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It’s Just a Red Cup . . . OR Is It?   Leave a comment

Starbucks_Holiday_Cups-lowres
I woke today to another battle, another call to action . . . social media full of rants on an extremely vital topic for today’s modern Christ-follower. The war of the red cup. The assault on Christianity by the absence of Holiday fare by Starbucks. Can we all take a step back and look at the big picture here?

Today there is a war on people. There is a war on Christians. And it’s not being fought with a red cup. 700, 000 migrants so far have reached Europe, hoping to escape persecution. Thousands more never made it. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911)

Ask this little boy’s family what persecution looks like . . . most of his family is dead . . . but ask the survivors . . . What were the options? He couldn’t boycott the local coffee shop and win his battle.
refugeeboy
Ask the families of these Christians . . . beheaded for their faith. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/news/video-1176709/ISIS-behead-shoot-30-Ethiopian-Christians-Libya.html) What were their options? No one was asking their persecutors to sign anything on the cup they were about to guzzle down. The only cup they got to drink was the cup of Christ’s sufferings. (Matt 20:22).
christians-beheaded
There are thousands more stories and pictures I could share here. Just google “persecution of Christians”. I PROMISE you that nothing about Starbucks or a red cup will show up on your search.

I’m not sure when North America became so spoiled. Maybe it always was, and I didn’t notice, because it’s all I knew. But it appears as if it’s become common practice to cry “persecution” every time a person or group doesn’t follow Christian values . . . to claim bigotry any time someone doesn’t agree with your stand. I have to wonder. What are we doing?! Do we really think this is persecution? Are we THAT melodramatic? I hate to say it, but I think maybe we are. I’m not saying persecution doesn’t exist on North American soil. It certainly does. I’m just asking for a little bit of perspective. Are you REALLY being persecuted by a red cup or when someone wishes you “Happy Holidays”?

Rachel Held Evans has a nifty little chart that can help you answer that questions:
http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/holidays-persecuted

If you’re pretty sure you aren’t being persecuted, but want to make sure you aren’t persecuting anyone else in your greeting, this should help you (http://www.joeydevilla.com/2013/12/08/the-flowchart-for-dealing-with-greetings-this-holiday-season/):
holiday-greeting-flowchart
As the Holidays near, the war to keep “Christ in Christmas” will certainly escalate. I wonder, though, should the battle be more about keeping “Christ in the Christian” and then He will be in EVERY DAY, including Christmas? But what about the war on Christmas?! There is a war . . . but it’s so much bigger than Christmas. It’s a war on humanity, and war on God’s creation . . . and war on God’s children. We’re over here fighting wars about cups, when there is a war on people. The war on Christianity is so much more subtle on North American soil than red cup and rainbow profile pictures. It is the battlefield of the mind, the battlefield of media, the battlefield of theologies and philosophies . . . battles that are mainly being lost due to “friendly fire”. What war are you fighting?

We were called to be a light in the darkness. There IS darkness. Ask yourself . . . are you a light in it? Light dispels darkness just by BEING what it was created to be. Are you BEING LIGHT or are you spending all your time shadow-boxing? This is where the battles are won or lost.

“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light”
Ephesians 5:8

Here are some highly rated organizations you can partner with to be light around the world:
www.savethechildren.org
www.samaritanspurse.org/
www.convoyofhope.org

You can find even more here:
www.charitynavigator.org

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Posted November 8, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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Why I Don’t Celebrate Halloween . . . And Neither Should You!   2 comments

halloween

I don’t celebrate Halloween. Right now, either you are applauding me or rolling your eyes . . . Ready for a history lesson on the pagan origins of Halloween? Well, I hate to disappoint. I think it’s common knowledge at this point that traditionally people dressed up in superstitious belief that it would scare away evils spirits. It’s also common knowledge that pagans, Satanist, wiccans, and a variety of other “non-Christian” groups do celebrate the spiritual forces they serve on October 31st . So, do you celebrate Halloween? Are you dressing your children as princesses, celebrities and super heroes as a tribute to Satan? Are you selling your soul for a night of candy and parties?

Well, I’m not, and chances are, neither are you. There is a good chance that you fall in one of two categories. Either you choose not to participate or you celebrate. Before you automatically put yourself in the “don’t participate” category, ask yourself something: Do you on or around October 31st attend a “Fall Fest”, likely including candy, games, and maybe even some bible character costumes? Why don’t you just bump yourself over to the celebrate category? The reality is, outside of hiding in your house with the blinds closed and the porch light off, you celebrate. You celebrate the same thing I do . . . and it’s not Halloween. Halloween is the label we use for a day, sometimes several days, of harmless decorations, costumes, and parties. It is only a true pagan or satanic holiday to a small portion of the population, and chances they won’t be celebrating the same way you are, at the same places. So if that’s not you, you don’t really celebrate the traditional Halloween of history . . . you celebrate something else, and so do I. Community. We celebrate community.

Have I always celebrated community on October 31st? No, I used to celebrate Halloween . . . in the sense that the history of the day always overshadowed my experience. I was one of THOSE kids. The kids that were pulled out of class if there was going to be any kind celebration that included dressing up, candy or pumpkins. I was one of those kids that thought up a different bible character each year to wear to the church “fall fest”. There was usually candy, but the price for it was being forced to watch a lengthy video about the history of Halloween, which, to be truthful, was absolutely terrifying for me. I was terrified of Halloween. Every shadow could possibly be a demon that has been summoned by the ungodly celebrations going on around me. There was so much fear surrounding the entire day for me . . . not only did I feel spiritually powerless, but it was also extremely socially awkward for me. So, as an adult, I’ve decided that Satan doesn’t get even a single day of my life. If there is a fun event in the community going on, I’m there with my child often leading the way . . . it doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, and I’m not going to let an entire day be dedicated to intentionally NOT doing something. I’m deeply confident that every plan I have to celebrate on October 31st will be spent surrounded by people who have a common interest in celebrating nothing more than community.

If you truly fit in the “don’t participate” category, I’m not trying to convince you that you SHOULD celebrate with your community on October 31st. I’m saying, let the rest of us off the hook. Stop telling me I’m less of a Christian because I celebrate. Knock it off, seriously. I completely support your decision to hang out at home, with your porch light off watching movies. I’m not asking you to agree with me, or even change your mind about it. I’m just asking you to maybe change your approach to those of us who do choose to celebrate. But how will they know we are Christians if we participate is such “worldly rituals”? John 3:35 tells us By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So if you are full of love sitting on your couch, or full of love running door to door . . . THEY WILL KNOW.

Let’s make a deal, how about if you don’t assume I’m celebrating a pagan Holiday as a Christian on October 31st, and I won’t assume that you worship the fertility goddess when you put up your Christmas tree? If you truly have convictions about not celebrating anything that was ever historically connected to Celtic traditions, paganism, druidism or idolatry, by all means, follow your convictions. I commend you. Be true to yours, and I’ll be true to mine. How about we all give each other space to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12)?

Regardless of what you choose to do on October 31st, I pray it is blessed and full of joy. I pray that the enemy doesn’t get a moment of glory in your words or actions, and that darkness is not glorified in any way. I pray that fear is far from you, that you are so full of love that fear can’t exist. I pray that you celebrate . . . daily . . . and that this day is no different.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Posted October 30, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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Making Mud Pies   Leave a comment

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”
There is a restlessness growing. We’ve tried to suppress it, medicate it, throw scripture at it, squash it. But it grows . . . a deep longing . . . a desire so strong and so deep it makes no sense. The longing for more. We’ve been taught to be “content” and bought into the lie that we have to be satisfied. But if we were to be truly honest, we would admit that while we may have found contentment, there is a much deeper longing that has gone unsatisfied. So why isn’t it working? Why isn’t it enough? What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we accept that life isn’t perfect . . . that illness is part of life, that covenant is so easily broken, that premature death must have “been God’s will”? We tell ourselves those lies, but do we really believe them? Do we truly believe that we can confine God to the box of our own experience? There is a part of all of us, so deep a longing and desire, that craves the way things “should be”. God put eternity in our hearts . . . HE PUT IT THERE:
“11 . . . He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.” ( Ecclesiates 3:11 Amp)
It’s uncomfortable. The tension between what scripture and our hearts says can be, and what, in this temporary moment, IS. Even this earth is groaning, as a woman laboring in pain, squeezing the hand of anyone near her . . . to the point of breaking. ALL OF CREATION IS GROANING. “22 For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for [the sign of] our adoption as sons—the redemption and transformation of our body [at the resurrection].” (Romans 8:22-23 Amp). Yet we run around trying to dull the ache, as though it can be dulled. We tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, that if we were more spiritual, we would be able to accept and embrace the death and destruction, and the aches and pains of this life. We weren’t meant to embrace it. We were meant to embrace God, we were meant to embrace eternity. But when experience doesn’t match that glimpse of heaven, deep in our hearts, we sit down in the mud puddle of life and decide that we might as well make mud pies, because that’s all there is. BUT IT’S NOT ALL THERE IS. Jesus taught us to pray: Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven”. (Matt 6:10) Is it possible that the very thing that you have been denying, is the very thing that God is rising up in you, to push you to cry out for His Kingdom to come to Earth? Is it possible that you are unsatisfied, because THERE IS MORE. Deep is calling to Deep (Psalm 42:7) . . . and it is calling louder and stronger.

We’re coming to a point in time where it will be impossible to continue to deny it. The groaning, the desire, the restlessness is growing stronger.  That piece of heaven stored in your heart, that glimpse of eternity . . . the dreams and hopes that you thought were dead, get ready . . . God is stirring them up for a reason. Things that you thought were dead, lost, gone . . . unredeemable . . . God is going to resurrect them. He’s calling them forth, just as he did at Lazarus’ tomb. You may have been looking for a miracle, for healing . . . but God is bringing RESURRECTION. He is calling to life parts of you and dreams you’ve had that died a long time ago. Don’t be afraid to stand with the Creator of the Universe and CALL THEM FORTH! RIP OFF THOSE GRAVE CLOTHES!!! It’s ok to be frustrated, it’s ok to be angry when life doesn’t line up with the word of God. You DON’T have to accept it. Jesus stood at Lazarus’ tomb was (John 11:38 Amp). The Creator of the Universe, already knowing that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, looked death in the face, got angry . . . deeply troubled . . . and said “enough is enough”. Your heart is saying enough is enough. God is saying enough is enough. THERE IS MORE! If you will just open your eyes and believe it, YOU WILL SEE IT! Stop believing that the mud puddles you have been playing in are all there is to life . . . that you might as well settle in and make the best of it. Even if it looks good now . . . it’s NOTHING compared to what God is about to bring. LOOK UP! It’s coming! Dream again! Believe again!

Posted October 25, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

The Intruder   1 comment

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He’s always been there.  As long as I can remember, I could feel him.  His overshadowing presence was familiar even in the womb.  As God was knitting me together, in all wonder, he was still there.  Those around me invited him, and I welcomed the familiarity.  His services served me well, or so I thought.  I was always prepared for the worst, and when it came I was ready.   Fear.  There were times he would turn on me, taunting me, tormenting me.  I would cry out for my Daddy God to tell him to leave me alone, and he always did . . . until the knock on the door came, and I was convinced that a little worry couldn’t hurt, and I opened the door.

The what ifs, the incessant planning, all quality time spent with this life long friend with terrible motives.  Nightmares, self-protection, control . . . all unwelcome gifts from him.  When life looked like the nightmares, it reiterated my need for his presence.  So I could be prepared, ready.  As I grew, his schemes became more obvious.  I learned I could live without him. I kicked him out of my life.  There were ways he had trained me:  Over-planning, incessant control, worry, all the worry, having to know everything I could about every situation to prevent any surprises.  Slowly, those things dropped away.

Then it happened.  Something I never imagined, something I wasn’t prepared for.  A hurt that wounded me in a way that I’ve never felt before.   A loneliness I wasn’t prepared for.  He came knocking, my narcissistic friend.  My Daddy God was enough for me, yet, for some reason, this familiar friend seemed so welcome.  So familiar.  The occasional indulgence wouldn’t hurt, but one visit and he was leaving his toothbrush in my bathroom.   Like an angry lover, abusive mate, I couldn’t satisfy him.  The incessant worry, the inability to silence his voice.  The nagging, perpetual, unrelenting.  Yet, so familiar.  He’ll always keep me prepared, protected, and in my place.  I didn’t realize that this is how I used him.  But it was a high price to pay.  Interfering with new experiences, new friendships, new challenges.

One greater than him wouldn’t stand it.  My Daddy God, who never left me,  would not tolerate such abuse. He had always been a greater friend than this other that hid in shadows.  His love made him disappear.  Yet when I lost sight of my Daddy’s love for me, there he was lurking.  And I tolerated him.  He wasn’t invited, but I didn’t fight to push him out the door.

One night strangled by the death grip of fear . . . fear of failure . . . fear of rejection . . . fear of not being enough or doing enough . . . fear of losing . . . fear of disappointing . . . I had enough.  Kicked out, clothes on the lawn, locks changed.  ENOUGH.  I thought that would be it . . . yet then came the knock.  I refused.  Not a worry, not a single replay of past situations or contemplation of threats to come.  So it grew louder.  Now on the windows, clanging.  Like a protagonist that was defeated, yet only to rise again when you aren’t looking . . . needing a final blow of determination.

All noise.  No power.  He was defeated two thousand years ago.  His power was always limited by the love of a real God that had been welcomed into my heart so many years ago.  God’s love so real, casting out fear. I’m not sure why worry is such temptation.  There are certainly more enjoyable addictions to have.  Yet it served it’s purpose as an addiction.  I may always have to battle the temptation to give in to fear, to a certain extent.  Right now, I have my 3 day chip.  Worry, control and excessive planning are old habits . . . habits being broken.  But if I fail, I don’t need to fear.  God’s grace has already covered the moments that are shadowed by doubt.  And my belief in His love for me is stronger than any doubt in my ability or worthiness.

2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

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I would love to hear from you!  Have you struggled with fear, worry or doubt?   Have you overcome it, if so, how?  How do you handle it when fear pushes it’s way in?  I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences and say a prayer for you!

photo courtesy of http://widehdwalls.com

Posted June 24, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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World Changer?   Leave a comment

changing-the-world

Are you a world changer?  Am I?

I always had lofty aspirations to be a glowing light in this world.  Be a missionary, teach to crowds, see people’s lives changed.  Growing up in an evangelical church, this meant one thing, full-time ministry.  Four years at Bible College, and I was equipped to change the world!  What was my first ministry job after graduating?  Let me give you a hint, it involved changing diapers . . . not baby diapers.  Pretty glorious and world-changing, right?  I had a full time position at a ministry that serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.  My internships and summer jobs had involved fun, creative things like Children’s ministry, Youth ministry, Theater Arts, camp recreation  . . . caring for the helpless wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, unless of course, it was with obscure tribe on the other side of the world!  So what am I doing now?  I’m working at a company for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  I’ve involved other ministries in between, including some full-time ministry . . . which was the original goal in my quest to change the world.  But now, it seems, I’m back where I started.   Before you tell me what a wonderful person I am for serving selflessly, you need to know that I’m not longer doing direct care.  I do billing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE my job.  I have a flexible schedule, I love the stability and the consistency, and I’m always able to find something that challenges me.  But on the world-changing scale, it seems to rate pretty low on effectiveness.

I’ve been so blessed by my job, that I didn’t realize that I had bought into a lie that had been nagging me underneath the surface.   What lie was that?  That I wasn’t making a difference.  I didn’t even realize it until a someone made an off-handed comment about my job that I took WAY to personally.  I interpreted through the lens of the lie that I’m not making a difference.  It’s not full-time ministry, it’s not even working with people directly . . . it’s billing.  I KNOW I’m where God has me, but where is my impact?  I was discussing with a friend tonight, my struggle with the questions of my influence on the world around me:   Have I done enough . . . am I doing enough . . . do I make a difference?  I didn’t get to finish my sentence when she exclaimed, “You are a world changer!  Your friendship changed my life!”.  Thankfully,  she meant in a positive way, but there’s a strong possibility that there are people I’ve impacted negatively as well.  No matter what our vocation is, we are changing the world of the people around us every day, in small ways and sometimes in big ways.  If you think you aren’t changing your world, then you’ve bought into the same lie.  If you have questioned whether you are a world changer, the answer is yes.  But that’s not the important question.  The important question is HOW are you changing your world?

I’ve asked myself this question.  How am I changing my world?

Am I having the most impact that I can have in this season, in my situation?  yes . . . and no.

Am I changing the world for the better?  yes . . . and no.

I am changing the world daily . . . and so are you.  I wish I could say that my impact was always optimal and positive, but it just isn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I can look at my life, and see how I’ve influenced and blessed people in different ways.  I know that I’m valuable because I’m valuable to Christ, but I also have a sense that I am valuable to others as well.  But then there are other moments, other relationships . . . the ones where I hurt someone, or was impatient or inconsiderate.  I changed the world, but instead of shining a light, I made it a little dimmer.  Thank God for His grace!  I’ve seen Him redeem relationships that were overwhelmingly dark and made them shine brightly.

Lately there are two things that have most greatly effected my impact, that influenced what kind of World Changer I am.

Offense:  There is nothing that shuts of impact and relationship like being offended.  If you have a relationship that leaves a bad taste in your mouth or seems volatile,  chances are that offense is at the root.  Are you praying for open doors?  For chances to be a world changer?  If there is offense in your life, then it will slam them shut.  (Proverbs 18:19: A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. )   Deal with the offense in your life . . . unforgiveness, bitterness, judgments, critical attitudes and see how it changes the world around you.

Fear:  I believe fear is the thing that holds us back from making a larger impact on those around us.  Fear of rejection and fear of failure are at the top of the list.  How many times have you failed to step out into something because of fear . . . or maybe stepped out, but didn’t give it everything you had?  For me, it’s countless times . . . many times I’ve stepped out, but carried fear with me.  It hindered my impact.

What is the biggest way to kick fear and offense in the teeth and be the World Changer you were designed to be?

1 John 4:18 tell us “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love“.  Walk in love?  Can it really be that simple.  I’m becoming more and more convinced that it is.  If you walk and Christ’s love, understanding who He’s created you to be, there nothing to fear.  If you walk in love towards others, there will be no room for offense.   I’m not saying that it won’t be a process.  Walking in love is a daily choice.  Any moment you fail to walk in love, you can choose love in the very next moment.

I love how 1 Corinthians 13 breaks it down for us.  It changes the focus.  It doesn’t matter what gifts you have or what you can do, if you aren’t living in the reality of God’s love, you aren’t changing the world the way God has called you to.

13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [a]to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; [b]bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of [c]prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I [d]became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror [e]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the [f]greatest of these is love.

So, what kind of World Changer are you?

Posted June 21, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

50 Shades of Broken   2 comments

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I’m not going to tell you what you should do or shouldn’t do. I’m going to tell you what I couldn’t do, what I won’t do and why. 50 Shades of Grey . . . you’ve heard of it right? The wildly popular AND controversial trilogy. Now it’s coming to the big screen and it’s causing a stir, again. I’ve heard people for it, against it and in between. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the 6th chapter. It literally made my stomach churn. Before you give me credit for feeling deeply convicted about reading the risqué dialogue, I need to confess that it was the entire nature of the relationship between the main characters, Christian and Anastasia.
So, why is a poorly written book about a dysfunctional couple so popular. Is it the tantalizing sex scenes? That may be a large part of it, but I think that is just the symptom of a much larger issue. Society is broken. Who doesn’t love a good romance? And we all know that sex sells. But “broken”? Probably not what you expected to read. I come from a background of brokenness. By the grace of God, those wounded places are healed and they don’t carry sting anymore. I’m whole, and am becoming more whole every day. To return to a state of brokenness, or to dabble in it, even in thought, isn’t an option for me.

Here’s why I couldn’t finish the first book and why I won’t see the movie:
Broken isn’t romantic or sexy. Have you ever been in a relationship with a controlling person? Personal, work, family . . . any relationship. Think about what it felt like? To feel like in order to maintain the relationship, you have to give up any say. To fear doing the wrong thing. To be emotionally or even physically “punished” for simple mistakes. To fear being rejected if you failed to please the other person. Maybe you’ve experienced a romantic relationship like that, or not. But imagine giving that person everything you have, entrusting them with your LIFE. Pretty scary isn’t it? Not so romantic anymore. When did we start convincing ourselves that jealousy, control and manipulation were indicators of true love? It took years for me to heal from a controlling relationship. Unpredictable anger and jealousy is NOT sexy, it’s scary. Living in fear of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and having to face the repercussions of it . . . not romantic. AT ALL. Fear can’t exist where there is true love. (2 John 4:18). Not only is that relationship broken, but BOTH people who have opted to co-exist in that kind of relationship are broken.

Bandaids can’t fix broken. Romance novels, pornography, fantasy . . . it all provides a means of escape from the mundane, discontent, ache for MORE . . . the longing to feel ALIVE. Yet, instead of driving us to fill that ache with God, too often we fill it with anything else that we can. We find other things to make us feel alive, when God can truly give us LIFE. We use bandaids to heal what’s broken . . . and it doesn’t fix a thing. In fact, it can make us desperate. So often we run to “socially acceptable” vices, because it’s easy to be convinced that it’s “not so bad”. This book, this movie, is socially acceptable, for the most part. Just look at book sales and pre-movie sales. It’s already passed Twilight in pre-sales. It speaks to the parts in women that visual pornography appeals to in men, yet more socially acceptable. “Mommy porn”. It’s makes people feel alive . . . temporarily. Even fictional Anastasia identifies the longing of wanting to feel alive, and what she is willing to do to have it. “I don’t want to lose him. In spite of all his demands, his need to control, his scary vices, I have never felt as alive as I do now. It’s a thrill to be sitting here beside him. He’s so unpredictable, sexy, smart, and funny. But his moods…oh—and he wants to hurt me.” (James, E.L 355). She is willing to sacrifice whatever she needs to, including her physical safety, in order to apply that  to the festering wound of inadequacy. As a society we are settling for so much less than the healing and wholeness God has for us. I love what C.S Lewis says in Weight of Glory, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Broken can’t fix broken. It’s so tempting to buy into the idea that if we just love someone enough, we can help them, we can fix them. Its part of the romance isn’t it? That through Ana’s “love” she “fixes” Christian. I’ve been guilty of it. If only I did this, or said that, or looked this way, then I could please that person and everything would be all right. Have you ever known anyone who is obviously outwardly fighting battles that leave them in a state of brokenness? Ever known an addict? Not just drugs, or alcohol, but the more socially acceptable addictions like work, people-pleasing, relationships and food. You can give someone all the love and support possible, but you can’t “fix” them. In fact, that “fixing” and “making everything better” behavior, can be very destructive. For every addict or every abuser, you will generally find at least one, if not several “enablers”. An enabler is “one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior”. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enabler .Sound familiar? Like Anastasia? Maybe even like you. I remember living in a perpetual state of running around cleaning up someone else’s mess, lying for them, hiding their behavior, taking the consequences. It was exhausting and didn’t fix a thing. In fact, it broke me more. If it were a real relationship, Ana and Christian would have eventually spiraled to self-destruction. “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matt 15:14. So, broken people attracting broken people. We just need to fix ourselves then, right? Nope. Most recovery programs include a step that is some version of this: “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable” (Baker, 12).
Broken people break people. The most alarming thing for me about the storyline in 50 Shades of Grey, is that it perpetuates a very dangerous deception. I was abused as a child. One of the major things I had to learn again was to trust myself and my ability to hear God. I had been “groomed” to mistrust my instinct, and to ignore or minimize abuse. “Grooming is a tactic of overcoming the survivor’s defenses by slowly desensitizing his or her natural reaction to abusive behaviors . . .Grooming works by mixing positive behaviors with elements of abuse. At the beginning, all behaviors are positive. Slowly, abusive elements are added in amounts that surprise the survivor to an extent, but do not push alarm to a high level. Overtime, the inappropriate comes to feel normal.” (Michael Samsel). Not only is this a classic strategy that Christian uses in his relationship with Anastasia, but the glorification of this type of behavior is actually grooming the audience . . . to be more accepting of sexual perversion, violence, and blatant violation of rights. Author of Crazy Love, Leslie Morgan Steiner lived through extreme domestic abuse. She addressed the question “Why didn’t she leave?”, the answer was that even though she was being beaten, thrown down stairs, guns to her head, she didn’t know she was being abused. Instead, she was “a very strong woman deeply in love with a troubled man”. Romantic, right? More like deadly. You can hear more about her story at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1yW5IsnSjo. Domestic violence is more common than you would imagine. More than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/).  Not convinced that has anything to do with 50 Shades? Think I’m over reacting based on my own past brokenness? The fact that the series has come under fire from the BDSM (Bondage & Discipline / Domination & Submission / Sadism & Masochism) community should tell you something. The community touts the relationship in 50 Shades as abusive and a blatant misrepresentation of BDSM. Yet, the general population is embracing it as a beautifully sexy romance. Women’s organizations and shelters everywhere are calling for a boycott of the movie, based on the abusive nature and glorification of violence and rape. Not sure if something you are experiencing is abusive? The National Domestic Violence Hotline website is an excellent resource, and gives specific descriptions of abusive behavior. http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/#tab-id-3. If you’ve read the book, you will see Christian’s behavior detailed in several different categories.
God fixes Broken. We’ve all experienced brokenness in our lives. God wants to heal every broken area, including sexuality. It’s a subject that has been taboo throughout history, but is so much a part of our identity. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” 1 Corinthians 6:18. Just think back to through your life, what are the deepest wounds you experienced in a romantic relationship? Chances are that the most emotionally charged memories are tied to someone you connected with sexually (including kissing and touch). God can heal every part of you. Even the most painful memory. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18. Wherever you are, there is hope. If you are in a situation where you are questioning whether you are being abused, please, talk to someone you trust, tap in to local resources, and at the very least follow the link to the National Domestic Violence hotline provided above or call 1-800-799-SAFE.

One shade of Grey

Poster photo used with permission. Courtesy of http://the6thsiren.tumblr.com/Comic used with permission,Tatsuya Ishida http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2012-06-21Baker, John. Celebrate Recovery. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998
James, E L. 50 Shades of Grey. New York : Vintage Books, 2012
Michael Samsel (http://www.abuseandrelationships.org/Content/Behaviors/grooming.html)
James, Susan Donaldson. (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/bdsm-advocates-worry-fifty-shades-grey-sex/story?id=17369406)
“Enabler”. Merriam-webster.com. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2015, Web. 29 January 2015.

Posted February 13, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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Those Weird Homeschoolers   Leave a comment

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You’ve heard about them, right? “Those weird homeschoolers”? I have. I’ve found myself in a few conversations lately, where these infamous “weird homeschoolers” came up. People with kids in public schools and homeschooled alike have talked about these mysterious creatures. Some assume all homeschooled kids are “those weird homeschoolers”, and then are shocked when they find amazing well-balanced kids that happen to receive an education at home. Some are even parents or kids who have opted to homeschool, but are battling the “weirdness” misconception. They find themselves informing people that while they may homeschool, they’re not “those weird homeschoolers”. In these recent conversations, I found myself agreeing, strongly, about avoiding being like “those weird homeschoolers”. I got to thinking, who exactly are these people? These weird homeschoolers? I mean, I know several people who homeschool their children, but I wouldn’t label them as weird. In fact, they are some of the most balanced, involved, social, loving kids that I know. So, I did a little digging to find out a little bit more where that perception comes from, and whether it’s accurate. Since this is a blog, I don’t have to stock it full of facts and percentages that would bore you anyway. I’m going to introduce you to a few concepts and a few extraordinary people that all have something in common: Homeschool.

People are weird.  Humans in general are weird. Just take a look at your Facebook, Instagram or twitter feed. Some more weird than others . . . but we are all quirky or different in our own way. We have habits like asking people to smell something because it stinks, and they willingly smell it. Ewww! But we do it. Someone says a picture is disturbing or gross and we just HAVE to see it. Yep, weird. My daughter was reading a book to me, and as she’s reading, she tries to stick her big toe in my nose! Public school education, right there! Still weird. Look around you, go to a public place. Guaranteed, you will see something you could easily classify as weird especially if you go to Walmart! If you don’t, just go find a mirror, and there you have it! But since when is weird a wrong, undesirable thing? I guess it depends on your definition.

“Homeschoolers” ARE weird . . . well, kinda. I was curious and looked up the actual definition of weird . . . and you will see all of my favorite homeschoolers are included in the second part of the second definition. “Of strange or extraordinary character” (check it out for yourself: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weird). None of them are strange, but they are ALL extraordinary. Don’t worry, I’ll introduce you to them in a minute!

It’s not nice to call people weird. I know, I just finished calling homeschoolers weird, but I only mean the extraordinary character part of the definition. Usually when someone is referred to as weird, it’s definitely not a compliment. Ok, you may be more politically correct and refer to people as “different”, but it’s all the same thing. I actually think the whole concept of “those weird homeschoolers” is rooted in ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to view other cultures from the perspective one’s own. It’s the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture. Ouch, right? I’m right there with you. But really, think about it, if we aren’t talking about the not-weird homeschoolers we know, who are we calling “those weird homeschoolers”? Close your eyes and picture what they look like in your mind, what they do, who they are. Chances are they have a different religion or culture from your own. What we label as “weird” is actually the part that is culturally different from our own. I moved to Texas from Canada. Let me tell you, I was on the wrong end of Ethnocentrism, and it didn’t feel good. There were moments that I thought if I heard another unfavorable Canadian “joke”, I thought I might throat punch someone! Don’t worry, I’m not innocent either. I spent my first several years in Texas rolling my eyes at cultural things that didn’t make sense to me. It’s not loving, it doesn’t promote unity, and it’s just not nice.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me introduce you to some very extraordinary people!

10847845_10203234591174128_5426312171468632723_n LeAnne, 17 and Joey, 12
LeAnne plays the Viola and Piano. She’s participated in several missions trips, including trips to Mexico and Spain and has another planned to Kenya this summer, where she will work in an orphanage school. She plans to get her teaching degree and hopes to work with Mercy Ships in a couple of years.  Joey plays the cello, piano, guitar and is learning the banjo. He leads worship in the middle school class at church on Sunday and Wednesday night. He participate in a missions trip to Mexico this past Christmas. He has just started a club based on the book “Do Hard Things” They are currently working on memorizing a book of the Bible and setting up a bake sale to earn money to send to missionaries in Tibet. Both LeAnne and Joey perform in a Youth Symphony.
beddingfield 2 Jasey 17, Jewel 15
Jasey has her own line of repurposed glass art and produces commissioned portraits. She works part-time at Gift of Grace, a ministry resale shop. She plans on attending art school and obtaining a business degree. She would like to start her own production company and primarily be a concept artist. Jewel is active in youth activities that include singing with the worship team, traveling with missions groups, and backpacking wilderness trips. She volunteers at Gifts of Grace as well and concentrates on visual merchandising. She loves children and enjoys opportunities to babysit, teach and chaperone as needed. She loves fashion and shopping. She plans on attending cosmetology school and obtaining a business degree. She would like to start her own business and be a one stop shop for clothing, art, hair, skin and nails.

mikki family 2Clara 7, Nate 6, Maya 4.
Clara, Nate and Maya participate in a Christin education group called Classical Conversations, weekly. They study Latin, science, history, timeline, geography, Bible, English grammar, math, nature study and fine arts (music/musicians study & art/artist study). All 3 children participate in Artsview Children’s Theatre (http://www.artsviewchildrenstheatre.com/)  Clara takes piano lessons. They connect with multiple homeschool groups and participate in a variety of field trips.
FultonsJordyn 14, Caleb 10
Jordyn and Caleb keep active and enjoy travelling. Their homeschool experience has allowed them the flexibility to participate in things like snow skiing at Tahoe, hiking Yosemite,swimming in Mountain lakes and rivers, motorcycle trips with Dad, camping in the mountains, cliff diving, and whatever other adventures come their way. They are both very active in the church plant started by their parents, called Church Alive (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Church-Alive/850153701672542). Jordyn serves in Children’s church and is taking on the responsibilities of Children’s Pastor. Caleb is assisting as intern.
scontinosJulya 11, Jana 10, Micah 9, Emma 8, Camille 7, Bryce 7
Julya, Jana, Micah, Emma, Camille and Brice take private piano lessons. As their schedule permits, they participate and have participated in several athletic teams, including flag football, basketball, soccer, swim. All 6 participate in Artsview Children’s Theater. Julya is a Jr Apprentice at Artsview working with younger kids. She also participates in Cotillion. Julya, Jana and Micah also participate in online book clubs.
Pelaia familyBethany 17, Brittany 16, Breanna 13, Bryleigh 10 , Bryson 6
Bethany and Brittany participate in local theater at Artsview Children’s Theater, ballet, model for local photographers and are actively involved in their youth group (Switch: http://www.pathwaylongview.com/). Bethany leads worship on the Switch worship team, as well as singing with the Pathway worship team on Sunday mornings. Brittany sings on the youth worship team and has been involved with local theater for 3 years, holding several lead parts in their productions. Breanna is involved in Gem (dance competition team) and participates in ballet, pointe and jazz. Bryleigh is active with ballet, jazz and ballroom. Bryson also participate in a Kid’s ballroom class.  Mom, Laura, was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2014.  To follow her story and find out how to support her, please check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/morethanconquerorslaurapelaia

Pretty incredible, right?  I know you wonder . . . but what about adults?  Can they make it in “real life”.  Well, I have some more amazing people to tell you about, and they just so happened to have been homeschooled!

Jennifer Briggs:  Jennifer works with addicts & homeless at the House of Disciples (http://www.houseofdisciples.com/)  and managing Gifts of Grace Resale.

Amy Canton: Amy runs the leadership program for the Longview Chamber of Commerce.  She is also on the board of the Longview  Museum of Fine Arts as well as director/choreographer/dancer in Dancing with the Stars for Blue Jeans and Ball gowns, the annual fundraiser for CASA in the area (http://easttexascasa.org/blue-jeans-ball-gowns/)

Ethan Herring:  Ethan works for Kilgore College in Dodson Auditorium.  He plays keyboards for the 5 Dragon Daughter (http://www.the5dragondaughter.com) and other churchs/individuals when asked. He also dabbles in various other artistic hobbies in my free time (painting, sculpting, composing, etc)

Jesse Herring:  Jesse went to medic school and, became nationally registered (one of 6 that made it) as a paramedic. Now He works with Ethan running/renovating Dodson. He plays bass in the 5 Dragon Daughter.  He’s currently looking at going back to school this summer to start on becoming a veterinarian. Jesse also has a black belt in karate.

Brooke Nicholls:  Brooke is a musician/songwriter that you definitely want to check out.  She is a worship leader, and gifted musician.  (http://www.brookenicholls.ca/)

Tara Moretz:  Tara attended a private Christian school that was very small and the curriculum used is commonly used in homeschool environments.  She  graduated with the largest class of TWO, so her experience was similar to homeschool. She has Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently the Executive Director (Administrator) of a hospice in Longview, TX.

These are just a few, of many adults who received an education at home and are doing great things in their communities.    Is this a rant against the public school system?  Not at all!  I know plenty of great people with public and larger private school education.  You don’t see the same stigma attached to other educational settings as you do homeschool settings.  Just for fun, here’s a link to some famous “homeschoolers”: www.homeschoolacademy.com/a/famoushomeschoolers.  Check it out!  You might be surprised!

“Weird”. Merriam-webster.com. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. 2015, Web. 29 January 2015.
“Ethnocentrism”. Dictionary.com Dictionary.com, LLC. 2015, Web. 29 January 2015

Posted January 31, 2015 by canadianmeesh in Uncategorized

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