Saturday, June 22, 2024

Wisdom: Maureen

Our introduction to the Richardson family happened in 1997 when Clint was in grade 5. Rob was his elementary school teacher.

I didn't get to know Maureen til years later ....

"I think they're flirting with each other," was one of the first things I remember Maureen saying, in a quiet wondering-way, as we drove home from Creationfest one year. She had borrowed my Durango and had filled it with girls and camping gear; I had rented a motorhome which was loaded with boys and food. We were joining dozens of other families, with all their extra's (kids and things) along as well. 

She was referring to her oldest daughter and my oldest son chirping at each other using the borrowed walkie talkies we needed to advise each other of bathroom breaks and pit stops as we headed back to BC.

(That sentence alone should give everyone a good idea how long ago this was...)

Those kids have long since stopped flirting with each other, but their moms are still friends, getting together often to catch up and pray-up our families. The passenger seats of my various vehicles over the years have become holy places because of Maureen and her prayers in that space. 

Maureen is quiet, committed, intentional, thoughtful, gentle ... English to the core. 

Her family is her priority and her focus. Those gorgeous red-haired children (and their children) are her great joy. After 20 (?) years of friendship, The Thing that inspires me the most about the way she lives her life, is her friendship with Rob.  She loves that man. She respects him. She fully enjoys the life they share. She often (after all these years) describes her continuing awe in him. Incredible, yes? 

Maureen and I attended the same church for a few years (just before it closed) (if you're keeping score, this is the 2nd church that went out of business on me...) so our typical way of connecting these days is either a walk (when everyone's body parts cooperate) or over a meal. 

I'm looking forward to sharing Maureen's answers to my questions; hoping you can appreciate the wisdom that oozes from her.

So Maureen, what makes your life meaningful?

I grew up in a family where only the women went to church. My mother’s mom, Helen, immigrated from Scotland so we attended a Presbyterian church. I have good memories of sitting in church with my mom, my Nana, female cousins, with my Auntie in the choir, all of us singing the doxology or the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”. 

I have always believed in God. I remember going to hear Billy Graham preach at Empire stadium in Vancouver when I was 9 years old. I wanted to go down to the front when he gave the invitation but my dad wouldn’t let me go. He wanted to get out early to avoid the traffic. 

But God didn’t give up. When I was in grade 9 we moved to Aldergrove. I met 2 Mennonite friends who spoke to me about their faith and invited me to “Young Peoples” at Bethel Mennonite Church where we met at the home of Marv and Kathy Kehler. It was the height of the Jesus People movement. There was so much energy and joy. A group of us went to hear a Christian rock band playing at Central Heights church. I remember their certainty that God loved them and they would be spending eternity with God. I thought, “I want what they have-the joy, the certainty” and I asked Jesus into my heart. I remember going home after the concert and telling my mom all about it and how happy I was. 

That was the beginning of a new dimension to my relationship with my mom. Three months later I met Rob. All my church friends told me not to go out with him, because he wasn’t a Christian, but it seemed so simple and inevitable to me that he would become a Christian too. He did became a Christian about 6 months after we started dating and we’ll be celebrating our 47th anniversary this summer. God was so good to me in my innocence and faith. My relationship with him gives my life meaning. 

Any mentors? Who has inspired you?

The people who have inspired me are my mom, Rob and a whole host of Christian girlfriends who have supported me and prayed with me over the years. 

My mom’s faith shifted after I became a Christian. Her Sunday school faith deepened and she read her King James Bible every night, and got up early to listen to Christian programs on KARI radio. We talked a lot about our faith and became even closer. My mom’s example of generosity, hospitality and concern for others taught me so much. She started getting Alzheimers when she was in her late 60’s (my age now) and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. I spent a lot of time caring for her, both while my dad was living, and after he died of liver cancer and she was in a care home. At her funeral, so many people told me stories of how she helped them. A single mom from her church told me how Mom bought birthday gifts for her children every year. So many people shared how mom had had them round for tea and sandwiches and cakes. She helped people in simple and quiet ways.

Rob reminds me of my mom in many ways. I tend to worry and be pessimistic but he is positive and hopeful. He thinks faith is simple. We know what’s right, now all we need is to do it. We live on a corner lot, en route to a local school and park, and when he’s outside doing yard work, he talks to everyone. Guys pull up in their trucks to talk to him. He listens so patiently. When I’m in the garden I want to get things done, but no matter how many times Rob is interrupted, he talks to everyone like he has all the time in the world. His co-workers confide in him and so many people ask him to do small handyman projects for them, or build things. Once when the kids were younger, we were visiting a new church. The kids secretly had a bet how long it would take for Rob to start talking to someone once we entered the lobby. They thought maybe 3 minutes and they started timing. He took one minute. I know I will never be as extroverted as Rob, but I do want to be more like him in his heart for others

I have an older friend named Gay that I consider a mentor. She will be 81 this summer. She is such an example of a spirit led person. She reminds me of Judi Dench, but with a strong faith. She easily admits her faults, and after a visit with her, I feel uplifted. She is non-judgemental and she radiates warmth. I definitely want to be more like her.

What do you like about being this age? 

I think a good thing about getting older is how you stop comparing yourself to others. There is still the temptation to compare but it gets easier to resist. When I was a full time stay at home mom, I often felt “less than” women who seemed to be able to do it all-working full time, plus keeping the house, kids, volunteer at church etc. 

If I could, I would remind my younger self that each woman needs to do what’s best for her and her family, and we should all support each other, not compare. Even now in retirement there is some pressure for us to take “me time”. We should travel etc. But we love having our lives centered on taking care of our grandchildren and we are so thankful to have this time with them.

Any general wisdom to share? On any topic? 

When my kids were in elementary school I was part of a ladies praying group. It had a profound impact on my life. I am still connected to those ladies and even though some have moved away, we chat on the phone and spend some time praying for each other and our families on the phone. There is such an intimacy when you regularly pray together. There is honesty and a sense of meeting with God that I don’t get when I pray alone. And knowing that there are people you can turn to, and they are praying for you, is a great comfort.

Lastly ... looking back. Major highlights? 

When I was pondering major highlights, two things came to mind. 

The summers we took our kids to the Creation music festival, at the Gorge in Washington. The camping in the heat and lack of sleep made it a bit of a nightmare, but the music, and worshipping with our girls was glorious. 

And the year we spend in England right after my parents died. Rob did a teaching exchange which was the hardest thing he has ever done. We were all grieving, but God supplied an amazing church, good friends. I cried every Sunday at Church because I felt moved by the presence of God. We had healing travel experiences. Nothing was easy about living or travelling there ( no cellphones, no GPS, teenagers) but we relied on each other and God. So it’s good to look back and reflect on how suffering and joy were so closely connected.

Thanks, Maureen. 

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