Isolation Chronicles: Episode 1

I woke up unrested and restless. I dreamed my young puppy was dying the way the others did the last few years. Cloudy eyed. Tongue hanging out.

I got my coffee and settled on the porch, wrapped in a wool blanket. The sun is out but the air is still cool. Fifteen crows fly over squawking. I try not to think about what they call a flock like that…What it represents in literature… That I can hear my daughter cough (It is allergies. I know. But still).


I read my bible and write in my journal like starting any other day. I invigilate a spelling test from my bed. Dust the stereo. Empty the dishwasher. I clean the kitchen and listen to the end of this story on audible. I analyze it differently than the commentators online. I will talk to my therapist about my understanding when I get back to it. I killed the sourdough starter that I forgot to feed. The process was too precise for a person like me anyway. Plus I can’t find bread flour. The children are both on zoom on either side of me as I write. I try to listen in, the other students give me hints on what we are behind on. I have bragged about my kids at every meeting I have had because I am aware of how the sounds carry…how they will absorb what I say about them.  That is the only parenting advice I have so far. Well, that and to always greet your people with delight. Even if they just come in from the other room, I try to glow up for them. I transplant another plant. Check on the seed babies…they are doing great thanks for asking. I have fifteen tiny huckleberry plants I am too hopeful about and check on six times a day. I have a bubble bath and read Madeline again. Reading her makes me want to write. And so here I am.  I researched violins and bought a used one online. I met the guy in a parking lot. He drooped it 6 ft away. I transferred funds, and a dream came true. We will eat another meal at home. Go for a walk. Check the dog for ticks. Watch too much TV. I will attempt to limit my intake of news stories (except…for this. I will read this again. You should too).

I will keep a gratitude list. It will look a lot like what I described above. There is something about a sense of impending doom that prompts me in the direction of noticing the everyday extraordinary. To count the preciousness of life and in the face of our collective mortality. To fully live while living.

This past calendar year I have felt the wandering. The hiding. It was quite a shock to realize I have been social distancing for some time already. The kids and husband just joined me in it. But I have have been healing and feeling like I had so little to offer. I had little energy, little passion, manna just enough to get us through as a family and not much extra to pass along. Every month seemed like I felt another major loss, a reduction, a depletion or disappointment. As we entered 2020, I thought perhaps a renaissance, but of course (as the whole globe knows) that was not to be. I am finding gifts in the wildness though. Precious offerings that are teaching me about how precarious our tethers are, how easily they let go, how only one anchor could ever hold us. And so we cling.


To Stop…And smell the Roses.

I was late today…it seems to happen a lot these days.

In the entrance to my grocery store an elderly woman rested on the seat of her walker. We made eye contact and both smiled broadly.

“This is the best place to be today” she whispered, quieted by her awe. I nodded,

“It is a nearly perfect day. At my home I noticed the wild roses have bloomed and the air is thick with scent”

“Oh! Did you find any of the dark pink ones? I always fill a vase when I do. The light ones are always covered in spiders. If you find the dark ones, promise you will bring it inside?”

Of course. Of course. But I am fairly certain we just have the classic wood roses.

Inside I meet an old acquaintance. Her son was the one who would only stay at kids camp if “the lady who makes me smile big” was there. So anyways I fell in forever love with everybody as I am prone to.

At the till, the woman in front of me noticed the sugar bag,

“Oh! Is it jam season already?”

“It could be I suppose, the strawberries at Bilgas are delicious…but this is just for my hummingbirds”

Her eyes lit up,

“I know this! Once every few months I wrestle the 35 pound bag of bird seed out of Canadian Tire, on to the bus, into my patio. I look for a strong man to help me but all I ever find are young women who look more frail then me”

I told her about my great gray owl, how he usually returns in April but this year just arrived this week. I told her how worried I was about him. She understood that and told me about the Merlins, the ducks, how she listens for her horned owl to return, how she runs outside in her pajamas if the birds are in the yard before she can fill the feeder.

I took my puppy for a walk tonight. Wouldn’t you know it? There, just on the hill where my Samwise died – a rose in the deepest pink- not a spider in sight.

I am not sure why I am telling you all of this except to say that I had a great time at Coopers today. It really is something to stop and smell the flowers.

The Rising

He played out His hand.

On that cross as the doubters and the mockers dared Him to call down angels instead. He didn’t. He went all the way. Abandoned. Death.

Our ‘man of sorrows‘ did not come promising you safety or a three car garage. Anyone who tells you different is a liar or a thief. Probably both.

Someone once accused me of using religion as a crutch and if I am honest, of course I do. I believe the whole world to be walking with a pretty painful limp. The God I know, even in his resurrected body choose to keep the scars on His hands; told doubting Thomas to stick his finger in it. As Dorothy Sayers puts it:

For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is – limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death – he had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair.

I love this more than I could say: God could have solved our problem a thousand other ways, but He choose the painful one. He did not choose a shortcut. He took the way of poverty, lonliness, isolation, despair, torture and betrayal. He is the one that would let us know that He truly is the “WITH US” God. The way that would prove to us that even the most hopeless situation, even when the clouds gather and the rocks split open, even when betrayal is the entirety of our vision…still…always…resurrection might be just three days out.

For your prodical child, your dying marriage, your ill body, your troubled mind, your broken relationship, your failing finances…the rising and the healing could be nearly here. THIS is where our nonsensical hope comes from. We are the Resurection People. There is NOTHING so dead it is beyond Him. I have seen to many miraculous changes to question that for a minute.

Tonight I will watch 16 youth stand up and talk about the ways they are being resurrected already. They will tell me about the hope they have found, the joy that is raising them from the dead and the community that willl hold them up when they forget everything they knew in the light. They will undoubtedly speak of who they were and what it has been to walk in the dark. They they will tell you what it was like for them to meet our man of sorrows, and what resurrection looks like today. It will be just the balm I need to walk into another week of supporting and praying for the young people of our city that walk in near absolute hoplessness….This pain may just be the horizon of thier Rising.

And for just a taste of that Hope? I am ALL. IN.


(Pursuit starts tonight at 6 pm <soup is on for 5:30>… We would love to have you join us! Willow Park Church Hwy 33 W)



Last month we were in California and I want to remember how my daughter could not walk anywhere; running…always. I want to remember how she came to me for water at the beach, grabbed the bottle and then bolted back to the sand castle build, the water bubbling over her knuckle-less hands.

I want to remember how the boy child walked on the perpetual diagonal, on account of the fact that he is always noticing. Frequently (like every fifteen minutes at least) he would walk directly in front of us (or anyone really); There is no time to waste time on curved lines! So much to SEE! So much to DO!

I want to remember how, when racing to the bus, the boy on the diagonal and the girl who moves too fast crossed paths and the smaller one went spiralling into a metal pole. I want to remember how the bigger one, before he even fully felt his own pain, threw himself on top of her, begging for forgiveness, looking for the wound. I want to remember how she blamed the pole – so she would not have to blame the boy who can’t go only ever forward. I want to remember her fierce loyalty, his extreme compassion.

I want to remember her laugh on the scariest roller coasters. His thankfulness that a ride was closed so that he could get away from the noise and take a walk on a peaceful trail.

I want to remember how he has closed his door a bit since we got home, needing some space and quiet. I want to remember how she cannot sleep alone since returning to her bed; how she is lonely when we aren’t right in her face. I want to remember how our time for her and our space for him help them thrive.

She is the zig to his zag and they will be, their entire lives, on a collision course. And so we teach them how to be peacemakers. The hard work of picking up your person when you have ground them into dust. We will teach them to listen for intent, and to look past action into the heart. We will instruct them how, to never, turn another person into a one-dimensional character and to ALWAYS assume the best.

These days are strange ones. The kids are away right now. Gone to camp. We are in a new phase of parenting; it hit sudden. My son is no baby. My daughter no infant. They help the small kids now. They are becoming the big cousins. I sent them into a store by themselves. They pack their own lunches. They bathe themselves. But still, they always ask me to read just. one. more. chapter.

We are in an intense season of change. I’ve quit a job I’ve had for fifteen years. I am learning the dialect of a brand new culture….began a new career. I am looking back a lot these days, it is strange when a door that important slams shut. I am thinking about the path that led me to here, the lessons I have learned, the things I need to unlearn from the past.  I am trying to learn in my new context, who zigs, and who zags and who are the ones I can trust. I am learning new things about myself and what I am going to need. I am taking the time to notice….

So…is this blog still on? Are you still there?  

What is it we do with a heart of anguish? We Hope…


I bet it haunts you too. That image, you know the one?  The one of the vulture waiting. It caused a revolution at our house this week…Injustice has a tendency to do that.

We found our kids huddled together on the couch flipping through the “100 most influential photos” magazine that Time recently published. Joel sat down with them and I heard him explaining things like napalm. Famine.Vietnam. Nuclear bombs. I wanted to stop him. But they are getting older. These are conversations we need to have.

That night my daughter could not sleep. She was writhing and crying and calling herself a coward, selfish.  My E cannot shake it. She sees herself in that little girl. She knows how we are one.

Did you know the photographer that took that photo, later took his own life? Some accounts I read attributed the death to the guilt he felt, but that oversimplifies of course. I can’t help but wonder though, if we were made for more than to look and see? We were made to be hands and feet. We are active participants here, made to join Jesus in His ministry of reconciliation and justice.

I know we all feel uneasy right now, but it is not the first time the world has felt like this. I’m sure it has felt much worse. But this is when the helpers and healers, the poets and dreamers go to work. These are the conditions that breed the visionaries, the restorers, those who want to learn what it means to bind the broken-hearted. These are precisely the days we learn what we are made for, what we are to do. This is when we learn what good work is.

The difference for a Christian is that we do not give way to despair. We are the ones who subvert dread to hope. We are the ones who lead the pilgrimage in the darkness with our light glowing, the ones who never let the flame go out. We are the ones who cannot give way to complacency because this hope should move us to action.

Hope is our antidote to fear.

Hope prompts the movement from angst to action.

Hope will be our testimony and our gift.

Hope will be our dialect; our defining language.

Hope will be our reward and our calling.

Hope will be the trail we blaze and the direction we lead.

Hope will deepen as we trust Him more and Hope will be what transcends all our heartbreak and every insurmountable obstacle.

The only thing we can do with angst and fear is to set it ablaze with the HOPE OF CHRIST. We do the next tiny thing in front of us, that is all we ever have. We bring our tiny light to the dark. The small thing you can begin. It is such a relief just to start, such a release to move in the direction of hope. Fear cannot stand against such audacity. It crumbles.

And so. We hope.

(A few small ideas? The tiny things to move you in the direction of light? Below…Emilys first step. Or join us tomorrow? Our prayers never return void)

What is it you can do this week of hope, one small move, our single candle blazing that can move you in the direction of HOPE? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

I blog on hope a lot. Here are a few pieces from the archives:

We Wait…And We hope

Tell Me of Your Hope

Hope and Peace

Your Fear Makes Me Wonder

Of Severed Heads


I passed the head of a deer on the road the other day. There was no body, just the remnants of the decapitation on the roadside, a crow sitting on top pecking at the eyes. I could see the top of her spine, a large vein spilling out. I did not look away. I just noticed it. I saw every inch of it and I did not wince and I did not turn away.

People do this. I know they do. People can look and see. I can’t usually. I was the kid tricked into looking the other way because I would cry so long. I am the one who senses the subtle shift in a room. The way you looked at the floor. The way I wounded you. And I have the tendency to flight (there isn’t always that much fight in me). I’ve a tendency to head to my hill. Lately I can’t see you. Lately I can’t see the end of my nose.

I am an introvert with a profoundly extroverted life. Enneagram 4 wing 3. INFP. We don’t do well with the pace I can keep. I’ve no doubt that this season is for me. That every ounce of my gifting was called to this time. That every piece of preparation has brought me to here. But my heart is hardening under the pace. 

I know absolutely that when my heart moves from my senses, when I stop noticing, when I stop seeing the world in metaphor and myth that I stop any feeling. That my heart hardens. That I cannot feel a thing. I am hard on the man. Hard on my kids. I have a hard  time staying awake and a harder time staying asleep. I have a hard time hearing my God.

My God. He speaks to me in the noticing. In the really truly seeing. In the deep feeling. In the intuition and the instinct. He speaks to me in fine stories, the song of pine trees, the Word when I slow enough to really taste and see.

Tell me how it is one reattaches the severed head and the hardening heart? How is it you tie up the severed nerves and start again the beating of a hardened heart?

For me, there is only one way out of my dulled and bored mind. To slow. To see. To write it out. To hold a journal in my hands. To write out the daily. There are some people who I desperately want to be with and for right now…but I am in the process of stitching back together. I will be back soon.

I’ve joined the gorgeous Tara and her group of Storycatchers as we write out November. You will find me here more often as I do the hard work of finding my nerve (and voice…they are one).

Back to School and What it Means to Fail

Dear O,

I will never forget that day this past June when I found you beneath the bleachers. It was the day of your first track meet and I swung by on my lunch break to watch you, to snap a photo, to thumb through all the red and blue ribbons on your chest.

Instead, I found you hiding, your backpack on, you asked me to take you home. And when I asked why your shoulders began to shudder and the tears began to flow. You had lost all the events you were certain you would win. How could they all be faster than you? You have always felt the wind in your hair, barely felt the ground beneath your feet. You were certain there wasn’t anyone faster…that you would win this race.

You didn’t though and pinned to your chest, just the purple participation ribbon.

I sat with you under the Apple Bowl and I accidentally cried with you. I didn’t mean to. It was ridiculous really.

It is good for kids to lose sometimes. I know this.

It is no big deal. Of course it isn’t.

It is just a grade four track meet. And yet…

You whispered “why is everyone better at everything than me” and I was undone.

I did not take you home. We pushed through the last events. We cheered for the other kids who feel like losers. You rode the bus. You were brave. I was so proud. And you need to know…THIS is what it means to win.

Life was easier, wasn’t it? When I made sure that the kids we played with were nice to you, when I choose activities I thought you would succeed at. You have to fail at things now, face conflict and I must confess, it is so hard to watch. In fact, it is nearly impossible, because the truth of the matter is  I have more faith in you than is logical too…you are a super hero in my universe and my eyes don’t seem to see you with much realism. My pride in you is something like intoxication, all I see is the miraculous wearing flesh, shock, and awe that you came to be in our home after I nearly gave up that dream.

We are not called to succeed the way the world sees it. I will never hope that for you. You are a part of the upside down kingdom where the last are first and the weak are the strongest. You are called to seek placement with the broken-hearted and the system weary and the unloved ones. You are one of the joy dwellers, the hope bringers, the peace keepers, the light holders. Most of all we are grace chasers, picking the crumbs we need, leaving a trail behind us. 

That is a lot of words isn’t it? It boils down to this: Our legacy is love…of God and man. That is all.

So forgive me, when the fear of man looms large and I care more about how you behave than where you heart really is, and I seek to compel your facade. Sometimes I want you to be the best athlete, the best student because it is fun to win and because it matters that you work hard in whatever is set before you. Always remember, your success or failure in any of it doesn’t define your worth, will not change your true status, cannot make your dad and I more or less proud of you. That issue is settled…remember? I have no capacity to see you rightly. I think mamma eyes are glory laden and perhaps we can only see the heaven in our kids…an extraordinary capacity to ignore the hell.

Wherever you fail, you will find me there beside you, seeking the hidden treasures and finding ourselves walking on water. We will find beside us those who fall through our societies cracks, the perfectly shaped holes for the meek and mild and we will walk beside them.

With all my love,


E to Grade 3!


My favourite food is: “Pizza”

My favourite colour: “turquoise”

My favourite toy: “stuffies”.

My favorite TV Show: “AFV”.

My favourite movie: “Nacho Libre”

My favourite thing to do outside: “Explore”

My best friend: “Leah Aylard”

The coolest person in the world is: “You guys”

My favourite sport is: “Highland dancing and swimming”

My favourite animal: “DOGS”

My favourite thing to do with daddy: “Going on daddy daughter dates.”

My favourite thing to do with mommy: “Mommy daughter dates”

My favourite place to go: “Marble Point”

When I grow up I want to be: “A song writer and an artist”

My favorite snack is: “Cheetos”

I LOVE to…”Go quadding”

My favourite thing about me is… “My personality and my brains”

This year I want to…”Learn how to handwrite”


O to Grade 5!


An interview with O on the first day of grade FIVE

My favourite food is: “Sushi especially dynamite roles”

My favourite colour: “Orange”

My favourite toy: “Hammock”.

My favourite TV Show: “Looney Toons”.

My favorite movie: “Nacho Libre”

My favorite thing to do outside: “Either relax in my hammock or go in the hot tub”

My best friend: “Emily”

The coolest person in the world is: “Emily”

My favourite sport is: “BASEBALL. It is the best thing that ever happened to me”

My favourite animal: “Blue ringed octopus”

My favourite thing to do with daddy: “Quad and play baseball”

My favourite thing to do with mommy: “Hang out in hot tub and going on mother son dates”

Favourite place to go: “Marble Point”

When I grow up I want to be: “A pastor”

My favourite snack is: “Peanut butter and crackers”

I LOVE to…”go to marble point”

My favourite thing about me is…”How I have improved in pitching”

This year I want to…”Not be inappropriate at school”


The Stories They Tell

I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.

-Marilynne Robinson, “Gilead”


I can’t get this idea out of my head. I don’t know that this is good theology, but I also don’t know that it isn’t. I mean, all this will not just be forgotten on the other side, will it? And so what will the tale they tell about me be? How will I be Helen of Troy? It isn’t hard to seduce a man, but it is very hard to enchant him, to hold him, to trigger an epic battle for the heart.

It depends if you read Homer or Faust about what happens for Helen. Was she filled with remorse? Did she revel in the deaths? I wonder what tales they will tell of me? Will I be one who bent the arch of justice in the right direction? Was I one who instigated peace? What stories will they recite of me on those golden streets?

I am not much of a heroine; my audience is small and I do not lead a movement, but that is not the point. For all my writing about our Great Purpose, I hope you always know a great purpose does not mean a great achievement or a great audience. You can lead an extraordinary life between four walls. You can have only an audience of One and still live a life of epic goodness, extreme gentleness, total peace.

I read once about a man who called his wife a saint. He said he did not know anyone better. Imagine that. To me that seems like a story you should listen to. A spouse who has seen you at your worst and yet still believes you to be a saint?

Will he say of me that I upheld him? That I, as he headed up his armies, made him stronger, braver, more able? Or will he say my selfishness hindered him? Will my children say that I prepared them and released them for good fights and love? For holy mischief and our own brand of anarchy? Will the small battles I fight reflect a tale of courage and grace?

When someday I become a myth -either on this earth or the far off one – what tales will they tell of me? I am not asking for the fickle applause of man. I am asking to be aligned with the mythology of heaven. God…let me join your story.