Monday, August 25, 2014

The ALS ice bucket challenge and other such facebooky things

I did the ice bucket challenge. I did it for the absolute lamest of reasons and I'm not even sorry. I did it because a young man I appreciate and respect challenged me to and that was good enough for me.

The world is full of need, of illness, of brokeness, of hurting, of dying. That is part of living on this planet. There is SO MUCH of it that it can be darn well overwhelming. To be invited to be a little silly, to play a game, to not take myself too seriously while still letting people know about one of the needs out there is worth a few minutes of my time, a bit of chill and the laundering of a towel.

If you know me, you know that I really believe, with every fiber of my being, that we are all capable of making the world a better place. We should do whatever we can, whenever we can and we should attempt to be thoughtful and deliberate about it. That being said, here are two articles that totally oppose one another in their basic premise. I agree with the intention behind both.

I would add that regardless of anyone's reasons behind participating in such things, a few great conversations have been started. One of the quickest ways I have found to stop progress in it's tracks is cynicism and judgement. If you are excited about being part of the global community and sharing in anything that might help someone else, do it and do it well and thoughtfully. If you are annoyed by the latest facebook (or other social platform) craze, relax, it will fade out eventually. If you really feel super burdened to share your opinion about the dangers of such crazes (there are dangers, I agree) try and do so in a way that doesn't diminish the human spirit in what is going on. If you are just joining in for attention... you know what? That's OK too! We all need to feel like we belong sometimes! The world isn't going to become a better place because you or I convinced someone to do or not do anything. It will become a better place because we try to be better in it, to share what we have, to be intentional how we use the resources of our time, our finances and our talents. It will become better because we try and understand eachother and our burdens more and judge a little less.

As for me, I'm doing the best I can with what I've got. I'm OK with that.

Friday, February 14, 2014

For Alex, the last Valentine's gift you'll ever get.

My husband and I have argued about Valentine's Day for almost our entire relationship. It's been a source of contention for at least a week every year. Why? Well, up until just yesterday, I thought the reason we were arguing was because he was stubborn.

He refused to just be romantic on Feb.14. He claimed that the consumerism and expectation made the whole thing feel insincere. In his words, "It's a day people have to go out of their way with romance just to break even." His theory is that we shouldn't need a day, especially one that has so much unreasonable expectation wrapped up in it. He thinks we shouldn't be putting so much energy and money into something just because everyone else does.

Until yesterday, I strongly disagreed. Yesterday, as I prepared myself for dissapointment, I finally became aware that my dissapointment had only to do with expectations that were unreasonable in light of my husbands clearly stated opinion. Yesterday I realized every single thing he says actually lines up with my own core values and beliefs. Yesterday I finally understood that we really, truly, do not have to love eachother on the same days or the same ways as I percieve everyone else to. Yesterday I saw my husband for the first time again, and I saw the million ways he loves me every day.

My husband has never tried to teach me to use the espresso machine. He makes me lattes and has taught my children to use the espresso machine.

My husband gets up early with me once a week and makes breakfast for the living room full of teenagers that are my responsibility, not his.

My husband let me keep the puppy and several cats over the years.

My husband, who is an introvert, has fully embraced my intentional-community lifestyle. We have been foster parents, had family live with us, had room mates and regularly host large gatherings in our home.

My husband makes gourmet standard meals for our family and the various other people I invite to live and dine with us.

My husband, though he will not move into a van with me when the kids move out, has agreed to let me park it in his driveway.

My husband worked hard as a blacksmith to provide financially for our family for twelve years and allowed me to stay home with our kids as I wanted to. Then, when we moved and life changed, my husband put his dream of owning his own blacksmith shop on hold. He is now home-schooling our kids so I can work full time with YoungLIfe, my dream job.

Last night, my husband asked me not to order food when I went out with some ladies because he wanted to make me a snack when I got home. The day before Valentine's Day, my husband cooked me lobster, in spite of his strong feelings, sacrificing his stand on an issue, to love me the way my expectations demanded. He is so good to me.

So, on this Valentine's Day, 2014, I am blogging my last Valentine's gift to this amazing man. I am putting this in blog form so I can't take it back and my friends will hold me accountable should I complain in future years.

Alex, I commit to never expect or demand romance just because of Valentine's Day again. I will surprise you with affectionate gifts and gestures throughout the year, for no reason in particular, with no expectations attached, just because I love you. And if, for some unforseen reason, we should find ourselves in need of a specific day to remind us to express our love again, I will make up my very own holiday just for that purpose. It will have nothing to do with anyone else, or even with how I expect you to love me back. It will just be my holiday, just to remind me to love you without expectation of reciprocation. Just like you do for me everyday.

Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Pro-life, Pro-choice **Warning** graphic content

I hope that by the end of this post I have caused a little contemplation on both sides of the debate. Over and over again all I see is violence and defensiveness when this debate comes up. The intelligent and compassionate conversation is drowned out by the voices spitting shame and anger from both sides.

I drive past the hospital and on a fairly regular basis there is a small parade of people walking the street with anti-abortion signs. I see billboards on the highway and tons of posts on facebook and other social media sites. It is everywhere. Some are simply portraying a desire to stop abortion, but some are unbelievably graphic, shame and guilt-inducing, as is the one found at the URL below.

I have a few questions for you. As you stand there in total angry judgement, do you think about the woman who was forced to have an abortion when she was a teenager? Have you thought about the trauma you may be causing without any opportunity at all to bring healing? Have you thought about the current teenage girl or the young woman who has been told she will have to move out if she doesn't end her pregnancy? Have you considered those who have already made this choice, or had the choice made for them, and the depression and guilt you could be causing? This is bullying. Period.

I was a pregnant teenager. It was terrifying and humiliating in a way you can not possibly understand until you walk the hallways of your high school and hear, "slut" whispered behind your back. It's incredibly hard to wake up every morning, and choose to enter that place. But you do it knowing that finishing high school will make a huge difference to how the statistics of your life play out now that you have put yourself into this position. Living in a small town with the physical evidence of your wild teenage choices out there for all to see and judge is no cake walk. Telling people (parents, teachers, pastors, friends), "I'm pregnant" makes your mouth instantly dry.

I am so grateful that I was in a committed relationship that evolved into marriage and more children. I am in awe of my parents whose response was to hug me and care for me through that time. I am so glad they allowed me to make the decisions about how my pregnancy would proceed including allowing me to get married at seventeen. I am exceedingly aware that my experience is not a common one and that the statistics for pregnant teenagers are dismal in regards to poverty in particular.

My last thought on this point is to incite you to please consider the method of your message. What if you are standing there with your picket sign and a woman walks up to you and says you have changed her mind, but her boyfriend/husband/parents don't want the baby? What if she will be homeless because you have convinced her not to have an abortion? Will you let her stay in your spare bedroom? Will you befriend her as she embarks on the difficult journey of single-parenting? Will you help her recover from the heartache of giving her baby away if she chooses adoption? Or will you stand there with your sign and say, "good luck to you!" If you can't answer these questions, put your picket sign down. If you refuse to answer these questions, shame on you!

In John 8:1-11. a woman that was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus. He protects her, he shames the men carrying stones to throw at her and, after he has rescued and protected her, after he has kept her safe and refused to condemn her, only after all of that, does he say, "go and sin no more."

Alright, now to the other side of the debate. Shame on you too! You are just as guilty of giving misinformation and causing harm when you claim to be saving lives. I direct your attention to the URL below.

Consider a scenario where a woman is told false information about what her baby looks like and then post-decision, a decision she can not reverse, she realizes that, yes, at 23 weeks a fetus certainly does look like a person. She also realizes that many premature babies born at a similar gestational age are able to survive with the help of awesome medical services? Do you think that may cause some trauma? Or if she is one of those rare cases and is unable to get pregnant or maintain a pregnancy post-abortion, do you think that might affect her overall sense of well-being?

Also, for fear of re-opening the debate, things like this are still happening, "MP Rod Bruinooge introduced a private member’s bill, C-510, that would have made it a criminal offence to coerce a woman into having an abortion. The legislation was defeated on December 15, 2010."
~ cited from
What?! Of course that should be criminal! If you are pro-choice you should be protecting choice! 

If you are pro-choice, you should be battling for the entire truth to be told to women about their fetus' development and all the possible side-effects, both physically and psychologically, of abortion. Choice is only really choice when it is informed.

If you are pro-choice, you should be battling in the legislation for it to be completely and utterly impossible to coerce any woman into an abortion, via any tactic. You should be making sure that decisions aren't being made because of external relational pressures. Choice is only really choice when you feel like you have options.

To both of you, please stop. Please engage in a conversation that is about health and honesty and healing. Please engage in a conversation of real protection. Please stop making desperate women the victims of your arrogant and stubborn refusal to see each other as intelligent people who may have good motives at the core of your misguided battle. Please.

Again, I am grateful that my parents would not have pressured me into keeping my baby, adoption, or abortion. I am grateful that, inspite of probably going against their better judgment, they even let me choose to be married way too young. However, if they had pressured me in any direction, I don't know what I would have done or felt forced to do. If my husband had been a different man, if I was left without any support, I truly hope that I would not have been left to make choices based on guilt, shame or fear.

I am not neutral in this conversation, but I refuse to stand on one side of the battlefield until the damage the battlefield is causing is addressed. We have some things in common. We are interested in health and human rights. We want women to make informed choices and experience healing and wholeness. We want to prevent poverty and abuse. We have so many of the same motives and goals! Let's talk.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trying to remember

Today is a day of Remembrance so I am trying to remember...

I remember the history books that tell me that war has been a part of the human race for longer than the written word existed and that once words were written, they were often written by the victors.

I imagine, because I can't remember memories I have never shared, what it must have been like for my Grandfathers to march off to war, marching away from their families, marching alongside those who would not march back with them. Following orders in battle against other men following orders.

I remember all my uncles and cousins who bravely followed those footsteps to keep safe the freedom of their country and loved ones. I am grateful for the good fortune that sees them safe today.

I remember the countless men and women who came back and yet never came back. Whose hearts were far more broken than their bones and bodies. The warriors who came back and never stopped battling the shadows of the wars they brought home with them.

I remember the men, women and children in our very own free country who, because of their origin, were removed from their homes and placed in camps out of fear they might become traitors.

I remember the parents and spouses and children who gave their loved ones, in this country and the countries of our enemies and I imagine it is not always so black and white for them. Or maybe it is, maybe it is even more so. I remember that I can not possibly begin to understand, so I will keep remembering to remember.

I remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the decision he made to conspire to assassinate a tyrant. He was unsure if his soul could be pardoned for murder, yet saw no other way to prevent thousands from dying. I remember that he was willing to live, willing to die, and finally, wrestling with his own faith and nature, he was willing to kill for what was right.

I remember Cambodia. I pray, in tears, for the country filled with children who have become the collateral damage of wars fought by other countries. For children who have become nothing more than a commodity to the wealthy pedofiles in free nations. I remember these children and cling to the hope that peace is possible. That the whole world will realize that the price of war is too high.

I remember that just because we are safe in our beds every night night, victors who have won our freedom, does not always mean we are the heroes. I remember this and pray for the wisdom and discernment of our leaders who have such a huge weight of responsibility. Those who decide when bombs are dropped and men are sacrificed and violence is necessary. I do not always agree with their decisions, in fact I often don't, but I respect their willingness to bear such a great burden.

I remember the radical peace-seekers who are teachers and missionaries and doctors and travellers doing their very best to find another way, to be creative, to look for glimmers of hope in hopeless situations. Giving their time, financial security, energy, sometimes their sanity, health and even their lives to mend the the unbearable brokenness found in the world. I remember those who don't just talk or type about peace, but lose themselves in search of it.

I remember that while we have the freedom to have our little Facebook arguments about whether or not TOMS is really helping people, while we complain about the new iPhone update, while we protest whether the poppies we wear should be red or white, while we whine about the cold or the heat or the snow or the rain or prices of gas, wars rage on. Many over the price of gas we complain about. I remember that our brothers and sisters are still being wounded and killed over causes they may or may not agree with. I remember that bombs are being dropped on human beings who may or may not have committed a crime. I remember that children are taking up arms against children because they are hungry and cold and someone with guns and an agenda has offered them food and shelter.

And then I remember, even if just for a moment, to stop complaining because I really have no idea how good I have it.

And then, after all that, I just try to remember, the best I can, to honour the intentions and heartfelt sacrifices of anyone, across this whole planet, who has laid down their life for the sake of others.

My heart heavy and my mind just a little confused of what my role is in all this mess, I finally remember this promise; "....and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Speaking of the kindness cure.....

This was floating around my Facebook page yesterday. It may or may not be true, I didn't research it. I reposted because I think it's beautiful.

"When a woman of the Ubuntu African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes to the jungle with other women, and together they pray and meditate until you get to "The song of the child." When a child is born, the community gets together and they sing the child's song. When the child begins his education, people get together and he sings his song. When they become an adult, they get together again and sing it. When it comes to their wedding, the person hears his song. Finally, when their soul is going from this world, family and friends are approaching and, like his birth, sing his song to accompany him in the "journey".

In the Ubuntu tribe, there is another occasion when men sing the song. If at some point the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, they take him to the center of town and the people of the community form a circle around him. Then they sing "the song." The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, but is the love and memory of his true identity. When we recognize our own song, we have no desire or need to hurt anyone.

Your friends know "your song". And sing when you forget it. Those who love you can not be fooled by mistakes you have committed, or dark images you show to others. They remember your beauty as you feel ugly, your total when you're broke, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when you're confused."

I love the bit about reminding a person of their identity. It really made me think of the people I have worked with who have a criminal record or struggle with addictions. They are constantly reminded of their poor choices and even encouraged and required to identify themselves by their past. I wonder how our justice system could change and incorporate the idea of reminding, especially young offenders, of their identity outside of their mistakes. We could even keep this idea in mind when dealing with kids.

When Levi was in grade 4, he made an unfortunate decision at lunch time. I got a call from the vice-principal to tell me that he pushed a girl down amidst a group of boys. I was shocked, hurt and angry that Levi would even do something like that. When he was three, he was pretending to be a puppy at playgroup and accidentally bit another kid's finger. When he realized what had happened, Levi cried harder than the other little boy. How could my compassionate boy deliberately cause harm to a little girl?!

I drove to pick him up and on the way I prayed. I had no idea how to handle this, it was such a foreign issue. I thought I had done enough preventative parenting for this sort of thing. I asked God to grant me wisdom that day.

When I arrived, my son's face was a mix of defiance and disappointment. He got into the van and we drove in heavy silence as I continued to pray. "Levi, why did you do that today?" "The boys told me too. I want to be their friend." Ah. I understand that motivation. "Levi, all your life there will be opportunities to be a hero or a villain. What did you choose today?" "Villain" was his teary reply. "And, Levi, who are you really?" "I want to be a hero, Mom." "I know, Levi."

The conversation became about why Levi is such a great kid. He had so many people who loved and respected him so much at such a young age. Why would he change that for the respect of a few kids that would never really care about who he really was?

I did not discipline Levi in any way that day. There was absolutely no need. He, of his own accord, wrote that little girl an apology letter. We "sang his song" together that day in the van and it was very effective.

Other than my one story of Levi, I have no scientific studies to prove the value of this idea. That being said, I wonder how many other people in my life would benefit from hearing "their song" when they have failed, hurt someone, or even me. It is something worth contemplating as we brush shoulders and bump into each other. It is an attitude worth cultivating in a world filled with justification, entitlement and the rights of self.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Here's to all the Mama's!

Here's to the Mama's. All the Mama's...

Here's to the women whose wombs never grew round and full with babies, either by choice or circumstance, who still choose to kiss boo-boo's, wipe bottoms, hold hands and dry tears.

Here's to my single, childless friend, who is a mother to many children in Africa, standing guard for them against apathy and demanding better of the rest of the world.

Here's to my friend who already had four of her own and adopted one more because she had more room in her house and in her heart.

Here's to the too many friends who are raising their kids on their own without the partnership of the other parent. They are so brave and so enduring.

Here's to my friend who has seen two of her sweet sweet babies leave this world so soon after they arrived and still managed keep her faith and her gentle spirit.

Here's to the foster moms we have met that love other people's children so well and so completely only to let them go. They choose to repeatedly allow their hearts to be broken in hopes of protecting the little hearts of many.

Here's to the lady in the parking lot of Save-On who threw a snowball at me just because. I don't know her and can't even remember what she looked like, but boy that was fun!

Here's to every neighbour, teacher, friend or stranger who encouraged or taught me. Who didn't give up on me when I was a cheeky kid, restless pot-head or pregnant teenager.

Here's to my husband's mother who raised the most honest, gentle and wise man I know. She taught him to be faithful in everything and to celebrate his uniqueness. He has passed both along to my children.

Here's to my Mama. She is tough as nails on the outside and soft as kittens on the inside. She loves deeply and fiercely and she taught me to do the same.

Here's to me. I started the mama thing a little (OK a lot) earlier than most, but my kids seem to be doing alright in spite of my inexperience.

Here's to all the Mamas. All of us who nurture the shy ones, redirect the willful ones, and taught the weird ones to relish their weirdness. All of us who cheer for sports we never liked watching. All of us who pray desperate prayers in the dark clinging to threads of hope. To all of us who fail, who succeed, who give up, who try again, who just hang in there.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Speaking of kindness......

About three and a half years ago, Alex and I were at a Lifelinks conference in Medicine Hat when the weirdest thing came out of his mouth. "I think we need to plant a church." My response was quick and not well thought out. "You're on crack."

Just for clarity sake, I will state here for the record, that Alex wasn't, nor has ever been on crack. I have been informed that my less than well thought out remarks may have been the cause of certain rumours. Moving on....

My response came largely from the fact that we were seven years in to a church plant in Cranbrook. We weren't the visionaries, but we had been there from the beginning and participated in hashing out the first mission statement. We looked for places to rent, hauled concrete, painted walls, and served in every possible ministry over the course of those seven years. After all those years of sweaty tears and hard work, it was getting really good.  Why leave only to go back to the beginning again? Seriously. Why?

Well, Alex, being the gracious man he is, would occasionally try to start up the conversation but didn't press the issue when I walked away, or closed doors on him, or stared blankly back at him as though I didn't speak English. He waited.

About six months later, around this time of year actually, I was woken up around 2:30 in the morning by a very vivid dream. I was surrounded by kids and their parents, gardening and building fences. It was sunny and warm, our faces and hands were dirty and we were content. Somehow I knew this dream took place in Kelowna, though I had never been there. That I remembered anyway. As I woke up, I realized Alex was wide awake next to me. "If I was to agree to plant somewhere with you, where would we go." At the time his answer was frightening to me. "Kamloops or Kelowna" I did not answer.  I did not immediately tell him about my dream. I simply rolled over and went back to sleep.

Fast forward a few years, a few life lessons, a few mental, emotional, and spiritual growth spurts and we finally moved to Kelowna. We began in March to meet with a group of people wanting to explore the idea of a missional faith community together. It's been good. It's been a stretch. It's been an adventure. Today it began to be a fulfillment of a dream.

Today LRC (Love Revolution Communities) descended on our sketchy fourplex, weeded, mowed, planted, cleaned and built garden boxes for the families who live here. Children dug in the dirt, played with bubbles, and coloured the cement all around the house with sidewalk chalk. Long after we leave here, LRC will have left an impression.

Now here we are, sitting at our kitchen table with a visiting friend and I am reflecting on the day. God is so incredibly, richly good to us. We are surrounded by beautiful people with enormous hearts and kind spirits. Sometimes I miss my childhood home and my heart sits aches a bit in my chest as I go about my life here. Not today though. Today my heart is full, content and satisfied to see this journey through.