Sunday, September 22, 2013

While You Were Sleeping

Dearest Robin,

The call came from your mother at 5:20 this afternoon, that you were ready for our evening walk. I hurriedly put on my shoes, headed for the door and a minute later was greeted by you; fed, happy, and wearing a T-shirt inscribed with the message “I Love Grandpa”. You fussed at first as we set off with the stroller clanking over the rough street, but soon you fell asleep. We didn’t talk much but just being together was special. It was a quiet thoughtful moment in time.

As we moved along the sidewalks the clatter of the wheels hitting the cracks made a rhythmic sound, something like a heart beating. I imagined your little heart beating and sensed its importance, pumping a seemingly endless river of life through your tiny body.  The little heart on your shirt, the symbol of love, got me pondering its significance. Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eyes. A heart full of love sees the goodness in others, the joy of giving and the art of kindness. You see, my sweet Robin, love is the most excellent way to live.

It was a warm late summer evening. The sun was setting, casting long lingering shadows. I noticed a crabapple tree along the pathway burdened down with hundreds of apples and a field of grape vines strained by the weight of a sweet crop; a reminder of a God that loves us abundantly and provides for us in this wonderful world he has created.

As I looked across the field of grapes I could see a house transformed by its new owners.  It used   to be the home of my Great Uncle Lem and Great Aunt Edna. They were kind folks. Lem was always quick with a funny story while Edna quietly made her guests comfortable, by offering them treats and displaying genuine pleasure in seeing them.

A few minutes later we passed the home where our friends Johnny and Jo live. I remember them fussing over your mother at church when she was your age, sometimes smiling at your mom's cute ways, not showering her with expensive gifts but just being a kindly presence in her life.

Love is sometimes like the gentle evening breeze. You can’t see it but you can feel it. I don’t suppose I thought much about this when I was young, but as I get older I realize that these wonderful people and many others were teaching me and your mom about love. Their love surrounded us and made us warm inside. It gave us confidence to become what God wants us to be and it gave us the courage to love unconditionally. Their love taught us to live a more excellent way. As you grow, Robin, may you sense that there is a vast number of people who love you and may you flourish in that love.

Your shirt announces “I Love Grandpa“. My heart whispered,  “ I Love You Robin” while you were sleeping.

We’ll walk again soon.

Warmly with love, Grandpa.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lessons From 2011

“Love your enemies.” Ahh! Enemies give rise to lots of feelings, but love is not one of them. When confronted with an enemy, emotions like contempt, irritation, frustration, loathing grip me and hang on like blood-sucking leaches.
In April of 2011 an enemy moved in with me, just crawled into the same wee shell that I have occupied all my life and took control. I have been anything but hospitable. I have railed against it and I have used all my creative powers to try to evict it but it just clings tightly and refuses to leave. My rival is named “Pain”.
Pain has patiently waited while I have ranted and raved and berated it. It keeps whispering, “You cannot harbour feelings of animosity and feel content and at peace at the same time. I'm not going anywhere. We could be much happier in these cramped quarters if you would accept me, submit to my wishes, be merciful to me, hold me and cradle me.” So here I am, slowly peeling off the leaches and cradling my adversary.
Sometimes I foolishly try to elbow pain out of the way and regain control of my body. Pain screeches, “Oh no you don't! Remember! I'm in the drivers seat now!” Pain allows me to give what I can and no more. I am learning that I am not Superwoman and I am not indispensable. Other people are very gracious about fulfilling the tasks that I have been used to doing and they can do them well. Many things can be left undone and the world still rotates on its axis.
But I loved doing all those things I used to do in my old life. It grieves me to give them up. Pain compels me to learn that clinging to what was is counterproductive. With every end there is a new beginning. Embrace the new.
I'm reminded that any control I may have deceived myself into thinking I have in this life is very precarious at best. Every earthly comfort or pleasure could be blown away in the blinking of an eye. I'm learning to cherish the blessings that are mine at this moment, knowing that they are fleeting.
Where would I be without corporate worship? Some Sundays I look around while we sing songs like “How Great is Our God” or “Be Still My Soul” and I see so many people who have suffered disappointments and grief in their lives that make my problems seem comparatively trite. Watching these people of faith while they sing humbles me and gives me the strength to flap my wings and soar above the clouds.
Pain has given me occasion to reflect on how blessed I am to be loved by others. Sometimes having Ed hold me and cry with me has been just what I needed. Invariably when I'm tempted to wallow in self-pity one of my sisters phones me. We chat and laugh and I find myself perked up and ready to carry on. My children have always been ready to pick up the slack when I need them. My friends have sympathetically listened to me grumble without judging either Pain or me. So many people in the medical profession have gone the second mile for me. Thank you for loving me.
With pain comes hope, hope of reclaiming my earthly body and hope that one day I will go to live with God. When I get to heaven God will embrace me in His arms and say, “There, there! Its all over. You are with me now and all the pain that comes with living in a mortal body in an imperfect world is done.” “Therefore I do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though my outer self is progressively decaying and wasting away, yet my inner self is being progressively renewed day after day.” II Corinthians 4:16. Thank you God for the lessons that come with Pain.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Everything I Need to Know to be Successful in School

As a grade one teacher, I'm often asked what skills children should master before they enter first grade.  As a result, I've researched this topic extensively and thought about it deeply.  Based on my musings I have composed a list of concepts every child should grasp in order to cope with the rigors of the academic world as I know it.

  1. TV's where designed to flit from one thing to the next. You are not a TV.
  2. Persevere
  3. Sleeves were invented to keep your arms warm. They were never meant to replace a tissue.
  4. Be a risk taker. It's okay to make mistakes.
  5. Lunch pails were made for the storage of food. Apples squirreled away in the back of a desk eventually turn to apple sauce.
  6. “May I please...” takes you further than whining.
  7. Ears are for listening.
  8. If adults were dogs, you would be a tail. Tails were never meant to wag the dog.
  9. Be nice.
  10. If you can't be nice, at least refrain from being nasty. Keep your tongue in your mouth, your middle finger down and your hands and feet to yourself.

    Research indicates that the most important indicators of success in school are the ability to listen and follow instructions, delay gratification, remain focused for extended periods of time, and function in a social setting.  Good luck to all of you out there with little ones who are preparing to leave the nest and take flight soon.  I hope this is helpful.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Promises Made - Promises Kept

Thirty-seven years ago today Ed made the following promise to me:

I stand in the presence of God and our families on this the eve of our lives together, ready to take you into my company and care, ready to take you as my wife.  I promise to love you, to be faithful to you and to seek daily to grow closer to you as together we experience life's joys and life's sorrows.  I'll be there to listen to your problems, to be understanding, to be a strength to you, to share and pray with you.  I promise my friendship with the prayer that it might continue to grow, that together we may serve God, help others and help each other.  I'll love you and cherish you and live harmoniously with you until separated by death. 

For thirty-seven years Ed has consistently kept his promise.  He is my greatest earthly treasure.  Thank you for loving me Ed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Letter to Charlotte From Grandpa

Welcome, Charlotte Rose,

On November 20, 2010, you came into the world weighing 8 lbs 3 ounces. You are such a precious little bundle. Your parents wanted to give you a name as special as you are so they named you Charlotte Rose - a name that blends two families together. You are a delight to your parents and your grandparents who loved you before you were born, love you more now and look forward to growing more in love with you with each passing day. When you arrived I waited patiently to hold you. Finally my turn came. Carefully I took you into my arms. Of course, the chorus of babble continued from your various admirers surrounding us. Despite the distractions, while I held you I could feel your little lungs moving air in and out, in and out with a graceful life giving rhythm. What a wonder you are Charlotte Rose. In the beginning a miracle of sperm and egg, small enough to be gingerly balanced on the head of a pin, yet with your future body, intelligence and personality so carefully marked out in a complex chemical code. You are one of God's most precious miracles that had a beginning and has a spirit within you that will never end. For the time being, your spirit is locked up in a beautiful little body with soft velvety skin and a head adorned with fine silky hair. You will gradually unfold into the unique person you were planned to be. As I held you and marveled at your beauty I was drawn to another infant that came into the world many years ago – Jesus, the Savior of the world. He arrived to bring mercy to those who seek Him, salvation to those who obey, spiritual sight and hearing to the alert.
As I held you the majestic music of Handel's Messiah stirred my soul as I thought of God as the God of you, my sweet Charlotte and the God of forever. The closing lines to this great work says “ And He shall reign forever, and ever. Forever and ever, Forever and ever. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” It is my sincere longing and prayer that your forever will be lovingly linked to the Messiah's forever.
I'll Love You Forever,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Prayer for Children

We pray for children
Who sneak popsicles before supper,
Who erase holes in math workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those
Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
Who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
Who never "counted potatoes,"
Who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead,
Who never go to the circus,
Who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those
Who never get dessert,
Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
Who watch their parents watch them die,
Who can't find any bread to steal,
Who don't have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
Whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
Who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who aren't spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must,
For those we never give up on and for those who don't get a second chance.
For those we smother ... and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
We pray for children.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Indispensable Vegetable

Every spring the gardeners in our midst get itchy feet.  As soon as the ground thaws, they are out there with a pocket full of seeds letting the soil sift between their fingers.  They lovingly push the seeds into the ground with one hand and pull weeds out with the other hand.  Then they sit back and watch with anticipation to see what sprouts.  Some of these amateur agriculturists  have corn flourishing in their backyard, some potatoes and some beans but one vegetable that every true gardener sows is zucchini.  Zucchini is the vegetable of choice because zucchini gives one bragging rights.  Just a little more than a fortnight after the sowers amongst us tenderly drop their first zucchini seed in the ground, you can hear the boast begin.  “You should see my zucchini vine.  Just yesterday it sprouted and now it’s a jungle back there.  It’s already weaving its way all over my backyard.”  Not long after that you hear the same horticulturists crow, “I have zucchinis back there that are almost three feet long.”
    “If I do grow zucchinis what should I do with them?” you ask.  “Everyone knows that as a vegetable a zucchini is virtually useless.”  This is what you should do: While your zucchini is still ripening, scour the neighbourhood, watching for just the right person to present your prize vegetable to.  Find a neighbour who is a skinflint, a domestic goddess and someone who has a kind and generous spirit.  You must find a skinflint or your neighbour will quietly sneak out to her compost bin under the veil of darkness and unceremoniously dump your prize possession into that rotting debris.  You must find a domestic goddess or she will leave your zucchini to rot on the counter while she goes about her business and you must find a person with a kind and generous spirit or she will keep the wares for herself.  After you find just the right person wait until the hottest day in the summer, then present that unsuspecting neighbour with your prize zucchini.   While you rest under the shade of your oak tree engulfed in a good book, she will be bustling about her overheated kitchen turning out all sorts of delicacies: zucchini cake, zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, zucchini cookies. In the cool of the evening when you think to yourself, “My, it would be nice to have a wee something to wash down my tea,” she will come knocking on your door, laden down with all sorts of mouth-watering tidbits.  As you gorge yourself on the last savory morsel, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you deserve this tiny indulgence after all the work you did to grow that zucchini.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Flowers = Abundance,
Abundance of colour,
Abundance of scents,
Abundance of beauty.

Jesus said "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly."

Abundance of joy,
Abundance of peace,
Abundance of love,
Abundance of grace and mercy,

When I drink in the beauty the surrounds me I am mindful of the beauty that abundantly flows through me when I bow down and say, "Not my will by Thine be done."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Small Children: How They Empower Me

They light up when I come into the room.
They never notice that my hair looks like a rat’s nest.
Frumpy clothes don’t phase them.
They don’t cover their ears when I am over exuberant.
They don’t complain that I ramble on.
When I screech them a song they say “Again, pleeeease!.”
They wade through my clutter thinking me a kindred spirit.
Misspelled word are not within their radar.
They beg me to join them in their playground games even when I’m a klutz.
My beliefs and opinions are never too radical or offensive to them .
They are quick to forgive me when I hurt them.
They love me unconditionally.
God give me the grace to be as accepting of their quirks and idiosyncracies as they are of mine.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bringing Up Mother

My children have dedicated their lives to bringing up their mother to be a credit to them. As I waddled my way through pregnancy and delivery they taught me that dignity is a luxury that is highly over-rated. During their infancy they taught me to love sacrificially. My babies and toddlers taught me to be still and to live in the moment. When they were little they showed me that looking at the world with a sense of wonder could help me find my way as I travel through life. During their childhood I learned patience. As teens they tried to cultivate in me a sense of style and sophistication that could be paraded in the public domain with no embarrassment to them. Instead I learned humility. As young adults they are teaching me to let go. Children - how could we ever grow up without them.