Tuesday, April 30, 2013

not the answer / the answer

First, check out this article.

Reading it, I was appalled at the solutions proposed.
Money is not the answer!
Yes, it's part of the answer.
Counselling is part of the answer.
Clean drinking water must certainly be part of the answer.
But none of these are the answer.

Like any sunday-school jerk, I know the right answer.
Always, always, the right answer is Jesus.

But not in a platitudinous here-eat-my-religion way.
In a real-live heart-and-hands sort of way.  Jesus.

Jesus, who left his glory and beauty and radiance and came to sin-soaked planet earth to rescue all of us who don't even know how to cry out for help.

Jesus, who reached out his own hands to touch everyone who came to him in need, to heal them and forgive them and bless them.

Jesus, who was accused of eating with sinners.  (Thank God!  He pressed that accusation to his heart as a badge of joy.  Eat with sinners?  He did, and does, and will forever.)

Jesus, who came and put flesh and bones on theology and stood on this ground with those beautiful feet.

His hands?  His feet?
That's what we're called to be, right?

I think communities like this need Jesus.  In the forgiven, grateful flesh of the church.  And He tells us to, doesn't he - the challenge rings out in Matthew 25:31-40 -

 (v40) Truly, I say to you, as much as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

I think, christians, we need to stop playing church.  Take the money set aside for the next sunday-school barbecue and send a willing person - family - group to live in Neskantaga.  To live and help and listen and care and eat and drink and bless and worship there, in Jesus' name.

No amount of mental-health counselling is going to fill the kind of gaps in a woman that committed love can fill.  No amount of emergency-response-coordinating will take a despairing addict and give him a reason to live.  No Health Canada response will heal a community where 10% of the population attempts suicide in a month.

Oh Jesus-people.  We need to have fewer words of excuse and be filled with the Word of life.  We need less bread in our grocery cart and more Living Bread in our actions. 

Pray for Casey Moonias.  Pray for Neskantaga.  Pray for our own couch-potato Christianity and the courage to say yes.

In Jesus' name.

Friday, April 26, 2013

so will I (shereadstruth)

if anyone had a right to revenge, hosea did.  he poured his love out for his wife, who flouted it and walked away from him. 
then he blessed her with gifts and provisions and kept loving her.
and she turned her back on him again, and went out with her lovers.
and still ... he bought her back again.  re-purchased the wife who had married him and gone away.  he set his love on her.  deliberate.  determined.  intentional.  love.

we wouldn't blame him, would we, for turning his back on her - even if she repented, and came home humbly to love him - we wouldn't really blame him if he was gone, looking for love anywhere else.

but ... he didn't. God swears to his own hurt and does not change (psalm 15:4).

he bought her and brought her home and told her to be his only - and promised he would be hers.  he told her to be true to him, and "so will I also be to you."  (hosea 3:3)

it aches, that kind of love.  the love that deliberately binds itself to the unlovely.  the love that says to a faithless one: i choose you.  i choose you and i will see loveliness in you.  i set my love upon you.  and i will show you what love is really like.  faithful.  pursuing.  persistent.  generous.  righteous.  permanent.

this gift God gave hosea: the gift of being acquainted with His Own Heart from the inside out -

it pierces right through.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

thankful (shereadstruth)

last year, i read through the bible in a year.  three chapters daily, and five on sundays.  (well, sundays are busy, so it usually ended up being eight on mondays.  but i digress.)

this year, i wanted something different, so i started out studying a different topic of my choice every week.  i hoped to have 50 little mini-studies completed by the end of the year.

well, without a definite plan (ha, maybe i should have planned my topics in advance?), i kind of got derailed, and just found myself poking around without a lot of direction.

a friend of mine recommended SheReadsTruth - an online community of women all reading the same passages on the same day.  and i love it!  i read my passage alone, offline, and think on it.  pray over it.  and then pop online to read the blogpost and comments that other women have shared. 

so. much. fun.

and challenging.  and interesting.

today we read in hosea 2.

the part that stood out the most to me was that gomer (hosea's unfaithful wife) looked around at the good things surrounding her, and attributed them to her lovers.  she never even thought about hosea, and that all the blessings she enjoyed are proof of his love.  in spite of her faithlessness, he showed faithful care and provision for her.  reading it, my heart hurt for him.

and then, of course, i realized the point ...

God gives me all good things.  and i look around and revel in them, and so rarely remember to thank Him!  i eat and drink and listen to music and walk in the sunshine and rejoice in the presence of my friends ... and so infrequently turn my face God-ward to say thank you.

thank you for chalk and wobbly toddler hopscotch.
thank you for bright blue eyes under a too-big hat.
thank you for three happy smiles devouring dill pickles.
thank you for guava juice and a heart full of longing.
thank you for patches of grass appearing outside.
thank you for sunshine.
thank you for music drifting outside from a tinny radio.
thank you for phone calls from my mama.
thank you for emails from patrick.
thank you for two babies sleeping at the same time (!!!).
thank you for your golden presence in a quiet moment.


thank you for the grain, the wine, the oil, the silver and gold ...

Friday, April 12, 2013

streetwalking

this post is so overdue!  thanks for your interest - prayers - patience!

i've been out a few more times, once alone (in the early evening - not too scary), and the other times with a kind and compassionate friend.

i've been trying to find the right words and usually by the time the kids are in bed and i sit down to write this, the weight of it just wears me down and i can't find the energy to write.

but this is what's new:

there are a few girls who regularly stand on the street.  i always say hi when i pass them, and they usually say hi in return - though they're almost always absorbed in their phones.

last week, a different girl - woman, i guess, at least, i'd guess she's older than i am - was out, and she was walking down the street grumbling out loud to herself about something.  i asked if she was okay.  she said yes, thanks for asking, and kept going, so we walked on.  then from about half a block away, she turned and yelled, i really mean it! normally i'd tell people to @#$%, but you seem genuine!
so i'm taking that as a little step in the right direction :).

later, as we walked by her again, one of the smaller girls called from another section of the street and warned her that people in a red van were driving by and throwing things at them. 

it made me so sad. and angry.  like their lives need any more garbage. 

anyway.

the night i went out alone was also illuminating. 

it was freezing cold, and patrick had been out running errands.  he got home before sunset, and told me the girls were already out.  i knew i didn't have a walking buddy, so i decided to go then, alone, before it got quite dark.  i took my phone just in case anything happened.

well, as it happened, there weren't any girls out by the time i got there.  i don't know if they decided it was too cold, or if they all got picked up.  there's usually 3 on any given night, in the same-ish spots.  so i walked to the end of the street and turned around to come home. 

i was walking along where one of the girls usually stands, and a black truck drove by, slow, with the driver's window all the way down.  brrr, i think, that guy's nuts!  but he had a red plaid jacket on, a lumberjack jacket i guess - and he nodded.

the hooker-street is in my neighbourhood, one block away from the main drag where they all used to stand - there used to be a lot of bars and things there.  anyway, the city focused on cleaning up that street - the bars closed, and there isn't any prostitution to be seen.  i don't know where people get drunk now, but the hookers just moved one street further in.  it's weird though, with houses and kids and blocks and hookers so close together - i guess i wouldn't be surprised to see prostitutes in a bar district, but it's pretty disconcerting to see them on a residential street, standing every few blocks, leaning up against church walls and wooden fences.

so i'm about to cross a side-street when the black truck turns in front of me and pulls over in the side street.  weird, i think, he's circling - he must be lost.

and then it hits me.  he really is lost.

he was hoping to pick me up.

i know it's naive of me not to have thought of that right away, but i guess i never imagined anyone would mistake me for a hooker. 

i walk on, assuming he'll figure it out.  it's a public street after all - and people walk up and down it all the time.

but he circles again, and pulls in front of me at the next crosswalk.

and the next.

by this time i'm getting a little bit uncomfortable, and i definitely don't want him to follow me home and find out where i live.  just because it's weird.  i assume he's a john, and that's not really a big deal, but the worrisome part is that he could be a pimp - and they're scary.

so i call patrick and chat with him.  the truck slows to a crawl while i walk under a tree, and i hurry up - thankful to see a group of people and a convenience store at the end of the street - not too far ahead. 

anyway, long story, he finally stopped circling when i went into the store. 

but it made me realize how scary - and awful - and horrid it must be to willingly go out there and get in vehicles with complete strangers - and that's just the  beginning.

i can't imagine the type of motivation - fear? poverty? drugs? - that drives someone to do that.

my heart breaks for them.

so if you're saying some prayers tonight, say some for the hookers.  and the johns.  and the pimps.  and us, too ...

we all need Jesus.

xo.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

a good, good day

patrick & i recently went through some of sam's early photos.  in between being struck by his ridiculous cuteness and his gigantic birthmark (which has almost gone away already!), i found myself bewildered to notice that 12-month-sam was a truly happy kid - pleasant to be around and filled with joy.  24-month-sam just ... isn't.  he's sweet, and dear, and we have a lot of fun - but it's like he's been kind of ... frayed.  he whines.  he shrieks.  he sulks.  what happened?
i know, i know.  the terrible twos.
but i also know there's been a change in my parenting since - well, since he's not a baby anymore.  i feel like i got into a great groove with him in infancy, but this whole big-kid thing staggers me.
i cried when i told patrick last night, and we prayed that God would help us to parent sam wisely, positively.  he deserves better.  God gave him to us, and i want to be like the good steward who multiplies the trust he was given.
in the middle of the night, growth-spurt-vava woke up for a bottle (she doesn't normally).  i was planning to just snuggle up with her on the couch and feed her while drifting in and out of consciousness.  but last night i heard a still small voice.
'go read that book.  right now.  just do it.'
so i pulled toddlerwise down off the shelf.  i bought it way back when sam was just turning 1.  i'd started to read it, but it wasn't applicable at the time, so i just shelved it partway through.  my bookmark was still in it.
i opened where i'd left off, and read one chapter.
it was the schedule-chapter.  i'd forgotten about that - when sam was a baby, we had a pretty decent, predictable schedule through the day. we rolled from one activity to the next, with lots of care given to his eating and sleeping times, outdoor time, playtime with mama, and playtime alone ...
as he got out of the multiple-naps phase, i guess i got out of the schedule phase.  i still made sure he ate well and regularly, and his sleeping routine was firmly in place - but the rest of the day just kind of happened.  whatever.
the thought of trying to stick to a schedule with two kids seemed kind of overwhelming - but when i read their description of an unscheduled-mom, i started to cry again.  that was me.  always running, never getting anywhere.  lost in a messy house, cranky kids, buried under a landslide of exhaustion.  not enjoying her kids at all.
i kind of laughed at their contrasting description of the peace-filled, in-control mom who had a schedule.  happy.  productive.  enjoying her toddlers.  ha!
but ... it sounded really nice.
so i got out my coloured sharpies and made a schedule.  plotted out the day in half-hour blocks.  stuck it on the fridge with sam's letter magnets, and carried vava upstairs to bed.
it took me a little while to fall back asleep.  i was kind of excited.
we followed the schedule today - along with a few other tips they'd slipped into the chapter - and it was like i was in a different house.
sam was happy.  really happy. 
and helpful.  and funny.  (i changed vava's bum, and usually he loves putting things in the garbage can, so i held out the diaper and asked him to throw it out.  he considered it with a grown-up, calculating look, then said "um, no. yuck.")
and when patrick came home, we actually were like that schedule-mom in the book.
the house was clean.  the kids were happy.  i was happy, and - most shocking of all - not exhaustedly counting the seconds til bedtime.  supper was humming away on the stove, and the table was set.  and it wasn't just a show we'd pulled off for patrick, either - it had been like this all day.
it was an awesome evening.  after bathtime, sam zoomed downstairs, grabbed monkey - and headed up to bed, completely unprompted.
yes.
my little fighter.
my zany monkey-man.
went up the stairs to bed without being told.
i got down on my knees and thanked God.  i feel like our family did a 180.
and after sam was kissed and prayed with and sung to and kissed again, i came downstairs to tackle the hurricane-mess in kitchen and livingroom ... and there was none.
oh yes.  cleaning up as we go was built into the schedule.
this rocks.
i'm so grateful.
 

i really really really want to bring my kids up happily, gladly, full-heartedly.
today was a good, good day.