He Paid a Debt He did Not Owe { When Will it Be Enough}

Yesterday, I shared with you all about my family and where I was born and raised. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so because it will give you some insight into why I care so much about what happens today in Ottawa with the meeting of the Prime Minister and the First Nations leaders.

Prime Minster Stephen Harper and First Nations Leader Sean Atleo

When I was a little girl, growing up on an Indian Reservation in Northern Saskatchewan, we spent our summers at home and for many weeks that included walking up the road to the tabernacle in the bush. Along the path we were sheltered by towering evergreens and through those evergreens, wild Tiger Lilies(or Prairie Lilies as some call them) would grow.  If it sounds pastoral and peaceful, then you have read it correct.  It was.  It was a time within a time. Almost a stopping of time.

The world may have been spinning in darkness but we were suspended in moments of perfection and light.  

If you’ve ever been to an Indian camp meeting you will understand when I say there is no agenda and there are no clocks.  If you haven’t been, do yourself a favour and go this summer~it is a world like no other. Cranked up amplifiers, electric guitars, steel guitar, the smooth vocals of the special speaker and his wife from way down south in Oklahoma.  I mostly fell asleep on my mother’s lap as the hours waned after the children’s Bible stories and games were done. There was only so long that our attention could be held before we were sent back inside to that hot and over-flowing  tabernacle of praise.  And when a song was going well and the 4th verse was over, they’d start it all over again to keep the Spirit moving. One song in particular always plays over in my memory…..
( I found this on YouTube and the memories came flooding back).
Wow that brings back memories. That’s pretty much how we’d sing it. 

” He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay…I needed someone to wash my sins away..”

The song is about redemption. And the only way to be free from the burden of sin is for Jesus to take the load. Because there’s no human way possible for us to pay back to God for all of the sin in our lives. 
I thought of that song today because this week there’s a battle going on in our country over native rights and responsibilities.  The players and issues are convoluted and complicated. I can’t possibly address it all here in one blog or even ten.

 To be honest, I don’t know what the answer is.

When identities are wrapped up in treaties that are over 100 years old and the foundation of those treaties is based on the past and simple concepts like land ownership, I throw my hands up and wonder “when will it be enough?”  When will our debt be paid?  I am white, you see. And because I am white, I have to pay a debt that I do not owe but I owe a debt I simply cannot pay.  We are in desperate need of a Saviour here and sadly, the only ‘saviours’ that everyone is looking to are mere men and women who are hardly capable of satisfying the demands. 
Identity.  That’s what this is all about. Who am I? Who are you? Who are we together and who are we apart from each other?  If the only answer is more land, more rights, more money, more schools, more houses, more laws……there will never be enough. 
And so, I’m praying this prayer today. It’s the Prayer of St. Francis and I don’t know of anything more appropriate to pray than this over our leader of the First Nations, Sean Atleo,the Chiefs of Reserves and Settlements,Metis and Inuit leaders and for Governor General David Johnston and also our Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

The Cowboy and The Indian~ A Story about Family

He shuffled forward, almost like his boots were too big;  they probably were. His body, frail and small after years of health problems. My dad and my uncle flanked him on either side and moved him slowly forward. He reached out his hand and I nearly missed that moment. I quickly grabbed my camera because I knew we were about to witness something special.  Grandma stood and reached out her hand too. And then it happened~barely a whisper but his voice got stronger as he spoke.  A beautiful language I did not understand. Though I didn’t need to.  It was between him and his Maker.  “The Creator” is what he calls Him.  A blessing from one friend to another.  Tears rolled down my cheek as I listened and watched. And he touched my grandpa’s hands and his face. A final farewell from the Indian to the Cowboy after nearly eight decades of friendship.  I can’t imagine the stories or the adventures these two have shared. Most will never be heard or known by human ears.  For barely two months later, Old Bill went to meet his Maker too. I suspect he was homesick for his friend, The Cowboy.IMG_1332

Everyone has a story.  It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from or where you’ve been.  If matters not if your skin colour is brown, white, black or red. And for my grandpa and his friend Bill, the story is full of love, respect and friendship that stood the test of time and  bypassed all political,racial and economical barriers.  I am glad they aren’t around to see what has become of their people and their country.  Protests and name-calling are dividing families and friendships for nothing more than greed and status.

I was called a racist this week. I was called ignorant and uninformed. Someone told me I couldn’t possibly understand what it is like to grow up on a reservation or have ones rights stripped. If only they knew….

If everyone has a story and we’re all fighting for the same thing, do you want to hear mine? Some people don’t. It seems we’ve come to this moment in history where no one’s story matters except those of one specific race. But how different am I from them?

I grew up living on the threshold of an Indian Reservation on the Alberta Saskatchewan border in the north. Our neighbours were Cree. I don’t remember knowing or understanding anything about the difference between them and me. They were our friends, and our family.  In our home, my mom and dad often had young people around. Some played their guitars, others sang. Dad had moved an old school building onto our property before I was born and that became the meeting house for weddings, potlucks, gatherings, baptisms, Bible studies, and Christmas concerts. In a world where the “Us and Them” mentality decided where you lived and where you didn’t, where you shopped and where you ate, we managed to live harmoniously and obliviously happy for decades. My grandpa pushed bush and built a thriving ranch from nothing. He was a man in tune with the land and all of its resources. A businessman for sure but before that and always thereafter, a lover of life, nature,horses  and the Cree people who he called his friends.  That’s why it’s no surprise really, that his children fell in love with this indigenous people too.

If you’ve lived on the prairies of Canada for any length of time, chances are that you too, have family and friends who call themselves First Nations.  That’s a perplexing label to me. Indian, Metis, First Nations, Aboriginal….whatever you call these people, it doesn’t really matter; they are our neighbours and they are fellow Canadians. This is where I find myself confused and somewhat hurt.  My great-grandparents were either born just prior to coming to Canada or born following the migration of their own parents to Canada.  At what point do I become First Nations?  Doesn’t the idea of “first” mean the place of your birth? The place of your heritage? The place of your family’s beginnings? And what is the beginning? Is the beginning 3 generations back? Or ten?  Does it really matter?

Yesterday the news came out that a high court in Canada had decided that all people of First Nations/Aboriginal/Metis descent , whether living on reserves,settlements or in cities,off reserve or elsewhere would benefit from Indian status. What does this mean? Well, as best as I can tell it means that they can apply and be approved for any funding, health care, privileges that people on reserve are privy to.  Now, as far as the concept goes, I agree. If people on reserves are getting special privileges for their racial background then in all fairness, those of the same race should receive those privileges regardless of where they live. I absolutely 100 % agree with this.  However(and you knew I’d have a big BUT right here),  this is exactly where the system is wrong and broken.  The idea that a group of people, based on race alone, are treated differently than the rest of the country is absolutely offensive to every race, Aboriginals included. This is not equality. This is segregation. And it now muddies the waters of inter-racial  heritage. It also encourages the ongoing labeling of people based on country of ethnic origin which is silly and pointless.

Back to my story…..

My mom’s family, both sides, are Mennonites.  Mennonites from Russia to be precise.  They fled the Ukraine in the late 1870s because of religious persecution.  Some stayed but most left. The Canadian government helped them to get here because the land in southern Manitoba and southern Saskatchewan was uninhabited and the ground needed to be broken and worked. Thousands upon thousands of Mennonites , Ukranians, Irish and Scottish Europeans came over with little idea of what they were about to face. Can you imagine not speaking the language, facing your first prairie winter in little more than a shack for shelter? And the process of homesteading required that the land be lived on for the entire year before land titles were turned over to the owners. I have seen some of these “homes” that could only be called mud huts at best.  But they did it, to be free and to have a hope of a future. This is my family and this is the family of my husband.  In the 1920s the government of Manitoba took over the education of all immigrant children. Up until that time, Mennonites, Hutterites, Ukranians and any other ethnic group were free to educate their children in their mother tongue.  But the Canadian government and provincial and territorial governments of the day decided that English must be taught as well as government approved curriculum. There is a part of me that totally understands the fear and anger that my family must have felt during this time.  They had just become accustomed to a new way of life in a new country and now their rights were being taken away. And so, many fled.  South to Mexico and other points in the US. There is , to this day, a very large community of Mennonites in Mexico and more communities in Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and other South American countries.  My great aunt was one who fled and died a short time after, leaving many children without a mother. But I do not blame the government.  I do not advocate for compensation for my family who were persecuted and driven from their homes. (There was a threat of government intervention and children were forced by authorities to attend these schools. It was not optional.)  But that was then and this is now.

In the 1940s following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, there was a mass round up of Japanese Canadians.  They were interned in camps and forced to work in often treachorous conditions. Japanese men were separated from their wives and children and laboured on the Trans Canada Highway that we all now enjoy the freedom to drive. This was less than 70 years ago but you don’t see Japanese Canadians demanding compensation or restitution for the time or property lost(their houses and possessions were sold and they didn’t receive the proceeds).  It was a different time and a different place.  That doesn’t excuse what happened but it is no more Stephen Harper’s fault than it is my own. It is a sad part of our history but it is in the past.  The stories of these people is no less important than that of Aboriginals who were forced into residential schools.

So why does any of this matter? It matters only in the context of each family’s history and story. And all of our stories matter in the context of what Canada is and who we are as Canadians.  Why an aboriginal who is 28 gets more privileges, rights and protection than I , at 41, when we both have been born here, our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were born, worked, paid taxes here is beyond me.  I get treaties. I understand promises and the shaking of hands. I also understand that the day a treaty was signed in the 1860s  or 1910s it was a very different world than it is today.  No vehicles relying on gas and oil, no homes powered by electricity, no hospitals with NICUs keeping preemies alive long before they ever would have survived in more primitive times.  The leaders of the day shook hands in good faith and they promised in the context of what they knew and what they could imagine only years ahead of where they were.  Not decades and not centuries.  I am Canadian.  My kids are Canadian.  My cousin and brother and sister and aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces are all Canadian.  Some of us have darker skin and some of us are pasty white. But we are still family and we love the land which we came from and which we still hold dear.

A year ago, we laid my grandpa to rest a mile or so from the border of the Indian Reservation where he lived most of his life. I was in the minority at his funeral. As I looked out across that room full of friends and family there were definitely more brown faces than white. And it made me smile. This is how my grandpa would have wanted it:Friends and family all together~Laughing, hugging and sharing stories of times gone by.

My dad and a dear family friend whom I had not seen in many years. I love the smiles and I love these two people.

My dad and a dear family friend whom I had not seen in many years. I love the smiles and I love these two people.

Old Bill, my Grandpa's lifelong friend, with help from my Dad and my cousin throws one of the first shovels of dirt onto Grandpa's casket. A poetic moment I will never forget.

Old Bill, my Grandpa’s lifelong friend, with help from my Dad and my cousin throws one of the first shovels of dirt onto Grandpa’s casket. A poetic moment I will never forget.

 

 

How do I , a white woman, introduce the brown-faced members of my family?  Like this:

He’s my brother.

My dad and my brother. Love them.

My dad and my brother. Love them.

My brother, my cousin and my husband. Three of the handsomest men I know.

My brother, my cousin and my husband. Three of the handsomest men I know.

She’s my sister.

My sister, and 2 cousins(they're all about the same age)~ and their dads are all brothers.

My sister, and 2 cousins(they’re all about the same age)~ and their dads are all brothers.

 

This is my cousin, whom I love like a brother.

This is my nephew,isn’t he cute?

The last time many of us got to see Grandpa it was a lovely time~family time.

The last time many of us got to see Grandpa it was a lovely time~family time.

And here’s one of  some of my favourite people in the world.

This is my family.

Me,my sister, my grandma, my aunt and my cousins.

Me,my sister, my grandma, my aunt and my cousins.

2012 in Pictures ~ Because sometimes,there are no words big enough.

My grandpa's tender hands. I held them for the last time in January. He was nearly 93 when he died on January 20,2012. I miss him so.

My grandpa’s tender hands. I held them for the last time in January. He was nearly 93 when he died on January 20,2012. I miss him so.

 

 

 

At my grandpa's grave side~his friend Bill , who would pass away 2 months later, threw on one of the first shovels of dirt. A poignant moment.

At my grandpa’s grave side~his friend Bill , who would pass away 2 months later, threw on one of the first shovels of dirt. A poignant moment.
Grandma and just about all of her grandkids. This was good for her.

Grandma and just about all of her grandkids. This was good for her.

Family fun at Sunshine Village in February.

Family fun at Sunshine Village in February.

Dad and son jamming before everyone had to leave for their "temporary homes" .

Dad and son jamming before everyone had to leave for their “temporary homes” .

Lyndon actually let me photograph him. What a miracle.

Lyndon actually let me photograph him. What a miracle.

Leslie working on one of her many masterpieces. This girl has mad talent.

Leslie working on one of her many masterpieces. This girl has mad talent.

The view of our farm from the road. And a few friends dropped by.

The view of our farm from the road. And a few friends dropped by.

Epic night of aurora borealis in March.

Epic night of aurora borealis in March.

Friends from Ontario~all of us reuniting where our friendship began more than 23 years ago.

Friends from Ontario~all of us reuniting where our friendship began more than 23 years ago.

Does one ever tire of a prairie sunset?

Does one ever tire of a prairie sunset?

Saying goodbye...we will meet again!

Saying goodbye…we will meet again!

The girls enjoying one last prairie storm before our big move to the city.

The girls enjoying one last prairie storm before our big move to the city.

My son's high school grad~time has flown. (he's on the far right).

My son’s high school grad~time has flown. (he’s on the far right).

Another night of amazing skies.

Another night of amazing skies.

"'Then sings my soul~~ How GREAT Thou art!"

“‘Then sings my soul~~ How GREAT Thou art!”

A hazy,hot summer day.

A hazy,hot summer day.

The glory of God I see most in His amazing displays of creation. How can one not believe when you see this? :)

The glory of God I see most in His amazing displays of creation. How can one not believe when you see this? :)

One last sunset...

One last sunset…

Storm clouds followed us as we left the farm...a fitting farewell I think!

Storm clouds followed us as we left the farm…a fitting farewell I think!

" ....I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul! "

” ….I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul! “

A lot of kitten chaos~who can resist?

A lot of kitten chaos~who can resist?

Welcome to Regina!

Welcome to Regina!

The perks of living here ~ cousin/friend/adults to share the days with!

The perks of living here ~ cousin/friend/adults to share the days with!

Our move tuckered everyone out...particularly this pair!

Our move tuckered everyone out…particularly this pair!

Our furry little ball of love is growing up.

Our furry little ball of love is growing up.

Lyndon getting some good experience with one of his former teachers on the church worship team.

Lyndon getting some good experience with one of his former teachers on the church worship team.

Finishing out the year with family around! Happy New Year to all!

Finishing out the year with family around! Happy New Year to all!

Keeping Memories Alive, even in Death {with a little help from Shutterfly}

I have been scrapbooking most of my life but time, space and the overwhelming job of keeping up with all my pictures has made it impossible for me to get anything done anymore where albums are concerned.

My problem is this: I love taking photos.  I love telling stories with a series of photos.  I am a photo-essayist.  It’s one of my great passions.  But here I sit with literally 10′s of thousands of photos archived only on hard drives and discs.  They rarely see the light of day or anyone’s eyes.  It is so sad.  That is partly why I love my Facebook account.  I can parade my photos for all to see and yes, I actually do go back and browse them from time to time myself.  I love seeing and remembering.

So this year, one of my resolutions is to REDEEM my photos from digital hell.  They have been cast into this pit of despair and it’s time to free them.  But where to start?? No better place than the present.  And nothing better that something touching, personal and important to me and others in my family.

Namely: my grandfather’s recent passing.

I blogged about him earlier in February.  He was the pillar of love and faith in our very large family.  He knew each grandchild’s name as well as his 48 great-grandchildren.  He was a man with a twinkle in his eye but oozing with wisdom and advice.  Strong in his faith until the day he died, he led and served his family well.  When it came time to lay him to rest, everyone made the trip to be there.  It was, in fact, the first and only time all 22 of his grandkids were in the same place at the same time.  It was quite the homegoing for him. My dad spent hours and hours plotting out how the service should go.  There was to be no church, no minister presiding and no funeral home involvement for the procession or graveside.  This was a family dominated event and a send off fit for the cowboy that my Grandpa was.

Just a side note here about taking pictures at funerals: This is the 3rd funeral where I have taken photos without fear of being disrespectful. There’s a way to do it where you are not disruptive. At this funeral, it was a very casual atmosphere so it wasn’t taking away from what was happening. At a previous funeral where it was in a packed church, I refrained from taking photos during the service but took a lot at the graveside using a zoom lens.  I cannot tell you how much these photos mean to me personally and to the families. Yes, this is a difficult event in the life of a family. But it is still an event worthy of remembering.  Most of the time, people are too emotional to think about pulling out their cameras.  But I have a healthy respect for death  and the transition to the here-after.  It might not be for everyone but I find it to be one of the most beautiful things to witness.

With my dad being so involved in the service and arrangements I wanted to give him something to remember the day by.  I decided it was time to get the photos off my camera and into a book.  My past experience with photo-books is minimal for what reason I do not know.   I have wanted to  get my photos published over the years but I think I justified not doing it because of the  stash of papers, albums and embellishments that I have amassed.   That has been a huge mistake on my part.

I knew I wanted a good end product.  I also knew I wanted some creative control over what I was creating.  With many options from Walmart to various printers I could have chosen any one of a hundred printers.  But Shutterfly was my first choice.  I have had experience with them in the past.  They do ship to Canada.  And , the best reason? Their album options, layouts, colours and prices were second to none. With deals  every few weeks, I knew I could get this done on budget, on time and with great results.  The only problem?? My sometimes pokey rural internet connection. I feared I would have to mail in a disc of my photos.  But no, Shutterfly has a “fast” upload option which is suitable for photobooks and prints.  I wondered if my connection would handle it.

It did.  In fact, I uploaded dozens of photos in less time than it would take me to drive to town and back.  I was in business.

I’m so grateful to Shutterfly for their service and their “Custom Path”  options for albums.  It allowed me to honor my Grandpa and make something timeless that my dad and the rest of the family will cherish for years to come.  When I got my book earlier this week I was SO VERY IMPRESSED by how well it turned out. I quickly posted photos of it on Facebook and had such an overwhelming response from family and friends! Several  family members have already ordered copies thanks to Shutterfly’s sharing website.  What a great idea! I am hooked!!

Here are a few pages from my album.  It is an 8X11 album with hard cover.  I had to add 20 pages to accommodate all the photos.

Front cover

Front Cover

Page one

Amazing quality of photos

Don't be shy about capturing different moments at a funeral. Many people there are so caught up in emotion that they will thank you for this later.

My grandpa was a simple man but he loved his ranch and his horses. This was such a fitting tribute to him in the end.

Capturing faces and emotions at the graveside can be done respectfully with a proper zoom lens.

Sometimes black and white makes you focus on the subject rather than the busy-ness of color but in this case, my grandpa's favorite color was red, his grandsons were the pallbearers all in black and it made such a statement. Shutterfly allows you to opt for B&W while putting the photos onto the page so you can play with different looks.

Back Cover

I want to challenge any of you who, like me, are hoarding thousands of memories on a digital file somewhere that no one ever sees.  Do you remember the days when we would rush our film to the local 1 hour photo? We would spend $10, $20 or $30 and even go for double prints! This is really no different. Only this time, you’re getting a finished product, not just an envelope of photos needing a home.   Join me this year and REDEEM your memories! Let’s get this stuff published and into a tangible, beautiful book that will be looked at, loved and treasured for a lifetime!

Here’s one more book I just got today. This one was a freebie and it’s just for me.  A little 8X8 album with photos I took of my grandpa this past year.  I even added a few that had some poor resolution and blurriness. I don’t mind~it’s all memories that I am so grateful for!

I love these hardcover books!

A Response to Laptop-Shooting-Angry-Dad {Grace}

As of this morning a YouTube video posted last week has now over 25million views. You may have seen it~or if you haven’t, you might want to check it out.

 

I watched this on Tuesday after seeing many friends and family post it to Facebook.  Many of the comments indicated to me that this might be something that would make me laugh, be excited about or want to do a bunch of cyber-highfives to.

Clearly, I’ve never hidden my expectation that my kids are respectful people who do their fair share of work and responsibilities and so I went into the watching of this video probably a bit on the side of the dad before ever having watched it.

I have to say, it was hard for me to get through it all.  I did not feel excited, happy or gleefully ”on side with Daddy’”.  Rather, I felt sick, sad and hurt for him and his daughter.   I cringed as I got through the entire 8 minute rant.  Don’t get me wrong; I totally understand where he’s coming from.  In fact, I’ve been exactly where he is.  Exactly.  I have 4 kids, 2 of whom are now over 16 and we have walked through these waters of disrespect, whining and complaining about duties, FB inappropriateness and public humiliation.  I have 2 more kids coming up in these ranks soon and I have learned something: your kids are fragile.

In fact, their fragility escalates during the formative teen years.  Some kids are more resilient and take their hormone changes in stride but others fight it and struggle for years with boundaries, emotions and feelings of being taken for granted.  I get this teenage daughter.  I feel for her. I’ve been there~both on the receiving end as a parent and on the end of the teen.  She is hurting and she is offended.  Maybe she didn’t handle it well.  How many teen girls do?  Maybe she could have taken a better approach in talking to her parents about her stresses(or perceived stresses) and any unfairness that she feels is being directed her way.  But hear me on this: Teenagers today are not us.  They have not grown up in the world that we grew up in and they have an exponential amount of social pressure that we never had.

Facebook, as much as I love it, is a toxic world for teenage girls.  There is a certain amount of anonymity on there which leads a lot of people to feel they can spout off at any time without fear of repercussion.  Unfortunately for young girls, there are a lot of repercussions, not the least of which is realizing that your hormonal rant given in the heat of the moment will haunt you for the rest of your life because you lacked the self control to wait for a clearer head and more guarded tone with your parents.

Let me just say this to all the parents out there who have not ever had to deal with a child that has acted out in this way or to the parents whose kids are still young and think it will ” never” happen on your watch:  Put yourself in her shoes.  No, I didn’t say pretend this happened in 1985 with YOUR parents, in YOUR house and the way YOU were raised…put YOURSELF in HER shoes.  Pretend you are her, right now with YOU as her parent and her current life as your own.  With her friends, her school, her workload and her consequences.  How would you feel if your dad went on YouTube, smoking his cigarette, full of swagger and attitude(I actually kind of felt like he was nervous and pretty upset too), reading what YOU thought was private and for your friends only.  How would you feel knowing your dad had been on your Facebook account reading everything you had in your inbox?   And now, consider how you would feel, going to school the next day, facing all of your friends, your peers, the kids who already hate you, condescending teachers and unsympathetic family.  Can you imagine?  I cannot fathom the depths of despair this young girl must be in.  And please don’t confuse my sympathy for her with what she wrote.  But seriously, this dad has damaged an already fragile relationship with his daughter.  He is possibly going to regret this more in the future than she will regret ever ranting in the first place.

Dads, Moms,  show your kids the grace that you would expect to be shown.  Yes, you need to discipline, ground and take away privileges.  Yes, there are consequences for what our kids do on FB and in public.  But they are kids and they have their whole lives ahead of them.  We have already established our reputations; our shoulders are broader and we tend to bounce back fairly quickly from embarrassing situations.  A 15 year old girl could be damaged and scarred for life over a “lesson” her dad thought he was teaching her.

I am praying for this family.  I am praying for reconciliation, redemption and grace.  I am not laughing or high-fiving.  I am sad.  And it makes me more upset with all of the people who think this is worthy of praise for this dad. 25million and growing.  It’s no wonder our kids feel alienated, unloved and screwed over.

  • And just as a quick note about Facebook and teens: all of my kids are on FB.  The conditions for us in our house BEFORE they got their accounts was this: They MUST be friends with us, their parents.  If they are going to post things that they would not want us to see or read, then clearly they are not ready to be on Facebook.
  • They must let their friends know that profanity and inappropriate photos will not be tolerated.
  • We regularly go through their friend lists: no person is approved as a friend unless they know them in a personal, face-to-face way.  Friends are only friends if they are people we would have over to our house and are pouring positive support into our lives.
  • FB can be taken away at any time , for any reason if attitudes or actions show they can’t be responsible online
  • At any time I, or their dad, should be able to look in their inbox(with them present) and read any or all messages. Meaning…don’t be bashing friends or family in public OR in private.

It works for us. Our kids have done well and don’t actually post a lot anyways.  And we’ve managed to at least prevent any embarrassing or life-long baggage from coming back to haunt anyone.

 

To the dad in the video: Give your daughter a hug, humble yourself and tell her you are sorry and that you over-reacted in a way that was inappropriate for you and for her.  Tell her that  YOU crossed a line in her privacy and your respect for her. And no matter what she does or says OR posts in the future, you will love her unconditionally and always be that soft place for her to land in a harsh and unforgiving world.

February 14 {The Day a Legend was Born}

He was 52 the year I was born.  I’ve never known my life without him. I’m privileged that way, and so are my kids.

Today, he would have been 93 years on this earth.  Would have.  But his body could not hold him any longer.  It wasn’t big enough or strong enough.  He needed to ride again.  He needed the strength of a white horse~Maybe Silver? beneath his long cowboy legs.  He needed wide open pastures.  The kind that go on forever and ever.  He would always quote the scripture about God owning the cattle on a thousand hills~and he would smile.  I hope that Heaven has a photo album so that when I get there I can see that moment when he smiled at the open range, the cattle and the horses, running freely.

I have no idea how to put into one blog post all that my Grandpa was to me.  I have no clue how to describe to you, the reader, the impact of his life on his family, his friends, those he employed during the ranch years, and the many folks who crossed his path over the past 9 decades.   His presence was large but he was not prideful. Some call him a proud cowboy but I disagree. He was humble and hardworking.  The only things he took pride in were his horses and ranch and his family.  And those were the things that could cause him much pain too~both physical and emotional.

He was a man of his word and I’ve never known anyone to accuse him of lying, cheating or stealing. That simply was not in him and was not acceptable to him either. He lived by the cowboy code.  He was so much a cowboy, he didn’t need a hat or boots(though he wore both) to let everyone know that he was the real deal.  He rode the community pastures in his younger years, participated in more cattle drives than any Western movie producer could create and he ultimately made a very good living rounding up wild horses, often selling them as rodeo stock.

He was authentically old west~horse, chaps and attitude included.

I grew up across the road from him for the first few years of my life and then the last few years, a fairly short drive away.  I have been blessed to have conversations with him about family, heartache, politics and prophecy.  My grandma would always say, ”Oh Len” when he got to talkin’ about how the whole world was corrupt and filled with sin.  She didn’t much care for his soapbox moments but I sure loved them.  I guess maybe he felt like he had a friendly ear when I was around because we sure had quite a few deep discussions. Maybe that’s where I get my love of all things current events and news-y.   One thing you could count on: Grandpa knew the news.  CNN was his favourite channel, and then maybe the weather network or World Junior Hockey if it was on.  We had a common love of the Calgary Flames and he knew many of the players even up until this past season. Iginla was his favourite(can I get a shout out??).   But one thing you wouldn’t see my grandpa watching was frivolous , mindless television. I don’t ever recall it being on. No weekly dramas, sitcoms or movies.  Maybe they did in their later years, but I never saw evidence of it. They would watch various evangelists and Billy Graham was definitely near and dear to my Grandpa’s heart(they are the same age).

The Bible.  He knew it so well. It puts me to shame.  He awakened each day and read it.  During the ranching years, we would visit and breakfast time was not complete without entire passages being read and thoughtful, powerful prayers being lifted.  He prayed for each of his children, grand-children and great-grandchildren by name. He knew us all.  How many men in their 90′s do you know who can tell you the names of their 48 great-grandkids? That was my grandpa.

I knew of Valentine’s Day and we made heart-shaped cards and cookies in the same kitchen where my grandpa prayed those prayers and where Grandma served her family.  But February 14? That was Grandpa’s birthday. And for as long as I’ve been alive, that is what is on my calendar every year.  Grandpa~ the foundation and the pillar of this family.  The man who never strayed from his convictions and never shied away from proclaiming the Gospel.  He loved people and he wanted them to know how much God loved them.

One thing that is particularly special to me is the tender way he spoke of the name of Jesus. He had a reverence rarely seen or heard these days.  To him, the name of his Lord was precious and worthy of all glory and praise. This is my final memory of him.

In the hospital, the week before he passed away, he was developing an infection and fever was causing him discomfort.  In and out of sleep , he began to sing praises.  He was singing hymns and I recognized most.  As weak as he was, his voice with that baritone  strength , filled his entire room.  He was singing louder and louder as the minutes rolled by.  I seriously felt as though he was calling Heaven down to earth.  In between songs he would pray out loud, calling on Jesus;his precious Jesus.  He continued on and repeated ” God in three persons, blessed Trinity”…over and over again.

I wanted to sing with him.  I started with My Jesus I Love Thee.  He quickly joined in although his eyes were closed and I could tell he was in some level of pain.  He sang out and beat me to the lyrics.  He knew every verse~we sang them all.

I will cherish that memory forever, as tears rolled down my cheeks.  Not that I was sad for him or for me but more that I was standing in the presence of one of God’s servants who in spite of pain and old age, continued to sing the praises of his Father.  I believe that is how he entered Heaven a week later: singing unending praise.   And that is the legacy he leaves for us.

 Jesus first. Jesus only. All the way, His Saviour led him.

I have listened to a lot of hymns the past few weeks and have often wondered which ONE best describes my grandpa. I can’t come up with one.  But there is one that comes close to saying it all.

“This is my story, this is my song, praising my Saviour, all the day long.”

Day 8~Family Priorities

Here it is in the wee hours of the morning. My family is home. Tucked in their beds, sleeping~ resting after a 5 hour drive. So thankful are we that we get an extra day together this weekend: Thanksgiving.  The coming together and giving thanks…for blessings, family and unconditional love.  I’m having to adjust my priorities these days. Things I once thought were so important, well, they’re not.     Love God, Love Family, Love others. In that order.  So, that means that this little blog will have to wait.  For now, I will share sage words of wisdom from a fellow blogger, Juana Mikels.  (I wonder if she gets the same grief with her name as I do with mine??)

Here is an excerpt from her blog yesterday:

Here are my priorities:

My relationship with God (Seek first His kingdom … )

My relationship with my husband 

My relationship with my children (Each one individually, not a group.)

My home (because people live in that home.)

My relationship with other family members.

Building up other Christians (what I am doing now—a small part, but a consistent part of my week.  Because I do not have small children, I have some extra time for this.)

Neighbors, friends, children’s friends

Loving others who do not know Christ.

You can read the rest of her post here.               I realized upon reading this that I have switched some things around. It’s very easy to do for others, pray for others, give to others…….but if those “others” are not your family first(after God of course) then you(I) have missed the mark entirely.  So, this weekend. I am purposefully focusing on my relationship with God~ His Word and very closely behind….my family. They need me and I need them. So we’re going to hang out, eat some food, laugh, work through some stuff and let the rest of the list wait until Tuesday. It’s the best way I know to love my family.  

What about you? Do you have your priorities a little messed up? Do you need to re-adjust some things and get back to what’s most important?  Here’s one more blog worth reading…from one of my favourite author/speakers, Angie Smith:  With Him

Day 7~ By the Book

This is my 7th post for this 31 Day series on Loving Your Family.  Here in Canada, it’s the start of the Thanksgiving weekend. My husband and 2 oldest are coming home tonight and we will be having turkey, pie, junkfood, late night movies, and time. Time together. So, I won’t be blogging much. There’s more important things to do.

Sometimes, I can’t really say everything I want to say anyways. It’s better to leave it with the experts.   The best advice I can give you for loving your family is this: Read your Bible and Pray over them every day.  The Word of God is full of blessings, encouragement, teachable moments and advice. It’s got it all ….and then some.

And after you’ve read that, seek out some other great books on parenting and love.  Here’s a few that you can’t go wrong with.  God has gifted so many men and women with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I have learned so much.  It’s easy to get frustrated with your kids or your spouse, but when you know why they think different than you or respond differently in situations…well, it’s such a gift. Go read..and learn!

To link to the other posts in this series, click here.

Day 6~ Adoption, Steve Jobs and the Value of a Life

In the blogger universe it’s important to not be so tied to one’s agenda that you fail to roll with the inevitable sharp turns that this journey, called Life, can throw your way.  This is one such moment.   In my 31 day series on Loving Your Family, I want to convey to you that it is not so important how your kids dress, how well they do in school or how pulled together you all look on Sunday morning, but rather that you accept the fact that none of us are perfect.  Accept it and then capitalize on the small moments~ seize the day, as it were, to DO something that conveys love, acceptance and joy to your family.

Last evening, Oct. 5, 2011 I got a very short news bulletin that Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and all things “i” had passed away. I am always saddened when I hear that someone so young has died(he was only 56). I feel for the family and friends~ losing someone is never easy. A lot of people get rather nasty when a celebrity or famous person gets so much attention in the media because there are countless others who die and no one sheds a tear or whispers their name.  Let me just say this: EVERY person has a story to tell. EVERY person is a brother, sister, daughter, son, father or mother.  And in the family of humanity, we are all connected.  We mourn and weep because we relate. We are interested because it could be our story or that of someone close to us. Our human-ness is what defines us: made in the image of an Almighty God, our Creator. If we truly believe we are ALL made in His image then of course we are going to be drawn to the story of one.

In amongst all of the posts and blogs, editorials and news stories that came out last night, there was one in particular that struck a cord with me. It was written by “Buzz Bishop”(I have no idea if that is his real name) in Calgary, AB.  I don’t know if he had any idea at the time, what a profound statement he was making about the value of a life but it sure made the point.  Here is an excerpt:

 *****56 years ago a girl got pregnant. Her parents didn’t approve. All of this almost never happened.

In 1954, Abdulfattah John Jandali and Joanne Simpson were a young couple in Wisconsin. Joanne became pregnant and her parents forbid the couple from marrying. Without notice, the Simpsons left for San Francisco where she would give birth to a boy on February 24, 1955. Days later the infant was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs and given the same Steve.

Jobs never spoke about his biological father, but did keep in touch with Joanne Simpson inviting her to some of his family gatherings. In a 1997 New York Times article he appeared grateful for her long-ago decision to have him and put him up for adoption.

 “There was never any acrimony between us,” he says. Yet, biological roots aside, Jobs holds a firm belief that Paul and Clara Jobs were his true parents. A mention of his “adoptive parents” is quickly cut off. “They [were] my parents,” he says emphatically. 

Thank you Steve, but, more importantly thanks to Paul and Clara Jobs for opening their hearts, their homes and their lives.

Without them, we wouldn’t have this.

Disclosure: This subject is close to me. My wife is adopted. All of my life as I know it almost never happened too.****

All of my life(since I was 2) I have been a part of a family of 3 girls. I have maybe one tiny memory of life before my little sister was born but quite honestly, I’ve never known my family without her. I remember the day we picked her up.  She was wrapped in a pink blanket, 2 months old, and full of squishy, cuddly goodness.  My parents never hid the fact that she was adopted. We all knew the word well and as far as I was concerned, adoption was just another way of being born~ like c-section, or at home by midwife, or in a hospital~ normal.

I never introduced my sister or thought of her as “the adopted one”.  I have an older sister and a younger sister~ I am the middle. And to me, that was more of an issue than how any of us came to be in our family.  My sister has had a chance to meet her birth mom and know a bit of the story~ a young teen girl, unmarried and unable to care for a baby.  I can’t imagine my life or the life of our family without one of my sisters in it.  It’s always been the three of us~ always. How could it be anything else?  I am so thankful to the young girl, who in the midst of her fear , made a choice that someday the baby inside her would have a life and would have the opportunity to BE.

Last week, a documentary film was released on the internet in an effort to educate the world about what abortion is and why it is wrong. I encourage everyone to take 33 minutes to watch it~ it is well done and thought provoking.  Say what you will, but the fact is this: babies are being killed for the sake of convenience.  I was watching a lot of comment boards following the release of this film and it always amazes me the arguments people will use in defending the “right for a woman to choose”.  Very often there will be those who say that it is better that a baby not be given a chance to live in order to save them from a “terrible life”. Meaning that a single mother or a low-income family is somehow inferior to a rich, upper class couple raising a child. Hmmm…I was raised for most of my life by a single mother and we were very poor. If my parents would have made that choice based on those issues…..well, the story would be very different, wouldn’t it? You wouldn’t be reading this now, for one.  But beyond that comment I wonder how it is that anyone feels that they are somehow the BEST judge to decide that a child will have “no life” or a “terrible life”??  Steve Jobs’ birth mom , we are thankful, did not make that decision but instead allowed a loving couple to take up where she left off.  Can you imagine your world without iPods, iPhones and the internet?  Maybe someone else would have come along and figured it out eventually, but really, in our lifetime there have been few creative geniuses like him.  I don’t know where Steve Jobs’ heart was at upon his death.  I sure hope that  in his final months or days or hours he sought out the Lord, the Giver of ALL Life and begged for mercy. Mercy because even though he may have been one of the wealthiest men, with one of the greatest technical legacies ever…he was still a man, with sin in his heart , in need of a Saviour. And at the end of all of our lives that is who we are. We are all united in the humanity of our successes and failings.  Choosing Life means choosing Jesus.  John 10:10 Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “

If you believe that Steve Jobs’ life was worth saving. If you believe that he is a gift to this world. Then you have to believe that every child is a gift with a potential and a future.  I am thankful for my friends and my family whose parents rightly chose that they were precious and valuable.  Where would YOU be without the people around you? Be thankful for all of those who were saved from abortion, saved by adoption and saved by selfless love.

Watch now:

 

 

To see links to the previous 5 days’ posts, click here.

Day 5~ Homesickness and Family Dinner

These are the hard days of parenting. It’s not supposed to be this way: me here and them there.  NO, we’re supposed to be messing up the kitchen together, tripping over each others’ stuff in the hallway, fighting over who gets the shower next.

But reality and wants sometimes do not go hand in hand.  What I need and what I have may be two different things. Half of my family~ 5 hours away~ needing home and safety, Mom and comfort.  It doesn’t really matter that we’re trying to get out of here~ trying to move.  It only matters that wherever we ALL are, that’s home. And right now the thought of that is making some sick. We call it homesickness. It bites us when we least expect it.  “Oh I can handle this”~ a 16 year old son says to his mom.  But , can he? Does he want to? No.   I called the school to let them know that he will not be present in class today.  He will rest and hopefully get himself pulled together by later today and then..we try again.  Try to make the best of a rotten situation.

It didn’t help~ me watching Parenthood last night. Oh I love that show. But it sure does tug at the heartstrings.  Don’t we all just want that same unconditional safe place to land? When things go wrong outside our four walls, isn’t it just nice to know that you can come home and sit down with your family? Sit down, feast and linger.  That’s what I love about family dinners. Laughter, chatting, companionship and most of all….love.

What does your family do to keep the home fires burning? Do you gather once a week? Turn off all the TV’s, electronics, gadgets and just…..linger? Do you? Maybe it’s time to start.  This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. My kids are so excited for cream pies and turkey and stuffing.  I’m just excited to have us all sit at one table and be thankful.…thankful for us.

And don’t you just love this? … from https://www.facebook.com/foodily