From the Ashes

Henry sat on the trains’ rigid seat, absentmindedly fingering the crumpled letter in his hand.  He had read and reread it countless times since boarding the train yesterday.  He hadn’t heard one word from home in over a decade.  His grandfather had sent him away to boarding school on the other side of the country the day after his parents’ funeral.  He’d never given Henry a reason, never sent for him to come home at Christmas or for summer break.  And yet just two days ago there was the letter slid under his apartment door.  


                                Dearest Henry,                         November 8, 1886

                             I hope this reaches you well.  You must come

                    home immediately.  There are urgent matters to be

                   discussed.  I have included a ticket for the train. 

                 Don’t  waste time with a response, just come quickly.



                                                James R. Shirer


Henry had stopped crying years ago.   He had written letters to his grandfather the first year or so, but had given up when they went unanswered.  His paid tuition and money in his account for new clothes and meals were the only proof his grandfather still lived Henry had ever seen.  Of course there had been instructors at school who had taken pity on the poor little orphan boy, they had befriended him.  A few had even taken him home for holidays and breaks.  It was on one such trip the topic of Henry’s future had come up.  He was going to graduate the next spring and had no idea what he was going to do to support himself.  All he knew for sure was he wasn’t returning to Calgary.  With no money for University, Henry had started looking for employment.   Always quick with numbers and with a memory for details, Henry had been able to secure a good job as a clerk in a law office.  

He had asked his boss for a week or two off to figure out whatever the urgent matters were.  Henry had traded his first class ticket for a coach one and pocketed the cash, to help with the financial strain of traveling from Montreal to Calgary.   Running through countless scenarios why his grandfather had sent for him now; Henry gave up and settled in for a nap.   As uncomfortable as the trains’ seat was, the rhythmic rocking of the train soon put Henry to sleep.   

As they pulled into the station, Henry noticed the smoke still hanging in the air over downtown.  Grabbing his one bag, he didn’t plan to stay long, Henry stepped off the train.  He looked around the platform for his grandfather, but saw no one he recognized.  “The old coot is likely at the hotel, probably forgot that he sent for his long lost grandson.”   As Henry walked toward downtown the smell of fire was overwhelming.  He rounded the corner and was shocked to see most of the buildings had burned to the ground including his grandfather’s hotel.  Standing in front of the rubble was an old man with his head in his hands.  Could this be his grandfather?  The man, who had been so cold and unmoving when Henry’s parents died, was openly grieving the loss of some buildings.

“Grandfather?” Henry called as he crossed the street.

Obviously startled James Shirer turned to see the spitting image of his beloved Kathryn.  He knew the boy who she had adored would one day grow up to look just like her.  Not saying a word, James ran to close the distance between them and swept Henry up in a hug.  As the tears fell he blubbered words Henry couldn’t make out but he understood their meaning all the same.   With one last look at the wreckage, James threw his arm over his grandson’s shoulders and led him away to finally clear the air. 

A week later Henry’s mind was still reeling at the story his grandfather had told him.  They were traveling back to Montreal where they would pack up Henry’s apartment and then travel to Europe together.  Now that the man who had murdered his parents was dead; it was safe once again for James to be in Henry’s life.  Henry had never known that his parents had been murdered, let alone by a former employee of his grandfather’s hotel.  The man had been jealous that Kathryn had never noticed him.  One day he snapped killing both Kathryn and Miles.  The same day a note had been delivered to James, vowing to kill the child born of their love.  The authorities were never able to find the man.  Fearing for Henry’s life, grandfather had sent him away.  No one knew where he had gone.  Grandfather had kept track of him through old friends at the school, but thought it was too dangerous to ever go visit.  It wasn’t until the same crazy man had been killed burning the hotel and most of downtown to the ground, that grandfather knew it was safe to send for him.  Henry knew they had missed a lot of time together but was excited to see what the future held.  Who knows what they could build from the ashes?

A Time to Resign: Getting Back to My Most Important Work


King Solomon was one wise guy, there’s no doubt about that.  He said there’s a time for all things under the sun.  I’ve been walking through a crazy season of life the last 5 months. My husband started his own small business last spring.  Our plan(isn’t it funny that we actually think we can plan anything) was for him to build his business while working his full time job for about a year or so.  However God’s plan was very different and my husband lost his full time job in August.  In our area August is a great time to pick up work, if one is so inclined.  My hubby went to work helping ranchers put up hay.  August is also the beginning of hunting season and I was able to get a part time job waiting tables at a local 24 hour diner and hotel.  All the while continuing to work on building the business and home-school our kids.

Early in November I was promoted at work to Administrative Assistant and because we were without a permanent General Manager, there was a lot to do.  It was an honor and after some negotiating about my schedule(being unavailable during school hours and Sundays) it seemed perfect.  I really enjoyed the job and was excited to help financially support my family.  But then my priorities started to change.  It was gradual at first, but slowly my family got put on the back burner as I took on more and more responsibility at work.  We weren’t getting school done like we should, my hubby wasn’t pursuing his business like he wanted to because he was staying home with the kids, and when I was home I was trying to get so much done that I was irritable and impatient.  I’m telling ya, I’ve been a hot mess!  I’ve been putting in between 50 and 60 hours a week, pulling overnight shifts, and doubles.  I’ve been exhausted and when I don’t get enough sleep I’m not a very good wife or mama.

I’ve wrestled with quitting my job.  You see the ugly truth is there’s been a part of me that’s really enjoyed being in the work force.  I’ve also bought the lie, that I was the one providing for my family, when really God has always provided what we’ve needed. However through some circumstances at work I’ve come to the realization that it’s time for me to get back to my most important work.  And the peace I have in my heart is amazing.  I am so looking forward to getting our home school back on track, finally having a little time to read and write;-), I’ve been missing my kitchen and the freedom of creating healthy, wholesome food for my family from scratch, and it’s time for me to start thinking about planning this year’s garden.

I don’t know what the next chapter has in store for me and my family.  I do know for sure that God is already there and He’s got this.  He is faithful even when I’m not.  His ways are not my ways.  And I’m so thankful for that.  I’m ready to get on with my most important work.  So for today I’m enjoying getting some rest and investing my time, energy, effort, and love into the precious people God has entrusted me with.  And that’s pretty important work!!


Mom’s home celebratory pizza!!!