This column, Barefoot & Preaching, is also published biweekly in print by The Prairie Messenger.

An Obituary for my Sister…

An Obituary for my Sister…

With broken hearts, our family shares that Abbie Diana Speir was taken from us at her home in Yellow Grass on April 20, 2017 at the age of 33. Abbie was born at Royal University Hospital on September 29, 1983. She spent her school years in Elrose, loving her friends and getting good enough grades to maintain her social calendar. Piano, volleyball, 4-H, and figure skating filled her hours and surrounded her with a community of people in both Elrose and Kyle who loved her fierce determination, strong opinions, and huge heart.

She studied Business at DeVry Institute in Calgary, where she prepared for her career in finance and health care and found her love of big hair, big fashion, and big shoes. In 2004, she married and her son Coby was born in 2007. Their family resided outside Kindersley and then Dundurn, before Abbie and Coby moved to Saskatoon. She fell in love again, with her usual intensity, and spent time in Calgary before returning to Saskatoon for the birth of her daughter, Eris, in 2014, followed closely by the birth of Eve in 2015. In 2015, their family made their home in Yellow Grass, where Abbie and the kids quickly became a part of the community. Her work with the Saskatoon and the Sun Country Health Regions drew on her strong work ethic and was just one area of her life in which she quickly and easily built deep and lasting friendships.

Motherhood was Abbie’s greatest joy; she played like a child, took the kids on grand adventures, and insisted on hard work and good manners all the time. In her personal and professional life, Abbie brought a small-town love of people, deep loyalty, and unapologetic honesty with a sarcastic sense of humour. She was intense and strong, and everyone loved her for it.

Abbie will be deeply missed and forever loved by Coby, Eris, and Eve; by her parents, Michael and Joan McDonald of Saskatoon; by her three siblings: twin sister Leah (Marc) Perrault of Saskatoon, younger sister Lorell (Blake) Linke of Regina, younger brother Joel (Kaitlin) McDonald of Humboldt and eight nieces and nephews; by grandparents Thelma McDonald of Outlook and Leonard and Helen Kutz of Elrose; by aunts and uncles: Sharon (Don) Havens, Larry (Darlene) McDonald, Marlene (Ritchie) Armstrong, Jean (John) Harrington, Mary Ann (Ken) Hamilton, Jackie (Doug) Shaw, Audrey (Lorrie) Reed, Louise (Duncan) Campbell, John (Sharon) Kutz, and Marilyn (Dave) Martin; by Coby’s dad Ryan Speir and the Speir family; and by too many cousins and friends to name. Abbie has joined the family who have gone before her, including her paternal grandfather J. Harvey McDonald and cousins Glen Havens, Russell Hamilton, and Diana Campbell.

A funeral Mass will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon. All those gathering to celebrate her life are invited to take the opportunity to buy or wear something beautiful, with their flashiest shoes (extra points for high heels and animal prints). Following the funeral, there will be a light lunch and social with activities for kids, and a dance beginning at 7:30 pm. All are welcome. A private internment will take place at a later date. Memorial donations can be made for Coby, Eris, and Eve to “Abbie’s Family Trust” via TCU Credit Unions in either Saskatoon or Regina, or by email money transfer to Our family invites you to honour Abbie’s memory by not waiting to seek out the help and healing that might be needed in your own life, families, or communities. May her memory offer us courage and strength.

Written with my family.

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Without noticing the day passing, I grew too big for the bottom of the linen closet, too tall for fitting in Mom’s lap, and too heavy for Dad to toss me in the air and catch me. Along the road to growing into adulthood, I picked up a resistance to being small and a fear of being in need. I would far rather have the answers than say I do not know; I am more comfortable helping others than being helped. In all my boldness, I have become shy about taking the time to be held.

On Being Barefoot…

Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…

…and Preaching

I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.

My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.

The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.

When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.

It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.

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