Friday, April 27, 2007

Grandma and Grandpa are coming!

It's an exciting day here at the "little house": Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit from PEI. At this very moment they are on the train somewhere in Quebec, heading this way. We should have a lot of fun together for the next week!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Walking with Truth

One Sunday evening a month, our "little house on the circle" becomes a place of worship. For about a year and a half now, a small group of people has been meeting at our house for an informal time of singing, discussion, and prayer. There are six of us who attend consistently, and a few others who have participated for a little while and then moved on. Each month we choose a theme ahead of time (such as trust, faith, worship, wisdom, or joy), and we bring whatever thoughts, questions, readings, or songs we might want to contribute to the evening.

Last night our theme was "truth". We focused on Jesus as the source and embodiment of truth, on the inseparability of truth from love, and on the need to cling fast to the truths of our faith, whatever the particular circumstances we find ourselves in.

A sentence in a book I read several years ago has stayed with me: "The truth is always your friend." In other words, truth--though at times it may seem painful--will never betray us or work against us, but is always on our side.

I can say that I have found this to be true in my own life. Having embarked on the journey of special-needs family life--a journey, by the way, which I did not plan to take, did not discuss with a travel agent, did not buy a ticket for, and for which the itinerary is open-ended--I can absolutely say that I am making friends with truth (although we're not as close as we could be; we don't finish each other's sentences yet, and I admit I take a while to return her calls sometimes).

In any case, I'm grateful for the opportunity we have in this small monthly gathering to focus our minds and hearts on concepts which at first seem to be abstract and ethereal, but which are in fact essential to practical daily living. Worship, then, isn't separate from real life but integral to it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

our long-lost cousin ... Sidney!

After nature's mean trick on Monday, spring has arrived!! The brilliant blue sky, warm sunshine, and gentle breeze are enough to lift anyone's spirits--but not having to wear boots and mitts is truly "the icing on the cake".

Here's one for those of our family and friends who enjoy Jonathan-isms (especially you hockey fans out there): the other night Rich and Jonathan were watching the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game. Rich was pointing out superstar Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan was trying his best to get his tongue around the consonants in the name. A little while later, Rich asked him, "Jonathan, what's Sidney's last name? Sidney ... ?" And Jonathan replied, "Prinsen!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

New name, same great content

I've decided to change the name of this blog to "little house on the circle", in order to avoid having our last name in the title. I suppose our street is really more of a rectangle, but "little house on the rectangle" sounds weird. Oh, and it was taken.

Just kidding. :-P

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Setback? or "New Thing"?

On Friday we received some discouraging news. The school that Allison attends and where we had hoped to register Jonathan in kindergarten in the fall may not be able to accept him. Kindergarten enrollment is expected to be unusually high this year, and because it is a Catholic school and Catholic children take priority, the school may not be able to accommodate Jonathan-- particularly since he has some developmental delays and might require assistance in the classroom.

This was hard to hear because we love the school so much and we see the obvious benefit of Allison and Jonathan attending the same school. Allison has looked forward to Jonathan coming; she has said, "I can be a kinder-helper when I'm in grade 4, so I can help Jonathan!" I hate to think of that dream not coming true. But the reality is that (while the school will not be making a final decision until June) we need to start looking at other options and exploring other schools in our area, specifically in the public school board.

This was on my mind all weekend. On Sunday when we arrived at church, we found that there was going to be a guest preacher, a missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1967. Because our pastor is such a thoughtful and insightful speaker, I felt a moment of disappointment upon hearing that someone else would be preaching. But what the missionary had to say spoke directly to me. He preached from Isaiah 43, which includes these words in verse 19:

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
And streams in the wasteland.

This verse encouraged me to remember that God has Jonathan in His hands, that He is already making a way for Jonathan to attend school and learn and develop, and that if His plans for Jonathan do involve pursuing a "new thing," then we can trust it will all work out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Oh, the weather outside is frightful ...

Allison and I sang "Let it Snow" as we slogged through 5 cm of wet, slushy, greasy snow on the way to her school this morning. Who would have expected a snowstorm on April 16?? Allison was extremely reluctant to put her snowpants back on today (they are getting too small for her, and she thought she was through with them!) but she put them on and trudged gamely to school.

Hope that wherever you are, your weather is better than ours!

Friday, April 13, 2007


Yesterday I read a short piece in the newspaper about a movement afoot in North American churches to reach out to that huge "unreached people group": men.

Apparently men don't enjoy church. Someone has written a book along those very lines: Why Men Hate Going to Church. Another title mentioned was The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity. Apparently men don't like the "hand-holding" and "touchy-feely" stuff about church; they want short services (in/out, kind of like Christmas shopping I suppose), "shot clocks"to limit the sermon length, sports metaphors, AC/DC instead of Celine Dion, etc.

Before I get all weepy, let me ask you: name me one woman who has had a significant role in the formation of the Christian church, theology, creeds, etc., whether in the Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox streams. Go ahead, name ONE. Who are running the Bible colleges and seminaries: women or men? Who are (primarily) the seminary professors: women or men? Who are the heads of major Christian organizations and foundations: women or men?

Enough rhetorical questions. My point is: the Christian church, in all of its forms, has been pretty much totally ruled by men for its entire history. I cannot name ONE woman who would be mentioned in the same breath as Augustine, Calvin, Luther, the Wesleys, the Catholic Popes, etc. Men have run, ruled, and organized the church since its inception, so to find out now in 2007 that they don't have any fun attending the institution they have dominated ... well, pardon me if I cannot muster up a great deal of sympathy.

Richard, ever a wise and humble man (and one for whom attending church is the highlight of the week), listened patiently while I vented these opinions last night, and responded with these words,

"Don't cry for me, Argentina."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Good things come in threes

Today was a BIG DAY for Jonathan:

(1) Blue box day! Due to the holiday Monday, today was our garbage/recycling day instead of yesterday. Upon waking this morning, he rushed to the window, saw the blue boxes and garbage cans out on the street, and cried, "Ba-ba day!" with great joy. The highlight of his week, once again.

(2) Church. On Thursdays I attend a women's group at Bethel; there is child care there so Jonathan gets to come along and see Phyllis, his caregiver, whom he loves. Crafts, snack, and a trip to the gym make the morning complete.

(3) School. Thursdays he heads off to nursery school from 12:45-3:15 p.m. He can't wait to see his teachers, Laurie and Janet--or, as he calls them, "Lauriejanet". When I drop him off, he pushes me out the door before his coat is even off, saying "Grocery store!" (In other words, "Mom, isn't there somewhere that you have to be right now?")

So today, due to an unprecedented planetary alignment or whatever, all 3 things happened in one day. It was a tired but happy guy who crashed into bed at 6:50 this evening.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

A very happy Easter/Resurrection Day to all of you!

We had a joyful church service at Bethel today, with a nice mix of musical styles. The children (led by me) began the service with a Lion King-type song called "The Kingdom of God", followed by the hymn "Up From the Grave He Arose". Later we sang "Because He Lives" in a country style, and "O Happy Day" with its African-spiritual flavour. I think we were missing rap, opera, and heavy metal; maybe those are being saved for another Sunday. ;-)

"Laugh with me!
Death is dead!
Fear is no more!
There is only life!
There is only laughter!"
- Eugene O'Neill

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The joy of soup, and problem solving

When we used to visit our friends Lori & Bruce, we would laugh at how their cats came running as soon as they heard the can opener.

Well, who needs cats when you've got Jonathan? Last night I started opening a can of pea soup and Jonathan came running into the kitchen, his face alight with excitement. "SOUP!" he yelled ecstatically. "Yes," I said, "And what else?" He replied, " 'Atches!" (in other words, sandwiches) Who knew such a simple meal could produce such joy? Then this morning when he woke up, I went into his room and the first thing he said was, "Soup! 'Atches!" Hmm, still feasting on the good memories, apparently.

Allison shows her maturing self in so many ways--not the least of which is that she is outgrowing her rubber boots, her running shoes, and her spring coat! But I appreciate the wisdom she shows in dealing with small issues. Each week she must complete her "reading bag" homework for Wednesday: read the assigned story and answer questions about it. This week, the Sunday School kids were having a music practice for Easter on Tuesday night, so I suggested to Allison that she get her reading bag homework out of the way on Monday, so that she would be less pressed for time on Tuesday.

Allison arrived home from school on Tuesday with math homework as well, but she informed us that she had asked her teacher, "I have a practice at my church tonight, so could I do your homework for Thursday instead of for tomorrow?" As it turned out, she had ample time after her practice to do her math problems--but she had taken care of her own potential problem ahead of time. It is neat to see how she thinks things through. On the surface she may seem a bit scatterbrained, but her mind is well-organized and detailed.

And she likes soup and sandwiches too!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


In my last post about books I'd read, I referred to Walking After Midnight by Katy Hutchison, a B.C. woman whose husband was murdered in 1997 when he intervened in a neighbourhood party. About a month ago, the CBC also aired a documentary about this case entitled "Embracing Bob's Killer", which focused on the speaking work that Katy Hutchison does at schools and detention centres (often with Ryan, the killer, accompanying her). The documentary took a somewhat cynical view of her work, conveying it as a "business" and implying that she is forcing Ryan to do penance for his crime. Her book, by contrast, provides a fuller exploration of the journey she has taken in the past 9 years and the decidedly non-monetary reasons that she chose to pursue a speaking career.

Last weekend our book study group had its monthly meeting, and I led a discussion based first on the documentary. We watched a tape of it, discussed our impressions, and then looked at some passages from Katy's book. These excerpts, which focused on issues of forgiveness, facing pain, and "cleaning up the mess" of difficult situations and relationships, were very useful in giving the discussion a more positive tone and showing the importance of the work Katy does.

On Monday I decided to write Katy Hutchison an email (having obtained the address from her website) to tell her about our meeting and how helpful her book excerpts had been in shaping our discussion. The very same day, she wrote me back, explaining her own (negative) reaction to the documentary and her plans for the future, and thanking me for letting her know how we'd used the material in our group. It was really neat to see how "human" and real she was in her message and to know that she had obviously been uplifted by receiving my message about our book study.

As we observed in our group, there are many, many people to whom terrible things happen, but very few get the opportunity to share their story--and to do important social work with it--the way Katy Hutchison has. When we get a chance to connect with them, we can only be inspired by how they've taken what life gave them, and used it to make something beautiful.