Tuesday, March 14, 2017


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