Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Unshockable

Last week, there was a bit of a hoopla in Canadian media .. well, more than a hoopla … it was a nation-wide, collective gasp and head shake followed by a firestorm of tweets and social media posts. I usually hesitate to weigh in on a subject when the point is so obvious but this time I've got to say something!

The dust-up in question came after a Canadian senator, Lynn Beyak, made a speech during a committee meeting on the over representation of indigenous women in the Canadian prison system. Beyak's speech avoided the committee topic entirely and instead focused on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report on residential schools. Her argument was that the report focused too much on the negative aspects of the schools and did not give enough credit to the good that also occurred during the schools' more than 100 year history. She expressed concern that all of the media coverage on the negative aspects of the schools is hurtful and damaging to the families and descendants of the teachers and caregivers of the schools.

Inhale, Nic. Exhale slowly. Just breathe.

When I first read the news reports I went through the stages of grief in rapid succession and looped back around to settle on anger. No that's not what she said, the media must be misquoting her. WTF she actually said THOSE WORDS! God please, please somehow make this not true. Really, I'd do anything to not have this white, privileged female representative of the canadian government say or even think these things! What a setback for reconciliation. How could she use her platform, abuse her platform, like this .. its heart breaking. Okay, if Senator Sinclair can respond with dignity and respect then so can I. So can I …. nope I can't FREAKING believe she said those things OUT LOUD during a recorded committee meeting! I seriously, can't even!!!

So, all those words happened in my brain in a matter of seconds and for the past week I have been stewing and mourning over this. I have no clarity on this situation and there is no excuse. I was shocked  by this senator's words and perspective. So absolutely shocked that in this day and age, in this time of knowing in our country that someone in a position of national leadership could think and say such things.

 I was deeply shocked until I looked to my indigenous friends to see their response. They were not shocked. They were angry, outraged and disappointed but not shocked. I realized quickly that they are past the point of being shocked when it comes to hearing from white people on indigenous issues. in fact, I believe they, as a community, are entirely unshockable. Here's why …

They have heard and seen it all. They still hear and see it all. Regularly. They know about lies and betrayal at the hands of the government. They have had land taken and taken and taken again. They have had their resources and industry removed, destroyed and contaminated over and over again. They have been called every filthy, degrading name you can imagine. They have been stereo-typed and victimized for generations. They have had their children stolen, their culture decimated and their families dismantled. And they have been blamed for all of it. This is why my indigenous sisters and brothers are not shocked when a white women speaks against them and elevates white woes above their own systematic oppression. This is why they are unshockable.

Don't mistake the lack of shock for the absence of heartbreak.

Generations feel the after effects of the abuse and violence that our People have suffered. We still see the despair that accompanies the cycle of addiction and abuse that began decades before we were born. We still hear the socially acceptable racist statements against our families whispered around dinner tables and shouted from political platforms. We still feel the heart ache and shame from mothers and fathers who were powerless to protect their children. We still bear the scars of the children who were abused, neglected and murdered in the name of God and country.

This is why we feel heartache and not shock. But we also feel hope because we see what you refuse to see. We see our people rising.

Women from across North America
 stand side by side after a Blanket Ceremony.
We see survivors returning to their people, returning to their culture. We see elders reaching back into their memories to teach the young ones language and art and survival and worship. We see the young learning … learning the Indian way and the white way. We see them merging the two with the focus of advocating and elevating and educating. We see the women rise up and say no more to violence and degradation. We see the men rise up as allies and assets. We see families reconcile and rebuild. We see a future that is stronger than our past. We see more than who we were, who we were told to be.

We see ourselves as we should be, as who were were created to be. Whole. Strong. Brave. Free.

I started this post with the intention of giving that senator a piece of my mind but as I wrote I realized this isn't about her. It can't be. She doesn't matter, not really. Her views are a symptom of something that outrage alone won't fix. Only time and hope and honesty and doing can change views like that. My focus cannot, and should not, be on changing small minds. My focus has to be on elevating great hearts, on amplifying courage and celebrating those who continue to rise.

I am a storyteller. That's where my heart is. That is what I'm good at. So that's what I'll do.

If you have a story, have heard a story or know a person with a story of rising, of reconciliation, of small acts of love and justice please comment or email me. I'd love to use this platform to celebrate those who are doing the everyday, good work of healing and rising above. Thos are the stories that we should share because they bring hope and courage to hearts that are looking for their rise-up moment, too.




"I really don't care if you feel responsible for the past. The real question is do you feel a sense of responsibility for the future because that's what this is all about."
~Senator Murray Sinclair

Thursday, March 9, 2017

From the Start

I’ve often struggled with the idea of being a woman.  I know I am a woman but I’ve never much liked the company of women or girls for that matter.  As a child, I found girls to be silly, mean and emotionally unstable and as a woman I’ve experienced far too many displays of the same childish behavior among my peers. I’ve had a hard time recognizing goodness in my own gender to the point of not really seeking out female friends. Acquaintances were fine but don’t let any of them get too close. Casual encounters were safe but in order to keep the crazy drama at bay I felt I needed to limit my female contact.

I felt justified in my assessment of The Weaker Sex. From the beginning of time women have caused a lot of trouble, unnecessary drama and blatant meanness. Seriously, women were the source of most of the trouble in the Bible. Just look at Eve and Sarah and Leah, three very manipulative women. And don’t even get me started on Delilah and Jezebel! Yep, women are bad news. It’s best to just keep my head down and be as dude-like as possible, or so I thought until I tripped into an arena that I never planned on entering.

A while back, and completely out of the blue, I got involved in Women’s Ministry at my church. One day I was alone in our church basement, setting up for Sunday School and listening to a teaching podcast when a friend showed up and asked me what I was doing. The next thing I knew I was leading a weekly women’s meeting where we watched podcasts and discussed them. It was the last thing I intended to do but it was among the best things to ever happen to me.

Almost immediately, I began to see and value women differently. Getting to know the ladies who came out every week opened my eyes to a truth I should have recognized long ago. We are a work in progress, we are all doing our best to do our best. Through relationship with these magnificent women, I began to see the treasure that women are. I recognized that strength, loyalty, protection and nurturing are intrinsically part of the female nature and the things I previously disliked about women were never supposed to be part of our nature in the first place. God had designed us for community, care and cooperation, not for manipulation, contention and strife.

In preparation for the meetings each week I listen to dozens of podcasts from some of the best lady preachers of our age. The teaching and mentorship I have received from these Godly women through this medium has completely reshaped my perspective on my life, my faith and my place in this world.  There have been many messages that have encouraged me and challenged me but none has impacted me more than the teaching that opened my heart to a truth I had never before realized; God created women on purpose.

The deliverer of this message was Lisa Bevere and I had never heard anyone like her. She said things like, “Women are not the problem, they are the answer” and “being a confident woman is not acting like a man.” As I jumped head first into her teachings I began to see women in a completely different light, a God light. I read the Bible with a different understanding, from the perspective that women were part of God’s plan from the beginning, and familiar verses came alive to me in a new way, verses like Genesis 1:26.

… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female, He created them

In the very same sentence that God had the idea for man, He had the idea for woman. Before He breathed life into one, He had all eternity planned for the other. Woman was not an afterthought, created just to fill a void in man; she was half of the original thought. She was part of His plan all along. This idea rocked my world.

I began to think about men and women, the differences and the similarities. I began to ponder things through. If we were created in His image, both male and female, wouldn't male and female both be part of God’s nature? If men have strengths and characteristics that are uniquely male given to them from the very nature of God, then wouldn’t it be true that the things we claim as uniquely feminine are intrinsically part of God's nature also? If we, male and female, were created in His image then His image must hold the feminine as well as the masculine - right? And if that is the case then it stands to reason that God planned for us all, male and female, since beginning of time.

And there it was. The IGIM (I Got it Moment) that allowed all the pieces to click into place. There is no weaker sex because there's no weakness in God. No one is lesser than the other. No one is an after-thought; no one was created with the sole purpose of entertaining the other. One was not given the best traits and characteristics over the other. We, male and female, were created on purpose for a purpose since the beginning of time. We were created in unison, to compliment each other, not to compete with or dominate each other. We are both, male and female, the image of our Father.

I was raised to know that God created me, the individual, on purpose but for the first time I realized that He created my gender on purpose and the purpose was not what I first thought. Women were not created just to keep men company. They were created as equal partners, as teammates. When God gave the instructions to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion He wasn’t just talking to Adam. Eve was there too. She was given the same instructions, the same responsibility, the same purpose. That was the key; God created male and female at the same time with a common purpose. Equal partners, helpmates. Not to be in competition but to help each other, each to bring out the strengths of the other. To be in relationship with each other and to work together.

When God said, “Let us create man in our image” He wasn't having a mental lapse and He wasn't talking to himself.  He was referencing all parts of Himself; Father, Son and Spirit. He is one and He is three, working together. From the beginning He has been in community and since we are created in His image, in its entirety, we have been created to be in community.  Our desire to belong and connect with others is God-given from the beginning of time. Our ability to partner with others, to be stronger together than we would be alone, is part of the very nature of God our Creator.

The very reason God created humans in the first place was out of a desire to be with someone, to have relationship with someone who wasn’t heavenly obligated to be with Him. He wanted to be loved and sought after out of choice not force. He wanted us to want Him because He wanted us. And He wants that for us, too. Male and female. Created with a desire to be in community, in relationship, in partnership with each other.


Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed it was very good.


*This is a chapter except from my book Finding Me in Him

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This is my 2017


Adventure. Explore. Refine. Trust. Joy. Engage.
Relationship. Insight. Focus. Kindness. Tenacity.
Renew. Transform. Pursue. Persevere. Build.
Live. Brave. Free. Faithful. Passion. Become.
Abide.

These are some of the words that flooded my Facebook feed on January 1 as my friends, my family, my tribe declared their words for the year. As I read their thoughtfully chosen words, I was filled with hope and encouragement … and envy. Envy because I had no word to share.

In the past, my word as come to me so gently and so organically that I’ve hardly notice it until it was on my lips. The words I have declared at the beginning of the past several years have proven to be absolutely divinely appointed for the year that followed. For instance, 2012 was a year of Surrender. It was also the year I faced and conquered breast cancer. And 2015 was the year to be Available and, it turned out to be, the year I quit my dream job to support my mother in her time of grief. 2016 was the year to Ease-In as unimaginable opportunities presented themselves to me.

Each year that I have had a word, I have found direction and strength of purpose with this word. It has been like a whispered promise and a lighthouse in a storm. It has framed my year and reassured me in my decisions. It has also been challenged and tested which has caused me to rise up with tenacity and boldness to stake my claim in the promise of this word over and over again. Each year, my word has been a gift but this year not so much. This year, the prospect of choosing a word has been a struggle. Each word I have tried on has been too small, too constraining, too limiting. No one word has seemed to fit this year.

In November, when I was at Gather:Women’s day of prayer and vision casting in Toronto, I had a mental image of cupped, open hands. Hands, not tightly gripping or grasping for anything but, relaxed and open to an abundance of everything. I’ve not been able to shake that image since. It’s changing the way I approach life, how I view my place in the world. It’s also setting me free from a world of ‘shoulds’.

I have lived a life full of should. I’ve done what I should, said what I should, felt what I should, served as I should, sacrificed as I should. I have stayed silent when I should, forgiven as I should, loved as I should and obeyed the rules as I should. I have been all the nice, predictable, Christian-girl things I should be and I have lived the nice, predictable, Christian-girl life I should. No regrets.

But now, deep within, I can feel its time for something other. Something more than just all the things I should. It’s time to open my hands, its time to offer my life, my heart, my pen, my words to all that is beyond should. I want a life of abundance. I want to surround myself with deep colors, rich fragrances and endless possibilities. I want to be dangerous and fearless and legendary. I want to cup my hands and feel the water, the earth, the wind and the fire overflow from my palms and slip through my fingers. I want to be as the prairie grass on a summer’s day … dancing in the wind yet rooted in the Source of my very life.

I want more than I should and all that I dare.

I want a life of strength and abundance and offering. I want words of healing and encouragement and hope. I want actions of courage and peace and invitation. I want love that is gentle and fierce and all-in. I want it all.

I want it all.
I rise up and call it mine.
No one word but all the best words.
Not for one year but for all the years of my life.
Not just for me but for all.
For all. For always.

This is my declaration.
This is my battle cry.
This is my love song.
This is my heartbeat.
This is my hope.


All.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I Have a Dream

I have a dream of a home where peace reigns.
A home that is full of laughter, wishes and somedays.
A home that is safe, comfortable and a soft place to land after being out in the world.
A home that is welcoming to all and feels like rest for the weary heart.
A home that encourages and strengthens and champions the hearts of all who enter.
A home where grace abounds, forgiveness is given before it's asked for and second chances are endless.
I have a dream of a home that heals the soul.


I have a dream of a community where peace reigns.
A community that is inclusive, welcoming and open.
A community that seeks out the lonely and makes a friend out of a stranger.
A community where trust is stronger than suspicion.
A community where the kindness of your heart matters more than the money in your account.
A community that sees, values and protects it's most vulnerable and marginalized members.
I have a dream of a community that is a sanctuary.


I have a dream of a city where peace reigns.
A city that is known for kindness and  generosity and love.
A city that respects the land and history and lives of those who built it.
A city that builds it's strength from the 'least of these' and up.
A city that works toward a future of civil responsibility, trust and respect.
A city that is for all people, of all nations, of all faiths, of all genders.
I have a dream of a city that invests in the hope of our future.


I have a dream of a nation where peace reigns.
A nation where all people have access to clean water, safe homes and quality education.
A nation where mothers and daughters and sisters are safe, protected and empowered.
A nation where differences are seen as strengths not threats.
A nation where our children see that bullying is a disgrace no matter how old, wealthy, popular or powerful you are.
A nation where being glorious and free is a promise kept to all citizens.
I have a dream of a nation known for dignity, strength and inclusion.


I have a dream of a world where peace reigns.
A world where each of us uses our voice and influence for good and not for evil.
A world where reason and basic human decency is stronger than fear.
A world where our value as a human is not dependant on the resources of our nation.
A world where no one dies just trying to live.
A world where slavery is extinct.
I have a dream of a world where peace and hope and beauty and respect flourish.


I have a dream.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ubuntu is Here

My purse is heavy. So is my heart.

It's Mr. Awesome's day off. This usually means a day spent wondering our city, sipping lattes and dreaming of and planning for our future. We usually end up at The Forks on days like this. With that in mind, I put on my turquoise pendant that he bought for me in South Dakota last summer. I slide on a few of my favourite beaded bracelets, one made by mothers in Kenya working to care for their families, another purchased to support clean water on Reserves here in Canada and one more that reminds me to love and serve. I slip into my soft suede moccasins, hand stitched by a tribe intent on staying connected to the old ways. I do all this with intention because I know the path we will walk today and I know the weight in my heart and in my purse.

I've been on a journey of a million miles. Some of these miles I have walked with my feet but most of the miles I have walked with my heart. I am trying to understand the unfathomable. I am trying to hear the stories of those who are long dead. I am trying to bear witness to the suffering that is a combination of screams and echoes. I am trying to listen. I am trying to learn.

I was raised in hope. In doing better and having more. In leaving what was and pursuing what could be. I was raised in love and faith and anticipation. I was raised in letting go of the past. In letting go. In letting go.

And yet, here I am digging up a past that is not mine but yet is so personal.

I've learned the word Ubuntu and now I see it, feel it, everywhere. All of The Things are connected. This is because of that and that is a result of this and this is possible because of that. My mind is racing. My heart is full. My truth is broken.

All the things I thought I knew are in question. What I was taught, what I thought, what I reasoned out is all just off the mark. There is something missing in my well thought out equation.

Ah, yes. It's Ubuntu.

My heart is heavy because Residential Schools, because rape on university campuses, because 89 boil water advisories on reserves, because refugees drowning in the sea, because murdered and missing women, because travellers blown up in airports, because millions of orphans, because genocide, because honour killings, because human trafficking, because hate filled churches and fear based politics, because the death penalty and abortion and euthanasia, because racism, sexism, ageism, because homophobia, because suicide.

Because my shoes, my pendant, my bracelets. Because my heritage. Because I am connected to all of this. Because Ubuntu. Because my purse is heavy.

Oh that, my purse. It's heavy because I am carrying 98 suicide notes just now. Not mine. Yet, all mine. I didn't write them yet I feel them. I recognize the words of pain, fear, exhaustion and isolation but these notes are not significant because of those words. These notes are significant because they are here. With me. They are not haunting a grieving parent. They are not echoing the pain of a hurt community. They are not the final words of a broken heart. They are not evidence of a life lost too soon, too tragically.

They are hope.
They are surrender.
They are the semi colon.
Thankfully, not a period.

These notes were given to my friend as he has travelled across Canada, spreading his message of hope and strength. These notes are the evidence of promises made. Promises to stop, to look up, to choose life. Promises to live just for today. Promises to make today count. They are Ubuntu.

As I compare the weight in my heart to the weight in my purse I know that hope can win. I know that because of Ubuntu we can live. I know that our suffering can also be our healing. If we share. If we talk, If we listen. If we bear witness, hold space and engage with compassion. If we remove 'us' and 'them' and become Ubuntu hope can win. I've seen it. I feel it.

I stand at The Forks, where the rivers meet. I place my hand on the monument to the missing and murdered indigenous women. I touch Ubuntu. I look down at my moccasins and I see Ubuntu. I shift my heavy purse on my shoulder and I feel Ubuntu. I smell the scent of the green grass and the flowers and the trees mix with the indescribable scent of the river and I know Ubuntu is here.

Life is here.
Community is here.
Hope is here.
Ubuntu.


Ubuntu - term roughly translating to "human kindness." It is an idea from the Southern African region which means literally "human-ness", and is often translated as "humanity towards others", but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity"
~Wikipedia

Friday, May 20, 2016

In the Quiet

It's quiet in my house. Quiet is a rare experience in my world - both internally and externally.

The noises that populate my external world are heavy footsteps running up the stairs, the microwave beeping, laughter turned to bickering and back to laughter, dishes rattling, car doors slamming and 'good nights' yelled across hallways. These are the sounds of life and family and growing up.

Internally the noise is very different. It's a constant whirring of my brain trying to sort out my life. It's a cycling of what-ifs and worries and hopes. It's the sound of chaos and I hate it. But today the whirring stopped. Or maybe it stopped yesterday. It could have stopped last week, even. I'm not sure when, really. I just know that today it's quiet.

Ages ago, Christine Caine delivered a message where she talked about our lives being like an arrow; in order to be launched forward we need to experience the tension of being pulled back. That's how I feel. I feel like I have lived in the tension of being pulled back, of being readied for what's next. This tension felt terrible. It was uncomfortable and a key cause of the whirring. In this tension I struggled with the feeling of being left behind while knowing that there's always a 'What's Next'. I had to learn to be present in the tension. To learn from it. To rest in it. I had to learn to find quiet in the waiting. And I did.

During the last several months I have learned to trust my silence, to be at peace with the tension and to be confident in my own truth. Sounds kind of New Agey but its what I know to be true. I have always been intrigued with the Bible verse Luke 2:19

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

I'm a verbal processor and my first instinct is to talk out whatever is happening in my life with someone wiser and more experienced. So how is it Mary, a young teen with the Savior of the World growing supernaturally inside of her, could just sit with that truth and ponder it on her own? How could she trust herself to understand it? How could she even breathe  in that tension? How could she trust herself  in that situation when I second guess myself in every situation?

She didn't trust herself. She trusted The Spirit of God in her. The moment I understood the the whirring slowed. The more aware I became of The Spirit of God in me, the voice in my heart that prompts me, the slower the whirring got and eventually it stopped.

And now it's quiet.

It's quiet enough that I can breathe. I can think. I can listen. I can feel compassion. I can sense direction. I can speak with my eyes, with my heart, when words are inadequate. I can sit in my aloneness and be at peace with myself. I can hear another's truth without questioning my own truth.I can see there is space for both, space for all.

This week I participated in a conversation on race, oppression and faith. It happened over the course of three days and was facilitated by the marvellous Idelette McVicker. During this conversation, the 20 participants shared their stories and listened, listened deeply, with compassion, to the stories of others. I am profoundly changed by what I heard and what I learned this week. It's hard to even talk about it because it was so sacred and so raw. I can't even.

There are two things that echoed in the circle and surrounded it while we shared. It was the linked ideas of Deep Listening and Ubuntu. Deep Listening is the idea that we enter the conversation with the intention of listening with compassion and without judgement. Our role is to simply listen so that the teller's suffering may be heard and somehow lessened by our compassionate listening. Ubuntu is the idea of community. It is "I am because we are." It is the recognition that our stories, though different, are linked. This is what I heard in the quiet.

So, it's quiet. I sit in the quiet, pondering like Mary, trusting that God is in this place of tension and that whatever comes next will come when I am ready. I sit, ready to listen with compassion and respond with grace. I hear Ubuntu in my heartbeat. It's strong, it's alive and it is in the quiet.

As I am in the Quiet.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What Happens When We Gather

We are Seen.
We are Heard.
We are Valued.
We are Connected.
We are Brave.

My dad died. I quit my job. We moved. I was bored. I applied for a book launch team. I was rejected. I met 4500 other rejects. We became sister-warrior-friends. I applied to another book launch. I was accepted. I heard a whisper about women coming together to celebrate and empower each other. The whisper became a roar. I drove 2300km to see this thing for myself. I am changed.

Our road from Point A to Point B is rarely a straight line and almost never the path that we expect. I am beginning to realize our path is made from the braided fabric of our everyday choices and deepest heart dreams. All of the little bits of us are weaved together to form the most beautiful, random carpet of our life.

When I was 18 years old I wanted to be a pastor. I wanted to be in full time ministry. I wanted to teach people about the Jesus I knew. I wanted to be a listening ear and a soft place to land. I wanted to encourage and inspire. I wanted to work alongside my fellow followers for the good of The Kingdom. I wanted to lead and learn and grow and love in ministry. And then all of the tiny, crazy, unexpected pieces of life happened and years passed. I felt as though I had missed my chance.

I spent years wifing, mothering, friending and surviving. My home, and heart, was filled with tiny people - some I gave birth to and are forever mine, others came to our home to be cared for and loved for a season before moving on into their next step. I filled my days with play groups, trips to the library and coffee dates at the park. My night were long, sleepless and filled with desperate prayers for my children, my neighbour's children, my friends' marriages, for the sick, the broken hearted, the lost and and the hurting. I longed for More but life was already more than I could manage.

Those years faded into the Middle Years. The Wee Ones grew. We branched out to see the world, to see our neighbours. We donated to those in need, served breakfast to the homeless, took supplies to areas devastated by natural disasters. The kids held craft sales and bake sales to help sick children and former child soldiers. We volunteered at church and in our community but it still wasn't enough. Not for me. Not for my heart that ached to be In Ministry.

Then it happened! I became a pastor. I was asked to do the very thing I had longed dreamed of. I was In Ministry. I lead Children's Ministry and Ladies Bible Studies and Family Events. I trained a team of volunteers, talked about the Jesus I knew and listened to the dear hearts in my world. I was living the dream! And then I wasn't.

The decision to leave my position at the church was devastating on many levels. Leaving the community I had grown to love, the friends who became like family, left me feeling wingless and vulnerable. Leaving the role as 'pastor' was heartbreaking. It was all I had wanted and never thought I'd have and now it was gone - almost as if it had never happened. I felt lost, out of sync and finished. The year that followed was difficult. The struggle to remember that my identity was not found in a job title but in Christ was daily. I felt so disconnected from everything that had brought me joy.

It took the better part of 9 months for me to get a grip on myself again. It took connecting with my 4500 fellow book launch rejectees. It took reconnecting with old friends from my high school and young adult days. It took reading my own book to remind myself of what I already knew. It took hearing the echoes of my dad's voice saying, 'Give your head a shake!" It took all these pieces, and more, to wake me up to the truth that I have always been In Ministry.

Every trip to the park with the tines, every prayer whispered in the twilight hours, every casual chat in the school yard, every cup of coffee poured and laugh shared between friends was ministry. The boxes of toys my kids packed for an orphanage in Mexico was ministry. The hours they spent making beaded necklaces to sell to help former child soldiers was ministry. Standing on a chilly street corner, handing out coffee to the the homeless was ministry. Staying up all night to watch my dad sleep, so my mom could rest in those last days of his life was ministry. Walking beside my mom daily on her grief journey was ministry. And opening my heart to The One, the few, the many that I have encountered over the years is ministry.

This life of ministry, and the revelation that this is the life I live, is what brought me to the moment of walking into a church 2300km from home and feeling more at home than I had in ages. I was suddenly with My People again. The People who do the hard work of life, side by side, and love each other better for it. The People who feel deeply, think deeply and love endlessly. The People who are imperfect and know it but show up anyway. The People who care about the Big Things while living through the small things. The People who talk about things that matter, like poverty, equality, justice and mercy, while wearing leopard print and heels. The People who the beauty in me just as I see the beauty in them.

I sat in this place of utter belonging and soaked in every word, whisper and prayer spoken. I was on the verge of tears all day because I could not believe that such a place was real. That there were really other people who felt both too much and not enough, also, but were claiming their place as fully enough in Christ. I felt as though I was sitting in a dream.

And then we took communion together.

It was there in that holy moment that I looked up and saw them. Not the women in the room, not these beautiful strangers who share my heart but the familiar faces who share my life. My People. The ones I have lived this whole life with. The ones who have sipped my coffee and shared my story. The ones who have nursed their babies on my living room couch. The ones who held my hand as I cried at their kitchen table. The ones who have surrounded me every day of my life - with their prayer and their presence. These beautiful women of my everyday life. These are My People … The People.

It took me gathering with strangers halfway across the country to remember that there are people right here, in the heart of the prairies, who care and love and think and serve and dream and live deeply and passionately. There are people right here who are starving for connection, who are looking for an opportunity to Be More and Love More. There are brave, strong, lovely people right here with beautiful stories of redemption, reconciliation, hope recovered and faith filled lives. There are people right here.

This place I went to discover all of this was an event called Gather Women. Its an invitation to connect and share the stories that are uniquely Canadian, that are uniquely us. The heart of Gather Women is to inspire and empower women to gather where they are, with the women in their world, to encourage and celebrate what God is doing in every corner of our beautiful country. This movement is just beginning but its growing strong.

I encourage you to learn more about Gather Women and consider how you might invite the women in your world to gather with you. Gather Circles is a great way to open the door to conversations and relationships. Invite a couple of ladies over and spend six weeks learning together. Or check out one of the Regional Events. I know that this sounds a bit like an info-mercial but I LOVE what Gather Women is doing! I will write more about this movement and what it is teaching me in the weeks and months to come. I invite you to journey with me. Once you've connected with Gather Women (the blog is a great place to start) please feel free to comment here or on my author page on Facebook. I'll be posting quotes and thoughts from the Gather Event I attended and from the different speakers and leaders of Gather during the coming weeks. I'll also be hosting a Gather Circle in Winnipeg.

I have long dreamed of a day when God's daughters would link arms across Canada to celebrate, empower, dream and act on His behalf. That day is here. Gather Women is doing it! Ive seen it and I want to be part of it because when we gather …

We are Seen.
We are Heard.
We are Valued.
We are Connected.
We are Brave.