Archive for the ‘women’ Category

One of the relationships between two people in the Bible, that I am most in awe of is the friendship between David and Jonathan. They loved each other as brothers (perhaps this is the relationship David’s son Solomon was thinking of when he wrote the Proverb about “a friend who sticks closer than a brother … though, I guess, if this was the case it was only so because of what he heard his father say of his dear friend Jonathan).

Their souls were knit together (1 Samuel 18:1).

At the death of Jonathan, David declared, you were delightful to me; your love to me was extraordinary (2 Samuel 1:26).

After Jonathan’s father, Saul, ordered all of his servants, including Jonathan to kill David, Jonathan warned him because he delighted greatly in David (1 Samuel 19:1).

The faithfulness of Jonathan to his friend had great weight when Jonathan was one of the names given to our son. My hope for him has always been that he would love his friends with such commitment.

I think part of my admiration for Jonathan’s friendship for David is that he was such a better friend than I am. He was committed, consistent, sacrificial. I can be inconsistent, selfish.

I have a wonderful group of friends. Some I see regularly, some too rarely. Some I met through work, or church or through my husband or kids. Some who I have known since children, when we attended elementary school together and some who I have met in recent months. Some who are my age, others who are a generation younger, or older. No matter the amount of time we spend together, the length of our relationships, our ages, or what/who brought us together there is a beautiful bond that, as I get older, grows sweeter, dearer, more important to me existence.

A friend is truly a gift in this life. They make life better … simply by being yours.

In this month full of chocolates and flowers and candle-lit dinners, may we not forget to express our love for those who are our friends who stick closer than sisters … or brothers.


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It’s risky … trying to be real, telling the truth, showing weakness, being vulnerable … not saying “fine” to most asked question (how are you?).

And, let’s face it … we cannot be that real, that risky, with just anyone. For not all souls are comfortable, ready to hear and see and feel for themselves, the truth within another.

Last week I agonized about sharing a realty for me. Would it be

too much?
too whiny?
too downcast?
too … real?

I agonized to the point of praying about it for a significant amount of time.

But, in the end I kept coming back to the same small voice in my head,

if it is something you struggle with, Carole,
maybe there is someone out there with the same struggle
and …
to know we are not alone can be the most encouraging message to hear.

So, with an ample amount of chagrin, I wrote and posted Cry Me an Atmospheric River.

And the pms and dms and emails began to pour in …

messages of encouragement, understanding, but also of common experience with the dark days of winter. Some stated they didn’t share the same winter blues, but that they were praying. Another asked my mailing address and then proceeded to mail to me a lovely note that brought me to tears.

It reminded me that I am so blessed by the women who I call friends. It reminded me to that it is the simple, easy and inexpensive efforts that mean the most. That I need to remember to send messages that simply say, thinking of you, for, doesn’t it just send a shockwave of joy through our souls to know that we are being thought of? prayed for? appreciated? that someone cared enough to take the five minutes (tops) to send us a reminder that

we. are. not. alone.

May we support each other, holding each other up as we sag under the weight of life’s gravity. May we be the hands and feet of God himself, in watching over each other.

I wish for my children
friends like the ones I’ve collected:
flawed and forgiving,
braced for laughter,
good huggers
whose words roll like water
to the places in me
I didn’t even know
were dry.

Samantha Reynolds

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As I listened to a reading of a text on Sunday, I was startled with a new realization.

If you are one who has reads the Bible you know, like me, that there will be epiphany moments like this one. Moments when a familiar text will suddenly pop with understanding, meaning and perspective that you have never understood before.

That was the case when John 2:1-12 was read.

This text is John’s telling of the miracle of water being turned into wine. It is the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed, so it is often looked at, studied in depth … for we humans know that firsts and lasts hold great value and meaning.

So, there is this wedding that is attended by Jesus, his disciples and Mary his mother. The wedding celebrations are going on for days as this is a middle eastern wedding.

At some point Mary comes to Jesus, alerting him to the fact that the wine had run out. Jesus responds as one might expect any son to his mother … “so, why are you telling me this?” But then he continues, and I love how the Contemporary English Version puts it,

Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn’t yet come! You must not tell me what to do.” (v.4)

I don’t know about any of you who are also mothers, but I can almost hear an eye roll in that response!

Then, without any further interaction between mother and son, Mary just makes a decision in her next words …

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

She didn’t wait for her son to give in, didn’t wait for him to take the first step.

In my minds eye, when I read this passage, I see her standing beside her son, bending down to his ear, letting him in on the news of the wine being used up. As he speaks to her, telling her that she musn’t tell him what to do … I see her stand, walking directly to servants, who were standing on the periphery of the room. As she reaches them, she looks directly into their eyes, with the force and confidence that might normally be unseen in such patriarchal society, by a woman, a guest …

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

And so they do. And so Jesus instructs them on the making of a miraculous recipe for the best of wine.

Do whatever he tells you

These are the last recorded words of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Word of God. Though we know she is present at numerous other events written in the Gospels, not once, not even at the cross, do we read her words.

These words, spoken to servants at a wedding … they are the big idea, her main message … to US.

She is telling us, today, wherever we may live, Do whatever he tells you and …

he will do miracles

he will turn ordinary into extraordinary

he will create the best things ever made

he will use you to do his will

This is her message, to us, today. It is not just a message at a middle eastern wedding many years ago. For, if it were, I am not sure that her words would have been recorded. No, they are there, within the Word of God because the message still has relevance today. These words still speak … to us.

So, today, as we go about our servant work, as we go about the mundane in our life and living, remember Mary’s message to you (and me),

do whatever he tells you

and await the miracles.

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“Just linger for a moment or two” I heard myself say. “Carole, you’ve gotta learn to linger.”

Five years ago, life was different.

Our oldest daughter was preparing to her first apartment, next daughter was living at home while studying at a local university and our youngest was still in high school, where I worked. We lived in a large home, on a sizeable property that demanded of us constantly. Hubby worked nowhere near just a forty hour work week as a pastor in a local church and his job trickled down into seen and unseen responsibilities for myself. It was our first year in a few with no International students as part of our home and family.

I was tired, perpetually tired.

It seemed that I was constantly in demand, in motion. I was either cooking, or driving, or working, or weeding …

and now …

life is different.

Our oldest two daughters are out on their own, our son still mostly living at home, sometimes working out of town, currently working locally. I still work the same hours, but it’s different. Hubby no longer working over full time as a pastor, now working a couple of part time positions. We sold our large property for a townhouse close to everything.

Life is … simpler, quieter, less demanding.

But, learning to linger … it does not come natural after years of living based on the urgent. The growing pains from a life of busy to less slow are very real.

In my adjustments to this new way of life and living, I am beginning to learn to linger … but it is a learning, a process of slowing oneself down.

It means pausing to smell the flowers, to listen, to ponder, to wonder.

It also means pausing in my day and lingering in the awareness of the presence of God. To put the book, the phone, the keys down … maybe even closing my eyes, and letting God know that I know he is right there, with me.

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When the impact of a pandemic began to touch our lives, in British Columbia, when restrictions began to be put into place, when we all became home bound the message began …

be calm, be kind, be safe

That has been the consistent message from the PHO (Public Health Officer), Dr. Bonnie Henry, in her (almost) daily press conferences, where she updates the province on the the spread and treatment of Covid 19. But the numbers aren’t all that she has communicated.

She has also shared, what comes across as most genuine sorrow for the loved ones of those who have died.

When an outbreak in the community has occurred (at a seniors care home, a prison, a packaging plant, etc.) she presents that information with clarity, sensitivity and a lack of panic. When PPE (personal protective equipment) was needed, she would share what was being done. When reporters seemed to ask questions to initiate scandal, she, gently, confidently pointed out what was known, rather that what was suspected.

Each day there has been a message of the facts …

… reminds me of a song from the Anne of Green Gables musical, in which Anne is telling of what she imagines her upbringing might have been, in a most fanciful way. The women around her, Mrs Spencer, Marilla Cuthbert and Mrs Blewett, sing out their response of “the facts, the facts, the facts … the plain, simple, homely, unembroidered facts” to her.

Which brings me to the other part of Dr. Bonnie’s press conferences that (personally) blesses my east coaster heart. She grew up in Prince Edward Island and each day I hear her island of origin in her breathy speech, the way she sometimes says about (aboat), the elongation of her vowels.

Mostly, though, what I hear is the style of leadership that we rarely get treated to and which exudes through her every word. She is a quiet, confident, shamelessly unshaming, facts-first, sensitive, human leader. She has created confidence in the people of this province, at a time when fear, speculation and panic could have taken over.

When I have heard the health authorities of other provinces and countries speak, I have realized what a gem of a leader we have here. She has not encouraged us to keep an eye on our neighbors for wrongdoing, but for care, kindness. She has not focused on the minority who break the rules, but reminded us that we do not always know the whole story, that the majority of people are following the rules. She has reminded us that it is we who bend the curve, not the heavy hand of rules and laws.

She has empowered us in this fight against Covid 19.

When our lives begin to slowly open to our ‘new’ normal, I pray a cure, a vaccine is found. But I also pray that Dr. Bonnie’s style of leadership becomes a new norm as well.

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

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This little light of mine …
I’m gonna let it shine …

My faith in the future of followers of Christ (of all genders) has been recently bouyed from an unexpected situation that initially brought darkness like a sucker punch to the gut.

So, a situation occurred where one Christian leader (who happens to be male) made a comment about another Christian leader (who happens to be female), that she should “go home”.

It was a sad, unfortunate, unnecessary and head shaking comment that made the souls of many mourn for the darkness that fell with the words.

In my mind, I kept hearing these Jesus words:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • life as we know it is not fair … to expect anything else is to be living in a false reality
  • Jesus has already won the battle of good vs. evil, of love vs. hate, of joy vs. sadness, of light vs. darkness

We cannot forget …
life is not fair and
Jesus has won the battle

… then the responses began … responses of support for the woman (for all women), responses of a call to action, but also responses of a theme of victimization and hate.

My stomach lurched, my head shook, the darkness grew.

Christians were posting, and blogging, and preaching …
anger, and frustration, and defeatism, and victimization.

But …

Christ was not one to cry out poor me for the injustice he was experiencing, he was not a whiner, he was not a hater. When he was arrested and his follower Simon Peter retaliated and sliced the ear of a high priest … and how did Jesus respond?

“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Jesus went to the cross, because that is what he had to do to save the souls of his people … that was his calling, handed down by his own father.

And our calling is to follow in his footsteps … and guess what it’s gonna be messy, it’s going to hurt, we are going to be victimized, we are going to have trouble … that we are guaranteed in his word and in his practise.

BUT, we are also
more than conquers.

While other Christians have now spoken about the pointless words and of her gender-related victimization, she (the one who the comment was directed toward) has responded in confidence of her calling and in grace, remembering that our calling is to “honor God, (and) let’s move on.”

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” John 1:9

She just kept doing what she does, focusing on the goal, focusing on the calling, focusing on the prize … as is our example in Christ as women and men who follow his leadership.

“The enemy taunts us with whispers like, ‘You’ll never be free. You’ve tried a hundred times. You go back every time. You’re hopeless. You’re weak. You’re a failure. You don’t have what it takes.’ Every one of these statements about you is a lie if you are a believer in Christ. You do have what it takes. You have Jesus – the Way, the truth, and the Life. But you can’t just believe in Him to be free from your stronghold. You must believe Him. Believe He can do what He says He can do. Believe you can do what He says you can do. Believe He is who He says He is. And believe you are who He says you are.” (from Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Prayer).

Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine

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I read a blog the other day about mothering in the middle, when one feels a bit like a taxi driver, fast food cook supply manager, academic assistant, nutritionist, administrative assistant and cheerleader. I found myself reminiscing through that non-stop stage.

It happened to be on a day I was utterly bored.

You see, I am at the mothering young adults stage, the hands-off mothering stage.

The movement from mom in the middle to mom of young adults is similar to a hairpin turn driving down a steep mountainside … you’re moving at speeds you didn’t know possible, then, all of a sudden, you make a sharp turn facing the opposite direction … and the sun is obscuring your view, making it hard to see where you are going.

Our kids are all finished with high school and in varying levels of study and work. Two of our three are still living at home, one in another community. To be honest, I vacillate between wanting them to all be out and independent and wanting them all under one roof (mine).

This is the stage of hands-off mothering … unless they need me … RIGHT NOW! I am talking drop everything and help them right now.

This is where, I guess, boundaries should be developing … but I so need to be needed, and really, no one needs me as much as I desire to be needed anymore. So, I am struggling to draw those boundaries … wanting to be available if someone might have need of me (the struggle is real).

Then there is the I am gonna sever my tongue, from biting it so frequently part of this hands-off mothering stage. They need to be making their own decisions about their faith, their schooling, their work, their income and relationships … I just SO want to offer my opinions … all of the time.

As I was writing this post, hubby let me know what time one of our kids got in last ‘night’ (aka this morning) … gotta say, I really didn’t want to know … that ostrich with it’s head in the sand? I am getting to know him (or is it her) quite well.

I am learning that they need to make mistakes … their own. Live with their own consequences. It was a freedom I was graciously offered by own parents and I believe that I need to regift this freedom to them.

Then there are the heartbreaks … they are so real, so lasting at this young adult stage (though many can come to them earlier). Their relationship struggles, loneliness, uncertainty in their abilities, in their future, their jobs. Life for a young adult is not what it was thirty years ago, when I was twenty. There is little in society today, for a twenty-something that is typical … other than nightlife. And if they are not heartbroken for what is (or is not) going on in their own lives, they live vicariously through the hurts of their friends.

These heartbreaks ripple into my own heart … stories that include suicide, health struggles, drug addiction, sexual assault, homelessness and single parenting get processed with mom on SOS … and I have no answers when I am invited into these conversations … but I pray … how I pray.

At this stage, their friends are not necessarily ones that I know, have met, have made cookies with and carpooled to various events. Their friends are often faceless names that remind me that their life is their own.

Then there is the attempt to get everyone together for one meal … Oh my lanta! I think world peace might be easier to attain!

But …

They are learning, they are seeking, they are even thriving. They do good work, love deeply, seek justice, care for each other …

and they ask me to pray.

When they or their friend is in a tough place, they still ask me to pray.

And if that is the common thread of their need of me, at this hands-off mothering stage … then I will pray.

There is a video that I would return to (over and over) in those mom in the middle years, called The Invisible Woman (below). I realized, the other day, that it still has something to offer me at this hands-off stage of mothering:

“At times my invisibility has felt like an infliction to me,
but it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my own pride.
It’s okay that they don’t see,
we don’t work for them,
we work for Him.
We sacrifice for Him.
They will never see,
not if we do it right,
if we do it well.
Lets pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even greater God.”
Nicole Johnson

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As I was watching a trailer for a movie, a conversation onscreen caught my attention.

A young man, new to Nunavut, asked of an elder, “you lived up here a long time?” The elder replied, “six thousand years.”

Like an oak tree that began with an acorn from another oak tree, or a salmon from the fertilization process of two salmon, we humans carry not just the DNA and physical characteristics, but the history of our family of origin.

A number of months ago, while collecting and organizing photos for a framed family history, I was intrigued by the photos collected on my maternal side of the family.

The same squinty eyes, over and over, in each image. As though the gene has just taken over generations of women (my own daughters included).

The quote from the movie made me wonder about those whose DNA I share … what else has been handed down? Not the seen, through our squinty eyes, but the unseen?

Are there strengths within their physical bodies that I have benefitted from? Weaknesses? Were my struggles with self control and downtime shared by these previous generations of women? Did my great, great, great grandmother stand at her clothesline in the Scottish countryside and see wonder in the mundane of daily life, too? Did it connect them to their Creator, as well?

Like trees, those who came before us have seeded within us the first fruits of our lives … not something that we have any control.

I look at my mother, a woman who persevered through a childhood of abuse and terror. She is my squinty-eyed model of an overcomer … one who took the generational curses of her paternal side and slammed the door on them … choosing to end that chapter of inheritance of abuse and alcoholism. She chose to be grafted into a new tree, one that grows better roots, sweeter fruit.

What did I inherit from these women who I knew not at all, or knew so little about?

Their images contain frowns … furrowed brows. I know my family tree was not seeded in the cultivated gardens of palaces, but in the countryside where work was hard and never-ending. I know that there were families full of love and closeness, as well as struggle and heartache.

Yet, in their furrowed brows and squinty eyes there is also a ready smile … strength in the midst of struggle, joy during the trial, hearts full … even when they were broken.

You ask: “Have I lived here long?”

To which I reply: “Thousands of years.”

“Family faces are magic mirrors.
Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past,
present and future.
We make discoveries about ourselves.”

Gail Lumet Buckley

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Prince Harry said it best, “how any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension” in his response, after witnessing the birth of his son.

Today, in North America, is Mother’s Day. A day when mothers (biological or adopted) and mother-figures are celebrated for … just being mum (mom, ma, mommy, mother, etc.).

It is a lovely day for so many, who have done so much.

For others it is not so lovely. If that is you, stop reading this and click on my post, written just for you, for I understand When Mums Day Hurts.

What Prince Harry didn’t know, when his wife pushed their son into their shared world, what he will not know for many years to come, is that his wife has just begun the hardest work of motherhood. As the umbilical cord was cut, the real work of motherhood begins … that of letting go.

Motherhood is the most awe-inspiring, heart-swelling, prayer motivating, faith-building, white knuckle determination, rip your heart out and squeeze every last drop of life from you experiences.

It is the indescribable experience of a lifetime, that lasts a lifetime. It is a constant push-pull, constant drawing in and letting go.

The job of a mother is, from the beginning of conception, to grow and build and prepare a child for independence … from herself.

Our intuitive desire to hold tight, over-written by our biological inclination to prepare our children for life apart from us.

As a child of a mother, I am keenly aware that in no way can I ever out-love my mother. Nor can I need her as she does me. And it is her fault (being blamed is also part of motherhood 😉 )! For it was my mother who taught me to grow up, that I can do it myself, that I can do anything.

As my own children have grown into adults, I have grown to understand that my letting go of my children continues as I step back and allow them to be independent of me … my advice, my plans, my choices (so much more easily said than done … do I hear an amen?). It is this independence of body and mind that can bring some of the sweetest reunions, when they bring their life back into closeness with mine, sharing what they have learned with me.

Letting go is hard for us moms. For we love our children so much more deeply than words can express. Yet, letting go is the mantra of mums. It is the daily cutting of the umbilical cord, the daily waving good bye, the daily whisper you can do it. And they move forward from where we are, watching them go.

When my days of life and living are done, when my kids sit around a table looking at photos, laughing at silliness, recounting memories that only they share, I don’t care if they think my giving birth was monumental, that my brownies were the best or that I transported them like a full time taxi driver when they were kids.

I hope they are able to say
I struggled to point them to Christ,
I loved deeply,
hugged tightly
and that I let them go.

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When the calendar turns to May, grieving begins afresh for many.

There are numerous variations on this grief, but the reason is the same … it is the month when Mother’s Day is celebrated.

As valid and deserving as the celebrations and accolades are for most people, it is valid and deserving to equally acknowledge the white elephant of grief for so many especially this month.

My own first Mother’s Day was sorrowful. Four months earlier, at eighteen weeks gestation, our first pregnancy, our first child, ceased to live and grow within me. I remember that following Mother’s Day … I remember soldiering on, tight upper lip, continuing on as always … aching from the depths of my being, wanting to just be home, mourning alone and openly with hubby.

For others it will be the inability to conceive, the struggles toward adoption, living the solo life when you would rather create another human with a life-long partner. All of these sorrows originating in two opposing realities … you desire a child more than anything else and there seems to be no way around your present reality that it just isn’t happening.

It is a grief that is present every time you menstruate, see another who is pregnant, hear an announcement of a child born, get invited to a baby shower, hear moms complaining about their kids, see a child who looks like your child could look. It is a grief akin to constantly having a scab ripped off, blood gushing as though a new wound. It does not completely heal.

For others it will be the loss of a child. Though our losses (five of them) were in utero, I have no idea what it is like to lose your child, to have him or her die and be buried. At any age, we humans believe it is just not right for a parent to bury their child … it just goes against the lifeline … it is not how things should happen. Mother’s Day would be that reminder of what has been lost, again it would be that injury that never fully heals.

Then there are those whose child was adopted (with or against their will) and this has left a gapping void in their heart and life. Mother’s Day being the reminder of what could have been. To be a mother yet never a mom … to know that a part of your heart is out there, somewhere.

There are those whose relationship with their mother is strained. Of course this can go both ways, and it may be the mother who is isolated from her child by choices of one or the other. When apologies cannot be listened to (or even heard) there is loss, grief … thoughts of what if? why? and where did I go wrong haunting every day.

For many, Mother’s Day is the grief of the mental loss of their mom. Disease may have seemingly stolen their mom from them and a visit is no longer greeted with acknowledgement that mom remembers you. Each visit contains a wish to be known again. Longing for what was is deep and sorrowful.

For others, there is no longer any earthly means of communicating, of laughing together, of that warm mother-child embrace … for death has separated them. Photos can reignite memories and feelings, but

to love, laugh and
inhale the scent of love

are gone forever … and it just hurts.

Like David we cry out:

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?


The mother’s heart is an endless one … and it even exists for those who have never had a child address you as such.

To those who are grieving this Mother’s Day, it is okay to grieve. Like David, it is okay to lament, to say what we really mean (God knows it already). It is okay to mourn what is not, what will never be, what is gone. Then, like David, “trust in his unfailing love” (v. 5), for he is acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:5).

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