Monday, December 31, 2012

52 Weeks of Giving: Week Two

Peace.

That was the challenge for last week and boy was it a challenge! You'd think in this season of good cheer and hope that living a week as an intentional peace maker would be a breeze. You'd think the kids would be nothing but peaceful when they were showered with gifts and sweets for seven days straight.

You'd think. But no.

Living peace at Christmas was tough. Family commitments, crowded houses, tight time lines, lots of sugar and little sleep made an already unnatural concept seem completely unattainable. By Boxing Day (December 26) we were totally undone and Mr. Awesome and I realized that we needed to regroup - desperately - so we hunkered down in my parents' guest bedroom and had a family meeting.

We discussed the meaning of peace and why discord can so easily sneak into our relationships. We explained to the kids that Jesus promised to leave us peace because He knew that life has the tendency to be anything but peaceful. They seemed to 'get it' and I was optimistic ... for about 37 seconds. That's how long it took them to walk from the bedroom to the family room and start arguing again.

This time it didn't take a thirty minute conversation to quell the flames of irritation. This time all I did was walk into the room and ask, "Are you going to choose to be a peace maker or a peace stealer?" Immediately Mischief piped up, "A maker!" and the other two reluctantly agreed.

There were many more moments of chaos and stress during the week but having the term 'peace maker' become part of our family vocabulary made it easier to work through squabbles. With all of us understanding the meaning and importance of peace and the offer of Godly help to find peace, we were all on the same page and well ... that's a start at least.

Personally, studying peace this past week has been a much needed tune up. I have felt out of control and angry for weeks but the more I focused on the meaning of peace the more my anger, discontent and frustration melted away. The more I opened my heart to goodness, the more goodness I saw.

We're not done with peace. We are going to continue to pursue it but to our pursuit of a life of peace we are going to add this week's challenge ...

Week Two: Be Prayerful

Make a list of people you can pray for, people beyond just our family ... you can list people you know or people in far away places that might need prayer. Put the list in your bedroom and remember to pray for them each day.


1 Timothy 2:1 
I urge you then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.

Let's Chat:

1. What does 'petition'  and  'intercession'  mean? 
2. Why do we need to pray for people and be thankful for them?
3. Can you think of a time when praying helped you?
4. Make a list of a few people to pray for, you can add to the list later if more people come to mind.



The greatest gift we can give to others is our prayers.
--unknown

Monday, December 24, 2012

52 Weeks of Giving: Week One

So it started with this ...


I stumbled across that video while I was looking for something Christmasy to show my Sunday School class. About 10 seconds into the video I was all in. This 'conspiracy' resonated with me so deeply, it was exactly along the lines of conversations Mr. Awesome and I were having about our family and the values we were imparting.

That night Mr. Awesome and I decided to do 24 Days of Giving. Instead of giving our kids advent calendars with treats or toys we gave them a calendar that had daily challenges to give. Some things were as easy (or as difficult) as an attitude adjustment, like the days the kids were asked to give their attention or cooperation. Other days had the kids doing random acts of service or blessing like handing out candy canes to friends and teachers or choosing one chore to do well without being asked. Still others were giving something tangible to those in need, like taking groceries to the food bank or donating winter wear to a shelter. Each day we challenged our kids (and ourselves) to remember what this season is really about. Each day we challenged our kids to look beyond themselves.

Honestly, it was a slow start. They missed their Lego and chocolates but within a few days they began to look forward to their new challenge. They loved finding ways to help others and they loved telling us about how they executed their advent each day.

That's when Mr. Awesome and I decided to kick this up a notch.

We support the ideals and the campaigns of Free the Children and we are trying to shift our family's focus from Me to We. We feel very strongly that the answer to less bullying, less teen depression and less societal angst is not a bunch of 'anti' campaigns but a shift of focus, a return to a village mentality. We feel that if we empower our children (and ourselves) to recognize a need and to fill it where they are with what they have they will develop a healthy sense of self and their place in the Bigger Picture. It was with all this in mind that we decided to give our children less this Christmas so that we could give them more.

We intentionally spent much less on gifts this year so we could plan to support them as they step into a year of giving, 52 Weeks of Giving, to be exact. We came up with 52 different challenges that we will be tackling this year as a family. Each Sunday we will open another challenge and work together to complete it. And just like our advent, some tasks are a change of heart, some are small acts of kindness and others are huge things that we're going to need help to pull off.

And now, I invite you to join this conspiracy. Join us as we change the world, change ourselves with one deliberate choice of kindness each week.

Each Monday I will give a recap of how our previous week's challenge went and give you the challenge for the coming week. For those who are interested, I will also include the Bible verse for the week that ties into the challenge and a couple of discussion questions about the theme. If you choose to participate in one during the year, one a month or each one with us please let me know. Let me know how its going and how its changing your family's world view.

I am excited for this year, for the lessons we'll learn as a family and for the changes and growth that will happen in each one of us. Follow me on Instagram to track our progress and don't forget to leave comments here, too!  Let's change our world with kindness!

Week One: Give Peace.

This week walk away. Walk away from arguments, walk away from meanness. Compromise. Don't get mad, don't get even. Be a maker of peace.

John 13:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hears be troubled and do not be afraid.

Let's Chat:

1. What does 'peace' mean? What does it look like or feel like?
2. Why is it so hard to walk away? Why do we always feel like we have to prove that we're right?
3. What is the opposite of peace? How do you feel when you're not peaceful?
4. How can we make peace? Make a list of 5 intentional ways you can be a bringer of peace this week.

If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
~Mother Teresa


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas: Ungrinched

I haven't posted in a while and it was intentional. I've written posts but I haven't published them. They were not the kind of thing I want to put out into the world. They were dark, complainy rants. Not exactly what you've come to expect from me.

This dark, complainy me has sucked the joy out of Christmas, too.

Usually I can't wait to deck the halls, make Christmas cards and watch a few Christmas flicks. I take extra pleasure in my fuzzy Christmas socks. I fill the house with guests and music and good cheer. I am an ambassador of Christmas. Usually.

Not this year.

This year I have cocooned myself away, grumbled about gifts, complained about cards and snarked about holiday traditions. I have given the Grinch a run for his money this year. "You're as cuddly as a cactus ... You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile ... Your soul is a dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots!"  Yeah, that's about right.

I've not been enjoying this holiday season and in fact, as hard as I've tried to capture the real virtues of Christmas, y'know stuff like hope, joy, peace and goodwill, I've only succeeded in making myself (and anyone whose had the misfortune of encountering me recently) miserable with my rants on consumerism and selfishness.

So, this afternoon as I sat Christmas crafting with a very grumpy heart my iPad chimed. Someone sent me a message. When I opened it up, this is what I saw ...


Ahh ... this is it.

This is what I had forgotten. This  is what this season is all about. Its not about gifts and trees and concerts. Its not even about giving to others or spreading good cheer. Its about The Good News. Its about the moment Hope entered the world and changed everything. Its about declaring from the mountain tops and mall escalators that Christ has come and we are no longer alone or lost. We are no longer in the dark because He is the light.

So, this season, right now, know that you are not alone. Know that as dark as things may seem there is Light. Know that hope and peace and joy can, too, be yours. Know that God so loved you that He came to find you, to know you and to bring you comfort. Know that you are not alone.

I sing because I’m happy , I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me (He watches me)
~Civilla D. Martin




Monday, December 10, 2012

Choose Freedom

"You will never get the life you want if you continue to be negative about the life you have. Negativity is the shackle that keeps you bound to the very thing you want most to be free of."

That's the thought that woke me up at 2 this morning. I heard it like someone was saying it in my ear. I tried to ignore it but I couldn't. There it was. The truth.

I consider myself to be a fairly positive person but this last month has put me to the test. We've had a lot of stuff, yucky, junky, useless stuff, come our way in the last month and frankly, its been starting to get to me. I have become weary. I have become touchy, snippy and sarcastic. I have become someone I don't really like to be around.

And I guess, last night I had enough of myself.

Last night I needed a wake up call, literally. I need a good stern talking to and there it was. I needed to get real and get perspective. The truth is that some of the stuff that's happened bites. Its maddening and frustrating and I feel very powerless to change it. The truth also is that its not up to me to change anything. Its not my will that must prevail.

Ouch.

Yep.

My only responsibility is to live my life the best I know how. I need to be kind, patient and live joy. I need to freely give forgiveness. I need to walk in love and shroud myself in peace. I need gentleness to be my trademark and hope to be my guide. I need to let go of the things that hold me back and drag me down. I need to move forward. I need to enter into the goodness that is waiting for me. I need to remember why I am living this life, who I am living it for and the truth that echoes inside my heart.

Nothing can separate me from The Love because I have been chosen, made worthy, made righteous and equipped to live this life. This One Life.

Today I choose to let go of the negativity. Today I choose to be more than I feel, to be more than the circumstances that surround me, to be more than I think I can be. Today I choose hope and love and laughter. Today I choose to be free.

Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Days

Yesterday was Thanksgiving where we were but not where we're from. Our Canadian Thanksgiving was in October but yesterday we were in Atlanta and it was American Thanksgiving.

I usually like to spend American Thanksgiving huddled up under a cozy blanket with a steaming cup of coffeejuice (yeah, I know ... sounds like how I like to spend most days!) while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love the floats, Broadway numbers and gigantic balloons. I love listening to Al Roker smile-talk his way through 8 hours of parade commentary. I love watching singers lip sync the same song over and over as they hold on to their lurching float for dear life. I love watching the high school band geeks get their moment to shine. I love the whole thing and look forward to it each year.

That's what I usually do but this year I did the unusual. This year we went to the Georgia Aquarium, hung out at Olympic Park and then went out for dinner at a classic Atlanta restaurant. We mixed with the thankful throngs this year and it was unusual.

It felt odd at first being wished all kinds of happiness on day that was just an ordinary day for us. During our four block walk from our hotel to the aquarium random people on the street wished us Happy Thanksgiving. The homeless woman, wrapped in her sleeping bag on a bench, wished us Happy Thanksgiving. The Arab family who let us go in front of them in line wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. The mom who we gave our table to at the cafe wished us a Happy Thanksgiving as she balanced a tray stacked with juice and cupcakes while managing her three little girls. The older gentleman, with the killer smile, who served us at the restaurant wished us a Happy Thanksgiving.

Like I said, at first these greetings seemed odd to us. It wasn't our Thanksgiving, after all, we were outsiders, foreigners, separate from all this thankfulness. But with each wish of merriment in that sweet southern drawl the distance between us and them decreased. Each time a stranger smiled at us and bade us happiness we felt a little less like strangers and a little more like neighbours.

When we returned to our hotel, the valet driver said to Mischief, "I hope you had a great Thanksgiving little man." Mischief just smiled and nodded but when we were in the elevator he said to me, "Mom, this was great! It was just an ordinary day for us but everyone was so nice to us!"

"This day made my heart happy. Everyone was so friendly. I felt like I was really a part of this city!" Dude added.

They were right. I can't remember the last time I felt so connected to so many random strangers and all it took were smiles and wishes of joy. Both free and painless to give. Both priceless and precious to receive.

What if we made every day Thanksgiving day? What if we started each day being thankful for the blessings in our lives and wishes others we encounter happiness? What if we treated random people on the street more like neighbours? What if opened our hearts to the goodness in others and shared our own goodness freely?

If we lived every day like it was Thanksgiving Day there would be so much more to be thankful for!

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Mom in a Van

So ... we're road tripping and sometimes just tripping out.

Yesterday during our drive through five states, I took a bunch of random pictures, mostly to keep myself amused but I'm going to share them with you. Enter this portal into the Random Boredom Verging on Craziness that is our Family Vacation Day Three.


Starting the day with Legos, American Girls and Flashlights, oh my!

Flowers??? In late November??? What???
Decisions, Decisions!

Apparently Maroon 5 has mastered the science of time travel,
the last time I saw a pay phone anywhere it was 1992!

And somehow they took me with them!!! Suddenly, I'm back in 1992!

Oh Tennessee ... please show me a Starbucks!
I've been looking for hours!

You looking for a Starbucks, too Jason?


Nashville delivers and so does Mr. Awesome ...
this is the best thing I've seen all day!
Terror on the airwaves ...
I don't even want to know what it'll do when it gets me!

Atlanta ... finally!

And that's the wonderful thing about family travel:  it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.  ~Dave Barry

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anti Anti



On our drive through Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia today I  had a lot of spare time to read billboards and bumper stickers. And I gotta tell ya’ I’m annoyed.

The first one to cause my eyebrows to twitch was a bumper sticker with the American flag with the words ‘No aid or comfort to the enemy. Not ever!’ Then there was the one with a hand gun and the words, ‘America the brave’ plastered underneath and the one with a rifle and the words, ‘In guns we trust’ and then there were the seven ‘Nobama’ bumper stickers we passed in a one hour stretch.

All of these messages fed into my irritation about people who are anti all kinds of things but pro very little. People get all fired up over how much they are against war, religious persecution, discrimination, disease and bullying but if you were to ask the same people what they are for I’m afraid very few of them would know how to respond.

 All of those things are good things to be against. All socially conscious, moral people should be against anything that causes pain and division but what are you putting in their place? Are you just trading hates? Have you traded the hate of people who are not like you with the hate of the hate? Pals, that’s like pushing a cloud.

Being anti something is taking a stand, being pro something is moving forward. Being anti is putting up boundaries, being pro is building a monument for change. Being anti is feeding hate, being pro is fostering life.

Be anti-bullying but also be pro kindness, acceptance and encouragement. Be anti war but also be pro peace, tolerance and understanding. Be anti religious persecution but be pro love, unity and respect.  Be anti AIDs and malaria but be pro research, debt forgiveness and clean water initiatives. Be anti hate but be sure to be pro each other.

Being against is not enough. In order to really change things, in order to end violence, hate and strife we MUST be for things, for good things.

Be for Hope.
Be for Peace.
Be for Encouragement.
Be for Kindness.

Be for Change.

My fondest wish ... is that you will find something in your life worth fighting for. Because when you do you will have discovered a way to unite the will of the spirit to the work of the flesh and all of humanity will have discovered fire for the second time.
~Martin Sheen


Passing through the fire

It's ten til midnight. I'm 1500 kilometres from home, in a city I've never seen in daylight. The hotel room is quiet except the the odd sniffle of one of my sleeping children. We're on vacation.

This vacation is a long time coming. We started planning this one about five years ago, before falls and near death experiences. Before miscarriages, house woes, Autism, small town moves. Before cancer. Before.

Now we are after. We are after all of that. It came to pass and we have come through.

Phew!

Stuff is still going on. We are still dealing with the emotional fallout from a year of fighting cancer. We are still dealing with sketchy people trying to mess with our family. We are still dealing with stresses, hurts and missteps. We are still dealing. But this too has come to pass.

I love those four words. Has come to pass. There is so much hope in those words. We know that whatever comes after those four words is not permanent. We know that whatever follows is temporary, and knowing that, we can endure.

This phrase is used about 180 times in the Bible. Floods, famines, wars, slavery, shipwrecks and strife came to pass. And when those things passed times of healing, thanksgiving, prosperity and freedom came to be. Coincidence? Probably not.

There is something about walking through a tough time, surviving more than you thought you could, that makes you hungry for good things, that emboldens you, gives you the courage to chase down the goodness you desire. There is something about walking through the fire and coming out the other side a little singed but not burned. There is something about standing fast and having victory.

These last couple of weeks have been doozies in This Random House, and that's saying something for a family that lives on the edge of Crazytown most of the time. One evening, when I had had just about all that I could handle, I went out for coffee with some of my pals. We were supposed to be celebrating a birthday but it turned into a Random Therapy session.

I unloaded all of the stress, heartache and ugliness we were walking through to My Girls. And they loved me. Encouraged me. Supported me. Just as they always do. One of my very favourite gal pals also challenged me to see this time, these challenges, as an opportunity. She related this time to a story in the Bible about three dudes who believed in God, were faithful to Him and were thrown into a raging fire for their troubles.

But they were not burned. In fact, the only thing that was burned were the ropes that bound them. The fire actually freed them.

Hmph.

That night, when I got home, Mr. Awesome and I talked about this 'firestorm' we were in the midst of. This pressure cooker of stress and emotion. This time that has come to pass. We decided then and there to just keep walking and to allow this fire to consume nothing more than the things that were holding us back.

Its not been easy. We've had to remind ourselves often that all of this has come to pass but I know that we're going to come out the other side of this stronger, healthier and freer.

What are you in the middle of right now? And do you know that it, too, has come to pass?

The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.  ~Teresa of Avila

Friday, November 2, 2012

WE are the Adults

This week I had the privilege of attending We Day in our province.

For those of you who may not be familiar with We Day here's some background. It was born out of the charity Free the Children, and according to their website We Day is the movement of our time, bringing together a generation to change the world through an inspirational event and yearlong educational initiative but this is one occasion where words are not enough. Watch this video, then we'll talk.




Inspired? Me too!


A screen image from We Day
As I sat in that arena, surrounded by 17, 000 excited, inspired young people, I felt humbled and challenged. Mikhail Gorbachev, Spencer WestHannah TaylorMolly Burke and a dozen other passionate speakers took the stage and testified to the difference one person can make and the kids ate it up! Their enthusiasm and overwhelming confidence in their ability to be world changers reignited a fire in me to be a world changer also.  

It also had me asking, "How are a bunch of kids going to change the world?"

Justice Murray Sinclair addressed the kids in the morning. He opened their eyes to the dark history of residential schools and the scars this generation of aboriginal youth still carry with them because of this destruction of family in their community.  He spoke of equality, value and citizenship. He spoke of hope, reconciliation and respect.  At the end of his short message he had the crowd repeat after him, "We are the best. We are the brightest. We are the future. We are the change."

While I was listening to him, it struck me, the answer is simple. Its us. The adults. It falls to us to believe in them, support them and guide them. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the gift that these passionate, inspired kids are to our world. We need to step up and tell them, "Yes you can!" And then we need to help them.

We need to educate them. We need to direct them. We need to empower them. We need to channel their passion, their righteous indignation into a productive stream of action. We need to tell them that they are worthy, that they are powerful, that they are precious. And then we need to tell them again. And again and again.


A screen image from We Day
I believe the only and best way to protect our kids from bullying, depression, self harm and suicide is to educate them on their own value. Now, that's different from empty praise of their beauty or skills. Their value lies in who they were created to be, their chance to have this one life to make a difference, to really live. They need to know that its no accident that they are here, on this planet, at this time. They need to understand that there are things that only they can do, people only they can reach. Once they grasp on to this truth, once they understand they have a purpose in life, they truly will be unstoppable.

So, like I said, it falls to us. The parents, the teachers, the coaches, the neighbours, the youth leaders, the pastors, the volunteers. The adults. It is time to empower who they are, not only what they can do. It is time to grow character, not only skill. It is time to recognize passion, not only popularity. It is time to seek change, not fame. It is time to Be the Adults. It is time to lead.

WE are the best.
We are the brightest.
WE are the future.
WE are the change.

WE ARE THE ADULTS!

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.  ~Frederick Douglass

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Day ... and The Next Day

2:21pm, November 1, 2011.

That's the moment.

That's the moment I answered the phone and my doctor said the three words that changed the me forever, "It is cancer."

I have spent the last year, the last 366 days looking forward to today. I have thought of this day as I met with my surgical team, as I was wheeled into the operating room, as Mr. Awesome cleaned and dressed my wounds after surgery. I have thought of this day as I had my port installed, as I saw the red medicine course through my IV for the first time and as I watched my hair blow away in the wind.

 I have thought of this day as I lay in my bed, too sick and tired to move. I have thought of this day as I prayed for the strength to make it through one more treatment. I have thought of this day as I thanked God for all the people who loved me and were praying for me. I thought of this day as I stretched out on the radiation table, exposing my already scarred, damaged and raw breast to yet another blast of the beams.

I thought of this day.

The day that I am whole, healed and strong again. The day that the fear is gone and nothing but joy remains. The day that I can look into my future and know that it is mine, know that I made it, know that I survived. This is the day I have been waiting for! This day ... and the next day and all of the next days to come.

Recently someone made the comment to me that they wished that they could take back this past year for me, they wished that they could erase this whole horrible year. And while I appreciated the sentiment I told them that I wouldn't trade this past year for anything. They were shocked but I was serious. Am serious.

Although I could have done without the life threatening scare, I wouldn't trade the lessons, the personal growth and the relationships I have gained for anything. I wouldn't wish away one single encounter with other patients, one single note of encouragement, one single firm, strengthening hug. I wouldn't.

This year and all 31,622,400 seconds between this moment and that moment on November 1, 2011 has been a gift. I have grown as a wife, mother and friend this year. I have learned the power of letting people in and the strength of friendship. I have discovered that people are good and kind and compassionate and they want to help. I have realized that this is the one and only life I get and I better live it well.

I am a very different person than I was a year ago. My body is different; it is scarred, altered and frankensteined together but it is strong, it is powerful, it is beautiful. My heart also is different; it is whole, huge and full and it's capacity is endless.

This week a friend said the nicest thing to me. He said, "There is fire in your eyes." And he is right. There is. I have a passion for this one life, this one chance I get to make a difference, to leave a legacy ... so watch out, 'cause here I come!

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.  ~Barbara Bloom

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Powerful Man

This has turned into a Random Pride Fest this week ... and I'm okay with that!

I often try to explain to people what Mr. Awesome does for a living but it never really comes out right. He's a Power Lineman for our local hydro company. He's the dude who keeps the power on ... or puts it back on after mother nature has knocked it out. Mr. Awesome spent four years in a tough apprenticeship program to gain his Journeyman ticket and he takes great pride in being one of the elite guys tough enough to do this job.

These guys work outside in all conditions, at crazy heights with an insane amount of electricity coursing through the wires they are handling. They get called out in the dead of night, in the wee hours of the morning and in the middle of holidays and family gatherings. They miss birthdays, Christmas mornings and a lot of sleep to do the job they love, to do the job that's needed. They don't seek any recognition, fame or even thanks. They are linemen and that's often thanks enough.

This is a documentary trailer about linemen. This is what Mr. Awesome does.


Storm Soldiers


So, the next time its thirty degrees below zero or there's a raging storm or its Christmas Day and your power goes out ... and then comes back on ... take a minute to say thanks and offer a prayer of safety for the boys on the line, the ones climbing towers, doing hotwork and working hard.

I always do!

Never go to work mad, start each day with a kiss,
In this type of work, who knows what you'll miss.
Tell your kids you love them and also your wife,
Storms a coming, be late tonight, the lineman's life.
~Poem, A Lineman's Life from Powerlineman.com

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

8 Kinds of Mischief

Yesterday we celebrated Mischief's 8th birthday.

Eight years.

Blink.

They're gone.

Wow!

As I decorated the kitchen on Monday night for the Big Birthday Breakfast Celebration I started thinking about Mischief and the awesome kid he is. His wit, spunk and charm amaze me. I'm in awe of his confidence and courage. His sense of humour, compassionate heart and creative mind are things to behold! I was so overwhelmed by the gift he is that I sat down right there and wrote a Top 8 things we love about Mischief!

8. His fantastic smile.
        From the first time this little blue eyed heart breaker crinkled up his nose and flashed his crooked smile at me I was hooked. He was the happiest of our three kids, always content to roll around the floor or jump around in his exersaucer and it took no effort at all to make him laugh. As he grew he realized that one quick flash of his baby pearly whites was all it would take for a get out of jail free card! Even now, its tough to be strict with him when he turns on that smile!

7. His great big caring heart.
          If ever a kid was born with an extra measure of compassion and empathy its him! Mischief is generous, sensitive and concerned about the happiness of others. He is the king of compromise and almost always puts the needs of others first. He loves to help out whenever and wherever he can ... sometimes to a fault! Just ask my mom about how many times Mischief has 'helped' by rearranging things in her house!

6. His wicked good sense of humour.
          Mischief can tell a joke and take a joke. He's a little self deprecating and he can spin a good tale. Often times, he keeps us entertained at the dinner table with stories about his day ... complete with several alternate endings that would make the story funnier, sadder or scarier. He's a hoot!

5. His endlessly curious mind.
          Mischief's mind never stops! He is constantly trying to figure out the meaning of songs, stories, people's actions ... of life. He wants to understand everything. In fact, he often reminds me of that movie Short Circuit; Number 5 needs more input!

4. His outstanding imagination.
          Whether he's spinning a tale, recreating a favourite scene from a movie or playing in his room he always has the most elaborate costumes, sets and back stories. He is a fantastic little actor and a wee creative genius. I love watching his wheels turn as he works his creative magic!

3. His flip-floppy amazing stunts.
          Although his antics have been known to cause near heart failure in me, I am in awe of how agile, fearless and flexible he is! He loves to test the limits of his physical strength and gravity and just like a cat, he always lands on his feet  - well, almost!

2. His wild, crazy, boundless love.
          This kid is a lover, not a fighter (usually). He is a faithful friend, a loving sibling and a precious heart beauty. He is the master of sneak attack hugs, sweet baby kisses and monster cuddles. He has no problems laying a little login' on a person who needs it and it makes his heart sing when its reciprocated. He loves like he lives, boundlessly, fearlessly.

1. Our very favourite thing about Mischief ...

He's ours!


Happy Birthday, Little Buddy! 





  • It's the merry-hearted boys that make the best men! - Irish proverb


Saturday, October 13, 2012

It Doesn't, You Do

We've had a heck of a week, how 'bout you?

We've been dealing with some stuff, catching up on life and just trying to make sense of some senseless things so I've not spent a lot of time reading the news or checking out other blogs this week. Until tonight.

Tonight we had dinner, lingered over a cup of coffee and then I caught up on the news while Mr. Awesome cleaned up from supper. That's when I stumbled across the story that has rocked the cyber world. Its the tragic story of Amanda Todd.

If you Tweet, Facebook or have eyeballs, I'm sure you've seen snippets of this story somewhere. Miss Todd was a teen who made some foolish mistakes, was stalked, baited and bullied and ultimately took her own life. She was fifteen. She was precious.

I read the news stories and then I watched the video she made shortly before her third and final suicide attempt. In it she tells her story, how she was made a bad decision when she was thirteen that turned into two years of being hunted, taunted and humiliated. She tells of several school transfers and even a move to a different city to try to escape the inescapable. She finishes off her video by confessing how alone she feels, how its a struggle to live.

Watching that video after the week we've had made another, very popular YouTube video seem like a joke. Awhile back a bunch of celebrities did a series of anti-bullying videos called 'It gets better.' The idea was to give kids who are bullied hope that things get better when you're older. The thing is, they don't.

Mr. Awesome faced a situation this week where he was yelled at, humiliated and belittled by another adult. This guy used information he had gained during my illness to take jabs at Mr. Awesome where he was most vulnerable. He exploded without warning, exhaled and felt better while Mr. Awesome was left rattled.

Maybe this guy was having a bad day. Maybe he was worked up about something else and Mr. Awesome was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe he didn't realize how hurtful he was being. Or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing and he's just a jerk. I don't know. What I do know is that what he said and how he said it was hurtful, unnecessary and cruel.

I also know that Mr. Awesome is better than this situation. He's better than this unkindness. He's better than this act of self indulgent, immature behaviour.

Bullying is bullying no matter how old you are. Unkindness hurts whether you're 15 or 45. Being victimized is humiliating whether you're in the schoolyard or the workplace. It doesn't get better. As long as people are people and selfishness reigns, it doesn't get better.

But you do.

You get stronger, smarter and more resilient. You learn that cruel people are that way because of what's in their heart, not because of what you do, what you wear or what you say. You learn that people who carry a lot of baggage take wide swings and they don't care who they hit. You learn that one ounce of truth wrapped in a ton lies and anger becomes twisted and warped. You learn that its not about you.

So the hope we need to give our kids, the lifeline they need to stay connected, to stay tethered to this life is this; It doesn't get better, you do. And you never have to be alone.

Not ever.

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Love Well Lived

Last week two families who are important to me lost people who are important to them. Mrs. N was the mother of my parents' friend and JM was my uncle's best friend. To look at these two people they couldn't be more different but in truth, the distance between them is not so great.

Mrs. N was the quintessential lady. She was the picture of grace and elegance. I can't ever remember seeing her without her lipstick on, hair neatly arranged and her outfit tastefully accessorized. But that stuff is just surface, just window dressings, her true beauty came from her generous heart and loving nature.

Mrs. N was a mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. She was a long time member of the church I grew up in; she attended there with her son, daughter-in-law and their three beautiful daughters. She was their Nana but she became Nana to us all. When I think of her all of my memories are of her smiling and loving on someone, whether she was cuddling a newborn, catching up with an old friend or giving one of her granddaughters a quick hug, she was always smiling. She loved boundlessly.

Now, like I said, on the surface JM couldn't be more different from Mrs. N ... on the surface.

JM was rough around the edges, a little scary looking at first glance and a brick of a man. He wasn't tall but he was huge and he could come across as an intimidating individual ... until he smiled. Its been years since I've seen JM but I remember him well from so many summers, at the campground, with my extended family. He was always up for tossing us kids around the pool, joking around with whoever was nearby and telling stories, usually about the teenage misadventures he had with my uncle.

JM was my uncle's buddy. They met when they were five years old and from that moment on they loved each other as brothers. I didn't know JM very well but it speaks volumes to me that my uncle loved him as he did. I do remember that he had the greatest laugh that came from his heart and danced in his eyes and that he was always so full of life and love.

That's where these two strangers are the same, in their love.

Mrs. N's heart was always open and she loved her people without conditions or limits. She loved, even when life got messy. She loved through joy and sorrow, hope and disappointment. She loved fiercely, generously, endlessly. She loved.

JM also loved deeply, sacrificially. He loved with courage, with protection, with hope. When things got messy, he loved. He loved enough. He loved enough to look past the situation to see the person, he loved enough to set aside his desires for the greater good, he loved enough to let go of what he held dear to keep hold of those he held dear. He loved enough.

As I write this hundreds and hundreds of people are gathering to celebrate Mrs. N's life and love. There will be songs sung, eulogies given and precious memories shared. The church will be filled with friends, flowers and joy mixed with tears. She lived a full life and there is much to celebrate.

But JM will receive no such send off. The path his life took in recent years has made it impossible for him to be celebrated in the same way. For the safety of those he loved most, there will be no mass send off, no over flowing church, no tribute to a love well lived. Instead, JM's people are left to grieve independently, to remember in solitude. What a contrast to the man I remember, the laughing, loving, life of of the party.

So, today I say a prayer for the families, fill my heart with sweet memories and whisper the names of two people who have set the bar high and lived excellent examples of love. These two people from very different worlds but still, so very much the same.

I'd like to think that they know each other now, that they've met in heaven. I'm sure Mrs. N has told JM all about her beautiful family. I'm sure that JM is entertaining Mrs. N with his stories and his mischievous laugh. And I am sure they both have carried all the love we've given to them, that they have clothed themselves in it, that they hold it close for it is a promise that we will see them again someday.

To Mrs. N.

To JM.

You are remembered.

To love another person is to see the face of God.
~Les Miserables


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Newsworthy?

This is something I wasn't going to share because its personal, embarrassing and a sore point for me but after seeing a video that was circulating Facebook yesterday I decided I couldn't stay silent.

On Monday I took Mischief to his gymnastics class, like I always do. I found a seat at the edge of the mats, like I always do and settled in to watch my boy tumble and swing and run, like I always do. My regular mom pals weren't there to hang with so I was on my own. 

Within minutes a couple of other moms found seats near me and started chatting ... to each other ... but loud enough for me to hear.  Their conversation begin generic enough but took a unnecessary judgemental turn pretty quick. They had been talking about a mom and tot fitness class that one of the moms was attending.

Fine.

"The instructor is great, she gives a lot of tips about how to have a healthy diet too."

Okay.

"I have always chosen a healthy lifestyle."

All right.

"I mean, why eat junk when you can eat fruit and veg? I'm not a vegetarian, I mean, like, I eat meat once in a while but just organic stuff. Toxin free, you know."

Good for you.

"I just don't get heavy people. I mean why choose to be fat when you can be healthy?"

Huh? Did she just say that? Was she looking at me? Nah, I'm just being paranoid.

Louder, "Heavy people just need to have some self control and then they won't be heavy. Just put down the cookie already!" Laughing.

Seriously? Just watch your kid, Random, just watch your kid and ignore the rude nutter.

Louder still and leaning a little forward, "I don't buy it when heavy people say they try to lose weight but can't. If they were really trying it would come off. Fat people are lazy, I think."

Thankfully, at this point the lady's friend (who, to her credit, was visibly uncomfortable with her pal's take on the subject) was finally successful in changing the subject. They went on to talk about childbirth and doulas and my pal's husband arrived and provided the perfect conversational distraction for me. I was distracted but still kind of bothered.

Now, this isn't the first time a stranger has felt the need to comment on my physical appearance. I have experienced the full gamut of busy body encounters, from the loud talkers to the outright confrontations. I have been told that I am a bad example to my daughter, that if I loved my family I would lose the weight so I could live longer, that I should be ashamed of my lack of self control. I have been laughed at, teased and judged because of my size for most of my life. Even as an adult, people have discounted my character because I don't look 'the part' and yes, it hurt.

It hurts.

But here's the thing that prompted me to write today, here's the thing I just realized ... comments like that, conversations like that are bullying. Just the same as if I was being held up against a locker in a junior high hallway. Just the same as if I was knocked down and kicked in the schoolyard. Just the same.

Now, I'm a grown up and although rude comments hurt my feelings, I don't feel powerless and victimized. I do feel irritated and disappointed. I feel confused and frustrated. I do wonder what is going through the heads of the self important people who can't keep their opinions and judgements to themselves. I do wonder how we expect kids to be kind, to stop bullying when we as adults can't stop.

Adult bullying happens all the time, all over the place. It happens in the workplace, in the malls, at the gym and over a cup of coffee with friends. It happens but we assign it different labels, as grown ups. High pressured sales. Competitive advertising. Right of passage. Joking. And my personal favourite, 'sharing' information out of concern.

No matter how you cut it, its unnecessary, its mean and it needs to stop. We need to stop it. We need to have the courage to stand up, be an example and chart a new course. We need to use our influence to change what must be changed.

So, to the video. It speaks for itself, really so all I'll say is this lady is classy, brave and fabulous. And I'm proud of her!



The cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.
~ Jennifer Livingston