Monday, May 11, 2020

Three Ideas on Mother's Day

There are so many things I could put into a blog post for Mother's Day. Memories of Mom-Eva, thoughts of love and gratitude for Mom-Ruthie (the best second mom ever) and Mom Martin (the best mom-in-law ever), funny sayings and exasperating moments arising from life with my offspring back when I was a young mother, lovely ways that my now-adult children are rising up and calling me get the picture.

                               Photo Credit: Ken Martin

While there is certainly ample fodder for all those things, I'm not going there in this post. I've decided instead to share a few things a mother or a teacher (or, really, anyone who influences young people in some way) can impart to children.

Among the habits and abilities one could pass along to children, there are certain skills that I think are beneficial for any young person to carry with them into adulthood - handy tools to pull out of one's carpenter apron in life, as it were. Here are three of them:

Skill #1. How to begin and maintain good conversation.
As an adult, one will likely encounter many situations in which steady and meaningful conversation is welcomed, if for nothing else but to override swallowing noises of guests at a Sunday dinner table, as my mom used to say. It can be of great benefit to have two or three conversation starters to pull out of one's bag to get things started. And just a hint on that - something I heard a long time ago and makes total sense to me: It is better to ask someone what they like about a thing, rather than if they like a certain object or situation. You'll be able to maintain a conversation much longer, for instance, if you ask a scholar "What do you like about school?" rather than "Do you like school?" Or, more appropriately for the season: "What do you like about your mother?" instead of "Do you like your mother?"

Skill #2. Knowing what to do when you're bored.
The current lockdown aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought out the boredom feature of everyday life in many a household. What better time is there than now for honing the skill of coping or even thriving when bored? "Go read", "Here, I'll give you a chore to do", "Let's play a guessing game" were some of my mom's responses when I or one of my siblings posed the question of "I'm bored - what can I dooooo?" These suggestions join a host of possible ways to occupy one's body and mind in a meaningful way during a time of potential drudge and laziness. Learning to recognize the onset of boredom and knowing how to implement such boredom busters as reading, doing crafts, working on a project, engaging in hobbies, playing board games, writing, doing jigsaw puzzles, etc. is a skill worth developing. And, if all else fails, one can always resort to playing with words!

Skill #3. The habit of writing things down.
There are ever so many good uses for knowing how to process, clarify, record, document and remember something by writing it down. The older we grow, the more we realize that we will tend to forget the details of life happenings if we don't write them down as soon as possible after they happen. Journaling is a great way to practice this skill and one can begin it already at a young age. Making lists, using a planner, taking notes, and recording data are other great habits to develop along the writing lines. My sisters and I used to chuckle at our mom's propensity for splashing the name and date in magic marker seemingly on every gift or item she purchased, but now we find ourselves doing similarly. Is this for nostalgia's sake, or did her writing habits rub off on us? Even though she's been gone 25 years now, I keep thinking of things she taught me that I want to always remember, and to pass on to my children. Perhaps I'd better go write them down!

Are there things you would add to this list? What do you consider essential skills to pass on to the younger people in your life?

Thursday, April 30, 2020

May I Wash Your Feet?

This week I read a blog post by a friend of mine who is a nurse. She wrote about foot-washing and other foot care for the elderly as an aspect of caregiving. Reading her words reminded me of the foot-washing practice our church observes following Communion in a service we hold semi-annually.

And then it hit me – we likely won’t be having Communion and Foot-washing this spring. At least, “not in the normal way”. (which is becoming a very normal COVID-19 add-on to plans and clarifier to statements these days)

Quite possibly, this season I won’t be able to take part in foot-washing – that tangible act we do, symbolizing humility and servanthood to our sisters in Christ. I won’t be able to kneel down and physically touch my sister’s feet, or to rise and embrace her after she has washed mine. And this at a time when we are perhaps more than ever longing to be in person with people we love. Social distancing is also touch distancing us.

Sister, I don’t want to grow out of touch with you. May I wash your feet here?

I am kneeling, in a bowed down position to serve you. You, seated on a chair facing me, offer me your foot by lifting it just above the basin of water that is between us.

Did I see you hesitate a bit? Maybe your feet are ticklish. Maybe your feet are bigger than everyone else's and the embarrassment of having someone else see them up close almost kept you from joining the line of foot-washers. Maybe it just plain makes you squirmy inside to think of allowing another to handle a low-ly part of you, your sole.

But you offer me your foot anyway. I reach for it, and cradle it in my left hand while using my right hand to dip down into the water. I hope that the church trustees, when they readied the basin, have made the water not too warm and not too cool for your foot’s comfort. I cup some water in my right hand and bring it up to the top of your foot. I gently release the water through my fingers and it runs down over your foot and back into the basin.

I notice your foot shape is different than mine. Your toes sort of curve in over each other while there are significant gaps between mine. I recognize the signs of wear, though, in several places, and there at the edge of yours, I see a blister. Looks like you’ve been on a hard road these past weeks. Or is it months, now? I notice a scar on top of your foot. Maybe you’ve had surgery in that spot, or maybe it’s a rather knobby line of skin that’s grown over an injury you sustained there long ago.

Perhaps we would talk a long time about these things if we stayed like this, you holding the stillness and me holding your sole. But the last of the water slides off your foot into the basin and I let go. My hands reach for the towel I’ve laid at my waist. Both hands outstretched under the towel, I cup the cloth for you at the side of the basin.

You place your dripping foot on my toweled hands and I begin to wipe it dry. Pardon my awkwardness, I think, as I try to dry every inch, from the back of your heel to your tips of toes, and between.

You rest your newly washed and dried foot on the floor and we both sort of swing back to the basin as I prepare to wash your other foot. I repeat the bowing, the bending, the leaning, the cradling, the dipping, the releasing, the gently rubbing dry.

Then we trade places. Now I’m the one seated and you are facing me, stooped low and towel-girded. I feel bad that my feet are the ones you ended up having to wash. I reluctantly offer them to you as they are, bare and veiny. I hope you don’t see the brown cracks in my heels where I tried to scrub the earth marks out but they wouldn’t erase.

But you seem to overlook the ugliness – an ingrown toenail that I tried to repair myself, that weird bony bump close to my big toe, the calluses ridging up thickly along the edges of my feet. I pray they don’t also smell of sweaty shoes.

You reach out and receive my feet, these losers at beauty, and draw them toward the water with your servant hands. I watch the liquid from your cupped hand spill over my skin and fall back into the basin. You graciously dip up another handful for good measure.

Then you, too, reach out to wipe my damp and glistening feet in the unfolding of your towel. You are careful to absorb every drip of water with a methodical but gentle rubbing of my feet with the white terrycloth.

You finish drying my feet and you wipe your hands on the same towel you have used on my feet. You stand at the same time I rise from sitting. Facing each other, we draw close and give each other a quick embrace.

You whisper in my ear that my servanthood in daily life inspires you. I find myself protesting inwardly. Stop! If you had heard me snap at my husband and yell at my children this morning as we rushed to get out the door. If you would know how I envy you your confidence in a crowd. If you would see me grimace with impatience when the neighbor lady phones me for the third time in a day. If… you wouldn’t say those words!

But you have said them, and you seem to mean them. I lean forward and give you a quick little extra squeeze. “I’m so glad you’re a sister in my family,” I say.

And I really mean it.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Right up front, I'll tell you this post is not as serious as the ones in my latest blog series, nor is it as impacting a post as our current pandemic situation warrants. Perhaps you should read it only if you're needing a brief and inconsequential diversion to help you ward off claustrophobia, or put off closetcluttermustgobia, or some such.

Okay, now that my disclaimer is out there, here is where the real post starts:

I suppose one of the things that causes the in-laws in our family of Kenites the most eye-rolling is the way we say words in weird ways around here.

This often happens at the table. We say things like "I'll take the VANilla eye creams" sounding like we want some sort of balm for the headlights on our van when all we really wish is for someone to pass the vanilla ice cream as opposed to passing us the Cookies 'n Cream flavor.

Or we might mention something about having "some of that snake, too" which everyone knows means the family member addressed may leave the box of crackers and the package of cheese slices out on the counter as snack options for other family members to partake of, and in no way refers to sharing reptile appetizers all around.

We have various ways of weirding our words. Often it involves changing the vowel sounds - flattening the curve of the breve to a macron, as it were, over the vowels in a word, or the other way around. That's how snack becomes snake, and reach can be pronounced retch. (Gross, I know!)

Sometimes it's spoonerizing a phrase (or is that roonerspizing?) such as calling a bunny rabbit a runny babbit. Or when you want to go take a shower, it's just as easy to tell someone "I'm gonna go shake a tower."

Other times, the words we use sound similar to the words we wish to say, but they actually add a bit more meaning, such as how you feel about the texture of certain foods. Saying squish for squash is a classic example in this category.

Occasionally, a certain term will come into our family's use because of a mistake someone made with a word, and then that misused word becomes the norm. An example of this is when we call lunch, lancha, referring back to a time when we were in Guatemala on a family trip. A Spanish fellow wanted us to buy tickets for a ride in his boat (lancha), and one of our family members thought the guy was talking about lunch, so he replied, "No thanks, I just ate."

Sometimes we think the accent of someone is intriguing or endearing, and so we copy their way of saying words once in awhile. In this regard, ketchup may get pronounced as ketchoop, cereal gets said sir-yull rather than seer-ee-ull and a wolf becomes a woof.

Why do we do this? For one thing, we can't help it. I think this word-wackying, so to speak, is hereditary. Our children probably picked it up from Ken and me and before that, the two of us probably learned the art from our families of origin. I know I inherited the gene from my dad as much as any of my relatives. He's famous for word-varying, especially with names. Among his grandchildren for instance, Ricky became Rickles and then Wrinkles, and Heidi was referred to as Heidi-go-squeaky.

I wasn't surprised when my children began showing signs of word-changing capability among themselves because pronunciation-altering was common among me and my sibs as I was growing up, too. Again, phrase enhancement seemed to concentrate in the kitchen. I remember that for us girls, wipe the table became wip the tabloid. Wipe the highchair morphed into whip the hitcher. Such craziness!

Why did we do it? For one thing, it added interest and pizzazz to ordinary objects and tasks. For another, we were learning skills to hone over the years and pass on to the next generation - no matter where you are, no matter what the amount of potential boredom around you, no matter how much you lack entertainment equipment, you can always use your brain to play games. You will never run out of options with words.

But now, I'm wondering if we were/are just weird. And if so, are we alone in our quirkiness. Recently Kerra asked if we are the only family to say words wrong and I join her in the questioning.

Are we?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID-19 Card-a-Day Series Wrap-up

I shall wrap up this series with a list involving a few numbered points:

1. While on a walk in Kitchener today, I was delighted to discover that we have blooming trees in our region already this spring. The purple azalea-type tree pictured above was found in Victoria Park. I took the following pics while I was on the Iron Horse Trail near the Park. The Trail is perfect for hiking and biking, with its wide, paved pathways. 

2. Below is the answer to yesterday's mystery photo. I hope you never get it.

3. It goes without saying (such an interesting expression, since people using it always go ahead and say it anyway) that this year Easter will be different than normal. While we won't get to keep many of our annual Easter traditions, we can rejoice that the true meaning of Easter will never change. We won't be restricted in worshiping our Resurrected Savior this year; in fact, we can go ahead and celebrate with more abandon. 
With that in mind, it seems very trivial and irreverent to wish you a Bear-y Happy Easter. It was good to do some special baking today, though, and made life seem a little more normal. 

4. I will end with a question for discussion: Is embarrassment a choice? As in, when you do something stupid or inept or irresponsible in front of other people, can you choose whether you get embarrassed about it, or does embarrassment just simply arrive, and you have to figure out how to cope, or what to do with it? 
In this household of three people, one person thinks you can choose whether or not to let it embarrass you and two people think it is not a choice. What do you think? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Card #19 and Last in a COVID-19 Card-a-Day Series

Verse for the Day

Jude 24 & 25 KJV “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Song for the Day

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts is Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder past
It gives us inward pain,
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again...

~ John Fawcett

Song Suggestion: Picture hearts joining hearts at the Father’s throne of mercy as you sing this song.

COVID-19 Prayer Focus

Impatient Ones

We may put ourselves into this category as well as remembering others who are dealing with impatience during this COVID-19 crisis. As we ask Jesus “How long?”, we can keep our eyes on Him in confidence and trust. May we have courage to name our struggles and release them to Him, praying in the power of His Name!
God is to be adored for: Being our Future

Pic from Then

This photo documents one of the many games and activities our children engaged in over the years. It likely falls under the category entitled Invented by One of our Own. I’m sure I don’t have all the details straight on how to play this particular game, but I’m going to say they were having a contest to see who could hold up their arms the longest.
Let’s pretend that they are rooting for us all, raising their arms in triumph to say, “We are here supporting you. You are going to make it through the COVID-19 Crisis!”.
Pic from Now

Twenty of our orchard workers from Jamaica have arrived on our farms in the Vienna (Ontario) area. However, before they can begin pruning the trees or doing any other form of orchard work, they must self-isolate for two weeks. They each need to report their health status to Ken every day, and he keeps record on a chart. On the weekend, Ken received numerous texts and voice notes from the guys with their daily report, and I learned that they call him “Chief”. I like that! It also warmed my heart to discover that the Chief, after going over a long list of instructions and precautions with the guys the first morning they were here, offered to pray with them, which they gladly accepted. 
 Activity Idea

Today, take note of an object or something that signifies new life to you; something that gives you hope. If you wish, share it with the rest of us in the comments section below.

What is it?
Today’s mystery photo:

Answer to yesterday’s photo: A car key.

Note: As was mentioned yesterday, this is the last card in the COVID-19 Card-A-Day Series. Tomorrow, I plan to post the answer to Today’s Mystery Photo, and add a little something else. Perhaps a question for discussion that came up among us3athome recently, perhaps a tidbit of wisdom or encouragement I came across, that sort of thing. Then again, knowing me, it could easily be a photo or two…

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Card #18 of a COVID-19 Card-a-Day Series

An Important (perhaps) Notice: Today's card is the second to last one I will be publishing. I chose to end the series at 19 cards because of the number in COVID-19. My apologies to those readers who wish the series would go on and on. As well, my apologies to those who have just come to the blog series. (Maybe as recently as yesterday. Thanks to Katrina Hoover Lee for providing the link!) You could always go back to the beginning of the series and allow yourself the privilege of viewing one card a day, to get the effect... At any rate, I have greatly enjoyed designing these cards and sending them daily. I hope and pray we will all continue to be encouraged in the Lord as we wait out this pandemic.

Verse for the Day

Philippians 1:6 KJV “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Song for the Day

He Giveth More Grace

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

~ Annie J. Flint

Song Suggestion: Make a mental list of your “hoarded resources” as you ponder the words of this song. Open up your hands to heaven and picture the Father’s full giving come pouring down over you.

COVID-19 Prayer Focus

Those who were dealing with hardships prior to the COVID crisis

Today, let’s remember those who were facing difficulties in their lives before the pandemic – those for whom the COVID crisis has likely only increased or intensified their struggle. Here are some suggestions; you will know of individuals and groups of people to add to the list.
            Someone who has had a recurrence of cancer
            Those recently widowed
            Individuals dealing with the pain of past abuse
            Caregivers for ailing parents, spouses, handicapped children, and others with special needs
            Those coping with extreme anxiety               
God is to be adored for: His With-ness

Pic from Then

This photo of our four chilluns all together just makes me smile. I love the way Rolin is taking responsibility for his younger sibs by entertaining them with Amelia Bedelia, how dimple-grinning Ricky is balancing on the arm of the tippy rocker chair, how Kayleen is retaining her drink in her cheeks for the pose, how Kerra (did one of my babies really come with such dark hair?) is placidly being her sweet new self in her big brother’s care.
P.S. I also love the amazing adults these four have become.
Pic from Now

I’m sure that grandparenting from afar is hard. Being grandparents nearby but not being allowed to connect with the grandchild right now is difficult, too. I’m grateful for technology that allows us to see pics and videos of our grandson Seth, but I miss seeing him in person. It was so exciting to see him on Saturday when his family came for a short walk with us on our farm. Rolin & Joy and Seth walked on one side of the lane and Ken & I and Kerra walked on the other side, complying with the two-meters apart mandate. It was so great to visit with each other and watch Seth and laugh at his endearing expressions. But it was hard, too, to be so close but not be allowed to come any closer. At one point, it was all I could do not to go over to Seth, pluck him from his stroller and hold him close to my heart for a long time!     
 Activity Idea

Make a fun (or wacky) snack mix to share with someone. Some ideas for ingredients: raisins, mini Ritz crackers, chocolate chips, Bugles, pretzels, almonds, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, popcorn.

What is it?
Today’s mystery photo:

Answer to yesterday’s photo: Shoelace in a shoe grommet or eyelet.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Card #17 in a COVID-19 Card-a-Day Series

Verse for the Day

Proverbs 18:10 AMP “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs to it and is safe and set on high [far above evil].

Song for the Day

We Rest On Thee
(This hymn has the same tune as “Be Still, My Soul.”) 

We rest on thee, our Shield and our Defender!
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in thy strength, safe in thy keeping tender,
We rest on thee, and in thy name we go;
Strong in thy strength, safe in thy keeping tender,
We rest on thee, and in thy name we go.

Yea, in thy name, O Captain of salvation!
In thy dear name, all other names above:
Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love,
Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation,
Our Prince of glory and our King of love.

We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on thee, and in thy name we go”;
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
“We rest on thee, and in thy name we go.”

We rest on thee, our Shield and our Defender!
Thine is the battle, thine shall be the praise;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with thee, through endless days;
When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
Victors, we rest with thee, through endless days.

~ Edith Cherry

Song Suggestion: Make a list of all the names of God mentioned in this song. Some examples are “Prince of Glory” and “Defender”. Consider adding to your list throughout the day as you hear or read other names of God.

COVID-19 Prayer Focus

The Anxious

Today, let’s bring our own anxieties to the Father and place (or heave, or wrench, as the case may be) them into His keeping. Also, pray for the anxious people you know and those you don’t know. Maybe they are worried about:
            Getting very sick with the virus
            Being laid off their work
            Spiralling into depression
            Not being able to cope well with cancellations (and the unknowns of how long this era of cancellations will last)
            How many more changes will come their way
God is to be adored for: His Calm  

Pic from Then

I used to get my children to help “turn the crank” and “plunge the apples (or tomatoes)” when I made applesauce or tomato juice with my Victorio strainer. When possible, we’d do the messy process outside on the deck, where the floor and equipment could easily be cleaned up afterward by spraying it off with the garden hose. Judging by the degree of my children’s bundling up to help me in this particular instance, I was pushing the boundaries for deeming it suitable weather to do the job outdoors! 

Pic from Now

I was intrigued with this quilt sign we saw at the head of a trail we hiked in St. Jacob’s on Saturday. The quilt pattern is designed with marbles strategically placed in a metal framework full of holes.
 Activity Idea

Count the number of different kinds of birds you see today. Compare your number with someone else’s.

What is it?

Today’s mystery photo:

Answer to yesterday’s photo: Toyota symbol.