Photographs by Laurie @ Horizons Photography

November 26, 2016

Be advent.




As unreal as it seems we have once again come to that time of year when we need to sit back, watch, wait, celebrate, and allow the good news of Christmas and the coming King to wash over us, renew us; in some cases to breathe life back into us.

It has been a hard year, the world seems to have gone a bit mad, or at least more mad than usual. Hate crimes and terror attacks, racism, fear, bullying, extreme weather, global catastrophes, deaths and suffering;  it’s everywhere we turn. If you watch the news, read a newspaper, use any form of social media or in some cases, just look across the street, or hallway at school. Fear, hate, anger and ignorance have filled the air worldwide with a stench that permeates into our everyday lives and souls. It is ripe, like a disease it spreads and we can smell it on more and more people, ourselves included.  It is so easy, to get sucked into the abyss of fear and anxiety, the very things that create the stink of hate and bigotry. 

… and yet; this is a season of hope, and in hope there is no room for fear. This is a season of love and where is there love hate can not win. This is a season of awaiting for our King, a King who will unite us, a King who will save us, a king who comes to us all, with no political agenda, only to save us by grace alone; only to love us. A king who has already won us victory with his blood.

As we reach into this season, as we celebrate the joy, the peace, the light, the love, the hope. My prayer for us  is that we be the joy; the joy to our neighbour who is alone or grieving. Be the joy for the lonely, the bright spot in their day, the smile of a stranger, the kind word and gentle touch, the compassionate hand that holds them up when they feel they are falling.

Be the peace, when you see the fear stirring up hate, when the verbal attacks online are full of offence. When the group of kids are picking on child of a different race, when the teen is so filled with anxiety that they can’t breathe, when it feels like everything around you is spinning and there is no safe place, reach out, be a voice of reason, be the calm and soothing arms that offer a safe place, be the person who sits beside someone and just counts to ten for them; be the peace.

Be the light, the light that lets the world see the good that still exists, the light that drowns out the darkness. When it feels like the clouds will forever storm, that there is only pain, suffering, hopelessness and despair and the sun is eternally eclipsed by the moon. Be the light, offer to guide, lead. Be the light that guides to the everlasting light where there can be no more darkness.

Be the love, the love that opens itself despite the risk, the love that moves people to change.The love that turns the other cheek, love that forgives, even when it’s hard. The love that opens itself up and bears the pain of another so that they can know they are not alone, the love that sacrifices our ourselves to give, the love that serves, the love that hurts and the love that drives away fear, hopelessness, despair, hate. The love that brings joy, and unity; compassion, the love that heals.

Be the hope, with hope comes faith, with hope comes healing, with hope fear subsides, with hope the anger that once burned starts to doubt. Hope drives out despair and allows peace, joy, love, light and faith to flourish in its glow. 

In this hurting and broken city, country, world, we can shine brighter because it’s so dark. This is an opportunity to be more, to love more, to be the hands and feet of our Saviour, while we wait for his return. Advent is a season, but it’s not just the 4 Sundays prior to Christmas, it is the entire wait, every single day between now and His return; its not dependent on snow, Christmas lights, Santa, wreaths, fireplaces, hot chocolate, carols. It is us. It is now. It is every single day between this moment and the return of our King. 

L

November 22, 2016

Happy Birthday (a day early) to the man who stole and kept my heart!



Almost 10 years ago to the date (Dec. 8th 2006) I was asked by the most amazing man I have ever met to join my life to his and be his wife. I loved him, I said yes and I haven't doubted or regretted that decision; but I have to be honest, when I think back on the maturity of that love I laugh. I had no idea what loving this man, what being his partner in life would look like, I had no way of knowing that what I felt for him then (in all it's hugeness) would one day pale by comparison to the love that would grow between us over time. We have weathered a few storms together and come out laughing and when I look at him I can't imagine a life without him in it. He's more than a husband, he's more than a friend, he is the other half of me. He is family through and through. I could sit here and list of the amazing things he does, the person he is, the value he adds to my life but then this post would never end (and I actually have other things to do today). I will say this, Tim is someone I respect, he's someone I seek counsel from, he's someone I can laugh with, someone I feel safe fighting with, he is a companion I enjoy spending time with, he's a soft shoulder, strength in times of stress and he loves so beautifully and humbly. I am never in question of the blessing I have found in him.

Tomorrow he celebrates his 40th birthday, and I can't let the day go by without celebrating him and saying how thankful I am that he was born. There is no other person in the world I would rather have to spend my life with than this incredible man!

Happy Birthday love, thank you for loving me.

L

November 20, 2016

It is us.



Tim and I were away for a week to the Dominican Republic for our annual 'just us' holiday. After the past number of months where anger and fear and hate made way for the deaths of many in the summer shootings, the mass shootings, the Nice tragedy, Paris, Brexit, the hate crimes, bigotry, the police and people at what often feels like war, and of course the outcome of the US election results, I have to admit that this year, more than most I was excited to be leaving. No newspapers, no news, no social media... sounded like bliss to me!

I of course hopped on that plane with dreams of tropical sand between my toes,  hot sun on my shoulders, warm breezes in my hair, rest for my soul. What I was met with was not what I anticipated, but it was what I really needed. It was a wake up call.

We arrived to rain... rain that only broke for a brief time each day, we had one partly sunny day but other than that, it rained. Now, rain here is one thing but rain there is something entirely different. It was a downpour, and before we knew it the whole area was flooded. The flood waters grew, receded, grew again. Every morning we heard stories from staff and other guests about homes lost, a school, mudslides, overflowing rivers, roads that had become too waterlogged to drive on. Yet, we were always met with smiling faces, people who came early each morning to work after being up all night trying to save their families' home, tired, but content. One of our waitresses was pregnant, she came to work with a cheerful smile and yet she had spent the entire night awake trying to keep their home secure, and her work clothes clean so that she wouldn't miss a day of work and much needed money. We saw people coming together to rebuild. We found out that the president had come to help the clean up efforts. There were no guests complaining about the weather, the soaked floors, the rivers running past our rooms, the constant feeling of wet clothes as you ran from your room to the dining room, from the dining room to the cabana. It was a taste of what the world should be, and yet isn't.

We learned that the average wage there is roughly 200 a month, yet a home is about 400-500 a month. Yet, these contented people work together, they help each other, they feed each other, they rebuild together, they don't have time to sit behind computers bellowing at their neighbours about politics, they haven't got the energy to hate a person who has more, or less, than they do. They are in this together. They epitomized community. It was beautiful. As we drove through the city, as we watched from high above in a cable car going up the mountain, I became very ashamed. I was ashamed at how our wealth, our freedom, our way of life, our technology have been used to hurt, to hate, to waste time on tearing down rather than building up. We consider ourselves first world, yet this third world poverty proved to me that the problem isn't economics, it's us. We need to re calibrate, we need to re think, we need to be better.

I didn't get the sunny tropical holiday I had planned, my skin isn't the shade of brown I was going for when I got on that plane a week ago, but my heart is softer, my mind more open. It wasn't what I was hoping for, but it was what I needed. I found rest, in the knowledge that these immigrants from poor countries that the world loves to hate, could actually teach us a whole lot about what it means to really love your neighbour, to feed the poor, to give sacrificially, to work together for a better tomorrow.