Archive for February, 2012

Today, February 29, 2012 (where I live), is Pink Shirt Day (pinkshirtday). It is a day when we are encouraged to wear a pink shirt, in support of the movement to stop bullying. I LOVE this day! I LOVE the outward expression to say, I will not tolerate bullying. Somehow, in putting on a pink shirt, says that you give bullying more than just lip service, but that you are willing to show how you feel, and think, publicly.

I will be wearing pink today.

We have all experienced bullying. Whether it was ‘just’ a little teasing when you were in preschool, or outright threats against your life, as a teen, you still remember it. You still remember where you were, what you were doing, who was with you, and maybe even what you were wearing. And you remember all of this because the bullying caused a trauma in your brain, and the scar of it’s bruising is permanent.

That is how bullying works, it is permanent. Even those who think that we make too much of bullying, can recall with perfect memory, a time when they were bullied. Maybe they feel it strengthened their character, maybe they feel it did not alter the course of their lives, and maybe they are right … but they do still remember it.

I love that media sources are fully behind this movement to eliminate bullying. But … I am not sure that they are fully committed to it.

Anyone who has heard news sources speak of pro athletes, celebrities, or other world personalities, knows that their presence in our society makes them fodder for harassment, gossip, and denigration. Somehow, in our society, we have decided that bullying is bad, but only if the one who gets bullied is not rich.

I disagree. How many wealthy public personalities have suffered at the hands of the stalking and bullying media? How many have lost their right to privacy? How many have lost their physical lives? The ‘reason’ for the bullying that they receive is usually that, they are public figures, and this is just the downside to all the perks that they get. Hum, if a student council president got bullied, would the bullier be able to use that excuse to justify his/her behavior? I think not.

Our media seems to have a Teflon coating. They seem to be able to dish out the harassment, gossip and denigration, but it is never their responsibility for what they say. They would say that they are simply giving the public what we want to know, about these famous people. As though it is our (or the media’s) right to invade the lives of others.

There is truth to their argument, too. The TV shows, the magazines, the websites, and the pictures of famous people that we ingest as a society are extensive. We seem, as a society, to have an insatiable appetite for the joys, sorrows and downfalls of the famous.

Maybe we need to not buy those magazines, watch those programs, subscribe to those websites that feature pictures and stories of individuals. We need to recognize the reality that bullying has probably been done to get the pictures, and the stories are often full of presumptions, and ‘anonymous’ tips from ‘insiders’. Maybe we need to take responsibility for our ‘second hand bullying’ by viewing and reading these materials.

Maybe wearing a pink shirt, while denigrating the players on our favorite sports team, or reading the latest on ‘Brangelina’ in a magazine is actually rather … hypocritical? Maybe we need to start looking at celebrities through the same lens that we would want to be viewed. Maybe we need to “do to others as we would want them to do to us” (Luke 6:31) … THAT is the golden rule that would end bullying forever, and for everyone!

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Normally I do not think of my errors as regrets, but as mistakes that have taught me, and have caused me to grow. Lately, though, a regret from the past has been … haunting me. I awake, and think of it. I lay my head down at night, and think of it.

The regret I refer to is one that, if I were to speak of it when face to face with another, my eyes would tear up, my throat would swell, and my sorrow be felt throughout my body. My regret is for an error I made, when I did not speak up for someone who was being taken advantage of, someone who was being harassed, someone who was being bullied. I … regret my lack of action.

This regret is not one from my distant past. It is not one from my childhood or teen years. It is not from when my kids were little. It is a full blown adult regret. I could have stood up for another, I should have stood up for another, and I didn’t.

I expect that there is purpose in my remembering it lately. Maybe, the lesson for me is that I need to ensure that I never repeat my inaction. I need to ensure that I do not keep silent when I see or hear others being bullied. I need to be on the lookout for times when I might be able to speak up, for those who are being treated poorly.

When I think of my learning this lesson, I think of Isaiah 43:18-19 (to the right). Although I could never forget the regret I actively feel for my past mistake, I believe that God is doing something new in my heart, and in my life through the practice of not remaining silent. And with each action I take, I feel new, I feel renewed … as though by turning away from my past lack of action, I am being refreshed like a dried up river being watered in a dry wasteland.

Doing what is right … it can be hard to make the first step, but, once you do it, you (and, for me, the person you are speaking up for) will be energized by your right action.

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A few weeks past we had a group of friends over to watch the Superbowl. It was a fun day of eating (too much), talking, laughing and even a bit of watching the game. One of the families that we had over, has a son named Ben, who is six. We also have a son named Ben, who is twelve.

I love it when ‘Big Ben’ and ‘Little Ben’ (as we call them, and as they call each other) are together. I am not sure what it is about Little Ben that brings out a different side, a sweeter, more nurturing, more patient side of our Big Ben. It is as though there is an invisible force between these two boys that draws them together.

Our Ben wants to play with Little Ben, and is willing to play what Little Ben wants. He also loves to teach Little Ben new things, or show him cool videos. We do tell our older kids, when visitors with younger ones are coming over, to make sure that they feel comfortable and welcomed, but Big Ben’s responses to Little Ben are tender, kind and he is eager to be with him. There is just something ‘kindred’ in how they relate to each other.

Maybe it is that they share a name, or maybe it is that they are both youngest, or maybe it is because they are both the only sons in the family. Whatever it is that brings them together like opposite ends of magnets, I do not know, but I feel energized, encouraged and pleased to see them together.

Seeing Ben and Ben together reminds me that it is not always when we are with our ‘natural’ (similar aged) peers that we shine the brightest. They do not always tap the best in us. They do not always make us better.

As the mom of the bigger Ben, I am so proud of how he treats Little Ben. I am reminded of the good that he can share with others, and I see a glimpse of who he is in the eyes of God. And, in His words, Ben is my (beloved) son, and in him I am well pleased.

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Just come, darling, I will have everything ready when the three of you arrive,” Amara said to Joy, and then the line went dead.

Joy hung up the receiver, and felt strangely excited about heading over to her mother’s home for a sleep over with her daughters. Oh, when was the last time that she had spent a night at her mother’s house? Whenever it was, Joy could not recall.

She set about to ready herself for a night out. She sent a quick email to Joe to let him know where they would be, in case he called them, but that would probably not happen.

As she told each of the girls what they were doing the girls expressed complete surprise and elation. It was as the girls were packing their individual bags that Joy realized that she had not seen that level of excitement in either girl, in a very long time. Jilly even offered to assist little Jessica with her packing. So, Joy set about packing her own bag. How very out of her nature was such a spontaneous act for Joy.

It took no time at all for all three to prepare, and pile into the family vehicle. Joy loved her 1998 Volkswagon Beetle, in a conservative, but metallic, blue. It reminded her of the one her grandparents owned, and drove all the way to Disneyland. She remembered the games she played on the trip with them. Games her Gramma called the Bug games, and they included ‘Punch Bug’, ‘I Spy with my Little Eye, a Bug that is … (a color)’, ‘How Many Bugs in … (a city)’ and so many more. The memories of that trip left Joy with a deep affection for VW Beetles, because they reminded her of her dear Gampa and Gramma.

“Mom, you need to put it in reverse if we are going to move,” came a cheeky comment from Jilly in the passenger seat of the car, jarring Joy back to the present.

“Momma, you are becoming like Nanna,” came Jessica’s voice from the back seat.

Oh, what a fear entered Joy upon hearing Jessica compare her distraction to her mother. Jessica did not know or understand that her Nanna had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. She did not know or understand the fear that Joy was feeling for her own future, and the futures of her daughters. She simply said something that made sense to her, at the moment. An innocent comment, that Joy hoped was not Freudian.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I was just making a mental note that we packed everything that we will need for the sleepover tonight,” Joy lied, hoping it sounded convincing to her five and sixteen year old daughters.

When they arrived at the house, the lights were on all through the house, and the door was opened wide for them. The three grabbed their bags, and bounded up the stairs to the open door. Jessica racing ahead yelling, “Nanna, Nanna, I brought my forest animal picture book to show you.”

As Joy and Jilly reached the entrance, Jessica came running back to them, wide eyed, “Momma, Nanna isn’t here. I checked everywhere, but she is not home. Did she forget that we were coming for a sleeping over.”

“Oh Jess, she must be here,” Joy reassured her concerned girl. “Mom …” Joy called out. There came no response.

“Lets look for her.” Joy smiled down, figuring her mother might just be in the bathroom, or upstairs, or outside … although she could not imagine a reason why her mother would need to go outside at this time of night.

“How about you check this level, Jessica? Make sure you check in all the rooms. And Jilly, you check upstairs, and I will check outside. I am sure she is here somewhere around here.” Joy gave her instructions with great confidence that there was a good, if not unexpected, reason for her mother’s lack of response. That was her mother, unpredictable at the best of times. It made Joy smile, as she watched her girls go off, calling the name, Nanna.

They called their grandmother Nanna because Jilly so loved the story of Peter Pan. It was her favorite movie, as a little girl, and she decided that ‘Grandmother’ was not what she wanted to call her mom’s mother, anymore. She had decided to rename her, Nanna, like the big, protective dog in the film, who cared for the Darling family. Her Nanna also always called Jilly, darling, and so the renaming was done, much to the chagrin of Joy, who preferred the formal sound of Grandmother.

Joy searched and called out, all around the house, and in the garden. Her mother was nowhere to be found.

As she started up the stairs, the girls came out the door, looking concerned. “Mom, Nanna is not anywhere in the house. Did you find her?” Jilly’s concern showing on her face.

“We even checked her closets, and I checked under her sinks, and even in her sewing box,” Jessica said, breathless.

“There must be a good reason we cannot find her. Let me double check in here.” Joy said with a reassuring smile, but Jilly could tell that there was concern behind Joy’s smile. She saw something in her mother’s face that she had never seen before, fear.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 9

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A good old walk will clear any befuddled brain, and that is what I did when the rain halted, and the sun came out to fill us with it’s energy giving Vitamin D.

I was feeling good, and my beastie at my side was smiling (if you could see her face when we are out for a walk, or, for that matter when she hears the word WALK, you too would agree that she is smiling … but, I digress). The sky was actually a beautiful bright blue, a nice change from the shades of gray that we normally face here on the Wet Coast during monsoon season West Coast during winter.

I knew my brain was befuddled, because I kept making errors in my responses to people, as we walked. As one couple passed and said something complimentary about my beastie (which caused swelling of her head to the point that I had to grease her head just to get her back in the van … but, I digress), to which I replied, “oh, she thinks she is a laptop.” A laptop? Seriously? I had meant a LAP DOG, but that is not what came out of my mouth. Unfortunately, I did not realize my error of words until they were too far gone in the other direction for me to correct myself. I wonder how far they had gone before they realized what I had said? I wonder if they called emergency services to report a weirdo on the trail?

The walk was full of people with smiles on their faces, drinking in the sun and warm breezes. Most were shouting out happy greetings, and all commenting on the beauty of the day. This is a West Coast survival technique. It could have been raining for a month straight, but as soon as the sun comes out, so do all the people, smiling and declaring how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place, and that we do not have to deal with snow. I believe there is a psychological diagnosis here, waiting to happen (I’m betting that there are more prescriptions filled in the lower mainland for Prozac than the rest of snowy Canada combined! Again, I digress).

So, as I am passing happy person, after happy person, and to one I initiate a greeting, “good morning.” And in those two words, I have let it be known that I have, indeed, lost it. It is four in the afternoon! Sure one could make a mistake at one o’clock with saying good morning, but no, I did so a good four hours into the afternoon. What was worse was that I felt I needed to correct myself, but my verbal language skills were so lacking that I just sounded like I was speaking another language. I am sure the poor person kept walking, faster than before our chance encounter, figuring that I was on drugs! I began to question whether or not I might have had a stroke … but, alas unintelligible speech was my only symptom.

Sigh … this is why we frail human beings need to own a beast. They cannot understand more than three words (walk, eat, treat) in English, and they love us … in spite of our befuddled brains.

Maybe next time I will just let the beastie do the talking.


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It’s been a day. A day when I felt like a speck of dust. A day when I wish I was a speck of dust.

The weight of this day has been heavy, but it is not just the weight of this day. It is the accumulation of many weighty days. Days when the weight of the world (self-imposed and otherwise) is great. Days when the needs of others are well beyond my own ability to meet them. Days when my own needs are laying on a shelf gathering dust. Days when the sun hides behind the dark clouds. Days when the past looks beautiful, days when the past looks gray, and days when the future looks … foggy … cloudy … dusty. Days when my cup is empty and my burden is heavy. It’s been a day.

Focusing on the good, the beautiful, the light did not lessen the weight on my shoulders and on my soul. Foot tapping, smile-inducing music did not remove the heaviness. Even filling the bathtub with warm tears did not move the scales in a downward direction. The heaviness was here, and it was digging in it’s feet.

I yearned for a long exhausting, reviving hike with my Beast, on our favorite trail, with the sun shining down on our faces. I yearned for a wordless embrace. I yearned for someone to whisper, “it’s alright.” I yearned for that childhood game of blowing dandelion seeds into the air. When you would close your eyes, and make a wish, and blow all of the air within you, to ensure that your wish would come true.

That is the kind of day it has been.

I wonder, if I were a speck of dust, if I were a speck of dandelion dust, would I fear the unknown? Would I wonder where the air was going to move me next? Would I feel the weight of the world upon my soft shoulders? Or, would I just lay back and move with the current beneath me, trusting that it’s warm embrace would take me to a new and exciting future?

Few answers today, mostly questions.


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Ugh! No milk. There are five teenagers in our house, it is breakfast time on a school day and we are out of milk. Not only that, but there is no bread either! Then, I get into the van and see the gas gauge on empty!

Some days it seems as though we are constantly running out of the things we need most to survive. We awaken with too little energy. We have tasks to complete in too little time. We have bills with too little money to pay them. “Is there anything that does not run out?” We cry!

Dealing with life, means realizing that there will be times when we are running on empty. When we are students, it is our money that runs empty. When we are newlyweds, it is our adjustment to change that leaves us on empty. When we have little ones in our houses, it is our sleep need that is on empty. When our kids are older, it is our lack hours in a day that leave us on empty. When we get older, it is our physical limitations that leave us on empty.

This is life!

If we do not recognize that empty, in some form, is part of every stage of life, we are going to be miserable.

So, how do we survive a life of ’empty’? We plug in to the resource that is never on empty. For me, this song reassures me that there is one thing that remains …

(love the name of the church too 😉 )

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