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Archive for the ‘FAMILY’ Category

Charlie Mackesy

Father’s Day can be difficult to celebrate … what to get dad? how to celebrate one who may shy away from celebration? dad may live far away? he may no longer be alive? he may have never been in your life? he may have failed you in a myriad of ways?

Father’s Day can also be difficult to be the focus of celebration … how does a giver joyfully receive? how does the one who is often the other parent adjust to the focus of everyone’s attention? how does one navigate this day where there are no children to father? how does a dad spend this day who has buried his child? how does a man navigate a father’s day full of regrets? how does he endure a day when the phone doesn’t ring, the door doesn’t open?

Father’s Day can be difficult to celebrate …

The Bible says much about fathers, fatherhood, being sons and daughters. Yet, for those for whom this day is more of a struggle, there is one verse that I think speaks to the struggle of Father’s Day (1 John 3:1) :


See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

For those who are the children who struggle with this day, I tell you that God is the father to the fatherless (physically, emotionally, spiritually). He is the good father, who will never leave. He sacrificed his best, his all for your eternity, both here in the is life, and the one to come. He will never let you down, he is always present.

For those who are dads who struggle with this day, God is your father too. He knows fatherly love, and sacrifice, and loss, and rejection. He knows the loneliness of the quiet of this day.

For all who struggle, whether as children or fathers, if we are children of the God of creation, if we have been given such love and grace from Him, may we bear his image in how we love and offer grace to those we call dad, son and daughter.

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Seven days.

Seven mornings.

One week.

I lift the top of the jar, filled with paper.

Some lined.

Some floral.

Some shiny.

Some colored.

All of them with words.

That was their happy Mother’s Day gift to me last week, my three.

(because I had said, quite firmly, NO SPENDING MONEY ON ME!)

A glass jar filled with little pieces of paper … enough for one a day, for eight weeks.

Each piece of paper inked with quotes, memories, little tidbits of joy.

It is the BEST GIFT EVER!

I head to the jar early each morning, while my coffee drips. Eagerly I lift the lid, reach inside (not looking, of course), pinch a paper between my thumb and index finger, lift the paper out of the jar. Then, not too fast, as I don’t want to rush the moment, I enfold the paper, til the words face me. It is then that I begin to read the words, hearing the voice of the writer. I smile, laugh, sigh … a few times tears form in the corners of my eyes.

This is the BEST GIFT EVER!

words speak … to the heart

The Bible reminds us of the value of our words, in many places:

“Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”
Proverbs 20:15

“Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”
Proverbs 18:20

“A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Proverbs 18:4

“Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Proverbs 16:24

In this past week I have been so reminded of the encouragement in words, through this simply, inexpensive gift. The written word, especially, holds great weight, for it can be read again, and again, and again … replenishing the soul each time afresh.

Speak your words to those you love. Write your words of encouragement to one who holds a special place in your heart. Leave your words for others to read, to know of their value in your eyes … to know their value.

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart”
William Wordworth

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To mine …

I am thankful for you three who have spoken mom, mum, momma to me since your lips and tongue could first form the word.

You three are precious gifts to me (and your dad).

I am your mom. I write those words with pride in my heart, for I do not wish to ever take this gift of your life for granted. Each inhale and exhale from your lungs is a gift, one that I had little to do with.

I gave you so little. DNA, a place to grow (both from within as well as after you were born), nourishment, love … all of the basic building blocks, the scaffolding from which you grew, developing the person who you are today, who you will be in all of your tomorrows. It’s not nothing, but in the totality of a human life, what I provided for you was embryonic.

I think, if I were to look back with honesty and openness, I would have to admit that my initial reason for wanting each of you was totally and completely selfish. I wanted you because I wanted to mother you. And I am so very thankful that you three were who I given to fulfil this selfish desire. My hope is that, in my selfishness I also have given you more than just the task of meeting my desire …

I hope that I have given you a desire to fulfill your hopes and dreams. I hope that I have given you a need to be the best you that you can possibly be.

As each of you has walked into adulthood, I have realized how very selfish we moms can be, when it comes to our children. Though you may not live under my roof, I still want to have opportunity to mother you, to love on you all, to be a part of your futures. The thing is, I realize that when it is all about what I want for and from you, then our relationship is still about my desires and not about releasing you to make your choices, to live in the freedom of making your own path.

Even in your celebration of me today, this day is not about what I deserve as your mom, but it is about who you are choosing to be, as adults, irrespective of how I mothered you. For today you choose how and if to celebrate and that reflects not on me, but on each of you and how you choose to live your lives.

I don’t want you three to be mirror images of me … not in how I look, how I live, how I think. I want each of you to be a better human, a better soul than me. I want you to make your choices, willing to live with the good, bad and ugly that come from them.

And I do hope you will share your experiences and learning with me. That you will allow me to celebrate with the good, cry with the bad … knowing that I will pray for you through it all.

For your every breath has been in the hands of your Creator, it is His gift. He have overseen every day of your existence. My goal has, is and will always be to remind you of that, of Him. For it is only in and through Him that you can truly be the best and most free you.

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Let me preface today’s post by saying that it might be too dark, too filled with questions, too real for you today. Most days I keep my focus on wonder, on the light, on hope. But, let’s be real, life isn’t always that bright. Yes, I still believe that God has a plan. Yes, I still believe that good wins over evil. And, yes, I know that because of Christ, there is hope. But … I also know that sometimes our perspective of where we are is shadowy and requires a mournful lament of our helpless state.

So … stop reading now if (in the words of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men) “you can’t handle the truth”.

It happened again, like it has happened dozens of times in the past few years. One of our daughters had spent numerous hours in the ER, looking for answers, for relief from pain, for the assurance that it was just another flare and not a bowel obstruction or kidney stones or ulcers (just to name a few possibilities … avoiding the less appropriate for public discussion).

Again, it was just a flare … nothing serious.

Again, all they could do was offer IV fluids, pain relief (in the form of acetaminophen or opioids).

Again, they headed home, still in pain.

I didn’t hear about this, latest episode, until she was headed home ’cause … what can mom do anyway? why cause her to worry? Sometimes I hear about it before they go to the ER, looking for another to help them decide if it’s worth it to sit, in pain, in uncomfortable ER chairs, for hours (though they have discovered that vomiting in the waiting room is most efficient way to fast track themselves through the process of triage).

For one it took almost two years and the other four years before diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. But the pain began (for both) years before pursuit of origin of pain and eventual diagnosis (one of their diagnosis was delayed because the specialist didn’t look in the most common area affected by the disease, delaying her diagnosis by over a year).

SO many doctors, specialists, tests, procedures and even surgery to get to a diagnosis!

Crohn’s Disease is an auto-immune condition (their immune systems fight their own cells as though they were invading cells) where inflammation affects the intestines, causing ulcers to form, thickening of the intestines and scar tissue. This is the Coles/Cliffs notes description. Suffice it to say that it is (quite literally) a painful, stomach-churning, shitty disease.

It is said that about 1/5 people with Crohn’s disease have a family member with it … our family has 2/5.

Our girls have experienced the relief of human biologic medicines that have given both measured relief … temporarily. Steroids are another (short-term) option, but … sigh … anyone who knows steroids knows that sometimes the medicine is almost worse than the disease.

Both are now currently waiting for the next help … the next (short-term) miracle.

Speaking of miracles …

I believe in them. I believe in the miracle worker Himself. The one who formed these souls, so precious to this momma’s heart. Each of their existence alone are miracles. They were prayed for, prayed over, dedicated to God, from before either took their first breath (and one of them took her good ol’ time to take that first breath).

The other night, I reached my breaking point. After hearing about this latest episode, from my girl, sobbing in pain … again (after she left the hospital). I uttered words that I just never imagined coming from my lips …

I just don’t see any hope in this.

I am not one who feels they deserve better than others. Nor do I think that life is without pain, or struggle or difficulty. But … this is hard, really hard … not for me, but for them. Their struggle is one that touches every other part of their life … from work, to relationships, to physical stamina, to travel, to mental health, to future dreams.

A few days later, I am still struggling to find hope in this shitty mess.

This is me, being really real today … lamenting, like the Psalmist (13:1) who cried out “how long, O Lord …”

And I do believe that hope will resurface, somewhere, sometime, “in the shadows of disappointment and darkness” (Nouwen).

“Hope is not dependent on peace in the land, justice in the world, and success in the business. Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness. No one can truly say with certainty where he or she will be ten or twenty years from now. You do not know if you will be free or in captivity, if you will be honored or despised, if you will have many friends or few, if you will be liked or rejected. But when you hold lightly these dreams and fears, you can be open to receive every day as a new day and to live your life as a unique expression of God’s love for humankind. There is an old expression that says, “As long as there is life there is hope.” As Christians we also say, “As long as there is hope there is life.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen, Turn My Mourning into Dancing: Finding Hope in Hard Times

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Today I will be getting my first vaccination for Covid and I feel a bit like a kid at Christmas.

I have been telling people the vaccination is my ticket to travel again … but you don’t have to think exotic places, for I just want to be able to fly to the other coast of Canada to see my family (especially my mom who has experienced this Covid year largely alone).

But, this vaccination is more than just that for me.

It is also an exhale from deep in my lungs … like I have been holding my breath for over a year, as we have two daughters with a chronic health disease that requires being on a medication that can lower the body’s ability to fight off an infection … aka a greater possibility of being extremely sick (or death) if they acquire Covid. Though we are cautious and following guidelines from public health, it has been a yearlong concern that we might acquire then pass the virus on to one of them.

This has been a constant concern for the past year.

Added to that have been the glib perspectives that I have had to encounter from those who feel the whole Covid thing is a world-wide government plot, or that it is “just like the flu”, or “enough already with the shutdowns and closures”.

Most of the time I file such perspectives as arrogant, thoughtless or simply idiotic … a couple of times my inner momma hen has verbally pecked the one whose words cut so close to this momma’s heart … most of the time, I just try to ignore and pray they don’t ever have to be in the position I am in, as a mom, feeling such concern for their own kids.

Each wave of Covid has literally felt like a punch to the gut, as I check in with them, ask about their job safety and find myself on my knees on their behalf.

So, today, I get to roll up my sleeve and I consider myself privileged, blessed, thankful. One step closer to being in a position where I will not share this virus with my girls (or anyone else).

And exhale from deep in my lungs.

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Good food, good conversation, laughter … these are what we often think of when we imagine a family meal.

Over the past few months I have been in search of a new, bigger dining table for our home.

When we moved, almost three years ago, I sold our farmhouse table. This table that I had picked up (for free) early one Saturday morning. I re-painted the black base and legs a creamy white. Then I sanded the top to bare word, stained it a lovely red walnut and then rubbed on a protective topcoat.

I loved that table. I loved that I scored it for free. I loved that I made it ours with my own hands. At that table sat our five plus so many others, from all over the world. So many friends of our kids and ourselves. Visitors and friends from the church, the school, swimming and football and … just so many friends. So many meals … not all good, gourmet-quality ones … but they filled our tummies. There wasn’t always laughter around the table. Sometimes there were raised voices, angry tones or even blaring silence … yet, sustenance, space and time were shared. Sometimes it was just a glass of water, or milk or a cup of coffee or tea. Sometimes extra chairs were packed around and sometimes just me, staring out at the sun rising behind the ‘yellow’ tree (forsythia) with a warm cup in hand and my feet resting on the seat of another chair.

It was going to be too big for our townhome, so I sold it. I was rather picky about who to sell it to, because that table wasn’t just word and paint and stain … it was a treasure chest that held our memories. Eventually I chose a lovely young family. After picking it up, the lady messaged me to say that their kids were already making a puzzle on it … new memories with our dinner table.

I still remember times of laughter over a meal around that wooden structure.

But now I have found a new (used) table. One that comes with it’s own stories, it’s own memories (the owner said she chose me as didn’t want it to go to just anyone, but someone who would see the treasure of it, who would treasure it. I have to do some work, because it’s a little rough around the edges … much like those who will eventually sit around it for a meal.

sharing a meal (be it pizza from a box or turkey dinner with all the trimmings),

sharing conversation (be it whispers of affection, silence, shouts of anger or laughter straight from the belly),

sharing space … inhaling and exhaling the air … together.

In Isaiah 25:6, we read :

“In Jerusalem, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.”

This is prophesy, for the future. But, this is also our great hope … and it is all about a gathering around the table. A gathering, prepared by God himself, for people from around the world (Jews and Gentiles). At this banquet God will serve the best there is to ingest, from wines to meats, to everything in between. It will be the ultimate family meal.

This is God’s plan. Christ is the treasure at this table. This is our hope in Him.

Imagine the joyful laughter around the table.

“He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love”
Song of Solomon 2:4

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Happy birthday to our West Coast girl! Born twenty-four years ago … about nine months after we arrived here, to this place we now call home.

But it has always been home for you. The addresses may have changed, the occupants too, but home for you is the west coast, it is where you belong.

I associate your birth with spring, blooming magnolia trees and Easter … these are parts that are always part of your life, your home.

Though you do not live at my home anymore my mother heart will always think that my home is yours too.

I will eagerly make a place at the table, have a blanket ready to cover you as you snooze on my couch or bed, invite you to help trim the tree … all because your moving out on your own does not make you less a part of my home.

When you come to visit, I send you back to your place with food or flowers or goods … because I want to share a little of my home with you.

I plan and plot when I know that you are coming, hoping that you feel at home when you are here.

Honestly, it is never long enough and my selfishness bristles when you’re running late, or have to leave early. But, that is my problem, my expectations and I remind myself that to have you for a little while in my home is blessing. And I am thankful that you’ve come.

You see, when we parents have a home that we have built for our loves we want them to love being here as much as we do. I guess we parents have to learn from nature, from the birds that encourage and even push their birds from the nest they’ve made … because that is the way.

Just days before your birth we celebrated Easter and your presence inside of me brought me different and intimate understanding of the Spirit within us. Though we are the residence or home of the Spirit, it is the risen Jesus who gives us home feels like none other. I remember reading (just days before your birth) “when everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am” … this is the home without me needing to do any of the preparing, the cooking, the cleaning … I just have to show up, and I will be home.

The magnolia trees outside our home are beginning to prepare to bloom in the warming spring sun. They whisper to me your name, remind me of your pink skin … they remind me of when we brought you home.

May today be the budding of spring in your life. May you know the security, the warmth, the nourishment and the love of home. May you know this, your original home, with your dad and I, always has a door open, a place at the table, a room to rest your head, a warm hug …

love lives here for you.

Happy birthday my west coast girl.

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We sat there, enjoying our meal together, when the conversation moved into an area of gold.

“So, who has inspired you and why?”

What followed was great revelation, great insight into those who have been the influencers in the life of my, now adult, son.

The people named were not surprising to me, though I did find it interesting the order of who was mentioned. Then there was the why question … why did this person, or that, stick in your mind as inspiring?

Youth leaders, teachers, camp leaders … those were the areas of leadership that they all originated from. Mostly men (as this was my son), but women as well. Descriptors such as authentic, available, consistent, interested, solid, challenged to work harder, be better flowed from his lips.

I found myself to be so encouraged.

As a mom, a parent, it is always good to know that your child received encouragement towards growth from someone else. It is good to see that our children are not just impacted by us, as parents, but by others around them. That they take into adulthood the whispers of encouragement from others.

“If your actions inspire others to
dream more, learn more, do more and become more,
you are a leader.”
John Quincy Adams

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Over the past weeks, my son has had me on a steady weekly diet of Star Wars films and animated series (Clone Wars and Rebels) to prepare me for season two of The Mandalorian. He felt I needed more background knowledge of the Mandalorians as well as a better understanding of how things fit together in the Star Wars narrative.

I just want to watch Season 2 of The Mandalorian!!

He, though, sees the bigger picture. He wants me to not just see season 2 as a show, but as a part of a bigger picture …

where did he learn this bigger picture emphasis?

Okay, so … maybe from his mother.

Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery, hmm… but weakness, folly, failure also. Yes: failure, most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.

Those words, spoken from Yoda to Luke, in the Last Jedi, could fit as appropriately when speaking of the parent/child relationship.

As my own three apprentices are now adults, I feel much of the teaching, the passing on, is done. Now I am watching them reach out into the world with their training done, making their own choices of which lessons to keep and which to abandon (temporarily or permanent? who is to say?).

In my parental passing on of what I have learned, I have equally passes on strengths and weaknesses, wisdom and folly. In my human imperfection, I have also failed them at times … and that failure is also part of the package that I hand over to them.

This is how the human race has a tendency to repeat past mistakes, for history’s teachers impart both the good and the bad, the blessings and the curses from within themselves.

As their parent (master 🙂 ) I have handed down to them many things, but my legacy is not just what I have modelled, taught or insisted upon … my legacy is also what they do with the treasures (and trash) I have shared with them.

Just like a teacher to a student in a classroom, there is no formula for guaranteed success.

If we look beyond human parents and Jedi masters, even in the mastery of Jesus himself, to his disciples, there was not perfection in the following of his teachings. Yet, two thousand years later, his word and his way (“this is the way”) are still being taught, still being modelled … imperfectly.

Though the burden, or struggle of all masters, all teachers, all parents is that our legacy is not in what we impart, but in how our apprentices, our students, our children use what we have given them.

And this is the greatest burden, but also the greatest learning of all parents.

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Here in our Pacific Northwest corner of the Canadian world, we celebrated Family Day yesterday.

It’s a holiday when schools and businesses are closed. It is on the calendar right between the end of the Christmas break and start of the Spring one. In our pre-pandemic life people might have prepared a weekend away, activities to do as families, or a meal together.

For many, everyday has been family day since about mid-March, 2020, when so much of what was normal closed, cancelled or became restricted. Family homes became hubs of every area of life, from meals, to work, to school, to entertainment and sports and the arts.

But there have been other families for whom family day would have different reflections of the past year. The inability to physically be near, to hug, to hold the hand of an older parent or grandparent, or spouse. The restrictions on travel, or border crossing that have prevented families at a distance from drawing near. The loss of the life of a loved one.

Yesterday, as I looked at our family photo, I looked at the faces of my family. Each one of those faces is an individual with different gifts, struggles and purposes. Each one of them hand-picked for our family, for each other. Sometimes we need a day to reflect and remember the gifts that are those who make up our family. It can be a day to connect (in person, or afar), a day to pray for each one, thanking God for them.

“What can you do to promote world peace?
Go home and love your family.”
Mother Teresa

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