Monday, August 27, 2007

...Is God Afraid of Our Questions??...

I have been listening to the accounts of the news about Mother Theresa. They are headlining her crisis of faith...her doubts about God...her deepest questions.

I find it strangely comforting to hear that.

In fact, I find it hard to relate to those who plod along without question. Because as a human, with only finite wisdom, questions are surely part of our walk whether we are a nun, or a pastor or an ordinary girl who calls herself a Christian.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12 Paul writes..."Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Seems to me that God must have meant for us to questions life and God, otherwise He would have given us the whole picture. But that is the hope of Heaven. We will see it all. Laid bare before us will be the understanding of the masterpiece that is God's plan for creation. In knowing this every tear will be wiped away, every lingering doubt cast off and all sorrow laid to rest. Here we will know to the very core of our being that God is good and His ways are perfect.

...what a hope...

But until then I am so glad that I can come to God to question. Is He good?, does He exist? and why?... why?... doubting God gives Him the opportunity to show Himself to us, to stregthen our faith.

And when my striving wearies me I will "be still and know that He is God." Even if at times the knowing is the faintest of convictions. I will believe that God is who He was when I was most close to Him. I will trust that when my feelings change, God doesn't. He remains truth.


And, if you wonder why Mother Theresa and a multitude of other doubters hung on, even limply, to their faith, I think that it is because while we are weak and wavering, God is strong and woos us to His side. He never stops revealing Himself to us. I bet God sees our spirit's core belief in Him, even when our head and our heart pile up with doubts and questions so thick we can't see through them.

And in that place where we accepted Him, spirit to spirit, we hold on, and wait for the day when we will know fully - like Mother Theresa and many others - even as we are fully known.

Question Him. Ask the questions buried deep inside that stand in the way of complete faith. Shed the pretense of religion and propriety, if you must, and be honest before the King of Kings. He is big enough, and strong enough to take it from Mother Theresa... and the likes of you and me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

...the new puppy...

It's not unusual to come into my kitchen and see a cute blonde boy and a big white hairy dog curled up on the carpet. Usually the boy is feeding the dog his peanut butter sandwich or individual pieces of kibble. The dog is usually slapping his tail on floor with a happy thump, thump. I love their relationship. From the day Little T came into our home almost three years ago they have loved each other. When all the people around him were still strangers that big gentle dog was a safe place to head for a hug. Little T doesn't care if she smells, or leaves hairs all over his clothes. Their love is unconditional and their relationship has warmed my heart.

And that is why I was so concerned when our dog went missing.

During the warmer weather she sleeps outside and has an invisible fence collar to ensure she doesn't wander out of the backyard. The collar is largely uneccessary as she is generally found sunning in my garden beds or lounging in the sandbox under the deck - or playing with the kids. When I went out on Sunday morning I didn't see her anywhere. We were on our way to take the girls to camp and rushing around so I sent Coco out to fill up her food bowl and water and soon we were off to camp.

That night I completely forgot about checking on her and Monday morning I went out to give her food and the bowl was still full. Then I began to worry. We hunted through the neighbourhood, called the vets and dog catcher but no one had seen her. She had seemingly gone missing.

I don't think it fully hit me as I expected to look out the window and see our white furry friend come bounding up to the front door to see his best friend. But she did never show up. And my mind went quickly to Little T and what we were going to tell him. I called him over and gave him the news. He looked up and matter-of-factly stated we needed to get a new dog. As if it would never occur to a four year old that a house would not have a dog in it.

When my husband and I spoke about it that night he agreed that we needed to look for a new dog for Little T. But we both agreed that we would never find a dog more gentle and perfect anywhere.

I got on the internet the next day and began researching breeds and sizes and availability. We agreed on one breed that we wanted to look at and found a place nearby to go visit. That night we headed out with little T and his brother Coco to see the dogs.

And, that night we came home with a little 10 week old Schnauzer/Wheaton terrier cross. Her name is Lucy and she is a little perky doll. She is remarkably quiet and cuddly for a puppy and Little T is beside himself with happiness. He has been carrying that dog around everywhere creating another special puppy/boy relationship.

I wasn't really sure I wanted to take on another pet. When our golden came into our house whe was already 2 years old, well mannered and extremely hairy. I cleaned up fur constantly wondering what I had gotten myself into. There were many days I wished we lived in a pet-free house. And when she went missing I thought back to those days wondering if we could be free of that. And then I looked at Little T and remind myself of the love they share. I counted the cost of the training, the pooping and peeing, the grooming, the vet bills, the whole package. It was going to cost me convenience and stretch me to clean up messes but it was going to give our children, especially Little T a relationship that is worth the cost. When we got to the breeders the puppies all looked exactly the same. How were we going to chose. And then we picked up little Lucy and I handed her to my husband. She promptly laid her head down on his hand and made herself at home...and we just had to bring her home.

We will miss our big puppy - maybe someone will find her and bring her home and we will have double the mess and double the joy. But if not we will enjoy little Lucy and this new puppy chapter and remember fondly our big white mutt.

Friday, August 3, 2007

...leave it to beaver has nothing on us...

We went to look at an awesome old house in town this week. I have been through it before the last two times it has been for sale. Both times we decided that it was more than we could afford and walked away. When we saw the for sale sign this time around, even with the increased price tag we considered it again. So earlier this week we trekked around the property, tape measure in hand, checking old beams, sloped floors and possibilities.

I have to confess that I am a sucker for an old house. If only the walls could speak I would sit and listen to the stories of marriages and babies, of celebrations and wars, of change and progress. It was that I thought of as we wandered the halls countless padded feet had called home. This house, I found out, was the birthplace of Horatio Walker. I didnt know who that was until a few weeks ago when we visited the art gallery in Montreal and saw his name on a painting from our hometown. His art hangs in many art galleries in Canada as well as the Smithsonian and New York Art Galleries in the USA. Visions of a Bed & Breakfast danced through my brain.

Having lived and renovated a few old homes I tend to look critically at things most romantics might overlook. Dry rot, decaying stairs and porches, overgrown gardens, leaky roofs and uneven floors. Not to mention lack of air conditioning and closet space. If I have learned one thing a coat of paint, no matter how nice the colour, does not hold a house up.

But this house was in pretty good shape and we are finally in a position to afford a real renovation where we could hire people and everything. So we left and thought... Back and forth we went that night, discussing the ideas for improvements, how to market a B&B etc. We just didnt come up with a clear and peaceful answer.

The next night I went out to water the garden. I love to stand hose in hand and give refreshment to my plants. I imagine them perking up and blooming for me. As I stood by the pool trying to revive a drooping hydrangea I heard the sound of the kids screaming.

My son Coco had discovered a nest of mice under the composter. Enough that if you lifted the side you could see them scurry away. It didn't take long for him to bring over the neighbours to see the brood. As he lifted the composter a critter scurried across the vegetable garden only to be caught stunned under the hockey stick of a 12 year old boy. And that's when the squeals began. Within a few minutes there were a half dozen or so kids chasing the mouse all over the lawn, grabbing at whatever they could find to catch it. Alas, it was the hockey stick that again caught the dazed mouse under its blade. Somehow they caught it up in one of my Ikea laterns off the patio. Inside its little prison the all came running over to me huge grins on all their faces. I smiled at their prize and turned the hose on the crew. Again screams filled the backyard as they all went running for cover.

Then I smiled. Before we built the house we live in this yard was just a cornfield. I watched the machines come and dig a foundation while I dreamed. I wanted my children to grow up like Beaver and Wally. With a street filled with friends of every age. Where I didn't have to make play dates but rather, after dinner people just headed outside to play. Where spontaneous games of hide and seek intermingled with the discovery of rodents. Where the neighbours looked out for your children and trusted you to look out for theirs. It was a great dream but the reality is so much better. I love that we can give my guys this kind of childhood. I'm thankful that it still exists.

And, as we walk these halls, we leave stories also...hidden in walls that remain silent. But the memories are clear in our hearts and minds.

Another round of screams erupts from the side of the house, its the mouse again. I focus again on watering my plants and smile. Sometimes decisions are not decided on paper but in the the laughter of children.