Last night as bedtime approached, my daughter was sitting at the kitchen counter casually thumbing through one of those Bibles that has a “Where to Find Help When…” indexes in the front. It’s quite a resource. Whatever your problem—“Sleeplessness” or “Difficulty in Witnessing,” “Tempted to Envy” or “Choosing a Career”—there are 3-5 verses conveniently listed to address it. The Bible as self-help manual, apparently. Or something like that. It’s an approach to Scripture that irritates me, in many ways, and breaks any number of exegetical/hermeneutical principles along the way, but I suppose these things must occasionally do some good. I guess. Read more
“Dad, what’s it like to be a grown-up? What’s it like to be a parent?”
The question came out of nowhere this morning, as questions of this nature tend to. I was absent-mindedly getting ready to leave for work, the kids were lounging around the kitchen table. How to answer? My first instinct was to tell them to go ask a grown-up. Then I remembered that was supposed to be me. Right.
“Well,” I began, “being a grown up is like… um, it’s good” (well done, Ryan—great start!). “You have lots of responsibility, you have a job, you pay bills, you go to meetings, you run around to all kinds of activities for your kids…” I stopped rather abruptly, realizing that thus far this was turning into a decidedly lousy sales job for adulthood. “But it’s cool being a parent,” I said, scrambling to salvage something from what was beginning to feel like a truly abysmal answer. “It’s especially cool to be a parent of such awesome kids.” Whew. Smiles all around. Situation (kind of) rescued. Read more
Last weekend, our family headed up to Drumheller, AB to attend The Canadian Badlands Passion Play, a dramatic portrayal of the story of Jesus in a natural amphitheatre in the central Alberta Badlands. I wasn’t really sure what to expect—I had heard good things about the production, but to be honest the main reason I went was because I received a “pastor’s discount” in the mail. And I’m very glad that I did, because the play did a magnificent job of humanizing Jesus and capturing what it might have been like to experience the events of his life narrated by the gospels. Read more
Every morning on my way to work I drive past the local prison. It is a surprisingly picturesque facility—lots of big trees for shade and well-manicured green grass, a nice lake beside it with all kinds of birds, a baseball diamond and basketball courts visible from the road. Nonetheless, the barbed wire and the chain fence around the perimeter leave little doubt about the purpose of this place. The jail on the side of the road has been a regular source of interest for my kids ever since we moved back to Alberta. They often ask if the inmates are allowed to read or watch TV, or about what kind of food they get to eat, or how often they get to play outside. A few weeks ago we happened to drive by while a baseball game was going on. The kids were very pleased. Read more
My son has always been a bit of a hoarder. Ever since he could walk, he would collect things while we were out and about—sticks, rocks, discarded toys, little pieces of plastic, empty cans… whatever. Going for a walk with him was always an adventure because you never knew what you would come home with (and would subsequently spend the rest of the week picking up around the house or finding underneath his pillow!). To this day, his room is a cluttered mess of “treasures” that he has discovered whilst walking to and fro about town.
Part of last weekend was spent in Calgary at a provincial gathering of Mennonite churches and organizations where our time together was focused upon the theme of “Delighting in Scripture.” It’s a very pious sounding theme, isn’t it? Good Christians are supposed to love the Bible, aren’t they? It sounds like something we should all be doing all of the time. It calls to mind impressions I had in my childhood that if you were a follower of Jesus, you couldn’t wait to read your Bible and eagerly did so whenever the opportunity presented itself.
This morning, as my son and I shivered together in my frozen little Jetta on the way to morning basketball practice, he asked me the following question: “Dad, if you could change anything about the world, what would it be?“
Where are you Jesus?
Why can’t I find you?
have you disapeard?
have you left me hear alone?
God wear you?
I cannot see you
are you gone forever?
Why can’t I see you?
Are you still listening to me?
The preceding found its way to my inbox courtesy of a young child this week. Read more
“They must not believe in God.”
These words from my daughter came after a conversation we had been having at bedtime about someone who she had heard yelling at their baby. For her, it was clear: someone who believed in God simply would not do something as monstrous as scream “shut up!” at an infant. People who believe in God don’t do such things, after all. Right? Read more
We usually give our kids at least half an hour to read before bed each night, and lately my 10 year-old son has taken to reading the Bible. Not a kids’ Bible or an illustrated Bible, or anything like that, mind you. We’re talking the real thing here—a New American Standard Version, Gideons Bible that his sister inherited at the VBS put on by some local churches a few weeks ago. They were giving out free Bibles to the kids who didn’t have one—like, say, pastors’ kids. Sheesh. Read more
Things have been pretty quiet around here for a while, so perhaps something of an update post is in order. The past two weeks or so have been spent saying difficult goodbyes to our friends in Nanaimo and packing up and moving back east to our roots in southern Alberta.
My wife received a lovely bouquet of flowers from a co-worker today, and they were sitting on our living room coffee table when the kids arrived home from school. I sat down on the chair nearby and set to work returning a few emails when my daughter caught sight of the flowers and came racing excitedly across the room.
“Wow,” she exclaimed, after inspecting them for a few seconds. “Isn’t it amazing how God made these?” Read more
Over the last couple of years, my kids have periodically asked some variation of this question: “Who made God?” Usually, in response to their queries, I have stumbled and bumbled my way to an unnecessarily complex and probably not entirely satisfactory explanation of divine aseity (well, I don’t use the word, necessarily). Come to think of it, my explanations almost certainly aren’t satisfactory because the question seems to keep popping up. Read more
Every night, bedtime prayers with my kids conclude with some version of the same phrase: “And help ____ to have a good sleep with no bad dreams. Amen.” This is the non-negotiable conclusion to all bedtime prayers in our house. Should I omit or modify this peroration in any way, this transgression will be swiftly brought to my attention, and I will be enthusiastically exhorted to rectify the situation. The day is not complete, it seems, without entrusting our sleep and the subconscious cogitations it may or may not contain, to the care of God. Read more
Of the many things back to school week represents a return to, more regular breakfasts with the kids is among them. Yesterday morning, the kids were poring over a calendar that mom had laid out on the table in an attempt to get our fall schedule coordinated as a family. Aside from the events that happen to pertain to them, the kids have always taken an interest in the various holidays that show up on the calendar. Read more
Tuesdays are usually a bit different than other days for me. My wife works from 2-9 pm so I pick the kids up from school and work from home. Or at least I try to. Of course, there are inevitably numerous distractions, minor crises and irritants to put up with, as well as such essential tasks as dinner preparation, help with homework, the circus of bedtime, and any number of other things to deal with. Suffice to say, that Tuesday afternoon/evening is not typically the most productive time of my week. Read more
There was a memorial service at our church yesterday and as is often the case at these events, one of the songs that rang out was “Amazing Grace.” It’s a song that people love to sing—a song that touches us on a deep and personal level. For a variety of reasons, it is a very appropriate song to sing during times of mourning and remembering. Read more
Yesterday I was reading Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes while my son sat across the table munching away on a late breakfast. It’s a magnificent book that tracks the journey of an African girl who gets taken from her home, sold into slavery, and spends the bulk of her lifetime in conditions of appalling cruelty and inhumanity a world away from her home. It is a beautifully told tale of an incredibly strong, courageous, and good woman, but it is also a story of unspeakable suffering, depravity, and loss. It is a story that does not shrink from laying bare the evil of which human beings are capable. Read more