The Treasure Within the Putty

And encouraging word for parents of younger children.

Source: The Treasure Within the Putty

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting Personal: Unexpected Gift of Mennonite World Conference 2015

Reading Melodie’s personal journey of healing between a Mennonite and a Lutheran adds a rich dimension to the official reconciliation between our denominations.

Getting Personal: Unexpected Gift of Mennonite World Conference 2015.

Posted in baptism, blessing, church, Confession, Family life, Hope, peace | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks and have a good summer



It’s time to unplug and tune in to the beauties of summer and to say good bye.

My work life is shifting to pick up some additional duties in a transitional time, so this blog will probably not be back in fall, certainly not on a weekly basis.

To those of you who have been faithful followers as I learned how to communicate through this format, I say, thank-you.  You’ve been a great encouragement.

To those who have dropped in from time to time, I say thank you. It is always fascinating to see from where else on God’s good earth people connect with my humble blog.

To all of you I say, “May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord’s face shine upon you, be gracious to you, and give you peace.”



Posted in blessing, blogging, Church season, farewell, summer | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

4 Challenges of Parenting Parents with Dementia

Lonely walk

This week I was deeply moved by a phone call by a woman asking about resources on the topic of dementia. It’s a close to home but hard to talk about topic. Here are a few of the real challenges we agreed on:

1) It’s a new issue. Because we are living longer, with better medical care, dementia is an increasingly common condition among seniors. Because most of our grandparents died before their brains began to deteriorate, we lack the generational memory for how to deal with this increasingly common reality.

2) Learning to parent our parents as they move into a second childhood is hard. It is challenging enough to deal with irrational behaviour with young children, who require our supervision to be safe, but in that case we know they will outgrow these stages. How can we still honour the parents who raised us and make decisions for them which they can no longer, but may still want to make? How can we soften the humiliation as they incrementally lose control of their lives?

3) Finding safe places to share the challenges is hard. We don’t want to speak poorly of the parents we love and honour, and it can be humiliating for them when others learn about their dementia. And yet, we need to find our way of providing the assistance they need and doing the self-care we need to remain healthy.

4) Finding resources is hard. There are a few good books and videos out there, but we need more. Thank goodness for places like Common Word that make them easy to access. If you know of another helpful resource, please add it as a comment. This is an challenge we need to help each meet.

Posted in Congregational life, Dementia, Differently abled, Family life, Healthy Habits, intergenerational, Parenting, Senior Spirituality, Women's concerns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thanks for the Memories Aunt Olly

Aunt Olly Penner, 1973

A local celebrity  and shaper of children and childhood has died. Many Manitobans who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s raced home from school to tune in to Aunt Olly’s Children’s Party on the radio (Station CFAM). Listening to her program was a regular part of birthday parties, because she shared birthday greetings and instructions on where to find your birthday gift.  Work colleagues remember listening with siblings, snacking quietly and listening while Mother’s enjoyed the freedom to cook supper without distractions from the kids. Here’s a great tribute, written by another of her faithful listeners, Mary Lou Driedger.

Thanks for the Memories Aunt Olly.

Posted in community, Family life, Memorial, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Truth and Reconciliation with the Grandmothers


Photos: Stick Ceremony and Elkhorn Residential School (closed, 1949)

Yesterday was a historic day for Canada. After six years of careful listening and recording of the stories of survivors of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools (the last of which closed in 1996) the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its summary report in Ottawa.

Through regional events with live streaming of the Ottawa event, this day was honoured throughout Canada; a day many hope and pray will be a turning point toward better relationship between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The live streamed Ottawa event was important and informative. So were the opening prayers and greetings. So was the walk through downtown by about 600 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers. So was the shared feast and the pipe ceremony at Thunderbird House. But for me, a grandmother, it was the ritualized actions of the Grandmothers that were most transformative. I was so moved, I didn’t think of taking a picture. Thankfully, my friend, Kyle Penner, sent me one which I edited into the post a day after publishing .

The Grandmother’s event happened after the live streaming of the Commission’s report. Elder Velma Orvis invited us into a large basement room for a stick ceremony called RE-MEMBERING TOGETHER. She, two other Grandmothers, and a young woman seated on a chair, occupied the center of the circle. The Grandmothers tied and erected three peeled poplar saplings to create the beginning of a teepee frame. Ten more such poles were distributed to group participants. (There are thirteen moons to the Indigenous year.)

As Velma read from a document which highlighted parts of our shared history that oppress indigenous women the two other Grandmothers placed black cloths over the young woman’s head, one for each item that was named. The weight of those symbolic black cloths weighed down on all of us.

The ten recipients of the sticks were then invited to share. Among the respondents were survivors of abuse in the residential school system. One grandmother shared with her 10 year old granddaughter at her side for support. There was also one of my people, a Mennonite, who walked in solidarity with his Indigenous neighbours. One middle aged Indigenous woman choked out a sentence and sat down. Another, rather radiant Grandmother shared about the importance of holistic re-education and relationships. Later, on the walk, she would tell me about the Creator’s healing touch in her journey toward forgiveness.

With each shared story a black cloth was lifted from the young woman’s head. With the lifting of the last cloth the young woman shared her experiences of sitting under those dark cloths. Under their cover she had remembered her grandmother, a survivor of the residential schools, whose programs are now being correctly described as cultural genocide.  But experiencing the increasing dark and heat under the accumulating cloths had also reminded her of being in a sweat lodge. At this point she got up, and left the room rather quickly, perhaps to have a good cry.

We dispersed with our thoughts and emotions as well, just to reassemble outside and walk the 3.7 kilometres to Thunderbird House where feasting and ceremonies continued. It was clearly an important spiritual event for the Indigenous participants, and I appreciated the Grand Chief’s call to making new beginnings at all levels of society.

As I walked from the event to catch a bus back home, the woman respondent who had choked out a one sentence response during the stick ceremony came alongside me. She shared how emotional the ceremonies in Thunderbird House had been for her. We chatted about the event and about our mothers. I shared how I was now connecting my learning about our history with the residential schools with my love for my grandchildren. We shared comments about the freeing power of forgiveness.

At this point she trusted me with the story she couldn’t share during the ceremony, of becoming a mother, and having her five children ripped from her home by Child and Family Services. She left me with this comment, “How can I forgive when CFS robbed me of my motherhood?”

How indeed? May the Creator’s healing touch also find her, and help her find joy in her Grandmotherhood.  And may the Creator help me faithfully share the story with which she trusted me.

Posted in Abuse survivors, Clothing, Cross cultural faith community, Hope, intergenerational, Lament, Parenting, Senior Spirituality, Truth and Reconciliation Commision, Women's concerns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Choosing Brave Over Braced: Living As If My Life Depended on It

An interesting blog post on living with poultry and with danger? Do you live braced or brave? I think I live in between.

Choosing Brave Over Braced: Living As If My Life Depended on It.

Posted in Confession, Creation Care, freedom, Living with risk, spirituality, Women's concerns | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment