The Giving Toque

At The Dale we have don’t have an offering plate, we have a hat. This toque gets passed around during our Sunday service. Just prior, I always explain that we are each invited to give back a portion of whatever it is that we have been given; that this looks very different for each of us and may not fit in the hat; and that whatever our gift, it is received with gladness and will be used well. 

It is important that all people have the opportunity to both give and receive. I notice the look of relief on people’s faces when they realize we celebrate all gifts, not exclusively the financial kind, because for many, money is scarce.

So, what does this look like? 

For some people, there is an eagerness to give the small pile of change in their pockets. Occasionally little notes are tucked in the hat: “my gift is to cook pancakes at the Thursday Drop-In” or “my gift is giving hugs throughout the week”. We receive art supplies, or two-for-one Tim Hortons coupons, or mittens. It is a beautiful assortment of things. 

It is not always easy to identify what we have to give. Our hope at The Dale is that together we can help one another discover our gifts. We also acknowledge that there are people in our midst who do have financial resources to share, especially in our broader network. By combining and celebrating all of the ways to give, we get to experience a shared responsibility for this community. 

The ‘giving toque’ reminds us that we are in this together. For this, I am grateful. 

A Life Update

It seems time for an update.

Many of you will know that my husband Dion lives with Multiple Sclerosis. On January 25th of this year he entered the hospital. That morning Dion could not get out of bed, and so I called an ambulance. He has not lived at home since. 

At the time, Dion’s medical team hoped that some of his symptoms would settle and possibly return to the previous normal (which included being able to transfer from a mobility scooter to bed, for example).  As of today, Dion is in a wheelchair and requires a higher level of support, including assistance with transfers. He talks about that here:

After discussing all of the options we decided that the most obvious next step in a sea of unknowns was to renovate our home. This decision was not made lightly. I often tell people that when my mother was alive, we considered what was necessary to have her in the house. For her, the only requirement was a ramp and so that is what we did. For Dion, a larger number of things are necessary, including: a lift, a hospital bed, and a barrier-free washroom. 

Joanna Moon, my co-worker at The Dale and dear friend eagerly set up a GoFundMe page on our behalf back in February, on Valentine’s Day to be exact. We have been overwhelmed by the response of people wanting to help, either through a donation, a meal delivered to our doorstep, assistance with demolition, good thoughts and prayers…the list is long and saying ‘thank you’ feels inadequate. 

I am very grateful to have my brother Logan as the contractor on this project. He is working hard to coordinate the many trades people that are coming in and out of the house on a near daily basis. Cate and I have continued to live at home, given that the bulk of the work is happening in the basement. We are just needing to make friends with the dust. 

As I write, the status of the basement is this: the plumbing and electrical have passed inspection, there is a new floor and the walls have been framed. A hole will be created in the floor in our dining room this week to accommodate a lift. Things are happening. 

Outside of the renovations, there are meetings about what kind of care Dion requires. We agree that I cannot be Dion’s full-time caregiver, and with him on long-term disability it is important that I continue to work. There are pieces of this puzzle to figure out. Unfortunately, it is hard to plan when the system cannot guarantee the level of care they will supply at the present time. 

Which brings me to this request: please pray for us. For Dion, for Cate, for me. I know a lot of people are, and for that I am grateful. We need prayer, not just for the renovations, but for what life looks like after they are complete. It is unlikely that there will not be glitches. 2018 has been a brutal year in many, many ways. As Dion and I both acknowledge, there is a lot of loss, too much to process, and a deep need for things to feel a little more normal.

Of this I am confident: God is present in this journey. I trust that we are being guided through the wilderness. In its midst there is sorrow, lament, joy, gratitude, and much hope. What a complicated thing life is.