Sunday, March 31, 2013


Have you ever tried to surprise someone? The planning, the cunning, the secrets, the anticipation, the excitement. You just can't wait to see the look on their face, their startled yet joyful reaction!

Have you ever planned to surprise someone who hasn't seen you in a while? Maybe a long distance friend who didn't expect you?  Maybe even a reunion years in the making? You may have to wait a few minutes for the recognition to light up their eyes.  Partly because they would never expect to see you in this unexpected place, partly because it's been awhile since they've seen you. You just about can't stand the suspense as you wait for them to see you, to really see that it's YOU!

Many years ago, there were 2 gentlemen on a trip, they came across another man journeying in the same direction so they decided to travel together. The 2 men had recently just lost a close friend, they were consumed with grief and they were feeling quite hopeless. The 3rd man tried to speak hope into their situation, and the other 2 felt it warm their hearts a little. As they reached the town they were heading to, the 3rd man mentioned he was still on his journey and was about to continue when the other 2 invited him to stay with them for dinner. He accepted their gracious invitation. They sat and ate together.

And he waited.

He waited, secret smile hidden.

Waiting in eager anticipation for them to recognize him.

To really see him.

And then they did! They realize, they KNOW him!

And he knows them. Knows them like no one ever has.

Surprise! "I'm Alive!"

He is risen! He is risen indeed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Relationship Vehicle

A few observations I've made while driving (coincidentally, or not, with my husband) last week. When two people enter into a relationship, especially one of a romantic nature, there are things we can fail to consider until it's too late. I came to the conclusion that this is how I'm going to explain dating to my kids one day.

When you enter into a romantic relationship, you are entering a relationship vehicle.

You both have a steering wheel.
If you ignore yours, if you give it to the other person, or if you don't figure out where you want to go, you will get taken for a ride rather than journeying together, and you will very likely get taken to places you do not want to go.  Even if you think you want the same destination, there may be short-cuts or long winding roads you don't want to take.

You both have brake and gas pedal.
You have equal access to slow or stop the vehicle, braking does work even if the other person is on the gas.  Don't feel like you are stuck in a fast moving vehicle where your only option is to open the door and jump out, risking injury, or just as bad, staying trapped in that vehicle.

You both have a gas tank.
But, you don't fill your own tank, the other person does. You control what it is that qualifies as fuel (feeling loved) but the other person is the one who has to pour it in your tank.  You can only go so far when one tank is empty, it will have the same drag effect as their brakes being on. Two empty tanks is a huge problem, do you not want to fill each other's tanks?  Do you not know how and don't communicate?

The biggest trouble is when one person will forget they have, or pretend they don't have, or they hand over their control of the vehicle.  That is a sure way to find themselves stuck in a fast moving vehicle, driving down roads they never intended - placing themselves at risk/in danger - and all just to get to a destination they either never reach or a destination they were wrong about.  It doesn't have to be that way.

Just like a GPS unit, it is wise to start with communicating each travel plan, the intended route, speed, and destination. This way you can compare, negotiate, and/or change before too much ground is covered and assumptions are made. Maybe you'll figure out you are not meant to drive together. Maybe you'll figure out your travel plans are quite different, you might be willing to drive together but knowingly for a short distance. This can save you from making terribly wrong detours/short-cuts because you know this isn't the person you are meant to get to your destination with.

Don't even get me started on all the road signs they should pay attention to. CAUTION! I missed that one :)
But, truly, I wish I had this perspective when I was a young woman, I could have equal say, and I needed to verbally say things.  My speed and route were sometimes risky and dangerous, there was some harm and pain, scars and recovery. I really hope and pray some day my kids don't have to learn the hard way.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Where to take a stand

Bill 18 is big news in Manitoba. It seems I have yet to find anyone who is in the same perplexed state of where to take a stand as I am. No matter what I read, who I talk to, their position is just a little extreme for me, the division seems to be either blindly accept it with all it's gaps or throw out the baby with the bath water. I'm not a fan of either of those options. This post is really more for my own sake than for anyone else to read, but here is a cut & paste version of how my thoughts are developing about this controversy, taken from people more aware than I.

I am 100% against bullying yet also think Bill 18 is deeply problematic, the language of the bill is too important to ignore. Let me start off by saying, I don't believe it's problematic because of my own right to religious freedom....more on that later....but here's a summation of why I believe it is problematic.

1.Bill 18 specifically gives protection from bullying in four areas: (1) Gender; (2) Race; (3) Sexual Orientation; and (4) Disabilities. Bill 18 neglects the huge majority of at-risk children who have the characteristics actually targeted by bullies: In 2006 the Toronto School Board (biggest in Canada) did a survey of children about bullying. They found that the biggest reasons for bullying are body image (38%), followed by grades (17%), followed by cultural background/race (11%), followed by language/race (7%), followed by gender and sexual orientation (5% combined) and religion (5%). In other words, just as many children are bullied for religious reasons as for gender and sexual orientation.

My problem is with the arbitrary decision on which issues receive awareness and protection. Body image is targeted twice as much as race, grades just as much as race, and religion just as much as gender and sexual orientation combined. Only 28% of victims of bullying are being specifically addressed by this bill, and that to me is a problem.

2. There is a problem with the interpretation of bullying behavior, so vaguely defining it as behavior 'known to cause...harm to feelings.' Stating a fact could in turn harm someone's feelings, never mind completely innocent remarks. I have hurt my niece's feelings (she is school age) for telling her she had to eat her lunch. Some children are by far more sensitive than this bill is allowing for.

"By elevating the seriousness of innocent, harmless comments (or even minor albeit unintentionally hurtful, off-the-cuff remarks) to the same level as deliberate and truly serious offenses (i.e., clear and obviously dangerous bullying), Bill 18 threatens to trivialize the truly serious offenses. Bill 18 doesn't just lift up as serious what isn't serious; it may pull down as not serious what is serious. I am concerned that this "flattening" of the moral landscape by Bill 18 will impact the long-term education of our children by morally desensitizing them to the difference between what’s truly good and what’s truly evil." (quoted from professor with Ph.D. studies in ethics).

But that's about where I see the problems end. Here's where I start deviating from the vast differentiating sides I've been aware of - the heightened attention to sexual orientation in the bill.

It has been suggested that suggest that this is 'reverse bullying' against religious schools by legislative means that is socially just or at least the lesser-of-two-evils. I don't know if it's reverse bullying for one, there are some who say Bill 18 renders illegal the expression of a moral-religious position that views same-sex sexual behavior as sinful or wrong—and in effect Bill 18 defines as bullies those who hold this view. I would disagree, the bill says schools need to promote "the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; and....promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils."

As a Christian I hope I am not alone in welcoming respect and understanding and acceptance of all those with a sexual orientation that strays from what I believe God designed. This is where the arguments start getting divided even among Christians, the question of 'is homosexuality a sin?', if same sex attraction is not a choice, it can't be a sin. Acting on that attraction is the key for me (I like this article that explains it better than I can), just like any other sin, the temptation is not the sin, no matter the reason for the temptation, but choosing to act in a way I know God has asked me not to, that is a sin. But that last part is also key, if they don't have a relationship with God, the definition of sin I just mentioned is meaningless to them.

Granted, the basis for some arguments is that this will be applied in Christian schools, but it is not a prerequisite that you be a Christian to attend a Christian school, just like a Church, you don't have to be a Christian before you attend. I would argue all Churches accept those actively sinning, because we ALL do. I would even argue Churches often have gay-straight alliances, though they may not be called that. I attend a Church that has a program designed to be a safe and accepting place of people with just about every kind of struggle, including homosexuality. I am a core leader of that program. We embrace anyone who identifies themselves as homosexual, and love them just like we do anyone else fighting and/or acting on temptations. We respect them, we try to understand them, we accept them.  If they can't find that kind of safe, accepting love from the Church, they will never accept they can get that kind of safe, accepting love from God, who is the only one who can save them from their temptations.  We speak the truth in love but we do not try to enforce truth, we don't change people, God changes people.  So, why can't a Christian school be open to the same 'alliance'.

Back to the 'lesser of two evils', persecuting religious freedom to save lives.  Jesus always took the side of the outcast, the oppressed, and the marginalized.  Often at the expense of the religious leaders who persecuted based on their perceived view of religious rights. To me, despite only 6% of bullying being sex-based, I can't help but thinking of 'outcast, oppressed, marginalized' when I hear suicide rate of GLBTQ teenagers is 4-5 times the national average.  And those numbers go up in communities where GLBTQ kids don’t feel supported.

How did Jesus respond to those hurting from sin? He wasn't concerned with the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law, and he chose to give them grace first (for a foundation of belief) and only after did he give truth (for transformation).  This spirit of this bill is calling for grace first. Is there the threat this bill could be interpreted by someone, some day, to take away our right to be truthful in schools, even in Christian schools? Possibly. Do I think a student at any school, of whatever belief system, who identifies themselves as homosexual deserves a school focused on working to ensure they are not outcast, oppressed or marginalized (accepted, included, respected)? Absolutely.

I think the absolutely wins over the possibly.  I take a stand against bullying.  Every school needs to take a stand against all bullying equally, promoting diversity and equality on all levels, and have a concise plan on what deserves discipline. I do not stand for this particular fight 'for religious freedoms.' I happen to know Jesus guarantees persecution to those who follow him, more and more as the time of his second coming draws closer. I don't think the threat to my religious freedom, the threat of persecution I am to expect, outweighs the dire need to protect all the vulnerable children, choosing death over a life in a world alongside me and those who claim to love Christ. I've heard somewhere that the best way to save a life is to lay your own life down.

Seeing FB propaganda from acquaintances that say, "if you don't stand for our religious freedoms now then you don't stand for God, you are denying God." Jesus knows how much I love him, and how much I love all those made in his image, and my actions say it everyday, and there is no way I'm going to let 'you' define what it means to stand for him. It is within all our rights, we’re allowed to disagree with government legislation, and have discussions regarding improving laws. But I will not take that right and resort to attacking. If I hate the haters, I become what I hate. We are encouraged to pray for religious freedom. Jesus said, 'pray for those who persecute you.' These things I will do. I will end with a quote from one pastor that I believe sums up what I feel perfectly, "in addition to praying for religious freedom, I also pray that we could work together to keep kids alive.  Surely the two aren’t mutually exclusive."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Best Things in Life - Anniversary Edition

10 best things (in no particular order) about our 10th anniversary vow renewal celebration!

1. Save a few long distance loved ones, all of the most important people in our life all in one room celebrating with us. It was so nice for all of our circles to meet, and to see the ways they overlap, and the bonds developing amongst our loved ones.

2. Also, our guests were beyond generous with words of encouragement, affirmation, inspiration, love and even gifts (so not necessary, but such a blessing!). Thank you!

3. Favorite gifts: bacon (yes, real bacon!) and this is our reaction to opening it.
 and these lovely drawings from my nieces and nephew (really, every gift was so appreciated!)
(not this nephew, the older one :)

4. Amazing dessert spread by the most talented ladies, and dear friends, who went above and beyond to bless us and make our celebration special. They even surprised us with bacon brownies! If you ever need something catered, I have the ladies for you!

5. Our pastor, and friend, and Sean's mentor, Duane's inspiring and insightful ceremony, who spoke about the very themes Sean and I individually selected for our vows.What a great reminder of what love should be and can accomplish.

6. Our vows. Written completely independent of one another and yet we took the same theme from the exact same song! The rest of our vows were also heavily song inspired, but we still made each other cry. And laugh. I had to include something about bacon, little did I know it would become a mini-theme for our day!

7. Keeping it simple but lovely.

8. Surprise song Sean arranged with our friend Steve. He had Steve, and his wife, my good friend Kristi, re-work the song God Gave Me You and then Steve performed it right after Sean's vows, sneaking behind me on to stage so I didn't know until Sean was turning me around and he started to play.

9. How much our love impacts those around us. They cried with us, they laughed with us, they were filled with hope, they were inspired, they were blessed, they were encouraged, they were overjoyed. The ripple effect of our humbling.

10. Committing my life to my amazing husband all over again, remembering why I love him and why he's my best friend, and looking forward to a life time of love.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Today, Tomorrow, Forever

I try, but I have no words that truly capture how much I love you, how much you mean to me. I use songs that say it poetically, but even all the country songs combined can't capture what I feel for you. All the poets and the sea of ink they've penned for all of time, even the most lovely of letters only begin to scratch the surface. The greatest story tellers in history, the greatest love stories of all ages, I see us in them, but know we have so much more. Our story is my favorite. It may be an impossible task to convey 12 years of love, 10 years of marriage, in a few lines, but I'll try.

I'll try today.
I'll try tomorrow.
I'll try forever.

Happy Anniversary my love, my Sean.

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