Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Tears Fall

When life is lost, even when it is not fully lost in the truest sense, I cannot help but cry. I cry for the pain of her family, for the ache of a mother to be seen next in heaven, for the nights that each of her children will spend crying, inconsolable, until the light of dawn brings a short relief of hope for the future. I mourn for her husband who's bed will be empty forever, and for the sorrow he will feel when he picks up something that still smells of her perfume. My tears flow for her friends that will have to wait a very long time to hear her laugh again, and my heart breaks for her friends who have seen this kind lady for the very last time because they, unlike she, will not rest forever in the arms of the Saviour.

But she is there... she is embraced by arms and by love so much deeper, so much greater than anything she could find here. She is warm and strong and in Love. So in Love, at peace in the arms of the one who has loved her since before she was made - since before the world.

So I am going to let me tears fall a little while longer, for those left behind, for those in pain, left here in this world without their wife, mother, sister, neighbour, leader, friend... but then those tears will stop and the prayers will overwhelm. The most powerful and purposeful and effective cry is the one for help from Jesus... He is the consoler; God is the healer of all wounds, and he does what is best in his eyes. We must trust him if we are to make sense of anything. We must hold fast to his will and his choices, and learn to cope - learn to lean even more into his great arms. Climb into his embrace. Hug back. He is present on both sides of this world. Join her in songs and shouts of praise - he is the Creator, the Renewer, the Father. He is Love. And he will care for her. He will care for all of us.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Injury to Insult

The warm and fuzzy feelings that so frequently follow a hug are harshly stripped away the moment you discover once and for all that you are a loser. It isn’t your fault, really; you were created a loser and there is nothing you could have done to change that. No amount of delay would have helped. Some might say you were fated to fail. Whatever the reason, the fact remains; you are a loser.

As if being a loser wasn’t enough, as though you needed more conformation to know that your life was a horrible disappointment, you are carelessly and heartlessly discarded – trash, garbage, worthless, valueless – the loving embrace you had lived in is gone and with it goes all hope of appreciation or status, of joy and of having a place in the heart of a very special someone... or a mildly tolerable anyone. You are thrown out and onto the street, left to end your days being trampled by the sopping, muddy shoes of the world.

How quickly we discard the losers, without so much as the respect to provide a proper burial for them; not in a cemetery, not even at a place for cremation, not even taking the time to make sure that all those losers end up exactly where they should; namely, the recycling.

Yes, I’m talking about all those “Please Play Again” mistreated Tim Horton’s loser coffee cups. I’m not trying to make a serious argument that your personified hot beverage holder has feelings – because it doesn’t. It’s made of cardboard and wax – but I would like to submit to you the idea that our planet is, to some degree, alive. So, this is a letter for you litterbugs: sidewalks are not trashcans, snow banks are not blue-bins and the street is not your personal garbage bag. Give your loser coffee cups a respectful and responsible finale to their short-lived and thankless lives. If you will not reduce or reuse, then please stop adding injury to insult: recycle.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Dear Reader

Dear Reader.

I just wanted to send you a quick note, and tell you that I do, in fact, still possess the ability to write. I have recently been doing a lot of writing of both the creative and forced variety, though I never seem to have a keyboard at hand when the stories demand to be told. Someday, perhaps a day not too far into the future, I will sit and type out the pieces and ideas that I have been scrawling onto my notepaper... but tonight is not that night. Tonight is for a little more of that required writing, and then, hopefully, for a little sleep. I miss sleep, almost as much as I miss writing for fun, and feeling appreciated for my efforts, even if my fan base extends only a little ways beyond Mom and Dad. And you, of course. I didn't mean to neglect you. I just got got caught up in the dramatic monologue of it all. But I guess to fall into that category I would have to unwittingly confess something embarrassing... thank goodness I'm too clever to be caught is that trap. There is now way, for example, that I would even subtly imply that I am watching Veggie Tales at 2am for the sheer enjoyment of it. No, it is not something that you need to dwell on, and so I will, naturally, keep such information to myself.

That is about all the lettering my brain can handle right now. I hope that you are doing well. Say "hi" to your neighbour for me, please. Tell them I love their lilac tree and I can't wait for Spring so I can watch them bloom up!

I would continue, but my eyelids rebel and gravity and weariness are winning quickly! Have a good morning or a wonderful day or a restful night, depending on when you read this!

Take care;

Friday, 20 March 2009


This is a starting place for people who are interested in learning about the war going on in Uganda and the efforts that are being made to provide relief to those who, because of attack and displacement, are suffering.

The fact is that people are dying right now. I mean, this moment, as you read and re-read this statement, people are dying. Uganda is our current focus, but as you open your eyes to this one area of African horror, don’t be blinded to the rest of our world. Here are just a few statistics to get you thinking, and their respective sites where you can find more information.

-> There were over 9,000 deaths from HIV/AIDS, nearly 2,000 from violence and 500 by war. Today.
-> Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds.
-> Around 50,000,000 to 60,000,000 child labourers work in hazardous circumstances that cause ill health and chronic disease and san sometimes lead to their death.
-> At least 1,000,000 girls worldwide are lured or forced into commercial sex activities each year.

This information should weigh on your heart. Don’t allow yourself to forget it, but make room for what I am about to tell you – because this is, for now, what we are going to fight. This... this is our war.

There is a war going on in Africa; this war started over 20 years ago as a feud between the Ugandan government and one woman named Alice Lakwena. Since the 80’s, the rebellious group that she started has become a violent, ruthless army set on taking down Uganda’s current government. The group has been taken over by a man names Joseph Kony, and had been renames the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). When they lost their support from the people of Uganda, they turned against them – and began to steal children from the smaller villages, forcing them to kill and torture on command. Many of these children witnessed their own siblings heartlessly murdered without cause or explanation. It is estimated that there are 3,000 child soldiers in the African jungles, being held captive and living in constantly life-threatening situation in the borderlands of northern Uganda, southern Sudan and the Congo. Peace talks are failing because Joseph Kony continues to go back on his word. He is an unreliable, ruthless leader and his clearest objective seems to be to terrorize the people and kidnap the children of Uganda and the surrounding regions. He will not stop... so he needs to be stopped. And these children need to be rescued.

This is a lot of information to take in, especially if you have not yet been exposed to these facts. I strongly encourage you to look up the Invisible Children documentary (available on YouTube) and get yourself educated. These words can get across only a fragment of what those videos will impress on your mind. When you have seen or heard enough, I ask you – we ask you – they are asking you – to REACH OUT.

Respond: Take what you have learned and set it into your mind. Find a way to personally connect to these people and respond in a proactive way. Don’t get depressed – get empowered. Learn as much as you can and make it mean something.

Expose: This cause is not something to keep inside. The whole goal is to make people aware of their world and the daily tragedies that we are ignoring. Spread this information around, share your research and your heart with others that they may, in turn, do the same.

Address: Get public. Make a statement, write a note, create a poster, craft a song... Draw attention to these kids by drawing attention to yourself. Join out tee-shirt campaign, or start something of your own. Be creative – and be bold.

Challenge: This is a challenging of not only others but also for yourself. Fundraising schemes, widespread awareness campaigns, luxury-fasting and other such events would fall into this category. Push your creative limits or participate in someone else’s plans – I dare you.

Harvest: Collect the resources (people, money, projects, arts and crafts...) you have and do something with it. Send the money to relief organizations or missionary groups in Uganda and the other areas of the world in such great need. The harvest here is from us and for them.

Omit: The ultimate goal is, as a global community, to step in and help these people. To rescue the child soldiers and displaced citizens, to provide for their needs and to stop Kony’s group from further terrorism. Can this be done? Yes, with a lot of help and some serious elbow grease from everyone with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Ugandan: Uganda (and Invisible Children) is a starting place for this group and these efforts. There is so much need that we, in North America, choose not to see. Our long-term goal does not stop with Uganda... Long-term, we do not stop. There is terror and horror all over this globe. This is a universal awareness effort.

Terror: What is terrifying? Living under the threat of unpredictable physical attack, living without security, living without family, living without hope, living without food, living without water... just living without... without is terrifying in itself.

So, now it’s your turn. Take this upon yourself. Find some brilliant ideas and share them. Learn, first and foremost, and then reach out to those who need your help so desperately. As we come up with brilliant plans and events, we will share them... but we won’t do your job for you. You have been informed, now the responsibility is yours.

This is your mission. Choose to accept it.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Dishonourable, Bachelor

Does anyone remember the days when television used to portray love as lasting and commitment as more than a halfhearted promise only made to be broken for the inevitable heartache of those involved and the "entertainment" of others? These days of positive relational expression seem to have gone the way of the toilet in recent years. Between dramas, soap operas, sitcoms, cartoons and "reality" TV, our cultural perception of life has been severely warped.

Nothing jumps to mind faster than The Bachelor to illustrate my point. A couple of months ago I caught myself watching the first few episodes and somehow I tuned in for every single one... I'm still not quite sure how I became a regular of the Monday night drama, but I did, and I began to grow the strange attachment to those women that comes from too much time observing a stranger. I felt like I knew them in a way, that I could relate, and their lives began to matter to me. So, last night when I had to watch Jason tear up not one but two hearts with his decisions, I was actually upset. I was so... disappointed.

When I fall in love, it will be forever... or Ill never fall in love. In a restless world like this is, love is ended before its begun and too many moonlight kisses seem to cool in the warmth of the sun. When I give my heart, it will be completely, or Ill never give my heart. And I expect no less from my man when I, if I, marry. I will not compete for attention or affection and I would never want to find myself in a position of choosing between two people that I care for equally. People were designed for one other person at a time: one other person for life, whoever they may be. So maybe I am an idealist or a dreamer of sorts and maybe I have watched too many Disney movies; nevertheless, I have been witness to love that works and lasts through the toughest of trials, love that is passionate and supportive and enduring and real. I have seen love that survives and grows deeper and stronger all the way through life, love that is, often, rooted in more than this world's shallow expectations and feelings of any kind. I have seen love founded in God and truth and trust. Is this too much to ask? Are these aims set too high?

I am not looking for love right now, nor seeking attention from a man in my life, so please, please don't read this as some kind of awkward invitation. Take it as a challenge.

Guys, I'm talking to you here: be men. Maybe you are already in a relationship. Maybe you are a single chap with his eyes roaming 'round for a pretty girl to call your own, or maybe you are of the opinion that life with a woman isn't worth the drama (and this may be true); whatever your "status" I ask you not to follow the lead of men in the media. Fools are those who cannot recognize the effects of their actions; jerks are those who see them and don't care. Please, don't follow either of these examples however plentiful they are in this world. Create a new standard. You don't need a white horse to be a hero and you can reserve your shining armor for medieval reenactments. Women are looking for qualities that are much more portable than those things: trustworthiness, dependability, respect, maturity, compassion, loyalty, strength, consideration for others...

And ladies: be ladies! (Yes, we can be bold and take initiative and rock at our jobs, but how can we expect men to be all they can be if we are trying to play both roles?) Find the qualities in yourself that will balance what you want your man to be; we compliment each other by design (and not just physically). They need our trustworthiness, dependability, respect, maturity, compassion, loyalty, strength and consideration for others as much as we need theirs, even in friendship.

There is still hope out there for love. There are still people who believe in for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health so long as they both shall live. Not everyone is completely consumed by our consumer culture that tells us everything is disposable, even love, even life. Traces of traditional, moral values are still found, strewn and scattered in pieces around this world, but God knows we need more of it. We need more love. We need more faith. We need something we can trust without doubt and fear, someone we can go to when we do fail each other, when everything else slips down the drain. It just so happens that He has provided us with such a thing... but perhaps that message is best saved for another time.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Fast-Food Fast For Food

Do you know what is going on in our world?

I admit it: I actively avoid news channels, I turn off the World Vision broadcasts, I haven’t read a newspaper (even online) in a few years, I hear about people doing terrible things and going through unbelievable suffering and I turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. I am worse than ignorant... I am purposely dismissive.

Until now: my eyes have been opened.

Take an hour or two and look around our world. What is going on in Asia? How about Africa? South America? Your own city and town? Our culture has made selfishness an acceptable practice. Ignoring our neighbours because of social position or religion or colour or distance is wrong. We are lying to ourselves and to each other: “Well, they’re used to that, it’s their culture” or “You can’t help everyone, so don’t play the hero” and “I can’t afford to support another person because I’m already in debt, I don’t have the skills, I’m too busy...”

Lame excuses and transparent lies. It’s a lie.

The fact is that people are dying because of our laziness and idle attitudes about human life. Our cultural gluttony is starving others. With needless spending we throw away money that could be used to save a life. Children in Africa are starving because of wasted food at my table.

I want to do something about it.

I am young. I am still in school and I can’t wave down an airplane and fly across the world right now to personally feed one of these tortured, starving children. Missions work and volunteer aide is a huge need globally right now, but at this stage in my life, I am not in a position where I can fill one of those roles. But maybe I can support someone who can.

My plan: I’m going to fast fast-food.

The money that I spend on going out to dinner, on eating in the cafeteria, on random snacking to and from the mall, on McDonald’s, on Tim Horton’s, on Subway, on Euphoria smoothies, et cetera, will now be kept in a large mason jar on my dresser. At the end of each month (over the course of a year) I will send that money to a different missionary overseas, as an encouragement and a reminder that their work and their lives have not gone unnoticed. At the beginning of each month I will write a note about where and why I chose to send the money, a bit about the country and ministry. If at any point you would like to join me in this, I will happily send over your cash and letters too.

So, bag your lunches for a while. Skip a meal and think about those who don’t have the luxury of deciding to – those who just have no food, no clothing, no home. Maybe we can’t save everyone... but everyone can save someone, and one can make all the difference in the world.

Somebody is praying for help today. Will you be their answer?