Tag Archives: life

Life goes on

Life in the trailer goes on these days. It’s finally going on. In fact, last Friday (June 1) was the first time since graduating near the end of April that I truly felt done with school and that I was resting. Dixie did some calculations and, beginning with the candidating weekend following graduation weekend, in 34 days we were gone from home for 15 days, 14 of which were out of province. Out of four trips, 3 were planned with a couple of days of actually leaving. Between Dixie and I we spent 10 days in classes, 10 days with sick kids, 8 days of soccer for our kids, a major birthday party, school plays, and so on and so forth.

We’re exhausted and fighting illness and I’ve been sleeping more than usual (multiple naps in a day). I’m not sure if that’s the month of business or the 3 years of seminary finally taking its toll now that things are slowing down a bit.

I don’t say this to complain, but simply to point out that things really do feel like they’re “normalizing” a bit. I realize all this busy-ness is life, too, but it’s not a good life. So I’m recovering and relaxing and doing some odd jobs around the house and reading.

The biggest kick in the butt was the impromptu 2,800km round trip to Alberta and back two weekends ago. Dixie and I were in constant disagreement about where we should live when we move. It became clear that the only solution would be to drive out and have another look at our options. We took the kids this time.

It was worth it. We agreed on where we should live (in The Field, about half a mile or so from Randall and Lauralea and not much farther from a number of people who attend the church). And that did it, that settled things down in our minds so that we could relax and carry on with our remaining time in Otterburne.

We will slowly pack. I hate packing, but for now Dixie has encouraged me to pack up the books, which I find to be a reasonably tolerable task. We will move in the first week of August or so.

In the meantime, life goes on. I have the feeling that there is some work-related reading that I should probably start doing before I get there. But not just yet.

How not to live well.

A robust theology of creation has a bearing on our view of work, I think. Work is not in and of itself the result of the fall. I won’t get into the details of such a theology, but simply say that it results in an understanding of most work as good and profitable and in keeping with our design as human beings.

But conceptually, what does this work look like? Does it simply mean “work hard and do your work well”? What does “well” mean? I’m sitting here huddled in a study room in the library. I should be finishing an assignment–one of three technically due by next Tuesday–and I’m caught in a tension I’ve created for myself. It’s between wanting to do something well and recognizing that I cannot do it all.

Before I came to seminary, I was told by someone in our denomination not to worry about marks so much. That’s difficult for me. I feel like the grade I receive on a paper reflects whether or not I did the paper well and right.

I’ve also been told on a number of occasions by one professor at least that I should not read my books word-for-word. That’s also difficult for me. If I’m going to read something, it seems to me that I should read it all. But that can get me into trouble. Sometimes the reading never ends, but my time does.

There are some maxims that float around the seminary. “Sometimes finishing well means simply finishing” (or something like that). In terms of work (including study) as an act of worship and as a part of an integrated life that includes other things like family and physical needs, “Sometimes getting an A on an assignment means getting a B from the Lord.” They might sound like trite platitudes, but they are true in many respects. Because doing something well is something much more holistic than simply getting a good grade or creating the best product or learning the most stuff. Life isn’t a compartmentalized thing, made up of individual units that can be measured in isolation from the others. My family life factors in to doing school well. So does my spiritual life. I may get A’s (As?) in my classes, but I’m not always (ever?) getting A’s in terms of a well-integrated life.

What this means is that sometimes simply getting things done is more important than doing that thing as well as possible. At least, “as well as possible” can only be measured truthfully in relation to every other aspect of my life. To measure my best for something in isolation from the other aspects of life is to create impossible expectations for myself, because my best in this sense–that is, any one thing in isolation–will always crowd out everything else.

And that, friends, is not how we live well.

Who are the exceptions?

Wow.  I’m not sure how this woman (Linda at Kingdom Grace) got into my head and then took what she found there and made it so beautiful and succint:

This might be kind of quirky, but I really am enamored with this topic.  For over a year now,  it has been like a shiny object that I hold in my hand or pocket and take out frequently to admire, study, and enjoy.  I am not sure if the fascination is because it is new to me or if it is just inherently fascinating.  Anyway, I appreciate the people in my real life and on the blog who humor me in my latest obsession.

So what did Jesus accomplish in his death and resurrection?

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:18)

One has died for all, therefore all have died. (II Cor. 5:14)

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:5)

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Cor. 15:21-22)

Who are the exceptions to “all”?

Just as death spread to all men through Adam, in Christ we all died and we have all been raised into new life.  We weren’t consulted about this.

The gospel has never been about qualifying people for salvation, it is about letting them know the really good news . . . that they are already loved and embraced by the Father. (Link)

(I posted something similar by Bonhoeffer earlier.)

Notes from the Mobile Home 1: Slow Cooker

Dixie and I have made a switch for the week.  She’ll be in class all day every day (“Psychopathology”) and I’ll be at home all day every day.  A change of pace for both of us.

I’m not sure I can figure out how to compartmentalize my time in an efficient way.  This is something at which Dixie is exceptionally skilled and it can sometimes be frustrating.  I’ll be agonizing over a paper due in a couple of days while she’s completed a draft for a paper not due for several weeks.  In fact, she may even have completed most of another paper due in April.  For undisciplined, a poor time manager, and constant progress comparer (such as yours truly) this is frustrating.

Nevertheless, I march on.  I shall overcome.

Dixie has tried to help me by preparing a menu for the week (my Inner Cynic tells me that she’s doing this to show me how much she accomplishes in a day, but I mustn’t listen to my Inner Cynic).  If a menu was not prepared, supper decisions would be made approximately 30 minutes before mealtime and would consist of daily variations on pasta or eggs.

Last night, after Dixie had already gone to bed, I had a look at today’s supper item, per the menu.  Corn chowder.  In the slow cooker.  The instructions alarmed me.  I marched to the bedroom.

“Dix,” I said, “are you serious about this corn chowder?  It’s for the slow cooker and it says it takes 8-10 hours to cook! This means I’ll have to start supper first thing in the morning.”

“Yes,” she replied.  “Then it’ll be done!”

By the time I got everything together this morning–figuring out in what manner one chops and “cooks” (a rather generic term, if you ask me) celery and onions in preparation for the slow cooker (which, it seems to me, would cook both ingredients anyway); locating the bay leaves; not burning the bacon; cleaning and cutting the potatoes, etc.–it was 10:40.  And by my calculations, that would mean supper would be ready at 6:30 at the earliest, which, of course, is unacceptable.

In the middle of this, Dixie’s mom called.  After I explained my dilemma, she told me that she makes corn chowder on the stove in about 30 minutes!  Alas, by this time most of the ingredients were already simmering in the slow cooker. So I had a day of preparing two supper meals to look forward to.

Things turned up when Dixie came home for lunch.  She explained that the slow cooker cooks hot, so it would probably be ready for an on-time supper.  She was right.

It was delicious.

(the ugly side of) Nature!

Well, they were sparrows.

Early Sunday morning I was out on our deck and I watched Mama and Papa Sparrow taking turns flying off for food and watching over the back yard;  I saw them dart in and out of the Virginia creeper. Definitely sparrows.

Sunday evening, Dixie and the kids watched the little sparrow hatchlings struggling around on the ground after leaving the nest.  And this afternoon I rescued one of the cute little guys caught in a window-well.  I scooped it out on a shovel and placed it gently in the grass as Mama and Papa Sparrow looked on.

But it’s confession time: I accidentally killed one of the little guys.

Tonight I was mowing the back yard (with our reel mower–still a fan!–but this story isn’t as gruesome as a reel mower may make you think) and I noticed Ma and Pa Sparrow flitting about the yard.  One of them had food in its mouth.  I happened to be mowing near where the nest is in the Virginia creeper, so I stopped mowing and backed away to let them feed their little ones.

Good thing I did, because one of the little ones was nestled deep in the grass as pass or two away from the lawn mower.  So I moved to a different part of the yard in hopes that the little guy would scurry away.  A couple of minutes later I went inside to get my camera.  I told Dixie about the little bird in the grass, how I could have killed the very bird I rescued this afternoon.  When I came back outside, however, the bird was gone–or so I thought.  I searched that whole area of the lawn looking for it, but I couldn’t find it.  I thought I heard some chirping in the Virginia creeper and rather naively thought that it was making its way back up to the nest (I didn’t realize birds leave the nest before they can fly), so I started mowing that part of the lawn again, just to get it done, in case it came back.  I was paying special attention to where I was going, because I knew there were at least two of them.  Except I didn’t pay attention to the spot the bird had been.  Then I noticed some sudden fluttering and saw the little guy struggle, twitch and die.  The front wheel of the mower had run over its hindquarters.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed.  I felt terrible.

I’m light-years away from joining PETA, but I love animals, and I hate to see them needlessly (or accidentally) killed.  This stems from both an innate appreciation for creation, as well as an ugly childhood incident involving a snared gopher.

I don’t subscribe to any of the Eastern religions, but I try to teach Luke not to stomp on ladybugs and other insects after he has observed them with fascination.  They are all–big and small–God’s little creatures (and, for goodness’ sake, His eye is on the sparrow!).  And we had been following this little family’s development for about a week now, were finally seeing them leave the nest.

I know this is just a fact of nature.  If I hadn’t clipped it, the neighbour’s cat may have caught it.  Who knows.  It’s still a shame.

Ma and Pa Sparrow returned and flitted back and forth between the stacked lawn chairs and the roof of the shed, looking and listening for their son or daughter.  A few minutes later, I was near them as they hopped on our fence.  I apologized to them;  “I’m sorry.  I killed your little baby,” I said.

I buried it behind the spruce tree in the back yard.

I don’t have the heart to tell Madeline.  Not because I don’t want her to learn about life and death–she has already learned quite a bit about that–but because I don’t want to face her anger at her idiot, careless dad.

And on that cheery note, tomorrow morning we are west-bound for the first leg of our Western Canada Tour of Insanity (I changed the name from “Tour of Glory” just a few moments ago, because it’s really quite insane what we’re doing.  But more on that later.)