A Canadian American offers help for those dealing with Electoral Emotion Overload (it’s a real thing)

I’m a Canadian citizen but also a proud U.S citizen too. And even though I live across the border in beautiful British Columbia, I must admit that I am exhausted.

After 14,328 hours of

  • he said/she said,
  • 100 and 1 renditions of “ what is the world coming to?”
  • and a constant bombardment of “if you don’t vote for me…”

I’m feeling a little queasy.

Maybe you’ve been dancing in the streets.

After 8 years of Facebook-bashing the a leader you didn’t like you expect everyone to play nice and be happy for you.

Or maybe you’re duking out your disappointment in angry protests.  Or you woke up the day after feeling very, very afraid.

This election has been like NONE OTHER in the history of the USA.  It’s going to take a little while for things to settle down.

I personally felt like I was covered in a fine layer of everything that’s gone on for the last 597 days. You know the

  • rhetoric,
  • mudslinging
  • racial slurs
  • sexism
  • and grandiose promises

coming from either side of the political abyss.

I just wanted to shake it off (yeah, I know you’re going to hate it) Taylor Swift style.

I wasn’t just sure how to do that until this weekend. Then, I glanced up at a flyer on my fridge. It was a notice about a neighbourhood celebration. The flyer went on and on about road closures, parking bans and parade times for the Gurpurab Diwas-Nagar Kirtan celebration.

For the record, I live in a culturally diverse neighbourhood.

Walking the dog is a daily adventure. Exotic smells of foods being cooked. Elderly grandmas and grandpas in traditional dress walking pushing grandchildren in strollers.  Strains of mid-eastern music coming from white tents during wedding festivities.

But, I’ve never really walked the neighbourhood during religious celebrations.

So, I went and checked it out.

Best medicine for electoral emotion overload.

Perfect cure for campaign-rhetoric-induced distortion of what being human is all about.

As my mom, daughter and I strolled up the streets I took in the brilliant colours of traditional dress, tasted delectable dishes served from tents set up in various drive ways.

img_1374

Trust me,  we were definitely a minority. But I felt very much at home.

You see, we all share the same neighbourhood. We walk the same streets. Love our children with the same passion and all of us carry hopes and dreams close to our hearts.

People are people. God’s creations. Fellow human beings.

When the posturing of political parties is done, what matters is the kindness expressed to strangers, forgiveness extended to those who have offended, every act of selfless courage, every human bond that transcends race, colour and creed.

America will be truly great when God’s goodness is seen in the lives of ordinary citizens   every single day.

We are neighbours. All of us. From sea to shining sea.

Advertisements

It’s time to get a grip- on eternal truth

IMG_1097

I’ve been working on a book for the last few months. Its about eternal truth and how what we believe effects how we live. Even though it’s been a slow go of writing (I’m a bit of a lazy butt when it comes to just sitting down and writing). And, yet, I find myself checking my thoughts and my words at the most random times.

This is new to me. I’d always figured my ranting about life in general was part of my “verbal processing” personality.

Maybe, maybe not.

Thing is, if what we say in our “processing” is not clarified within the boundaries of eternal truth, we may just be setting up ourselves and people around us to embrace a lie.

Now don’t get all pious on me. We all spout off now and again.

Take the U.S. election for example. I live in Canada but I was born and raised in the United States. I know how inflammatory election rhetoric can be – not just from the candidates but in everyday conversations of ordinary citizens.

Election 2016 election is like no other. The discussions are fierce and the dividing lines cut deep. People are frustrated, angry and scared.

And, sad to say, lies have made themselves at home in every corner of the debate.

“This election will determine wether America will be great or not.”

“If America ceases to be great, we will all suffer”

“If we suffer, what will become of us?”

Pretty scary stuff for adults, much more for kids.  They are just forming their view of the world. Imagine their takeaway from listening to the adults around them.

But the truth is….

God is sovereign. Not Democrat, Republican or independent. He is more concerned about the condition of our hearts than he is in party agenda. No matter what way the election goes God will use it to humble us, to draw us closer to Himself, to teach us to trust Him.

His existence is not threatened by the outcome of the election. Fact check- He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent.

This is what our kids need to hear.

God is in control. He will take care of us no matter what happens. No matter what.

And, this is what our kids need to see.

Mom and Dad and Pastors and teachers and babysitters and leaders seeking God, not for some political agenda but for God to heal our land and our leaders and our neighbours and our friends and strangers we see on the street.

Sorry Nationalists. Eternal truth is global. We are to love and to reach out to the world with the gospel of God’s love.

On the other hand, it is also national. The ties that strengthen this nation will not come through one leader, no matter how charactered, powerful or wise that leader may be. It will come through the moral courage and compassion of individuals, loving families and communities of faith that reach out and embrace to those who have no family, community or faith.

We may not be able to sway an election with one vote. But, we can change the world one honest and loving relationship at a time.

Yes, you can verbally process (if you are like me), but make sure your processing is based on truth, eternal truth.  The kind of truth that heals and transforms hearts and not just promotes a political view.

God’s not dead.

He is alive and well on planet earth. All the earth and every nation. Pretty heady stuff.

Eternal truth.

Talk like it, act like it. Live it in front of your kids.

Rusty cars, Awkward Obedience and God’s Grace

Sometimes, especially at the beginning of a new year, I get this lumpy-dumpy feeling. It’s not so much about fat handles or a rotunduous tummy. It’s more about my ineffectiveness as compared to other people.

Maybe comparing is the operative word.

You see, compared to most people I feel like I move at a snail’s space- with about as much fanfare. I mean how many snails have you seen with super dynamic personalities or exploding ministry?

(The fact that I’m actually considering relationships with snails may be part of the problem.)

To be honest, people scare me. That’s why I often wonder how God could use me to show his love to other people.

That all changed a few months ago.

I was taking my mom to the eye specialist. There was almost zero parking space around the office building.  Barely any place to drop her off.

IMG_0809

The very suggestion of slowing down could end your life. Death by pile-up. Yes, in Surrey, B. C. its a real thing.

So is frustration.

Mom had a two-hour appointment. What was I going to do in the meantime?

Then I noticed the Safeway parking lot across from the doctor’s office. It spread out farther than the dimensions of a Wal-mart Superstore.

So, why not park?

Then I saw the signs-

IMG_0799

and the men in green vests everywhere. They re-enforced the same  message as they circled the lot looking violators.

With the Skytrain and the Guildford Rec Center and Ice Rink across the street, a university satellite campus half a block away, parking spots were at a premium.

Obviously.

Fortunately, I spied a small square of Park and Pay signs to the side of Safeway.

That’s when a rusty tank of a car almost mowed me over.

I caught a quick look at the driver.  Her matted hair, tired eyes and sunken cheeks reminded me that this area was a dangerous place to be in the middle of the night.

Good thing it was in the middle of the day. Even more good news. I found a spot. It cost me all my change and then some. But, I parked.

I pulled out a paperback and tried to lose myself in some somebody else’s problems in some other place. That worked until I checked the time on my phone.

Dead battery.

Not good. How was I supposed to pick up mom? She’d never find me in this maze.I read a few more pages. Then, I sighed, shoved my book in my purse and got out of the car.

I walked across the parking lot and stood by a small bank on the corner.

Awkward.

I wasn’t used to being just “out there” standing around with nowhere to go, nothing to do. But I didn’t want my Mom to get lost or panic trying to find me.

So I let awkward be awkward. And actually kind of enjoyed it

The same rusty car that almost mowed me down earlier  pulled up. A woman in a bathroom and pajama bottoms got out. She opened the back door, unstrapped a toddler from a car seat and headed into the bank.

Dumpy  car, worn PJ’s, erratic driving. I should have felt concern and compassion, maybe even prayed for her. Instead, I waited for her to do her banking business and be gone so I could get on with my awkward wait.

It seemed to be working.

This woman came out of the bank almost as quickly as she entered.

But, she didn’t  get into the car. She plopped down on the curb beside her car and put her head in her hands. Her toddler danced around her while she sat motionless. Tragic. Sad.

I tried to put the entire scene out of my mind.

Not a chance.

God wanted more from me. And, I knew what He was saying even if I didn’t hear an audible voice.

This woman needs money.

She needs love.

Go talk to her.

I took a few hesitant  steps toward the woman. Almost got to her car where she had her back to me. Then, I got scared and circled back to the sidewalk and wrestled with my fears.

What if I was about to offend this woman? What if I made her mad?

When I gathered enough courage to start walking back to the woman again.

“Excuse me,” I said. The woman didn’t turn around.

Excuse me, ” I said so loudly I was sure everyone in Safeway heard me.

She turned around slowly.

“I’m sorry, but I had to talk to you. You seem to be having a hard time. And…I want to help you and your son.”

I held out some money. She shook her head.

“He’s my son, not my grandson,” she said, “And, this is not me. I’m the one who helps other people. This is not me…”

She looked about ready to cry. I told her how brave she was and how blessed her family was to have her.

I”ll take your money, but not for me. For my daughter. She needs medicine,” the woman finally said as she looked past me as if I was not even there. Suddenly, she grabbed me in a big hug and started to sob.

For a few moments, we stood as one. Two women, trying to get through the day.

Not sure what else to do, I asked if I could pray for her and her family.

After that, she got into the car with her grandson and drove away.

I don’t know if I will ever see her again. But, God sees her every day. And, he cares.He cares so much that he will use the most awkward of means to show his love.

Even people like me.

 We all we need to do is obey.

The Losers of Loserville and Understanding God

When I started the blog Living in Loserville, I figured I’d journal epic losses like how I 

  • lost my fear of what other people think
  • lost my own critical attitude
  • and even those nasty sugar cravings.

Mostly I

  •  misplaced car keys,
  • lost my dignity occasionally,
  • and even the family dogs from time to time.

Not exactly what I had in mind.

Then, just before Christmas I l stood in the middle of Walmart and rummaged around for my wallet.

It was gone.

IMG_8851

I sent mom to check with Consumer Services while I raced to the parking lot to see if it fell on the ground.

Just as I began to slide into that deep, dark place of “why does this always happen to me? What is wrong with me? Why am I doomed to mess everything up” I prayed, begging God to bring my wallet back.

Pretty spiritual, I know. Me praying instead of kicking and screaming. I almost wished I had some kind of video cam for the inside of my head. Let the whole world know that I was actually turing to God instead of my usual “rage against the darkness” routine.

Then, God spoke to me. No it was not an audible voice. I”d probably had ended up in the ditch from sheer terror.

Instead, He brought to mind something my mom said earlier in the day.

“Did you ever think that are prayers are often just telling God what we want?” she said in typical octogenarian fashion interrupting my brilliant comparison of Brooklyn 99 and The Blacklist.

“What if God has something totally different in mind?” she continued, “Maybe we should wonder what He wants to do.”

It could not  have been no more clear than if he had reached down His divine hand and pulled the emergency brake on the Honda Civic as we raced home.

What does God want?

“Lord,” I prayed with renewed faith, “Where ever my wallet is now, who ever has it in their hands, bless them. Use this whole situation to bring peace and joy. Let this crazy flawed up day spell out your glory…right across the sky of someone else’s life.”

Yeah, I think I was losing it there at the end of my prayer. But, I was beginning to see that I needed something beyond a lost wallet. I needed to see God at work in my messy, insignificant life.

When I finally got home, my husband reminded me to  cancel my credit cards.

“Be sure and let the bank know,” he added the phone rang.

It was the RCMP.  My wallet had been recovered.

“Where, how…”

The officer proceeded to tell me how a young woman approached his patrol car while he sat in a Cloverdale parking lot. She cried as she gave him a thick black women’s wallet.

“This rarely happens,” the officer explained, “The young woman was a recovering addict…from dark drugs.  what she did today took great courage an willpower.”

After I signed for my wallet from the police officer, I asked for contact information so that I could properly thank this courageous young lady.

IMG_8837

As I pulled up at the Cloverdale A&W I saw a tall dark haired young woman at one of the outdoor tables smoking furiously. She talked on the cellphone while hugging her ski jacket close. 

The lovely young aboriginal lady was the one I”d come to thank. We hugged. Her mother and friend came out of the restaurant and hugs started all over again. In-between tears and laughter,

The mom explained how she had been praying for her daughter through this hard time. After two years of living on the streets of Vancouver, her daughter had come home. It was all part of answered prayer.

“She’s getting clean,” her mom said, “we are so proud of what she did today.”

We all hugged and cried again and then said our goodbyes. 

Weird, how a day can turn out.

Ok, more than weird. Absolutely mind boggling how God can pull back the curtain on the unseen and let us get a glimpse of what He’s all about.

Mysterious ways that we may never fully understand until we get to heaven. He does what he does and uses what He uses to fulfill plans we cannot begin to wrap our finite heads around.

Unending Mercies that reach us at our lowest point and in our darkest hour. On the streets of Vancouver or sitting out side the A and W in Cloverdale, he knows where we are and wants to draw us to Him.

Utter Delight in his children even when they are pretty much a mess. He knows the fallibility of the humans he created. He knows the flaws and the failures. Yet, he choses to us to to bless others in amazing ways.

God is good all the time. Not just when we get it all together. Not just when we are free of pain or sorrow. He hears our prayers even when we don’t know what to pray. He answers them in ways we may not even understand. For reasons we may never know.

He is good. All the time.

When it comes to Movie stars and scrubbing toilets-What really matters is who you know.

 

cleaningtoilet (1)

When I was a kid, my family had little money and no prestige. Not very glamorous compared to the movie stars I saw on TV.

“When I grow up I’m going to be important,” I told myself, “Rich and smart. Famous and beautiful.”

News alert. I grew up. Got married, raised kids.

Maybe not so rich. Certainly, not so smart. But, I learned one thing that changed my life. It doesn’t matter if you scrub toilets for a pay check or perform brain surgery.

In the end, all that matters is who you know.

I’m not talking about forming alliances to win Survivor or calling in favors to get a promotion.

It’s all about taking the time to develop relationship with the people around you –

  1. kids,
  2. your parents,
  3. the little old lady down the street,
  4. the people you work with every day.

Bottom line –connection is what matters. Every smile. Every frown. Every shared secret. Every shout of joy.

I Cor. 13 says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Hold each moment close and love with all your heart.

Life is precious.

Who stops the bad guys? Understanding God in a crazy world.

 

police lights

Have you ever wondered about the bad guys? How come they don’t get stopped?

God can. Sometimes He does.

But, not always. Not this time.

In Aurora, Colorado, folks headed to the Century Aurora 16 multiplex. All they wanted to do was watch “The Dark Knight Rises”.

Sounds innocent enough.

Then, how come 12 never came home?

Fact is, they never will.

Fifty nine others are wounded. Many in critical condition.

It doesn’t seem

  • fair,
  • just,
  • equitable

for the ones who died. For the ones left behind.

I don’t understand God.

I never did. Never will.

How can I? He sees everything from the vantage of eternity. He acts on absolutes that will outlast all the philosophies of time.

And, He cares.

It’s hard to believe it when we live in a civilization gone mad, when a lone gunman can turn the world upside down.

What’s left to do? Hide our families? Start packing guns ourselves?

On days like today I feel like I’m huddled in a straw hut with the characters in the The Little Pigs. I feel like I’m just waiting for the big, bad wolf who will surely come and blow my house down.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But, I can’t hide. Close my eyes until the darkness goes away. I believe in God. In His righteousness. In His love.

There is only one thing I can do.

Care.

About the people around me.

  1. The hurting.
  2. The confused.
  3. The troubled.

Look them in the eye. Listen. Let them know that they matter to me and to God. .

It may not seem much in the light of today’s tragedy. But, it’s something.

Something good. Something kind. Something whole in a broken world.