Thursday, March 30, 2006

Let the river flow

"In storytelling, the teller of the story is never the individual author. The idea of copyright is a western idea. For example, I was taught that when you speak about wisdom, one should not say, 'I know,' because it conveys arrogance, that knowledge originated with me. Instead, one should say, 'I understand.' Knowledge and wisdom did not originate with me; I merely moved into a river of understanding that was flowing from the Creator and had flowed through many others before me." - Roy Aldred, Cree Nations theologian and teacher

Join me in the river. We'll share the stories that flow through us.

Monday, March 27, 2006

For Gina

Here's the fun and funky bag, made from the purple batik fabric I bought from a street vendor in Kisii, Kenya...

Weekend randomness

It was a lovely weekend. Here are some random bits.

- I did a lot of walking this weekend. Spring is finally upon us, and the weather is perfect for walking. The sidewalks are still a little treacherous – lots of puddles and some slippery bits – but it was worth the effort. On Saturday, the girls and I walked to the mall and back (about a mile one way). On Sunday evening, I walked to church and back (almost 2 miles one way). This morning, I walked half way to work (almost 3 miles). My feet are a little surprised to be put to so much use, and they’re protesting a bit, but they’re just gonna have to suck it up!

- On Saturday, I walked into Wal-mart for the first time in about a year. The girls thought I might break out in hives, ‘cause I have such a strong dislike for that place. I dislike what they stand for, I dislike the way they treat people, I dislike the way they exploit people in developing countries, I dislike the fact that they gleefully shove consumerism in our faces, AND I dislike their yellow smirky-faced logo that implies I should be HAPPY to be there. Fortunately, I was just returning one of Maddie’s birthday gifts (that didn’t fit), so, for a change, THEY had to give ME money. At least I can find some pleasure in THAT.

- Yesterday, I sewed a funky purse/bag out of some batik fabric I’d bought in Africa last year. I also sewed a skirt, but I’m particularly fond of the bag. I carry it with pleasure and pride. I think I may have to find some more funky fabric to sew a few more bags.

- Have you ever walked a labyrinth? Our awesome church painted one on the floor, and yesterday’s service was a time of meditation, music, and labyrinth-walking. I can hardly describe it. It was incredible – peaceful, worshipful, sensual, and transformative. I want to do it again.

- Nikki and Julie got their report cards late last week. (Warning – bragging about children ensues.) Julie, as always, is astonishingly school-smart. She counted 44 “Excellents” – out of approximately 50 categories. The problem is, she’s bored with school and I’m not sure how to make sure she’s challenged. She rarely does homework because it’s a waste of time (why practice your spelling words if you get 10 out of 10 on the first try, or why do “homereading” if you devour a more challenging book almost every night?) Nikki, on the other hand, is not as “school-smart”, but she’s smart none-the-less. Not surprisingly, the places where she excelled were things like “takes responsibility for her own work”, and “diligent and dependable” (this is the kid who tells her friend, on Saturday afternoon, that she can’t chat on MSN because she wants to do her homework – which isn’t due for another week). The comment from the teacher that she showed particular interest and aptitude in the unit on politics thrilled me to no end – she is her father’s daughter in more ways than one.

- Did I ever mention how much I love bookstores (or at least GOOD bookstores)? An hour or two in a bookstore is about as good a way to spend time as any I can think of, and I got to do that this weekend. Yay!

- I like Friday nights. Every Friday night, whichever members of my family are in the near vicinity at the time get together for supper – usually at our house. This time is was just ccap and her boy, and the cutest-baby-on-the-face-of-the-earth. I like them. They make me happy. I also like the OTHER members of my family, but I don’t get to see them as often.

Friday, March 24, 2006


Earlier this week, I phoned home from work and talked to Maddie. She told me that she and daddy were getting ready to have a picnic lunch in the play tent in the basement. Now if that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart, then you must be heartless. Or at least cockle-less.

When I got home from work, I discovered that they'd taken pictures. C'mon, surely it's GOTTA be warming those cockles NOW...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

They're free!

This morning, when the alarm reminded me that it was time to roll out of bed, the first thing my foggy brain registered was the voice of Terry MacLeod telling me (and all the other listeners out there in radio-land) that the three members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams had been released by their captors in Iraq. Hurray! What a long and painful time it must have been for their families, waiting, hoping, and praying for this day to come. I can hardly imagine the anquish. At the same time, their day of celebration must be somewhat bittersweet, knowing that one of the four hostages did not make it out alive.

Perhaps because it was my waking thought, it's been on my mind for much of the day. I had a striking thought. In the spirit of John Lennon's song, "Imagine"... imagine if all the countries involved in the "war on terror" were willing to spend as much money, and send as many people overseas to work on peacebuilding (the kind of work the CPTs were doing) as they do for their armies and warfare. Imagine if their policies were less about "protecting our citizens against the axis of evil" and more about working toward global peace. Imagine if there were as many people willing to serve with CPT as there are in the U.S. Army. Imagine...

Yes, I know I'm a bit of a dreamer, but wouldn't it be a powerful thing if we all had the same dream? In that spirit, I plan to sent a donation to CPT. I figure if I'm willing to pay taxes, some of which goes toward supporting our army, then I should be willing to spend a little money supporting peace too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I like magazines. Or at least I WANT to like them. Especially when I have to spend alot of time in airports and airplanes where I have a bit of time to read, but I'm not really focused enough to get lost in a book. That's why it's so frustrating for me to stand in front of rows and rows of magazines in the store and realize that there is a dull and predictable sameness to them. I suppose they're not ALL the same - I could pick up Popular Mechanics or Motorcycle Repair - but those that are marketed for women sure look homogenous to me.

Seriously. Here's a list of the headlines you can find on the front of almost every woman's magazine:
"Spice up your love life"
"The diet that will change your life"
"Dr. Phil's relationship tips"
"Tips for managing your household budget"
"Fashion feature - clothes for the real you"
"Simple exercises to fit into your busy day"
"Five meals you can make in under half an hour"

If I were to start a magazine, I would call it "Smart Woman", and this would be my list of criteria for its contents:
- There would only be ORDINARY women featured on its pages. NO airbrushing
- There would be NO fashion tips - or if there were any, they would include SENSIBLE SHOES
- There would be smart articles for women with IQs higher than Paris Hilton
- Dr. Phil would NEVER be quoted. NEVER.
- The word "diet" would be banished from the pages. Anyone who dared to use the word would be forced to do penance by eating the whole magazine, cover to cover.
- The index would be easy to find - on the FIRST page (now there's a novel concept!), not buried in the middle of sixteen pages of advertisements
- There would be book recommendations by ordinary people, not those who'd been courted by big publishing companies
- There would be less assumption that women are self-centred, egocentric airheads and more assumption that they are smart and worldly-wise, caring about things like the environment, the millions of people dying of hunger and HIV/AIDS, and the world outside their walk-in closet
- If there were any celebrities featured, they would be the people who had shown strength in the middle of adversity, lived a moral and ethical life, made a difference for social causes, or proved that a marriage and family can stay together even in Hollywood - REAL inspiration
- It would NEVER mention anything about the assumed battle between stay-at-home moms and working-outside-the-home moms because it would assume that women are REALLY smart enough to respect each other's lifestyle choices
- In every issue, it would include some piece of writing that was of literary value - a poem, essay, or short story. Again, it would assume that women are smart enough to want to read that kind of stuff.
- It would also include artistic images - photographs taken by someone other than the fashion photographer, paintings, etc. There would be visual surprises throughout - things that made you just stop and stare at a page for awhile.
- It would not assume that EVERY woman is interested in scrapbooking and stamping
- Some of the recipes included would be about SLOW cooking, not just about FAST cooking

Anyone want to subscribe to my magazine?

Monday, March 20, 2006

A post for Maddie

Sunday morning at church, I was in the middle of a conversation before the service began when I felt a little hand slip into mine. It was a familiar hand, but an unfamiliar gesture. My heart skipped a beat when I realized it was my little Maddie, just turned 4, who’d slipped her hand into mine. For no particular reason, she wanted to hold my hand. It caught me off guard.

If this had been either of my other 2 daughters at 4 years of age, the gesture would have been familiar and expected. But this was Maddie. In her 4 years of life, she has RARELY slipped her hand into mine.

She’s my little independent one. She likes to cuddle now and then, but it’s usually on her terms and it’s rarely because she needs me. Or anyone else, for that matter.

From a really early age, we saw the confidence in her. She “made strange” only 2 or 3 times in her life. She went happily off to nursery, barely looked back when first dropped off at a babysitter’s, and told her Daddy quite emphatically that he shouldn’t hang around long on her first day at preschool. When she hurts herself, she runs to her room to cry, and doesn’t even like it when I go to try to comfort her. “Go away,” she has told me, on many occasions.

She has always assumed people will like her – probably because they usually do. She knows how to charm people. I’ve often commented that if I don’t keep an eye on her at the beach (or other public place) she’ll happily adopt another family and go home with them. Many times, at the beach or park, she’s made herself at home with another family, plopped herself down on their blanket, and shared their snacks. She doesn’t even cast a backwards glance to make sure we’re a safe distance away.

She’s quite convinced that now that she’s 4, she can stay home by herself. Once, when Marcel had to drive me to church, she was emphatic that she’d stay home alone. We played along, got in the car with the other 2 girls, and drove down the road, as she stood at the window and grinned. When we back-tracked and went back to get her, she got mad at me for coming back.

She has a certain quality that draws people to her. When she was smaller, strangers were forever showering her with gifts. She’d go out for coffee or breakfast with her daddy, and almost inevitably someone in the restaurant – a waitress or another patron – would give her a stuffed toy or colouring book. I always worried that this would start going to her head, and she’d become one of those annoyingly precocious kids, but I don’t think she has (perhaps those of you who know her think otherwise?).

She’s an imaginative and fanciful child. She has invented more imaginary friends than anyone I know. She creates little scenarios for all of her imaginary friends, as well as her dollies and bears. Since she discovered the wonders of the digital camera, one of her favourite things to do is videotape herself singing and dancing. It’s quite entertaining when I download the pictures and discover what she’s been up to when no one was watching.

I sometimes wonder if her confidence comes from being so surrounded with love all her life. Being the child who follows a loss has its advantages – we treasured her more than we probably would have otherwise. She was also a bright spot for my mom (and the rest of us) when my dad died. Plus, she had the advantage of always having a stay-at-home parent. Her daddy dotes over her and she gets his undivided attention more than her sisters did.

She’s four now, and yes, she has a bit of an attitude (oh – she’s far from perfect) and she’s a little bit spoiled (yup, it comes with the territory when you’re the youngest), but she continues to delight and amaze me. I hope her confidence carries her through life. I hope she will always be surrounded with love. I hope I get to watch her grow into an amazing, confident, and beautiful woman.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Home again

I'm home - have been since yesterday afternoon, but I've barely had a moment to catch my breath since then. We babysat little Abigail last night, and today I went shopping, cleaned the house, went to watch Julie's last skating lesson, cleaned the house some more, hosted Maddie's birthday party, made photo shirts for the party girls, and, last but not least, made four big pans of lasagna for potluck and party tomorrow. I'm exhausted.

There are lots of posts swimming around in my head, but I'm too tired to entertain any of them right now. Here are some of the things I may blog about in the next couple of days, if I can get around to it. (Tomorrow's another busy day, so it might not happen.)

- Maddie's birthday post. She turned 4 today. She had her first friends birthday party. My big girl.

- My trip pics. I covered quite a few miles on this trip - a road trip across part of Alberta, and then a couple of days in Abbotsford, surrounded by the mountains.

- Observations in an airport. Airports are the best places to people-watch.

- My idea for a new magazine. After staring at walls of magazines in various airports, trying to find one that would interest me, I decided I might have to come up with my own.

- What it's like to walk into an auction mart that's so much like the place Dad spent 25 years of his life that for a moment I could barely breathe.

- The story of the 8 year old boy who decided to give away $236 because he heard stories of hungry children.

Yes, I'll try to find some time soon, but right now my brain needs a little rest. In the meantime, here's a little taste - the morning view from the house where I stayed in Abbotsford - taken just before we left for the airport yesterday. Can you imagine waking up to THIS every morning?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Let this be a lesson to you...

Next time you go on a trip, REMEMBER to read over your itinerary carefully ahead of time. Don't just check the time of your flight. Check the date. Make sure that, if you THINK you're booked on a flight on Monday morning, you don't show up at the airport early only to be told you're REALLY booked on a flight for Sunday, the day before. 'Cause if this happens to you, you'll be really, really bummed. Especially if it's 7:30 in the morning, you can't reach anyone in your office or the travel agency, or the people who are supposed to pick you up in a few hours.

And if it happens to you, don't say I didn't warn you.

And that's all I'll say for now. I ended up in Alberta, all-be-it at a different city than I'd planned, but I'm here, some appointments could be arranged (yes, I made it onto the evening news in Red Deer), and now all I can do about it is laugh.

Tomorrow I fly to Abbotsford. Yes, I checked the date. I am DEFINITELY booked on a flight to Abbotsford tomorrow.

Sweet dreams.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Go west, young woman

I'm heading west again. The fourth time this winter. (It's been a bit much, but the staff situation has been resolved, so it should slow down after this.) I'll be in Alberta and B.C this time around. (Sorry B&S&D&L, no stops in your neck of the woods.)

In Alberta, I'll be spending a bit of time with the new staff I hired - just getting them a little more oriented. Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be on TV in Red Deer - talking about what's going on in Kenya and what we're planning to do about it. The food situation's pretty severe there right now - another dry year after about five dry years in a row. I think of the people I met there last year, and my heart aches for them. I wish the rains would come.

On Wednesday I fly to Abbotsford to attend a major fundraising event there, and meet some of our volunteers. This is my first trip to B.C. in this job.

Four nights away, and then I'll be home again. Since last year's three week trip, the kids barely bat an eye over four nights. They don't love it when I'm away, but they've gotten used to it. It helps that Marcel's home with them - there's stability in that.

Now I have to go finish the laundry so everyone has clean clothes to wear while I'm gone. And then I'll ice the cupcakes for Maddie's preschool birthday party on Tuesday. Fortunately, I'll be home in time for her birthday on Saturday.

I probably won't be near a computer much. I'll catch up with you all later. Cheers!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

My 100 nouns




lawn chair







Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. Rachelle, over at Notes from a Truth-Seeker initiated a Grid Blog for International Women's Day. Since I already posted about a similar topic a couple of posts ago, I wasn't going to bother joining. But after reading several of the blogs she links to, I was inspired, so here's my contribution.

Instead of writing about some of the challenges I've faced as a woman in a male-dominated world (and faith tradition), I'm going to choose instead to celebrate the people - women AND men - who have inspired me, encouraged me, prodded me, affirmed me, mentored me, trusted me, and lit the path for me in my journey as a woman trying to live out my giftedness. I am thankful for the roles all of these people have played in my life. Here they are, in no particular order...

Doreen, drama and music teacher in college - Doreen was unique, quirky, bold, fun, creative and non-traditional. She lived life on her own terms, took risks, didn't worry about what other people thought of her, dared to be different, and lived life out loud. She taught me to trust my own creativity and let the world see my uniqueness.

Gisele, boss, mentor, friend - Gisele was the first person who gave me a shot at leadership. She believed I could do it even before I believed it myself. She gave me a shot and then stood by cheering me on while I fumbled my way through. She celebrated me, challenged me, coached me, and taught me that the old style of management didn't have to be the only way.

Other amazing mentor/bosses/friends I've had - Ellen, Cathy, Susan, Diane - They've all influenced my style of leadership. They've taught me that the greatest leaders learn to serve. They've made me want to strive for excellence.

My sister - I don't think anyone has shared the journey as much as ccap. She came through life with the same baggage, and along the way we supported each other, encouraged each other, taught each other, and challenged each other. When we hear a sexist comment, a simple glance between us is enough to affirm that we both "get it".

My dad - it's a bit of a surprise that he made the list, since, in many ways, he epitomized the traditional, patriarchal male. Yes, he made some mistakes along the way, and I could choose to resent him for them. BUT he did some things right too. He wasn't afraid to admit that he had great respect for smart women (eg. Barbara Frum) and he never doubted that I WAS one. AND when I wanted to learn to drive the tractor like my older brothers, he let me. It may seem like a small thing, but in a strange way, it affirmed me.

My brothers - They have always loved me, trusted me, set a good example for me, and treated me like an equal. They affirm me and let me know it when they're proud of me. What more could I ask for?

Some of the strong women I watched while I was growing up - Eleanor, Marlene, Mrs. Rainka, Irene (to name just a few) - They eached showed incredible strength in unique and profound ways.

My powerful and compassionate friends - Michele, Linda, Yvonne, Suzanne, Jayne, Julie, Laurel, Sue, Lorna, Kari, Diana, Lenora, Eveline (to name just a few) - They have been no end of inspiration to me. They've shown me what women are capable of, they've challenged me when I went off track, they've taught me that boldness needs to be balanced with compassion, they've shared creative moments with me, and they've made life a heck of a lot of fun along the way.

The incredible men I've had the opportunity to co-lead with - Rob, Wes, Jim, Dan, Larry, Ron, Bob (to name just a few) They've never assumed they had any more right to power than me. They've dared to be different - to build a new model for a godly man. They've been vulnerable, shown compassion and honesty, and fought for truth, respect and honour - for ALL of us.

The woman I met at Act II restaurant back in 1988 (or thereabouts) - She was the first woman pastor (from a Mennonite church) I ever met. She opened a door for me and showed me that a different way is possible.

The incredible 70ish woman ccap and I met hiking in the Alps - She epitomized the woman I want to be in 30 or so years - adventurous, bold, and still excited about looking around the next corner.

My mom - She taught me compassion. She showed me what it means to be a servant. She didn't always understand my goals, but she didn't stand in the way of me reaching them. She believes in me and loves to brag to her friends whenever I get something published.

My daughters - They make me want to be bold - to make the world a better place for them. They make me believe in possibilities.

My husband - What can I say? I saved him for last, because in some ways, he's had the most profound influence. He never ONCE assumed that he was the only head of the household. He approached our relationship as a partnership right from the start and defied anyone who suggested he should do otherwise. He trusted me and believed in me and pushed me to be all that I could be. He never batted an eye at some of my ideas that could have been dismissed as "silly" (like getting him an engagement ring, or keeping my own name). He took a risk and chose to become the primary caregiver, even though it wasn't the trendy thing to do. He affirms our daughters and teaches them that they are capable of anything.

I am woman, hear me roar! But not just roar, I hum too. :-)

Thank you to all those who've been a part of my incredible life.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I love ideas. I could eat, sleep, breathe, dream ideas. I wish I could make a living just coming up with ideas. Of course, if I did, the source of them would probably dry up and I'd run out of money, but I can dream, can't I?

I have lots of ideas right now. Poems, articles, projects, books, freelance stuff, workshops, websites - you name it. I don't know if it's the season - awaiting the coming of Spring - but for some reason, my mind seems full of stuff I'd like to try.

If only I had the time. And the opportunity. I love my life, but sometimes it's a little frustrating - being so tied to routine and practicality. I have to go to work every day. I have to be an involved mom and wife. I have to participate in cleaning the house, paying the bills, doing the laundry, making sure there's food to eat... in between, there's so little time to let ideas take root.

Someday, there will be more time again. Someday, I will quit my job and attempt to be a freelance writer and consultant. Some day...

With child

I’m staring at the white page
pregnant with ideas
waiting for birth
feeling the labour pains before they come
yet longing to see the child emerge
longing to introduce her to the world
longing to breath deep the scent of her
longing to hold her and watch her grow

I want to find a cocoon
of space and time
to settle into birthing
to let these ideas take shape

But there are so many things
life, motherhood, a paying job
that get in the way
that stop me from retreating
into that cocoon
to wait for metamorphosis

These unformed offspring
wrestle within me
fighting for their right to life
fighting to be heard
and seen and touched

They have no choice
but to await
another season, another time
I will remain an expectant mother
hopeful they do not die
before their chance at life

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

I've come a long way baby

Tomorrow, I will facilitate a workshop with about 12 people (mostly men) who are all high level representatives of different church organizations - either executive directors, or senior level bureaucrats. They're letting little ol' me stand in front of them and lead their discussion. Not only that, but they've asked me to start the day with a 15 minute "Biblical framework". In other words, at the beginning of the day, I get to stand in front of 10 churchy big-wigs and preach the Bible to them! Hehe! It's a little heady, I have to admit. Many of them have been to seminary, worked in overseas missions, preached in pulpits, and lead large ministries. But they're trusting ME to interpret scripture for THEM.

About twenty-five years ago, I was a teenager in a small conservative church. Because there weren't always enough people to fulfill all the duties, I offered to read the scripture one Sunday morning. I wasn't allowed to. Wrong gender. What would people think, letting a woman read the Bible aloud in church?

A few years later, I was in Bible college and wanted to serve in a leadership position. But I could only go so far. I was elected student vice-president. I couldn't be president. Wrong gender. School rules. A woman can't lead the men. (In the end, as my friend said, I "lead from behind", since I had more natural leadership ability than the male elected president.)

All I can say is "I've come a long way, baby!"

Yes, I think women still have a long way to go in terms of having their leadership abilities affirmed in some Christian circles, but thank God I've found some circles that affirm mine. I can't fit into a Christian paradigm that won't let me live out my giftedness.

Tomorrow, I will continue to live out my calling. It may not be the most inspired thing this group of leaders will hear in their lifetime, but it will still be valuable. Even though I'm a woman.