For Your Entertainment: A Story I Did Not Write

039Today we drove to St. Andrews and St. Stephen with our friend Miriam and had a wonderful day. While eating lunch in the Ganong Nature Park, our middle doodle (and only son) looked at this building  and asked, “Who’s house is that?”

Jonathan answered, “I don’t know. Let’s make up a story about it. I think it was the home of a Ganong Aunt, who would wander these trails seeking her only love who was lost at sea.”

Mackerdoodle: “And then, one day, he came back and found her, and brought her a special present.”

Cheesedoodle: “Her very own sea turtle.”

Miriam: “And she was very upset that it wasn’t a ring.”


A Break With Tradition

It is the beginning of 2015 and I have been in the habit of ringing in the New Year by posting a retrospective of posts from the past year. This year, however, is better remembered by the things I didn’t post than the ones I did. 

If I were to pick a single post from 2014 to summarize the year, I think it would be this one from last March in which I ask the question “How do homeschooling bloggers do it?” Every church to which we have belonged since 2004 has had a school, so I assumed that the pattern would continue. I never thought I would be educating my children at home, and I think much of 2014 has been a year of adjusting to that new reality, and realizing how often I had assumed I would have more time to write after Jonathan finished with seminary. Turns out that was a flawed assumption.

In the summer there was the garden to keep me busy, and then Jonathan was being examined and licensed by Presbytery and then he was installed as the minister. We bought a house and tore out the carpet and we’re still putting the floor back. More to do. No time to write.

In addition, in September I began working as an evaluator for Tree of Life school. I am grading seventh and eighth grade writing assignments, which is certainly not a stretch for me. Now, often when I pick up my computer thinking that I may carve out a minute or two for writing, I see Mike’s face in my head and hear him saying, in an excellent Ricky Ricardo accent, ” Coralie. you got some grading to do!” To be clear, he has never, ever said those words to me in any accent (including his own), but you get the idea. More teaching. Less writing.

2014 can best be remembered in the silence of the blog and how the Lord has been teaching me contentment with what is, not what I think it should be.

A Pity Party and a Pretty Party

I have been in a bit of a pity party lately. We’re rapidly approaching the anniversary of our mid winter, mid-blizzard move here to the frozen north, and that is a difficult time for me. All of the novelty of moving has worn off. You know where to buy tuna and tires and you have a general idea of where neighborhoods and major streets lie, but information transmits so much faster than relationships, and right about now I always remember that real friendships take about three years to form. Over the last two weeks I was feeling misunderstood, and unneeded and generally lonely as activity and life in the church seemed to pass me completely by.

Turns out, a few of the ladies were planning me a surprise 40th birthday party, four months after my actual birthday, because . . . SURPRISE. It was sweet and beautiful and Bob cooked piles of bacon, and there was a TARDIS card. It was pretty perfect.

One of my favorite families moved to Colorado this summer, and as I read about their journey into a new state, a new culture and a new season of their life, I was slapped past my pity party. I have been so blessed, as all pastoral families are, to be dropped into the midst of a church family who loves us, who wants us, and who is eager to begin building those friendships. Most people move somewhere without that head start to relationship building. To say that I have been lonely is to completely deny the overwhelming love and welcome we have received here. Sure I don’t have the depth of relationship with people that two more, or six more, or seventeen more years of living and serving and praying alongside folks will give me; but I have 11 months of relationship, and a surprise party, which is more than most people get 11 months after a move.

Kissing Frogs continues

This is the continuation of an ongoing fiction work I started years ago. If you want to read from the beginning, click “Kissing Frogs so Far” on the tab above the header.

Tracey got into her car, and smiled as she saw Joey’s truck parked at the far end of the parking lot, as if it was unsure of its role there. There was a brief resistance against her efforts to put the Jaguar in first gear, which served as a reminder that she may look like she belonged, but she was just her daddy’s guest, driving his cast off vehicle. The tears trickled down her cheeks and she wiped them away, angry at herself and angry at her circumstances.


Joanna was still at fight club, so Tracey decided to swing by the office to get some work done before facing her oldest, dearest, and much maligned friend. The building was quiet, and the sun was shining, and all of Tracey’s good intentions still found her banging a pencil eraser against a book manuscript as she re-read the same sentence for a fourth time. As Tracey bounced down the stairs, phone in hand, she said, out of habit, “Joanna, I’m going across the street for coffee.” The empty desk didn’t answer her.


Tracey discarded promotional e-mails and checked off her to-do list as she ordered her low-fat, sugar free, high octane mocha.




“Tracey”, she answered, without looking up. They would spell it wrong. They always did.




Joanna’s walk-up apartment always made Tracey feel slightly guilty. She was pretty sure she knew how much Joanna made, and she was pretty sure she could afford better, and for some reason that made Tracey feel . . .inadequate. She’d never had a name for it, but that was it. The opulence of Joanna’s simplicity made Tracey feel as if her home was compensating for a moral inferiority. She knocked anyway, and the grocery bag swung awkwardly from her elbow as she did.


“Come in, Tracey,” came the muffled reply from inside. Tracey steeled herself, then pushed open the solid metal door and breezed into Joanna’s little kitchen.


“Hi, Joanna. I brought you a steak for your bruises.” Tracey had barely set the bag down when Joanna whipped around the corner, grabbed the bag, and disappeared again.


“Hey. I was kidding. That’s an expensive steak.” Tracey stuttered to her friend’s disappearing back. She rounded the corner herself in to the living room to see Joanna, clutching the red meat to her face.


“But it was a gift, so use it as you see fit,” she trailed off, and then burst out, “Are you seriously holding that rib eye to a black eye? What happened?”


Joanna looked up at her oldest friend, and said, “Someone kicked a door.”


There was silence for a moment before Tracey responded, “You are trained in three forms of martial arts. You’re telling me you were taken out by a door?”


Joanna nodded, and the deep red of her exposed face was not entirely due to the red meat she was holding there. The two women looked at each other, and began to giggle. Soon neither of them could stand, they were laughing so hard.


When things settled down a little, Tracey took a deep breath and said what she had come to say.


“I’m sorry I was such a coward that I would rather alienate you than tell my boyfriend that you work for my dad.”


Joanna leaned back into her couch, the steak hiding her face and she said, “It’s O.K. We’re bigger than that.”

“But the thing is, we shouldn’t have to be. You don’t do these things to me, but I have been doing them to you since the ninth grade when I was too embarrassed to let anyone know I was living in your basement and you just let me walk three blocks and take a different bus. I’m sorry. I don’t know why you put up with me.”


Joanna laughed behind the steak.


“One day I will do something terrible. It is the nature of relationships. And then you’ll be the one on this side, being okay and forgiving me. Besides, I totally could have taken Faulkner.”


Tracey looked sideways at her friend and quipped, “Apparently not if he kicked a door.”


Both of the women burst out laughing again.

This is All New to Me

I grew up with snow. Despite my protestations about cold, I was born and raised a northern girl, and I have snow experience. I know how to get a truck out of a snow bank. I have been to bonfire/sledding parties. I have skated on lakes. I am not a stranger to this season we call winter.

I have never, however, experienced a first snowfall that lasted twenty-four hours and resulted in an accumulation of fourteen inches of snow until this week. It is like someone flipped a switch from “autumn” to “winter” and shouted “ready or not, here it comes.” Turns out, not ready.

This New Brunswick weather is all new to me. This is going to take some adjustment.

Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko

Ask most Christians if they have read the Psalms, they will answer, “Of course.” Many will even claim it to be their favorite book of the Bible, or a place of refuge in emotional struggle. Often if pressed, however, the truth revealed is that we have certain favorite Psalms to which we turn, repeatedly, but the book in its entirety is a mystery to us. One of the interesting things to remember about Psalms is that the order in which the psalms appear, and the headings of authorship and timing are all inspired. While God certainly intend that we read and sing individual psalms, he also intended that they be encountered in a specific order, and as a complete unit.

J.V. Fesko makes this point in Songs of a Suffering King: The Grand Christ Hymn of Psalms 1-8, and then walks through the first eight Psalms in an effort to encourage our further exploration of this wonderful book. Fesko operates on two theological premises. The first is that all of the psalms are about Christ and the second is that the psalms should not only be read, but also sung. In light of the second, he includes a metrical version of the Psalm in the study at the end of each chapter which he has selected from a variety of available Psalters. Having been introduced fairly recently to the practice of metrical Psalter singing, I think this idea of singing a psalm after having studied it would be a great way to re-introduce the practice to a contemporary church who has lost it.

Fesko’s studies of the psalms in question are both Christocentric, and rooted in the history from which the Psalm written. This is not a study of the form of Hebrew poetry or the literary qualities of the passages. These are moving exegetical studies that show us that the Psalms aren’t the biblical equivalent of pulling a security blanket over our heads.

I reviewed Fesko’s work  Christ and the Desert Tabernacle two years ago, and having now read this one, I am eager to read more of his books. He has the rare gift of being both pastoral and academic and he manages to help us find Christ in parts of scripture we don’t believe he can be found.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided a paperback edition for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one.

Book Review: Biblical Portraits of Creation by Walter C. Kaiser

I am behind on my book reviews. Apologies all around.

First up is Biblical Portraits of Creation: Celebrating the Maker of Heaven and Earth by Walter C. Kaiser. The study of creation is a controversial one and as is the case in controversy we are tempted to become polarized and tilt against the straw men of our perceived enemy rather than seek after truth. Walter Kaiser’s book cuts past that and goes straight to the source of truth: scripture.Biblical Portraits of Creation is an academic study of the whole of scripture. Kaiser digs deep into the text of not only Genesis 1 and 2, but also of wisdom literature, the prophets, and the New Testament to lay out a comprehensive study of what the entire counsel of scripture has to say about Creation. This is not a devotional, nor will you find any elaborate theories of dinosaurs, or diagrams of earth strata. Biblical Portraits of Creation instead explains how the Genesis creation account is foundational to and an interconnected part of the rest of scripture. It is designed, however, to be a study and each chapter ends with questions designed to aid in that pursuit.

Jonathan has been preaching through Genesis in our evening service, and he has said, repeatedly, if you get Genesis, you get the rest of the Bible. Kaiser’s study would be an excellent choice for a Sunday School class, or a small group who want to begin to see how that statement is true and want a chance to dig out the truth through some deep study of their own.

I received no compensation for this post. I was provided an electronic copy for the purpose of review. I was not required to provide a positive one.


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