Follow our weekly news by email

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My mom was a hoarder

My mom's Christmas tree.
My mom was a lot of things including (but not limited to); brilliant Pharmacist, passionate researcher, loving mother and wife, devoted Christian, exquisite dessert chef and collector of all things. She simply did not have the ability to throw anything out.  I mean nothing.

Two extremes that I can now share publicly (now that she has passed away) would be finding a drawer full of used wax – the kind that was poured on the top of freshly made jelly to seal it (and then thrown out when the jelly was opened, but not mom’s).   And then there was the zip lock bag in the freezer that contained yarn that she planned to use to knit a sweater.  The problem that I had with that was that the yarn was made from a collection of fur that she had painstakingly collected over the years … from my childhood CAT, Smokey. 

Not kidding. 

I had countless conversations with my parents about cleaning out their basement full of three generations of pharmacy bottles/jars/chemicals/pills/stained glass windows/clocks/piano(s)/ and other stuff from generations of relatives who had died before them.  My words fell on deaf ears (literally and figuratively), mostly because my mom was convinced that she would be “raptured” and so all of her “stuff” would be left to “non-believers” who would be “left behind”. 

Oh mom.

My dad passed away in 2005.  A few years later my mom was moved to a nursing home,  and I was left to deal with the “stuff”.  I was angry that they had left the mess for me.  I felt that I was trespassing by going in to their home and throwing out dumpster(s) full of garbage, giving away their things and keeping the odd item for myself.  But with a lot of help from friends and family, I made it through.

After the big clean out in 2010 we shipped a 20ft container of things from mom and dad’s house to Project Canaan.  As we unpacked it and distributed mom’s treasures all over the farm I found myself repenting for my anger (over and over again).  The Lord knew exactly what those things were going to be used for and He kept them safely in my parent’s home.

Last weekend the Christmas tree was put up at the Oasis and our children hung their ornaments on that tree. That was my parents’ Christmas tree. 

When a child has a birthday and we have visitors join us for cake, the plates that the cake is served on are my mom’s plates.

The stained glass window that hangs in the pharmacy at the El Rofi medical clinic was in the front window of my Great Grandfather’s pharmacy at the turn of the century in Uxbridge, Ontario (also found stored in my parent’s basement).

Stained glass window from my Great Grandpa's pharmacy circa 1,800's.
I am not saying this in any way to be boastful, but rather to share my thoughts on how God works, and to show that I believe that everything that we have, comes from Him. It’s all HIS STUFF, and He will use it as He wishes!

Yesterday another container arrived from Canada and while it was mostly filled with diapers, wipes and toys, it also had the last of my mothers treasures. Among them was a beautiful piece of hand carved marble that my parents bought in India, many years ago.  It is inlaid with semi-precious stones, each carved by hand by the very same artisan families who hand-carved the Taj Mahal. 

My parents had it shipped back from India in the 70’s and then had a table base made for it.  It was one of the few pieces of her own furniture that was in her nursing home room.  It truly was a treasure (and not to be out of her sight!).  Now it is here in Swaziland, Africa, and I am so thankful for it. 

Another one of her prize possessions also made the trip.  Mom’s baby grand piano arrived in the container and will be used for piano lessons for our children (just as it was for me), Christmas concerts and lots of other special occasions.

Mom's piano - being moved by our JCB (she may roll over in her grave for this one).
As Christmas approaches and I prepare for Spencer and Chloe to come home, I am reminded every where I look at the influence my own parents had on my life, both in life and in their death.  Their work ethic, their faith, their commitment to family and their commitment to their community has forever impacted my life, the lives of our children and now, the tiny Kingdom of Swaziland.

Christmas is a time when family gathers together, and even with all of my parents “stuff” that now surrounds me, none of it replaces having them here in person. 

Live from Swaziland … having a “moment”.



  1. Wonderful blog. I remember being at your parents home. I love that the piano is there. Blessings to you and yours in this advent season as you wait for our children to arrive.

  2. I love this so much. Thanks for sharing your heart treasures with us all. <3

  3. what a beautiful tribute to your parents,may you be Blessed for a thousand generations.God's mercies are new every morning.
    May you all be Richly Blessed this Christmas Season,I shall be remembering you all in prayer.
    May God continue to equip you with HIS Wisdom;Love and Justice throughout 2017,and, may you be Blessed with more supernatural surprises.
    Love abundantly to yourself, Ian, Spencer and continue to be an amazing example of HIS Love to all of us. Thank you.
    I am proud to be able to call you all my family in Christ Jesus.
    ...For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the Glory that IS to be Revealed to us.
    Romans 8:18

    Enjoy all the goodies xoxoxox

  4. How did you decide to go to Africa? Had you been there before? What you are doing sounds wonderful and sounds like God is sending you and uou are that what happened? I often am searching and asking for thst direction. Merry Christmas! Your story about your Mom and parents is heartfelt and a perfect Christmas story! Thank you! Marleen