Saturday, June 30, 2012


With so much of our family spread around the world, we are so thankful that the kids have one Aunt who lives here in the city. Aunt Caiah. The boys rarely use the word 'Aunt' when referring to her; she's just Caiah. And they adore her. Caiah always told me that if she had a little girl niece, she would feel compelled to buy her tons of sparkly pink things with lots of sequins and feathers and marabou. Before Ella joined the family, I recall Caiah asking me at what age a baby girl could start wearing stiletto heals. With a small amount of relief I can say that Ella has yet to receive a pink-sparkly-sequin-adorned dress or a top with a marabou-lined neckline. She has, however, been the happy recipient of quite a number of cute little H&M rompers. "In 2012 every baby girl needs rompers!"

A couple weeks back, Aunt Caiah joined us for our first afternoon at the Toronto Sunnyside Beach. Minimal pollution. Tons of fun.

We love you so much, Caiah.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. ~ Psalm 127

Justin read this Psalm to our family before he left for work this morning. I’ll describe the scene: all three children were sitting peacefully on my lap, their hands gently folded while they listened attentively to their Papa. Oh wait. No. That’s not what it looked like. Justin did read this Psalm to us but it was while Josh kept escaping from my arms and causing trouble. Jake, annoyed with his little brother’s antics, was visibly impatient to have his Dad finish reading so that he could do something more fun. A sweet but congested Baby Ella had disgusting snot bubbles expanding and shrinking from her nose with each breath, screaming every time I approached with a tissue. And me. I was doing my best to multitask and sorta listen to Justin while wiping noses and catching escapees, but I kept returning to a familiar place: a place where I worry about stuff that I can’t control all the while ‘planning my way to peacefulness’.

The scene is so dishevelled, the picture so imperfect, in need of a little airbrushing to smooth out all the cracks and wrinkles and sin. But in spite of the chaos, and though His voice went almost unheard while Justin read, God’s word came into our home this morning. As the day progressed, those words that Justin read, words of a Psalm that I’ve heard hundreds of times before, kept returning to my mind, eventually piercing my heart.

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. 

All the things that I hope and pray for my life, for my family, for our church, for our city, these things will never come about by planning, or by trying, or by trying harder. My own growth in Christ, or a home that grows in all those right ways that we long to see our family grow, or a church that grows into all those good  things that we hope and pray it might… these things won't come about through mere planning or staunch effort. Will I ever grasp the truth that growth comes through reliance, not through busyness?

It is useless for you to work so hard, from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat.

Even now my mind is quick to ensure balance. The process of growth clearly involves work of a certain nature: prayer is work, striving to put sin to death is work, striving for righteousness is work. But all this work means little when my heart lacks the humility that comes from reliance on Him.

I’m a follower of Christ. I’m trusting that not only has Christ once and forever paid the price for my sin, but that He is the One who will complete in me the work that He began at that first moment of true faith. So even though I rightly should strive to grow and change and live as a Christian should live, any effort I make should be marked by humility and utter reliance.

I’ve been saved, and not of my own doing. Reliance characterizes me. Provision characterizes my God.

My work in this life, the significant and the trivial alike, is marked by reliance on Another for all things. God’s work for me is profoundly characterized by provision: provision on the grandest scale, a provision that saved me from sin; but provision, too, for the smallest details. Why do I worry? Really, why do I worry? Why do I again and again resort to ‘trying harder’ or thinking that enough planning and enough busyness will alter the outcome of events? It is useless. And it is sinful.

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.

Why do I worry when God has promised to provide all that I need, all that my family needs, all that my (His!) church needs? In Christ, God has promised to provide strength. Through Christ, God has promised to provide rest. Upon Christ, God has promised to build His church. I’ve received His perfect, spotless Provision. When will I live as though He’s done enough for me?

This stiflingly hot summer morning began in, what seemed to me, total chaos. Then my husband read God’s word. Nothing magical happened to transform the scene. It was still unbearably hot. The sweaty toddler was still making mischief. The older brother was still impatient to get going. The tiny little one was still unwilling to get cleaned. But then something happened as we went about our day: slowly, but with power and grace, I heard His voice in the words of this Psalm. Worry gave way to repentance, anxiety was replaced with rest.


Over four years have passed since I first met this little boy of mine. Hard to believe. 


We’re now in the final week of school, and on our way home from the Parenting Centre with Josh and Baby Ella in the stroller, Jake on his bike, we pause as we walk past the Kindergarten dismissal yard. Jake hops off his bike and I kneel down beside him so that our faces are side by side as we watch the students heading home.

I glance over at his eager little face, watching his unmistakable interest in the scene in front of us. "A couple months and that will be you, kiddo." He's heard this before."I know, Mom." I continue with the explanation, even though it's a repeat. "I’ll be standing here at the gate like all these other parents, waiting for you." 

We’ve already had this conversation, but he still asks a couple of pragmatic questions. Will Josh and Ella be with me? What if he doesn’t see me right away?

Genuine curiousity prompts what I’m about to ask: "Jake, when you’re in school, do you think you’ll miss me or be sad? Or do you think you’ll just love being with a new teacher in a new class?" His face is still towards the school yard in front of us. "Mom. I will love it. I can’t wait." This is good. I’m glad. I’m thankful he’s nothing but excited. And yet… Almost like he’s heard my thoughts, he turns his face to mine and says “Mom. You know what? I will love it, and I won’t be sad, but I WILL really miss you. And when I’m at school I will make you things and bring them home for you."

I hear his words of reassurance and I can’t help but wonder which one of us isn’t yet ready for the change that September will bring.

Friday, June 22, 2012


It was a short but wonderful visit with  my folks. On Father's Day, right after Justin preached at WTBC, we loaded the kids into the car, hit the road for what turned out to be a beautiful drive, and arrived in Ottawa in time for the evening service. (It was great to see some faces of those we love and miss in the Ottawa RP church.) My Dad didn't know we were coming; it was a Father's Day surprise. I only wish my sisters could have been there at The Farm with us too...

Pool time with Nana!


'Basketball' time!

This tree is the "monkey climbing tree" that Jakson discovered. The boys loved it! In the picture below Josh is mid-monkey-sentence saying "ooo-ooo-aaa-aaa". Little monkey.

After years of Jake cooperating sweetly and beautifully for pictures, he's in a new phase where he finds great amusement in, just at the moment that I click, making a "hyena" face, or some other non-pleasant expression.   It's irritating, for sure. But kind of funny too.

Justin worked from Ottawa for two days, and the picture below is the scene that he looked out upon while he worked. We're both city people, he and I. But even so, he said this was such a peaceful and enjoyable scene to behold while he worked. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I always love the idea of berry picking but hate the reality of actually doing it. I trace this lighthearted hatred back to the pre-teen summers that I spent picking berries as a part time job. Me and Shoshannah did it together. She was SO good at it. Driven. Ambitious. Filled her baskets so quickly with only the best berries; thoroughly rummaging through the leaves as to leave no ripe berry un-picked. I, on the other hand, remember conjuring up the tiniest bit of effort for a few minutes right at the start of the day and then, thinking that I would just break for a minute or two, wander away from my nearly empty basket to the side of the field where I would make up a dance routine... or two.

Invariably our morning of work would conclude and Shosh would be going home with a heaping stack of cash to show my parents and I'd have a new little piece of choreography to show them. Thinking back, they were really quite encouraging of their 'day-dreaming' second daughter, considering that I wasn't doing my job  well at all.

My Mom and I took the kids to a Berry Farm right near their place.  Great place to pick-your-own if you're in the Ottawa Valley.


I was really surprised that the boys actually enjoyed themselves. Maybe I figured that they'd take after me and start getting bored a few minutes in; they both stayed on track and, along with my Mom, picked until we were full.
Who knows, kiddos? Maybe you'll follow in your Aunt Shoshannah's footsteps and make a small fortune in the berry patch.



Sunday, June 17, 2012


Jacob, Joshua and Ella Grace. Why blessed? They're going through life with this Dad at their side...

 ...who loves them, who guides them, who teaches them, who plays with them, who prays with them, who points them to Christ. 

These three adore their father. And he, them. It's such a source of joy to look at these little people who I love so deeply, and to know that they've already been profoundly blessed in this life, to have the Dad that they've been given.

Justin, as always, I'm amazed at the abundance of love He has demonstrated to me through giving me you. Like so many other things that I watch you do in our life together, I watch you with our children, and I am filled with gratitude.

Happy Father's Day. 
I am so thankful for you, for the way you love and father our children. I love you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Earlier this week we sat around our kitchen table talking with a dear couple who are soon leaving Toronto to begin life in full time pastoral ministry. At one point in the evening, as we discussed life in ministry, my friend asked me this question: “How did you like being a pastor’s daughter?” It’s a question I’ve been asked countless times before but never quite know how to answer. Like so many things in life, there is so much that can be said, so many layers to the possible response. If I’m being honest, there were things about being a preacher’s kid that were wonderful, joyful, blessed. But there were also other things about it that were difficult. There is, maybe, no short answer to that question. But a couple nights ago, when my friend asked me this, it was at the end of a day where I’d been thinking about my Dad a lot, and my heart kind of spontaneously produced an answer.

How did I like being a pastor’s daughter? These words came: “I don’t know. I never know the short answer to that. But I do know that I loved being my Dad’s daughter.” This might sounds like a trivial distinction, but it clarified something for me as the words emerged. Going through life with someone in full-time ministry (as a child I was a pastor’s kid, as an adult I’m a pastor’s wife) invariably means knowing seasons of immeasurable joy and blessing and love, but also seasons of real difficulty and even heartache. I guess that’s why it’s been difficult to think back and crystallize a succinct response to the question of what it’s like being a pastor’s kid. But even so, what is clear is that it’s effortless to think back and say that I loved being my Dad’s daughter. And not just back then in childhood. Today, this day, I love being my Dad’s daughter. 


Rich Ganz. Pastor. Teacher. Psychologist. Sheep farmer. Author. New Yorker turned Rural Canadian. Grandpa Ganz. Pop. I don’t actually know anyone else quite like him. As I reflect on who he is, what he has meant to me and the ways his life and character continue to influence my life, there is much that I could write. Maybe one day I will. But for today, four simple reflections.

My Dad is lighthearted. As long as I can remember he's been characterized by a lightness of countenance. This past winter me and Justin and the kids spent a couple days visiting my folks in Ottawa. During that visit, we did something that my family hasn’t done in years. We all sat down and watched some slides from decades ago. The early 80s. Shoshannah and I just toddlers. Natanyah only a baby. Caiah… not yet. So many memories to laugh about, to remember anew. We looked through a couple carousels of the year that my still-hippy parents travelled through Europe with a two-year-old Shoshoshannah and a baby Me in tow. The slides captured so much, each new slide showing beautiful scenes of laughing babies, or picturesque mountaintops, or silhouetted toddlers back-dropped by glorious sunsets. My Mom is an amazing photographer.

We’re enjoying all this, when at one point my Mom presses the lever on her old-school projector, we hear the click of a new slide falling into place and an unlikely image fills up the screen. The group of us sitting there in the living room collectively went “huh???”. The picture was of a dirty open door which framed the scene: a public toilet stall. Inside, as the crowning centrepiece of this picture, were mounds and heaps of toilet paper everywhere. It was so jarring to see this within the flow of exquisite scenery and serene silhouettes. There was delighted laughter from my Mom as she explained: “In the entire year that we spent in Switzerland, this is the only picture that your father took. When we saw this disgusting bathroom, he begged me to capture it on film. He insisted on it!” It's pretty cool that now, decades later, that toilet paper picture is in some ways a symbolic part of the mosaic of my parents life together. There, in that carousel of captured life, is a moment of joyful lightness, years later still bringing laughter.

My Dad is accessible. He probably works longer and harder than any person I’ve ever known. And yet, even with the amount of time that he spends in his study working, preparing, ministering, ‘his study’ has always been an accessible place, a room where his daughters have never had to wonder if they’re welcome. As a kid, I don’t think I even thought about it, really. If I needed to talk to him, or ask him something, no matter whether frivolous or important, I’d just walk in and plop myself down on his couch. Within a minute or two, he’d swivel around in his chair and we’d talk. He’d listen. He’d ask questions. I never remember him  trying to hurry a conversation along to its conclusion so that he could get back to what he was doing. It’s still that way. There is never a rush for the conversation to be over. 
I doubt he ever had a formula for this, nor was trying to implement some parenting strategy that instructed him to listen to his kids or be accessible to them. It is simply, intuitively, the father that he was to us, that he is to us still. Always there. Always ready to listen, to talk, to be a part of the details of our lives. Four daughters: hours upon hours upon hours of talking, listening, encouraging. I think back now and I realize that in all those years of wandering into his study and plunking myself down on his couch, there were likely countless times when I was interrupting something fairly important. And yet not once, not a single time, did my Dad make me feel like what I needed to talk to him about was of less importance.

My Dad is enthusiastic. Often unrelated to the particulars of what he’s doing, or who he’s talking to, there seems to be a natural enthusiasm, a passion that overflows from him. Growing up, and even now when we all return to the farm to visit, we’ll gather and watch movies as a family. Part of the fun (or occasionally drama) for all of us is watching my Dad. If it’s a comedy, even an utterly stupid one, he’s laughing so hard he’ll be wiping away tears. If it’s a drama, at the conclusion he’ll sit up and passionately discuss and debate the implications until everyone else is asleep. If it’s an inspiring story, he’ll literally cheer and clap at the end of it. Literally. Whatever he’s doing, movie-watching, working out, talking with people,  his whole heart is engaged.

Although there are countless small ways that this works itself out in his life, more than anything, it’s affected how he relates to people. Many times I’ve had the experience where I’m talking to my Dad about someone altogether ordinary (like most of us are… or at least like we think we are), and my Dad sees and is describing a person who is extraordinary, uniquely gifted, distinct in their ability to do whatever it is that they do. It’s almost as though, without trying, without any deliberation for thinking well of others, God’s given him this heart that responds to people with exuberance about who they are and all the possibilities for who they could become. He has an infectious enthusiasm for life and for the people in it. 

My Dad is loving. This, too, works itself out in so many different ways. A few weeks ago I was talking with a dear friend from the Ottawa RP church. My Dad baptized her as a baby, and over the last thirty years he has known the joy of being a part of her life as she’s grown into a woman with a family of her own, babies of her own. This friend and I are talking, and I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but she was describing to me the kind of shepherd that my Dad is to her: “Fiercely protective. So gentle with his sheep.” She went on to describe how to her, more than anything else my Dad might be, to her he is a loving shepherd of those sheep entrusted to him. This was such a blessing to my heart to hear this description. 
My Dad is also a husband who has loved my Mom in such awesome and visible ways my whole life. He respects her. He values her. He cheers her on as she uses the gifts God has given her. He has a love for her that trusts her, that cherishes her wisdom. 
Above all else, my Dad loves the One who has bought him forgiveness, the One who has given him new life. His love for Christ has never grown old, never dimmed into something humdrum or ordinary. There’s a liveliness, a freshness to his now decades old faith. In my Dad I see such passion, such love, such visible affection for his Saviour. 

And lastly, as I think about my Dad on this Father's Day, I find myself giving thanks for a loving father.

Pop, in all these years of being your daughter, I have never once had to wonder if you loved me, if you cared. I have never once had to wonder whether your love might pause, or fail, or change. I know you’re the first to admit the ways that you weren’t a perfect Dad (partly because there is no such earthly thing), but you have loved me and Shosh and Nat and Caiah with such a beautiful, unconditional love. We’re safe in it. We’re secure in it. We’re daughters of a father who we know would go to any length for our good. In your love for us, Pop, you’ve given us an earthly example of the kind of love we can find in a Father above. Thank you for loving us the way you always have, the way we know you always will.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

Monday, June 11, 2012

NEW YORK - Croton-on-the-Hudson

We were thankful for a short but beautiful time spent swimming, hanging out with Grandpa and Gigi, eating NY pizza, having bbqs, and seeing more cousins and family.

We love you and miss you!