Friday, 25 December 2009

A Mary Christmas Eve

I woke up this morning to a comfortable room in a bed piled high with blankets and pillows. My house was still and warm as my family dozed on and off for the next few hours, happy and cozy and safe, all once again under the same roof. I love coming home for Christmas: hugs that somehow turn into headlocks and far more meals than necessary, the pulling out of old instruments and the wrapping of gifts, silly photo shoots and there is bound to be a snowball fight... home, family, love, affection. This is Christmas.

But as I woke up this morning I had another kind of thought that was a little less like mistletoe and chocolate... it was of the first “Merry Christmas Eve.” And tonight I had the pleasure of living something quite akin.

Every Christmas Eve since before I can remember we have been one of two places: in a room packed with cousins at extended family Christmas, or at Church for the candlelight service. Tonight was the latter option and the gymnasium that doubles for our chapel was full of people from the Sunday-morning-and-night regulars to families that rarely see the inside of a church but make exceptions for such special occasions. Kids that I haven’t seen since they were reaching up to grasshopper’s knee are now looking me square in the eye and old friends who have moved on and moved away reunite with wonderful hugs and smiles that pour out love to all generously. The service began late, as it always does, allowing time for the stragglers and those who had a distant parking place to make their way to the seats that have been carefully and apologetically saved for them in the business of settling down. The lights dimmed, the music began and right on cue the babies cried. And cried... and cried.

A few of the little voices behind us were familiar in nature. I looked over my shoulder a few times before passing a note down the row to my Mum: “Should I go and take him out?” She shook her head but a minute later, Care began to move and the two of us slipped out the chapel’s side door, looking to help if we could.

When we got to the Nursery there were already a few sets of parents running around after their kids. They were all dressed up and we could tell that they wanted to be in the service much more than either of us did so we opened an unofficial, impromptu childcare service and the two of us did our best to entertain the seven babies and toddlers who were living on the tipping edge of too-much-sugar and past-your-bedtime. It was exactly the emotional change of pace I needed – a personal connection to that first of Christmastime anniversaries. This, children running and playing and listening to stories and singing and laughing and enjoying the simplicity of company, this is Christmas. This was Mary’s kind. Well, this was Mary’s kind post-labour and after a long nap... maybe it was more like this the year after His birth... haha.

When the service ended we were paid well with many appreciative smiles and “Thank you”s full of blessing. I think the half hour we spent with those kids is likely the most important gift I will give this Christmas, and definitely the one that most harkens back to the Christ child – the gift-wrapped Redeemer, the little swaddled Saviour, who would, in the blink of His mother’s eye, grow up and take on the world.

So, as I head off to a night of home-made tradition and celebration and a day of such activities to follow in haste, I wish you all a very Mary Christmas. May God bless you with hope and love this year and all of those to come.

Thursday, 17 December 2009


The life of a pillowcase is not as glamorous as the Sears catalogue makes it out to be.

Pressed and lacy atop an unwrinkled bed is not the life that most of them experience. In fact, such pillowcases are not even really pillowcases... they're airbrushed and starched phonies. And some of them aren't even stuffed. The true test of a pillowcase, the surest way to find out what it's really made of is right around Christmastime: runny noses, phlegm-filled coughs, leaky eyes, too much sugar. If a pillowcase can withstand that much wear, it should be set for life. Or, at least that is what they are told....

For Lumpy, however, life was filled with more beatings than bedtimes. Even for restless little dreamers, something about Lumpy was a little too off center. He was rejected for the guestroom, rejected from the living room chesterfield and even the family dog refused to sleep with him... and so, Lumpy was demoted to the lowest possible position a pillowcase could find himself in.

Lumpy became the road-trip barf-bag.

Shouts of "I'm gonna BLOW!" gave Lumpy the shakes, which, unfortunately, only seemed to make the children more nauseous. Last night's pasta dinner and this morning's bran cereal fire-hosed out of the mouths and nostrils that gagged in his face. Lumpy hated this game. This game made Lumpy want to hurl.

One night driving home from hockey practice on the windy Northern roads, Chris (the third of four children in this family, and "King of Regurgitation") had second thoughts about his Chinese/McDonald's third quarter snack. Lumpy had known all along that this was a bad plan, and couldn't believe his seams when Chris' mother agreed to "pick something like that up" for her boys. Lumpy tried to warn her, but to no avail. People never listen to their laundry. And so, on the way home, Chris' stomach began to turn. Little burps sputtered out between his lips and the phrases "excuse me" and "I don't feel so good" seemed to limit his vocabulary. Chris' mom was taking the turns just a little too fast and Chris' seatbelt was just a little too high and a little too tight... before long Lumpy was staring up the young boy's nose in horror.

"NO!" cried Lumpy, his mouth yanked open so hard he thought he might pop a stitch, "Please! For Tailor's sake! Hold it in!"

But he did not. He could not. Noodles and partially digested ground beef filled an inch and a half of the poor pillowcase's self. Lumpy choked back a gag. And then it occurred to him... a brilliant plan, so simple, so devilish, so perfect...

Lumpy drew in a great breath. He stretched himself back, pulling against the boy's grip down to the ground, to the floor of the SUV and as soon as the boy took notice of this change, Lumpy catapulted himself inside out, blowing the chunks right back into Chris' face! Chris tried to scream and realized too late that his mouth was once again full of his vomit... but not for long...

Chris refilled Lumpy and Lumpy flung it out again! This time it hit Chris' mom on the side of her face! "CHRIS!" she hollered. "AIM FOR THE BAG!!" Chris could say nothing. He was as green as the Grinch. It was worse than the time his sister spit into her hand and rubbed it in his eye. This was the worst moment of his life.

That was not the case for Lumpy. Lumpy finally had taken his revenge. He would be a legend in the linen closet for years to come. He would be awarded some kind of prize for this. This night’s actions would go down in fabric history. And indeed they did.

When Chris got home he had to clean the whole vehicle by himself. Lumpy got washed -- thoroughly -- and to everyone's surprise, promoted. Apparently the only thing that will hide barf stains is car polish. And so our hero spent the rest of his days buffing and shining both family vehicles, far out of reach of snotty nose and leaking tears and all kinds of vomit. And, if you ask me, he does the job very, very well.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Adventures of Chai Spice

I had to laugh at myself tonight. I thought I would give you the opportunity to join me in the light-hearted mockery and quickly relay my tale.

As I began to settle in for another long night of work (and distraction), I set my kettle to boil. From time to time I change up my ritual hot chocolate for something a little lighter and a little less like the warm, soothing segue into dream that cocoa is, especially on wintry nights. Usually I'm a peppermint girl when it comes time for tea. I love the smell, the taste and the feeling of peppermint - it too has a soothing effect but without the automatic reaction of my sinking eyelids. Even my sugarless peppermint, however, has had very little effect on my ability to stay up later than usual, recently. And tonight I learned why.

Did you know that some teas are not caffeinated? Did you know that some actually announce "no caffeine" on their labels? Some tea tins even make it brilliantly obvious, in a different colour and an interesting font that practically begs to be read. Maybe if I'd have been more awake I would have noticed... but then I wouldn't have needed the tea.

So, tonight my peppermint is not overly helpful, and it's "no caffeine" twin in cinnamon will also remain in my cupboard. Luckily (or perhaps fiendishly), my Mom once left a bag of Home-groceries here in my home and one of the magical inheritances I stashed away was a box of "Chai Spice Black Tea," quite appropriately from the "Stash Premium" collection. I was a little skeptical at first (it was a box of individually packaged paper bags, the kind of box I associate more with hotel continental breakfasts than my little kitchen table), but after unwrapping and steeping my first mug of tea, I must admit I'm very impressed.

Good taste, Mom... I think I'll keep the rest of the box...

Monday, 14 December 2009

It does not mix!

Lessons from my weekend:
1)Beautiful gowns and long gloves do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
2)The making and eating of caramel corn does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
3)The making and eating of quesadillas does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
4)My guitar and a fat binder of worship music do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
5)TV, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and my blogs do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
6)Comfortable seating and warm rooms do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
7)Uncomfortable seating and cold rooms also do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
8)Unsupervised study time does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
9)Study time spent in the company of others does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
10)Blank Word documents do not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
11)The internal distraction of things that are eternally more important than Language and
      Rhetoric does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.

12)Visual access to any kind of clock does not mix with Language and Rhetoric.
13)Everything does not mix with Language and Rhetoric!

When there is this much snow outside, when the pretty lights are up, when I have Christmas cards to write, a blanket to finish, my room to clean and pack and when home is so close... school just feels meaningless, like the first chunk of Ecclesiastes.

Please! I just want to go home!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

A Million Directions

I feel like I'm standing inside of a dark sphere. The globe that surrounds me is gray, like lead, like the graphite line of a pencil marked by a sure hand with intentional pressure. The sides of this space feel like carpet and as I lightly pass my hand over the soft, bristly wall it ripples around in every direction. It moves like water and like light. It seems nearly alive, but it is something far more mysterious even than life... it is potential.

This dome, this place, this room... it is the ultimate crossroads. Each speck on the wall, each point of the room is a choice. I am standing in choice. When I leave this place I will follow one of these lines. I will choose one path and I will go to one place. It is here, now, that I am setting my course. It is here and now that I must make my decision.

I single out a single route, separating it from the others and holding it between my fingertips. Each strand no wider than the breadth of a hair, nigh invisible amongst the others and yet as dark and gray and full of promise as the sphere itself. What does this path hold? A life of security and luxury and comfort. I set it back and move a few steps to my left. Again I select one line from the wall of lines and press it between my forefinger and thumb. Where will this road take me? A life of adventure and tragedy. The next, a life of poverty and love. The next of influence, the next of risks and purpose, the next of sun, the next of snow. How do I choose? How do I move from this place?

Hopelessness overwhelms me. I feel as though every direction is out of my reach, that I have no way of knowing the right path and that I am bound to failure. I sit down in the bowl of this room and drop my face into my hands and close my eyes. I feel nothing. I feel numb. Numbness is worse than sadness and hopelessness worse than defeat because they are motiveless and static.

Then somebody gives me a hug. A voice, deep and warm fills my ears and my heart... It wraps around me like the thickest and softest of furs, comforting in a way than nothing else can and filling me with sound so rich and so full that I am completely disarmed and yet held, somehow, in perfect peace and safety.

"Choose with confidence," He says, "and I will be there. Wherever you go I will protect you. Whatever you do I will guide you. I will comfort you in tragedy and humble you in wealth. I will watch over you in danger and equip you in risk. I will provide for you in poverty. I will sing over you when you fear. I will arm you and guard you, I will be with you in sickness and I will fill your heart with hope and with love. I love you. You are my girl. And I will care for you always."

Relief floods my soul. He is at the end of every path. He is there in every step along it. I do not have to fear these choices because whatever I do, if I do it seeking Him and His heart, He will make good of it and He will use me.

I open my eyes to thank Him, the Voice of Truth and Hope and Peace...

And what I see takes my breath away.

A million faces look back at me. Children unknown and unnoticed, teenagers alone and afraid, young men fighting for their country and their hearts, young women struggling with image and expectation, men crying out for leadership, women crying out for justice, every different age and colour and culture, all of them looking at me, looking to me... and then, suddenly something changes. One by one in a ripple that turns into a mighty wave, each face is changed. A smile, a look of hope, an expression of peace and joy. This is the change that God can make. But it doesn't change all at once. It ripples out. It ripples out from one path.

The Voice returns for a moment and echoes His own great Word: "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings."

I reach out to the place where the ripples began. I will, with trembling hand and willing heart, take that path of change. I don't know what it brings for me. I don't know how long it is or where or how I will live, but I will take it.

Jesus, take it with me. Help me find my way in Your Way and lead me to You in every step. I love you back, and I am ready.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Chronicles of My (Almost) 61 Hr Day

7:54 Mistake number one? Leaving six final projects unfinished until the last two days of school. Mistake number two? Not even starting six final projects until the last two days of school. Please don’t take this as a horrifying testimony to my character (and Mom, please don’t let this stress you out. By the time you read this it will all be a thing of the past. You said it best... I work best and almost only under pressure). It will get done! It will all get done on time! And this little chronicle will help me prove it.

I woke up at about nine o’clock this morning. As I figure it, if I can make use of all of tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow night I will have all of my work done for each respective class and retain time to prep for my group presentation on Wednesday night. I have played this game before and I have learned a few tricks. For all of you would-be crammers and procrastinators, take a lesson from a professional and DON’T! It’s really not worth it. But if you must, here are a few tips:

First: Don’t try to push past your attention span. When the writing is a struggle and you can’t think straight, move on to something else. Try another project or watch a short YouTube video, write a letter, read a comic, do push-ups or jumping jacks or take a shower or go by some Macs Milk... something to give your brain a change or a rest... then come back to your work. That’s a very key part.

Second: Don’t nap! Trust me on this one. Napping quickly turns into hibernation, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Personally, I think it’s internal mafia action... your brain and your body override your conscience and work ethic and then it’s lights out for everybody. Resist your pillow’s seduction by all means possible. It’s a trap.

Third: Look forward to the sunrise. If you don’t see them often, it’s worth staying up just for that. Last time I played this game the sun woke up around 5:00 but something tells me it’s later in the wintertime. We shall see!

So for now I’m off to work. I have to read a whack for my Language and Rhetoric project... actually, I need to find the outline for that project first... so I think that’s job number one. And here we go!

9:03 Well... you can’t expect every hour to be a productive one, but I have hoped that the first one would have more to show for it. I did find two course syllabi and the sketch of a horse from a while back and some pirate stickers, but then I checked facebook and looked up one (okay, seven) song(s) on YouTube... The plan is a good one, I swear, but getting the work and the distractions in the right order is proving a sliver trickier than I had hoped. Let’s try this again...

9:10 Huzzah! The outline has been recovered. And good news, I don’t actually need a thesis for this one.

9:58 Shakespeare (assuming you are not one of the “there is no such man, it’s all a clever ruse” conspiracy theorists who doubt everything ever attributed to the playwright), composed a whopping 154 sonnets. A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines that follows a very specific rhythm and rhyme scheme... so my question is, has Billy done an incredible feat of literary genius, or is this collection simply one good system that has been beaten into the ground for all it’s worth? What is more impressive: Shakespeare and his 154 sonnets (of echoing structure) and his 38 plays (of borrowed and stolen plot), or the collection of 86 Relient K songs that express an array of emotion not only through form but with the added layer of vocal harmony and creative instrumental movement? A course on layered lyrics... now that’s a class worth taking!

10:41 I hereby present the award for Best and Worst Invention of All Time to The Internet! Clap, clap, clap...

11:26 I’m toying with the idea of sleep. This challenge would top the charts of LAME if I didn’t follow through after getting this far in. And, if I quit I’m going to have a brutal life tomorrow not handing in my work... so I guess I have to hit these books a little harder. I’m currently setting aside the Language and Rhetoric phonemics project in favour of my Children’s Lit assignment: “In the original Puss in Boots, the cat was female. How does this change affect the story?” Right up my alley!

12:31 I think this will be easier when everybody else goes to bed. I just watched a Caesarean on YouTube (who posts such videos?!) with my nursing roommate. Then we looked into bunion surgery... I think I’ll keep my mutant feet. I also refilled my champagne glass (of Sprite... we just love stemware) and now I’m back to work, making slow progress... but progress nonetheless! One more thing: Phil Wickham’s “You’re Beautiful” is an amazing song. Go look it up. You can’t help but smile and feel empowered to praise!

7:43 F-A-I-L. My roommate just woke me up. Blasted pillows! How, how, do they pull me in every time?! So tricky.

2:01 I need a chiropractor! I don’t know whether it’s the stress or aftermath of my pumpernickel breakfast, but something is not right in my body today! I feel the need to find a corner and assume the fetal position. Please, Friday! Come quickly!

3:39 Who wants to bet that I'll focus better at home than here at school? Yeah, I don't really think so either. But I did get some work done for my Dad. Why didn't I go into marketing and creative design? It sounds like a LOT more fun than my grammar project right now! Ah well. One exam out of the way and five more major cumulative assignments still due... But who's counting.

9:50 Hopefully tonight will go a little better for me. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m feeling a lot more focused. Let’s knock a few of these off my list! (Geography lab, Children’s Lit essay, Genre presentation, Genre essay, LangRhet project. And go!) Ps. Heather’s humming very loudly in the kitchen. It’s a happy sound. A little... Pirates of the Caribbean, maybe?

11:29 Okay. So, this one lab is going to take a little longer than I anticipated. I really hope all of my projects don’t follow the same pattern! I secretly do want to sleep tonight!

12:39 I really need a back and shoulder and neck massage. I don’t even remember a time I’ve felt sorer and I’m growing a headache (but that’s probably from the Sprite; I don’t have pop often and it messes with my body when I do). Where is that affectionate boyfriend of mine when I need him? Oh right. I don’t have one...

12:52 Sleeeeeeepp... How I long for thee. Time for a change of scenery... more Bible perhaps? Yes, I think I will.

1:42 Success! One project out of the way! Take that, Geography! Never again shall I struggle through your endless tedious map-reading and number-crunching. From now on I throw the directions out the window! Navigation by rock-paper-scissors and when in doubt turn left: that’s my philosophy.

2:32 Wow. I could really use a nap to follow my shower. I always think it will wake me up, but it always seems to have the opposite effect. I was so pumped a half hour ago... now I’m fighting with gravity to keep my eyes open. What a bad plan!

9:44 So, I did have that nap. And I did fall asleep. Shocker. So, what am I going to do today? I’m not exactly sure yet...

10:41 There is hope for me yet! I now have a thesis for both of my papers and an with an outline for my presentation it shouldn’t take long. Now I’m heading into the school to my last Geography class ever (I’m really broken up about it. I’ll miss this course so much! *I’m getting all choked up over here, blink back the tears*). Hopefully I’ll finish everything but the LangRhet project at school today and hand it all in, then with that one project left (not really due until Friday) I will be able to come home and watch Glee tonight in relative peace. Now that is a goal I can work towards! I’m almost out of this madness! YES!

1:08 So, I’m sitting in the library, staring at a creative first paragraph for the paper that is due in only five hours. “Electronic hypertext is a world of fragments. Each thought is its own text and each word has a unique history and a potential future. For the reader, a well constructed electronic hypertext is the beginning of a new reality, one of never ending trails to wander into, a tangled snare designed to help you lose your mind and gain, in exchange, something completely different: a self-aware social consciousness.” Not bad for a first draft, but it has nothing to do with my thesis. Some days I really hate assignments. I want to create! I don’t want to be limited by the ideals of another! I’m sick of writing to please my professors instead of writing to simply express or learn or teach. These lines seem so… dead. This work is petty! Useless! How is this going to help me teach children? Can this further my relationships or foster a love for anything? Can I find God in this area of study? Can it be applied to any realm of my life? Is this education ultimately worth anything? School is about jumping through hoops as much as it is training for a career and a life outside of these (often prison-bare) corridors and classrooms. I’m over the novelty of university and all I see now is futility. I need a hobby… I need a more involving ministry. I need a better reason than classes to stay in North Bay. The world is calling my name! My heart wants to be in Mexico or Argentina or India or Egypt or Iran or Africa, really making a difference in the lives of the people who God has called me to love. I need to be a physical help to someone. I need to have more impact on this world than an academic opinion that means and says nothing because it is a passionless organization of regurgitated information. God has given me gifts, but I don’t know how to use them in this place. Maybe that’s my problem… I just need to learn how to make my life eternally important here. God, show me how.

1:49 My friend Andrew has given me some tips that are apparently proven effective for staying up all night. He’s pretty sleep deprived, so I’m betting they come from experience:

First: “Find yourself a support group.” MSN chatting with others is a good way to keep accountable… or distracted. The only risk is falling into an actual conversation, which I tend to do. Maybe I’ll try this one out though… I just need to find some friends who are successful night-owls.

Secondly: no comfortable furniture. “The trick is to take all the cushions off your couch and just sit on the springs.” It seems like it would be a more successful plan than my futon or my bed… those plans led to failure quickly.

2:37 Peppermint Patties are my new favourite chocolates. I’m addicted. There’s no going back.

3:11 BAH, this computer doesn’t have Internet access!! How am I supposed to source this without the sources??

3:22 I wrote a verse up on the whiteboard earlier. I do it pretty frequently. Before I went to the bathroom I had a conversation with a woman I didn’t know about how she loves reading them and seeing them up on the wall. When I came back to my computer there were three people on the opposite side of my computer bank talking about it too… they’re currently looking up Bible verses about hell and wrath to counter it. Isn’t it amazing how a simple verse of encouragement can spark such a reaction? There is no middle ground with God – you have to choose a side – but this is the most dramatic clash I’ve seen here yet. Will it stop me from writing up there? Nope. In fact, it makes me want to do it more. God is moving and I want to be part of that.

3:44 25% done this paper and freaking out a bit! Any time that adrenaline wants to kick in, that would be amazing.

4:20 Pretty much half done. I need to find at least one source though.

11:45 Well. I did get almost everything done, but I have to say this was far less successful than I had hoped. I finished my essay, and I presented my presentation. With only two things left on my agenda I’m feeling a lot more peace. Christmas is almost here! And on that note I leave you – but keep your eyes peeled for a lot more posts in the next few weeks. With more time off I’ll be able to finish all those stories I’ve been half writing this term! And working on some pre-January homework, of course.

I wish I could think of something epic to end this with. A joke perhaps? Or just a punchline?

“And then the florist said, ‘But I only paid a dollar fifty!’”


Friday, 4 December 2009

Dead Man's Path

It is often said that when seeking to understand another's point of view you must walk for a while in his shoes. Of course, this is not often assumed to be a literal suggestion. It's a metaphor, an idea, a change of perspective that does not actually require the physical experience... but what if you did take it seriously? What if you could walk a mile in another's shoes... or socks?

I have told you before of my well-loved, second-hand wardrobe. I often marvel at second-hand things because, without knowing what the histories of the objects are, I know they have a rich past and I'm sure if my inanimate possessions suddenly became sentient each would have a wonderful story to tell. I often wander Sally Ann or Value Village looking for something that is simply too unique and special to be found in chain stores and that simply must be added to my (admittedly and proudly odd) collection; let's take last week as an example.

Nine days ago I spent the best eight dollars I have ever spent in Salvation Army: snow pants, but not just any snow pants... empire waist, bright red-orange Korean snow pants complete with suspenders and armpit-side-panel stretchy bands and one single pocket that is angled awkwardly backwards to the right hip. They are incredible. (Really, you don't even know. I love them. You will probably read more about my adventures with these snow pants and winter gets deeper. I spent longer than I should have jumping up and down in the change room celebrating and grinning madly to myself over my find.)

That day I also picked up some things that I don't usually get second-hand. You see, in the bin of headscarves (I found two that day... 50 cents each! How can Walmart compare?) were three pairs of socks. Most of my socks I either buy at a department store or I steal them from my Mom or my sisters when I go home, but I've been losing socks at a ridiculous rate lately (I blame the gremlinens... I'll write you a story about them soon) so on a whim I picked them all up and tossed them in with my other purchases (the glorious snow pants, three old books, a gold ball gown for Missa, etc).

I didn't think much of them at first. All three pairs made themselves home comfortably in my top drawer and I let them be for a while (enamoured by the snow pants and distracted by other things in my life). Then Friday came.

This past weekend was my extended family Christmas. We skipped the reunion in 2008 so there was two full years of catching up to be done this time 'round the tree. Naturally I left minor preparatory details like packing and laundry until the bitter end (signified by my Dad standing in my bedroom doorway ready to take me back Home). With nothing ready I was forced to do what I always seem forced to do... the three-minute-run-and-pack-everything-dance. Needless to say, in the flurry of my chaotic bag-stuffing adventure all three pairs of second-hand-store socks made their way into my suitcase.

Friday night was a ball! After I stealthily squirreled away my Christmas gifts (muahahaha, family! Good luck with the treasure hunt this year! It's going to be epic!), Mom and I re-discovered the mutated Scrabble-esque game called Banannagrams and I dominated, as usual. Tim came down for the weekend as well and braved the evening and trip down without his fair maiden to keep him company in the madness that our home can be at times. He was in for a mess of harassment for being the first beau to show up at Christmas with a third generation girl. (They actually let him off way too easy in my opinion. But then, they didn't have any snow banks to make use of this year...) And all this time my socks stayed nestled away in my bag... but not for long.

Saturday. My cold feet drove me to pair of socks number one... the infamous pair, the cottony climax of my story. They seemed nothing unusual. They seemed generally average. They were just a tick too long, but not so much that I was consciously unsettled, and they had a small tag by the arch of my foot. I probably should have read that tag. But I did not. I believe it was Carolyn who first muttered the accusatory, frightening phrase: "Nik... whose socks are you wearing?"

Not mine.

The name, clearly labelled and stitched into the very fabric of the knitted hosiery, was not my name. How long did my family laugh at me? How long did I spend keeled-over in hysterics? A long, long time. It was kind of wonderful.

So I have a pair of someone else's socks. I don't know, of course, but I suppose someone who takes the time to sew tags onto a pair of brown socks in good condition probably doesn't give them up without cause. I suppose he's probably dead. He may be alive and well, but I think the odds are high.

Where have these socks been? Who was it that wore them before? What is their past, their history, their story? Suddenly the questions that were always a mildly vague afterthought to second-hand wonders have been wearing on me. I guess it’s silly. It’s all pretty silly. But, then again, maybe it’s not. Can God use even something as silly as an old pair of stockings to capture my attentions and drag wandering thoughts back to Himself? Of course He can. So, stranger-friend of mine, I don’t know anything more than your name and room number, but today you and your family are getting some prayer. Your hand-me-down socks have reminded me that people I don’t know need as much prayer and attention of intention as my friends and family.

Pick a stranger, someone, anyone, no matter their mood. Pray for them. Take a minute and step into their socks… and offer a smile of encouragement and a prayer of help as you cross paths. God only knows how much they could use a little holy intervention today.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Why Grape?!

Sometimes my life is a lot like a paper muffin wrapper filled with mildly liquefied grape jello. You might think that such a metaphor is pretty weird, until you actually make grape jello in paper muffin wrappers and then leave it out for a few hours. Right out of the fridge it’s a brilliant plan – self contained and flexible, no spoon required – but if you ignore it and don’t tend after it carefully it tends to ooze out of its thin boundary and it loses all structural integrity. This is almost okay if you catch it in time and stick that sucker back in the chill, but when you’re not paying attention and your grab the wrapper by one of its crinkly edges, that wiggly little piece of joy turns into a humungous splattered mess all over the carpet.

Welcome to my life, kershplamm! ...blob on the floor.

[Heather: sorry for the stain that my reality-based metaphor has left in the living room...]

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Case of Rapunzel Blues

Once upon a time there lived a girl who fancied herself a princess of sorts. She had big dreams and an untameable imagination and too much time to herself to think. This particular combination of attributes has led her into terrible, complicated messes in the distant and not so distant past. She, in fact, expects that it will likely cause her problems throughout her life, though it may someday lead to paying off her student loans... but that is not the point of this story.

She used to have this pen-pal. He was a pretty cool guy, a prince of a sort from a neighbouring kingdom. For a long time they communicated by carrier pigeon, letters coming every other fortnight or so. After a time, their lettering became more regular and the princess-esque girl and her imagination were racing. Without warning her heart decided to get involved, and soon she was outnumbered: imagination and heart verses reality. It was a competition she could hardly hope to win. And so she lost it, with a smile.

Well, as it happens, all of the major kingdoms in the area held a conference and all of the princes and princesses were invited. Some of the other courtly members attended the event as well, since it was slightly less formal than a royal ball. No pumpkins were involved, no mice or other members of the rodent family, but (to the princess, now mentally held hostage by her daydreaming imagination and her trapped-in-a-tower heart) the day did possess some of those fairytale qualities. Reality was disconnected and the dream lived. His name, by chance, was Kingly. Prince Kingly suddenly went from pen and ink to flesh and blood and voice, and the princess was completely overwhelmed. In folklore, this would have been identified by an exaggerated "swoon" moment, but she didn't recognize it, and was blinded to hesitation, conflict, warnings and holds. As far as the princess was concerned, this was the beginning of her happily ever after. But then, it was all heart and imagination at work. She hadn't really consulted her mind in a while. In fact her mind was still shackled to the dungeons of her being when the day ended. Naive, dangerously encouraged and with little resolve to give her head a shake from the clouds, she finally headed home to her castle.

There is always a bit of a problem when the mind is locked up; even when released, it has been starved and shut away from the sunlight, it is weak and soft… it takes time to recuperate. It took four passes of the full moon for the princess’s mind and heart and imagination to make peace in her body. There is still some tension there. As previously mentioned, it is a battle that her mind will likely fight forever. But it’s balancing out slowly. The problem was, in hindsight, a very complex issue for the princess, but one important and now recognized element was a simple conundrum that no part of her apparently multi-personalitied psyche had anticipated: Prince Kingly was one of the only well matched princes she had ever spent much time with. He was the only pen-pal she had invested any thought into, any imagination, any heart. Other suitors had come and passed through finding little traction with the princess at all… perhaps because she was so enamored with this one friend.

So, where are they now? Well, they’re back in their own castles, their own worlds, overlapping by occasional carrier pigeon. It was not her ideal, but maybe that is because The King has something better in mind for both of them. She isn’t always sure what His plans are, but then, who is she to question the will of The King? He knows his kingdom and his family better than anyone. It’s His role and His rule, and He does both very well. And so, she has returned to her tower and her birds, trusting that The King will figure out major details as they need to come together.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Morning Glories

I woke up with the sun today, just before he crested over the treetops, just was he was completing his morning stretches of purples and pinks and yellows across the clouds. I’m sitting on my bed, still, simply enjoying the moment, staring out my window. The maple outside is silhouetted against the blue rainbow of the sky, the frosted windows and roofs are still covered in white and I know that when the sunshine finally does hit them they’ll sparkle like nothing else and then quietly melt away, for now. This is truly the beginning of a new day.

I did not enjoy yesterday. I did not make the simple pleasure of spending time in this life a priority – I felt overwhelmed by thick clouds of doubt and guilt, mostly associated with my academics. But now, as I stare out of my window at the ever-brightening morning, at the gulls that seem to dance across the mid-air path between the sun and my room, out at the melting, colourful clouds, I am reminded.

God gives each day unique purpose. He makes every day new and every human experience of that day unique from every other. “The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets.” (Psalm 50:1) He is in ultimate, powerful control of this universe... and yet is delicately aware of even the smallest of details. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

What an amazing God I serve.

And so I will serve Him today, with this day He has given to me, a day He has shaped with intention and careful design for His own pleasure and for our pleasure and benefit and instruction. What will today bring? I think it’s fit to say that “God only knows,” but I will know soon as well and I pray my eyes will be opened to everything it may hold for me.

The sun has hit the frosted housetops... my cue to go.

Keep your eyes and your heart open today. It is full of promise and beautiful potential.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Eeew. Grammar.

If, when you wake up in the morning the first thought on your mind is of a grammatical nature, if you find yourself scribbling verb conjugations on the corners of your napkin, if your favourite song is "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here" and you love it enough to walk down the aisle to it on (arguably) the most important day of your life, you should take a Language and Rhetoric course. If any of those examples made you whisper "No, thank you" to yourself (or made you, like me, laugh aloud at the prospect), you really have no business in ENGL 2025.

All you would-be English majors... don't say I didn't warn you.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Episode 1: Fictional Adventuring

Every once in a while I get an itch to go outside for a long walk. One day last week, upon the inspirational dare of a friend, I decided to walk to school. This is my story.

I woke up at quarter to four in the morning, so that I had time to brush my teeth before I had to leave. I got all decked out in my rain gear (mackintosh, galoshes, three pairs of socks and a telephone book) and headed out into the great unknown. I also brought a map so that it wasn't completely unknown, and an inflatable tour guide who I kept in my pocket for emergencies. It wasn't long before I was met with a perilous hurdle: an angry mob of pre-Halloween trick-or-treaters dressed as slightly-more-modestly-clad Spice Girls, canvassing the neighbourhood for nutmeg and ginger and cinnamon and all of those other valuable spices. When they saw me and my phonebook they began to charge, assuming that my phonebook was actually a coy disguise for an internationally sought after million dollar recipe collection exposing the true uses for myrrh, which, of course, it was.

So, with the hand that I was not using to balance the large not-quite-a-phonebook, I reached deep into my pocket and pulled the inflatable cord of the tour guide. Immediately he inflated and began giving me directions to the nearest teleportation centre (conveniently located Cassells Street), in a weird Australian accent that may have almost passed as Norwegian, in the dark. "Run!" I yelled, "And here, carry this stuff. It's heavy." I passed off my burdens to the helpful guide but alas he was only inflatable and under the weight of my not-actually-a-phonebook he crumpled. The Spice Girls approached in a mob, so I reached back into my 90’s repertoire and in a desperate cry, I sang "STOP! In the name of love!!" And zap, they froze in place... until they also realized that that is not a Spice Girls song and charged on. CRAP, I thought to myself as I tried to scoop up the guide. “CRAP!” I shouted when the deflated guide refused to peel off the sidewalk and collapse back into my pocket. My guide looked up at me from under his plastic explorer’s chapeau. “Go, run! You have a class to get to! I’ll hold off the mob while I can! Save your GPA!”

Reluctantly, I grabbed the not-a-phonebook and booked it (so to speak) to Cassells. To my surprise it took a solid thirty-nine seconds for the Spice Girls to round the bend and start nipping at my red-high-top heels. Alas, they did catch (in a cloud of confectionary sugar that didn’t quite fit their usual modus operandi), and I was knocked suddenly to the ground and pummelled with dollar store microphones. Just when I thought I was going to be echoed to death I was rescued from the depths of the bedlam by a vine swinging safari man! My re-inflated guide (now reinforced by duct and duck tape) was swinging by a thick yellow cord... you might even call it a rope... of hair?

“It’s a good thing that the teleportation centre is on Cassells. Tall towers with long blonde locks are hard to come by in North Bay, but I knew there would be one around here if I knocked on the right doors. But it was simple dumb luck that Red Green and Dudley the Dragon were next door. Well, either dumb luck or clever authorship. Anyway, here I am and here we are!” he said as he touched down, right in front of the Tim Horton’s. I laughed. “I should have figured it would be a Timmies that connects the world by lightning speed. I just have one question for you... how did you stall the mob?”

He smiled with a broad, hand painted smirk. “There is only one thing that can distract a girl band away from their mission: a boy band. All I had to do was sing a few bars of “Bye Bye Bye” and they were eating out of my hands... until they realized that NSYNC was a five person group and I was a solo act. Then I lost them, but not for long, because I made a call from my inflatable walkie-talkie to Rapunzel (we go way back... used to date in her pre-Disney days) and she hooked me up with help from her neighbours.” I have to admit, I was impressed.

“I have to admit I’m impressed,” I confessed, “but I'm also nearly late for class! Do you have my not-even-a-little-bit-like-a-phonebook?” He handed it over. “Thanks again, for everything.” He put his hand to his brow as though to salute, but instead pressed a small button on his temple, saying “All in a day’s work.” And then he deflated, folding neatly into a rectangle the approximate size of a deck of cards. I put him back in my raincoat pocket.

Tim Horton’s was unusually busy, but it transported me to the cafeteria line with seven minutes to spare... seven minutes I used to buy a hot chocolate with hazelnut, a much appreciated moment of peace after such a crazy and unusually unpredictable morning.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Snowfall in October

There is nothing quite so perfectly charming as a blanket of sparkling, crystal flakes falling on a winter’s evening. When you are snuggled deep in blankets on a comfortable couch near a roaring fire, there is little that can compare with watching the snow fall... but isn’t it interesting that there is absolutely nothing quaint or wonderful about the cold when it comes nipping so aggressively at summer’s heels? The leaves have barely turned and already the winds blow hard and the temperature has dropped so far below normal that I no longer believe a word of the global warming hype. In fact, I wouldn’t mind it if our arctic chill would heat up a little more.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow... but it has a time and place (which is, of course, neither here nor now). October should be the time for raking falling maple leaves into piles and taking a flying leap. It should be the time for long walks through the woods admiring the vivid reds and oranges and yellows that trademark our great land. It should be a time for stargazing in a field and taking in the smells and sounds of fall... and instead we are shut up indoors for fear of hypothermia and the flu. Winter, please hold off! Just a few more weeks of jeans and jackets before we have to pull out our mittens and parkas!

Well, I guess there isn’t much that anyone can do about the situation. The weather is as the weather does all by God’s prerogative... but let’s just say that if God doesn’t change His mind about the environmental state in Ontario, I predict a large number of trick-or-treating Eskimos and polar bears this season! Who knows, we might even catch sight of a giant penguin or two.

Stock up your igloos, Canada. It’s going to be a cold one this year!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Riding Rail and Rhythm

My thoughts are so affected by the music running through my mind. I interpret melody as a liquid, like a river flowing at different paces, in different rhythms, reflecting different colours and depths of light. Sometimes, the music is a smooth, breathing kind of wash, lulling me into a blissful peace of mind. Sometimes the music is a rapid, an exciting rush of sound racing me forwards, unpredictable and thrilling. Sometimes a song will lift me on a wave or plunge me in a fall, it can rustle my securities or comfort me like nothing else. Music can make me cry, make me hope, make me dance, dream, sway, sing... Music is incredibly powerful. And when it is at its very best and most influential, it makes me think.

I’m sitting on a train, heading back to school for the night. I’m sitting on my computer, staring out the window, listening to my iPod friend and engaging in a little self-analytical metaphysical pondering. I set it on “random shuffle” a few songs back, and I have to say that while the songs change it’s incredibly difficult to focus on one train of thought (so to speak) with the constant mental background changes. For example, when I began this piece I was listening to a gentle version of True Colours, then Creed’s With Arms Wide Open which transitioned to the Beatles with Twist and Shout, followed by You Give Love a Bad Name and Poor Unfortunate Soul... the Jonas Brother’s version. My thoughts have been jumping around just as much if not more than the genre flux might suggest. It’s hard to track it actually, since thought happens so quickly. As I keep writing this piece, I’ll insert when the song changes and I suppose you will be the judge of how or if it has an effect on what I say here (Love is Here, Tenth Avenue North).

I find that train tracks tend to cut across some of the most beautiful places in the North. You don’t see nearly enough fields and farms from the highway. It’s part of the reason that I’ve traded my transportation from bus to this magnificently old-fashioned passenger rail. I’ve always thought that there was something beautiful and romantic about the train. There’s something I absolutely love about moving slowly from one place to another, riding the rock of the cars, watching the scenes change outside my window. (Talk About It, Nicole C. Mullen) Even on such a greyish kind of day, the colours are beautiful and the forests are full of life. Every once in a while, while passing a house (The Thief, Relient K) I become very aware of the fact that we are passing not only people’s houses but also their very lives. Have you taken time to really sit back and think about the fact that people live in houses? Life happens in houses and cars and offices and cottages... so much life. (These Are the Moments, Sarah Evans) Life, you might say, happens everywhere. I would agree.

I’m passing through a small town. There are people in the snow (which is quite depressing and not of any particularly attractive crystal formation) planting trees. It seems like a strange kind of time to plant trees, but I suppose I’m not an expert on the subject. I’ve only planted a few trees in my life and they were more like transplants from one part of the forest to another... we were harvesting potential Christmas Trees one year when my sisters and I were small. We watered them regularly and everything. (Secret Smile, Rascal Flatts) Most of my other relationships with trees have been in the climbing of limbs or the burning of firewood. I also swallowed a tree whole, once upon a story. It’s true, just ask Carolyn. I make her verify that story pretty frequently.

(Part of Your World, Disney) I think I must type much slower than I think I do, based on the rate of changeover in the songs I’m listening to. I guess it might reflect the depth of the thought, but that might not be true. It probably reflects my levels of distraction. For example, we’ve just made a station stop and though I can’t see if we’ve gained any passengers I have seen a sign for Tom Thompson Park, just down that road. Of course you can’t see that I’ve just pointed out my window, but if you were here and this was a chat rather than a note (Get Him Back, Fiona Apple) it might have been interesting.

Why do you suppose so many northern shores and islands are layers with evergreens? Heron! Just chilling out, waiting for the train to pass. I think that animals are extraordinarily patient when it comes to human intrusion. One day I would love to see a moose. (One Girl Revolution, Superchick).

I love Canada. (Another Postcard, Barenaked Ladies) And I love trains. I think I would live on a train if I could and if it wasn’t so terribly impractical. It’s funny that I love movement so much in a way, because in life I’m such a home-body. I like being anchored, but it’s the go and return that I like most. (Beautiful World, GS Megaphone) (My Home, Thousand Foot Krutch) My sock has twisted around in my shoe. Socks are probably my least favourite of all human conventions. That, and tucking in the covers. (Life Goes On, Carrie Underwood) Zipholder. I just passed the skeletal frame of a yellow school bus... and the ruins of an old barn. I can’t believe how much you can see from a window seat. (Go the Distance, Disney) Well, the dining car just closed so I think it’s about time that I close up my computer as well. A thousand words of useless insights into my traveling mind... CLAIM! Okay, that was easily fifty zips and five zipholders. Don’t even try to “graveyard” that, I win today. Just accept defeat, family! Last song: No Fear, Terri Clark. And with that I bid you happy riding and may you take time to really think about your life and the lives of those you pass in commute.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

To the Light

Lead me to the Light
When I’m too blind to follow
Take me to the Place
Where for myself I cannot go
Lead me to the Light
I need out of this darkness
Take my hand
And guide my heart to You

The patterns of this world
Wrap themselves around me
Please help to untangle me
From this web I wove
The chaos in my mind
The angers and temptations
Living in a world that
Plays off lust and greed

Lead me to the Light
When I’m too blind to follow
Take me to the Place
Where for myself I cannot go
Lead me to the Light
I need out of this darkness
Take my hand
And guide my heart to You

So much I’ve yet to learn
Naive nor understanding
What am I to choose
And how am I to serve?
God help me live my life
As a witness of Your Mercy
And when my strength is failing
I know you will endure

Lead me to the Light
When I’m too blind to follow
Take me to the Place
Where for myself I cannot go
Lead me to the Light
I need out of this darkness
Take my hand
And guide my heart to You

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Perhaps it is not what I said, but how I said it and whom I said it to. Some things are written to be shared with the world, shouted from the rooftop and strung along to a melody for the local radio station. Some things should remain in a journal, left between the author and God.

I'm retracting my last post. In fact, I already have. It left a bitter taste in my heart that I couldn't shake - a kind of guilt. I'm sorry. I'm still learning how to filter this outlet. Here is a (silly, metaphor-less) replacement post of a much clearer conscience and attitude. I hope it will make you smile.

Down the Drains

The bar of soap sat at the edge of the sink, longing to refresh his drying skin in the glorious flow of the tap. Often he would dream of the liquid's deep moisturization, but sadly it had been days since he had felt the strong, abrasive hands of the construction worker. And it was all thanks to her.

She was placed on a tall, red podium at the front door, framed in an equally attention-demanding red frame. Ever since she came, tap and towel had been almost completely replaced. Where had the standards gone in this place? Not down the drains, that's for sure. The only thing going down the drains recently was dust.

The sulky bar of soap was by no means isolated in his position. All over the city his kind were being replaced by the hassle-free, instant "sanitization" of her kind. It was a hard adjustment to accept the foaming varieties of soap into the family (and to be quite too honest, there were still recognized social distinctions between the solid, traditional bars and the up-and-coming pump-and-scrubbers found in so many industrial facilities). Now they were expected to embrace an alcohol based hand-washing alternative? Of all the impertinent, disrespectful poppycock...

No. It wouldn't do. Disinfected and clean are not the same and can no longer be seen as equals in the area of health. But how to change such a paradigm from the edge of a sink?

The bar of soap decided that he would finally make his stand. Slowly, he swiveled onto his tallest and most intimidating edge, balancing at the rim. He stood waiting there for nearly an hour before the next person, a young woman from the Accounting Department made her way into the washroom. Washroom, he thought to himself, not sanitization-room.

As the girl flushed the toilet, the bar of soap made his move. He vaulted from the rim of the sink and almost landed right in the palm of her hand... unfortunately, being so slippery by his very nature, he was unsteady at the jump and missed his projection by about three centimeters. The bar of soap ricocheted off the girl's arm, flew threw the air and landed in the toilet bowl with a splash that made the girl scream. She stared at the seat for a moment before hazarding a look into the depths of the basin.

There she saw a small bar of soap, floating and spinning in the whirlpool of her flush. There was nothing she could do.

It was indeed a hopeless fight against the toilet's strong currents. The bar of soap did not struggle for long - instead he spent the precious seconds of her attention that he had, screaming at the top of his lungs: "PURELL IS NO REPLACEMENT FOR IVORY!" Alas all that came from his efforts was a small bubble, completely unnoticed by the youth. As the girl walked out the door she reached to the frame and squished out a blob of lemony-fresh soap supplement.

This time, however, he was not filled with self-pity or anger, neither jealousy nor spite; he was going to a better place, a place where his work would never be finished. He would be valued, once more rival-free with a purpose and an action plan. He was hopeful... and rightly encouraged. That toilet's bowl had never sparkled so majestically is all it's days.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Lemon's Aide

Living a life in constant yellow can be a wearying existence. When you’re yellow, people expect you to carry on as though every moment of your life is bathed in sunshine from dawn ‘til dusk, but the truth is that even Yellows have blue days. Just ask Lemon.

Lemon was a tough guy to peel. Although bright and smooth in appearance, he often struggled with keeping up with the expectation of being the life of everybody’s party. He compared himself too frequently to Banana and Passionfruit – one admired for his form and one for flavour – but even with this self-troubling habit most others in the fruit basket couldn’t see past his goofiness to the sour pit he was feeding. Lemon was sad – but when you’re so yellow, there’s no opportunity to show off some of the other colours that are experienced just below the surface. The pinks of love, the reds of anger, the blues of melancholy and the oranges of adventurousness never saw the sun on Lemon’s peel... but before too long there was another colour that began to seep out from his core.

“Lemon,” Papaya commented one afternoon, “You’re looking a little lime... are you okay?” Lemon did what he could to let the comment roll off his back: “I’m fine, I just need a little more Vitamin D, that’s all.”

But sunshine wasn’t enough to stop Lemon’s greenness from spreading. In a few days, everyone had noticed – and they began to talk. “I know he’s been hanging out with the Veggies recently,” Tomato said to Peach as they watched Lemon roll slowly from one side of the basket to the other. “Maybe the Broccoli has been rubbing off on him a little too much?”

Lemon’s friends tried to cheer him up and get his yellow back, but they couldn’t figure out the root problem. Lemon was looking more and more lime everyday and everyone was worried. “Is he... rotting?” a little grape asked. The response was uncertain. “He’s sick, honey... tired maybe, maybe more.”

It had been nearly three weeks from the time that Lemon’s hue began to darken to the day Radish got thrown in with the fruits. “Are you a squash?” Radish asked, quite innocent of the gradual pigmented depression Lemon had found himself in. She based her observation solely on that which could be observed: the once yellow Lemon was now a very dark blueish-greyish-green colour, quite like that of Butternut. “I’m a lemon,” said Lemon.

Radish furrowed her eyebrows. “What has happened to your sunshine?” Lemon sighed heavily, brimming with tears. The dimples that had once served to highlight his cheer now seemed to emphasize the depth of his creases and the weight in his eyes. “I’ve lost it,” Lemon confessed. “It’s been gone for a terrible long time.”

Radish smiled gently. “I will help you find it again.”

Radish listened while Lemon told her about his deep blue. He spoke of the wear his friends had on him at times, of no fault of their own, but which nevertheless caused Lemon to tire. He confided in Radish and for a long time while she said nothing with neither tear nor smile; she simply listened. Little by little, Lemon’s grey lightened. The blue faded and the green disappeared. Little by little, Lemon was yellowing. When he had explained everything that he had been keeping to himself and all pressure had been released, he laughed. Radish smiled back. She seemed... different, somehow.

Before Lemon had a chance to inquire, Radish nodded quietly and tipped her head just a little to one side. “Did you know,” she began, as though it were a question, “that colours are contagious? They have an amazing quality about them that is transferable – blues and yellows and even pinks – they can be passed on or pulled in my others. You’ve gotten much yellow back, and I’m got some of that now too! But I also took on a bit of your blue and a little green, to help you get rid of it. So that’s why I look a little odd – I’m brighter, but also darker than when I arrived here. More the colouring of an unusually ripe apple, than a radish, you might say.”

“But I don’t want you to be blue or green,” Lemon said. Radish smiled. “It’s okay Lem... it’s what friends do. We share the good and the bad, the blue and the yellow. We trade off and balance out and compliment. It’s our design.”

Lemon gave Radish a hug, which may seems strange to you until you remember that a radish is rarely a radish in such tales and such tales are rarely told with the simple intention of entertainment; rather that they often come prepared with an applicable punch: When life gives you Lemons, be the Lemon’s aide.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Time Off

*Insert one large, heavy but freeing sigh here.*

Time off.

It’s a bit of an interesting concept if you take it at face value. We don’t, of course, meddle in the verbal punctuation of such common phrases day to day, but if you think about the idiom “time off” I suppose if can mean a few things. If, by the definition of our culture, “time off” means a time set aside from work to relax or busy one’s self with things completely unrelated to the responsibilities of the workplace, time off is a bit of a rarity for me these days. If, however, we re-tone these two words and throw in a comma, time off becomes something completely different; it’s a state of being, a gap in reality: “time, off.”

Yes, this is the kind of thing I think about.

Here at camp I am convinced that time has, in fact, ceased to exist. I believe that between Sunday morning and Friday night someone flips a building-sized switch that turns time into fluid jelly. It’s really a strange experience, living a life disconnected from the world’s movements and goings on. I feel like I miss out on a hundred birthdays, engagements and get-togethers simply because I step back from facebook for a day or two. I realize that close family and friends who rely on my blog for quasi-regular confirmation that I still have an intellectual pulse are beginning to harbour concerns. I am missing the action... but I am missing in action, as well.

Please be assured: I am fine and well. I am doing far better than surviving this summer – I’m enjoying it. Please do not mistake my disconnectedness as disinterest or take offence in my delayed responses... I’m here and I’m safe, I’m just busy and happy... distracted by the bubble, but loving the diversions from what one might call my “normal life” at school. Camp is my home right now. I feel so welcome here, so spiritually active here, so alive in this place. The friendships I am creating this summer are such a godsend in my life, and I can feel myself growing quickly as a leader and a follower as God shows me more and more ways to serve Him. I am learning to count my blessings and pray through my struggles. I have re-discovered my passion for teaching and for the kids that God has made, as loosely connected to sanity as they are sometimes. I am learning not to overlook the things I do not understand but rather to take time to discuss, discover and inquire. I’m even getting a little natural vitamin D. We are officially half-way through the summer. If time was a reliable, consistent thing up here I might ask where it has gone, but of course a question like that is senseless in Muskoka. Nevertheless, with five weeks of program under my belt I’m feeling more confident, more supported and more excited than ever before. Each week is better than the last – each day is better than the last. Life is very good: Pura Vida! And, as always, God is very good as well. He has been teaching me so much in the past few weeks, and He seems to be specifically focusing on one major lesson: purpose.

Let me explain: God has made you on purpose, with purpose. Everything He makes He designs for it a list of things which it must accomplish, on, I believe, several scales. What is His plan for your whole life? I don’t know mine, much less yours, but I’m praying that He’ll show it to me as I need to know. What is his plan for your summer? Again, I’m no more enlightened than you are – I just ask the questions. And one more... what is His plan for your day? Ahh, the point: time is flexible – it moulds to our moods, attitudes and experiences. The sensation of passing time changes – but it does always pass, whether we acknowledge and embrace it or not. Every moment, every second however fleeting, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something. Never again will this moment be here. Never again will you have the chance to do with your life what you can do with it today. Each day is as unique as the people who live it; circumstances, “chance” meetings and encounters – think about it. Time is a non-renewable resource that so often we throw out the window on our way to death... dramatic? Morbid, perhaps? But while I have your attention, let me challenge you thrice.

Challenge one: open your eyes to the world around you. What are you presently doing with time? How are you spending the few precious years that God has given to you? Are you pursuing your self-interests? Are you reaching out to others as they ask for assistance and rescue? You are serving – you are worshiping – but what and who are the focuses of your attentions?

Challenge two: open your eyes to the temporary nature of the world around you. In case you’ve missed this fundamental fact, I will bring it to your attention now: you are dying. Everything is dying. This life is such a hollow, empty, insignificant, short, angry, dark and painful one however beautiful and love-filled it may be. This is not the ideal. If you can think of even one thing you would change to improve this world, it is not what you are looking for – so why do we so often live in pursuit of this flawed, evil marinated, broken, empty world? There must be something better... and yet, there must be something worse...

Challenge three: open your eyes to the choice you have. On the one hand, you can live your life focused solely on this world and the pleasures and pains it offers. You can close your mind and your eyes to the your deepest of deep desires which inevitably seem to come down to a handful of things, and you can let your flesh rule your life. You will find something that our culture calls love and you will use it to be kind and gentle and manipulative to others. You will get what you want, but rarely what you need. On the other hand lays a different life altogether, with two more divisive options; it is the life focused not on what we can see – the world, the stuff of materialism, the physical appearances – but rather it is about making an intentional paradigm shift and learning to see the unseen – to fix your eyes on the grander scheme, to ponder the deepest of man’s questions and perhaps the shallowest of God’s: is there life after death, or is death the afterlife?

Welcome to the crossroads between philosophy and theology. It can be a messy place to take a stand and opposition come from every direction, but it is here that I am anchoring today.

I know... you signed up for a nice, light read about my summer so far, and you were looking for a laugh, not a lecture. Believe it or not, this is what my summer has been about. Along with the slimy watermelon games and neptillion rounds of ping-pong we have been studying spiritual warfare and praying for a boy who is dying of cancer at 19 years old. Life is short and death is real, and so the questions of “what next” and “what now” have been weighing on my heart and conversation all month. I’m writing it out to clarify it for myself, as much as to share it with you, so please hear me out. Maybe you need to hear these words as much as I need to write them.

As I understand it, there are only four possible scenarios post-death: reincarnation, nothingness, heaven and hell. Reincarnation is the idea that your spirit will take on a new physical life when you die, based on how you live while on earth. If you give a good life you will have power, authority and wealth in your next. If you live a bad life, you will likely come back as a housefly or a mosquito – the kind of thing everybody just wants to kill and be done with. This kind of system holds your future in an eternal blackmail with the gods deciding “good” and “bad” standards in an invisible realm. You will live a life ever trying to please beings that you do not know and cannot know – like an endless job interview, until, eventually, you will become a god yourself. It is a cyclical eternal life of ups and downs with no guarantee of happiness. Doesn’t that sound awesome? And, if you don’t recognize the gods in this life, you can always try again next life... as a fly. Personally, I think that this version of post-death reality is a copout and is not really worthy of a life-long dedication or focus. If I am going to commit my life to something, I want guaranteed results.

The second option is nothingness. You die, and then you’re dead. That’s the end of the story. There’s no motivation in this plan whatsoever for living a life that anyone would label good. Often I think that this one is favoured by those who also believe that we came from nothingness. From nothing to nothing: an inspiring mantra to be sure.

The third option is also incredible popular: heaven. When you die, if you have lived a good life (usually in contrast to those around you) then you have a spot guaranteed behind the pearly gates. There is life after life, the place of peace and comfort designed for our hedonistic, pleasure-seeking selves. White clouds, feathery wings, personal man-servants, Philadelphia cream cheese and eventual boredom.

The fourth option is in contrast to the fluffy hyper-feminine version of heaven that everyone talks about at Christmas and most funerals: hell, the party zone for those of corrupt life to continue abusing alcohol, drugs, themselves, each other, etc. They imagine moshing to the famous musicians who will be joining them there – Eminem, Marilyn Manson, Michael Jackson and the like – some kind of eternal rock-concert where anything and everything goes.

These four options are heart breaking to me. If this is what you’re expecting, I believe that the Devil’s done his job. These views are rooted in lies and egocentric attitudes and lust for this world. These options are not options: I believe that each one is a clever mask for one of two true options, and both of them come down to Jesus.

The Bible, upon which I base all of my beliefs, creeds, philosophies and goals in life, speaks quite frequently about the glory or doom to come. The distinction is made unavoidably clear. You are either invited to the banquet or thrown to the dogs (Matthew 22), you will be crowned with life or you will fade and wither and die (James 1), you will either find rest or you will be eternally tormented (Revelation 14) and you will either fight with Him or against Him (Revelation 21). One day you are going to die. If any of the world’s other religions and philosophies are true, you are either going to heaven or slipping into nothingness or you’ll get a second chance... but what if they are not true? What if the Way the Truth and the Life, the only way that claims to be the only way, is in fact real? What if Jesus really is the only access to heaven and the only escape from hell?

It has been said that death is the only life experience that no one is able to live through. Physically, that is very true... but what about spiritually? No matter your age, no matter your heath and no matter your social status you are on your way out of this world. Time here, however warped it feels some days, is limited and finite. When your time runs out, what do you think will happen? If you have to stand face to face with Jesus, what do you think He will say? What would you say?

I am not afraid of death because I am confident in what my eternal future holds for me. I am very much looking forward to a day when I will praise my God and explore His world without the restrictions of time and this body. I know, however, the time that I do spend here, the time that you have been given to live as we know life, has a purpose. This is a world of second chances – this is when the mercy of Jesus shines – He is waiting to talk to you. He is camping outside of the proverbial door of your life – and every once in a while He knocks. So, here is the choice: lock the door, leave Him outside and when you die and He breaks down that barrier and you are forced to look Him in the eye, try to explain why you shut Him out. Or, open the door, give Him a chance to introduce Himself and let you know exactly how much He loves you and ask Him about the plans He has not only for now but also for the rest of your life and afterlife... trust me. As soon as you meet Him, personally, genuinely, there is nothing – nothing – that could ever make you want to close that door. Before you know it you will be wrapped up in the craziest bear-hug your heart has ever known. You will find rest and energy, strength and security, mutual love and someone thoroughly worthy of your adoration. He is an incredible man. He is an ever-constant no-drama betrayal-free best friend. If you want to know more, I love talking about Him; it’s a personal pleasure of mine.

It’s your life. It’s your choice. It’s your soul. But you are my friend, and so I wanted you to know.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Fifteen Minutes & Counting

I can't believe how quickly this past year has gone for me. I have learned so much, done so much and grown so much, but in some ways I feel quite the same... time is funny like that; summer to summer I feel like the school year somehow collapses into itself, and in a flash it's summer again and I'm grasping at the last few moments before I am overwhelmed by teenagers and the chaos they bring to camp. Similarly, in September I feel as though the summers fold into themselves, like a paper I can stick in my back pocket - just a memory, just a moment - and it's school again.

Ten more minutes of normalcy. Looking into the next year I can honestly say that I have no idea what will come. I'm going back to school, but what will I learn? Who will I meet? How will I serve? What can I teach and do and say and be for Him? Will I find love? Will I find a job? Will I get stronger in my faith and mind and body? What will happen? I have peace in not knowing the answers right now. God is moving, God is active, Jesus does love me and I am learning to love Him back. i know that I will learn even though I don't know what. I know that I am dearly loved, whether that affection will come from my family and friends or a man; God's got me, and so i needn't be anxious, nervous or fearful... but I am excited!

Even this summer holds so many mysteries for me. I'm leading the Junior High program at MBC, and (praise God!) I have a full staff of three under me. Who will they be? How can I help them grow? what can I learn from them? (More questions, always more questions.)

Five more minutes. After lunch our grounds will be bursting with people - parents bringing their kids to work, kids dragging luggage and instruments and siblings behind them as they move in, staff trying to usher them into the right rooms and randoms... well, we're not always sure what the randoms are doing, but sometimes they pitch in and lend a hand.

Three minutes. Someone is whistling down the hall from my room, my guitar is still in the laundry room, my left pant leg is wet and dampening my right sock and I didn't take out my garbage this morning. The last minute thoughts are always a little obscure. One more minute.

What will your summer hold? Maybe you don't know yet - but I encourage you to make the most of every opportunity you are given. Learn, love, serve, sing, walk, wait, wander, explore, enthuse, embrace and encourage.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I have missed you.

It has been a busy month in my life and there is so much that I need to take time to recount, but it is not the Florida story nor the mint-stealing story nor even the secret hide-out story that I want to tell you tonight -- the tales of my many adventures on Spring Crew are going to have to wait a few posts longer -- because tonight my heart is living at a deeper place. Please take a moment to find your reading glasses and grab an air tank and some flippers because tonight we are indeed taking a dive.

In preparation for my job this summer I have been doing a lot of thinking. I'm planning curriculum for every day of the ten-week break from school, and though the paperwork of it all is enough to drown a bookworm it is the content of my reading material that has been weighing most on my mind. I've been... opened.

Vainly, perhaps, I like to think of myself as a bit of a pistachio: certainly a cracked nut but with a bit of a shell to keep the world at bay. Turns out the shell was mostly made of ego - and ego doesn't hold up that well when it's God prying away at your heart. If the metaphor is too vague or too much feel free to just nod and smile and pretend like I'm making sense. This note is largely to try and reconcile and process this to myself. The point is, I have been emotionally de-shelled.

Allow me to help you get inside the mind-frame of a nut that has lost it's shell. The first thing you discover is the sunshine... there's more of it! More air, more space, more everything. You begin to realize just how much you'd been missing about reality locked inside the shell. But then the exposure hits you - you feel incredibly insecure, you've lost your protective dark nooks and crannies, you begin to feel the scorch of the sun against newly uncovered skin and the shell you had just relished in releasing suddenly seems like the only safe place to be. You are acutely aware of being watched. It's not exactly a warm or fuzzy feeling. There is a certain shame in not only action or word but thought - there is no getting away with it now - and when you try, the guilt is unbearable. So what is a bare little pistachio to do with herself?

God, with his paring knife of conviction and instruction, is cleaning me up a bit. there are a few bad spots of thought and action that need to be cut out; there is some doubt and judgment and denial that needs scraping off - and I think there may still be more that I have not yet realized - but as the sun's glare begins to dim I am seeing more and more of the one who is cupping my shell-less rotten little life in His hands, and as I see more of Him and get to know Him better I am getting more and more convinced of His care and less and less threatened by my surroundings. I have begun to see a whole new kind of security, found in the deep lines and the soft touch of the gardener's hands -- of the Creator's hands.

This summer will be a challenging one; I will be teaching and leading, but I will also be learning and led. As God shaves away at my tough outer layer and shapes my into the kind of "pistachio" I ought to be, I pray I will be cooperative and flexible. Please pray that for me as well.

And while you're on your knees, please be praying for my staff. I still need one more person and we're working on filling the last few pieces both here and at Widjiitiwin. I will write a few more normal posts throughout the summer to keep you updated, whenever I find a few motivated moments. But for now just know... You too are held in the hands of the Creator. Whether he has cracked you open recently or if you're waiting on the lightening bolt, I hope that God will show you whatever you need to see or hear to understand.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Escaping the North

We have had enough of the ice and snow! And yes, for the record, there are still small patches of God's fluffy white plague around our property. I have instructed my luggage to pack itself efficiently as I write this letter to the world, so I figure (according to the evolution theory) I still have a few million years before my clothing sprouts legs and figures out a decent folding technique. Of course (according to reality), I really should get up there and speed the process along but I did want to write up a bit of an update on my life, and the self-packing bags is the most creative excuse I can come up with tonight for taking time to sit and type. (I have been back in the public school system for five days and my cleverness has been spent. Futhermore I must confess that the math is not any easier with nine more years of schooling under my belt... fractions are still make me nervous and my spelling hasn't improved much either.) All of this ado to say... Well, not much of anything, yet.

Tonight my mother, father, two sisters and I will be catching a series of transportation devices en route to the land of sunny skies and freckly skin. This will be our first official family adventure and I don`t think any of us know just what to expect when we get there... lots and lots of heat, hopefully! We are armed with our plans, of course - but sometimes plan and reality have very few things in common. but, regardless of whether or not we end up doing exactly what we are planning, I know that God has a plan that is so much bigger than anything we can put together on an itinerary - and His plans are not subject to the will of the weather or bank. (In fact, it`s quite the opposite!) So I am trusting Him with the big stuff as well as the detailed bits. He`s got it under control - so as long as we are in prayer and making sure that our plans line up with His, I know we`ll be good and safe and happy.

So maybe you`re going to be working this week and stuck in the four-degree weather that the forecasters are forecasting, and you`re going to avoid reading my post-trip post because of insane vacational jealousy, and you`re wondering if there is any possible application from this note to your life... Well, there is: you are a good person. And that should make you happy. Maybe not quite as happy as I am right now, but still enough to bring a smile to your heart. Have a great week!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Primavera Pastimes

Summer always feels like a time of incredible potential. There is a fantastic sense of suspense that lingers in the air for what time away from the normality of school life might bring. Summer is adventurous, there is a longing for new experiences, an awakening of the whole natural world, and in many ways, a reawakening internally. For me, I can feel the change of seasons in my imagination - suddenly I am creating stories and projects for myself left and right, I feel drawn to pen and paper (and computer) to scribble the ideas down lest they evaporate as quickly as they came. I find myself wanting to be out-of-doors, on my roof, on my bike and with my camera; I want to capture the freshness of the rain and the power of the wind and preserve the feeling of growth and progress as long as possible. Spring. Summer. Whom except God has insight to what the next few months will bring for me when one day can change so much, one week even more!

I am playing a song over in my mind that I learned when I was quite young: "I'm just a child, my life is still before me, I just can't wait to see what God has for me, but I know that I can trust Him and I'll wait to see what life will bring for me." I think that these words are just as applicible to me now as they were when I was seven. Every day I am living in anticipation of the life that God is planning.

Besides, it's spring! Be happy, find joy in the renewal of the earth and take time to recognize the beauty in green grass, blooming flowers and budding trees. Sit on a bench for a while - who knows what could happen? Go for a walk, dust off your boardgames and hide the remote; try something new! Life is full of posibilities, mysteries and beautiful things. And remember to smile. Always smile.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Rescued. Here, Anyway...

It had been almost a week since the Rescue of Joseph Kony’s Child Soldiers and I am watching the rain fall, soaking the grass outside into a giant earthy sponge. Last Saturday evening almost two hundred people slept overnight on equally squishy grass in the middle of Queen’s Park, in honour and representation for the kids who have been abducted in the African jungles; over 70,000 people joined us globally. It was a day and a night that none of us will quickly forget, but it is an experience that I want to share with you, the committed and curious followers of the Ugandan battle for peace and justice, who may have been unable to come and support the event physically.

On the afternoon of April 25th, hundreds of young adults gathered together in Dundas Square. There were people from all over Ontario who had come for the rally and my team almost took the cake for furthest commute (ten of us travelling down from North Bay), but Aaron Carter decided to break that record by flying in for the event and leading our two kilometre march to Queen’s Park. Traffic didn’t like us and I gathered that the police officers helping us out weren’t too thrilled either, but with mighty and repetitive cheering our message was peeled off computer screens everywhere and brought to the streets for people to see and hear in real life.

As we filed into the park and met up with friends old and new, we quickly discovered two things; firstly, this event was going to be a whole lot of fun and, secondly, the dark storm in the distance were going to be joining our party in haste. We took well-lit group pictures and videos while we could, but it didn’t take long for the cloud to cover and the rain to fall. Soon after many fled to shelter and we spent a long time running and skipping through puddles, creating garbage-bag ponchos and even climbing a tree or two. Then it came time to work and we built a Survivor worthy tent from two tarps, an orange metal podium, a large city trashcan and some cord. In a stroke of genius and in the spirit of generosity we went on an excursion to McDonald’s and figuratively shocked the socks off cashiers and back crew and even the manager as we politely requested 100 apple and strawberry pies, to go. Coordination for such an epic purchase would have taken a bit longer than we were willing to wait, so we settled on 50 double cheeseburgers. I believe any eye-rolling or panic we caused was quite justified. It was a tall order, but our handouts back in the park were graciously received by our fellow abductees. There is a rare joy found when the unexpected gift you give to others is so warmly appreciated.

And so, the night rolled on and the thunder added its applause to our efforts. We were rescued by Olivia Chow, Jack Layton and Rick Mercer along with a few other faces you may have found familiar on Saturday night, but despite our relatively early liberation (as I post this there is still one city waiting for rescue), we stuck it out through the wind and rain, talking, laughing, writing obscure poetry (to be posted shortly) and packing ourselves under the tarp like sardines to escape the chill until the birds sang us “good morning” at about five or six o’clock.

I think we all learned a lot more than we had expected from last weekend. If the sun had shone and the grass had been dry the event still would have raised the awareness that it did – but something about spending the night cold and wet set their situation – the real, day-to-day lives of the Ugandan kids – into a sharper reality. They don’t have thick sleeping bags and Oreos to keep them comfortable at night. They don’t have a McDonald’s to escape to for clean facilities and good lighting. They don’t have people they can just talk to or laugh with or sleep beside in safety... they are alone and they are without joy, but they are not without hope. The kids in Africa – in Uganda, in Southern Sudan and in the jungles of the Congo – are praying for rescue. They don’t have e-mail or telephones or YouTube to be crying out for help like we do, so we must learn to be their voice. We must call out for them – and continue until change happens. We must do what we can because if we will not help them, they will die in slavery before they ever get home.

In speaking out I know that I run the risk of being ignored. I am risking ridicule and judgement. But I believe that these kids are worth it. They need the power of my voice more than I need the passive reputation of my name. So stay tuned if you want to listen; this is not the end for these kids and it is not the end for me. So here is my challenge: examine your priorities and take a hard look at your heart. Where does your treasure lie? What are you willing to do to defend it?

Take a stand, pick your side and please, reach out and rescue the children.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Canada! Come to the Rescue!

You may have noticed, but I want to make this painfully clear: Uganda is a BIG deal. This is an issue that has enveloped my heart from the night I heard about it, and I boldly suggest that if you will hear about it, you will find yourself involved - and if you are not affected, you have not heard enough. Here is what you need to know right now:

There is a war going on between the Ugandan Government and a man named Joseph Kony. Kony is abducting 8 to 12 year old children from small villages and forcing them to be his militant slaves. Those that he chooses to keep alive have witnessed the merciless slaughter of neighbours, friends and family. Kony uses these children to capture more children, turning them into the savage murderers that they fear so much. If these kids refuse to obey his orders, they are killed without question. It is terrifying to be under the constant threat of attack. It is terrifying to watch the life of someone you know and love taken from them so violently. It is terrifying for the mothers, fathers, siblings and playmates of the children that are captured – because most of those kids will never come back, and none of them will come back the same.

This is a reality that is so far separated from our own that it can be very hard to understand it and let it sink in. But the more you hear, see and read about this, the more it will become real. Let your eyes and your heart be opened to the reality of the world that we usually try to ignore. Stop ignoring them. Rescue them.

In 9 countries 100,000 people will abduct themselves in representation of the children abducted in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan and the Republic of Congo. They will leave their homes and travel to one of 100 cities. In Canada there are sites in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and you can find out more information about what the plan is for your specific city by looking it up on the Invisible Children website, or by searching “THE RESCUE (Toronto) OFFICIAL” on facebook and joining their group or event page.

Before The Rescue, it is our duty to contact major media outlets such as CTV, CBC, Global, Canada AM etc as well as people of great cultural influence such as political leaders (like Olivia Chow, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper) as well as celebrities (for example, Michael Cera, Ryan Gosling, Rick Mercer and Feist). These people can come and rescue us by voicing their support for this cause, and helping us to attract national attention to the war in Uganda and the child soldiers that need our help so desperately.

On the day of The Rescue, we will be meeting at a designated spot, representing our home. With us we will bring three family photos, circling ourselves in the picture. We will symbolically leave one photo behind at the home base, and then everyone will walk holding on to a rope in single file for 2-4 kilometres to another destination, representing the LRA Camp. This is our abduction. Once at the camp, we will be prepared to stay the night, writing letters to our political leaders, explaining to them about Uganda, and why we want Joseph Kony arrested. We will include the other two family photos in these letters. In the morning, if our moguls and our media have come to our rescue we pack up camp and head home - BUT if they have NOT come, we are going to stick it out and wait until they do. If our letters, e-mails, phone calls and YouTube videos have not attracted enough attention by the 25th to gain the participation of the media, our persistence may. This story deserves prime time major coverage. These children deserve the attention of not just our nation, but of the entire world.

Please, educate yourself; learn about these kids and what they have gone through – what they are GOING through right now. Get involved, do something. Canada is known for being a country of peacekeepers - here is a chance to be involved in making that peace not just on the political level, but on the real-life practical relief kind of peace. If you can’t commute to one of the cities, you can still participate – donate to the cause through the IC site or write a few letters to influential people in your town or city, or across our country. Make a video and call out your favourite celebrity!

Do something.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Next Step Out

Well, it has been just over a month since this whole journey began. Just over a month ago I sat up with a friend who opened my eyes to the unseen, unknown horrors of our world. He taught me that there are people suffering - people that I am called to love and care for, that I knew nothing about. Children, invisible and silent to so many of us, being tortured, raped, kidnapped, beaten, mutilated and killed and if not killed, forced to do the same to others. It was a reality I couldn't understand, so separate from my own world. It was information overload, but I couldn't stop learning more and more - I thought my mind would explode from the sheer pressure of having so many new things filling it - and then I started to share. I started to do things that I had never before had reason to do, that I didn't know I could... I started getting vocal. I decided to fast fast-food (which is a commitment that I admit I have broken on two occasions). I started making t-shirts, writing songs, just telling people in whatever way I could... notes like this one, for example.

Some days I feel like what I am doing is worthless because my focus is too vague or too specific, or I worry that at the core of my efforts this is a prideful mission or one to seek attention. I wonder how long I will last before I give up... but then I remember that I have seen the faces of children like this. I have seen need up close - not just through YouTube (which has been a great source of information!) - but in my own life, in Mexico.

It's funny how much I can remind myself of when I write. I went to Mexico in high school on a missions trip. The kids there were shoeless and penniless, but they seemed happy. I went to Costa Rica in college and saw a similar kind of poverty, and a similar kind of hope. I saw great need there, and pain and trial, but I did not see terror. Poverty is brutal and deserves our attention, but in Uganda, poverty is blended with terror and grief. Perhaps this is why it has caught my eyes and my heart so exclusively; it is the worst of all worlds right now.

And so I press on in this effort and I nudge you on as I go; together we can make a change. Look what three young guys and a video camera did. Maybe a group of young people from northern Ontario can do the same. Let's see where it goes, where it takes us and what we can accomplish in the name of justice and human rights. Let's chase our aspirations and our so-called crazy dreams for a while - risk the failure, risk our frowning society, risk embarrassment and rejection - take the risk because we can end their risk, and theirs is so much greater than ours.

On March 25th we held a screening of the Invisible Children video at the university. Over 40 people came out, sat on the floor and witnessed just some of what is going on. Here is what is coming from me, and from the team of young people in North Bay and around this facebook world that are moving for justice and peace.

The Next Step Out.

The local chatter about Uganda and our campaign has begun to die down as the t-shirts we made and the posters we hung become more and more commonplace, but the issues of child abduction and torture remain and build each day. Peace is still a distant dream for the African families under the terrifying threat of Joseph Kony and his army, but it is a dream that we share; we too want to see those children set free, provided for and cared for, we too pray for security for those families, and we too desire peace. After hearing their stories, we can no longer look away. We will no longer step back.

We will step out.

On April 18th, just one week before the Rescue, we are going to step out into our own communities. Here in North Bay we are going to meet the people where they are already prepared to open their hearts and minds and wallets; namely, the mall. For two hours we will set up a make-shift information centre in the food court. There we will have flyers and pictures and business cards and the like, for people who are looking for more information. We will also have a large (sealed) jar, for people to drop off all that excess, weighty pocket change. This jar will travel with me and everyone else who is going to the Rescue on the 25th, to be added to the Invisible Children relief efforts.

Your job on the 18th is to wear a sandwich-board style sign over your shoulders and walk around the mall. You can even run your own personal errands! The sign you make should say something about Uganda (in rather large lettering) and should point people towards the food court for more information, and we will take it from there.

This event is "local" but please, join us even from afar; make up some flyers and hand them out or stick them up on community bulletin boards, wear your shirt around town and talk to people; take the risk of being shut down or blown off... because you have the opportunity to take a child out of a far greater risk with your efforts.

These ideas may seem radical, but we are living in a world with high demands on its attention. If we want to capture that attention, we are going to have to work for it. So, I guess the question is, are you ready to reach out and take the next step?

There is a lot going on up here. This is my first update, and hopefully there will be many, many more with exciting news to share! If you are campaigning at home and have stories to share, I know that my team would love to hear some encouraging words - and if you want to join in with REACH OUT and what we are doing here in North Bay, please feel free to contact me or search for the group.

Life is moving quickly and most days we have to run to keep up with our schedules - this is just two hours of time, one afternoon, one step. Will you take it?