Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Unto us a child is born

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David." - Luke 1:68-69

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." - John 1: 14

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him... On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." - Matthew 2:1-2; 11

In one hour, it will be Christmas.

I would first like to state that I do, in fact, recognize that historically, this is not the accurate date for Christ's birth, and is actually a celebration that tried to amalgamate Christian beliefs with old non-Christian religious festivals held during the winter solstice.

Nonetheless, whether Jesus was born in mid-August, mid-December, or mid-April (the most accurate time of his birth), I can never give up a chance to celebrate a good thing.

So here begins my thoughts about Christmas.

Jesus came as a little baby, born out of a virgin womb, to the world. He was born to a woman who was not yet married, and was probably an outcast from her community, as it is likely people failed to believe in immaculate conception as much as we fail to believe it today.

He was born outside, through the pains and disgusting fluids of childbirth, and then placed in the lowliest of places - a manger, a feeding trough for animals. He was a crying, pooping, bloody little child, but in him, the world would find its salvation.

And then, who were the first to find out about the coming of this small child but shepherds, outcasts of society who spent their days in fields watching sheep. The poor, outcast shepherds. And the angels came not to the kings, not to the priests, not to the teachers or leaders or wealthy or even to family relatives of Mary or Joseph - they came to the shepherds.

The coming of Christ was not on clouds of fire, but it was a coming that reached to the hearts of the outcasts. It was for the people that society deemed unworthy, but who God saw as beautiful. Christ, in his lowly, baby state, was a king. And not a king of the powerful, but of the meek, the humble, the "inept", the impoverished, the "others", the ones that people said weren't worth it.

He was the God of people like me.

My comment is whether or not we have fully come to recognize how that role extends to the church. Because if that is the case, if Christ came first to the outcasts, then this is where we should be. Especially at Christmas.

So where is the outcast amongst you today? Is it your neighbours down the street? Is it the man you see on the street corner each morning? Is it the woman wrapped in blankets, sleeping on the sidewalk? Is it the new immigrant family that is searching for a friend? Is it your parents? Is it your uncle? Is it your wife?

God is not the God of the perfect. He is the God of the meek and humble. And he came in a meek and humble state, living a human life - fully aware of our pain, our sorrow, our struggles - to understand our needs, to save us from our sins, and to set up his kingdom.

I find it interesting that Jesus came as a child, and then used children to illustrate who the greatest among his disciples should be.

Matthew 18:2-3 "At the same time came the disciples to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to him, and set him in the middle of them, and said, "Truly I say to you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

So I ask myself if I am ready to become a child before God. Am I ready to become last, to trust in Him completely, to give up everything for Him, but to be His child?

I think I am, partially because I doubt anyone but Him would accept a screw up like me. Now to get my life in line with it. But like a child, I am learning, making mistakes, asking forgiveness, and then getting back up again. And this is the best I can give. 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; ...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Standing Under Grace

Bonoeffer, in his work "The Cost of Discipleship" said that "the source of the disciple's life lies exclusively in his fellowship with Jesus Christ. He possesses his righteousness only within that association, never outside it. That is why his righteousness can never become an objective criterion to be applied at will. He is a disciple not because he possesses such a new standard, but only because of Jesus Christ, the Mediator and very Son of God." (183)

So here is the truth: standing under grace, I am a sinner that has been forgiven only through the grace of the One who died on the cross to make me worthy to stand before him clean.

And if this is true, if I am only forgiven through the One who forgives, not through my own "righteousness" or "good deeds," then I have no place to judge anyone else. The only worth I have is as a beloved child of God. And that is what we all are - even the non-Christians, the atheists, the ones who cast God aside - we have all been paid for by Christ - the difference is that I have chosen to follow Christ's lead and am trying to make myself one with Him. Others are not. They do not recognize the immense love that God's provided for them, the free love, the love that springs joy overflowing in my heart.

So then, how do we approach the sinner? What is the church's role in seeing someone commit sin?

"In the love of Christ, we know all about every conceivable sin and guilt; for we know how Jesus suffered, and how all men have been forgiven at the foot of the cross. Christian love sees the fellow-man under the cross and therefore sees with clarity. If when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil, we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. But if we are on the look-out for evil in others, our real motive is obviously to justify ourselves, for we are seeking to escape punishment for our own sins by passing judgment on others, and are assuming by implication that the Word of God applied to ourselves in one way, and to others in another" (185).

For we should be ever aware that Christ is the ruler of our hearts. We should be ever aware that we never once deserved heaven. We never once deserved love. We never once deserved forgiveness. We never once deserved Christ. We are standing here because of grace. So how can we then, approach a sinner, and judge them for the very sins that we ourselves are guilty of? For our very worth, our very righteousness comes only through Christ! It is only through Him - so approach the sinner knowing that he is the same as you - under the grace of Christ, and then open his eyes to the love and grace that's open to him too. For we are one in the same sinner. And we are all beloved by God - some have yet to recognize that yet, and that is just sad. It's not something to be angry about. Your self-righteousness is the greatest sin of all - the idea that you are God.

"There is only one judgment, one law, and one grace. Henceforth, the disciple will look upon other men as forgiven sinners who owe their lives to the love of God."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The silent demons that take us all

Two summers ago, I plopped onto a plane and went to Uganda. The pre-story to that is quite detailed, so I'll spare you the lengthy story. Feel free to ask me about it another time - or look back at my Uganda blog.

While I was there, I went to a church, where people ran out screaming from the congregation in a wild panic. There were woman collapsing in the aisles, having seizures. There was one woman who ran terrified down an aisle that was crowded with people, tripping and hurting herself along the way.

I was - to say the least - a bit confused. So I asked about it. And my friend told me they were possessed by demons. That the pastor would perform those little rituals to take the demons out, and they'd be completely normal again. And I asked if this happened very often, and my friend said, "Why yes! All the time!"

(I should note here that I don't think one person's "yes" means that all churches are like this. I'm quite sure that there are many Ugandan churches that are not. Yet for the sake of making this point, I will continue the argument below.)

So I went back home and started doing more research on Uganda. About the spiritual realm of the people, about how they consult spirits in performing community rituals, in how they believe in the "cen" or evil spirits that haunt a place of murder or killing. There is a very spiritual realm in Uganda. One that faces them outright all the time. Religion and government are infused, religion and country divisions are infused, community religious traditions are infused with social cohesion - not all of this Uganda's religion, but that of missionaries - and so there is a very present and real spiritual realm to life for most of the population.

And so, coming back to Canada, I wondered why we never see these outbursts here in churches. Why there aren't any crazy sudden seizures or visible demon-possession?

And I wondered if maybe, the most vicious kind of demon-possession of all is the one that is silent. The one that doesn't take us into fits, but rather, spirals us down and down, very slowly and surely, in until we're stuck in patterns of sin. These demons are more pervasive and crooked than those that cry out, because the ones that cry out can be cast away in the name of Jesus. Ours just sit there and fester, growing  their beloved infection each and every day. They are the hidden demons that we continue to deny out of shame.

They are the greed we harbour, they are the search for pleasure in relationships, in success, in food, in sex, in those things that distract us from our very core identity as children of God, as the disciples of Christ, as the beloved spouse of God. They are silent and swift, and we choose to ignore them, because to recognize them means that we need to let them go. We would have to cast them away from us, to exorcise them out of ourselves, and put Jesus first there instead. Which would mean giving everything up. It would mean basing our identity on a man who died, hanging on a cross, beaten and bruised by the very ones that he gave up all for, that he loved with everything he had. And this is our calling - to die to everything we have, to give it all up for His glory, and to follow Him to the cross.

So we must exorcise out our demons. First greed, then hatred, then the idols of relationships, of success, of food, of sex, of violence, of anything at all that "possesses" us. We must recognize that our demons may not be screaming, they may not throw us on the floor in seizures, but they are real and deadly. And they are holding us back from going out on a limb to be all that we can be.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Living for something

Sometimes, as I stand and wait for the bus, profound things pass through my mind. I ponder them for a moment, and then they fly away.

I think that - perhaps - in my dazed morning state, I find these passing thoughts more profound than  they actually are. If I'm honest with myself.

Anyways, today I had one of these dazed morning states. I heard on the radio that a 27-year-old girl had died about 15 minutes from my house, that she attended the same university as me.

And I started to think about life, and living, and wondering why it is that we all go about living with the intention of tomorrow. We all have our goals, our dreams, our plans to get right with so and so, or to lose weight, to get rich and famous, to do something good at the most convenient time.

But we are never guaranteed tomorrow. Just right now, this moment.

One of the greatest truths of life is that when we die, we take nothing with us. We will not take our money, we will not take our homes, our cars, our perfect little lives. But we will leave behind a legacy - whether it be a short or a long one - in our friends, in our family, in the people we spoke to, the people we danced with, the people we smiled with, the people we helped in the midst of their distress. We also leave the people we hurt, the people we scorned, the people that we did not place on equal grounds with us. We can't simply live. We need to live for something. To live every moment with purpose and with intention and with love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness that we will someday need in return too. Possibly soon.

There's precious little time in life. We need to remember this, and value the people, things, and work around us accordingly. Because in the end, there's only a very few things that matter, and I think it's almost only at this last second that we finally realize what they were, and wish we'd put the value where it was due.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Art of Helping Another

The other night, I was walking along the street to a nearby wine store with a friend and noticed a man sitting on the sidewalk, asking for money. We were on our way to a friend's house, and they were waiting for us, but as I past him again, I noticed a stream of blood running down his leg, staining his shoes and the sidewalk.

No one had stopped to help him. No one had done anything about it at all. As I was with a friend, I asked if we could stop and find a place to pick up some things for him. So I went to a convenience store, found some paper towels, a large water bottle to clean the wound and stop the bleeding, and got some polysporin. I went back across the street and gave it to him, and he told me that he was calling the Salvation Army for a pick up. I left him at that point and went to my friend's house.

You know, I am angry with myself for that. I am angry that I did not take the time to stop, ask his name, and make sure he got a ride to the Salvation Army, as I should have. I didn't even stay to see if he was okay to clean his wounds. Yes, my friend wanted us to get back to my other friend's place, who was expecting us, but I could have stayed and waited with him. I could have. But I didn't. Partially because I was afraid. Partially because I knew my friend would be waiting for me and getting worried about what was happening - although I easily could have called. And partially because I simply knew that if I took the time to help him, that I would likely not be spending any time with my friends that evening. And this last reason is - to my own shame - probably the biggest factor.

And I know, in my heart of hearts, that Jesus would have spent his time with that man. He would have left his friend's house and company and sat on that sidewalk with him, even in the incoherent state of mind that man was in. So I have to question myself. To admit my own mistakes. To say that despite my best intentions, I don't even know if he used those things I bought for him. I don't know if he's okay. If his wound is infected, or if he got to the Salvation Army. And here I am, thinking about him right now. 

I think it's a sad sight when our society gets to the point that a man who is bleeding and hurt, without money on the street, remains ignored. No one did anything. And my very minute gesture was rather pathetic. I recognized his hurt, but I still left him to figure out the details.

We are all broken people in a world desperate for God's grace. May we bear the burdens and pain of others, to the detriment of our own convenience, to bring some light to a dark place. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rags to Riches

It's easier to experience culture shock than most people realize. I certainly have gone through a bit of culture shock just coming from one Southern Ontario city to another.

I worked at an inner-city church all summer, working with youth, adults, and young children. Some came to a food, clothing, and breakfast program, others I met at a soccer camp, others I met through working with the nearby school, breakfast program, after-school program, and day camp that was running through the summer. There would be kids who would come in with no food in their bellies, there would be kids who would say things that no child should know how to say, and they would do things that I can only assume they learned from someone else. And I loved those children. My heart burst for them. They taught me how to find joy in such little things, they taught me how important it is to discipline a child with love, how much a child needs to, loves to, desires to be told that they have a purpose in this life and that they are so precious and valuable, for no other reason than that they are who they are.

And now I'm studying for my Masters. I've come across people who angrily said that Tim Horton's should know better than to not serve creamy soup as a vegetarian option. I came across people who complained that there are too many leather, comfy swivel chairs in a room - that is rather spacious anyways. This isn't to say that I don't do the same thing too - I've complained in my own time about stupid little things that I shouldn't complain about. That I don't deserve to complain about.

But here's the thing: when you have everything in the world, then you complain about every little thing when it's not there. We think we are somehow "entitled" to things. And it's disgusting. It's plain disgusting. All I can do is laugh at how very ignorant we are to the pain, suffering, and struggles of the people living all around us.

The only thing that "entitles" me to anything at all is the fact that I have money in my bank account, I have a nice diploma on my wall, and I have a family that raised me in a beautiful neighbourhood in the suburbs and afforded me all the necessities and non-necessities I could ask for. Others are not so fortunate to have all of that. They will live their lives without even being able to afford Tim Horton's or a Master's program. They will struggle to feed themselves day-to-day, they will struggle to clothe themselves. And they will - if you meet them - rarely complain. They know that it's wrong, they know that they need what they need, but there's a matter-of-factness to it.

I am disgusting for believing that anything I have is anything but a privilege. I only hope that I can use it to serve others, to serve the people that God loves in the same unfathomable way He's loved me. Help me Lord to do so.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Letter to the Church:

Dear Church:

I am often left to wonder to myself what makes us different from everyone else. I wonder, besides the angry protest signs and outrageous acts of deference, what distinguishes us? What makes us peculiar, unusual, extraordinary?

I'm reading Bonhoeffer, and I have to say, the man is a genius. He's opened my eyes to so many things in my faith that I really need to re-ground myself in. But I think what's really hit me is this: Jesus came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.

I've often struggled with the Old Testament, wondering what its main purpose was in relation to Jesus. Well, here you go. God set up in Israel a "nation" - which became a political entity with rules and regulations - and it was under these political terms that Israel became known. And this nation struggled - as every flawed human does - and contrived these rules and regulations to "get right with God."

Jesus, however, said that he was the fulfillment of the law. And you know how He did it? He severed our political ties to an entity, and directed our political allegiance instead to God. When we become Christians, we have severed all ties to the political systems of this world, and are tying ourselves to God's, and His alone. And it is through this lens that we should be living our life.

So what is this new political allegiance? And what does it entail? Well, it's not all that appealing, although it is beautiful. It calls us to put aside our possessions and wealth, our definitions of "success," our quest for self-aggrandizement, our need to assert our "rights" and "freedoms" (which we no longer take up as part of the world), and instead, come and die with Christ. We are called to a life where we actively love our enemies, set aside our pride to glorify God, and to actively remember Christ's cross. The cross on which Christ endured the greatest pain and suffering because He loved you. The cross which symbolized our own cross which we should be taking up alongside Him as members of this new kingdom. Where we come and die to ourselves to bring God's love to those around us. We show mercy to the same extent that Christ showed us mercy on the cross. We are peacemakers to the extent that Christ said "Forgive them Father, for they do not know what they do," while we mocked him as he wreathed in pain on the cross. We are persecuted to the extent of Christ, who did not resist a punishment He never deserved. We love our enemies to the extent that Christ loved us in the midst of putting Him to death. We are called to love and serve the poor to the extent that Christ was homeless, and served the needy, the sick, the lame. We are called to reach out to the untouchables to the extent that Jesus ate dinner with the man who haunted island folklore, the naked man possessed by an army of demons, who lived in a cave and breaks chains with brute strength, and who caused a whole herd of pigs to drown tragically in a river for the number of demons that were living inside of him. This is the extraordinary, the unusual, and peculiar kingdom of Christ. And it is ours to grasp.

We cannot link ourselves to our nation-states of Canada or the US or wherever we live. We are more than that - we are Christians. And our kingdom has a much higher calling. We do not fight wars - we love our enemies. We recognize that the failings of our society, that the call for social justice, can only be fully realized through Christ's kingdom, which sees the faults in all and the value in everyone despite these blatant failures.

What a Church we would be if we recognized our true political allegiances to Christ! It would be revolutionary! Instead, we have people protesting homosexuality, abortion, and turning away the homeless from the doors of our churches. Put down your signs and your pride, and love the people that God loves just as much as you. If you aren't picking up your cross and dying to yourself everyday, then you need to ask yourself whether or not you are really following Jesus.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Comfortable Sinner

Oh comfortable sinner, with so many woes of life, who do you belong to?

When did you last go hungry, fall ill, face persecution, go naked? When did you last wonder if you could make it to tomorrow?

We are so blanketed by our wealth and our comfort. We have the covers pulled over our eyes, and the world remains veiled to us. We've never struggled, we've never suffered, we've never had to.

Perhaps we've never lived.

Instead, we eat our fill. And then we eat more to find pleasure or comfort.
We get sick, but we get well just as easily. Science and money solves all, and we rarely face death until our age bends us and wears us down at the end of the journey, and takes us into eternal rest.
We have a home. We have a warm place to go in the cold, a cool place to go in the heat, and a bed to sink into at the end of the day.
We have clothes. So many clothes. They express our "style" and our "personality" - we keep up an image, our status and class, and judge others accordingly. The "blue collar" and "white collar" workers. The hippies. The homeless. The middle-class. The upper-class. The professionals.
We have "rights." We need not sort out conflict between ourselves. I will sue you instead. I need not take violence and aggression. I will hit you back.

Our senses have dulled. We trust in nothing but ourselves, though we truly struggle with nothing but ourselves, blaming everyone and everything else for the faults found within our world.

We don't all live like this. We struggle for food in areas of famine. We struggle to survive in areas of conflict. Our children are dying. We are sick and unable to get medicine. We are refugees of conflict, of climate change, of persecution. We struggle. We survive. We know what it is to live and to die.

Thoreau said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Yet for the wealthy, our desperation comes not from need. It comes from a lack of challenge. We've never had to trust or to have faith in anything bigger than ourselves, and yet, we cannot find within ourselves enough to satisfy the cravings of the heart. We search for it. We search for it in relationships - in family, in friends, in lovers, in sex, in marriage, in raising children. We search for it in food - in sweet comforts and delicacies. We search for it in money - in power and the sense of control it brings. We search for it in success - in defining ourselves by how well we're doing in society. We search for it in power - in asserting our power over others through racism, sexism, violence, ageism, homophobia, and discrimination of all sorts. But we never find it. It is our elusive quest for the unattainable satisfaction.

It is truly only God, only Jesus, that will give us that true life. Everything else in this world blinds us from who we are in Christ - we must die to the word, and the things in it, to truly find a life worth living. Because it's not by "getting things" that we come to find ourselves, that merely serves to clutter our lives into such a mess that we lose our very identities. Instead, it is by giving everything up, dying to these things of the world, that we truly understand who we are. - God's beloved child, lost sheep, the least of these that is loved by the best, the beloved bride that will be united with their Saviour someday. This is my core, and all else is but a faded image in the light of it.

Luke 9:23-25: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Passionately waiting, diligently seeking

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst. 

Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
    in throwing roadblocks in the way.

Lamentations 3:25-32

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Informed but inactive

We live in the age of information. We have access to widespread information to every daily newspaper, radio show, television show at our fingertips via the internet. We can look up scholarly papers, journal articles, books, documentaries, amongst other media, on basically any topic we wish. We should be the most informed public ever.

There seems to be this great ideal that people desire to take action when they hear about a certain catastrophe, to mobilize in unity for a cause as information is disseminated across the globe. Indeed, this is the reason why many journalists investigate and report, why writers write, why documentary filmmakers film, why charities send flyers about their needs and global disasters. Maybe I am cynical, but I am wondering where the change-makers are now.

There is little else more frustrating than the ironies I often find myself in, listening to conversations about helping the poor, about the injustices in the world, about how children are killing people as part of the military, about the lack of love and selflessness and generosity, and then just sitting there. It seems a bit conflicting for me.

You see, I am just as guilty as everyone else. I get angry about these things. I rant about them. But what right do I have to do so? What right? Here I am, sitting at my fancy laptop, writing down my worries right now, and I don't deserve to. I don't deserve my full and satisfied belly. I don't deserve my extensive wardrobe that allows me to wear a different shirt everyday. I don't deserve my cellphone. I don't deserve the Masters education that I've been given. I don't deserve my family and friends, and perfect unfettered life. All of these are my luxuries - they are the products of an unchallenged life that has never fully had to trust in God for everything she's been given. I am a spoiled, frightened little girl that is unwilling to give up her daily comforts to trust in God's provisions and actually do something.

I recognize that I can do something in the place I am now. I certainly can. But I often question whether or not I have been called to something much greater - or lesser - however you wish to view it. Or do I continue in the patterns of this world, and never question the fact that God called me to give up everything and follow Him? Is that what I am doing with my life right now? Or am I lying to comfort myself that it is okay to live the way I do in my comfortable Western life - whether or not I complain, I am still living at this standard - and continue in it?

Sometimes, I think about what Jesus did on the cross. He gave up everything, he endured the greatest pain - a pain that He asked God to take away from him if possible - and followed God's will anyway. Because He loved me that much. And I think about the fact that I have trouble praying in front of my non-Christian friends because I fear offending them. And I am ashamed that I am so below His grace and love, as He paid the ultimate cost, while I can barely pay the very simple ones.

If faith is the embodiment of belief through obedience and action, then I must take up my cross and follow Christ, the one who paid everything so that I could follow despite my weakness. Now the time comes to actually do something, rather than simply say that I will and never follow through.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Here, I find myself, Here - I am.

There are a few times in our lives that we question our identity. We question who we are, and our purpose on this Earth. And we question why we are where we are, and how we got here, and whether this place, which includes our very selves at this moment in time, is where we should be.

Such questions are good ones, I believe, for they make us question ourselves, our place, and our purpose. We must question the things that we've made important, and question whether or not our priorities are good.

I think we all crave direction. We crave a sense of knowing, understanding, and being. We crave a sense of "place". To not have something that gives us direction is to not have something that gives us the motivation to wake up and face yet another day. We need something to live for, and we need something that tells us how we should live.

C.S. Lewis said that "If I find within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

I believe that the only identity and direction that will ever satisfy us truly is the one we find as a child of God. And isn't that a beautiful picture? A child, gripping their father's hand, trusting him completely to guide them where they need to go, to mold them into who they will be, and to love them when they fall, mess up, or need a shoulder to cry on. And that is who we should be.

I remember being a small child, and getting lost in a clothing store. My mom thought my dad was taking me, and my dad thought my mom was taking me, and I was left without either in the women's bra department. I was so scared that I started to cry, because I couldn't find my parents, I didn't know what would happen to me, and large frilly undergarments were hanging around me in all directions (what little child would not find this horrifically frightening?). Little did I know that my father was two aisles away from me - and he definitely would have come back to search for me if something happened. Eventually a kind woman with her own children came along and helped me find him, and I was happy once again.

Think about how many times our own lives seem like this story of the child who seems so lost, so scared, without direction or guidance, and seeking something that they don't know how to find. God is near though. And He's always searching for us. And more than that, He loves us, and in Him, we find the assurance of who we are, the call to be exactly who we're supposed to be, and the love to inspire us to be so.

So, whilst I may find myself in a new place, with seemingly few friends and guidance and constant questions about my future, I embrace the fact that Christ is holding my hand and fathering me in this very place.

Here, I find myself. Here - I am.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

So human

“And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

There's a part of my heart that is tugged by this quote. I think it's beautiful, and I think it's real. Here is Lot and his wife running - running from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - and God asks them not to look back. But the wife does anyways. As if, in a moment of despair, she turns around because she knows that she will never again see the place she once called home. She will never again see the people that surrounded their family. She will leave everything. And she looks back one more time.

I almost want to ask her if she knew what was going to happen. If she knew that when she turned around that she would die, if she would have done it anyways.

I think there's a lot of times in our own lives when we cling to the things that we've left behind. We cling to our place, our family, our friends, our homes. And it's so easy to do, because part of us is built for relationship. And we build these relationships and make memories and stories that then attach us to a place or a thing or a building. And it breaks our heart to leave it behind.

I don't think that Lot's wife was leaving a really good thing. For anyone who knows the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, just prior to fleeing the city, the following happens:

"Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Basically, all the men in the city wanted to gang rape the men (who were really angels) visiting Lot's family. Not exactly the most pleasant of cities to live, not in my opinion at least. It seems a bit similar to that of an abusive relationship - where the woman keeps taking the man back because she really does want him to change, she really hopes that he will, that despite his faults, she wants to redeem him. Yet he never does, and the abuse continues.

Yet, we would never blame the woman. I think we'd like to call it misguided grace, broken hope, or forgiveness that's been extended one too many times. At some point though, there is a need to not turn back. To leave it behind.

Looking back one last time at the object you used to love, that you wished to redeem, is indeed something that is so human. But when the time comes to let go, we must let go and trust that something much better is in store.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The only life worth living

What would it mean if we truly tried to live? What is the only true life?

Jesus gives us grace. Most people understand this concept - for the most part. I think we can all think of examples where this isn't true, but generally, this is understood. I actually think this concept is misused, because we use "grace" as an excuse to continue in our sins, knowing that Christ loves us unconditionally and will forgive us.

While such grace is truly the only thing that can save us, the only thing that makes us worth anything, and surely, we are all the prodigal Son and the elder brother who can never ever earn our way into full relationship with our Father, what is grace worth if there is never a response? And that is what our lives have become! Self-indulgent lives that lean back on "grace" and never count the cost.

Bonhoeffer said that "grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life."

Think of an activist who believed that we should not be supporting big corporations. Now imagine such activist shopping at Starbucks, Wal-Mart, GAP, buying Coca-Cola and Kraft products, and living the high life on fast foods. I think we would all say that he is no activist at all. Even more blatant, imagine an anti-poverty activist who had never even met the poor, never donated to or served at a food bank or drop-in, living the high life in a million-dollar mansion in Hollywood. What do you think of such a person?

The life worth living is the one that aligns itself in full with its faith, and with the grace of the gospel. And this grace is not free - we are bought at a price, and we are called to likewise pick up our own cross to follow Christ. If we cannot count the cost, then we are not living.

I'm tired of discussing things. We do that so much. We do that in class, we do that with friends, we do that at fancy charity dinner parties, we do that on Sunday mornings. That's great for a time, but if all we ever do is discuss ideas and thoughts, then nothing ever gets done. We are only sending our voices to a wind until it eventually dissipates into nothingness.

We just need to live. Truly live. Struggle, hurt, love, weep with someone whose just lost a friend or been hurt. I want to be poor. I want to live with the poor. I want to know what it is to take up the cross of Jesus and truly suffer like He did. I want to stand up for myself instead of trying to please people. I want to live as if I was living for no one else but God. I want to love a child and watch them grow up and see and understand the world, to see good and evil, and strive towards the very best good. I want to cry and dance and dream and share and be present.

The only life worth living is the one that costs us our life.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Idols in the closet

I made a beautiful friend this summer. Beautiful in the truest sense of the world - where you look at them and think that they are a very rare gem in the midst of a cloudy, smokey haze. He rubbed off on me, and I think he challenged me with my own personal "idols in the closet." It's through conversations with him, reading Timothy Keller's Counterfeit Gods, and through a vision or dream that God was humbly teaching me about "idols" - something that, I believe, often seems irrelevant today without "graven images". ha.

All of this to say, well really - to confess - that I believe that I have made romance/a need to feel love/having a husband/getting married/whatever you want to call this - into an idol. It's something that often consumes my time, that I get wrapped up in, or at least, I used to. It's definitely something I've started to break free from, but it was also something that controlled me for a while too.

I think it's dangerous to say things like, "There's no greater thing than to have loved and to be loved." You know - perhaps there isn't, but it's not from another person that you'll get the greatest love. It's from God. And when we start trying to put other things in the way of that love, then they become a distraction from our truest selves, from our truest life, from the only life worth living. And the only husband worth having.

See - I wrote down a dream I had a while ago, and interpreted it in a way that I don't think quite fit. Here's my dream once again: "In my vision, I saw a figure. Misfigured, made up of layer upon layer of fat, covered in smoker's stains, abused, beaten, tainted, dirty, unwanted. It was so hideous and ugly that I could barely make out the gender of it. Yet I knew that the thing was me - it was me "in my sin".

I carried the burdens of a thousand years of guilt, yet as I looked upon this figure of myself, I was sorrowful. And I realized that I was sitting at the foot of the cross. And my soul longed to be rid of who I was, of this body that I felt did not belong to me.

Suddenly I began to shed. The layers of skin and fat and grime and dirt and bruises fell off of me. Everything fell off of me until there I was. I was me - only better. I was the most perfect version of myself I'd ever seen. And I was naked and beautiful and dancing while laughing and smiling in the glory of the cross. I felt as if this was perhaps what my soul looked like when I first fully accepted Christ and delighted in him completely.

And then Jesus looked on me and smiled. He held me in his arms and I felt as if he desired me... ahem... sexually. He wanted me to be united to him completely. I felt as if this was the kind of desire a husband would have for his wife on his wedding night, only it was God's desire for me.

But I was scared. I didn't think I was worthy enough and I resisted. I ran away to someone else and tried to marry him instead - but I was so unhappy. It didn't satisfy me in any way that I wanted it to. It felt so... it felt like a dimmer version of what I had with Christ. As I fled Christ's glory for fear that I was unworthy of it, I fell into a darkness from being away from him, and a new layer of my old skin fell on me.

As I looked upon this new self, I became disheartened and sad. I realized that while I was scared of returning to Jesus, that I felt completely unworthy of his love, that I equally knew that I didn't want this extra burden upon me - and that a part of me longed for the joy I felt in his arms. So I returned. Only this time, it took a bit longer to get off that extra layer. Jesus had to scrub me, and I had to scrub too."

I think this dream reveals the heart of an idol. How the quest for our "soulmate" or the "perfect person" comes up so short. We will never be our truest selves when we pursue something besides Christ. We must be fully united with Him in order to come to understand everything else around us as Christians. It is only in our fullest unity with Him that we will become our fullest selves and thus live our fullest lives. Without that, we are nothing.

I think a second lesson can be taken from this dream. That the disappointment I suffered from the man I fled to - I think this is representative of the disappointments people experience in marriage when they discover that the person is not the "god-like" person they thought they would be. They aren't perfect, they make mistakes, and it's really super hard to love them and stick with them. I don't think that it makes marriage a bad thing though, just hard. And often worth it if you're willing to put in the effort - although it's certainly not easy. And it will hurt, and you may end up hating yourself and the other person for all the struggles you go through.

I think marriage and relationships are easily idols - idols of our culture and family and church even. And we must be willing to recognize that they can never ever ever satisfy us like Christ can. And He will satisfy you like no other.

Bring it on.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trusting God's plan

I think there are many times in our lives when things unfold in a way that seems... unfair. Disastrous. Like, you wish you could be in control of the world and plan things differently. Or maybe, you just don't understand why your life is the way it is, and you wish it could be different. I have - that's generally why I write each of my blog posts. I am writing about something I am personally dealing with, and feel the need to write until I understand why it's happening. I find writing helps me find clarity.

Anyways, I was reading this beautiful book the other month, and this one passage keeps sticking with me. I want to share it with you:

"Every evening around six, Terry would set dinner on the table, and the family would sit down to eat. And every night, almost without fail, the kids would start to whine. Unless it was chicken nuggets and French fries, there were going to be problems at dinner. One evening, Cassy, who was quite good at lobbying the family for what she wanted, lay down on the kitchen floor and rolled over in frustration about having to eat whatever it was Terri had prepared. John stood at the corner of the island in the kitchen and watched her, trying not to laugh. She twisted and turned and moaned and complained, but John stood silently, not letting her manipulate him. Finally, Cassy belted out the now famous line: "Dad, how could you do this to me?" John and I covered over mouths and looked away in hysterics.

But here is what is so interesting about that scene. Cassy actually believed what she was saying had merit. The pain and frustration she felt about dinner that night was the same pain and frustration you and I probably feel about not getting the job we want, the car we want, or whatever. Looking back, it struck me how often I have wondered, sometimes out loud to God, "How could you do this to me?"

It's funny for me to think about how often this is true of me. How very often, I am unwilling to trust God's plan, and instead blurt out, "How could you do this to me?" We don't always like God's answers, but I do believe He knows best. I guess I just need some convincing sometimes.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5,6

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chewing on a thought

Hello there:

My very brilliant friend said something the other day, and I like to keep tabs on brilliant quotes. So here it is.

"When people say, "Don't judge me," they really mean, "You're no better than me." And they're right. We're not."

The end. Very simple, but very wise. Brilliance recorded. Let's chew.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

If - By Rudyard Kipling

This poem is a worthy read, and life quest. My only quandary comes with the last line, which I would prefer to revise to something gender-neutral and inclusive to all who are seeking out a good life.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

--- To revise this last sentence, I believe that "Man" and "son" should be revised to implicate their full meaning - leadership through strength of heart, character, soul, actions, and words. To persevere through great difficulty in life is not an easy task. We are faced with temptation, anger, frustration, exhaustion, and are worn down on every side. It is easy to give up and succumb in times of trial. Yet - I believe that those who hold strong, who face mighty storms and sail on with a gentle strength, whose leadership is solidified through humble example, make the world a better place by just being in it. And if there is, in fact, 6 degrees of separation between us all, one individual of great character will make all the difference and give the world the hope it needs to pursue a higher road together.

Thoughts on Saying Goodbye (without your world ending)

I read a paper once by a very smart lady whose name currently escapes me. - A very unfortunate circumstance indeed, because I would love to give her the credit for spurring forward this thought - alas, my mind is not quite so sharp at the current moment. But perhaps, later on, I will revise this particular article and put her name in. For now, please excuse this diversion. - In her article, she put forward the idea that there is a "dependency-producing" condition in relationships that is as detrimental as addictions.

Let's simplify that statement. Here's some various song lyrics:

- "How do I live without you? I want to know. How do I breathe without you? If you ever go. How do I ever, ever survive? How do I?" - LeAnne Rimes, 'How Do I Live'

- "You're all that I want. You're all that I need. Can't you see how I feel? Can't you see my pain is so real?" - The Moffats, 'I miss you like crazy'

- "I'd catch a grenade for you (yeah, yeah, yeah), throw my hand on the blade for you (yeah, yeah, yeah), I'd jump in front of a train for ya" Bruno Mars, Grenade

If I based my life on this, I'd be dead already.

Here's the thing - we cannot DEPEND on relationships to satisfy us. We will never find ourselves, our identities, or anything about who we are in another person, even if they are really great. Like, really REALLY great. They could be superman, and they still won't make you YOU. Nor will they ever fully satisfy you - people change, situations change, feelings change, and we must look beyond the imperfections of humanity for true satisfaction.

Such is the complexity of balance - we must be independent beings living in mutual dependence. We must be ourselves while finding joy in discovering others. We must love another while simultaneously loving ourselves - this is perhaps the hardest balance of them all. And we must also recognize that our identity is never found in who we are WITH, what we DO, who we are RELATED to, where we LIVE, or what we LOVE. All these things change over time. Instead, we must look for the one thing that never changes. And for me, this is my identity as a child of God. God claims that He will never leave me, nor forsake me. That he loves me as his child, and as his bride. And in this, I can find my ultimate identity - the one thing that will never change about me.

All this being the prelude to the title of this article. Saying goodbye without your world ending.

We all have to say goodbye to people we really and truly care about. To friends, to family, to partners. And they mean a lot to you. And you care about them deeply. And a part of you doesn't want to see them go. And that's okay.

In fact, it's normal. You should feel that way. Be upset. Be sad. Cry if you like. There is a time to mourn. But, as Clare Pinkola Estes said so beautifully, don't keep a seat at your table for this emotion. Don't foster it, feed it, and give it a room. For God has a purpose for all things, and He has great things in store for you, as well as the other person. If He calls them home early, then perhaps the story they've left behind will bring others to discover their own identity as God's loved children. If he sends them away to another country, He has greater purposes. And He may very well want to spur on your own growth away from that individual, even if it may not seem that way at the moment.

And who really knows what the future brings anyway? Perhaps your souls reunite, and you find each other once again. Perhaps you write letters and keep in touch via skype dates, letters, and e-mails. Or maybe you say "see you never," and never talk again.

All this to say that every 'end' is also a new beginning. There is a new adventure awaiting you on the horizon. Mourn the end of the old, celebrate the coming of a new beginning.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Life and Blog Update

I've decided that this blog needed some updates and changes, just as I have changed in my own life too. I've thought about this - and I think the title now more appropriately reflects this blogs contents. I'm saying this just in case one of my three followers is devastated by the title change. I'd prefer to avoid any nasty e-mails or upset comments.

Anywho, I've decided that to continue with the changes to this blog, I want to start writing down the funny stories that happen to me in my life. Which seem to come about quite frequently, whether it be that I simply notice these things and find them hilarious, or that I have a magnetic attraction for awkward and/or clumsy moments that get me into strange yet memorable situations.

I'm starting a separate blog for such stories, which I am hoping, after some polishing and revisions, may one day constitute a book. Hopefully with a mix of philosophical understanding, poetry, and humour, I will become the next Donald Miller. Only in female form.

If you are interested in such a fantastical blog, then visit this site: curiousroo.blogspot.com. I'm still working on coming up with the best title, but I think this one works for now. We'll see how things progress.

Cheerio friends!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Seeing" Race

I'm reading a beautiful book called The Truth About Stories by Thomas King. I highly recommend it. In one section of the book, King discusses the conception of "race" - how we think we see it, how we want to see it, how if it's not there, then we comment on how very un-[insert race here] it is. It's a brilliant wake up call to look beyond the skin we're in, and recognize the flexibility and constant change of culture and of people across time and space. Just as our 'white' North American culture is constantly changing, so are the cultures of every other across the globe. We must be sensitive not to 'characterize', 'stereotype', or create 'race', but to embrace people and let them come as they are.

Here's a quick segment from his book:

"All of this... are reminders of how hard it is to break free from the parochial and paradoxical consideration of identity and authenticity. Owens, in a particularly wry moment, notes that "few looking at [these] photos of mixedbloods would be likely to say, 'But they don't look like Irishmen,' but everyone seems obliged to offer an opinion regarding the degree of Indianness represented.

In Curtis' magnum opus, Portraits from North American Indian Life, we don't see a collection of photographs of Indian people. We see race. Never mind that race is a construction and an illusion. Never mind that it does not exist in either biology or theology, though both have, from time to time, been enlisted in the cause of racism. Never mind that we can't hear it or smell it or taste it or feel it. The important thing is that we believe we can see it."

Monday, July 30, 2012


God showed me a rather strange dream last night, and it's been stuck in my brain, wandering about for the day, so I thought I'd write it down here. You can think whatever you like about it, but what it is remains what it is.

In my vision, I saw a figure. Misfigured, made up of layer upon layer of fat, covered in smoker's stains, abused, beaten, tainted, dirty, unwanted. It was so hideous and ugly that I could barely make out the gender of it. Yet I knew that the thing was me - it was me "in my sin".

I carried the burdens of a thousand years of guilt, yet as I looked upon this figure of myself, I was sorrowful. And I realized that I was sitting at the foot of the cross. And my soul longed to be rid of who I was, of this body that I felt did not belong to me.

Suddenly I began to shed. The layers of skin and fat and grime and dirt and bruises fell off of me. Everything fell off of me until there I was. I was me - only better. I was the most perfect version of myself I'd ever seen. And I was naked and beautiful and dancing while laughing and smiling in the glory of the cross. I felt as if this was perhaps what my soul looked like when I first fully accepted Christ and delighted in him completely.

And then Jesus looked on me and smiled. He held me in his arms and I felt as if he desired me. He wanted me to be united to him completely. I felt as if this was the kind of desire a husband would have for his wife on his wedding night, only it was God's desire for me.

But I was scared. I didn't think I was worthy enough and I resisted. I ran away to someone else. I fled his glory for fear that I was unworthy of it, and in the darkness that followed being away from him, a new layer of my old skin fell on me.

As I looked upon this new self, I became disheartened and sad. I realized that while I was scared of returning to Jesus, that I felt completely unworthy of his love, that I equally knew that I didn't want this extra burden upon me - and that a part of me longed for the joy I felt in his arms. So I returned. Only this time, it took a bit longer to get off that extra layer. Jesus had to scrub me, and I had to scrub too.

He still loved me, he still desired me, he still was madly in love with me, but he was hurt that I had run away. But I felt as if he knew that I might well do it again at the same time.

And that's where the dream ended.

I think it might be a big metaphor for our lives, or if not for yours, then definitely for mine. I have a tendency to want to do everything myself. I often feel as if I need to earn someone's respect or friendship, even their love. And if I don't meet the expected conditions of the relationship, then they won't take me.

But God doesn't work that way. I've never really thought of God as a lover, as a husband who desires me, but maybe that might be on way he wants to reveal himself to me, to you, and particularly to women who continue to be misused, abused, and manipulated by the men around them. God loves us, desires us, wants us to be united to him, but we must be willing to accept him. In our unworthiness, he makes us perfect. In our weakness, he makes us strong. In our grief, he brings overflowing joy. And in our meekness and lost self-worth, he redeems us to beyond what we ever have been.

Don't run away. You'll only be carrying a burden that was never meant to be carried. And you'll have to scrub a little harder when you come back to make things right again.

Monday, July 23, 2012

To love at all is to be vulnerable

There's no easy way to love someone. We must always risk getting hurt - whether it be in service to a stranger, loving a friend in a time of need, showing love to a family member who has walked away from you, and, most especially, in romantic relationships.

What is harder than the initial words - "I like you"? Or getting up the nerve to invite someone out with you. We must all put aside our pride and accept humility before we go into that situation, with the hopes that the other person returns our emotions. We risk unrequitted love, we risk rejection, we risk receiving a wound to who we are because someone may or may not affirm part of our deepest selves - our heart.

A group of friends read this beautiful quote to me today - I wanted to share it with all of you in the hopes that it affects you as much as it did for me.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I believe that the most lawless and inordinate loves are less contrary to God’s will than a self-invited and self-protective lovelessness… We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as a way in which they should break, so be it.What I know about love and believe about love and giving ones heart began in this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You were made for this

I read this excerpt from a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, and was touched by how incredible a passage it is. How needed it is for every child, every young adult, every adult, every grandparent. We must all learn that we are here on purpose, for a purpose. The world is overwhelming, but it is within our grasp to change it. While this is a long passage, it's definitely worth reading. Hope you are changed by it.


My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Like a Child

Luke 18: 15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

What a blessing is a child whose faith is pure, innocent, and simple. Everything is exciting for them - whether it be the fact that God loves them enough to give them food, to give them grass and flowers, to simply love them. It's all amazing to them. Enough that they go, "Is it really true that God really loves me?"

Faith - I believe - gets harder with age. We begin to question things around us, question God, question what makes this or that right and wrong, question what makes life worthwhile and how we can live it to make it worthwhile. And I don't think this is a bad stage of our lives, but rather, an important reaffirmation of our faith through consistent breaking and strengthening of it. Kind of like how we build muscle - we have to make little tears in our muscles, and then let them heal in order to build them until they're stronger. Just like our faith. But it's never an easy process, and sometimes, a big tear makes us leave the race.

There's much we can learn from children. Perhaps something very noticeable is that they take on the habits, the words, the actions, of the people around them, whether this be parents or friends. Sometimes this is for the very best if they have amazing parents and amazing friends, sometimes this is bad if they don't have such great parents or friends.

God calls us His children, and I like the analogy of receiving the kingdom of heaven like a child. Fully dependent that what God has in store for us is good. Modelling our lives, our words, our actions, after Christ. Having the fullest of faith that He will provide for our needs, and that He is going to love us and protect us.

This is the lesson of childhood, and the lessons that I have been learning from the children as I get to talk with them, laugh with them, and see the simple things of life through their eyes. I always come home filled to the brim with joy and laughter from their simplistic yet insightful comments about life and God.

It's never to late to act a bit more like a child.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wedding Song

My friends got married the other day and played this beautiful song as their first dance. I wanted to share it with you <3

The Paper Kites - Bloom

In the morning when I wake/ And the sun is coming through,/ Oh, you fill my lungs with sweetness,/ And you fill my head with you.

Shall I write it in a letter?/ Shall I try to get it down?/ Oh, you fill my head with pieces/ Of a song I can't get out.

Can I be close to you?

Can I take it to a morning/ Where the fields are painted gold/ And the trees are filled with memories/ Of the feelings never told?

When the evening pulls the sun down,/ And the day is almost through,/ Oh, the whole world it is sleeping,/ But my world is here.

Can I be close to you?

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I'm writing a blog on writing. I think that's sufficiently ironic and hipster of me, and I therefore think that you should read it if you stumble across this as you travel about your day.

I could potentially insert a poetic quote here about why writing is so beautiful and wonderful, but I think I'd rather just lay it out myself. So here it goes:

Writing reveals the soul. It is the words that we desperately want to be heard, yet lack the confidence to say. It is those parts of ourselves that we wish we could find the words for at an earlier point in time, and yet never seem to possess. It is the power that we hold within ourselves to shape perception, merely through a few letters, spaces, punctuational marks, and symbols. It is our hearts, bared out on paper for the viewer to read, absorb, and potentially be changed by.

Books are particular, wouldn't you agree? As if each has a soul. We crave the ones that relate to our own the most. That's why a book on Bill Gate's life really has no appeal to me at all - I would rather die than read about a genius' love for computers and life to worldwide success in computer engineering. Reading about social justice though, or about the environment, or simply an adventure story, drama, or humorous fictional story is much more appealing, because these are things that relate to my heart. I have forever been drawn to bible verses about poverty, justice, and love for all, and so when I read Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, or Mother Teresa, then I empathize with them, with their pleas, with their calls for action and change. When I read about the environment, or about climate change, then I remember my childhood walks through the conservation area, running through waterfalls, camping in the middle of the woods where I heard the crickets, felt the mist from the waves of water crash against the nearby stones, smelled the smoke from the campfire, saw the Northern lights, tasted fresh blueberries straight from the bush. I remember my favourite professors, who were either radical environmental activists, calm and friendly urban planners, or passionate climate change political spokespeople. And it warms my heart.

Writing is more than words - it is the well-thought-out crafting of our souls, charged with our spiritual and emotional selves, that is bared to the world in hopes that someone will empathize with our hearts. It is our call, our collective tool to inspire, encourage, and motivate, to deconstruct and tear down, to empower. It is our hearts, our struggle, our passion, our ideas. Our quest to find truth.

We can tell our greatest stories. Our greatest lies. Our greatest tales of inspiration. And in everything, we reveal a bit of ourselves to the world.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Relationships 101

I've learned that no matter what, one of the most important things to any relationship, whether that be one of friendship, of family, of intimacy, is that each person feel strong as an individual before they approach another. Strength is exuded in self-confidence, in resting secure in your identity as you, in recognizing the power of your own actions and words, in recognizing your own contributions as valid (even if not only correct). You are happy in who you are, and there is no void that needs to be filled by another soul in order for you to maintain this happiness.

Perhaps, strength is also exuded in humility. In the recognition that you are not perfect, that you can never achieve perfection. The power of Christ is to give us the strength we need in spite of our weaknesses. And we can find strength in the knowledge that Christ already knows that we're weak - and accepts us, loves us, and died for us in spite of that knowledge.

If I can take a gender lens to this issue, then I think that this particular part of relationships can be hardest for women. Women are told from their childhood that they are the gentler sex, the sex that needs to be rescued, whose voice need never be heard, whose value rests in finding marriage to a strong male who will forever protect them. Males, in the opposite way, are told that they must be the protector in the relationship. They will save the day, they will make everything right, they will be strong for the both of them.

The church is, in particular, guilty of making women feel weak, in need of male rescuing, and voiceless. We are told that we cannot preach, we cannot teach, we cannot speak in church, that our advice, counsel, wisdom, or inspired words are less valuable than those of the males in the church. Women - you need to know that you are loved by God. That you are valuable. That alone, that in singleness, you are strong. We cannot define ourselves by someone else. We must define ourselves as a child of God, with equal ability to think, to act, to speak, to love, to teach, to preach. I do not believe that the way I am born should dictate what I can and cannot do. Nor do I think that's something that God wants to limit me with. God communicates with me daily, and I learn from Him daily through the Bible, through his church, through nature. I recognize myself as a child of God, who cannot earn her right to his grace, but only receive it as a gift of love in spite of my weaknesses. If I can find strength in Jesus, then I am complete. No man can do that - only God. Neither can I be the cause of strength for another - I don't have the power to hold someone else up, only God does.

For Christians, we need to learn to base our relationships in God. And most beautiful, I think that if we start a romantic relationship, both parties should have to fall in love with God first before they can reach the heart of the other and fall in love with them. I am a strong single female. I am loved by God. I will only enter into an intimate relationship if he exudes strength of self, and if he pursues God in order to reach my heart.


Monday, June 11, 2012


I did a Myers Briggs test today, and am creepily astonished at how accurate it is. Almost down to a tee. I feel that, perhaps, I know myself a whole lot better now. Including my bizarre and conflicting feelings of wanting to be around people, while also wanting to be by myself. It is strangely freeing to be able to put a name to this, and know that I am not a strange little bird.

Here is a few sites that describes my personality type! Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging Typology; Wikipedia

And here's where you can do your own test. I highly recommend it. Myers Briggs Test

Sunday, May 20, 2012


To every beginning comes an end, and four years after starting University, I have reached the end to this particular path in my life. I've never been one for goodbyes. I kind of wave, give a hug, maybe a card or present, and then kind of run away. I don't like crying. And so went all of my goodbyes to each of my friends and professors. I gave them a smile and a hug and then ran away. Yet this time, I really did realize how very much I'd fallen in love with the town and the people in it as I reached its borders, stopped in at the Tim Hortons just before entering the highway, and then broke down into tears. A fair embarassment, as I had already ordered my coffee, and the customer service people ended up handing it to me while tears were running down my face. It was more or less like, "Here's your coff.... Ohhhhhh." And then I ran away as per usual, back into the hiding of my car.

I guess this whole prelude is to say that it's going to be a challenge being away from those people and places that have been home to me for the past four years. And if anyone whose been part of that journey with me reads this, know that you have really impacted me and my life. I went in a youngster and came out an adult. I know who I am now, and I'm happy. I think that, even if my grades themselves had suffered, the feeling of "wholeness" that I've come out the other side with is enough.

God's been really good to me, and I'm overwhelmed by how He brought to me just the people that I needed to learn, to be challenged, to persevere, to fail, to get back up again. People who have been role models to me, and people who have supported me and challenged me to be a better person, to find a sense of completeness and satisfaction in myself, to find strength, courage, and determination for a good cause. I could not have done it without you. And I mean that - a leader is nothing without a thousand other people behind her or him. No one's life is built on their own strength, but on the support, motivation, leadership, counsel, and guidance of many many others. Thank-you to everyone who's been there for me throughout.

Now I am off to a new journey, and who knows where this will lead. I can only hope that I can continue to find the kind of love, support, hope, and guidance that people have given me over the past four years. Hugs to all.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Miss Representation

I once visited a church where an older man, who - I should clarify - I had never met before, asked me what I was studying at University. I told him that I was studying International Relations, which was the study of politics at the international level. He looked at me, smiled, patted my arm, and then said, "Why are you studying that? You should study Fine Arts."


I hope that you feel as offended as I was at that moment. Women everywhere are told that they are not valuable. That we are somehow less important than men. That the very way we were born, the way that we were conceived made us less important than males. I cannot - according to above male - possibly want to be involved in politics. That is ludicrous for a woman to want to do. I should be doing "fine arts," a graceful womanly type-of-thing to do.

Funny thing is - on a side note - that I actually love art. And I do sketch and do artsy stuff. But not as much as I love social justice, the environment, politics, journalism. This is what drives me. These issues make my heart flutter - they're integral to what makes me happy in life.

Everywhere, everyday, the media tells women that they are only worth as much as they look like. A woman in politics only gets attention if her pant suit is snazzy, if she's hot enough to take to bed, if she's willing to wear revealing clothing and wink at you while doing her speech. Condoleezza Rice - one of the strongest female politicians, who served as the 66th US Secretary of State - had an article written about her entitled, "Condi Rice, Dominatrix". The article said, and I quote: "Clothed all in black, she caused both fear and sexual excitement in her long, sleek, military-style coat with band collar and gold buttons, sexy short skirt, and knee-high leather boots with three-inch stiletto heels." *insert barfing noise here* She is not the only example. Look at the hyper-sexualization of Sarah Palin's political campaigns, of Hilary Clinton's campaigns, of ANY woman who tries to enter politics. Look at the pictures that are taken of them - you'll often find picture taken that showcase only their legs, often framing the picture so that their legs are open and the photo is framed on either side with them. Sending the message, of course, that they are only sexual objects.

Politics is not the only arena where women are judged based on their looks. Female journalists experience discrimination all the time, whether it be sexualization through producers putting them in short skirts, low-cut tops, making them do stupid, ditzy dance moves on set, or just blatant disregard and off-hand comments about how they cannot possibly understand certain comments because they are too naive, cute, 'girl'-y, or 'womanly' to 'get it.' What are we? Little dolls? Is that how we outnumber males 6:4 in every university in North America? We're too "naive" and "child-like"?

Or maybe it's simply just watching a movie, or a television show! It is a rarity for me to ever see a television show or a movie where there is a strong female character. A female who is not judged based on her appearance, but on her character. A female who is not head-over-heels for the first guy to "sweep her off her feet" - often literally. All these tv shows or movies show women in one of three ways:

1) Princess needing prince to save her. Something happens, male jumps in and saves the day, she swoons over his masculineness, she is weak and he is strong type deal, and then they get married. He protects her for forevermore.

2) Fighting sex toys: She is strong enough to take care of herself, and comes blasting into an area with guns a-blazing and feet a kicking. BUT, she is wearing spandex, her every move is sexualized, and the film is only generally pleasing to a male audience. Plus, she is also, somehow, generally saved by a man. Even though she shouldn't need one. Yet - as the media would tell us - we can't take care of ourselves.

3) She is only made for sex. Or is a toy. Or is better dead. This is basically found in any and every music video out there. Unfortunately, in the female singers videos too, albeit there are a few singers with some self-respect to not play to the sex toy demands. She is forced to undergo botox, plastic surgery, etc. to look PERFECT. Flawless or nothing, because that's the only way that a woman gains her value in television. Women wear basically nothing at all, or if they do, just enough to get away with showing the video on television without it begin banned. Hey, why not throw in some nooses around their necks, while we're making them virtually no clothing? They can be sexy AND dead in our music videos now! Not offensive at all, right?

Here's the thing: This is the world that my future daughter is going to grow up in. This is the world that I am trying to make my place in. Yet where can a young woman turn to find a representation of strength, of confidence, of self-assurance? Where can a woman find respect for her accomplishments, for her character, for her life choices, rather than praise for her body? How can she develop into a woman of strength and character when everywhere she is told that all she is good for is sex. Or her body? And then - why do we keep blaming young woman for being too promiscuous, for dressing too provocatively, for having children "at such a young age", when it's all that society says is important for females?

And moreover, how am I supposed to find a partner who will respect me as a human being, as a woman who is interested in pursuing a strong career, wants to assert herself on the same level as him, and desires a partnership in marriage, when everything society tells us is that women are inferior and are to be the sexual slaves of men? Many times, I've thought that I just want to be single, to pursue God and my career, and I don't think I'd be unhappy with that either. Right now, away from all my married and/or dating and/or engaged and/or "interested" friends, I'm quite content. No one asks me about my dating life, or tells me, "You'll find someone some day." - You know which of you has said that to someone before. (It sucks by the way, stop saying it, cause it might not happen.) I've been asked by quite a few people how many kids I expect to have, or whether I'm dating anyone, or how I wish my wedding day to look like.

You know people, maybe it's not even something I'm really interested in. Try to think about that - maybe a woman does NOT want a man. Maybe she is, in fact, happy alone. And why shouldn't she be? Maybe I just want to be single - and that would be enough. And maybe I'll get married. But it's MY choice. And I don't need someone to tell me that I have to have kids. That I have to get married. That I have to find someone. Especially if you assume so because I'm a "weak" female (P.S. I'm not.)

All this to say: Be a man who recognizes a woman because of her character. Who defines beauty based on purity of heart, not on botox treatments, perfect teeth, impossibly slim waistlines, or big bulging ocean blue eyes.

Be a woman who respects herself. Be a woman who respects other woman, and supports them in whatever they do. Don't bash your sisters - we're all struggling through this same system of lies. Don't degrade yourself because you don't look like the models plastered on the front of the magazines that we see when we're in line at the cash register. Honestly, not even the models that posed for those pictures look like the models plastered on the front of the magazines that we see when we're in line at the cash register. I have chosen not to strive for that - I just strive to be happy with myself, and to be healthy. I'm not skinny. I'm not even slim. Heck, I'm a tad overweight. But that doesn't mean I suck at life. And I don't define myself by that either. Choose to love yourself. Look in the mirror and say, "Damn girl, you looking gooooooodddddd today. You've got swagger booty." And then go through and meditate on your character to see if it's just as spicy hot. If not, work on that before you head to the gym.

And now, I am finally signing off. Peace my friends!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving forward

There are many times in our lives when we just want everything to stop. To halt for one moment whilst we figure out how to proceed. Yet life never seems to listen to us, does it?

It just proceeds as if it has no cares in the world. As if we do, in fact, just have to keep on living. And keeping asking questions. And keep waiting on responses. And keep on living until something eventually happens.

Life can be quite scary though - think of how constantly we are forced to change up what we're doing, where we are, who we're closest to. And change is frightening - and good. All at the same time.

What would we learn if we remained exactly as we are? No, we need to be shaken up a bit every now and then - it teaches us about who we are, about our strengths, about our weakness, about the people who really matter in our life.

Perhaps, you might even say, it teaches us to take chances. To realize that life is a never-ending course of change. First, we're living with our parents, then off at one school, then at the next, then we move to this job, then we move to take a new one, then eventually, we're left in a retirement home or if we're lucky, back with our own sons and daughters. Well I certainly can't pretend to know the turbulence of life yet, for I've only got 21 years under my belt, I can predict that in spite of the turbulence, it's taking chances that will make the journey worthwhile.

There's always going to be difficulties in life, whether it be worries about making new friends after a move, moving away from a support network of family (or adopted family), continuing a long-distance relationship, or simply trying to plant roots in a place and make it your home. I think the most we can do is to live in the moment. And live both well and fully.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I am

In response to a Times inquiry on “what’s wrong with the world,” G. K. Chesterton wrote, “I am.”

Succinct – yet its truth rings clear. We each have a role, however big or small this may be. There are many problems in this world: Poverty, disease, war, misogyny, racism, homophobia, climate change, homelessness, slavery, fear. Our role in creating, perpetuating, or ending them begins and finishes with us.

This world is designed to be competitive. The majority of us are taught this from day one to be sportier, stronger, smarter, popular, charismatic “We are ‘rational, self-interested’ beings,” says the economist. “Survival of the fittest,” says the evolutionary biologist. I don’t need to tell you where this comes from – one blames white males. Another blames capitalism. Another blames simple scientific biology that states we have a competitive nature, built into us to survive.

But maybe not. Let’s take a look, for example, at my family. As a baby, my parents did not compete with me for my food, my housing, or my clothes. I was a crying, pooping, runt of a creature, but they loved me. They provided for me. We ‘cooperated’ to survive.

Kropotkin suggested that human society was able to thrive and evolve because of a tendency towards cooperation, towards love and compassion for one another. We can look to food banks, women’s shelters, Big Brother programs, breakfast programs, NGOs, peace and healing circles, not for profit hospitals, community gardens, and rehabilitation centers. There is a need to recognize the human capacity for good in this world. To recognize that there is, indeed, hope. That we need not always ‘compete’ for ‘success’ – whatever that even means – and instead, cooperate towards a society that we can all feel proud to live in.

They say that money is the root of all evil. I think we all realize that this is wrong – to an extent. The person living in destitute poverty, whose children are starving, cannot afford decent healthcare, or access to housing in a good neighbourhood will very likely realize that money is, in fact, quite a good thing. But once these needs are filled, and you’re left in a life of excess, then what are we doing with this money? Buying exotic artwork? Filling the house with trinkets, gold pottery, fancy furniture, wearing your fortune on your necks or your wrists? Cooperation with society does not thrive in such environments. And, indeed, this money is serving only to isolate you more and more from humanity, and increasingly in yourself. Until you’re left alone.

Many of us compete for ‘distinctions’, recognitions that state our ‘success’ in the world. Great! But make sure that you don’t fill your head with the idea that this is the only the result of you – this is the result of your teachers, your parents, your friends, and everyone else who has given you the knowledge, the questions, the attitudes, the discipline, and the encouragement to succeed. Recognize that one’s success is the result of the whole working together – and try to give back accordingly.

At the end of my life, when it comes to answer the question, “what is wrong with this world?”, my answer will surely be “I am.” But I hope, that in some minute way, that when asked what is right with this world, I can answer “We are.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On introversion. And proving Mr. Cooper wrong.

I still remember when I was eleven years old, and the principal called me and another student down to the office to meet with him. He told us that he wanted to start up a school newspaper, and had called upon us bright chipper young chaps to try and start up the paper. Without much more detail, he paused. And, not really knowing what to say, I kind of just looked at him.

Well, that didn't go over so well. "Why aren't you asking any questions?" he said. "Real journalists ask all kinds of questions. You're not looking like very good material here."

So I just kind of shrunk back and decided that if that's what he thought, well, I'm not going to work for someone who doesn't believe in me anyways. And I just pretty much stopped talking and left the office. Done deal - little to say that I never got to be part of the school paper. Not that I really cared. I hadn't even known why I was going into the office in the first place. And then here he was. Telling me what to do, how I was to do it, and expecting me to just be okay with it. I was eleven for peats sake! Give me a little slack sir - I don't function well when people criticize me before even giving me a chance. And I don't think I was the only child who felt that way.

Well sorry Mr. Cooper. But I'm doing a Masters in Journalism. So HA!

Sorry about that - getting the anger out. phew. Okay, all this to say that people cannot just look at someone and then decide who they are. I'm an introvert. I'm not a 'rah-rah' individual. I don't charge into a room and command everyone's attention. I will not be the first person to respond in a group conversation. I don't function well in big group settings by myself. I won't jump in and ask a bunch of questions. But that doesn't make me a bad journalist. It makes me a thinker - slow to act, quick to listen. And such is how I prefer conversations, how I've always preferred conversations. They're much more real when you grow to understand who the other person is before you jump down their necks with questions. And generally better prepared if you take time to think through an interview before you begin it.

I work for the student newspaper now, and they gave me the award "The Venus Fly Trap," because they said I was sweet, and kind, and quiet, but when I go into my interviews, I bite if you don't give me the answer that I need. I know when someone's lying, or when they're just trying to cop out, and I'll call them on it.

So voila. This is how I function - you don't know what I'm capable of until you give me a chance.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I went for a walk the other night after 10 with the intention of being home in 15 minutes. I ended up going for an hour-long walk, barely even noticing the time pass. It was beautiful - the air was fresh, it was the perfect temperature, and there's was very little snow on the ground to cause me to do the usual trip and slip on the frozen ice. But what hypnotized me, what drew me to keep walking, was the silence. The lack of screaming students, endless conversations, music blaring, etc. brought out all these sounds I'm so rarely aware of. I could hear every time a leaf scuttled across the road, every time a breeze came by and shook the trees, the distant sound of a dog barking, and another dog answering him in return, I could hear the wind, the buzzing of the lights, and my own steps on the ground. Crazy how very comforting it was. As if I was finally aware of my own thoughts. As if my walk was one of an observer of this beautiful scene, rather than a participant. Which was a little bit wonderful. We're so often overwhelmed with 'living.' There's always something going on, we're running around from here to there, doing this and that, that we're never 'present' in the moment. We're unaware of what's going on 'around' us, and only aware of what's going on with 'us'. It's important to spend time in silence. To think. To spend time in silence. To listen for... something. Someone. Let's find the silence and spend time in contemplation.