Monthly Archives: December 2012

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As I drove South into Bellingham today to run a few errands, the sky overtook me. From the East, dark clouds loomed, gushing heavy rain. From the West, patches of blue sky peeked through, promising. And from above, the sun shone perfectly through, stretching its arms through openings in the clouds. Fortunately I was alone in the car, because I spent the next five minutes alternating between extremely safe driving and risking my life trying to capture the moment on the camera on my phone. In hindsight, I should have just pulled over and gotten out the real camera and avoided reckless driving.

I laughed, realizing I’ve always had a fascination with clouds and light, but had never put words to the thought. I stop quite often and look up. I wish I could pay more attention to the things around me. But I guess I feel the beauty of what I see when I look upward conquers and dims everything else around me. I don’t bother to study all the scientific mumbo-jumbo… I just think the sky is breathtaking and that’s where it ends.

Once I parked, I sat in my van to upload my picture to Facebook. I got distracted as I realized the extent of the tragedy that occurred today in Connecticut. I read something earlier that day about a school shooting, but hadn’t looked into it further. I don’t know official numbers, but last I checked there were 18 young elementary students dead, and about a dozen staff members. I don’t know any of those people, and neither do most of my Facebook friends; but tragedy affects even the most distant when we see people suffering.

After arriving home, Aaron and I turned to CNN to get more information on the situation. Twenty-four year old man, previously attended the school where he unleashed chaos, and killed his own mother who was a teacher there. His brother was found deceased at his home as well. Neighbors remarked that he and his brother seemed like “troubled kids.” I still can’t believe it; someone shot and killed thirty people in a rampage, and included his own mother in the fatalities. Heartbreaking and disgusting.

Facebook lit up today in response to the incident. People angry, hurt, confused, and fearful. Some bring up the argument that harsher weapon laws should be invoked. Others are pushing for harsher justice for criminals. Others are now fearful of the schools and security methods in their own kids’ schools. Some are just sad, and a bit paralyzed over the incident. Some are heavy-hearted and praying fervently.

So… what’s really important in this whole situation?

Let’s turn back to a conversation I had with a young mom I knew through one of my kids’ activities. She shared that she makes some decisions because “she just doesn’t want to deal with the friends her kids might bring home.” Not sure I should get into specifics. But it made me sad that she would make a decision to completely shelter her kids so they don’t make the “mistake” of being friends with troubled kids.

Here’s what I think: those of us who lead upright lives, and want to see good things happen in our world, need to suck it up, take a deep breath, and get out in the real world. And we need to teach our kids how to do the same.

These people we judge—the ones who murder, lie, steal, abuse, neglect, and abandon—are worth it. And on top of that, we seem to forget we are in this mess with them. They deserve love and attention; and in fact, because they are human, they CRAVE it. So, is it possible the shooter craved attention from his mother but she always spent time with her students? They deserve healing and treatment. What happened to him as a child or teenager that changed him? Did anyone notice and try to help? They deserve a friend, a confidant. How many of his peers walked away because he was too “messy”?

I’m sure we can all think of a few kids who cause problems. Do you have a personal relationship with them, or do you know someone who does? Is anyone trying to be a good friend or a role model? I’m sure we can all think of a broken, shattering family. Maybe a neighbor? Maybe a family in your church or sport team everyone pities… but no one wants to talk to? Maybe that friend who sits next to your son or daughter in school who you’d “rather not bring home for a playdate”?

IMAGINE how their future could change with just a few simple actions. That sweet, troubled kid or teen you don’t want in your house could turn into a lot of things. That student has no control over his or her future, and is being faced with some pretty unhealthy substances, language, and behavior.

I know many of us feel it would be unhealthy for US to get involved.

But, just as the warmth of the sun weaves its way through the darkness and fills it, we are naturally woven into the lives of others. Not because of a certain faith, not because we’re the president; but because we are human, and we are in this together.

Let’s respond to the incident today in prayer. Let’s also respond by opening our eyes and choosing to be aware of those around us, and responding with compassion instead of disdain when they don’t meet our standards.

Look at the picture again. Do you see it?! It all makes sense to me. 🙂

Light.

Loneliness.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about loneliness. What causes it? Who suffers from it? During the Christmas season I think about people who have lost loved ones, who don’t have family who supports them, and I especially think about orphans and foster children who just have no idea what their future holds. Not to mention emotional and spiritual loneliness. I can admit, I deal with it at times. I bet we all do, to a certain extent. We all battle thoughts of feeling unwanted, unloved, and even unnoticed.

But during this time of year, when so many people surround each other and love on each other, who are you leaving out? Who aren’t you supporting because you’re “comfortable?” During this season, I bet that lack of attention feels more like a dagger than a mere irritation. When we exclude others who need light in their lives, the world becomes exponentially darker.

I found a great (because it gets to the point quickly) article, called “God’s Answer to Loneliness.” I was interested in how the author pinpointed the causes:

Causes of Loneliness

Past Rejections — You may have been rejected in the past, and you’re afraid to try again.
Insecurity —  In your mind, you may not feel worthy to be accepted, so you don’t reach out for other people.
Grief — If you’ve experienced grief, you may feel like nobody understands how badly you hurt. You close up, drop out, hunker down, and live a lonely life of isolation because you think nobody understands.
Self-centeredness — You may be all wrapped up inside of yourself. You live in a bubble of pride and self-centeredness.
Sinful Lifestyle — Sin builds walls. Cain murdered his brother Abel and was driven away from the presence of God, from home, and from loved ones. (Genesis 6:13).
The Depersonalization of Society — When you buy something in a store, you may never even make eye contact. You may live in a house and not even know your neighbors.

Yikes… I bet we can all see areas of this list we can relate with. But I believe during this season, we can battle our own loneliness by walking alongside someone else as they battle their own.

So instead of liking my Facebook post or sharing this article, I want to encourage readers to take charge and act on that feeling deep inside you telling you to step outside of your comfort zone and walk with a friend, relative, or even stranger. Sure, the short-term outcome is unknown and possibly messy, but the long-term rewards and bonds are so, so worth it.

And stop feeling like you’re not qualified! You are, because you care!

Possibly the Replacement for Our Christmas Card. Depends on when Aaron shaves his mustache off.

Its been a while since I wrote a simple blog post about what our family has been up to. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I shared about all our life changes with the general public. Part of the reason I wanted to write this was to let some of my far away family and friends know not to stop by our café anymore if you want to see us… we aren’t there anymore. But let me share more about this year as whole.

I can’t remember much about the first part of the year. Actually, I remember nothing from January through March. Probably because what happened in mid-April turned our lives upside down. Here and there, memories of this past year may be a bit vaporized. But I can at least hit the key points!

The Café. After six and a half years of business, we sold it! We no longer live above the café, and I’m sorry, you won’t be able to stop in to get a cinnamon roll (or bun if you’re Canadian). And while there are places in town whose coffee I do enjoy… I still think ours was the best (she said, pridefully). As sad as we are to disappoint our committed patrons, friends, and family, we are also rejoicing in our newly found freedom. You don’t know how much burden you really carry until that weight is lifted; and oh, do we feel light.

The Jobs. Aaron managed to start working at a new company before we even ended business. He’s working for Cash&Carry in Bellingham, and is getting praise, respect, and attention due to his amazing work ethic and follow-through. I am so proud of him and thankful that he was willing to give up his passion for a season. He still cooks delicious food and treats for us at home, so we are not lacking in fine cuisine. 🙂 I ended up moving on from my job as Director of Children’s Ministry for our church. I gave it a good two years, and felt I was being nudged to move on and do other things. I’m working as a part-time computer nerd for my Dad and his consulting business, and really enjoying the work. Not many people would get excited over a beautifully sorted spreadsheet; but I do.

Ministry. Aaron is on church council and helping lead at youth group, and I will soon be working on getting a ministry in creative arts and drama up and running in our church. I don’t have too much of a plan yet; but I do need a team of people willing to think outside the box and step outside their comfort zone. I want to push the envelope… which actually just gave me an awesome idea.

We are also helping with a core group of teens in a discipleship group. I’m so pumped to walk alongside and pray for students in the same way my leaders led me in high school. I am so thankful for each of them, and I’m sure they know who they are. 🙂

The Kindergartner. Ian is slowly and steadily adjusting to the big social world of the primary school. I love our little introvert in every possible way! Especially the part where he’s not actually one, and he’s just keeping his awesomeness a secret. He’s coming along in reading incredibly well, and I love that we can play word games on the freeway when we’re driving! He took a few swimming lessons from Grandpa Jim, and got special attention from Grandma Marla who helped him get up on his bike without training wheels! Next up… ice skates.

The Preschooler. What can I say… Ana is a confident but shy little crazy girl who is learning to read thanks to all her brother’s kindergarten curriculum, and loves dancing and running and her stuffed animals. She was cast as Mary in the preschool Christmas performance… will she do it?!! Its also so fun seeing her enter the social world of friends and giggling. Oh dear.

Life. Its just been one of those years I want to look back on, but erase all at the same time. I love that it is so easy to move on and move forward, and continue to let God mold and shape us into something better. I feel with each new life experience, setback, failure, and victory, I gain a little more wisdom, and a little more foresight. As a family, we have learned so much, and we are growing stronger together in this journey. We feel refreshed, and ready to tackle another new year!

And then I found ten dollars. And that’s not even a witty end to the post. The other day I found $10 in a random pocket and I was STOKED.