Our first date, separating art from the artist, advice on writers and social media, deconstruction and parenting advice, Bible translations, defining sin, and much more
Yep, I'm answering your questions 👩🏻💻
Yesterday I opened up an AMA (which stands for “Ask Me Anything” in Internet-speak) on my Instagram Stories for you to submit your own questions to create this week’s newsletter. For newer subscribers, we do this a few times a year here. A lot of fantastic and interesting questions poured in - more than I can answer in this newsletter, I’m afraid - but I tried to choose a good cross-section for us today so buckle up. You might find that your email provider cuts this one off: if so, click on the green Leave a Comment button here to get to the web-based newsletter to read the whole thing.
Don’t worry, Alexis. I have some answers and/or opinions for you. Let’s go.
Q. What’s your favourite early Brian & Sarah memory that you recount with your kids?
A. There are definitely more than a few stories we tell - and more we don’t 😏 - but probably the one that makes the kids laugh the most is the story of our first date. It was February 1999. Brian and I were casual friends in university with a lot of mutual friends when he asked me out for a group date to a minor hockey game in Tulsa. His reasoning was that I was Canadian so surely I liked hockey? Of course, I did and I do…plus I am not made of wood, people, he was/is a fine man. Easy yes. We went for burgers at a now-shuttered greasy spoon called Bogey’s Burgers, enjoyed the hockey game, then drove all over Tulsa afterwards. However, much to our mutual surprise, that night was something rather magical for both of us: at just nineteen, we started a conversation that’s never ended. There was something about it that made both of us aware that this was different than just a date, it was already an origin story.
However, the part that always makes the kids laugh is this: as often happens at a hockey game, a fight broke out on the ice and, while most of the attendees sat for the occasion, I promptly bounced out of my seat to cheer and, when it ended rather dully, hollered loudly that “my Granny could fight better” than those two bozos. You call that a donnybrook, boys?!
What can I say? These are the ways of my people.
To this day, he tells the kids that me yelling at junior hockey players for their poor form in a fight, in front of God and all our friends, was when he knew I was the one: nothing like being unexpectedly bloodthirsty to seal the deal, apparently.
Q. What’s a hobby or interest that one of your kids is into that surprises you?
A. All of our kids are very different from one another with very different interests. And they all enjoy particular things that I find baffling (I will never understand how my once highly-sensitive baby child has become a teenaged fan of Stranger Things and scary movies nor how another will literally sit to watch YouTube videos of someone else playing Minecraft but here we are). But to answer your question, our Joe’s very into French music (shout out to singer-songwriter Pomme, in particular) and learning to speak Mandarin along with about three computer languages at the moment. None of these are things I know or understand so I have nothing of value to offer in those conversations but I try to be a good listener.
I was once advised that one of the easiest ways to foster attachment with teenagers is to like what they like or at least be interested in it; so far that has proven pretty true for us. When he was deeply into the late 60s folk revival, wow, did I develop opinions on Simon & Garfunkel. I never played/watched/enjoyed basketball before but now I can say things to our student athlete eldest daughter like, “Great job boxing her out down low!” and have at least a vague idea of what that means.
Q. What are your favourite devotions or practices for Lent?
A. This year, I’ll likely fast something other than food, but I’m not sure what yet. I do tend towards simple, practice-based things that won’t heap guilt or performance or unrealistic standards, too so I usually add in a practice for that duration like a daily walk or a five-minute meditation time or quiet giving. I also usually add a new prayer book or thoughtful read for that time as well (it is rarely Lent-specific). This year, I’ll be reading two: Kate Bowler and Jess Ritchie’s The Lives We Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days as well as Kaitlin Curtice’s Living Resistance: An Indigenous Vision for Seeking Wholeness Every Day (releases on March 7, 2023).1
For Holy Week, I wrote Anchored In I AM: Holy Week with the Words of Jesus, a digital download devotional a couple years ago which explores the “I am” statements of Jesus (such “I am the gate” and “I am the bread of life” etc.). But as a bonus to that book, I included an updated 40 Simple Practices for Lent in there, too. So if you’re just wanting something a bit simpler and more practice-based on a daily basis through the season, which culminates in an intense one-week experience then that digital download book might work for you.
For those of us with kids in our homes or influence, Traci Smith created a fantastic and accessible resource for this season in her Faithful Families series. It is called Faithful Families for Lent, Easter, and Resurrection: Simple Ways to Create Meaning for the Season. (I promise, you’re not getting penal substitutionary atonement theory or gruesome cross violence here.) If you have stumbled with how to talk about Lent and Easter with your kids now that you’ve shifted your thinking around the Cross in particular, this is a fantastic resource with practices, prayers, activities, and invitations for all ages.