Christmas Eve on the Side of the Road

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Our car waiting patiently for a new alternator.

 

Sitting on the side of the road in a car with a dead alternator sucks. 

Such was the Lenshyn family reality on a rainy Christmas eve.  It was cold, wet, and horribly frustrating as we sat in a dead car.  All we saw was the dollar signs it will take to fix our car troubles.   

After we made the call to family with an emphatic “help” our three year old began negotiating his release from the car seat.  Knowing our the hour long wait before us we said yes.  The last thing we wanted was a grumpy kid strapped to a car seat.

And so began a wonderful hour of sitting in a car with our boy.  He climbed, told us jokes, begged passing cars to stop driving, tried fixing our car with pretend Band-Aids, sang us a few songs, asked about the baby in his moms tummy and couldn’t wait to see his uncle Christ who was heroically driving out an hour out of his way to save us. 

I hate clichés.  They make me cringe.  For me to write that I found a simple meaning of Christmas on the side of the road in a dead car with my family sounds lame.  Yet it set off a chain of events that offered us love and support in the most practical of ways.  Ways that are radical when compared with the opposite.  We could have been sitting on the side of the road wishing we were loved. 

Our Christmas we great.  We didn’t miss a beat because people dare to love us.  May we be a people who love.   

I thanked Jesus for that hour.

How was your Christmas?

Beyond Mother’s and Father’s Day

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It is tremendously important that we celebrate motherly and fatherly love.  Simply put, our world depends on such a transcendent, empowering, grace-filled kind of love.

When people are loved they are in tune with what it means to be human.  People were created to love, and be loved.  When this does not happen it causes a deep pain that echo’s in an empty ‘un’loved soul.  People lose touch with their own humanity.

To publicly celebrate mother’s and father’s on their own special, single, days without acknowledging the pain these special, single, days bring to many is missing the point of what it means to be agents of God’s love and reconciliation.

Let us celebrate the love of mother and father, be humbled by the responsibility and hold in tension the pain these days hold for many.  The childless, the parentless, those who have lost mother’s and/or father’s, and the list goes on and on…

It’s a call for the community of God, the body of Christ to love as God loves.  To nurture the motherless.  To love those who have been abused by father’s.  To be an incarnate presence of shalom in the midst of pain.  That kind of love is vital to our common humanity.  It serves as a reminder that we cannot only think and act on this one day of the year! 

What does it look like to celebrate mother’s and father’s and hold in tension the pain these special, single, days hold for many?  How can we do this all year long?  How were you affected this mother’s or father’s day?

On Being a Dad

It is simply something that I felt compelled to write about being a father.

This is not a comprehensive list, nor is it a list that is intended to knock your socks off.  These are in no particular order.

1.  My son has introduced me to a new kind of love I never thought possible.  To be such an integral part of my son’s upbringing has caused me great joy, anxiety, sleepless nights, pain, hope, and all that comes with caring for someone more than anything else in this world.

2.  One of the greatest days in my life was when my son told me he loved me.  It sounded more like “I luh loo” but it was still beautiful.

3.  I don’t even mind listening to Raffi, or other super catchy kids music.  It’s worth it just to see how happy he gets.  Sometimes I catch myself listening to it when he isn’t even in the car because that’s what was in the CD player.

4.  I was kindly reminded the other day that I will never regret spending time with my family.  I will never look back upon life and say “gosh, I sure did spend waaay too much time with my son.”  In a seemingly ‘work hard, play hard’ world, this reminder becomes increasingly important.

5.  I’m terrified because I know I will make mistakes.

6.  The call to fatherhood is a divine calling.

7.  The new thing my son and I are doing is singing our ABC’s.  He gets about half of the letters right, but that’s ok because him doing it right isn’t the point.  The point is that we are singing it, and learning it together.

I love my boy and thank God for him every day.

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Five: Parenting @ the McDonald’s “Playplace” Jungle

It has become standard practice in the Lenshyn household that when I’ve been away for a weekend, which happens about once a month, I take my 2 year old son Asher out to McDonald’s for some ‘food’ and playtime in the ‘playplace’  for some quality father/son time.  These past weeks have been quite busy, so this past Friday we decided to make it a family affair.

The food can be sketchy, that is a given.  Have you ever heard of the McGirggles?  But entering the ‘playplace’ which is cordoned off by 4 walls and a glass door from the rest of the joint is like entering a whole new world of chaos where survival of the fittest rules apply.  On this typical rainy British Columbia evening the ‘playplace’ was populated with a giant 14 year old (seriously, the size of an Ent), a few 10 year olds, a few kids in the 3-4 age range, and my 2 year old son who stands eye to eye with many 3 year olds.  As we walk in I’m thinking to myself, ‘this is a great place for my son to learn how to play with other children.’

About 10 minutes go by and I find myself sitting there watching my son get pushed over by some seemingly maniac 4 year old whose grandfather, amidst all the noisy craziness of the playplace jungle was asleep in the corner of the room.  I was paralyzed.  Luckily, as I sat in a daze, my beautiful wife elbowed me with her sharp bony elbows encouraging me to go rescue my pushed over son.  At the moment her elbow poked my side I sprung into action like a father of the year hopeful, picking up my wailing son and giving the 4 year old girl a stare down that even Dirty Harry himself would be proud of.  At the moment of my son’s rescue, as if an alarm clock had gone off, the grandfather jumped up, hurried over in a stumble and asked if his grand-daughter had pushed over my son.  Awkwardly, as I sat down I muttered ‘yes.’

It wasn’t the Ultimate Fighting Championship style takedown/push that my son endured like a 2 year old Rocky Balboa from the 4 year old girl/Amazon woman. 

Ok, not an Amazon woman, she was about as tall as my son.  

It wasn’t even that my son was a bit distraught from the whole experience.  It was my feeling of ineptness in that moment to protect my son from the harm that came his way.  I froze.  ‘I love him too much to freeze’ I thought to myself wondering how I can prevent this kind of thing from happening again.  

It prodded the seemingly familiar question deep within my parental soul; how do I navigate the tension between action and inaction in those parental moments where I find myself hoping beyond all hope that my decision, whatever it may be, will be for the betterment of my child for decades to come?

I have no answer to that question as of yet.  I’m not really sure if I ever will.  If you want an answer, it may be in your best interest to find the real father of the year and ask him.  Whatever the answer is, protecting my son from harm feels near, or at least at the top of the list of parenting guidelines.  However, I do know that my deep love for my son which is grounded in our little family, and our peace-loving Anabaptist faith orient the manner in which I act as a parent.  Knowing that my son will be subjected to the world like everyone else seems to be a tough pill for me to swallow at the moment.  Especially because he is so dang beautiful and curiously innocent.  If I could put my son in a bubble and protect him from the harms of this world I would.  It’s a jungle out there.

transitions and blogging breaks

Hi all.

My family is in the midst of a major transition to British Columbia where I will be taking on the role of Associate Pastor at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford.  This has taken more out of us than we ever expected.  While we are excited about the new challenges and opportunities that will come our way out west, we have been deeply entrenched in a period of mourning for what we are leaving here in the beautiful province of Manitoba.  These are significant people who have shaped us as individuals, as a married couple, as new parents and more importantly, as ‘work in progress’ disciples.  I hope to offer a few reflections on this in future blog posts.

However, at this moment my energy for blogging has been reduced significantly.  So for the next few weeks or so I will focus on getting settled in our new digs and likely won’t have time or energy to write.  I have enjoyed writing this blog as this space has been a wonderful place for me to process the collision between my thoughts, theology, anabaptism, culture, spirituality and a mishmash of other things fully worthy contemplation and reflection.

As Kierkegaard writes “life is lived forward, and understood backwards.”

As mentioned earlier, I expect to be back to writing in the next few weeks.  I am humbled and sincerely thank all of you who have wandered over here to read the things that I have been processing and taken the time to engage in conversation.  This is after all a journey we all walk together.  What better way to reflect on life than to reflect on life and all that it brings together.

Peace and Grace.

Chris