Passport Patience

This summer I learned a huge lesson in patience. I am still learning to be patient. In fact, I am learning a hard lesson about long-suffering and endurance, eaten with a slice of humble pie. Let me start at the beginning: Almost a year ago we were excited to learn that a beloved niece was getting married in the States. Covid restrictions were beginning to lift, travel was becoming a bit easier, and we were thrilled that we could plan for a full-on family vacation! Snag: Canadian passports were due to expire a month or so before our flight. No problem… lots of time to renew… times six… with one turning “adult” and one without a current health card. And with rumours of backlogs mounting. Be patient. No worries. It will all work out. Can always fast-track, right?

I’m good at forms. English is my first language. I can navigate government papers. I can follow instructions. Cue a full evening of sitting at the dining room table with a specifically coloured-inked pen in hand, a handful of rather expensive and well-earned, non-smiling photos carefully doubled signed and pinned to said matching forms. (Who knew the local convenience store was the easiest spot for passport photos? Obviously not us who drove by the sign every day that clearly states “Passport photos here” and yet sought out Costco and Shopper’s Drug Mart and Walmart for such things…) But I digress.

Five out of six passport forms were completed and in the hot little hands of an even more patient husband who delayed work one day to drive out to the neighbouring city to wait in line at the passport centre because we heard the lines were fewer there. Patience. Smile. Got to the front… “Here you go nice government lady, yes, my wife filled them out, why yes, she does have neat handwriting, yes, here is my credit card… What? A simple mistake? Yes, we can adjust that now…thank you, yes, I’d love the receipt, yes, we are travelling soon… guaranteed a week or so before our flight? Great, thank you, ma’am.” Perfect.

One to go. No worries. We can get the necessary documentation for the “adult” child who needs to fill out a whole new form. I can go to the official office and get that one “fast-tracked”. The family vacation is worth the extra few bucks. Signal God’s lesson in patience about to fall on the head of a momma bear who may just lose her sense of Christian decency. Here’s the story:

Knowing time was no longer on our side, I took a day off work to take the remaining form to one of the few centres that could process the form in time for our already booked flights. I knew the line would be long, so arrived several minutes before opening to find a rather large line already gathered outside. There was no signage. No helpers, no arrows, pylons etc. Only a few hopefuls with coffees and lawn chairs parked near the doors. The rest of us huddled behind them cued up in the overcast weather, armed with folders of forms and high hopes. I chatted with the mom of four in front of me who was re-doing all her children’s forms because they “got lost in the system”. I instructed the gentleman behind me he was in the wrong line. His was moving much quicker at the far end of the building. I texted the picture… not so long… halfway to the front door now. I’ll soon be inside. Crocheted a few rows. This mom is patient.

Exactly one hour and a half after opening time (most of us still standing around the corner to the OUTSIDE of the building) a lone (and somewhat brave) security guard comes out to inform us that “there are no more tickets for today… please go home and come back tomorrow morning…. preferably at 4:00AM to have any chance of getting inside…” 4:00AM? Really?! Needless to say, most of us were a little shocked. Many, many grumbled and fussed (and cussed) and left. The rest of us stood around for a little, pondering our predicament. Someone tried the other door, and the flock of us followed suit, hoping to take advantage of an alternative route to travel freedom. We were quickly turned back to a locked door, again, on the outside of the building.

Patience. Breathe. Let’s look at this logically. The office has been open for business for only an hour and a half. One hundred or so “secret ticket holders” seem to be lined up inside. Even counting a lunch break, these professionals should be able to serve us by end of the day! I shall commit. I will be patient and kind. Many were not. The mom of four and I took our chances. After all, today was my only day off. I have all day to stand here. Our line had dwindled to about 30 from the over 300 people. We slowly filed inside the building to another cue and those seatbelt line maker things that made us weave in and out to the “front” of the glass enclosed room to the “ticket holders” and the kiosks.

I texted the picture… not so long… halfway to the front door now. I’ll soon be inside.

The lone (and somewhat brave) security guard was now joined by about 5 or 6 others. Flashing their badges and appearing to be in charge. “I have no authority to let you inside” they say. “Come back later”. “Only if you have proof of travel within 48 hours can you be here”. “No” “NO”. God-given patience. Be kind. “Yes, sir, I appreciate what you are saying. I understand — but I choose to wait”. “Thank you, I chose to wait”. Five people left in front of the glass room. Twenty-five people holding up in the secret space.

Finally, the lone (and somewhat exasperated by this crazy lady) security guard asks my business. Ha! A month before travel? Okay, lady… if you are willing to “dropbox” your form (ie no inspection of said form, just throw it at the guy and pay your money and hope for the best) then I can give you a golden ticket. “Thank you, sir, yes I will wait”. Haha! Look at me and my patience paying off! I have been here seven hours… but it worked!

Fast forward some 20 weeks and more phone calls, emails, faxes and tears… and we are still waiting for one final passport to arrive. (Oh… no, not that last-minute one… it arrived first with no special added treatment) We missed the wedding, we missed the vacation, we missed family, and are yet to receive credits for booked flights. My sense of accomplishment and pat on the back for being so full of patience has dwindled to a story to tell about frustration. There are many more details I could have added to this long post… but here’s the point. It’s a lesson. At least I am trying to look at it as a lesson. I was kind. Was it life and death? No. Was it a disappointment? Absolutely.

Many of you may have similar stories. Maybe some of you have even better stories. We have every right to be served well by others. We’ve done “the right thing” and “followed the rules” and “deserve” this or that. It’s frustrating and sad. Yet, we have been called to stand out as light in a dark world. To spread love and not curse those who mean you harm. It’s a tough pill to swallow. It takes some self-talk and a little dose of Holy Spirit. I’m finding I have to face the lesson more and more in these post Covid days of people-who-have-lost-all-abilities-to-socially-interact. Now is the time for us to shine. May you and I learn the lesson well, my beloveds.

A Day of Mourning

Grief is personal. Death is universal. So far, no one has been able to escape death. During this week of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, it has been interesting to see the reactions, of literally, the world. Those who chose to use her death as an opportunity to push political statements against the monarchy and authoritative rule. Those who are simply curious and want to be a part of history. A chance to say “I was there when”. And those who mourn her for who she is to them. A Queen. A picture of longevity. A symbol of something more. Then there are those who mourn her personally. Her staff. Her children. Her grandchildren. Can you imagine being one of the privileged few who served Her Majesty her morning breakfast? Who knew how she liked her tea and her favourite dessert? Or if she took her teeth out at night. I wanna talk to the guy who watched her skin a deer or throw her goloshes by the castle hearth to dry up after mucking out her horse. Did the Queen muck out her own stall? Who ‘stooped and scooped’ after the Royal corgis? Surely they have neat and tidy rose bushes in the royal gardens hiding poop baggie depository cans! Seriously, friends, these are the things I think about.

Photo Credit: Town & Country Magazine

Grief is personal. We can watch the long funeral procession and wait in long lines to pay our respects, but how many of us have sat at the bedside table and watched as a loved one’s chest slowly stopped moving. On both occasions, you count the hours. Or minutes. God has given us such a unique opportunity to feel emotions. Pain. Joy. Grief. I marvel at the chemical reactions that occur in our brains, our physical reactions, our change in temperature, and our inability to keep tears from flowing no matter how hard we try. Some of us crave the comfort of others, we need a steady hand to hold us up and assure us that there is solid ground. Others of us pull away. We need our space to process and “work it through”. Only then do we gather ourselves up and press on.

I watched the younger generation mourn their grandma. Oh, I am sure they have been trained well to accept flowers from the crowd, and nod and wave. To stand tall in fine black clothes and try to not show emotion. But grief is personal. What memories flash through their mind’s eye? Christmas morning with gran? Do they wonder if her broach will get handed down? Do they giggle about the time when she told them off for being silly? Does she carry around mints in that handbag of hers to shush the children during church services?

Members of the Royal family in the carriage procession at Trooping the Colour during Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee in The Mall, London, UK. 01/06/2022 Credit Photo (c)Karwai Tang

We are told, “there is a time to be born and a time to die”. No one tells you how you react to either of those events. Nor can we cannot predict the exact moment they will occur. Who will be there? Who will miss it? Grief is personal. If you feel you need support because you are grieving, I encourage you to seek out good counsel. It is wise and worth it. Time does heal. May we take this time to reflect on our unique ability as human beings to experience grief. I have seen many creatures die. Creatures do not have the same emotional attachment to death that we do. That has been breathed into us as unique masterpieces of a living God. Cherish it as a gift. Because grief is personal.

LIFEMARK the Movie

Welcome back my beloveds! I’ve missed you! How was your summer? I’m not sure my mini-sabbatical achieved anything more than a little break in scheduling. Not much has changed. Creatively speaking and blog mind-ed anyway. Nonetheless — here we are — musing with you again! And what better way to start than a little movie review?!

It almost didn’t happen. Due to some “technical errors” (okay it was me, I was the technical error) I missed my chance to premier the new collaboration of the Kendrick brothers (Facing the Giants, Overcomer) and Kirk Cameron (Fireproof) CURRENTLY IN THEATRES. But… thanks to my friends at GrafMartin and their promotion team, the crew and I squeezed it in. Chips and Salsa included.

Currently Showing in Select Theatres in Canada!

Celebrating life and adoption, David (the main character) gets tossed into the thick of it when his birth mother reaches out to find him after his eighteenth birthday. It’s a story of reconciliation, connection and family. It tackles some tough topics and makes some hard, faith-based lines when it comes to abortion and choosing life. Consequently, it put the Kendrick brothers in a little hot water when it came to Hollywood. Unapologetically, the true-life story celebrates the joy of adoption and the potential for family joy, so the brothers pushed forward and it has arrived in theatres in both the US and in select theatres in Canada. Rather than pushing the grusome details of abortion clinics, the wholesome film focuses on the potential for celebrating life. It’s a chance for us to stand up and support faith based movie makers and their projects (go see it in theatres, people!). All the while filmed by David’s best friend: “for the documentary”. Key the socials and all that bloggers hold dear.

Personally, the movie pulled all my mom heart strings. I sympathized with both the birth mom, and the adoptive mom. I’ve felt both helpless loss and sat in that chair as they present you with “options”. Thanks to the grace of God, I’ve also experienced all the joy a new life brings. In one sense, the movie glossed over a lot of those crazy mixed emotions… but you can’t capture that it a few hours.

Maybe she just looks good in yellow…

My kids were convinced that the film makers had a hidden agenda in the actor’s choice of clothing colours. Why was there always a yellow and blue complimentary colour in every scene? I think they’ve been in media class too long. Maybe Rebecca Rogers Nelson┬ájust happens to look good in yellow. They did pick some great actors, though. The resemblance to the real life families are remarkable. And Nate was just super cute as David’s sidekick and amateur film maker. I wanna see the original “documentary” that led to the full length movie. His high school humour broke up the intensity of the emotional rollercoaster that makes LIFEMARK a classic Kendricks brother movie.

So there you have it. Today marks the beginning of another round of mittonmusings. And LIFEMARK pegs the date David’s birthmom made a difficult decision and chose life. Check out #LIFEMARKmovie or @FaithFilmsCA for more or better yet, go see it in theatres… it’s playing now!