Here’s to the Teachers

Teachers.  We all had them, and I’m pretty sure we all think of them with mixed feelings. When I think back to my school days, I remember some teachers with fondness… others not so much. If you are a parent with school-aged children, you probably either adore your kids’ teachers, or aren’t a huge fan of how they conduct their classrooms. However, no matter how we feel about each teacher individually, we can’t deny the truth that they played a huge role in our lives and are vital in the shaping of our children. In North America, the majority of us left school with fundamental skills that we wouldn’t have gained without patient guidance from our teachers.  If you’re privileged enough to be reading this, then you can read and write, most of us can add and subtract if not solve more complex math equations, and we all have some sort of knowledge of major history events.

Unfortunately this isn’t the reality for so many people we share the planet with.

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PEACEMAKERS in our time

This past year has been a season of heaviness for many of us as we absorb a seemingly unceasing barrage of bad news from around the world, especially from the United States. This summer I also had the opportunity to make my second visit to the country of Rwanda, where we learned more about the history of genocide and conflict that still affects the people there. Faced with it all, I am dumbfounded. I struggle to comprehend how human beings can treat one another in this way.

Martin Luther King once summarized the state of humanity very well with these words:

“Modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance. We’ve learned to fly the air like birds; we’ve learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters”.

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Why the Church Can’t Stand on the Sidelines When it Comes to White Supremacists, Nazis and Moral Equivalency.

Like so many of you, I was horrified to see the events in Charlottesville that culminated in the deaths of three people, including Heather Heyer, who died protesting the alt-right rallies. She was murdered by a Nazi. That’s right, a Nazi. In 2017.

We have to take time to consider how this atrocious act was allowed to happen, and I need to look no further than my Facebook feed to see the roots. There were many posts from others disturbed at what they saw about the need to fight racism, often accompanied by pictures of white supremacists carrying torches to a gathering reminiscent of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies. Others commented that the opposition protesters at Charlottesville were paid and that liberals were to blame for the violence.

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It’s Okay to Be Sad

In our connected world of breaking news and horrific sights witnessed almost daily, it can feel like there is no space to lament the losses we encounter. We become dull to their impact and hardened to the heartbreak. Oftentimes we prefer it that way. To be moved by every tragedy would crush us. But to refuse to be moved has even worse consequences.

If we are going to live justly in this broken world, we must allow ourselves to be impacted by what we see. Where our world pauses for only a moment, it is increasingly more important to lean into the pain and intentionally pause to lament the injustices we witness. We must give space to lament so that we are both personally changed and also moved to create change.

We must give space to lament so that we are both personally changed and also moved to create change. Click To Tweet

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Why Minimalism Misses the Mark

Minimalism has been a buzzword in our society for some time now.  People have come to realize that the accumulation of “stuff” doesn’t satisfy – we just end up wanting more, and more, and more. And then some more.  It never really ends.  Our new state of the art iPhone becomes old and boring when the newest model is released a year or so later.  Our clothes go out of fashion quicker than the seasons change.  A new model of car comes out half way through the year, making our 2017 model seem dated.  It’s a constant circle of want-buy-want-buy-want-buy-want.  There is never a conclusion and we never really “make it.”  It’s all a big sham.

In response to this revelation, many have chosen to walk the path of minimalism, getting rid of the majority of their consumer goods, releasing themselves from the cycle of discontentment, living with less clutter and owning just what they actually need.

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This past weekend, we Canadians celebrated Canada Day – and not just any Canada Day. This year we celebrated Canada 150 – our 150th anniversary as a country, or in actual fact, as a British colony.  As Canadians, we certainly do have much to celebrate. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a democratic, progressive, peaceful nation filled with incredible natural beauty and many wonderful people from diverse backgrounds.

However, the celebrations this year have been surrounded in controversy, with many Canadians expressing their conviction that this anniversary is no cause for celebration at all. In fact, this 150-year milestone shines a light on a darker side of our nation’s history – one of violent, oppressive colonialism and cultural genocide. This is not a story we like to tell, but it is a part of our truth nonetheless.

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Through a Feminist Lens

It’s time for a feminist lens to show us what justice for women looks like.This past week, the Canadian government published its long awaited International Assistance Policy. As the leader of an organization that has good links with Global Affairs Canada, the department responsible for funding and carrying this policy out, I and many colleagues were curious to know what it would contain. What would the Canadian posture be towards the poor and marginalized around the world? How would it seek to bring help and promote good development? How would we care for those in desperate situations who need assistance?

The answer? We would have a ‘feminist lens.’ Continue reading

Injustice . . . it’s more than you think.

Often when I talk about injustice, I think about it as an international problem. And injustice is rampant internationally, but it’s a very local issue as well. My work for a locally focused community youth work organization – Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited – reminds me of this in beautiful ways. At Youth Unlimited, our mandate flows out of the mission of Jesus. We relationally engage in holistic work with vulnerable youth in partnership with the Church and the community. In other words, we work with some pretty rough around the edges youth, journeying with them towards God’s healing love.

I often tell people that in my role I get to work with the cream of the crop — the leadership-minded youth of Youth Unlimited. However, many people looking out at the faces at one of my program’s meetings may not recognize just how amazing these youth are. Instead, they may be distracted by the blue hair… Or the multiple piercings… Or the green lipstick… Or the sarcastic remarks…

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Dear world-changers, it’s okay to take a break.

Hey all of you go-getters, world-changers, social activists, and Kingdom-bringers, you’re all awesome! But do you know what? It’s okay to take a break!

Since it’s the start of the long weekend, here are some important words from Kaitlin Curtice to take to heart about rest in the journey towards justice.

My Grandma Downing used to make homemade biscuits for breakfast when we stayed with her in the hot summers. Every morning I’d wake up to the same smell of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, and those buttery biscuits. My grandma, a widow for many years, lived and thrived on her southern Oklahoma farm. She was a beautiful, independent woman. But what I didn’t understand, maybe what she wasn’t aware of either, is that she was a woman of resistance.

We are members of the Potawatomi Citizen Band, a small tribe out of Oklahoma. My grandma’s siblings lived in Shawnee, where the tribal headquarters are located, and whether they were actively participating in local native practices or not, they were part of a legacy.

My grandma’s hard work to care for her family, to tend to her land, to keep her home safe and good was an act of resistance, a proclamation that she would live a humble life on her own terms, with her own family, despite the violations brought against the people and other native tribes who came before her.

In my own way, I do the same today. I care for my home, I write, I lead worship, and I teach my two children what it means to be a citizen of this nation, to be a Christ-follower in this world.

And I continue the legacy my grandma left. I don’t make biscuits often, but I pick sugar snap peas from the garden. I live into her legacy because I live into my own native identity as an American citizen, as a Christian, as a mother, wife and writer.

But these times of resistance are also heavy, and in the daily work that tethers us to the people who came before, we also have to stop, rest, and remember things like Sabbath, so that we don’t grow too weary.

And I am weary.

So when the weekend comes, our family carves out extra time to stop and breathe, because it is necessary for the hard work of beginning again in the next week. I lead worship on Sundays, so that is technically my work day in the midst of the Sabbath weekend. I lead worship in a church that has a very diverse congregation, many of whom have opposing political views.

Still, we gather. We worship, we rest, we revive ourselves, and we begin again.

What I know is that these things go together — we remember the ones who came before us — our ancestors, both in family line and in our faith, the people who prepared the way.

Then, we rest in that knowledge, we prepare our own journeys for the hard work ahead, the work of making the church a better and truer image of Jesus in this world. We know that resistance takes energy and patience, and that it often requires a lot of pain. So we balance all of that energy with the practice of rest, and we carve it out as a priority.

And then, we resist. We do the hard work, the daily work, the strenuous work that we are called to. I write weekly letters to Trump. I engage the church in becoming a safe place for people of color to find themselves welcomed and able to share without fear. I learn what it looks like to be a Native American Christian in today’s America, and I teach the people around me to become aware of truths they may not have known before in regards to indigenous peoples, their history, and the treatment they received from missionaries and numerous government decisions.

My tribe, the Potawatomi tribe, call ourselves the “people of the fire,” not only because we would tend to a fire in the hearth of our homes, but because we had, within ourselves, a fire that could not be put out.

We remembered. We rested. We resisted.

And today, indigenous peoples are still resisting.

But so are many of us, native and non-native, who believe that the church should be better than it currently is, who believe that this nation should take on a new legacy other than the legacy it established in its beginning.

So this weekend, we find balance so that we keep healthy and whole in the constant progression toward a better America that represents all the people who live here and a better faith that represents the love of God.

Calling For A #FashionRevolution

The days are getting longer, temperatures warmer, and flowers are in bloom which can only mean one thing: summer is just around the corner!

But before you rush out to the mall to buy a whole new summer wardrobe, there are a few things you should consider.

Did you know that in 2009, Americans created 26 billion pounds of apparel waste and that this number is projected to grow to 35.4 billion pounds by 2019?

Or did you know that out of that number, on average, 10.5 million tonnes is dumped directly into landfills every year? That’s approximately 30 times the weight of the Empire State Building going into landfills — and that’s just from clothing!

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