Going Grey – The End of a 2-Year Experiment

Yesterday, royal watchers celebrated the 63rd anniversary of the Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. 63 years ago, HMQ first took her oath to uphold the laws of England and of God and to profess the true gospel. Then a crown was placed on her head, symbolising the  honour and authority bestowed upon her.

Today, there’s another, less famous celebration of a crown of another sort, the second anniversary of growing out my grey hair. It all started with a tenacious little Bible verse that I couldn’t get out of my head.

Grey hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.
Proverbs 16:31 (NIV)

I wondered what I was missing by covering a physical trait that the Bible deemed honourable. I decided to carry out a two-year experiment to understand better both our cultural views and Biblical truth about grey hair by growing out mine.  Continue reading

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42 years to learn

22 truths that took me 42 years to learn… and, by all projections, a lifetime to perfect:

1. Get your sleep, eat well, go for a walk. These are the best first steps to solving what ails you. If nothing else, it puts your mind in a better place to tackle the problem(s).

2. Pay attention to the words of those who stammer, stutter or blush because they are spoken with courage.

3. Embrace your tears. Those who know me know I cry almost daily. One friend has taken to calling me “Tina Tears.” Their involuntary appearance STILL takes me by surprise and, truthfully, sometimes embarrasses me. But I’ve learned to welcome them. I was marked with them in my early 20s when I received Christ. In welcoming these tears, I’ve discovered that they are a good gift. Tears detect beauty, break down walls, open the heart, and speak grace. They adjust my eyes to see what Jesus wants me to see. When your tears make a surprise appearance, acknowledge this good gift.

4. Welcome interruptions. Like tears, most gifts from God are not the things we planned or expected. The things that were/are an interruption in my life: my husband, my kids, my friends, and, well, 42 showed up kind of suddenly…  I can’t rightly say what good thing in my life wasn’t born out of interruption, even the things which initially seemed troubling. So welcome it all as God’s benevolence.

5. Banish offence. I believe it is possible to live a victorious life if we rid ourselves of offence. To qualify the term, I’m referring to when someone insults you either directly or indirectly, whether real or perceived. Root it out with prayer, kill it with kindness, walk through life unscathed and free.

6. Love others by keeping a record of rights. We know from 1 Corinthians 13 that when we keep an account of offences it is unloving behaviour. We like to either hold onto our offences and nurse them and/or throw them at others like a weapon once we’ve accumulated a good number of them. Is it possible to love by keeping track of, placing importance on, and speaking of the good things we see in others? I tried it. Suddenly, my husband is the most interesting man in the world, my kids are angels, I love Monday mornings, I have the best friends a girl could ask for, and I am saying hello to strangers on the street.  Gratitude is the outcome when we keep track of the good things.

7. Practice good gossip. Get caught talking well about other people. (That Karen is so amazing. Bob sure throws a great party. Don’t you just LOVE our pastor? And so on.) Start a new trend in the workplace, build the joy in your home, revitalize your church through good gossip.

8.  Asking for help is an act of generosity. Be specific with your needs and those who love you will thank you that you’ve let them in.

9. “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.” Guidelines for life and social media from Romans 12:15-16.

On parenting (teens)

10. “Good for you!” “Use your words,” and “Play nicely” remain solid parenting principles well into the teen years.

11. Your teens actually do want to spend time with you. Force adventures on them, even if they resist. Do things together that make you hold your breath, use your muscles, tempt fate (within reason), laugh out loud. You’ve all just received a shot of perspective and joy. Now repeat.

Cockram Family Adventure

12. You are the boundary your teen needs to push against. Confirm for your teens that their home is a place where are they are safe to wrestle and doubt. Parents, this is Part II of your labour pains. There will be great rejoicing at the end of it.

13.  Parents of teens, you will need to add a sense of humour to your arsenal. No doubt about it, your kids will laugh at you, but if you join in, it means they are laughing with you.  Believe me, they’ll show you just how funny you didn’t know you are!

On marriage

14. Making the bed together is the best first thing to do each day. Bravo, you’ve accomplished something together. Now go, rock this day. It’s the two of you against the world. I also highly recommend unmaking it together at the end of the day, if you catch my drift…

15.  Dissatisfaction is never the other person’s fault, it belongs to you. Once you identify this truth, you can save/build/enjoy your marriage by ending the blame cycle and attending to the necessary changes in your own heart.

16. This one is for the wives. I’ve learned this little tip over time. (Don’t tell J-M, but it works like a charm). Whatever question you want to ask of your husband, ask it three times.  This is what it takes to get: 1) his attention, 2) the jokes out of the way, and 3) his real response. Try it and report back to me. We might be onto something.

17. Lighten up. If I may generalize, I think this is one of the brilliant things a man adds to a marriage – an easy going perspective. Women can place such importance on their deep thoughts and over-processing the minutiae.  If men and women are polar opposites in their thinking, perhaps the truth can be found in the happy medium. Emphasis on the happy.

On Faith

18. Faith is our spiritual muscle we must activate and exercise or else we become ineffective and unproductive. Train like an athlete. Digest good nutrients (truth). Work it off with strength training (service). Don’t get spiritually obese by only taking it in and never putting it to use. Don’t run yourself dry by always serving and never replenishing your reserves. And, just as importantly, rest once a week.

19. Worship God completely. Like, use every part of you – your voice, your strong legs, your wingspan, your thoughts, your heart, your eyes, your touch, your gut – to love and praise him. Discover how he wants to heal and restore every inch of you.

20. Thank God for the activists. They increase our proximity to the heart of God. They help us see and love the poor, the needy, the abandoned, the destitute, the lonely. So next time you see an activist coming, don’t squirm in your EZ chair, receive their good intentions and consider how you might take action with them.

21. Trade in Karma for Grace. Jesus paid what you owe. Best deal ever.

Final Word (For Now)

22. Seek after beauty. I have spent the past two years trying to understand what beauty is, where it comes from, where it can be found, who owns it. I can say with great joy that there are very real answers to these important questions. They all lead to a Creator God who decided that beauty is the way in which he would communicate his message of love and truth.  Look for beauty, find God.


Related Post: 40 years to learn

40 years to learn

There’s less than one week till my 40th birthday. Oh, have I mentioned that already? Well, anyway, it’s on Friday, October 25th. I’ll give you a moment to mark it on your calendar.

I’m making a big deal of it. Since the beginning of the month I’ve been talking about it all over the place, reminding my friends and family daily about this upcoming milestone. Perhaps over-celebrating it will reduce the impact when those big numbers – in Roman numerals that’s XL – actually hit.

Physically, I’m noticing my age. Not just on the surface, like wrinkles and age spots, but functional things like failing eyesight and a chronically sore left knee.

But I’ve recently come to view the aches and pains not as a sign of what’s to come, but as the sign of transition. This is what trade-off feels like. Wisdom for beauty via pang, spasm and twinge. And that’s when I realized that I am going to be A-OK with 40.

Because (a) I never had this beauty thing down, certainly not in my teens.

Grade 10

Follow along the full #theawkwardyears series on Facebook!

And (b), I was a foolish young woman with regrettable behaviour. It’s taken me 40 years to learn some very important things, things I wouldn’t trade for the world. And they’ve come with age and most often they’ve come via heartache. Strangely, it’s resulted in a gift worth more to me than gold and I wouldn’t give it up for minimized pores or rocking skinny jeans.

At 40, I understand I get to be obnoxious, correct? So indulge me as I share 20 things that took me 40 years to learn. 20 things I didn’t know at 20… because I hadn’t yet had the full experience of it (which can mean doing it the wrong way one or a few times).

On Friendship

1. Life is meaningless without friendship. Therefore, work to keep the friends you have (especially your family) and be a friend to those who need one.

17877_430546365446_200261_n2. Do not fear conflict. When addressed properly, it has the potential to deepen your friendships.

On Marriage

3. .Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’ve won. I’ve bolded that because this was the biggest lesson I’ve ever learned – which cleansed our marriage – with a fantastic back story of turmoil and tension and those words coming from John-Mark’s mouth toward me. My insistence on being right (and trying to correct what was “wrong” in him) almost tore our marriage apart. It is much preferable to win in marriage than to be “right.”

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4. A nap is often the best remedy for an argument. If you feel grumpy, critical, negative, go to bed already, then we’ll talk. Again, J-M’s words to me.

On Church and Ministry

5. Church can be so very ugly… and breathtakingly beautiful. On this side of eternity, it’s a holy mess. But at its best it’s a foretaste of heaven.

6. The key to loving the church is realizing that we are the church.

7. Hope for everything, expect nothing. Hope keeps you encouraging, challenging, and loving others.  Having no expectations takes the weight off your shoulders and keeps you from taking it personally when others have their own unique journey of faith…

8. Use your gifts. God has equipped believers in a unique way to be a part of the church. How thrilling when you discover that he can use you. Also, let others use their gifts. Sometimes stepping away from ministry so that others can step in is the right decision.

On Faith

9. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.  There is nothing you have done that (a) he doesn’t already know about; (b) he won’t forgive.

10. There’s no more important thing to learn than forgiveness. God has forgiven you, you must forgive others. Walk in it, practice it daily. How about this – PRE-forgive! This is love.

11. We need others on this pilgrim’s progress – the faithful, the hopeful, the charitable – to teach us, to make the load lighter and the journey a joy. To seclude yourself is to weaken your faith.

12. God’s promises are not the mantra of the happy, they’re the lifeline for the suffering.

On Parenting

13. Neglect produces independence. Let me qualify this tongue-in-cheek statement – it’s about life skills. Let’s say that you forget to make your child’s lunch one day, they will most likely choose to make it themselves the following day.  If you don’t pack their favourite PJs for their sleepover party, they’ll want to do it themselves next time. If they run out of underwear because you haven’t yet done the laundry, they may choose to learn. HYPOTHETICALLY of course.

14. Never refuse a request for a hug from your child. Never, never.  You can’t over hug. Drop everything to give the hug. And force hugs on them from time to time, even when they don’t want them.

61911_10152334595785492_1861113051_n15. One’s role as parent has a progression from protector, to teacher, to coach, to friend. Try not to put these in the wrong order.

16. Your example will be the most powerful lesson for your kids, so love well, fight fair and make your bed too.

On Truth

17. In order for truth to be the strongest voice in your head, immerse yourself in it. Preferably daily.

On Work

18. You must put your time in the trenches. The most mundane task, done well, leads to growth and opportunity. Everything is useful.

On Decision-Making

19. Never make a decision based on fear or solely on money. That is for those who feel they have no choice. One’s choices should be life-giving.

AND FINALLY (FOR NOW)

20. Stay curious. It is the remedy to many things, such as boredom, ignorance, and self-consciousness, to name a few.

***

Of course there’s a whole bunch more, like HAVE FUN, READ LOTS, GET REST, TRAVEL, but I’ve got my forties to beat you over the head with them. ;)

And so, believe it or not, despite my ranting, I’ve come to appreciate 40. Not because it’s “fabulous” or “the new 30.” Because it reveals a gift, given through the fine lines and grey hairs. There is great value in them.

Although… I’m still inclined to cover up the evidence.

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Fasting and praying – second last day

I watched my family eat the perfect summer meal tonight: hot dogs, chips, and fresh veggies.  The smoky smell made my tummy rumble and I had a small temptation when Sophia enthusiastically enjoyed her first taste experience with snow peas from the Farmer’s Market… and Mallory didn’t want hers.  I normally would have snagged Mal’s up.  Yes! Mine! Called it!

Not this time.  No, I won’t play food sports tonight.  I’m a really good food athlete too, so that smarts.

Today’s the second last day of my fast. But really it’s my last day, since tomorrow’s Friday and I get to eat on Fridays, remember?  (Hey, they’re my rules to make!)  Strangely enough, as I wished to be eating with my family, I also thought, I’m going to miss this.

I’m going to miss this purposeful pursuit! I feel very blessed over these past few weeks because God has been so kind to give me insights into how he is working his will in my life.  He has given me peace that he is in control even if I can’t see this visibly yet.  Every time I open my Bible, he has entrusted me with new understanding about how His kingdom operates here on earth.  All powerful answers to my prayers on this 40-day fast.

More than anything else I have wanted wisdom from God. He promises it to those who ask!  In fact, this is a prayer I’ve been praying since I was a young girl and first read about King Solomon.

…the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

I’ve played this game before!  I wish for a million more wishes!

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

When I read this, I knew, in my heart of hearts, that Solomon had asked for the right thing.  What would God say?

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor —so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.

How wonderful!  Wisdom plus plus!  But I paused, thinking wisdom was way too easy to get!  What an awesome gift to have and all we have to do is ask?

In the book of James, it says, when facing trials and temptations, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Yes! Mine! Called it!


I’m excited to share the specifics, but I just rested my eyes for a minute and 10 slipped by unnoticed.  I probably should go to bed instead of writing 1,000 more words.  That would be wise.

Till Day 40 then.

Thinking through my response to KONY2012

The only chiming in I can do on KONY2012 is to pass along the wisdom of those with experience or understanding in the matter. I want to hear from people who have been on the ground and in the field for years. (Ideally, I’d like to hear from Ugandans or Africans.)

I found this post very helpful: On Kony and Viruses.  It is from the blog, Paradox Uganda, of Drs. Scott and Jennifer Mhyre who currently serve in Kenya, but lived for 17 years in Uganda. Their perspective is realistic and resonates deeply with me.

I will be walking through each point with my daughters, including: (a) what was great about the Invisible Children campaign; (b) what we have to be careful about; and (c) the problem with critics.  Our kids are watching how we respond to all of it.

Another great resource is this short sound bite interview of Eric Frans of World Relief who speaks with wisdom and love.  He gives us tools to move forward on the issue.

These guys know what they’re talking about.

According to Sophia

Dear Sophia,

I’ve had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with you over the last few days because you have pneumonia. The only thing cool about having pneumonia is the look of shock people give you when you tell them.  However, the shock is minimal as this is a common diagnosis these days.  Those bugs are getting stronger… But forget about the bugs, you just need to get stronger.

You’ve been spending your days doing these three things: staring, drawing in your journal, and sleeping. You made the unfortunate, though honourable, commitment to give up TV for lent.  Now that you find yourself with an ideal excuse to zone out in front of the boob tube (I only said that because it would make you giggle), you remain faithful to your promise.  No TV till Easter.

I’ve even tried to find loopholes for you.”Would you like me to put in a video?  That doesn’t count does it?”

“Don’t tempt me, Mommy!”

And then you take the angel wings off, when all that staring and sleeping gets you down, and you wonder out loud if it would be OK if it you just looked up a show on the computer?  “No!” you stop yourself, “never mind.”

Obviously, you’re doing some thinking while staring because every once in a while you come out with a very deep thought like, “If Beyonce tells her boyfriend, ‘don’t you ever for a second get to thinkin’ you’re irreplaceable,’ she probably shouldn’t be with him.  You should probably only date someone you think is irreplaceable.”  That’s heart-melting contemplation right there.

I remember when you were younger and you’d come up with the things you’d been thinking about, like “What happens when robots eat glass?”  Maybe not as sophisticated, but still deep thoughts for a young one.  Here’s the thing, I didn’t even KNOW robots ate glass!  You’re smart too!

Your name actually means Wisdom.  That was a pleasant surprise when we found out after you were born and named and registered with a Social Insurance Number.  I’m so glad we didn’t find out it meant “ill-fated,” like Desdemona, or “broken-hearted” like Dierdre. (I apologize to all Desdemonas and Dierdres.  Thankfully there’s always the “alternate meaning” option.)

When you were a toddler, I thought that maybe you were given this name because God knew it was what you needed to hear the most.  I was a little worried about your choices in years 2-6.  Those were the years that found you often in the waiting room of the urgent care clinic.  Not because you had pneumonia, but because you’d decided to run down a slide, jump off a high wall, race into traffic.  Oh Lord, this child is going to need Wisdom, I’d pray.

But as you started to develop your mind, I saw that you had it – and a good amount of it.  I also realized that we get the privilege of giving you that blessing every day, every time we speak your name.  Even your nickname, Fifi, also accidental and simply a product of who you are, means God increase.  So every time we call you by name or nickname we actually ask God to increase your wisdom.   My opinion on this is that it matters what we name our children, even if your father and I had no idea at the time.

But you’re not always full of profound thoughts.  You’re a ton of fun too.  Usually you’re the first one to engage in a playful activity.  You still love to jump and hop and dance.  Even though you’re a pre-teen, there’s still toddler in you.  This is why it is so hard to see you just lying there.  So I decided to help you become un-bored by asking your thoughts on a some things, just for the heckuvit.

Here’s what you said:

  • On Joseph Kony. I don’t really know his full story. But by the sounds of things, it seems like he should be executed.  If he makes other people kill other people, then he’s murdering.  But does that mean if he‘s executed the one who executed him is also murdering?
  • On Lucky Charms. They’re way too sugary, but that would never stop me from eating them.
  • On dating. Some people date too young, like that are my age and even younger!  It’s not like they’re going to get married or anything.  People do it just to seem like they’re cool, but they don’t seem like they’re cool at all.
  • On piano lessons. I feel that I shouldn’t quit, even though I get frustrated sometimes, because you guys pay a lot of money.  If I quit it would be a waste of money for all that time I’ve been doing piano lessons so far.  I do want to play piano, but sometimes I think I want to  quit just because I get frustrated.  That reason isn’t good enough.  When I hear Daddy playing it makes me want to play.
  • On her favourite colour, blue. It seems refreshing and happy.
  • On how not be bored when you can’t watch TV.  My favourite thing to do is colour and draw because it inspires me.  I get really excited about making art.  I don’t know how to explain it.
  • On what you want to be when you grow up. Fashion Designer, because it’s fun for me, like what I do in my fashion books. You get to use your imagination and it can be YOUR creation that someone is wearing.
  • On Mallory. I love her so bad.  Sometimes she bugs me, but it’s what a big sister does.
  • On Jesus. Everybody should know him and the love that he gives.
  • On being 11. I love it. I feel like I can still be an old kid and a young kid.
  • On being frustrated. I get frustrated when I’m overwhelmed with things I need to do and I feel I can’t finish any of it when I need to.  If I have a project, but also piano and homework and chores.  I get frustrated with myself. I feel like someone’s definitely going to be mad at me soon.
  • On what might frustrate others about herself. [long pause] Maybe if say something by accident that could offend somebody? Oh I know! If I get distracted when I need to do one of my jobs and they keep asking me and asking me to do my job.  That’s gotta be frustrating.

And now, Sophia, it’s the end of the day. You need to get your sleep after a long day of… sleep.  The antibiotics are kicking in and I’m looking forward to seeing that light come back in your eyes. We’ll see if we can come up with any un-boring things to do tomorrow.

Good night, Sweetie, and may God increase your Wisdom.

Love, Mommy


10 Random Things You Should Know About Sophia, According to Sophia

1. I like matching my jewellery with the shirt that I’m wearing every day, unless today. I’m sick.

2. I like being warm and cozy.

3. I hate the thought of taking a bath or shower, but once I get in I love it.

4. I love the muppets and I like to draw cartoons of them.

5. I don’t like to walk to school.  I have to wear my snow pants and trudge along, but they keep me warm.

6. I don’t like when our feather pillows, the feather sticks out and I put my face on it.

7. I don’t like it when at night, when we’re driving down a hill and a car is coming up and the lights blind me practically.

8. I like to sleep in, but I like to stay up late.

9. I love Hello Kitty.  I’m not sick of her yet.

10. I like doing my hair when it’s long.  Even though right now I can’t because it’s just plain short.