Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guest Post: The Difference We Make

Addressed to current arguments regarding Canada's decision to accept twenty five thousand refugees before Christmas.
Taking in twenty five thousand refugees before Christmas will not make a great difference in alleviating the suffering in the world. I could demonstrate this with gumballs. It would be more effective for us to help them where they are, you say. Those refugees should stay in their countries and work to make them better instead of bringing their problems to us.
But I wonder if you have considered what a difficult proposal that is.
Let us consider just the case of Syria. The combatants are Bashar Al-Assad’s government on one side and ISIL (or whatever) on the other side.
The west has been engaging in two ways: first by finding and arming groups of “moderate” insurgents and secondly with airstrikes. There has not, so far, been the political will in the west to fully engage on the ground. Add to that the fact that western military interventions have a history of making things worse and there is very little reason for refugees to stay.
The airstrikes are not enough. They may be disruptive and annoying, but they will not, by themselves, neutralize ISIL. Arming the “moderates” has proved difficult since they are now becoming increasingly difficult to find. Many “moderates” are now fighting on the side of ISIL while others have themselves become refugees, leaving their American supplied weapons in the hands of ISIL. It seems that Russia’s pragmatic strategy of supporting Bashar Al-Assad’s military against ISIL is the only coherent option in the muddle but the west finds this option unsavoury and politically untenable. Western allies have teamed with Iraqi Kurds to fight against ISIL, which is an attractive option because supporting the Kurds does not strengthen Bashar Al-Assad’s government. What many forget, however, is that while the Kurds are allies in Syria and Iraq, the United States government considers Kurdish groups in Turkey to be terrorists because of the PKK’s independence movement in that country. Without getting too deep into it, supporting any Kurdish groups indirectly supports terrorism because the Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey all have the same goal: an independent Kurdish state carved out from the territories of those three states (of course, nobody cares about the territory this Kurdish state will carve out of Syria and Iraq). Furthermore, the Kurds are no friends of the Syrian people, and will not move into ISIL-controlled Syrian territory as “liberators”.
So Syria’s “Moderates” are caught between the government of Bashar Al-Assad, supported by Russia on one side and ISIL on the other. Also consider that some of the other actors in the area are Iranian proxies and the Iranian-supported terrorist organization,Hezbollah. Do you propose that Syria's "Moderates" arm themselves with sticks and stones to fight against both their government and ISIL? Even if they were armed and supported by the West, their chances of success are slim. These are civilians—even the men among them—not trained soldiers. The more fanatical or the more steadfast among them might fight but even making contact with representatives of the West to procure weapons and training is difficult and has its own risks. The rest, if they stay, risk having their neighbourhoods bombed by government airstrikes, bulldozed by government tanks or ravaged and burned by terrorists. Or maybe they already have lost their homes, maybe they have already tried fighting. For many—not all, certainly, but many—the options are few; they see leaving the area as the best they can do.
What would you do? Would you stay and fight, knowing your wife and children would have to stay too? Or would you send your wife and children alone to risk the journey across thousands of unfriendly miles by foot and boat while you stay behind to fight for your country—even though you don’t know what a good outcome might be in that fight or that one is even possible? You might stay, but you certainly could not fault your neighbours for leaving.
You say we should help them where they are, but how? Do you want your government to move the ground forces and machinery it would take to beat back ISIL? And even then, we’d still have the miry problem of Bashar Al-Assad’s government, supported by Russia. So far, the overwhelming majority of westerners do not want their governments to engage on the ground. Canada’s government has decided to remove its fighter-bombers from the fight, choosing instead to send more trainers on the ground to team up with the Kurds. Both the airstrikes and the training are token measures. Nothing we’re doing so far is helping the Syrian “Moderates” and there are no good options for us to begin to help them where they are—at least none that are politically viable. Airstrikes are not enough, as stated previously, it would take a comprehensive ground war to make Syria safe again. So Canada’s decision to remove its fighter-bombers from the fight is just as good a decision as any. Especially since Canadian airstrikes have been blamed for causing civilian casualties.
Do you oppose the decision to remove the fighter-bombers because you are not interested, really, in helping anybody, you just want to feel like you’re doing something without having to give them refuge here?
Do we really want to be on the side that turns away those who seek refuge? We’ve been there before—in the 1930s Canada turned away boatloads of refugees from Europe who later died in the ocean—and it is an embarrassment to us. In the 1930s Nazi Germany offered its unwanted to any country that would take them and all the countries of the west politely declined. In our defense, you say, we didn’t know what was going on! Yes, we didn’t know because we didn’t care to know.
There’s so little we can do in the form of effective solutions for the Syrian people in Syria. The best we can do for them is let them come. We are a country of immigrants. It makes no sense for us, who happened to have the good fortune of coming here earlier, to turn away those who would come after us.
To take in the refugees may not make a great difference compared to the many, many millions who will remain suffering outside our borders but it will make a vast difference for those we let in and it's the only option that makes a permanent difference without engaging the military.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Booka Booka Booka

Kachi loooves books.  He walks around the house with them, saying, "booka booka booka!" He's even started taking them to bed. ♡
That's my boy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Twilight Milestones

What do you do when your brave daughter decides today is the day she is getting rid of her soother, because she is a big girl and it's Twilight Sparkle's birthday?
You make a cake and celebrate and maybe you cry a little bit when she's not looking because growing up is hard and she makes it look beautiful.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Make Me A Sammich!

This afternoon, Sam asked if he could make himself a sandwich ... and made one. It was the first time he's done that, and it hit me like a ton of bricks ... my baby is growing up.
Here he is, goofing around with his very own sandwich.
And Vava had a tea party with her "pony pones." Natch.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gotta Have Goals

Tonight I asked Sam what he wants to be when he grows up.  His answer is so perfectly him:  "I want to be a big police officer, who catches butterflies so the mean guys can't get them."

And Vava, "I'm a pony unicorn, who grows up into a WO-bot!"  
Because Vava :).

Monday, November 2, 2015

How You Know

Sam, to Vava, on falling in love:
You will smile and they will smile and their eyes will start to shine and you just  know that you love them so much.
And you will love each other forever.

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Sexy Halloween Post

Halloween's coming up.  As a Christian, I'm not into the gory scary evil side of things, but as a Christian, I'm definitely into the neighbourly friendly candy side of things! It's the neighbourliest night of the year - a chance to open our door to the people we live with, chat with parents and kids, give generously, and get to know each other.

(I understand people who don't want to participate at all due to the way Halloween can be a celebration of evil, and I totally respect that for them.  I just choose to see it as one more way to love my neighbour.)

But I think Halloween is really interesting, culturally.  It uncovers the pretense, the facade, the stories our culture tells itself about what we value and who we want to be.  And nothing does this more obviously, in my opinion, than the Sexy Nurse (or Sexy Fireman, or Sexy Stewardess, or Sexy Anything etc.) costume.  

It isn't that society really believes a nurse should wear a miniskirt or modify her uniform to reveal a plunging neckline.  But in a deeper, constraining sense, we believe -

No matter what I do, I would be better if I were sexy.  

Halloween just puts it all out there - shows us that, as a culture, we believe in a religion of works, where sexiness is our god and goal.  We really think that the skinniest, perky-boobsiest, whitest-toothed people are the happiest and most likely to be in sexually fulfilling relationships.  

Be a nurse who saves lives, eases pain, delivers joy, softens loss, yes ... but make sure you lose weight, cover your grey hairs, hide your wrinkles, get breast implants, whiten your teeth, and eliminate your thigh gap.  

And it sounds, well, shallow, at best, when it's all written out like that. But still somehow I find myself feeling inadequate because I'm not a "sexy" mom, or a "sexy" blogger, or a "sexy" anything.

But when I sit alone with God and read the truth, I rest.

Isn't it enough, to do my job well, to serve others, to build a home with my husband and kids and joyously worship God with thanks? Isn't it enough for one life?

I know it, deep down in the quiet places of my heart.  It's enough.  I'm enough.  I don't need to strive for someone else's standard of sexiness to be happy, or to be appealing to my spouse.

You, me - we're already enough.

Because sexiness isn't actually shape of a body, and it doesn't come in one particular bra or bicep size.  It would be really hard to truly dress up as a sexy anything, because sexy looks different for everyone, and doesn't have a particular look at all.  Sexy (defined by as exciting, glamorous, arousing) is not elusive or expensive or tangible.  It's found deep in the heart of commitment, security, freedom, comfort, and kindness. 

It's the delicious tenderness of sacrificial love, the gluey sort of oneness in the silence after a rich laugh, the spark and flare of intense conversation that keeps you up at night.  

It's found in the ordinary run of an everyday life, and (thank you, Jesus!) is not reserved solely for those svelte few who manage to achieve a thigh gap.  

NB, I'm not at all saying that I think it's wrong to be fit, to strive for any particular shape or to love being beautiful. 

But I am saying that physical shape and size isn't the road to sexy ... because sexy is thankfully reserved for all of us.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Headway, Painfully

Dear Little Sister,

I see you, rowing hard.
I see that boat tossing on the waves, see you struggling with stretched arms and stretched courage and stretched patience to stay up and on course.

I see the frayed edges of your heart, the way your hope is rubbed raw.

You are beautiful and brave,
With that hard knot of persistence clenched in your belly.

I see you.

You are not alone.

You are never, never alone.

Mark 6:48 - And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vava, almost 3

"I love God," she sighed, climbing into bed.  "I'm going to draw him a picture.  And He will grab it and hold it up and say 'what a precious pink unicorn.'"  And then I will ask Him if I can pet His white horse with a pink tail."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Among Wishes Wished

And if you should find yourself graced with a glorious October day, I hope you step out of all your obligations onto a beach.  Laugh free in sweet air, take your fill of joyous sunshine, eat something simple while wind whips hair into your mouth. Let your kids strip down and feel sand against their skin for the last time in a long time.
Revel in the last generous glimpse of summer, and hold your grateful cup high.
This is a good, good day.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dear Pregnant Mama

Ohh, there you are, friend.
Prisoner of hope.
Waiting, inevitably.
Waiting for that inside, outside change.
And you -

Well, you will change.

You will change

You will change
Diapers, and more
Diapers, and even more
Diapers - maybe six daily, for maybe three years ... or more.

You will change
Into a sleep-walker
Into a cheerleader
Into a five-minute-expert on dinosaurs and space and unicorns.

You will change
Your mind again and again on the same topic
More pairs of sheets in a night than you ever thought possible
Outfits three times before leaving the house.

You will change
The number of souls on this planet
And the bent of those souls to hate or to love
And for them, you will change

Oh my brave friend:
You're about to change
The world.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dear Little Labelles

Dear Sam & Vava & Kachi,

My darling darlings, you are growing up so quickly.  I feel like every time I turn around, you're hitting new milestones and leaving me baffled.  

Vava, you potty-trained yourself.  On Sam's first day of school, you decided you wanted to wear underpants and you haven't looked back.  I don't even know what to say.  After the absolute agony of getting Sam out of diapers, I was resigned to a real stand-off.  I was ready to bribe, cajole, entreat, and threaten our way from pampers to potty.  I was not expecting your calm capability.  You have made yourself some adorable little rituals, and you are just so quietly happy, going about your big-girl business.  I am so proud of you.

Kachi, you decided to walk.  You took a few wobbly steps in August, but in September you really ramped up the effort.  You spent a few weeks determinedly practicing, staggering from the front of the house to the back, plopping down on your bum every few moments.  And now ... you're so steady.  You can even reach down, pick up your toys, and keep on trucking.  I am so proud of you.

And Sam.  You valiant trooper.  You have the unenviable task of trying every thing first.  Stepping onto the schoolbus first, learning classroom routines first, being away from home all day first ... and you are doing great.  You can write so many letters, you have learned songs and poems and silly dances.  You are a learning machine. And I love sharing a picnic on the front step when you get off the bus.  I love sitting with you while you wolf down a snack and all your leftover lunch.  I love when you tell me about helping kids in your class, talking with your teacher, playing in the schoolyard.  I love reconnecting after a whole lonely day without you.  (I love that you give me a kissing hand in the morning, to keep close while you're away).  I am so proud of you.

Little Labelles, I love you.  Thank you for being you <3 .="" div="">