I need to remember

It’s been a warm December, much to the sadness of the hockey players at our house. The rink at school is covered in water. After November’s wild reminder that we live in the north, with great snow piles and cold, cold weather, the chinook winds blew.  It’s kind of a nice reprieve, but walking anywhere is treachery right now.  The world is covered with ice.

Sometimes I get these vibes that tell me I need to write things down so I don’t forget them entirely.  Just little things–like how much noise 15-year-olds with newly changed voices make.  It’s like the baby who just started hearing his own voice, so he keeps trying it out.  But the 15-year-olds don’t realize how HUGE and LOUD their voices are.  But I want to remember these days, big male voices reciting verses from John 1 that they’re memorizing for school programs in the bathroom while they get ready for school.  Or singing the Hallelujah chorus.  And the same 15-year-old asking, “Mom, are you doing laundry today? Can you make sure my sweatpants are a priority?”  I think this is because he wants to use them to go work out with his cousin.  I couldn’t find the sweatpants when I sorted laundry.  I looked all over…and found them in his sister’s drawer.   Someone small was putting away laundry and in a hurry.

I want to remember 1o-year-olds wondering as they clear the breakfast table about how the inside of a chicken is created that they can produce and push out eggs with hard shells.  And the whole mystery of how, unless there’s a rooster around,  eggs can’t hatch into chicks.

I watch my 11-year-old daughter doing her hair on Sunday morning and “get all the feels”–to use that expression that I don’t even like but is so fitting.  For realz. 😉

She can braid beautifully and does a nice Dutch braid on Liesl’s hair.  Then she’s struggling with doing her long hair in a French braid–and then it’s frizzy at the back and she thinks she needs to redo it but there’s not time.  And oh boy….how DID she miss getting a whole long strand into her braid? Panic!   We chop it off since it’s not too thick.

I get all the feels about this because I remember preteen hair agonies and I still sometimes have them.  But it’s so much better to be on this side of life and remember that no one is looking as closely at us as we think they are.  And I try to impart this wisdom to my girls…and to the boy who thinks his haircut is lopsided.  But I know they also have to let life teach them those lessons.

Then this morning the girls wore the sweaters they found at Value Village that are matching.  Natalia wore the green one for a few years and now it’s too small.  But she found a pink one the other day.  So last night they were picking out dresses that matched them, though Tillie isn’t sure about stripes with florals. Here they pose right before we leave for school with their matching French braids that you can’t see.


And Tori texted this morning from the LAX airport that she would do the street meeting weekend again in a heartbeat.  She flies home today.

And oh.  I’m blessed with such crazy beautiful music these days. I swoon every night while I prepare supper over Natalia’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” and think of the words of that beautiful carol, the last two verses my favorite.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;

“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

And Liesl and Andre are pounding out “Drummer Boy” and “Good King Wenceslas”-and it’s not that they’re exceptional players yet or anything.  But I couldn’t be prouder of them.

So I’m just recording these memories mostly because in the flurry of the rush

to get coats on for school

and soup made for supper

and homework completed

and trying to deal with the annoying whining about things not being exactly fair chore-wise

and learning to let your older kids make their own choices without having panic attacks,

I need to remember and record.

I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of boots.  I have such picky tastes and being Mennonite and over 40 complicates things.  There’s this ladies’ retreat in Indiana coming up and I’ve always hated the idea of standing out….like when I go to a church more conservative than ours, I try to be respectful with what I choose to wear.  I know some people love to make a statement of their freedom, but that’s not me.  However, I also care about clothes and things more than I possibly should–and I realize it more than ever because I see it in my children now.

But anyway.  Boots.

I want something dressy, but not racy at all. Not too buckly.  Not too high (definitely nothing over the knee) because those catch on my long dress.  A chunky heel, but not too high and blocky.  Comfortable.  No cowgirl vibes.  I’ve looked a lot of places and last night on amazon I found what seemed perfect. But they were $652.

Maybe I’ll just have to go with these.










I actually don’t need boots at all and will probably end up wearing something I have, which will be just A-OK.

I had this insight  the other day when I read about Mary the mother of Jesus:  she kept all the mysterious and beautiful things about Whom she was mothering and pondered (treasured) them in her heart.  She didn’t instagram them.

I don’t know where that puts me, because I sure like to tell people my thoughts.

(But I guess her beautiful magnificat  is recorded.)

I just remembered a lovely painting  of Mary that I want to share again, so I’m going to do that.  Somehow it doesn’t go with those boots up there at all.


This painting is by Liz Lemon Swindle and I love how it’s not the typical sleeping Jesus with Mary sitting serenely nearby.  I think it’s the Jesus who understands us in our preoccupation with things that really don’t matter, like frizzy hair or the perfect boots.  But I’m glad that same Jesus calls us to things beyond the temporal, beyond things we can see and touch and feel.

Thanks for reading here.  A beautiful Monday to you.







haphazard things that go through my head


Tuesday, Nov. 7.

It’s so snowy and cozy today and it makes me want to write and write. Instead, I made some online purchases, called Dyson about the vacuum cleaner power head that’s acting up, and made chili for supper.

I wrote the italicized words below the other day for facebook, but then decided against posting them. It felt so not worth complaining about when church shootings happen and friends lose their longed-for baby at 18 weeks…and the world is full of so much bigger matters than perfect Christmas plans.  But I will post them here and now because you have to choose to come here and read.

“-I dream of simple Christmases, of buying just a few needed meaningful/needed items for the people in my life–and of all of us mostly giving up our own wishes and buying loads of things for Gospel for Asia instead.

 -I dream of quiet mornings and happy family times, of inviting the neighbors in and not stressing about cookies or perfectly roasted turkeys.

 -I dream of having all gifts bought online by the end of October so I can restfully sit around and address Christmas cards while the snow falls.

 -I dream of joyful shopping trips to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Reality is November 1st–and two afternoons spent online looking through CBD’s 50,891 Bible options, the one I finally decide to order not available until April, the customer service lady kindly tells me. It is 347 pairs of boots viewed on Amazon. It is forgotten Paypal passwords, high shipping costs, and time that feels wasted. Oh. And let’s not forget trudging thru dollar stores with bickering family members looking for shoebox items and running around town when we should be home for dinner to find soccer ball pumps for shoebox children.

I feel guilty complaining about such 3rd world stresses. I will conclude my whining by saying simply:

 I am not a shopper. My mother was amazing because she always made Christmas special, even though we weren’t rich. So much for good intentions. I resign myself to frantic Walmart purchases on December 23rd and crazy cookie baking and present wrapping on the 24th. The joy of the season be upon you too.”

But TODAY I actually made some purchases, so now I can be one of those annoying people who says, “I’m done with my Christmas shopping and it’s only November 23rd!”



I’ve been going through a crisis with writing, which is pretty normal for me if you read my old blog posts. It’s a new crisis, though.  It’s about loyalty and vulnerability and authenticity and respect.  All of a sudden, with children who care about what I post about them and the pictures that are shared of them and a husband who is of a more private nature than I am, I feel like I can’t really write about life anymore.

Oh…that’s exaggerating slightly. But it’s kind of true.  I love my old blog posts and facebook memories, full of little kids saying funny things.  They didn’t know or care  what I wrote about them.

It’s like this: I am an open person and can talk to someone I met recently about pretty much anything, as long as I have a sense of the person being someone who can handle it, who is interested…whatever.  But we are not all made alike.  Dan and I had a big discussion about this the other night and his feeling is that even when someone is written about in a good light, it can kind of strip them of their personhood if we put our own slant on who they are. (Oh dear.  Does this sound like a controlling man who won’t let people see into his life? He is not that at all!)

Here is an example. I wrote one night on facebook that Andre was looking up online what kind of music dogs like.  I thought it was cute.  Andre is 10.  The next day at school, one of the “big boys” said to him, “I heard you were looking up music for dogs.”  Andre was surprised and asked how he knew that.  His mom read it to their family from facebook, said his big friend.  The friend did nothing wrong.  The mom did nothing wrong.  I don’t think I did anything wrong either.  But here Andre is, his curious little ways out in the open–and all of a sudden he’s embarrassed.

I can start asking my family permission about everything I write. I can be generic and general and boring.  I can just quit writing.  I can pay my children to use their stories, as Dorcas Smucker sometimes does.  I could start writing under a pen name.  There are options.

But I feel sad about this.  There are thousands of health blogs and religious blogs and parenting blogs out there, many of them helpful and good.  But soon their flavor runs together and they all start to taste the same.   But the one thing that makes us different from every other person is our own story. That story involves our family and church group and neighbourhood and workplace and school life.  So it involves people.  People are funny, messy, annoying, mean, overwhelming, strange–you name it.  They are hundreds of positive things as well.  But how DO you write and speak with authenticity when your life is full of people–and life with people involves faults and conflicts and all kinds of stories, lots of them negative?

People write deeply honest things and they are really the only things that touch me. But lately I just feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.  If what consumes my mind is my son’s music choices, my sister’s mental illness, my friend’s marriage problems, our financial stresses, my larger family’s relationship problems, and the neighbor who is having a nervous breakdown, how do I write about them? (Some of these are hypothetical situations, some are not.)  🙂

I know this is not a new problem. You’ve faced it yourself, I’m sure.  I have a good friend who has quit blogging for this reason.  She is so involved with people that she can’t write anymore.  The people who make her life interesting and difficult and unique are also her online friends.  I guess it helps me see more why social media gets bashed for being the place where we only show our best.  Our real life struggles usually involve other people and if we care about them, there are so many stages of relationship that we can’t really talk about.

Anyway. Enough on that.

Wednesday, November 8.

We are still in the romantic first stages of winter. The cold, crisp air is invigorating.  The wintry sunsets are beautiful, the frosty world beckons. I sit close to the fire and drink coffee and life is sweet.  The kids have their first skate on the dugout and I enjoy the winter sunshine and exercise I get from scraping snow off of the ice for them.  The northern lights were SO fabulous last night and the moonrise so breathtaking as Dan and I drove home from a dinner the veterinary clinic puts on every November for cattlemen.

The romance will all feel old and drab and white by the end of January.

It’s a good life, despite not being able to write about so much of it. 😉

The Texas church shooting impacted our family a lot, thinking about the terror of having half of our church (of a similar size) mowed down in a single morning.

Dear Jesus, won’t you please come soon and set things right?

But until then, we march on. With You to guide us, it’s going to be okay.

Winner of “Anything But Simple”

This morning I wrote down the names of all of you good people who entered the giveaway for Lucinda Miller’s book, entering those twice who shared the giveaway post on facebook.  I numbered them, 142 in all–with the doubles and those who commented on my facebook page instead of on wordpress.  Then I prayed that the right person would get the book (I always like to talk to God about outcomes of things, small or big.  I also pray and flip coins sometimes when I CANNOT decide something.  But I digress.)

Then I did the random number generator thing online for numbers between 1 and 142.  It riffled quickly through random numbers, stopping at 105, the number I had beside the name of an Anna Mary Heinzel, who had commented:

“I would love to read this book… but I don’t live in the States. I have some very close friends who are Mennonite!! I enjoy visiting them, having fellowship and singing with them!! I’m so thankful for my Mennonite friends!!”

I am sorry that I didn’t announce on Lucinda’s giveaway that it was an international one.  I entered Anna Mary’s name and she is the winner!  So Luci Miller’s book is off to Ireland, which I think is very cool.  And generous of Luci.  Congratulations, Anna Mary!

I enjoyed reading your comments about Mennonites very much.   They reminded me of this post,  The Kindest Mennonite.

Thank you so much for entering this giveaway.

If you wish to purchase Luci’s book, go here and buy it.

Book Review and Giveaway! Lucinda Miller’s “Anything But Simple”

Seven years ago we were looking for teachers for our vacation Bible school at church one summer and somehow Lucinda Miller’s name came up. I knew vaguely of her family from hearing about them from others, Mennonite-style. Dan grew up not far from her family in Wisconsin. So I sent her a facebook message asking if she’d consider coming to teach VBS at BayTree. She wrote back: “My life has been feeling just a bit purposeless and adventureless. So…my answer is yes, if you need me.” After that, the messages flew back and forth about tickets and timing and Bible school classes and the similarities in the small, out of the way churches we had both grown up in. I felt like I had found a friend with just a few exchanged words. A friend with my name.

Luci (as she is nicknamed) flew north and taught Bible school for a week at BayTree church. She was easy to talk to, fun, and adventuresome. She had an unassuming way that made you feel safe with her. I remember her glowing face and neat, pretty dress on program night at church. The children adored her and my neighbor lady said, “Who is the teacher of the youngest grade? She’s so gorgeous!” Some of our children were in a phase of taking dugout mud and creating clay bowls with it and Luci joined them, spending some of her days after class carefully forming an Alberta clay pot of her own, which she took home in her suitcase at the end of the week. When I drove her to the airport, we talked non-stop about ideas, family, church, and writing.

Since then, I have watched Luci’s vibrant and determined personality emerge in her blog at Properties of Light. So often I come away from reading one of her posts shaking my head at how much she got into it with her words. I also feel a little envious–because even though I like to write and aspire to write more, I can’t seem to find the time, the words, or the determination to write like she does.

Luci’s writing aspirations morphed into the publishing of a book this summer, but not without the shoe-leather hardness of simply writing.


Today it makes me so happy to host a giveaway of Anything But Simple, Luci’s endearing, authentic memoir. To me it is the story of her parents’ romance, which essentially brought her into being. It is the story of the struggles of the human heart and the desire to be seen, heard, loved, and accepted. It is the story of a peaceful, secure family, not without its gaps, problems, and stories that are hard to tell. It is the story of being Mennonite and flawed, of wanting badly to be seen as human, but wanting just as badly to be the voice and hands of Jesus. It is the story of a culture that many view as lifeless and legalistic and one woman’s search to make it her own, even though she has the freedom to choose otherwise.

Luci’s story and her family are very different from mine and yet very much the same. Her book is fresh and sweet in spots, hard and tearful in others. She is brave, honest, and lyrical. I fell in love with her parents. To be gentle and private people and to let your story be told in detail would take a lot of humility. In a recent interview with blogger Marian Beaman, Luci says, “When I asked my dad for permission to write about some of the things I wrote, he basically told me, ‘Write whatever you want; just get a book published.’ ” I was surprised at how forthright Luci was about the people and circumstances that made up her life. I kept thinking things like: What if ——‘s family reads this and gets offended? What if CLP’s Sunday school paper editors get a hold of this and discover how a lot of us feel about some of their stories? (Read the book to understand what I’m saying.) To put your voice out there is courage. You might wonder at the quirkiness of parts of this book and disagree vehemently with others. But I think you will enjoy the ride.

I felt sad when the book ended. In a way it felt like the loose ends were not tied up as neatly as they should have been. But isn’t that how life is? We are left dangling sometimes, the longings and dreams of our hearts never fully met in this life. I think Luci describes the search and the void well. Her story is also evidence that there is so much laughter and fulfillment along the way.

To enter the draw for this book, comment below with your name and email address and something you respect or disrespect about Mennonites. (I wrote down that idea within seconds of it entering my head and it was probably a cazy thought–but I’m going to do it anyway.) If you can’t come up with something, please at least comment with your name and email address so I can notify you if you are the winner. Luci is generously giving away this book, just as she gave me a copy to review and share with you. I plan to do the draw for Anything But Simple: My Life as a Mennonite a week and a half from today, on Tuesday, October 10th. If you would like your name to be entered twice in the draw, please share this post on your facebook page and let me know in your comment that you have done so. You can also purchase Luci’s book on Amazon.

Edit: BE SURE TO COMMENT WITH YOUR FULL NAME  IF YOU WANT TO BE ENTERED IN THE DRAW!! I had questions about the risk of publicly posting email addresses. If this bothers you, I will still honour your name in the draw. Please check back  on the 10th of October to see if you are the winner because I won’t be able to contact you by email.😊 

nothing sensational

It’s another windy, sunny September day in Alberta. If I used the popular lingo of 2017, I’d say that autumn gives me “all the feels”. School starts and I am the sentimental mom, taking pictures of my babies off to their first day. I (almost) wish I was teaching again and I get super  nostalgic about that chapter of my life. It was one of my happiest. Wheat smell in the air and golden leaves and petunias still blooming leave me weak-kneed with delight and longing.

There are days, busy days, when I think fleetingly that it would be nice to have a reason to lie down. Like maybe a little flu or a sprained ankle. Then I could catch up on the things I want to study and the blogs  I want to read and the books that never get opened. On Sunday I had a weird stomachache that had me prostrate on the couch for most of the day. I realized about two hours into the romantic reality of my dream come true that I’m actually an ambitious person and lying down isn’t much fun. Facebook was dull, I couldn’t get into the book I was reading, and I didn’t feel like writing the email for writing group or the card for a friend.

While a lot of the West burns–and some of Texas and places like the Virgin Islands are in shambles–and hurricanes rage–we are treated to mostly clean air, crazy autumn wind, and oilfield guys tearing up our farmland to bury pipelines. I feel sick when I think of people who’ve been spending their summer in a smoky haze. I would feel so robbed of summer’s beauty. Not to mention losing homes and parkland to fire. And the horror of devastation like a hurricane causes just boggles my little northern mind. I kind of stay away from the news when things get horrific. But I do care and pray and I hope there are ways we can help. Firefighters have my utmost respect and I hope that someday, somehow we can house or feed people reeling from a storm.  Or help with cleanup. I’d be good at that, I think.  I’m good at picking up trash.

SO MUCH happens and life whirls by and I don’t feel like I’m doing well at taking it all in, let alone savouring it. If I post some of my pictures here, I take care of that a little.  To write and to look at old pictures is to savour for me.

They are 10th grade (and doing 100 push-ups a day), 6th grade (and sewing their own first-day dresses), 5th grade (wearing size 9 men’s shoes) and 3rd grade (still likes to be cuddle on our my lap in the mornings). They are bigger and more full of more personality than I ever dreamed they would be. And they were  patiently squinting for me at lunchtime when I took this picture because we were running late before school and didn’t have time for one then. “Do we have to do this every year, Mom?” Well, yes.

My cell phone pictures, since you always wanted to see an Alberta pipeline before it went underground.


I have learned to drink my plexus with frozen raspberries and huckleberries. I am giving it a (fairly consistent) whirl for three months. Soon I shall be a Ruby ambassador. NOT.  I am afraid things do not work well for me because I am a skeptic.
My heart kind of sinks when Liesl asks if we can wear our look-alikes. My dress is old, scratchy-feeling, outdated. But she is the 3rd girl in our family to wear this dress and that’s special. And what do I have to lose? Soon it will fit her no longer. Soon she will not want to match with me.
We celebrated 21 years this August.
This is my sister Linda and I with our daughters modeling our old wedding dresses.
We tried on our bride and maid of honour dresses from my wedding.
This little punkin turned 18 and all of these changes turn me inside out.

I had a cup of Red Rose tea and a pumpkin cookie while making photo captions.  It doesn’t look like anything deep will be addressed on my blog today.  It is almost time to go pick up children at school.

Happy autumn. I pray for rain for your smoky skies, wisdom to raise your teens, and someone to bring you a coffee if you are lonely.

Hello there. And how do you like your plexus?

I’ve been in a bit of a funk mentally and spiritually and emotionally and internally lately and when that happens I just quit writing and reading online until I feel stronger and happier again.  But ugh…  I always miss writing and I miss you lovelies who read here and are patient with the long facebook posts that I write. And then I’m out picking raspberries and my mind soars with deep and clever things to write. But they never materialize because there are always more raspberries to pick and the beans will soon be ready and there is food to make for the neighbor and there are children running about who always need to eat.

The funk has to do with all manner of things.  For starters, I’m actually very tired.  When you’re 43 and you’ve lived in BayTree, Alberta all your life and been a preacher’s daughter and then a preacher’s wife and you’ve gone to fall church cleaning on your mom’s hip and you’ve sung Amazing Grace 492 times at the nursing home and been through 18 members’ meetings to decide the superintendent for VBS and 28 yearly reorganization meetings (give or take a few because I taught school in the states for 4 years before Dan and I got married and then we lived in Belize for a couple of years) and you’ve made 3,681 hot dish meals for potluck dinners at church and the floor needs to be repainted again at school and the hostess schedule needs to be updated and you’re on for monthly cleaning again and the church lawn is overgrown with dandelions and it’s your husband’s week to speak, you sometimes just get tired.  And it’s not even that you’re the one who has to mow the lawn or paint the floor or preach the sermon. And you know the joy of the Lord is your strength, but sometimes you just want to stop being an adult and responsible and a good example. And you want to sit in a corner somewhere and eat cheesies  or look out at the sea from Prince Edward Island and forget that you’re on for hosting the youth this month.

Let me tell you, I love this place and I love BayTree church and I really love the people who live here.  Sometimes when I’m vacuuming that humble building that needs new siding and carpet, my heart burns in me for all who’ve come and gone and all who remain and I cry because I love them and I know God is there, even in all the ways we’ve messed up and failed and been inconsistent and lost our way. But I’m still tired.

And I’ve been thinking and studying about Rest for reasons I will tell you more about later, so this tiredness that’s dogging my life seems especially meaningful and perplexing.

But maybe I just need plexus.  So we have some plexus products floating around here for various reason. But I’m just awful for never sticking with taking things consistently.  And even though I don’t have a lot of faith in the hype, I do scan the testimonials sometimes and when I hear about people with allergies feeling completely whole and depressed and tired ladies having a new lease on life, I think I should maybe try it, though I struggle with my conscience every time I consider truly pursuing it because I know there’s an African lady somewhere in terrible pain who needs a tooth pulled and refugees who just need a drink of water and Haitian moms whose babies are crying for milk.  So why should I spend $150 a month to get my gut/brain health in order when really I’m quite healthy and reasonably trim and very well looked after by my husband.  I could just keep cutting out sugar and eat more spinach and almonds.  And I could take up running and then probably I’d feel better mentally and not have weeks out of each month when I feel so sad and down or mad and despairing. And mostly I could just be so surrendered to Jesus that I’d have abundant joy that would bubble over to everyone around me.

Anyway.  I can’t stand that pink drink.  I take it for a day or two and then I chicken out again.  I have to water it down with about a quart of water for one pack because I don’t like drinks to be very sweet.  But then I have a whole quart of the stuff to drink. And I add ice and lemon. But the aftertaste is just awful and it makes my throat feel raw.  (Though maybe that’s from all the lemon I add to make it palatable.) I know there are great new flavors out there.  But isn’t one of them an artificial watermelon flavor? That makes me feel gaggy just thinking about it.  Some of the people in my life who are my dearest and most respected people just love their plexus and sell it and sport it and believe in it. I am happy for them and definitely can’t speak from experience about how it works or doesn’t work.  I have friends close by that I can buy it through if I decide that’s the route for me.  But that’s my plexus story and I can’t seem to get off of square one with the stuff.  I do have a schedule for how to gradually get on the triplex and other important plexus-related matters, so please don’t start messaging me personally about things.  Thanks. I love you too.  And I am sorry to have added to the hype–OR the dissing of the product. Because I know that most of us are prone to do one or the other on the matter.  I just thought you might like to know where I currently stand.

This post seems to be extremely lacking so far in depth and I’m not pleased with how often I have used the word “I”.

So let me tell you of less weighty matters, like Andre asking Siri if Queen Elizabeth has an iphone.  Like “Blessed Assurance” being played splendidly on the piano for a pretend wedding.  I could show you the pictures I find on my camera, most of them taken by Natalia.  The top two here are from an evening that Indian war-something was happening, the nurse on the left binding up wounds. The rest are Natalia’s photography of the weddings and Canadian girl photo shoots and the little bit of camping that happened here.


Here are the boys that my sister Linda and I took down to Idaho Wilderness Boys Camp this month.  They are playing Uno with the mini cards I keep in my purse to entertain little guys. This happened while waiting for dinner in Cranbrook.  Now they are off surviving in the mountains and I can’t wait to hear their stories.


While in Idaho, our sister Twila took us huckleberry picking and we were all in our happy place.  We had time for hashing over life while we picked and then cleaned them.


Also, I got to see a few Idaho friends who stopped by Twila’s place to say hello, so that made the good day even better. No pictures.  Sorry, they were lovely friends and very picture-worthy.

Natalia was listening to Adventures in Odyssey the other day and just randomly sketched a character she was looking at on the screen, Ava Parker.  She doesn’t draw a lot, so I was super pleased with her skill.


We have someone to carve the roast when Dan is away.


It is ridiculous to be anything but joyful and grateful with such beauty all around me.


Talking about the condition of my heart often helps to relieve the ache there, so I guess I’ll go to bed now and leave this crazy post with its click-bait title and say goodnight  to all of you.  Writing about a portion of my small problems makes them seem very small indeed.

I get to teach the juniors for the 211th time tomorrow morning and we are going to sing our memory verse, Philippians 4:8, for the church because it’s the juniors’ turn to say the verse up front.  And Richard the Swiss butcher is coming to do his annual barbecue for our church because that’s just the kind of generous person he is and the farmers who attend at BayTree are his loyal customers.  I made two raspberry cheesecakes and Dan is preaching.  Join us!


They did the best they could with what they knew.

When my dad passed away over a year ago, a friend whose dad has done a lot of things that brought hurt to his family said to me, “You are so blessed to have had the relationship you did with your dad.”

I kind of wanted to rush in and say that we didn’t have a very noteworthy relationship.  Really.

Then again, maybe we did.

My siblings and I spoke and wrote a lot about Dad over the time of his death.  A good-hearted soul he was, a lover of simple things, optimistic, intelligent but not proud, liberal in his political views (I know, right?!), conservative about buying butter, not an eloquent preacher, someone who cared about the underdog.

But he wasn’t a dad who told us we were beautiful. Not ever.  He never said he believed in us.  He didn’t hold us close and look into our eyes and smooth our curls and tell us how much he loved us like my husband does to our daughters.  He was raised in a staunch Amish home and started parenting in the 50’s. One didn’t do those things.  Dad read all the time when he wasn’t working.  He didn’t fly kites with us or take us to the beach.  He didn’t ask us how our hearts were or help us decide our dating standards. He didn’t give us away at our weddings.

He did a lot of things for our good and I could write paragraphs about his generosity and humility and good humour and optimism.  Time mellowed and changed him. I think his grandchildren got the benefit of the teachings of the 90’s about family and closeness and saying we love people instead of just assuming they know.  Some of his sons-in-law had a closer relationships with him as the man they met later in his life with Christ than his own sons did as teenagers.

I could write a long and heartfelt tribute to this good man, but it has already been done and that’s not what I came here to say today.

I could probably also  fill up a page if I started enumerating his faults.

There might be needs in my family because Dad was a distant father in lots of ways.  There might be some holes in my heart and insecurities that his telling me he loved me and that I was beautiful could have mended.  Maybe I wouldn’t struggle with feeling like God cares if my daddy had been a more involved father. We all carry some scars from ways that our homes weren’t ideal.

But the longer time goes on, the more grace I give to my parents.

They did the best they could with what they knew.

Just like Dan and I are doing today.

I want to give that kind of grace to other people in my life too.  Most of them are doing the best they can with what they know.  Even when they seem harsh or narrow minded or tedious or distant.

(This is not to minimize hurt caused by church leaders and fathers and mothers and teachers and employers.  There is evil and sadness around us and there are times to stand up when we see others inflicting pain.  There are fathers who have caused scars so deep that healing takes years. There are dads who know better and do awful things anyway.  I am not here to tell you how to handle that kind of sadness.)

And maybe my life has just been easy when it comes to relationships.  But when I look at people through the they-do-the-best-they-can-with-what-they-know lens, I can often say, “Ah. That explains things a lot.”

My dad was loved and appreciated and worthy of the good words we have said about him,  I hold close the memories of his dear face and hearty laugh.


I am blessed to have a dad who did justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God.


And where he failed, I give him grace.  The same grace I hope my children will give me.