Surrendered on the Prairie

Over the past year, I have repeatedly considered

a) Shutting down this blog page completely …..or…

b)changing the name.

Neither have happened. I can’t seem to let go of my “prairie” designation as this is where I live and life is harsh here. It’s either too hot and dry in the summer or too cold and unforgiving in the winter. The happy medium is fall when it rains or the days are warm and nights are cool or in the spring when we can go outside without a jacket but still have to turn up the heat for evening.

I spent the majority of December crying. This is not my favourite pastime for the month of all things Christmas. I’m a joy bringer- I’m the one with the sugar cookies and tinsel garland. I puke mini-lights and shortbread like it’s my job. I cannot go a day without some Amy Grant Christmas on my airwaves. I’m all eggnog and Bailey’s for 31 days straight and no one can snap me out of it.

Until this year.  This year, the Christmas carols that started in early November drifted into laments in early December. One day I was clicking through my playlists and landed on Tasha Cobbs Leonard. I stayed there for the next 10 days. That was around December 5.  Things did not get better.  By December 15 I was a miserable, shaking, crying, angry mess.

On Friday, December 15, 2017 I helped my friends pack a U-Haul and watched them drive it away.  They had only been here for 4 1/2 months.  It was a shock to my system.  I was heartbroken that I may have contributed either to their coming or their early departure. Doing ministry work is messy and thankless at times. You spend a lot of hours wondering if you heard God right or if you interpreted His leading correctly. But there is nothing as hard as losing loyal, grounded, committed allies when the work of ministry was *just* beginning to bear fruit.  The shock of them leaving so quickly after arriving gave way to anger which gave way to heart-crushing sadness and then a complete state of confusion followed for weeks.

I’m still not totally out of that but I have prayed a lot for God to give me something to hold on to. I’m a fixer and a doer and sitting around feels like a prison.

The very same day, another era was also coming to an end. As we packed up our friends’ home, our other friends were holding the tiny hand of their little boy as he entered into Heaven’s gates.  And my heart nearly couldn’t take it.  In fact, unbeknownst to me what was happening in that hospital room 9 hours away, my own heart was hurting so bad I nearly had my husband drive me to the ER. The weeks of worry and waiting and praying and crying and wishing and pleading had left me broken. And I don’t think I could have taken another day of it.

I woke up December 16 exhausted and done. I was just so done. Our friends drove their Uhaul away from our house and I told my husband that I needed to sleep for a week. I was so sad to see them leave but we both agreed that we needed a rest from all of the pain. In the hours that followed the reality of the other painful event would be revealed and the very first thing I realized that day was this: my heart wasn’t hurting anymore. It had been hurting for so long I hadn’t even noticed how much it had become a part of my daily life. And on that Saturday afternoon, I sat in silence and the pain was gone. I asked God to give peace to these families as they transitioned into the “after” of their lives.  The “before this happened” portion was done and now they were going to be marking every day, every triumph, every tragedy, every sadness, every joy by this day.

We may be smiling but it was an act of surrendered defiance to not be miserable as they were about to drive away.

I don’t know why I had that heart pain for all of those days while that precious boy lay fighting for his life in the hospital. I don’t know why there was all of that personal turmoil in our lives with our friends and their sudden termination from ministry here. I don’t understand any of it. And I tried to figure out why my physical heart pain was suddenly gone. And God gave me this: surrender. I looked it up.  Among the definitions for  surrender is this:  “abandon oneself *ENTIRELY* to a powerful emotion or influence; give in to. ”

My friends surrendered. They could have stayed. They could have fought. But they did not.

This little boy surrendered his body- he abandoned himself entirely . And in so doing, his family was forced to surrender as well.

Surrender is powerful. Because once you give in and give yourself over to God, the pain goes away. It’s just over.

I’m still sad. I’m still angry. I’m a beat-the-doors-down, slam my fist on board room tables, demand answers kind of girl. I’m not easily pushed over. But I have found myself in this new, awkward, quiet place of surrender. It’s a place of brokenness.  I don’t really like it- I’ll admit that quite readily. I’m not comfortable giving in and not having a final word. But I’m choosing it as gracefully as I can.

The harsh prairie wind is blowing again today.  Some say it’s no place for humans to be when it’s this cold. I’m not moving, yet. And the God that dwells in the tropical places on mountain tops and in rain forests is still the same God who we surrender to on the cold and barren prairie.


“Take all I have in these hands
And multiply, God, all that I am
And find my heart on the altar again
Set me on fire, set me on fire
Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken
My heart stands in awe of Your name
Your mighty love stands strong to the end
You will fulfill Your purpose for me
You won’t forsake me, You will be with me
Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken

All to Jesus now
All to Jesus now
Holding nothing back
Holding nothing back
I surrender
I surrender
I surrender”
Tasha Cobbs Leonard “Gracefully Broken”
The thing about surrender is this….it’s fertile soil for growth.

This is our ladies fall Bible Study group. Movers and shakers and wholly surrendered.

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!

Wild Clover and Laundry on the Clothesline {It is Evening}

It’s summer and on the Saskatchewan prairie that generally means hot sun and temperatures above my pay grade. I don’t do well in the heat. I’m like a wilted flower. Lazy, listless and lethargic.  We don’t have a pool or even a lake very close by. The A/C is running, the blinds are drawn.  We open the door only if necessary and even the dogs are begging to come in and lay on the cool tile floor. But the sun brings generous gifts: green grass, blue skies, thunderstorms occasionally and magnificent sunsets. The evening is my favourite time. I feel alive. I am energized.  And I am beckoned outdoors and this is my sanctuary.  God’s holy tabernacle of praise.  Meadow Salsify lifts its seeded head towards the sun.  The various flowers and grasses gently sway to the rhythm of the crickets and frogs’  evening song.  The fragrance is intoxicating and I want to bottle it up and save it for those cold, rainy October days that are bound to come. Evening. My soul is alive.

Psalm 65:8
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.


Mammatus Clouds{Everything You Wanted to Know}

This is a different kind of post for me but if you know me, you know I am addicted to skies and clouds. I love that we get to see so many colours and variations even within one day here on the prairies.

We truly do live in the land of living skies(as per Saskatchewan’s motto).

Earlier this week, while in Regina for my son’s grade 12 graduation, we were under some very intense storm warnings.  Lightning, thunder, large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes were the order of the day.  I would have loved to have been out storm-chasing but I only have one son and he’s only going to graduate once so this was kind of pretty important! 🙂   Anyways, we were caught in the edge of a pretty vigorous storm cell on the north end of Regina mid-way through the evening.  After the storm passed over and the sun came back out, we were treated to a spectacle worthy of international attention: mammatus clouds.  Most people who came outside to take pictures and view the sky had never seen or heard of mammatus clouds. I was giving quick tutorials while pressing the shutter on my camera.  But I thought that with all the attention paid to these bubbly wonders, a longer post might be in order.

My husband has said he’s never seen them before.  But in reality, we all have.  We just don’t see them on this scale usually, or recognize them when we do see them. Because they are associated with the cumulonimbus clouds  that produce thunderstorms here on the prairies, we see them often from spring till fall.  But maybe you don’t notice these after a storm or they pass by too quickly.  I admit, this was a first for me to see such a large display but I have pictures of other times I have seen small pockets of them.

Wikipedia describes them like this:  Mammatus may appear as smooth, ragged or lumpy lobes and may be opaque or translucent. Because mammatus occur as a grouping of lobes, the way they clump together can vary from an isolated cluster to a field of mamma that spread over hundreds of kilometers to being organized along a line, and may be composed of unequal or similarly-sized lobes. The individual mammatus lobe average diameters of 1–3 km and lengths on average of 0.5 km. A lobe can last an average of 10 minutes, but a whole cluster of mamma can range from 15 minutes to a few hours. They usually are composed of ice, but also can be a mixture of ice and liquid water or be composed of almost entirely liquid water.

Also, you might giggle, but the word mammatus comes from the root word mamma meaning breast. So my daughter lovingly calls them “boob clouds”.  Oh yes. That’s what they are!   ** Mammatus, also known as mammatocumulus (meaning “mammary cloud” or “breast cloud”),] is a meteorological  term applied to a cellular pattern of pouches hanging underneath the base of a cloud . The name mammatus, derived from the Latin mamma (meaning “udder” or “breast”), refers to a resemblance between the characteristic shape of these clouds and the breast of a woman.**

Here are the photos I took on Tuesday June 26 in Regina, followed by other photos I’ve taken at different times of mammatus cloud structures.  They are pretty awesome to see in person!

The setting sun giving a nice yellow glow to the clouds.

June 18 during a tornado warned storm. You can see how the light filters between the “bubbles” defining their shapes.

June 18~same storm…..swirly clouds forming into the mammatus. Sometimes there may just be a small area at the edge of a cell that looks like this.

Sometimes mammatus look like this. I liken them to baffles on a mattress. July 20, 2011

They look wavy in these pics. July 20, 2011

Turning Points{Growing Deep Roots}

32 years ago today my life changed abruptly. I didn’t totally understand what was going on and for a moment I was caught up in the hype.  The only home I had known was a flurry of activity and most of our worldly possessions were either packed into boxes or being auctioned off.  It was a bit of a blustery day, much like today.  I only have two vivid memories from that day.

1.  Helping our neighbour ladies serve homemade pie slices to concession customers through our dining room window.

2. Watching a little girl walk away with MY tin doll house(I sure wish I had that now. It was the coolest thing and so vintage).

We were moving.  We slept on homemade mattresses that night under the new tied-quilts my mom had made.  The horse trailer was loaded with all that we owned and cherished.  I looked for my cat, Chocolatebar(she was a brown calico) the next day but she was no where to be found. She must have known the jig was up and purposely made sure she was not a part of it.  We all cried that day as we drove away from the family ranch.  My grandma was in tears; she could barely talk.

Looking back, I know there was way more going on than my sisters and I could comprehend. It took another 20 years for me to figure most of it out.  With the farming and ranching business being so volatile in those years and interest rates through the roof, no one was doing very well financially.  The winds of change were blowing and my dad had an itch to move on.  But that day, May 3, was the last day that our family was the family I knew from birth. Everything changed after that.

If you knew me then, you would know I was a quiet, shy and extremely introverted child.  The upheaval of leaving our secluded country life in Northern Sask/AB(we lived on the border) and moving to a city where I was thrown into a culture I neither asked for or liked was devastating.  It was so devastating I threatened my parents that they could NEVER, EVER do this to me again. I refused to be a part of whatever plans or schemes they had. Of course, I was nine; what did I know?  I probably shed quiet tears in my room at night.  I tried my best to make friends, and I did.  But I hated the city.  I missed the farm. I missed my family and friends and our old life.  I don’t think that I really accepted our new life for several years.

With this traumatic event came the separation of my parents and a new life of my mom and my 2 sisters living a difficult life where we often had little to eat and certainly there was no money for shopping or frivolous expenditures.  This is the time I grew up.  I got my first babysitting job at 11 years of age(barely 11).  That became my bread and butter and my escape for the next 8 years.  I loved kids. I loved the money I made.( $1 an hour!)  I loved the responsibility and the ability to be in charge when much of my life seemed so not within my control.

Looking back now, I am thankful for those years but there was much pain.  I stopped showing emotion and crying.  I saw too much pain within my family and I couldn’t add to it or join in.  So I shut down.  I didn’t release any of that emotion until I met my husband.  Poor guy. He had no idea what he was in for.  But for the first time in more than 10 years I felt free and safe enough with someone to let him know all of the pain of growing up in a single-parent home and all of the fears I had carried.  We had only been dating for a short time when I let it all out and I COULD. NOT. STOP.  I shocked myself.  Bless his heart, he stuck it out with me!  And I haven’t really stopped showing emotion since!  (Like I say~the guy is a saint!).

So here we are, on the 32nd anniversary of the day that changed my life.  I am so thankful for that move in spite of the hard years and pain.  If we had never moved, I would not be the person I am today.  I would never have met my husband or so many of the friends and mentors who have helped shape and guide me into being the person I am today.

And now, as we are on the cusp of moving our kids for the 3rd time in 6 years, I can only hope and pray that they are old enough to remember and acknowledge that painful, traumatic events can be character building turning points.  They make you or they break you.   And even if they break you, you come out stronger in the end.  We don’t grow when life is good.  We don’t find out our strengths and abilities when we’re not challenged and pushed.  My dad was telling me last week that drought is what makes a good wheat crop.  In times of flooding and rainy springs, seeds that are planted do not form deep roots.  The seed doesn’t need to burrow down deep because the water is plentiful.  So when the storms and winds come, the plant is wiped out. It has no strength and can’t hang on. Seeds that are planted in dry soil have to form deep roots to find enough moisture to germinate and grow.  Often it may seem like there is nothing happening;  no growth is seen because it’s so dry.  But under the soil, in the dark places, the roots are bearing down before the plant is ready to burst through the tough, dry ground. The difference for the seeds planted during drought is that they are so strong and able to withstand any storm, heavy rains, winds and pressure.

This is my life right now. I feel like we’ve been in a drought much like my life was in the 80s.  The advantage is now, as an adult, I can see that I am burrowing down deep and forming roots.  It feels like I will never see a breakthrough but it’s beginning to rain.  And the breakthrough is imminent.  I can’t   We WON’T be staying this way much longer.  The roots that God has been forming in our lives are the exact things we’re going to need to sustain us in the coming years.  And I pray that my kids will benefit as well.