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.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The cure of Kindness ~ 6

It works for everyone

It's not a secret. I love Jesus wholeheartedly and try live my life, as integrally as I can, in light of that. That being said, sometimes Christians really bug me. We occasionally claim something as being entirely our domain when it does belong to and function for everyone. Take kindness, for instance.

My kindness story.

As disclaimer before I begin. I loved my parents dearly. For all of their faults, they were good people, Sick perhaps but not evil.

I am a child of Alcohol and Abuse and Neglect. My father was a violent alcoholic, my mother was depressed and played a victim role very well. My parent's parent's before them for generations I am sure, created a normalcy of violence and abuse. It was just the way it was.

I was tiny and most likely dirty too, my hair was unkept and my teeth were unbrushed. My clothes did not fit and were often unmended. I probably did not smell so good. I was bullied at school. I was the flea bag (remember the flea bag? We all do, even if we don't want to admit it.) My life was a living Hell but seriously I didn't know any different.

My Oldest brother died of Alcoholism. My next older brother is on his way there too. By all accounts and statistically I should be in the same boat. I am not. I lead a rich and full life, have a great career and a wonderful family.

Mrs F., the lady down the street, took me under her wing and as a result I got to see how a functioning family worked. She was/is a kind woman. I was able to be at her house as much as I wanted to be. I had chores, and by watching the respect that the people in her family showed each other I was able to copy that behaviour. Her firmness and discipline came out of a place of deep kindness and respect.
We moved away from Mrs F. when I was 10. I watched as my sister and my parents fought and she moved in with her abusive boyfriend, who she would later marry and who would eventually make her life unbearably miserable.

I Isolated myself in my own little world and through school met a few friends, One in particular who was brave enough to tell me that I needed to brush my teeth and wash my hair. She literally showed me how to find clothes that would fit, how to run the washer and dryer. My circle of friends grew and they forced me to learn how to order at MacDonald's, which doesn't sound like that big a deal unless you are so afraid all of the time that you cannot function. My friends did this out of kindness. My friends were kind. I don't know how I would have made it through adolescence without them.

Then there were the teachers who made a difference in my life.

Mr G. my music teacher who once again with firmness and respect demanded the best from me. He had faith in me and in my talent, made me believe, truly believe that I was talented and smart. With a firmness based in kindness He told me to “suit up and show up, keep at it, your dreams are worth it and you are worthy.” His kindness no less than saved my life.

Mrs. G. my grade 10 social studies teacher who looked the bullies in the eye and told them 'enough' I was safe in her classroom and excelled academically for the first time in my life.

Mr. W. whose class I showed up to because the above mentioned teachers made me feel I could do anything I wanted to do. When I darkened the door of his A stream English class – which was WAY over my head - he made me feel welcome. Never once belittled me for my lack of grammar and inability to put a sentence together let alone spell. He talked to me privately and lent me basic english text books to use on my own time. He DID make my C+ at the end of term feel like the Order of
Canada! He allowed me to do homework for other classes while our class was having discussions (ADD does have an upside) so I didn't have to fall behind because goodness knows the course load in his class was something that I was surely not used to.

There is the kindness from two of my friends, L. and M. whom I recruited to join me in this English class so that I would not be alone. We discovered the English Language together, the three of us, with Mr. W.'s help

The kindness of my Husband. Ahhh, the kindness of my husband. I remember being with his bickering family for the first time and being so afraid and he put his hand on my back and whispered in my ear “Nobody is going to hit anybody” Those were the most magnificent words I had ever heard.
The kindness of people changed the course of my life! The odds say I should not be where I am today. I would not be here if it had not been through the kindness of others. I try to pass this kindness on in the work that I do and in my every day dealings.

Yes the world is full of evil, we can choose to dwell on that and throw our arms up in the air and say 'whatever' but I choose not to. I choose to be kind.

And by the way, for information's sake, I am an atheist just in case anyone was wondering.