Tag Archives: Briercrest Seminary

Graduation Blessing: A Husband’s Prayer For His Seminary Wife

Grad letter and writers blockToday the seminary held a “Blessing of the Grads” chapel service. Each grad was honoured to have a blessing read out from a loved one. What follows below is Charles’ letter to me. I am so thankful for  a husband who has supported and actively encouraged this educational journey.

*************

Amanda, as I have watched you tackle the challenges of graduate study while dealing with the challenges of work and home, I have been continually reminded what an privilage it is to be your husband.  You have been and continue to be a blessing to me and to our children.  My prayer is that God will open doors for you to develop the immense potential that we see in you.  My prayer is that our children will learn to understand what an amazing mother they have, and will look to you as an example of what a powerful woman of God can be.

Lord, make Amanda an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let her sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

 

O Divine Master, Grant that she may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Amen.

A Summer of Quiet

There is only one more week until graduation and then it will be summer vacation. Caronport in the summer is my favourite, as it gets very quiet and calm when all the college students leave. My hope is to take full advantage of the warm weather and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

In March, I presented an academic paper at a colloquium hosted by the school which looked at why we rest. I argued that rest is best understood when we explore it using sacramental language; that is, that when Christians rest they enter into something that points beyond merely ceasing, something that points to the promise and fulfillment of God’s sanctifying work.

photo(6)My hope is to put my research into practice by resting this summer. I have a large stack of fiction books to read.

I also hope to do some creative writing. I am not sure if this will take the form of fiction or non-fiction, but there is something about writing without a deadline hanging over my head or without the stress of grades lingering in the background, that feeds my soul.

Only after I have read my pile of fiction will I return to reading non-fiction. My bookshelf is piled high with academic books that I have bought in the last year, but  have had to sit and wait patiently as Barth occupied my every waking moment.

I am also hoping that in the rest I will be able to see more clearly what God desires me to do post-seminary. I hope to begin to discern PhD possibilities. So, dear readers, prayer would be appreciated as that journey of applying will begin in the fall.

 

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A Year of Busy

To say that this past year has been busy is an understatement. But, here I am, one week until graduation. Looking back, it’s been amazing journey.

In the last year I have:

  • Had baby #3
  • Proposed a thmeandbarthesis on Barth
  • Had major surgery and spent a week in the hospital
  • Made and sold over 100 jars of homemade jam at the local farmer’s market
  • Started working on my thesis
  • Got a job as a graduate instructor (translation: grading, grading and more grading)
  • Continued to work on my thesis
  • Presented a scholarly paper on the theology of rest at a seminary-sponsored colloquium
  • Completed my thesis
  • Successfully defended my thesis

And now, the end is near. The grad ceremony is next week. I have been given the privilege of standing before the seminary as valedictorian (technically co-valedictorian as there was a tie for highest GPA).

To all those who have been so supportive on this journey: Thank you. To the parents — my mom, and my fantastic in-laws — thank you for coming and helping out with the kids. To Julie, who has been like family, thank you for caring for my children a couple of days a week so that I could write. To dear friends Sherilyn, Ellen and Kelsey, thank you for sharing in the stress and joy and emotional ups and downs. To my husband Charles, thank you for encouraging me, for sacrificing, and for working so hard to provide for our family. And to my three children, thank you for brightening my days with smiles and for teaching me about the simple beauty of the Gospel.

 

 

Adventures in Thesis Writing

phd100802s

 

I’m halfway through a two-week intensive thesis writing spree. Here are some of the things that I have observed about the thesis-writing process:

The EBSCO e-book reader sucks. I’ll say it again: The EBSCO e-book reader sucks. Sure it’s okay if you only need to pull a plum quote or two, but if you want to read an entire chapter, or, heaven forbid, the entire book, the EBSCO reader is clunky, ugly and very user unfriendly. Yes, it does have a function where you can export sections to a PDF for convenient reading, but this usually only covers 15-25 pages. So you’re stuck reading the book on your laptop and the interface is so ugly that you usually get a headache from reading the book on the computer screen. And when you’re in the e-book reading and the system decides that you’re taking too long to read, if another person decides to read the e-book, you get booted from the system. It would be like if you had taken a book from the shelf and started to read it, and someone comes along and takes it right from your hands. What makes it worse, most libraries will not allow a patron to fill out an inter-library loan request to get a physical copy of the book if it is available as an EBSCO e-book.  After a day of complete frustration, I finally caved and ordered a copy of the book I was needing on Amazon. It should arrive in a week or so.

 

I’ve come up with the next episode of Castle: death by library stacks. The BR-BT section of the McMaster library (basically the Bible-Biblical Studies-Theology section) is on these moveable library shelves that all squish together when not in use. So what you do is you find the row that you need, press a button, and the shelves move so that you can walk down the row to find your book. Each time I walked down the row, I kept thinking that at any minute the system was going to reset itself, and I’d get squished between Christology and Hermeneutics. Death by stacks. Yup, definitely a good opening for an episode of Castle.

 

“Just one more source” becomes a great way to procrastinate from writing. Oh, I should look up just one more source before I start writing. Okay, now I should look up just one more source. Six hours and twelve “just one more sources” later means that not a single sentence was written. Are those “just one more sources” helpful? Sometimes. But those six hours could have been spent writing a page or two with the material already collected.

 

The writing chopping block looms over my shoulder constantly. My greatest fear is that when I submit this chapter to my supervisor he’ll say that I’ll have to reduce all that beautiful hard work, that took hours and hours, to one single footnote and then start again.

 

The more highlighters you have the better. I think I now own every single colour of highlighter ever created. They can turn the most boring source into a beautiful rainbow of whimsy. Trust me, this is important, because, oh my, some (most?) of these academic tomes are so dull they make normal dull look sharp and sparkly.

 

For all the hard work and stress that it is, I’m actually really enjoying the thesis writing process. Oh no! I’m doomed!

 

 

 

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On Writing a Thesis

thesis prayer

Your thesis proposal has been approved. You are now officially writing a thesis. You sit at your desk and the worries and doubts begin to overwhelm. All of the emotions and frustrations that you laughed at when reading PhD comics are suddenly no longer funny. How are you going to survive the next year of thesis writing?

1. Find some accountability. Maybe it’s about setting specific due dates and deadlines for yourself. But more useful is finding someone to sit down with once every couple of weeks, who will ask you straight out “what you have done this week?” This person will most likely not be your supervisor. It could be another student who is also in thesis mode, or someone who has previously written a thesis.

2. Just write something. The most paralyzing thing is a blank computer screen. The idea does not have to be fully developed before you put it on the screen. Even if it’s a half-formed thought, putting it on the screen (or on paper) will help get you started. Remember there is plenty of time to edit, re-write and rearrange (especially when your supervisor takes a red pen to your submitted chapter and slashes it to smithereens).

3. Stop researching. Sometimes research stops being useful and instead becomes a procrastination tool. Do you really need to track down one more book? Probably. But not right now. Get out of the stacks and start working with what you’ve already researched. You can, and will, get back to that “one more source” and you’ll have no problem incorporating it into what you’ve already written.

4. Print off and read what you’ve written. This is especially helpful if, like many people, you only have a few days a week devoted to thesis writing. By printing off what you wrote the session before, it is easier to pick up your train of thought and start jotting down notes of where you want to take your argument. It also can serve as an encouragement, “hey, what I wrote last week isn’t half bad.” And, there is something about reading your work on the printed page rather than off the computer screen that changes how you understand and respond to your writing.

5. Go for a walk. Sitting down with your thesis for eight hours at a time isn’t as productive as it sounds. Your body will need a break from sitting at the desk, and your brain will need a distraction. Break up your day by going for a mid-morning walk or by spending an hour at the gym. The exercise will clear your head allowing your afternoon writing session to be more productive.

6. Keep a notebook. It will be inevitable that on the days that you’re not working on your thesis, your brain will spin out the most brilliant argument that you just have to include in your chapter, usually at the most inopportune time like in the middle of family dinner, in the middle of a good night’s sleep, or while you’re at work. By keeping a notebook handy, you can jot down the idea so your brain doesn’t have to try to desperately remember the idea until your next writing day. Trust me, the brilliant thought you had on Monday will most definitely be forgotten by the time you sit down to write on Wednesday unless you write it down.

7. Turn off the Internet. A quick “I’ll just take two minutes to check my email, Twitter, news feed” inevitably becomes an hour…or two…or three.

The Role of the Church in Postliberal Thought — The Problem of Antirealism

Welcome to the second post in the series on postliberal ecclesiology. The first post can be found here.

 

One of the main charges leveled against postliberalism is that, at a philosophical level, it is inherently antirealist.  That is, it has been suggested that the cultural-linguistic approach needs no external referent.  Part of this is because Lindbeck is reacting against the cognitive-propositionalist approach that “stresses the ways in which church doctrines function as informative propositions or truth claims about objective realities.”[1]  Lindbeck does not deny that cognitive aspects of doctrine can be important, but he argues that they are not the primary purpose of doctrine.[2]  The criticism is that, in making doctrine to be rules rather than first-order propositional truth claims, postliberalism is antirealist.[3]

Alister McGrath, for example, argues that Lindbeck “seems to suggest that conceiving theology as the grammar of the Christian language entails the abandonment of any talk about God as an independent reality…”[4]  Jeffrey Hensley, on the other hand, argues that Lindbeck is “metaphysically neutral” and therefore it is possible for postliberals to be realists.  He suggests that Lindbeck makes a distinction between meaning and existence, and that it is meaning that is “conceptually relative.”[5]  Thus, what Lindbeck is doing is not necessarily offering an antirealist metaphysic, but is instead “simply pointing out that the frameworks through which we view the world deeply influences the way in which we understand its nature and existence.”[6]  Stanley Hauerwas, in interacting with the works of Hans Frei, likewise argues that postliberalism is not antirealist because it is impossible to isolate the biblical narratives from reality, just as it impossible to consider statements of “truth and falsity [apart] from the context of their utterance.”[7]

This becomes important in the discussion of the role of the Church, because it too does not have an external referent.  It is antirealist in that it does not need a propositional reality, and the community ultimately fails to “be accountable to something beyond itself.”[8]  In other words, if the community determines doctrine, what determines the community?  For evangelicals, cognitive-propositionalists and postconservatives, that external referent is Scripture.  The problem, as identified by critics of postliberalism, is that by making the community the final authority, doctrine becomes relativized or dependant on the whims of the community.  Vanhoozer suggests that this postliberal emphasis of the community being the final authority has been picked up in evangelical churches, resulting in churches that have adopted cultural practices “that owe more to managerial, therapeutic, consumerist, and entertainment cultures…”[9]  Ultimately, by making the community the centre, it increases the likelihood of deformed practices and corrupted traditions.[10]  In this way, the cultural-linguistic approach is closer to the experiential-expressive approach.  Where the classic liberal position of the experiential-expressive grounds truth in the ‘common human experience’, the postliberal approach grounds truth in the ‘common community experience.’

Next up: Definition of Church


 

[1] Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, 2.

[2] Ibid., 21.

[3] Donald Bloesch, Holy Scripture: Revelation, Inspiration & Interpretation (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 211–212; Jeffrey Hensley, “Are Postliberals Necessarily Antirealists? Reexamining the Metaphysics of Lindbeck’s Postliberal Theology” in Phillips and Okholm, Nature of Confession, 73–74.

[4] Alister McGrath, The Genesis of Doctrine: A Study in the Foundations of Doctrinal Criticisms (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 29.

[5] Jeffrey Hensley, “Are Postliberals Necessarily Antirealists? Reexamining the Metaphysics of Lindbeck’s Postliberal Theology” in Phillips and Okholm, Nature of Confession, 76.

[6] Ibid, 76.

[7] Stanley Hauerwas, “The Church As God’s New Language,” in Christian Existence Today: Essays on Church, World, and Living in Between (Durham: The Labyrinth Press, 1988), 59.

[8] Fackre, 129.

[9] Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology, 26.

[10] Ibid., 22.

The Role of the Church in Postliberal Thought — Introduction

Welcome to the first post in a series on postliberalism and Ecclesiology.

What is Postliberalism?

            Postliberalism is a twentieth-century theology founded on the narrative theology of Hans Frei, and George Lindbeck’s theory of doctrine.  It attempts to offer a corrective to the relativistic bent of liberalism by affirming the importance of Scripture in the life of Christianity, bringing liberal theology in closer relationship to more conservative strands of Protestantism (such as evangelicalism).  Meaning and truth are “determined by the intratextual subject matter of Scripture.”[1]  Becoming an adherent of a religion is a process similar to learning a language or learning to adopt a new culture.

In postliberalism, the authority resides in the community, and in how the community uses and interprets Scripture to formulate doctrine.  While there is much to be appreciated in adopting a postliberal ecclesiology, the placement of authority within the Church, rather than in Scripture, can become a stumbling block for conservative Protestants.  I would suggest that the benefits of postliberal ecclesiology can be adopted by evangelicals, so long as the authority remains with Scripture rather than the community.

Limitations

            In approaching this topic, a few limitations need to be addressed.  First, while George Lindbeck’s The Nature of Doctrine was foundational for postliberalism, Lindbeck was not a systematic theologian.  Added to this, while there is much commonality between his work and the work of fellow Yale professor, Hans Frei, Frei died shortly after the publication of Lindbeck’s book, which means that, while scholars pair the two together as the founders of postliberalism, there was in actuality “a lack of substantive methodological followup.”[2]

Second, there seems to be disagreement about who is actually a postliberal scholar.  Postliberalism is also known as “Yale Theology” but this does not necessarily mean that students of Frei and Lindbeck are necessarily postliberals.   As George Hunsinger has noted, there seems to be a randomness to who is considered postliberal and who is not.  Indeed, scholars like Stanley Hauerwas are considered postliberal even though he did not belong to the Yale tradition.[3]  As well, the “Yale Theology” is significantly less “Yale-y” given that the major scholars associated with current postliberal thought are working at schools other than Yale.  As William Placher notes, “Yale itself is no longer clearly a centre of postliberal theology.”[4]  Also, there is a question as to how postliberal Lindbeck actually was, with Hunsinger suggesting instead that Frei was postliberal, while Lindbeck was more precisely ‘neoliberal.’[5]

Recognizing that there is debate about what constitutes postliberal theology, I am assuming a standard broad understanding of postliberalism and its major contributors as found in most dictionaries on 20th century theology.[6]  For the purpose of this series, the focus will be primarily on two of Lindbeck’s writings: The Nature of Doctrine,[7] and his essay “The Church,”[8] as well as the various interactions and critiques that have been offered by scholars.

 

Cultural-Linguistic Approach

            Lindbeck proposes an alternative to what he sees as the two dominant ways of understanding doctrine.  In contrast to the cognitive-propositional approach, and the experiential-expressive approach, Lindbeck offers the cultural-linguistic approach.  This approach is influenced by modern cultural anthropology, as well as the theory of language as presented by Ludwig Wittengenstein.

In a cognitive-propositional approach, the truth of a doctrine is found in concrete propositions grounded in reality, while in the experiential-expressive model the truth is found in a common human experience or feeling.  In the cultural-linguistic model, truth resides in the community.  To become a Christian is to learn and adopt the language and practices of the Christian community.  It is not enough to know the ‘facts’ about Christianity, for there are many non-Christians who know what Christianity is.  Instead, it is about learning the language and grammar of the Christian faith.  More specifically, “to become a Christian involves learning the story of Israel and of Jesus well enough to interpret and experience oneself and one’s world in its terms.”[9]

Scripture plays a key role here, as it is the framework within which Christians experience and affirm the faith.[10]  And while the surrounding culture will influence the life of a Christian, ultimately “what is important is that Christians allow their cultural conditions and highly diverse affections to be molded by the set of biblical stories that stretches from creation to the eschaton and culminates in Jesus’ passion and resurrection.”[11]  In the cultural-linguistic model, Scripture “absorbs the universe” and provides the interpretative framework by which Christians understand all reality.[12]

And yet, despite the heavy emphasis on the role of Scripture in formulating doctrine and shaping the community, one of the main critiques of the cultural-linguistic model, and postliberalism in general, is that ultimately, it is the community that has the final authority without being answerable to anything else.  Salvation is found in the community.  The community teaches the language that characterizes the Christian faith, and the community interprets the Scriptures to define the doctrines of the community.  Thus, within postliberalism the answer to the question, “how is Scripture authoritative?” is “according to socialization in the community’s conventions, which are subject to revision with continuing community engagement.”[13]

Next up: The problem of anti-realism.


 

[1] George Hunsinger, “Postliberal Theology,” in The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed. Kevin Vanhoozer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 44.

[2] Paul DeHart, The Trial of Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2006), xiii.

[3] Hunsinger, “Postliberal Theology,” 42.

[4] William Placher, “Postliberal Theology,” in The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology in the 20th Century, ed. David Ford (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 354.

[5] Hunsinger, “Postliberal Theology,” 44.

[6] e.g., Alister McGrath, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 1995); Placher, “Postliberal Theology.”

[7] George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009).

[8] George Lindbeck, “The Church,” in Keeping the Faith: Essays to Mark the Centenary of Lex Mundi, ed. Geoffrey Wainwright (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988).

[9] Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age, 20.

[10] Ibid., 66.

[11] Ibid., 70.

[12] Ibid., 103. For an in-depth philosophical analysis of Lindbeck’s use of “absorb the universe,” see Bruce Marshall, “Absorbing the World: Christianity and The Universe of Truths,” in Theology and Dialogue: Essays in Conversation with George Lindbeck (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 69-102.

[13] Gabriel Fackre, “Narrative: Evangelical, Postliberal, Ecumenical” in Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm, eds., Nature of Confession: Evangelicals and Postliberals in Conversation (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 129.

A Month (or more like 6 weeks) of Busy

I’m just coming out of a brief season of busy. This season of busy meant little (read: no) blogging. At first I felt guilty, as if I was somehow disappointing the blogosphere. But, that soon gave way to restful relief. It was nice to unplug. It was nice to not say anything, and to not get involved in the latest dustup, controversy, or argument. It was nice to say, “my voice is not needed in this.”

TARDIS
It’s bigger on the inside.

In the real world, I was finishing the research for the first chapter of my thesis.

I was spending hours outside, enjoying the sunshine and the complete lack of snow and cold and winter.

I was making 120 jars of jam for the farmer’s market this summer in Caronport.

I was rejoicing in the arrival of our new vehicle, which we are geekily calling the TARDIS.

I was going to a Paul Brandt concert.

I was going to see Star Trek Into Darkness, and giving my husband the shock of his life by daring to suggest that ST:ID was so much better than Star Trek: Wrath of Khan. (The look he gave me was epic: a cross between “I’m so disappointed in you” and “that’s it, you’ve officially lost all your geek cred.”)

I was watching episodes of the “Doctor/Donna” season of Doctor Who, and getting hooked on two new shows: Sons of Anarchy and Broadchurch.

And most importantly, I was introducing our two Jane Austen heroines to the newest addition to our family: our little spaceship captain, named after the best captain in the ‘verse.

But now the month is over, and it’s time to get back to some semblance of the routine. Indeed, this mini-vacation has shown me that I miss blogging. I miss the rhythm and routine of writing regularly. I miss the dialogue and conversation and the exploration of ideas. And, selfishly, I have noticed that without my regular blogging, my other writing projects (like my thesis) suffer. I need to write creatively on a regular basis. I need that half hour or so a day to just play with ideas, and put them “out there.”

Allons-y!

 

 

Factors that Facilitate or Hinder The Completion of a Thesis/Dissertation

What is it about a dissertation or a thesis that makes or breaks a student? Great students who are eager to learn, who excel at their classes and desire to work in the world of academics are motivated and goal-oriented. And then comes the thesis (or dissertation) and everything stops. I have friends who have been ABD for 10 years. I have friends who get to the thesis component of their MA and flip out of the thesis track and replace it with extra courses. Is there a way to better prepare students so that they not only survive the thesis/dissertation component of their degree but actually enjoy it and flourish from the experience?

 

Jane Ho, with Lilian and Paul Wong, did a study, Helps and Hinderances to Thesis Completion, looking at what helps and hinders a student in completing their thesis.

Ho’s list of helps and hindrances should be required reading for every student before they enter the thesis/dissertation of their program, as is the list of suggestions for both the student and the supervisor. I summarize them below.

 

Factors that Hinder Completion of a Thesis:

  • student employment
  • difficulty balancing personal and academic obligations
  • insufficient training for thesis research
  • problems within the thesis committee (including lack of prompt feedback, conflicting and inconsistent feedback, and unhelpful advice.)
  • problems with administrative bureaucracy
  • complexity of the thesis process
  • the time-consuming nature of the research process
  • procrastination
  • Thesis blocking — “a situation wherein the interviewees had (a) finished their graduate coursework; (b) found the experience of working on the thesis more negative than rewarding; (c) according to their own estimates, spent an inordinate amount of time working on the thesis; and (d) considered themselves to have experienced thesis blocking.”

 

Factors that Help Completion of a Thesis:

  • good working relationship with the supervisor
  • a structured supervisory system which included a written task specification, weekly deadlines, weekly monitoring, weekly feedback, and added incentives.
  • Support from family, friends and fellow students

 

Suggestions for Students:

1. Set deadlines and stick to planned schedule

2. Manage your time and priority

3. Set goals for and after the program

4. Find support from peers, family and friends

5. Take advantage of available resources

6. Know your learning styles

7. Get to know your professors/supervisors

8. Find meaning in your thesis work

9. Do not procrastinate

10. Read, write and be prepared

11. Resolve conflicts quickly

12. Be organized

13. Exercise self-care

14. Be your own project/thesis manager

 

Suggestions for Supervisors:

1. Set Goals and timeline with the supervisees

2. Collaborate with other professors

3. Increase research-related courses; decrease irrelevant courses

4. Set up thesis proposal and writing as a course

5. Make resources more accessible online

6. Provide more explanations on ethics approval process

7. Enforce the program guidelines and deadlines

8. Provide opportunity for students to get to know their potential supervisors

9. Provide realistic time frame for the program

10. Minimize the number of supervised students for each supervisor

11. Provide more opportunities to learn from others

12. Provide more accessible resources and better equipment

See: Jane Ho, Lilian and Paul Wong, WHAT HELPS AND WHAT HINDERS THESIS COMPLETION:A CRITICAL INCIDENT STUDY. International Journal of Existential Psychology & Psychotherapy vol. 3 (2010): 117-131.

 

The Winter That Wouldn’t Die; Community; and God’s Amazing Blessings

It was a simple enough plan. I had an appointment in Moose Jaw (the city closest to us, about 15 minutes down the highway) and Chuck had to go to Regina (about an hour further). We got a babysitter for the girls, and the plan was to go to my appointment, and then continue on with Chuck to Regina. While he did his thing, I would do errands, shopping, and have a little bit of “me” time.

We set out at 2:30. As soon as we got on the highway, we knew it was going to be bad. The wind was blowing; the highway was snow-covered and there was zero-visibility. I sat in the passenger seat clenching the arm rest, and praying that we didn’t run into a semi, or slide off the road. We made it to Moose Jaw, and decided that Chuck would just drop me off at my appointment and keep going to Regina, in the hopes of outdriving the weather. For him to sit in MJ for an hour waiting for me, would mean that the roads would probably be worse by the time we were ready to set off for Regina. We agreed that I would either find a ride back to Caronport, or just hang in MJ until 10:30-11 when Chuck would be on his way home. Hopefully, the weather will have cleared by then, we said to ourselves.

I finished my appointment and walked up to the McDonalds. When I arrived there were several messages from Chuck. He was 1 km outside of Regina and in the ditch. The tow company said it would be hours until they could come and get him.

Thank goodness for free wifi. With my iphone and facebook I jumped into action. I posted a message on facebook and on the community email seeing if anyone knew anyone in Regina who could go rescue him. A flurry of messages and conversations ensued. Within an hour, a seminary student in Regina (who I don’t think I’ve actually met) offered to go get Chuck and take him to his appointment. Not only that, the student then offered Chuck a place to crash overnight, as it was obvious that the roads weren’t going to be getting better anytime soon. With Chuck taken care of, I took a deep breath.

 

Now how was I going to get home? I checked the road report. The highway between Caronport and MJ was closed. That’s how bad the weather had become. Crud. A flurry of conversations on Facebook ensued, and a friend called our pastor in Moose Jaw and asked if I could hang out at their house. Within half an  hour, the pastor had picked me up and had set up the guest bed for me.

 

In the meantime, I was talking with the babysitter. Don’t worry, she said, I’ll just crash on your couch. The kids were taken care of.

The kids were at home. I was spending the night in MJ, and Chuck was spending the night in Regina. Definitely not the plan, but we were safe.

The next morning I got a ride back to Caronport with someone who was headed to campus. The road report said the roads were driveable. We quickly learned that they were only technically driveable. They were ice-covered. We didn’t drive faster than 40 km/h, and at several points it was safer to drive on the rumble strip on the edge of the road, than stay on the ice. But we made it.

Chuck got a ride back out to the highway to where he had left the car. It was gone. The RCMP had towed it in the night, but a snow drift was building beside it and spilling into the right lane of traffic. Off to the tow company to retrieve the car. Once there, the tow company put it on a flat-bed and had it towed to a garage recommended by the seminary student who had come to Chuck’s rescue.

It was getting close to 11. And now there was nothing Chuck could do but wait for word on the car. And he waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, at 4:30 word came down. The car was beyond repair. It would have been over $4,000 to fix the 21 year old car. There was no point, and even the mechanic was honest enough to say as much.

(The timing couldn’t have been worse. We were only 7 weeks from getting a new car. My mom is coming out at the end of April and selling us her nearly new mini-van.)

Chuck just needed to come home. He had been gone 24 hours, still in the clothes he had worn the day before. He was tired and stressed. We decided the easiest thing to do would be to rent a car for a week. Enough for him to come home and give us some breathing room for a few days to figure out what to do next.

Off he went to find a car rental office. He then went back to the garage, and emptied out the 92 Lincoln. Car seats. Winter gear. Paperwork from the glovebox. All the random stuff that inevitably accumulates in a car. Good-bye Lincoln. The garage offered to have it sent to the scrap yard. Taking pity on Chuck, they also didn’t charge for their services.

Thankfully, the roads were completely clear when he made his way home. He came home and collapsed. We talked about our options.

We couldn’t afford to rent the van all the way through April. But if we could find someone willing to lend us a car on Monday and Thursday nights so he could go to Regina, we could survive. It would mean not going to our church in MJ for a month or so, but it wouldn’t be a problem to walk to one of the two churches here in Caronport. And Chuck could even do the grocery shopping on Monday nights on his way home. We could make this work.

And then we looked at the weather report. More snow was on its way from Thursday through Sunday. All we could do was laugh.

Even though it was a stressful couple of days, and it will probably be a stressful couple of weeks, both of us could recognize God’s blessings in the situation. From amazing friends who pitched in to help us, to the fact that it could have been so much worse (Chuck could have been stranded in the middle of nowhere, I could have been with him and had no way to get back to the girls on Tuesday morning, etc), God provided for us.

And even today, as it threatens to dump another 10-15cm later tonight, I am amazed at the glimmers of God’s goodness. The three-year-old has declared today to be a summer day and is spending the day dancing around in her bathing suit. Chuck is prepared, and has packed an overnight bag just in case he can’t get home tonight. We have groceries in the house in case we can’t get out all weekend.

I’m teaching my last class related to my internship today. Our opening Psalm, that was chosen weeks ago, is going to be Psalm 136. The repeated response that runs through each verse has been looping through my head for two days: “His love endures forever.” Whatever else happens, whatever stressful situations crop up, none of that negates the fact that God’s lovingkindness endures forever. God is good. And I am thankful.