Monday, October 29, 2007

Get your JOY on!

I recently challenged some people in an online community to join me in a week of finding JOY in their lives. I was finding that all people were talking about was how miserable or challenging their lives were. When you only dwell on the negatives naturally your troubles become insurmountable problems. You dread every task, chore, waking up in the morning and facing your day because you are feeding yourself with dread and woe. We, in North America, have so much to be thankful for and even our worst day is nothing compared to the trials and tribulations that millions of people live with just meeting their basic needs. We are a bunch of spoiled brats who are not content with what we have. We want the magic fix to our situation and we don't want to do the work because it requires effort. Where is our joy?

My challenge was:

I am challenging you to spend the next week with me getting your JOY on! Let's be joyful in spite of our circumstances and in the face of our challenges. We are children of the King of Kings yet we mope around moaning about our troubles. We get stuck drowning in our sorrows. We pout because it is not fair that bad things happen to good people. I know some of you are thinking "but you don't know what mountain I am facing, you can't imagine what it's like to live my life". I may not have walked your exact road but I know that every one of us have challenges that can seem insurmountable. What we have in common is that the battle has already been won for us. We need to walk in the victory that is ours and be filled with the JOY of the Lord. Are you with me??? Can you find something to be joyful about today, tomorrow and the days that follow? I think that the reward of this challenge will be felt in your homes and your relationships by letting JOY control you rather than hopelessness, frustration, bitterness or disappointment.

".....the 'JOY' of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10

"Though you have not seen HIM, you love HIM; and even though you do not see HIM now, you believe in HIM and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious 'JOY' "
1 Peter 1:8

Joy, love, are and appreciation are powerful motivators. They are all feelings that humans experience around the heart. Joy is a feeling of pleasure or delight that arises from the heart. Positive feelings are what make life worth living. ~Deborah Rozman

This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can.
~ George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When Did Everyone Become so Afraid?

I like to think that I'm educated. I went to university and I worked in the legal field... yeah that was 10 years ago and I've been watching soaps and eating bon bons for the past decade. (insert sarcastic eye roll and for those who don't get sarcasm I don't watch soaps... even Desperate Housewives is too mindless for me). I read alot of news on the net, keep up on current events, documentaries and educational tv. I read the newspaper and know what is up in my community, my own little world. The Hero and I discuss these things too. I like to think I'm open minded. I have my own ideals and morals. I walk a path of faith that is different from many of my friends yet I have friends from many walks of life. Perhaps some would judge and say I am compromising my own beliefs by not only being around like minded = same people but I don't think so. I hope if you asked any of my friends, who are different than me, they would be able to tell you who I am and what I stand for.

Recently I have heard some things that have blown my mind. Not because they are necessarily crazy, wild thought processes (at least not all of them) but the fact that the defense of those ideas is so virulent. When questions for clarification and understanding of the thought process are met with stonewalling, accusations and non-answers it puzzles me to no end. To be blown off with answers that I'm not them so I can't understand, well that insults my intelligence. I may not agree with them in the end but a respectful answer of questions with factual information is never a bad thing. That is how we become more understanding of each other, more.... dare I say that word....tolerant.

It seems that we judge first to avoid judgement. We are only concerned with the affect on our own life and not how it touches those around us. We become afraid of our governments and forget that we have a voice in creating them. We have a voice to stand against things without fear of persecution. We have FREEDOM!!! So if we are free why are we so afraid? What has sent people into hiding? We have all the information in the world at our finger tips but we take little snippets and run with them. (all the warnings of false things in my email box and the need for snopes is evidence of the amount of crap info online) We take things at face value and forward them onto the world. When did we stop asking questions? When did we stop demanding answers and facts and just take "because I said so" as truth? When did we become too afraid to share our beliefs and passions without putting ourselves on defcon 1 status first? When did learning and discussing become such a war? I remember a day when I would learn so much from a hot discussion about something, with several sides passionately giving us their views. Now you just get "you aren't one" so you can't possibly understand. So when did we become so afraid of those who don't think like we do, don't believe like we do, don't live like we do???

The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. This is no time . . . to keep silent. ~Edward R. Murrow

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Love this!!!

My heart is hurting...

La Diva takes piano through a community music initiative. They utilize a church for the lessons. The Hero has taken her to most of her lessons so far. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to take her and sit quietly in the sanctuary while she played. I did my busy work for that time and had some time to spare so I decided to flip through the hymnal to look for some hymns I remember from my childhood. I grew up in that denomination but we left when they started going sideways with their teachings. Anyway... I was in a girls group called Explorers and our song was "This is My Father's World" so I looked it up and was so sad to find that they had changed the words "This is God's Wondrous World". Then I flipped through to find other hymns that traditionally contained reference to Our Father had also been changed. The saddest to me was finding a new version of the Lord's Prayer in the back of the hymnal... it starts "Our Father-Mother who art in heaven.."

I knew that they were going to all inclusive language. In fact, I worked for a lawyer who was defending my former Pastor against the presbytery because he refused to teach their new doctrine. It was seeing it in black and white while I was feeling nostalgic for hymns from my childhood that really hit me with the full force of it. It was very odd to me how much it shook me last night. I've known about this road they were taking for years as it started when I was in high school. I watched my parents and other members of our church fight against it, watched old timers leave all church forever, watched my parents surf from one church to another trying to find a home, saw myself turn my back on everything I grew up believing in my late teens and early 20s. Now at 39 years old it hits me like a ton of bricks. Perhaps it is the memory of how it shook my faith, how I saw hypocrisy in Christianity for the first time, how I saw brothers and sisters in Christ divided in ways that I never thought possible. Since coming back to the Lord the cry of my heart has been:

Psalm 133: 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Sadly, that seems a hopeless goal. Sadly, I often see "Christians" treating each other worse than I see those of "the world", as we like to say, treating their fellow man. Sadly, the hypocrisy has become greater since that moment in my life. Sadly, their I times when I wish I could love the Lord as I do but not be lumped into that group that is labeled "Christian" as sometimes the actions of myself and others shame me.

I guess seeing it all with my own eyes in a hymnal, that red book of familiarity found in the back of every pew of any church of this denomination, that book that kept a little girl from fidgeting too much during service from the time I could read the words therein... seeing it in that book somehow made it real to me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I wasted my whole recess saving a life and well.... I must be a celebrity

Ice came home from school on Thursday and he was rather worked up. First off, he tells us how he wasted his entire lunch recess, that is the long one you know, saving someone's life. Apparently one of the Kindergarten students forget to take his asthma inhaler along with him. It is not clear to me whether Ice was given the inhaler to take to this boy in Kindergarten or he was sent on the mission to help find him. His view of the events were that he spent his whole recess looking for this boy in order to save his life. He was dead serious about the life saving part but he was also completely bent about the wasting of the recess. It was an intense recounting of the events of the day. Kodiak let out a giggle that he couldn't stifle and that set him off in a fit of tears. "I did have to save his life!! It is NOT funny!"

While unloading his agenda and homework folder I discover a picture of a fire truck with Ice's first and last name written on it but it is not his printing. So I ask him about it and he says that someone slipped it under the classroom door and he has no idea where it came from. He shrugs and says "I guess I must be a celebrity or something". LMBO On Friday, he discovered another drawing with the same printing on his desk. He has resigned himself to it being the price of fame. He is in a firefighter calendar after all. Oh the life of a grade 1 lifesaver and celebrity!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Heroes in the Sky!!

WHEW!! It's over, we made it through the weekend. I was very proud of my Hero. He pulled off a great event against some odds. I don't think even he realized how much of our life was wrapped up in this until this weekend. The Hero and his buddy Shrek worked so very hard to get this off the ground and keep it going. Shrek singlehandedly sold the lions share of calendars and it was inspiring to watch him in action. They did a fabulous job and I hope they both get the credit that is due them. Even though they will each say "it wasn't us, it was everyone". Yes they had a great deal of help but they put in very long days and it really would not have happened without them.

I was amazed at how the Heroes in the Sky campaign, coupled with the attention of the press and the public, took the departments morale from an almost flatline with blips of moaning and complaining to a full charged, strongly beating heart of pride and excitement. It was awesome to watch the transformation in the guys. They all appeared a little taller by the end of the weekend. I've always said that the most important thing for a volunteer firefighter is having the respect of their peers and their community. They were able to experience that on a whole new level this weekend. They could see that it didn't matter what town was on their crest it only mattered that they were a firefighter.

One of the most touching moments of the weekend was when a tearful young woman came in with a handful of money. She wanted to show her gratitude for what they did for her brother. Her brother was a young man who lost his life in a motorcycle accident in a neighboring town. The volunteers of that town's department worked hard to save him. She needed a tangible way to express her gratitude and that opportunity came this weekend. She didn't want to purchase a calendar and her moment of contact was brief but I imagine that as much as it humbled the guys it was a cathartic moment for her. It didn't need to be the particular group of individuals that worked on her loved one, it just needed to be someone from the brotherhood of firefighters to hear her thanks.

This week is Fire Prevention Week. So while you are checking to ensure you have the proper smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers and practice your escape plan remember the firefighters in your community. The odds are high that the group of brave men and women that are tasked to keep your community safe are volunteers. Show them the respect and appreciation they so richly deserve.

I'll add some pictures later... must get to my neglected house. Eek!!!!