Faith · News

Tired of the News?

I can get so worked up about everything that’s happening in the world today. At times I still shake my head in wonder at how much change can happen in such a short amount of time.

Everyone homeschooling.

Social Distancing.

Elderly lockdowns.

Masks in public becoming mandatory.

The media trying to divide people more, and more, and MORE.

I had to shake my head yesterday when I watched a reporter try to get my Prime Minister to shame the President of the USA.

Seriously… why?!? Why is there a need for us to go searching for more reasons for offence? Aren’t people angry enough?

Isn’t it enough?

Sometimes I wish the news would be shut down. Just for a week. Watch people snap out of their obsession with current events and open their eyes to the events happening all around them. Wouldn’t that be a healthier way to live? We can’t help what’s happening in the world. We CAN help what’s going on around our homes and in our own neighbourhoods.

I can get angry at current events too.

Like the foolish doctor who lied and traveled without quarantining, resulting in a small outbreak amoung his patients… and then had the audacity to play the race card when people were upset.

Let me tell you, I didn’t know he wasn’t white and I was upset at him for being careless!

Don’t play the race card. Just don’t.

Prejudice is a real issue, racism is a REAL issue. But don’t do something careless and harmful and then blame it on your color of skin when people get rightly upset. That just makes a mockery of the actual racism going on around us every single day.

I’m also upset at the media.

Is COVID-19 a serious issue and social distancing a must? Or not? I’m tired of the double standards. Like why is this condemned:

And this not?

Why do we fine people for gathering in joy and support people for gathering in anger? (I’m not at ALL saying the people shouldn’t be upset at what happened… my point is rather that “social distancing” has been so strictly enforced that people coming too close to each other have been fined… but suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore?)

It’s a backwards world.

This morning, God reminded me of a scripture, which gentle rebuked my “News obsession” these past few weeks:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …So don’t worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your heavenly father knows your needs. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 7:25-33

And I realized, all this worry can accomplish nothing in my life.

Nothing!

And yet we are so filled with worry and stress, with helplessness and fear. But if God cares for the creatures – and nature itself – won’t he care much, MUCH more for his own children?

He knows our needs! Our job is to put aside worry and seek him first. As we seek his will for our lives and commit to living a righteous life before him, he will give us our needs. Seeking God and living righteously are in our control. Changing the world is not.

We all know that things aren’t what they seem. The messages we are getting from both sides of the media don’t add up. It doesn’t make sense how the “online commenting mob” condemns churches peacefully gathering and adhering to the guidelines, while thousands who are burning, looting and destroying are shown understanding and grace.

It doesn’t add up! And although asking questions is so important, what isn’t important is getting involved in conspiracy theory’s and comment wars while neglecting to take care of those around you.

What can we do? We all fear these events which are out of our control! We fear the world that is rapidly changing into a hate filled, rage full place where hugs and worship are banned, but hate is glorified.

Scripture says: “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”

No.

God is saying, “Do these thoughts, these worries change your situation? Then lay these worries down. I know the truth, I AM the truth. Seek me first, my kingdom and righteousness and I will care for your needs! In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world. You are not of this kingdom. Do not let your trust lie with the world’s government or healthcare system. Your trust is misplaced if you depend on the justice system or media for true justice.”

God is the ONLY just Judge.

May our prayer be, “Come Lord Jesus. Come and make everything right again. We wait for you. Creation groans for your return. We trust in you. Give us the right perspective for this season, and may we not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Authenticity · Faith · Vulnerability

Exterior Walls

We put up exteriors daily. As if we don’t care about what people think.

As if I don’t care.

As if I don’t notice the likes, the comments or the lack-there-of. As if I’m stronger than those who need to be told every day that they are valuable in someway. As if I don’t need to hear the words of people confirming me and the things I do.

Deep down we just want to be understood, desperately, pathetically.

Humanly.

Listen, as much as you fight it and act like you are above such longings, if you’re human, those feelings are there.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

To the world, you may look confident. Or you may look hopeless. You may look like someone who has it all together or you’re falling apart at every turn. You may even give a phony smile, and say some cliche things. Or you may spew every careless thought that comes from your mouth in hopes of being real and bold.

But whoever you are… you hate it. Because deep down, we all know that that’s not what it’s about, is it?

As if one kind of wrong is better than the other.

Thank God, you are worth more than than your feelings tell you.

Can I just say something here?

Maybe we are all more alike than we want to admit. Maybe I’m just like that too-faced, self-righteous, rich snob we all avoid. That hypocrite in the church pews. That political maniac who rants day and night on social media, believing that those who are on the other side are the enemy. Or the “tolerant” crowd who are tolerant of everyone… except for those who are intolerant.

Maybe, that drunk homeless man, who reeks of alcohol, sitting on the side of the road asking “food” money, is just like me inside.

In fact, I’m convinced of it.

Pride tells me I’m better than all of the above, but there’s one thing that tells me I’m not.

The Cross.

Because on that cross, Jesus gave his life as much for the hypocrite, as for the drunkard, as for the bitter-old-soul who can’t forgive.

Think you’re better? Then maybe the cross isn’t for you.

…Or maybe, it’s especially for you. Because, friends, the ground at the bottom of the cross is equal. And not one of us deserved it.

Compassion · Faith · Seeing Others

It’s Sometimes Not All About Me…

Ok, fine… usually it’s not about me.

It’s almost never about me, actually.

Yet as much as I know these things, I still live much of life thinking about number one.

Me.

I mean, doesn’t the world cease to exist when I’m not around?

I’m only half kidding here.

Some people call it narcissism. I just call it being a human being in the 21st century.

We are a very self focused generation.

Take an only *slightly* exaggerated example that we can all relate to:

I’m in a line up in a busy store. There are one hundred people ahead of me and only one employee that seems to be part Zootopian sloth, slowly dragging each item across the scanner. She stops to do a price check. She yawns and glances causally at the line. There’s no hint of her trying to pick up the pace whatsoever….

I think to myself. Oh My Word. Her Dad must own this place or she would be fired by now.

Tempers are flaring.

Babies are crying while their mothers are anxiously shoving fistfuls of goldfish into their mouths in a vain attempt to quiet them.

A woman angrily throws her one item to the side and storms out of the store.

I seriously consider following her lead with a bit more stomping for show.

A middle aged man starts muttering obscenities under his breath.

And then, hold up….. A senior cuts in front of me!!!

Which draws the line.

Who do you think you are?!? I immediately want to shout. But for once, thank goodness, God gave me the grace to hold my tongue, and in the second it takes me to draw in a deep breath, my eyes catch his.

I notice his grimaced expression.

A face full of suffering.

In his shaking hand he holds a prescription that I can only assume is related.

One second prior, I was thinking about me. My schedule, my busy day, my wasted time, me, me ME!!

I look at the line up of people. We’re all healthy and young. To our shame, not one of us noticed this poor man. We were all way too busy thinking about ourselves.

In that selfish moment I missed it. I missed the most basic human compassion because I wasn’t able to see past myself.

Another cashier appears. She begins to open a new line but her eyes aren’t on the angry customers, or the full carts. Her eyes are on this old gentleman who can barely walk himself to the line. He gives a surprised thank you as she slowly shuffles him to the front of it.

On my way out I thank her. I thank her for seeing him.

And I vow that next time I’ll see him too.

Authenticity · Faith

The Art of Being Real

Just kidding.

There’s no art.

There’s no secrets.

It comes with realizing that people will pretty much think what they will of you and what you pretend to be (or not be) with have little effect on their opinions of you. Whether you’re honest or not, people will think what they’re inclined to think.

In fact, I would go as far to say that what people say about others, reflects their own heart more than anything else.

I’m not saying that everyone should be a total jerk and it doesn’t matter. Don’t be ridiculous. Be nice. Be kind. Chose to sometimes just close your mouth if you have nothing nice to say.

But, for heavens sake, be honest.

For if someone speaks really well of you, they are most certainly a person who tries to see the best in others because, let’s face it, most things people do are really not that outstanding.

And if people speak negatively about you, then they are most likely an insecure person who feeds on negativity. They like putting others down because it makes them feel better about their own lives.

When you stop to see people, I mean – really see them – you begin to realize that there’s not really that many terrible people out there.

There are just people.

Having good days. Having bad days. Trying to do their best with the cards they’ve been dealt.

And sometimes they’re pretty awful cards. These people are trying to swim while they’re drowning and all the while keeping up with the Joneses, who are also keeping the Joneses beside them…

And being real, is a simple step of saying, “Hey, you and I are really just not cut out to live the lifestyle of Mr & Mrs Jones…and that’s Ok. I’m fine with just being me. And you’re pretty great too.

I’ll stick to being me.

In my beautiful country house.

On my not so beautiful country yard.

In my mom body (when did that start to be an insult?)

In my broken, but determined faith.

Eating my bacon cheese burgers and poutine.

Writing a blog to no one in particular about life in my large, crazy, beautiful family.

Because this is real.

And I really, really like it. Perhaps, others will like it too. And together we can be enjoy how beautiful differences really are.

Uncategorized

Watch your Labels

Not a dog, not a wolf…all he knows is what he’s not.” Balto

When I was I child, I loved the movie “Balto”. It was based on a true story where a town suffered from a severe epidemic and ran out of medicine for it during a severe snowstorm. Balto, who was half wolf and half dog, didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The dogs wouldn’t accept him because he was different, they thought he was “wild” and “dangerous”, the people of the town were afraid of him – but he was soft, he was tame and he just wanted to belong.

In the end, his differences and wild instincts are what saved the town. But those differences were only appreciated once he had done something great, once he was famous.

I think we all tend to see differences in a negative light. It’s why we use harsh words in describing people who we think should be more like us. For example, the other day in frustration I said to my kids: “You don’t care about being on time at all!” And in my head I was thinking all the negative things: Lazy, Slow-pokes, Thoughtless, Uncaring, Unconcerned. In reality that’s only my view of them when I’m rushed or in a hurry. On the flip side they could be thinking the opposite of me: Workaholic, Driven, Bossy.

In their eyes, I care too much about being punctual and in my eyes they don’t care enough!

As my week went on, I thought about all the benefits that their laid-back and care-free personalities bring to my life. It brings peace, it brings joy! They are able to notice things that I don’t have time to see. Like a bald eagle, perched on a tree outside. Or a beautiful flower beside the road. They are able to laugh in stressful situations.

What if, just what if, we began to speak words of life over others? What if we focused more on what good each character brings to the world, then what problems they’re causing? The truth is that we need each other and our differences desperately. I need my carefree children to bring joy and calm to my life. They need me to bring order and structure to theirs.

I was thinking of all the negative labels I’ve put on people and of some of the good that comes out of those same traits. As I began to change my thinking I suddenly saw a shift in my perception of those around me. Instead of calling people:

Strange/Weird… I called them Creative.

Defiant… Independent.

Slow… Careful.

Bossy… Leader.

Stubborn… Tenacious.

Perfectionist… Wholehearted.

Self-righteous… Passionate.

Negligent… Easy-going.

Lazy… Relaxed.

Passive… Peaceful.

Cowardly… Cautious.

Simple… Humble.

Frivolous … Joyful.

Bitter… Just.

Hasty… Prompt.

Shrewd… Wise.

Know-it-all… Convicted.

Careless… Fearless.

Callous… Strong.

Emotionless… Reserved.

Emotional… Soft-Hearted.

I’m not speaking about the exception to the rules here. I’m definitely NOT saying that bad character should be treated as good. But this isn’t about hurtful characters. This is about negatively labeling people who have been made the way they are to enrich our lives.

This week start with yourself. Address some of the negative labels that have been spoken over you (maybe even in your own head).

I’m not weak, I’m tender. I’m not insecure, I’m flexible. I’m not a perfectionist, I am wholehearted. I am not bitter, I yearn for justice.

I am more than the labels given to me.

Uncategorized

Don’t Forget the Good

I mentioned a few posts back that I’ve been sifting through old journal entries. A lot of the entries focus on my frustrations, my failures, my kids failures. But then there was one, a complete gem, that made me vow to start keeping track of the good as well. This entry was so touching that it had me crying and smiling all at once:

Date: Aug 16, 2012

Yesterday my children put me to shame. I heard of an orphanage being built in Ethiopia that would house abandoned babies. It is already being built in faith that the needed funds will come in. But until the house is completed they are by law unable to take in any of the babies that are left in the wilderness to die. The government has strict rules on this so they need the money desperately – lives are at stake. Innocent lives. I had already had it in my mind to give $500, which is already $200 more than we usually give every month. As I wrote out a check, my eldest son, Isaiah, asked me what it was for. I told him the story of these babies and he ran to his room to get his piggy bank. He pulls out EVERY bill, toonie and loonie, only keeping a few cents for himself. It came to $75 – his entire life savings. Then, my next child (Bella) saw this and pulled out her piggy bank and the next child (Jonas), giving over half of their own money. Together, out of their own will, they gave all the money they have been saving from their birthdays, Christmas’ and other earnings. It came to $105. And here I am sitting on a big savings account. God, bless the tender, giving hearts of my children! It will take them years to save this money again! Isaiah is only 6, Bella 4, and Jonas 3…and already they are being generous for you. I wrote out a new check to cover their balance and have it in my mind to secretly put their money into the bank for them. Thank you for kids, who continue to teach me lessons that completely amaze me.

Often I just see the things that need to be changed in my kids lives, and quite honestly, the lists of behaviours and irresponsibilities they have completely overwhelm me. But then, I read this and step back to actually see my children through the Father’s eyes. And the truth overwhelms me: In many ways they are FAR more sweet, pure, forgiving, compassionate and gentle than I am. And I am instructing them??

I shared this journal entry with them instead of devotions one morning last week, weeping and asking for forgiveness. For too often focusing on the bad. For too often overlooking the good. When they are GOOD kids. They are often sweet and unselfish, and I often feel the opposite about them because I get stuck on teaching what needs improvement, but I forget that the most important thing in a teacher is the ability to see the good in their students and call it out. In doing this, we don’t try to make our children become something they aren’t, rather they begin to see who they are and flourish into a mature version of that. When I am told I am good at something, it pushes me to try even harder, to learn even more. But when I am told I’m terrible, or a failure, it makes me want to give up and not try at all. Teaching my children, has taught me this in a very sobering way.

I think God has a sense of humour, because I see myself as their teacher, but quite often they are mine. 

Uncategorized

The Power of the Tongue

“No one ever wants me around because of you guys!”

Those were the words I spoke to my children the one day when I was frustrated by their behaviour. Immediately I regretted them. For they were not true, they were deeply hurtful, and I could not take them back…I could only apologize. And apologize I did, but I knew that those words were still there, in the minds of my children.

And the truth is that those words didn’t come out because of my kids actions. Those words came because of my undealt with pain. They came out from my heart, where deep within, I have experienced rejection, hurt and judgement which was linked to me being a young mom and also having a big family.

Yes… I felt rejected by my friends when I became a mom. And although I chose to let go of some of my friends because of other reasons, some of them quietly disappeared from my life as I slipped into a different stage of life than them: Motherhood.

I was 18, a child myself, and my three month old baby had just been admitted into the Children’s Hospital, he was sick. Very sick. And many times that first week I thought we were going to lose him. I lived off of 2 hours of sleep or less a night and the hours I was awake I was in constant fear and stress. I felt like I had failed my son. I wondered if he was sick because of me, or my lack of knowlegde in parenting. I wondered why they couldn’t find out what was wrong with him. And I watched them poke him every hour for blood. I watched them dig IV after IV into his arms, legs, and head knowing that even if they were successful in a few hours the tiny vain would collapse and they would have to do it all over again. We lived at the hospital for six long months. And the pain of watching him suffer was unimaginable. It took all of my attention and all of my energy.

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But there was another pain…during my sons entire six month hospital stay, only TWO of my high school friends bothered to stop by. The rest had forgotten me. Oh we had lots of support… family, new church friends…but MY friends, they were gone. And because I had so many other things to deal with at that time, I swallowed the pain and tried to forget the fact that becoming a mother meant loneliness.

Time and time again, I pushed down painful things said to me, like the time one of my friends called me just two days after I had my third baby, asking if I could come to her show that evening. I told her that I’d love to see her but I couldn’t, because I had just had a baby. She got upset at me and never called again.

Or the time after I had four kids, when one woman told me that she would love to have my family down if we weren’t so big.

And that time I excitedly announced my pregnancy to someone who instead of congratulating me, informed me that she didn’t think she would be able to watch ALL of my kids. I was hurt that this was the first response that came to her mind, as I rarely asked her anyways.

Words! The rejection of them sting. And here they laid dormant in my heart, not held against those who said them, but rather my own precious children…who had absolutely nothing to do with them! The wounds caused by these careless words hadn’t been dealt with properly and as a result, I began to inwardly blame my kids for all the friends I had lost. For every time I wasn’t invited. For those lonely moments where I realised that we weren’t welcome somewhere because of them. And that day, I spoke very hurtful and careless words that may someday sit in their little hearts, needing to be healed.

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

I sometimes wonder why our words hold so much power. Why we’ve been given such a powerful gift, to speak life and death. And I wonder how many careless words I’ve spewed, which I will someday be held accountable for…

How many words have I spoken to my husband or kids that will sit in the back of their hearts, only to come out in times completely unexpected and unrelated to me?

Our words can really hurt! And they can cause huge damage! I’m sure every one of us still remembers the sting of at least one hurtful word said to us on the playground at school or at home with our parents or siblings. And the problem with the tongue is that no one has complete power to tame it. No one can completely watch what they say one hundred percent of the time:

“…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things. Consider how small a spark sets a great forest on fire. The tongue also is a fire, a world of wickedness among the parts of the body. It pollutes the whole person, sets the course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing…” James 3:5-10

So does this mean all is hopeless? No one can tame the tongue, so we should all just give up trying?

Not at all!

Our words reveal our hearts, there’s a verse in the bible that says: “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

This verse is saying that as long as we’re holding on to our pride, anger, bitterness, self-pity, or frustration our words will in fact reflect these things and bring death to those around us.

But if my heart is alive with love, joy, humility, peace, patience and kindness my words will bring life.

This means there’s GREAT hope. Because while there may not be a way to control our tongues the way we’d like, there IS a way to get rid of the hurt and the lies we hold in our hearts. We can break every lie with truth!

So when my thoughts start going in that downward spiral, when I feel like everyone has abandoned me, I can say “NO! That’s not true! We have MANY new friends who invited us over and enjoy being with us, not just in spite of our children but BECAUSE of the connection our children have given us!” and I can choose to let go of the pain of rejection, of holding on to friends that have moved on without me and I can rather embrace and thank God for the new friends and blessings he is pouring into our lives.

Taking every thought captive is work. It’s HARD work. Because sometimes I just want to curl up into a ball in cry and feel sorry for myself. And sometimes I do. But I have to tell you it’s SO worth it. Because when your words start bringing life and healing, not only will others love being around you, YOUR heart will be filled with joy because your words are reflecting it. And that is the kind of fruit I want to eat.