Archive for December, 2012

The Sanctity of Life: You are Important

This has nothing to do with gun control, abortion, or any other hot topic issue (although if you would like to debate, I am here!) but what has really been on my heart is the sanctity of life, and how I believe we all fall short on preserving “life,” or at least, I certainly do.

Now, this isn’t to say that it’s the same as shooting in a school, or any other violent act where people die needlessly. It usually isn’t premeditated, but sometimes, it is. Is it a big deal? I don’t know. I don’t know how we got from sitting on our porches in the summer so we could visit with our neighbors, to not knowing who said neighbors are. Everybody is busy; lots has been said on that. But I think the “neutral evil” creeping in to our society is indifference.

I think we are in danger of destroying lives by simply not caring. We all understand that absolutely everyone and their grandmother are busy and tired. I think we need to just get over that. I don’t think it will ever change, well, at least, I’ve lost hope. So if we are going to be busy and tired forever, we will eventually have to just suck it up and ignore it. Now that we have dealt with the biggest excuses for not caring, let’s give it a “check” and move on.

How do we not care? I remember moving into this rural area, and driving by other vehicles on the gravel roads (yes, there are roads here that haven’t been paved yet.) As I would meet up with other vehicles, I remember them, especially the older folks, waving frantically with a big smile on their face. I would ignore them, at first, because I didn’t know them and it must be a mistake. Now I realize that is probably precisely why they were waving: they didn’t know me! That was fun to get used to. Now I can navigate the snowy, ice-covered gravel road in the dead of winter, and wave at the same time. We also have four wheel drive.

This reminds me of what is must have been like, back in the day, in SmallTown Canada. Everybody knows you, you know everybody, and you said “Hi” to everyone you meet. If there was a need in town, you’d work together to fix it. People would go to town to visit, they would sit and have coffee. They would chat about the mundane, and the important. They watched each other’s children grow up. 

What does this have to do with the sacredness of life? Everywhere around us, there is pain and hurt. But we can’t care anymore. Some people seem to drain the life out of us. We just have nothing left to give. Whatever the reason is, people will stand in an elevator for an undetermined amount of time, 18 inches away, and not make eye contact. We will sit next to each other on a bus, touching jackets, and not say hi. We will go through a checkout at the store, and not ask how the cashier is doing. We will see pictures of a friend’s family portrait on facebook, and not bother to click “like.” We will see a friend’s status about pain in their life, or other drama we don’t want to bear witness to, and we just scroll down. These are little, minuscule things. They are certainly not the end of the world. I don’t even know that they are “sins.” But the end result is the same. We are telling each other: you don’t matter. Your life is not important to me.

I can’t count how many times in the last few weeks, with the busyness of a wedding and Christmas, I have not been able to show our children that they matter, in the little things. When they ask you to come “see something right away!” And I finish what I am doing, really quick, but the magic is gone. I have shown them that they don’t matter as much as the dishes.

Because there’s scientific “life,” and think whatever you may want of that, and then there is LIFE. The core of me and you. The physical, emotional, spiritual, every component wrapped up into one whole person. The ending of a heartbeat is not the only death you can feel. People can die emotionally, to the point where they don’t care anymore. 

I remember working in a coffeeshop, so many days, and all of a sudden having this wave of epiphany. “These people don’t care about me. They wouldn’t care if I lived or died, as long as the new girl learned to make their coffee right.” Everyday I would serve the same people their drinks, smile, chat with them about their problems, and yet, to them, I was a nobody. We were not actually friends; I worked for them and served them, and they would tip me a dime. My whole life felt like an utter complete waste. I got over it and married one of the customers, but the point is the same. Everyone feels that they are unimportant at some time in their lives. I imagine, a lot of people reading this feel that their life doesn’t matter. They won’t actually do anything drastic, but what a heaviness it must be to get out of bed, to go about your day, when you feel that you don’t count, that what you do makes no difference to the rest of the world. That there is no point. This is when the indifference comes full circle.

How many times have I walked by a person who feels no love by the world, and not smiled. Or said, “My, your baby is cute!” “Merry Christmas!” Or seen the miserable lady in the checkout, and not said, “I love your jacket.” None of this is earth shattering. Telling the tired mom her baby is beautiful is not going to help her get more sleep. Smiling at a stranger is not going to pay his bills. But it’s the only way I can think of to show them that their life is important. That I see you. And I see your struggles. Can’t do a darn thing about it, but I love you. Your life is sacred to me. You matter.

Once we stop caring about people, really, what is the difference. Obviously, it’s not an utterly heinous act that will land you straight in the pit of hell. Not liking a friend’s stupid meme on facebook is not telling them they don’t matter to you. But when we stop caring about the people we see each day in real life and on the Net, and their lives, their struggles, their hurts, I believe we are saying to each other: You are not important to me. You do not matter. Your life is not sacred.

After my last blog, and all the feedback I received, I got really nervous about writing another. I had no idea what I would write about, thought about it a few times, and nothing. But then a couple days ago, I felt this on my Spirit so heavy. I felt God saying that ALL life, every aspect is sacred. We need to show others that their lives matter. Their picture of their dog in a tuxedo matters. Their text matters. Their car stalled on the side of the road, it matters. The people in the mall matter. We see each other, and our lives and the things we do are so important. We are not just walking through this mess of a life with our eyes down, not starting a conversation, but with our eyes up and a smile on our lips, happy to see you.

If you don’t feel like you matter to anyone, please message me. I would love to chat about the Best Friend you’ll ever know. But if you know you are important and that your life is held so dear, share that feeling with everyone you meet. 

Hope you have a Merry Christmas. I love you! 

I would LOVE to hear feedback!Image

Happy Holicrazy!

I used to get sooo uptight when people used to say “Happy Holidays” at Christmas. I do know a bunch of people who celebrate Hanukkah, those who have Sinterklaas early in December, and we were close enough to see the celebrations of Kwanzaa on TV. Whenever I was saluted with a “happy holidays” or a “season’s greetings,” my teeth would clench, and I would give a grumpy, firm,  “MERRY CHRISTMAS.” After all, this is Canada’s holiday, right? Most Canadians celebrate Christmas, right? It’s those darned immigrants changing things. . .

Then I realized something huge.

Most Christmas displays, by stores, people and the media, is NOT Christmas, in my eyes. Quite simply, it is not the same holiday that we celebrate at all. So what is?

To me, and our family, Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. We believe that He was born in a stable, placed in a manger by the Virgin Mary, and that He was God’s gift to the world. We believe that He still lives today, and has taken away the sin of the world, and that He loves us so much. You may not believe that, and that’s certainly your right as a Canadian (or American) but that’s what I believe. If you don’t believe that He still reigns, and that He will come back, then the whole story’s meaning is lost. The whole thing doesn’t really matter.

So what ELSE is Christmas? Well, there’s a tree, gifts, dinners, parties, Chinese gift exchanges, gifts, the season of Advent, lights, inflatable cartoon characters, gifts, music, cards, travel, and mercy, the list does go on. Oops, did I mention gifts?

We buy gifts for our families, children, friends, neighbors, people who work for us or with us, and last, but not least, are those we feel obligated to buy for. And half the time, we work hard to pay for these gifts, shop for them, watch for sales, wait in line, hear “happy holidays,” wrap them, hide them, and then say that they are from a random obese fellow who sneaks into your home at night.

Am I against Santa? Christmas trees? Big, gigantic, inflatable Winnie the Pooh’s? Umm, no. We do have a Christmas tree in our home, that comes from pagan roots, that is now THE focal part of our living room, and the bane of my existence. Well, it’s better now that I moved some ornaments off the bottom few inches, just so they are not constantly tempting our poor little girl. Never mind the Christmas snowmen, knick knacks and nativity scenes that have come out of storage. I had to give the Pretty One and I some kind of leeway. That’s just waaay too much fun stuff for her. Once she understands the rest of the room, we will balance out the Christmas tree. However, I digress.

What about big, huge, inflatable Winnie the Pooh? We just visited a house nearby that draws people from all over. People will drive for hours to see it, and it happens to be 20 minutes away. I was so excited I was BESIDE myself. HH (handsome hubby) told me three times to calm down. It the funnest, cheapest, best night, ever.

Am I against the red guy? We don’t celebrate him at all, but I appreciate that it can be fun or cute. Our kids have been taught to not ruin other kids’ lives, but unfortunately I do not control everything that comes out of their mouths. We are doing our best in this area, to not be a part of something that’s not for us, yet, to not encroach on others.

So, why am I all of a sudden completely indifferent to the “Happy Holidays”? I am starting to realize that there is two, very different holidays taking place. There are those that focus on Jesus, and those that don’t.

In our home, the kids each receive three gifts (that’s what Jesus received.) Also, one of the gifts they receive is a gift in their place. Last year we gave chickens in the boys names to kids in Brazil, and then gave the boys pictures of chickens. That was a riot. We are celebrating Advent by reading Bible passages each day. We have a few nativity scenes, no Santas. We are studying the birth of Jesus with new eyes (they’re little, so that’s actually quite simple.) We have a happy birthday par-tay for Jesus, because the kids really get that. I think that’s all that is considered CHRISTmas.

We are looking for ways to bless our friends and families, and to show them we love them. And to surprise strangers. But I think these things are supposed to be round-the-year, not just at Christmas. So really, in this we are just doing what I’ve been putting off. I can count that as Christmas, I guess. We are also doing a tremendous amount of family stuff. We are baking, crafting, creating, reading, watching movies, everything, as part of our Advent. It has been a ridiculous blast, and I can’t sleep sometimes because I am excited about the next day. But that is not CHRISTmas, more like, Christmas. I know that God is honoured through what we are doing, but it’s not completely necessary to CHRISTmas, you know what I mean? It’s terrific, it’s wonderful, it will bless others, but if you don’t do it, it’s not like it’s against the Bible.

Now, we have added to the holiday, ourselves. We have our pagan-rooted tree, which we love. We have stockings filled with junk that Mommy and Daddy will sneak from at night after the kids open them, that is certainly not based on the Bible. I think that might be pagan too. The stockings, I mean. The sneaking of the candy is actually good parenting, since we don’t want our kids to eat too much sugar. We have our gift exchanges, which are surely fun, but not really rooted in the meaning of the season. But they sure do make it fun to steal. . .

We are committed to not going over budget, because you can’t tell me it would ever be God’s plan to give something that is not really yours to give in the first place. If you borrowed to get it, it is technically owned by whoever you borrowed from. And we have met, and had personal relations, with both Mr. VISA and Mrs. Mastercard, and (it’s not gossip if it’s true) they are only in it for themselves. They don’t love you, they are not your friend. And they don’t like your family. As a matter of fact, if you die, they will go AFTER your family for the balance of the gifts they bought them. Doesn’t sound like Christian giving to me.

We do not do Santa, like I mentioned. We want to limit things we are untruthful about. I know I’m going to get enough questions in adolescence that I will have to maybe gloss over the truth a little. After all, if your records are purged when you turn 18, it didn’t happen, right? I think I’m joking, but anyways, I don’t want to start telling them things that are not true. If they can’t trust me, then I probably won’t be able to trust them. Do I care if you do? Heck, no.

Because after all, who am I to judge? We have added to CHRISTmas, ourselves, and made it our own. I believe that our basis is still on Christ, and that for the most part, we are celebrating the true meaning. If you can add Santa, or whatever, and still feel peaceful about it, go for it. It’s between you and Jesus.

But now, what about the other array of people, those who are against what we believe is the true meaning? Or may not be against, but who don’t believe? Those who are trying to eliminate the word, and really, sound quite dumb while they do it? Well, why should I care if someone calls it a holiday tree, or a mid-winter holiday? In reality, they are only acknowledging the truth- they celebrate a COMPLETELY different holiday than me. And in Canada and the US we have this freedom to celebrate whatever religion we choose. Thank the Lord, or I wouldn’t even be able to write this dumb blog that is so much fun to vent on.

So happy holidays to those who celebrate more of the secular, than the Biblical. Those that celebrate commerce-mas, or whatever they will call it. Thank you for changing the name. I’m so glad that it is actually much more clear where everyone stands. The same thing shouldn’t have a different meaning to five different people, you know. Now, maybe, twenty years from now when I say “Merry Christmas,” they will understand that this is a totally different holiday from what they are celebrating. And hopefully the Prince of Peace will shine in my face during the hustle and bustle, and it will cause them to wonder about that old, antiquated Christmas that used to be celebrated way back when. Hopefully, the name CHRIST will shine through much, much more than when it is all sheltered under the same name.

Now, we just need to get them to change the name for Easter. The Springtime Bunny? Daylight Savings Eggs? We’ll work on it. Then we don’t have to pretend that we are all celebrating the same thing then, too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, on all of it. What is Christmas to you?

My Place in This World

Time, time, time. It’s hard. We are told to “live like we are dying.” Great thought, because it teaches us to be careful how we spend our time, but mercy, if that can’t give you pressure if you’re like me. We all have goals of some sort; I remember wanting to be married at 19 (simply because my mom was), with kids at the age of 21. I also planned to be a lawyer, so I don’t know how I was to fit law school in there. But I had expectations, and when things didn’t go as they planned, it was hard. I can feel for all my single friends, and people who are worried about where they are now, in comparison as to where they wanted to be, or dreamed they would be as a child.

Now that I was married at 21, and now on our fourth child at 28, I don’t feel that same pressure, for those kinds of things. But yet, I still want to do so much, and find that I can’t right now. That was the reason for my last post, and I just wanted to update that. I had a lot of private comments about it, through email and facebook, and it was so close to my heart, that I felt I simply must update you with my own little attitude change.

On the weekend I was able to hold a showing of the movie Nefarious, a documentary about human trafficking. I had never seen it before, but I had heard so many good things. I knew it would touch me, and wreck me, and renew in me a passion that had always been there, to reach out to those in bondage. I was super pumped to be seeing it at all, because we had missed a screening in a nearby town a few months back. And I was right, it did wreck me. It did cause me to think of my already huge shortage of time and resources, and that I can’t be where I want to be, sometimes.

And then I realized where I was.

During one part of the movie, my HH (handsome hubby) reached over and took my hand. He knew that what they were saying and showing was hitting my heart. And in that action, I realized what the preceding days had been like. I was so nervous that no one would show up. He had prayed about it with me, constantly, heard my thoughts, and my hopes. He made arrangements to pick up brochures that were very important to me. He drove all over the city Saturday night to pick them up. The day of the showing, he made dinner and straightened up the house because I attended a birthday party that day. He helped me race to get everyone out the door, and then got the kids situated in the nursery, while I set up the info table. And then, during the movie, he was right beside me, holding my hand through the parts he knew would hurt. I think I cried more AFTER the movie, thanking him for being my best friend, and HH, than I did DURING.

Is he over-the-top passionate about social justice like his crazy wife? Does he know all the stats, backwards and forwards? Does he cry at the thought of a little child being hurt?

No, no, and no. He certainly cares about others, and of course the movie hit him deeply, too. But that’s not why he did all that work, or listened to me, or held my hand.

He cared, because I cared.

Simple as that.

What a blessing it is to have a best friend. Someone who cares about something, just because you do. Obviously, this is an amazing picture of the Father. He cares for the things we care about. But what pressed me most, and what I heard from you guys most, is how hard it is to have a little peace.

First, we want to finish school. Then we want to get married. Then we want to have children. Then we want them to sleep through the night. Then we want all the teeth tojustcomeinalready. Then we want them potty trained. Then we want school to start. Then we want our mortgage paid. Then we want “life to start.” It is so easy to get caught up in the next season, and not even notice this one is ending. And the whole time, we are worried about if we are in the right place at all. Am I supposed to be here? What if I am supposed to be there? What if God is calling me here? I can’t answer that for anyone but me, but I know that He has given me the peace that passes understanding, and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and mercy, am I having the time of my life. Do you have that peace? Do you see the good in your season of life? If you aren’t married, are you so happy that you are only responsible for you? If you don’t have kids, do you treasure the fact that you can sleep in, and that your garbage can actually smells good? If you are up during the night with your little one, do you memorize each sigh, smell and feeling of that baby in your arms?

I know we won’t be able to buy all the gifts we want this year. I know we won’t pay off our mortgage in the next five years. I know that our children are going to disappoint me, and not meet milestones when the books say they will. I know that I probably won’t be able to go to Thailand for a while. But mercy, do I have PEACE.

If I live to be eighty years old, which isn’t even quite my life expectancy, I still have a lot of life yet. I still have a lot of years to fill. I don’t have to have, and be, everything RIGHTNOW. Time may be ticking, I may be one day closer to death. And if I die, I’ll be with Jesus anyways, so who cares? His plans for us are so good. So today, I’m going to make Rice Krispie squares with the kids, snuggle up (and probably make out) with my HH, and enjoy today. There’s a lot of good in it.

What season are you in? What are the joys, and tribulations? Do you have peace? Want some?