It’s a new day…

Me: Trump won

10-year old: Mom, I don’t think we can visit the U.S. anymore.

Me: Why?

10-year old: Because of the colour of your skin and you’re a woman. Two things Trump hates, and now more than half country agrees with him.

Me: Sigh.

Like millions around the world, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to see the final tally  for myself and to hear the President Elect speak.

Like millions around the world, I was paralyzed with shock as the numbers came in, and maybe even whimpered a little when the final announcement was made.

I don’t claim to be an expert about American Politics, or anything at all really, but I do know hate when I hear it, and Donald Trump spread hate during his campaign, there’s no question about that.

And it’s obvious that our kids have heard it.

I’m a big believer in the ‘love wins’ movement.

But today, I woke up feeling not so sure.

Maybe love isn’t enough?

Maybe sometimes hate wins?

And then it hit me, yes, sometimes hate does win. And it’s not fair. It’s not nice. It feels yucky and I wish it wasn’t so. But the harsh reality, as is obvious by these election results, is that hate can and does win.

So what do we do? What do we say? Do we give up?

Absolutely not.

We pick our jaws up off the ground, we shake it off, and we love.

Yes, that’s right, we love.

We love all those that love us, and even more so, the ones that don’t. Because we don’t and we won’t give up on people.We show people grace and kindness, and pray that it helps change their hearts. And even if it looks like it’s to no avail, we never stop trying.

And it’s not easy, because we’re human and we can be rather hard and complicated, but in our cores, in our souls, we were made to love and care for each other. I truly believe that.

So in the end, even though everything feels like it’s changed, we don’t let the circumstances change us.

Because in the end, love does win, love will win.

And right now, love and unity feels so, so far away.

But it’s not.

Because it’s in me and it’s in you.

Van Jones, from CNN, said it perfectly last night, “Where’s the grace going to come from? Where’s the understanding, where’s the empathy going to come from? It’s going to have to come from ordinary people. Tomorrow at work, when we go and look at people who we don’t agree with, this can’t be the interaction. It’s going to have to be ordinary people reaching out to each other.”

Is it too late to beg Van Jones to lead the world?

#CancerSucks

November 11, 2015 will forever be ingrained in my memory as the day my mom told me she has breast cancer.

I’m not sure exactly what else was said because all I heard was – cancer.

Amazing how that one word can change your life forever.

Since that day, I haven’t really been able to say much about it. I haven’t really been able to say the word cancer out loud. It’s a scary word. It brings with it a lot of unknowns and I hate unknowns. More so now than ever.

I’ve been trying to stay strong, for my mom, but the truth is that I’m angry. It’s not fair, I keep repeating in my mind, over and over again, IT’S NOT FAIR!

And the truth is, it’s not fair. But then what is? Life’s not fair. It’s not meant to be fair. It’s meant to be meaningful and full of love, but nowhere has life ever said ‘I’m going to be fair.’

I’ve had a few weeks to get over being angry, I’ve prayed and I’ve meditated, and have slightly moved on to one-day-at-a-time mode. It’s all I can do. I have no control over what’s going to happen, but I do have control over how I’m going to handle it.

Probably with humour because that’s kind of my thing. My mom will appreciate that because she’s whom I get that trait from. If you’ve met her, you know this. You know that she’s witty and clever and loves to laugh. See? I told you, I’m her. Except, maybe not the clever part at all times.

Probably with prayer because it’s how I feed my soul.

Probably with tears, because the truth is I’m sad.

So yes, cancer sucks.

I hate you cancer.

We head in to surgery this morning. So if you could say a little prayer and send good thoughts our way, that would be awesome. After this surgery we will know what treatment path we’ll need to follow.

Yes, it’s we.

Mom, you’ve given your everything to me and to your grandchildren. More than any of us have ever deserved. You have loved me no matter what. You have loved me even when I wasn’t easy to love. You have never given up on me. You have shown me what being a mom is all about. You have taught me to be who I am without apology. You have instilled in me a knowledge and love for God and love.

So now, it’s my turn.

I’m here for you.

We’ll laugh and we’ll cry.

We’ll pray, and be still.

We’ll fight and we’ll stay strong.

We don’t know what’s coming up next on this journey, but we’re in this together.

Forever.

For the love of all that’s holy! The #RedCup Dilemma.

So, as a Christian I’m supposed to be offended by a red cup this morning.

Really?

No, seriously, really?

Who?What?When?

I can’t even.

I saw a headline “Christians offended by Red Cup”.

Christians? Really?

I’m a Christian.

You didn’t ask me before reporting such ridiculousness.

So clean up your headline. At the bare minimum, include the word “some” so that I’m not lumped into a solid bunch of people who, with other offenses going on in the world, like war, like hunger, like poverty, like lack of compassion, are outraged by a red cup. Maybe they mean well, but although we share Christianity in common, their intentions are not my own.

A red cup.

I still can’t even.

You see, some of us Christians, we’re not interested in the Jesus that keeps popping up in our newsfeeds and headlines. Some of us Christians are madly in love with the Jesus that gave his life for us and that above all else is living love. The Jesus that forgives and is abundant in grace. The Jesus that couldn’t give a damn about the colour of the cup your coffee is poured in, but instead insists that you treated the barista who poured it with respect, love, grace and did I mention love?

So please, I beg you, please know that I, a Christian, am not offended by any cup, not by the colour, size or shape of it. So at any time, I will welcome a hot cup of coffee in any way you’d like to offer it to me. And if you can figure out how I could receive it in IV form, I’d be forever grateful. And given how cranky I get when I don’t have enough caffeine running through my veins, I’m sure Jesus would thank you too.

Yours in love,

Nay.

A fall/back-to-school/autumn review…

Fall, back-to-school, autumn, whatever name you give this time of year, always signifies a new start for me. It’s like New Year, but not really. Now that we’re well into it, I can sit here and reflect on the madness that has been the last four weeks.

Although I’m anti New Year’s resolutions (it’s just too much pressure!) I’m all about resolutions for a new school year.

Let’s begin with School Lunches:

I’ll make them the night before, because clearly, that’s totally genius – is how it always starts.

But then September means the start of a new season of The Voice, and the good Lord knows I can’t resist those blind auditions. And Blake and Adam’s bromance? Is there anything better on TV? I vow to wake up wake up extra early as I settle on the couch. Except that I’m allergic to early wake-ups. October. October sounds more reasonable for night-before-school-lunch making, I tell myself. Wait? What’s that about The Walking Dead returning in October? Umm; January sounds more reasonable anyway.

How ‘bout those weeknight meals:

After an eat-at-your-own-convenience summer, back-to-school brings about new anxiety about having to actually prepare a meal.  Popcorn for dinner no longer qualifies. All of a sudden I start to talk meal-planning, and grocery budgets, and organic vegetables, and of course, my old standby, juicing. I run to the grocery store and load the cart with all sorts of good intentions. We start to see an increase of green food on our table, and more frequent visits to the bathroom, but maybe that’s a little too much information. Regardless, it all starts off well, until the reality hits that my family begins to expect this on the daily. As panic sets in that I may have set the bar a wee bit high, I throw in some frozen chicken fingers in the oven and call it dinner, so that they don’t forget who I really am. Y’all know I’m all for keeping it real.

The Cleaning of the closets:

Ah, yes, the dreaded closet cleanout.

Let me begin by saying that there was a time when I used to love closet cleanout time. The change of season meant that I got to take inventory of my clothing situation, and before I knew it, shopping would follow. Ah. Those were the days.

Fast forward to now. Closet cleanout involves my offspring ‘helping’. Parents, you know what I mean when I say ‘helping’. They mean well, they really do. And it all starts well. They’re like busy little bees buzzing from their rooms, carrying clothes to their designated piles. And the piles are rather ambitious, aren’t they? Donation Pile. Mending Pile. Hand-Me-Down Pile. Wait. Back it up. Mending pile? I told you – Ambitious. In the end, when my children start to climb the piles and begin to ignore my pleas for help as I’m buried under baby clothes I just can’t part with – it all ends up in the donation pile. And then sits at my front door for another month. But that’s another story.

The memory that could be Apple/Pumpkin picking:

Apple picking, just like a visit to the pumpkin patch, makes it on to the list of ‘things we must do if we are to be good parents and ensure that our children have healthy childhood memories, plus I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have photos of these events to post on Facebook’ things to do. I never said I was sane. So every year, I carefully plan for this to happen. Maybe carefully isn’t the right word.  Maybe plan isn’t even the right word. Okay, fine, truth is I couldn’t care less about these two Autumn-Rights-Of-Passage, so we just visit our local grocery store, buy organic locally grown apples, because I’m not completely heartless and do want my kids to have a hint of the apple orchard experience, and then we grab the two closest pumpkins to the car, because those things are heavy, and we laugh and call it a memory.

Like all things in life, at least in my life, my family and I take things as they come, and the start of a new school year, is no different than anything else. Sure, I go into a tizzy and hyperventilate at the thought of trying to be the best version of myself at the start of the new school year, for my children’s sake, but in the end, things always seem to work better when I’m just me.

My oldest son reminded me of this during this exchange:

Me: I need to bake more. I really should bake more. You and your brother should expect me to bake more.

Him: What? (he sounds so much like his father when he says this)

Me: You know, I really should bake more. You and your brother deserve that. Like all your friends’ moms. I’m sure they bake for their children. Fresh baked cookies and treats probably welcome their kids after school.

Him: Umm. Mom? None of my friends’ moms bake them fresh cookies every day after school.

Me: They don’t?

Him: Not that I know of. And who cares anyway. You be you.

Me: Well, then what am I going on about? Never mind.  Carry on. And have an apple. Pretend I picked it fresh just for you.

Him: Mom, you’re funny. I like that about you.

And just like that, my children bring me right back to who I truly am. A mom who loves them fiercely, who overthinks just about everything, who panics at the drop of hat, who loves to laugh, mainly at herself, who needs reminders that being who I truly am, during any time of the year, is what my kids truly deserve and want.

So bring it Fall, back-to-school, autumn – whatever name you prefer for yourself – we’re ready for you. (And by that, I clearly mean, that I’m not ready, I never am. Back to school season always comes as a surprise to me; year after year. But it all works out in the end. Oh, and sometimes, I surprise myself and end up baking cookies. That actually taste like cookies. And I even remember to leave them out on the table so that my kids find them ready to be enjoyed right after school. They take a minute to look at me, rather incredulously I may add, they shake their head at my attempt to overcompensate, because they see right through me, but then cookies win in the end, as they always do.)

Love wins, round two. 

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by some pretty intelligent people. People with street smarts and people with more degrees and letters after their names than any one person truly needs. All sorts of wisdom surrounds me.

But I have to admit, that although I’m surrounded by so much academic wisdom, intellect and worldliness, some of the best conversations I get the privilege of enjoying, are the ones I have with my nine-year old son.

Just a few weeks ago we discussed the Charleston shooting. I explained to him what had happened and watched his little face express sadness and confusion. I also watched his face light up as we spoke about how love wins, how it has to win and will always win because God is love, and love is God.

This past weekend, as our conversations about love continued, he broke it down like this:

“What I do know, is that Jesus told us to love. And you know what else? He said that people will know you’re a Christian if you love. That’s how we roll, us Christians, we just need to keep trying to love each other.”

He’s nine and has the whole world figured out.

From the mouths of babes, indeed.

Love wins. It has to.

The headline: Church attack kills 9

As I’ve watched this horrible situation in Charleston unfold, my heart has broken a thousand times over.

How can this be? How could this happen? Why did this happen?

My heart has cried out and my soul has crumbled, for there is nothing less I understand than hate. Hate of any kind. Hate in any shape or form. Hate is evil and it scares me.

Nine people shot dead because of the colour of their skin?

Nine families that will never see their loved one again because of the colour of their skin?

Nine sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers; nine loved ones.

And the gunman? What life must he have had that led him to such hate? How sad for him. How sad for his family.

As a Christian, I am usually comforted in the sound truth that God in His infinite wisdom and love is in full control of what happens here on Earth. But today, today, I humbly admit that this truth feels distant. My heart is too broken, too human to fully comprehend. Today my human heart breaks, today my human eyes cry, today my human spirit cries out, please, no more of this!

Today I condemn this evil and hate.

It must stop.

And it starts with us, it starts with me.

I must continue on my path to teach my children that love wins.  I must continue to teach my children that we are all equal, that we are all worthy. That no matter what the colour of our skin, our hair, our features, our preferences, our likes or dislikes, we are all in this together. We all matter! And I will continue to tell them, to drive it home, to yell from the mountaintops that LOVE WINS! That it has to win. Because without love, we are nothing. Without love, we have nothing. Without love, we do not exist. Without love and mercy and grace, we would not be here. And it’s up to them to continue to spread the message of love today, tomorrow and after I’m gone. Because if there’s any inheritance or legacy that I want to leave for my children, it’s that they be people who choose love over everything else.

Because love is God, and God is love.

And with love, they win. And the people they meet win. And then love spreads. And then things like hate and evil disappear.

Because love wins.

It has to.

 

Jesus, for the love of God, take the wheel.

For over eight years, I had the opportunity to work part time, and sometimes, at my own convenience. I worked for a great company, who afforded me such luxuries, and whom I enjoyed working for. I met fabulous people there, and made life-long friendships. I was able to work and be productive in a grown-up environment, while still being able to be home in a family-environment when my family needed me the most. But like many things in life, things change.

Late last year, I found myself looking for new employment. And just to make things more interesting, Vince was in the middle of finalizing his exit from the corporate world to the self-employed world.

Gulp.

Things got hairy in December.

And then they got worse in January.

But things looked up in February when I got hired on by another fabulous company.

Except that they offered me full time employment.

Gulp.

Maybe even, double gulp.

The bright side was that it was a full time contract position. In other words, it was a great way to test whether or not my family, especially me, would survive me working full time.

With my new job, I got my very own desk and office space. I even got my very own phone with my very own extension and my very own name displayed on it. My very own pens, pencils, highlighters and notebooks! I love all things office supplies, so this was a dream come true.

I’m enjoying the benefit of a steady paycheque in a household that is now under the self-employed tax bracket, and enjoying the new people I’ve met. I’m in love with my new boss, but don’t tell her, because that would make things weird, probably. She’s so fun, and awesome, and puts family first in the world of corporate, which is awesome, and not as rare as I once thought it was. Did I mention she’s awesome? And my new co-workers? They’re super fab too. They’re really nice and constantly order lunch from fun places like Popeye’s and East Side Mario’s. Who doesn’t love a good lunch order?

But my family is suffering.

No wait, did I say my family?
I meant me. I’m suffering. I mean, sure, my boys are missing me, but not in a their-whole-world-is-falling-apart kind of way. Just in a it-would-be-nice-to-have-you-walk-us-to-school-but-daddy-is-doing-a-good-job kind of way.

Because Vince has really stepped it up.

He’s always been a hands-on dad, whatever that means.

For the past two months, he’s been doing school drop offs and figuring out school pick up, while working and promoting his new business. He’s been walking and feeding the dog, and occasionally remembers to feed the kids too. Just kidding. He waits for me to feed the kids. He’s taken on some new responsibilities with grace and humour, and the occasional f-bomb, but Vince is Vince after all. He does the best he can under all circumstances. That’s just who he is.

Me? I haven’t fared as well.

I’ve had a hard time letting go. A hard time not being there.
Where exactly? I don’t know.

You see, I’ve never been the most domestic, as exhibited by the state of my home. I don’t enjoy cleaning; I don’t enjoy making beds, folding laundry and vacuuming.Vince and I always joked that maybe he should have been the one to stay home, since he’s better at all that than me.

But what I do love, is being the one to walk the boys to school. I do love being able to say ‘good morning’ to their teachers. I do love being able to say ‘I love you, have a great day!’ as they walk off to their friends and classrooms. I do love being able to say a silent prayer for safety over them and their entire school every morning. I do love being there at pick up time to say ‘hi buddy! I’m happy to see you.’ I do love the talks we have as we walk home together. I do love that they both tell me all about their day, the good, the bad and the challenges. I do love the days I spend serving our school community. I do love the connections I’ve made with my little superstar reading program buddies. I do love seeing my boys’ faces after a long day at school, and I do, most certainly love the ‘I love yous’ I constantly hear, and never, ever, take for granted. I do love going for a pretend-run with the new puppy. (It’s pretend, because I don’t really run, but I totally gear up for it, so I feel good about it)I do love making dinner for my family. I do love gathering up our soccer, karate, dog park, gear on any given night and heading out the door as we go off to enjoy our programs. I do love being there.

So that’s where.

I miss being there.

It’s a confusing time for me.

I’m enjoying contributing to society in this new working way, but I’m missing contributing to my little society at home in my usual way.

I’m enjoying this new way of being useful, but I’m missing the old way I made myself useful.

I’m enjoying knowing that with full time work the possibility of private school for my boys could once again be a reality, but I’m missing the way Vince used to say ‘umm, no’.
No wait.
I’m not missing that at all!

What I do know for sure, however, is that it’s during these confusing times that I am most clear about one very important thing – God is in control. All I need to do, is admit that I can’t go at this alone, and open up my heart to God’s guidance and will.

I know that like most things in my life, this feeling of fear and doubt shall pass, and things will work themselves out. I’m going to have to be a grown up and really figure out how I’m going to make being employed and family work for me again. I’m going to have to let go.

Not in a Frozen, kill me, kind of way. But in a this is real life kind of way.

I’m a control freak. No, really? You say.

If being a Christian and a control freak, sounds like an oxy-moron to you, it’s because it is. I’m just a stubborn slow learner.

I have a very hard time letting Jesus take the wheel, if you will. But in the end, as all of my life experiences have proven to me time and time again, if I let go, things work out in the end. Not always in the most pleasant way, but in the way they were meant to.

So all this rambling to say, this is a new journey for me and my family.

It will all work out in the end.

I just need to let it go.

Because, truth be told, the cold never really bothered me anyway.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

And that’s a lie.

I hate the cold.