Monday, June 24, 2013


Creation speaks in words that we’re meant to hear and understand. His voice whispers. There is a rustling, then an awakening.We listen. We learn. We look up. Light shimmers and beauty beckons.

Yes, creation speaks about the glory of the Creator. We know it does. We’ve read his word and, when our eyes have been opened and our hearts softened, we hear the Voice that spoke light into darkness and life into the emptiness. 
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. ~ Romans 1:20
Creation declares the glory of God, speaking words from Him and about Him and to Him.We see what He made, we hear the words He spoke, and we speak them back in worship: it is good. What You have made, it is so good. 

In the beginning God created by the word of His power, and every day since, creation speaks, proclaiming the glory of our God. Glory and strength. Light and power. Goodness and beauty.

Not all days are like this one. Some days it’s too hot or too humid or too cold or too wet or two gray or our hearts are just too plain old dull. But not this day. This was a day when I’d driven the few hours from Toronto to the Ottawa Valley, and when I stepped out of the car, hugging parents and sisters that I loved, and walking around the country farm house where I grew up, my heart quietly rejoiced in all that He had made.

Life sparkled and His goodness shone bright with a shimmer of life in the beginning, life before sin broke all that was so very good.

My Pop and Mom have lived in the same country farmhouse for the past thirty years and they never tire nor stop giving thanks for the peace and beauty that surrounds them. My Pop walked with me as we delighted in their home and in God’s creation. He spoke as much to himself as to me: “It’s breathtaking here, isn’t it?” 

As we marveled at the peacefulness of the day, I looked out across one of the fields and saw the tree line that separated the farm field from the woods. For my entire childhood that tree line had begun with a forest of dark green pine trees. ‘The Pine Woods’ were always a bit magical, and when my sisters and I were young, we used to say we were going to live there when we grew up, each one of us having our own little house tucked away in the evergreens.Today, as I looked out, those once evergreen pine trees were a dull, brittle, ugly brown. 

Dead, and starting to decay. 

My Dad reminded me that the evergreens died last summer when there wasn’t enough rain. And so the Pine Woods, once an almost mystical place of beauty are now barren and ugly.

Paradise, but with visible death. 

I answered my Pop’s question. “It is exquisite. All of it. Sublime, even. Except for that, Pop. It’s a perfect day, except for that.”

“Creation is groaning, Elisha. All this beauty, but creation is still groaning.”

Creation speaks of the glory of God and creation also groans for the day when there will be freedom from death. We see beauty and we rightly look back to the creation that was so very good. We see decay and we look forward to the new creation when there will be glorious freedom death.
For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. ~ Romans 8:19-21

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Some of the funniest and most wonderful moments of parenting have also been the most humbling. They are the moments that, though I wouldn’t trade them for the world, I might also secretly wish had taken place just in front of me and Justin.

Every parent has these moments: the moments where our child is, simply put, a selfish little tyrannical toddler. Cute as a button? Of course. Cute with all the makings of a future dictator? Yep. That too.

There are so many wonderful-humbling moments of parenting where our children are delightfully real and transparent and, even in their shortcomings, we can't help but rejoice. We know they’ll learn and grow, because they’re being taught. But in the meantime, it seems best to enjoy life as it comes and to, once in a while, blog about it so we don’t forget.

There I am at the Parenting Centre one morning with the pre-schooler, Josh, the toddler, Ella, and the perfect parent, Me. Ella’s vocabulary has grown quite a bit in these past few weeks, and she now regularly says ‘Thank you’ (which sounds a bit more like ‘Dank you’) at all the appropriate times. I’ll pass her something and she’ll say, in that raspy, surprisingly alto voice of hers, “Dank you.” An older brother will share their treat or toy with her and she’ll instinctively offer a polite, “Dank you.” And almost always, if I prompt her and say, “What do you say, Ella?” she’ll respond with a sweet smile and say, “Dank you!”

Almost always.

So there we are at our local Parenting Centre (basically a pre-school program but where parents attend) that we go to several mornings each week, and Ella is standing at the sand table, playing beside another little girl that we’d never before met. I’m sipping my coffee and somewhat keeping an eye on her when she and the toddler beside her get into a little scuffle over one of the sand toys. Both the other mother and I lean in, attempting to mediate. It was unclear which one of them had rightful dibs on the small sand shovel, so when the other girl offered it to Ella, I felt no hesitancy in simply saying to this magnanimous toddler beside us, “Aw. Thank you, sweetheart.”

Of course there was a much more important person who also needed to say thank you too, so, still crouching low beside Ella, I prompted her: “What do you say, Ella?” It was a long, lingering moment. It was almost as if Ella smiled, sweetly, even deceptively, before leaning towards the little girl at her side and screeching into the other girl’s gracious, expectant face, “MINE!”

I gasped. (And I smiled. I couldn’t help it.) “No, no, no! Ella, sweetie, that’s so clearly not what I meant. Thank you! I meant that you should say thank you.”

I glanced at the mother beside me and explained: “She almost always says thank you in situations like this. I don’t know what…” I trailed off and gulped down a sip of coffee. The other mother was gracious, but I could see the glint in her eye betraying her true thoughts. 'She almost always says thank you? Yeah right. Sure she does.'

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I talk to a friend who, at this moment in her life, is enduring much sorrow and as I listen to her description of pain, I’m struck by the familiarity of her story. I listen to the lament of my own confession and repentance and it sounds an awful lot like the futile repetition of a story already lived, already told. It’s starting to get old, this story of lives, of relationships, of love broken by sin or crushed by the weight of sorrow.

Lives fixed only to be broken again, caught in a seemingly never-ending pattern.

At every turn of the page the setting for the story changes as the characters continue down a crooked path, full of unexpected twists and turns. Barren to abundant only to be broken again before being made beautiful.

I’ve heard this story before.

I listened to that friend describe utter heartbreak and, in her wounded cry, heard the faint and hollow echo of words already spoken. Every story, every life, nothing more than a repeat of the one told before it, a prelude to the one told after.

Futile repetition of the same old narrative. Futile repetition of a story where the details change from one character to the next but the plot is always the same. And every time the story’s told, it comes as less and less of a surprise that profound sorrow comes before the joy.

The stories that end with a glib promise of ‘happily ever after’ are the stories with torn out pages.

We watch as the story unfolds, and we listen to people we love share the sorrow of broken hearts, broken relationships, broken lives. A delicate page is turned and a beautiful yesterday concludes while a new ugly chapter is written. We search for words of wisdom, some way to love or to help, but words of hope seem empty and the story of heartbreak seems the same.

A story already told.

The narrative is not new. A thousand pages of old testament scripture tell us the story of the lives of God’s people, and we see the parts of this story that we’ve taken pen and underlined, circled, highlighted. Different details with the same plot: sin, sorrow, and the desperate need for Someone to fix it all and make things right.

Is it, then, truly a story of futile repetition? Or is there something more we’re supposed to see?

When life crumbles and relationships break and sin brings despair, is it just the same broken narrative or is there something else--something wondrous and hopeful--that can somehow emerge?

I read through the words of the prophet Jeremiah and as I flip through the pages of this book I'm struck yet again with the repetition of the story: sorrow, rebellion, despair. But in this weary and repetitive story a theme emerges. In our weary and repetitive story, the same theme.


It is a story already told but it is also a story with a sovereign Author writing the main plot.

Could it be that far from it being futile repetition, the part of the story where we wander helplessly through a barren wilderness is a chapter that He lovingly writes in the lives of His people before He can write this:

"Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams and on smooth paths where they will not stumble." ~ Jeremiah 31:9

Could it be that He has written our story with a sovereign, loving pattern of repetition: His people walk through darkness and He gives them light; His people stagger under the weight of heavy burdens and He comes alongside and lifts; His people bear the shame of their sin and He sends One to wash them clean; His people work and grow weary and He gives them rest; His people know deep sorrow and He replaces it with tears of joy.

"For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing." ~ Jeremiah 31:25

Could it be that the One who has written the story of redemption lovingly breaks our hearts in order to draw us to a Love that will not fail?

Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself." ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Saturday, June 8, 2013



The picture below says it all: "It was a fun morning, Mom. But ENOUGH PICTURES ALREADY!"

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Since old enough to pretend, Jake would often find various household items in the general shape of a guitar and he'd pick them up and strum away, all the while singing wild songs at the top of his wee lungs. As a pre-schooler no older than two, whenever we'd visit my parents' farm, Jake would find the bellows standing beside the old fireplace, pick them up and "strum" like mad. He was quite the rockstar as a youngster and gave many onlookers quite the performance. At the farm, it was bellows, but in almost every setting, Jake would find something or other that would become his pretend guitar.

"You've got to get this kid a guitar!" people would say.

So we did.

For Christmas one year, just before he turned three, he got a little black "guitar" that was actually a ukulele. He was overjoyed, and strummed and sang continually.

Now he's five. With a real guitar, and real lessons, and a real teacher.

What a joy it has been to see Jake love actually playing as much as he loved pretending to play. Maybe all those years of pretending was, in one sense, actually playing. Or at least preparing. 

These past four months of lessons and practicing have been the beginnings of music, the beginnings of the love of music. What a wonderful beginning it has been!

In the picture below, Jake's teacher, Mike, is tuning his guitar in the minutes before Jake's first recital. When Mike first told Jake about the recital, he gave Jake the option of either playing alone, or having Mike on the stage playing with him. Jake said, "You mean, me and you will both be up there? Playing together? Like, we'll be a band?"

We've been so thankful for a teacher who is not only an amazing musician and teacher, but someone who has made these early days of music lessons so much fun. What a blessing is a good teacher.

I won't deny the element of bittersweet, to look through these pictures and remember the bellows-strumming, chubby-cheeked toddler that is now my big boy at his first recital.

Watching them grow and learn always tugs, just a little.

But the sweet always overshadows the bitter.

I love you, Jake Galotti. 
May this be the beginning of a life of enjoying music, of using your gifts, of learning how to take an instrument and create much beauty. I hope you keep on playing, my son. And one day, when you're all grown up and maybe still strumming away and singing along, we'll look at these pictures and remember how special were these early days of music.