Jesus is near the brokenhearted. Ashley graciously shares her story of loss and reminds us what matters most as parents.
As some of you know, I have gone through every mother’s worst fear. On June 2nd, I lost my youngest son in a horrible car accident. I was driving. I had pulled away from a gas station, checking each buckle, and I began to drive the curvy, mountainous road to my family’s house. My son was notorious for doing everything he could to unbuckle in the car (“The Flash doesn’t wear a seat belt, and I’m the Flash, mama”) We tried five point harness seats, boosters, I believe even zip ties at one point (probably not safe either) but he always viewed it as a superhero challenge. He was a superhero because he always succeeded.
On average, I would usually pull over three or four times on any given trip to firmly make him buckle up again. We were only five minutes out when a large rock rolled into my lane. I had three choices: try to straddle the rock, move to the oncoming lane which was a double line large curve with an angry river at the other side. Rock, head on collision, river. I chose the rock. I chose wrong. And yes, he had already unbuckled along with his 8 year old brother. (They were switching spots and I didn’t know.) The rock hit my axle, and sent us plummeting into the side of a cliff.
Our 13 passenger van rolled and my son was instantly gone. Our lives were instantly ripped apart. The little boy who had been my pride and joy was cruelly taken from me in a matter of seconds. I remember being … Continue Reading
Growing up, my sister and I giggled over a “super-weird” television commercial—A sexy blonde supermodel belted the praises of a perfume that unleashed superwoman abilities. Evidently Enjoli enabled looking glamorous and working round the clock. Shimmying across the screen, the woman exuded energy for bringing home a paycheck, reading to the kids, and giving her husband a great time in bed:
To this day, the thought of an eight-hour perfume to support a twenty-four hour professional and domestic life exhausts me.
What about sleep? Friends? Recreation? Ministry? Vacation? Fun?
Does successful womanhood really hinge on looking glamorous and flawlessly managing it all?
What about when kids vomit in the car? Or when the dog eats a poisonous slug and gets the trots in the house? What about when work deadlines collide with the chaos?
Through years of juggling domestic and professional work, I continue questioning the notion of finding balance between the two. My experiences look less like juggling and more like hopping roller coasters in a theme park. Doing everything at once might work for others, but it’s never workedfor me.
I grapple with the disparity between my ideals and what is and is not humanly reasonable or possible. I stumble over the fact that I don’t have enough time, energy, and inclination to do everything that society says a woman should do. At forty-five, I’m done trying to look sexy on top of it all.
Although I gravitate toward perfectionism and people pleasing, I’m learning to embrace my limits. … Continue Reading
In the masterfully crafted expressions of the palate, passion, and creative vision of an inspired chef, I’ve grown to appreciate cooking as an art form. One of the great aspects of living in an ethnically diverse neighbourhood is that it’s easy to discover new food experiences created by chefs inspired by traditions from around the globe.
I’m a foodie (not a chef), and yet I love the challenge that comes with recreating in my kitchen the world of flavours I discover in unique dishes that arrest my palate. But before I attempt to prepare any dish that takes me beyond the scope of my culinary competence, I glean insight through conversation with people who do cook and eat a particular dish on a more regular basis than myself. I research its peculiar spices, exotic ingredients, cooking methods, recipe variations, garnish and presentation, tips and techniques, even proper equipment and utensils. But it’s not my new steamer that has now perfected my Lo Bak Go (Chinese Turnip Cake).
I’ve learned the wisdom in following instruction, but I’ve also come to understand that perfecting a dish is a process of study, application, and fine-tuning until the culinary masterpiece I’m aiming for takes shape. As with every human endeavour, proficiency comes through our decision to actively and continuously engage in the learning process.
Different seasons in our walk with the Lord take us through grounds of different Christian communities, giving us valuable experience in fields of Christian service that although are diverse in culture, tradition and practice, all hold to “Statements of Faith” clarifying Christianity as based on the supreme and final authority of the divinely inspired and inerrant Word of God – the Holy Bible.
Do you know that the Samaritan woman by the well is one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible (hint: she wasn’t a prostitute)? The publisher has generously agreed for me to offer a free copy of the chapter I wrote on her in Strengthening Families and Ending Abuse. See details below.
Story of A Samaritan Outcast
The woman didn’t mind coming to the well in the middle of the day. It mattered little that the sun burned like a hot coal in the sky. Other women came at the end of day when it was cooler. She figured that coming in the middle of the day was better than enduring the cold stares of the pious women who waited turns to lower their buckets into the deep waters of Jacob’s well. Not even a cool pot of water in the middle of the desert was worth their silence and condescending eyes.
As the Samaritan woman approached the well, she thought of her ancestor Jacob seeing Rachel for the first time. She liked imagining his giddy stare as he watched Rachel lower and raise her bucket of water. She liked thinking that a man could love a woman so much that he would want her to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
Mount Gerizim rose in the distance. Moving toward the well, she noticed a Jewish man resting. Thoughts stirred in her mind: Why was a Jewish man traveling through Samaria when other Jews traveled around it? Why was he lingering at the well when everybody knew that only morally reprehensible women drew water in the middle of the day? Tentatively she approached the stone mouth of the well. She suspended the pot over the dark hole, and pretended not to notice the man watching as she extended the rope from one hand through the other.
“Give me a drink,” the man said.
She caught her breath and looked up. Beads of sweat ran down his face and neck. Astounded, she … Continue Reading
“Who is your favorite author?”I always love that question. It takes a nanosecond for me to think of Frederick Buechner. Recently, Brian Allain, Founding Director of the Frederick Buechner Center, invited me to share some thoughts about Mr. Buechner and his work. Today Fred Buechner celebrates his 90th birthday. Happy birthday, Mr. Buechner!
BA: As you know, Frederick Buechner will soon be turning 90 years old – is there anything you would like to wish him for this great milestone?
AB: Mr. Buechner, thank you for teaching me and countless others to “listen to life.” We are indebted to you for reminding us to listen to God speaking “through the fathomless quiet of the holy place within us.” Thank you for urging us to touch, taste, smell our way to the holy and hidden heart of life because, as you have written, “in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” Today I celebrate your life! Thank you for being a wise and winsome guide. I wish you a joyful 90th birthday.
BA: Thank you very much. I’m sure Mr. Buechner will greatly appreciate hearing from you. Next can you tell me how you first learned about Mr. Buechner?
AB: I discovered Mr. Buechner’s work fifteen or so years ago when I lived in Boston, and had the great experience of hearing him preach at Trinity Church. Mr. Buechner told the mesmerizing story of a little girl in a Christmas pageant who didn’t like that the bigger kids, jockeying for the front and center position, were blocking her view of Jesus. He described the small girl electrifying the entire church when she cried out in a voice shrill with irritation and frustration and enormous sadness at having her view blocked, “Let Jesus show!”
When life is complicated, and I can’t figure out the right answers, or what I’m supposed to be doing, I think about this story. I can’t say how many times I’ve thrown up my arms to God asking for help to: “Let Jesus show.” … Continue Reading