Christmas gifts that make a difference

gifts that make a difference

“True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life,” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands–whether of individuals or entire peoples–need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.” ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed We all like to support our favourite organizations, especially at Christmas. My firm belief is that true charity should empower. So much of charity work is done with good intentions, but with the ultimate result of leaving more people dependent on handouts, or worse. Donating reams of old clothing and shoes to the developing world? This puts many local tailors and clothes stores out of business. Donating infant formula? This causes babies to sicken as the formula is mixed with dirty water, … Read More

lessons from the potty chair: the spirituality of potty training

frog potty training

I was dreading potty training my third son. He’s quite stubborn and he doesn’t talk so I was expecting a horrible weekend*. But as with anything mandatory with kids, I jumped in and did it anyway. Partway through the day I had this sudden realization that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, and not because he was miraculously potty trained in 5 minutes. (he wasn’t, just to clarify) I had this little epiphany: God is helping me. He is giving me wisdom and patience (LOTS OF IT) and energy so that I can continue the dreaded P-Day with joy. The revelation surprised me, because I had not thought to pray about potty training. It is easier to remember to call on God when I’m working at church, or leading a Bible study, or praying with my kids. But perhaps I had compartmentalized my … Read More

Why I’m not going trick-or-treating this Halloween

halloween pumpkins

The black and yellow wings tugged at my shoulders and the tights scratched my legs. Little bits of sugar clung to my chin as I peered behind my grandma passing out candy to the neighbor kids. We were passing out candy and in my preschool mind, Costumes + Candy = Best.Day.Ever. But except for the one time I helped my grandparents pass out candy, my family didn’t really *do* Halloween. Most years we avoided the issue altogether by hiding in the basement, and other years we had a fun family night at the indoor amusement park. One year we attended a “harvest festival” put on by a local church and I discovered that Pentecostals are a lot of fun. True story. As a teenager my friends weren’t terribly interested in trick-or-treating (although we were known to go Christmas carolling in mid-summer…) and as a young adult I helped out with my … Read More

Embracing the dual callings of Mother and Creative 

encouragement for the creative mom

On any given day a quick peek through Instagram or Facebook reveals perfectly decorated cakes baked for a child’s birthday, tutus sewn for princess daughters, artful photos taken of children, monogrammed blocks for a baby’s bedroom, art projects created by homeschool moms, graphics designed for ministries, and so many other creative projects all coming out of the overflow of my friends’ lives. Cooking gourmet meals, creating adorable crafts, creating songs and poems: they all make us feel alive. The ability to create sets us apart from the rest of creation and is a part of God’s glorious stamp on us. But is a mom actually allowed to be creative in the midst of motherhood, or should motherhood an all-consuming sacrifice? Must a woman set aside all creativity while raising children, or is there a space for her own individuality even in the midst of the long days of motherhood? Enter: Life … Read More

For the days when the striving is endless

striving up the endless stair of needs

Once upon a time there was a group of people who were enslaved by another race. For centuries, the enslaved were forced to grow crops and build cities for their masters.  They received no compensation or rights, beyond room and board. Generation after generation of people were born, lived, and died in slavery. Their children were taken, their workers whipped, their women threatened. As an enslaved people, they cried out for help. Someone heard, and He provided a way out. He drew the oppressed away from their oppressors and into a desert where they were free to worship their Rescuer and become a free nation. But then they looked around and realized that in the desert, there was no room and board. They had never been in charge of their own selves; they had only ever strained to please their masters. But now, their slavery seemed like sweet safety and predictability. As a newly freed people, they … Read More

the Christian word that makes people cringe

blessed

There it was again, right in the middle of my news feed. Some friends had bought a new house, and were saying how blessed they were. Blessed. That word gives me the willies. Like the friend who escaped a car accident with mere scratches, and they all said how blessed and protected she was. Blessed. Like the friend whose baby was born without defect. Blessed. Like the perfect family vacation to a hot place. Blessed. Like the women who was healed from cancer. Blessed. So what happens when the house doesn’t sell, the baby is born with Down’s Syndrome, there is no money for a vacation, and the person you need most in the world dies of cancer? Cursed? If all these good things are God’s blessings from his generous right hand, the flip side seems to be that all the bad things are the removal of his hand from us in a cosmic “screw you”. … Read More

when God asks you to do something crazy

A Bible study on Esther with a surprising personal twist.

Have you ever met someone who has had an incredibly hard life? Maybe you know someone who was in the foster care system, shuffled around from home to home so that she could never firmly attach to anyone. Maybe you know someone who was abused by a parent as part of a generational cycle of sin and despair. Maybe you know someone so strong-willed that every person she ever met got into a fight with her. Maybe you know someone with paranoid schizophrenia, or bipolar, or a personality disorder, or ADD, or ADHD, or FASD, or autism. For some people, life is just plain hard. They have been given, through no fault of their own, poor raw material for their lives. Other people get fabulous raw material: strong family, intelligence, pleasant personality, and healthy body and mind. For some people, it’s easy to be good. They have been given, through no strength of … Read More

my boy wore nail polish: questions about gender roles and boxes

On gender roles and boxes

I only own two colours of nail polish: dark purple and silvery blue. About twice a year I paint my toenails because, well, FLIP-FLOPS! So one day when I was doing my toes, I offered to jazz up some little boy nails as well. They were quite thrilled about their spiffy new fingertips, and Cubbie was all over it as well when he got home from school. He was pleased as punch about his pattern: his right hand and left foot were blue, and the left hand/right foot were purple. He was pleased as punch until the next day when he got on the bus and two of his friends (one boy, one girl) emphatically told him “that’s a GIRL thing!” He was embarrassed and upset when he got home, but it sparked some interesting conversations. My husband, great dad that he is, reminded Cubbie that the most important thing about any … Read More

How to be an introvert parent…without killing your children!

How to be an introvert parent

Have you discovered that you’re an introvert parent? Never fear, there are ways to actually love and enjoy those little people that are constantly underfoot! The basic definition of an introvert is someone who needs to be alone to recharge their internal batteries. Of course, being a parent rarely gives one a chance to be alone. Many hilarious posts have been written about escaping from children in the bathroom, and of course, all parents can identify. But for the introvert parent, the struggle is even more real! So how on earth can one be a good parent when your very temperament demands space, both mentally and physically and family itself demands closeness, both emotionally and physically? The following are some of the things that have worked to bring sanity and joy into our own family…without needing to run away! 1) Expect that I will be stretched as an introvert parent. … Read More

A letter to my white, suburban friend (from a white suburban mom)

racism in the suburbs

Dear friend, You and I probably have a lot in common. I never had to think much about racism. I grew up on a block that was 99% white. The only kid I remember being slightly different was Aliya, although the most memorable part of her existence on our street was the trampoline we all coveted. There were two girls of Asian descent in my grade, but beyond that, everyone else that I knew was white. Church, school, piano classes…all very monochromatic. I didn’t intend to live in white suburbia when I grew up, but my husband was offered a job at a local school at a time when no one was hiring, so here we are, back in the same, mostly white community. It’s easy to be colourblind when there are no other colours around. It’s also easy to look at America now and see the pain and suffering caused … Read More