

That, in a nutshell, is my hope for my children. I want them to be filled with love and compassion for the men and women who are now caught in the falling arc of their strength and beauty. I want them to love the weakest of people and never be too proud to do so.

On Wednesday we took Ethel, Daniel, Barry & Catharine for a walk in the sunshine. For some of them this was the first time in months they had breathed fresh outside air. Michelle handed out hats. "Here, Ethel, this one won't mess of your pretty hair. Oh, that really suits you!" Ethel--curlers still tightly wound in her hair-- truly delighted in the outing. She took such pleasure in the huge trees along the Galilee laneway. My job was to push Catharine. A tiny woman who knew everything there was to know about the area. And Catharine soaked up the sunshine. "My blood is thin, I keep my house at 70 degrees. The sun feels good!"

Caelah trotted along beside us all, answering Barry's questions with increasing boldness. It was Caelah's job to keep the door button pressed down so the elevator doors would stop closing on us as we tried to organize the wheelchairs into the small space. "Why can't I push?" she asked as we adults lost our breath struggling up the ramps. Michelle and I talked strategy. Do we wheel the chairs down the steep ramp facing forward or backwards? My usher's experience taught me always to go backwards. But Michelle argued that "we don't have eyes in the back of our heads" and if we were to trip, we would suddenly find ourselves underneath a very heavy wheelchair. We faced forward.

Caelah and I have many days of service in this place ahead of us. We may bake pies or cookies. We might help lead a craft and sing some songs. Whatever we do the fresh young faces of my children will be a a most welcome addition. Michelle repeated several times; "It is so good to see young ones in the place."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

::God Books::

My elder once told me that he and his wife instituted a family rule that only God books were to be read on Sundays. At the time, I thought that was rigid and unnecessary. But I have come to desire more excellent ways, whether they are required or not. I have been created a booklist for myself. I will not share it in its entirety, as it will only lead to disagreement. But these are books I have always wanted to read. Or feel I should read in order to dialogue with friends and neighbours in a new way. Some of my picks are:

"How Should We Then Live?" Francis Schaeffer
"Confessions" Augustine
"Through the Gates of Splendor" Elisabeth Elliot
"The Pursuit of God" Tozer
"The Holiness of God" Sproul
"The God Who is There" Schaeffer
"The Practice of the Presence of God" Brother Lawrence
"Chosen by God" Sproul
"Life Together" Bonhoeffer

The usual suspects. But there are many others. . .

I would like for you all to leave me a list of your top five God books--and yes, the Bible goes without saying.

I will add them to the list.

Monday, May 17, 2010


simply adore my magnolia. If ever I question my green thumb, I only need look at this plant and my doubt will vanish. Two years ago it was dead. Seemingly. And I managed to coax it back to life. It was given as a housewarming present from my mom, and will forever be tied to new beginnings here for our family. I hope it continues to thrive along with the rest of us in this place.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


"ou are so-- unusual," she articulated in her lilting Middle-eastern accent. I love the precision that comes when one does not have a grasp of the colloquial terms, such as "weird" or "crazy." Because 'unusual' is precisely what she meant. And I received the word gladly.

As Christians we have a relationship with the word 'unusual'. Or, we ought to. We are told that we are to be unlike the world, and in this way will be viewed as strange or foolish. As citizens of the 21st century we have an alternate relationship with the word 'unusual' as uniqueness is lauded as an end in itself: comfortable self-identity and self-esteem carved out by expressing every inner whim loudly and relishing the quirkiness of ones own personality without making any excuses for it.

I walk the razor's edge of this two-faceted relationship. The woman who called me 'unusual' went on to say that she was inspired by my willingness to grasp life as fully as I can despite the challenges of a large family. I know that this willingness is fundamentally born from my relationship to God. He has given us this one life. He has filled it with beauty and blessing. I have always felt that fear and worry have no place here, but rather passion for the world He has given and the people in it. This is a God-given 'unusual'.

However, I am also very aware of a deep-rooted pride in being the individual that I am. Comfortable with who I am? Not necessarily. That depends on the day. Pleased to stand out as a unique individual? Yes. Very. Our society is made up of nearly autonomous little gods who celebrate themselves--going to great lengths to turn heads. This desire is as old as time itself. Didn't Lucifer fall from heaven in an obsessive desire to be the One? To be God himself? The twinge of satisfaction I feel when I am identified as 'unusual' is not pure, but tainted with pride.

The challenge is to accept that God sees each one of us as uniquely precious. In this way He intimately encourages us in our gifts and guides us away from sin. But an over-enthusiasm in ourselves will only lead to self-idolatry and inhibit the selfless love we are meant to give to everyone around us.

Be unusual. Just don't love it too much.

Monday, May 10, 2010