“Living One.” You are finally here! We have all been getting ready for you over the past several months… your dad making space for you in the house and your older brothers making space for you in their hearts. Your presence is already changing the tone of this family… it’s a little bit softer and I am feeling a little less outnumbered. (Thank you!)
I want to tell you about a place your dad and I visited once… It was a breathtakingly beautiful Greek island with towering mountainous ranges, fertile forests and tranquil turquoise beaches. We visited a remote mountain village there, with no plumbing and limited electricity. Many of the townsfolk were dressed in heavy orthodox attire, and trying to keep cool under vineyard covered trellises. We passed through the center of town where all the women used to sit at a stone mill and grind wheat to make bread. We went inside a house that had been frozen in time for nearly a decade; beds unmade, dishes in the sink, a few dozen pictures on the mantle… pictures of our family.
My dad, whom you will unfortunately not meet in this lifetime, had grown up in that house. Actually he helped build it. There was an iron stove out the back door, where your great-grandma would cook long, thin loaves of bread each day, one for her husband and each of her boys to keep in their back pockets as they worked the fields. We saw where they would have kept the donkey, goats and chickens. We walked through the pomegranate and olive orchards they once tended to. The sheer lack of what my dad had grown up with was staggering… and yet he lived such a rich life. He loved his family fiercely. He shared all he had. He never compromised his integrity. And he cultivated a full, safe and happy life for our family. The legacy he left on our hearts will extend far beyond his 57 years on this earth.
On that day, when I saw where it all began, I knew a little piece of my heart would not be coming home with me. It was the only place I have ever been that broke my heart and filled it to overflowing at the exact same time. And I am learning that the most beautiful aspects of life are just like this… watching your kids grow up, embracing new seasons and allowing necessary changes to take place in your heart. It’s like… an intersection, where joy and sorrow meet. A holy threshold. I am sure Jesus knew this cross-road well, as He died on one. I pray you would learn to live your life this way, able to experience all God has for you in every moment and know that all of it is good.
So… one day, my darling “living one,” your dad and I will take you to this place so you can experience it for yourself – the unforgettable village of St. Anna’s, on the breathtakingly and heart-achingly beautiful island of Evia, Greece.
I have seen countless posts about the controversy over this movie, and in trying to keep an open mind I have read them all. Many of these articles have been posted by people I respect and consider dear friends and I would honestly like to keep it that way. I have no desire whatsoever to start another vicious online Christian debate that accomplishes absolutely nothing. I have come to the conclusion that the interwebs have no interest in which of us is theologically superior. Everyone on this earth already knows an overly-opinionated Christian who has exhausted his or her soap box privileges. No one is reading our posts except those who already agree with us. No one else is listening. No one else cares. Probably because, apart from our unsolicited advice, we have only ever shown by our actions, that we don’t truly care either.
Disclosure: As much as I hate exclusivity, this message is not for non-moms who might think this sounds an awful lot like AA. God bless you in your blissful naivety. Real life moms – this is for you.
Three of my grandparents died before I got the chance to meet them.
The one that remained was good and fair… mostly present in my life, but we never really connected.
So I could never empathize when a friend lost a grandparent and grieved as though they had lost a limb.
I didn’t realize how great a loss it was for another member of that admirable generation to pass away.
Then we got word… “this might be the end.”
And my heart sank to the pit of my stomache.
I remember my very first race at my very first track and field day in the third grade at Victor Lauriston Public school. My gangly and accident-prone stick legs finally did something right. I crossed that finish line before all of my peers. I crossed that line… but looking back, I see that I never stopped running. I never stopped racing from that moment until now.
By the time I was 23 years old I was a business owner and employer, a service provider to hundreds, an editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine, a worship leader and involved in almost every musical or production that my older sister directed at our old church. My husband and I hosted dinners all the time… sometimes reaching a guest list of 150 people. We travelled. We were both constantly on the go and insanely busy. But I just kept “running the race that was set before me” because I was headed somewhere important… and everyone knows that you don’t stop in the middle of a race.
If “home is where the heart is” then my heart must be about an acre wide.
We bought a century old home out in the country about eight years ago and I have to admit, my heart doesn’t stop at the front door. I love this whole place. But it wasn’t always that way. On the far corner of our property we had our own little junkyard that faced the road and ran off into a ditch. Since the day we moved in, it had been the bane of my existence. It wouldn’t matter if my house was spotless and the lawn meticulously manicured – if I looked out the window to that corner, malicious utterances escaped my breath. It was completely overgrown with 7-foot tall weeds. AND, I’m pretty sure there had been tenants there for the first few years. I’m glad we never actually made acquaintance, it sounded like they had a pretty raucous lifestyle. And I’m pretty sure they had too many legs. It didn’t help either, that our 80-year old next door neighbour believed the entire corner to be his own personal dumping ground for all his dead, destroyed and disgusting things. I suppose we could have asked him to stop but that would require admitting that we had watched him struggling to carry debris bigger than he was. (We’re nice Christian folks. We don’t have time to help elderly neighbours.)
Some of my earliest memories include: a hairbrush, Amy Grant on audio cassette and a mirror. These three items respectfully standing in for my microphone, my hero and my best friend. By the time I was 6 years old I had found what I then believed to be my passion… I LOVED to sing. But if I’m going to be honest, I probably loved the recognition and affirmations even more. Since I grew up in the church, my gifting provided me opportunities to be on stage, in just a slightly different culture. Accolades sounded more holy but they soothed this approval addiction of mine just the same.
I am going to do a socially taboo thing here and be the “skinny” girl that brings up my weight issues. Yes, I have them. You may or may not agree as to whether or not they qualify as legit issues, and that’s okay, I get it. Just please hear me out, and please tread lightly on my vulnerability.
I grew up twiggy and awkward… sickly even. My wrists as an 18-year old were smaller than those of most 10 year-old boys. So while I didn’t grow up with insecurities about my weight, let there be no misunderstanding, I was definitely not comfortable in my skin.
She bailed again! I had changed my schedule for her twice even knowing that one of those times she didn’t have a legit excuse. And actually… I tend to be pretty gracious in this regard but it had hit a sore spot. I knew the real reason I was so angry was because she had communicated to me time and again by her actions that I didn’t really matter to her and it hurt. I should have walked away from this relationship a long time ago. I was so done… until I had a conversation with God that sounded something like this…
The arches of my feet stung with excruciating pain as I trudged up the snow-covered pathway – in ¾ inch heels. Oh yeah! There I was hiking up the Niagara Escarpment in the middle of January, sometime after 1 o’clock in the morning – in heels!
“Okay, this is ridiculous! I have to wake up early to sing at church in the morning AND I’m wearing a dress, Cam! I’m wearing a dress – and heels – and it’s like -10 degrees out here! Can we please just turn around and go home? ” I begged.
He took three more giant steps towards a platform that overlooked the city of Burlington and Lake Ontario. Just above the lookout point there was a ten-meter high steel cross that was lit up by a few dozen light bulbs. “Here we are! Just check out the view! Don‘t you think this was worth the trek up here?” he asked as he rubbed up and down my arms in attempt to keep them warm.
I let the silence settle for about one minute before I answered. “Yup, terrific! Can we go now?” He took a deep breath and let out a long exaggerated sigh. “I’m sorry. This wasn’t exactly like I planned. But I really wanted to bring you up here, for a special purpose… I wanted to ask you something” he began as he slowly lowered to one knee…
My heart lurched in my chest. No! No! This wasn’t happening! Not yet! I hadn’t had the chance to tell him! I… I hadn’t even tried to tell him. I was nearly twenty-one years old and we had been dating for exactly one year. He had surprised me by repeating our first date; the Toronto Boat show, dinner at a jazz club and now a midnight stop at the old cross off Centennial Parkway. Everything had been lovely but in the months leading up to this night I had absolutely no inclination that we had gotten this serious. I hadn’t even considered the idea of marriage yet. I wasn’t ready for this decision. I wasn’t ready for this much honesty! And then suddenly before I could stop it, I was sub-consciously dragged back to the darkest, loneliest and most hideous part of my life. A part I had been desperately trying to leave behind…