Saturday, November 29, 2008

When Generosity Beats The Bottom Line

In these days of corporate bailouts, greed run rampant, and companies caring more about the bottom line than what is right or moral or caring, there is one story that just made my day. While I'm still not a fan of American companies selling out to overseas business ventures, this is one time I have to celebrate. Check this out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What Is It With Black Friday?

So this post isn't for a contest either, but a redhead has to process her confusion somewhere.

I come from a long line of bargain hunters. I remember getting up early one Friday after Thanksgiving to go with my grandma so we could nab all these great deals. Such a feeling of pride and accomplishment swelled up in me, and I knew that at last, I had made it into the hallowed halls of the women in my family who know how to get a discount on something that is already 90% off. So why am I suddenly filled with distaste and a bit of uncomfortable sadness as I read about all these moms who got up early today to go shopping at the crack of dawn? I mean, it's not like we're supposed to judge each other or say how someone else should live. So what is my problem?

I mean, really, I grew up with baby dolls and Fisherprice toys, and have nothing against them. And giving gifts is a blast. So what is my deal? Am I turning into Scrooge?

Maybe it's that the economy is crazy tight, and I see so much brokenness increasing daily around me. Maybe it's because I know that we could give the world clean water for just a few billion out of what was spent today. Maybe it's because the stories of people being killed or beaten up just so someone can get to the electronics section first or get that last "it" toy this year breaks my heart and makes me wonder if I belong to the human race or a race of animals. Maybe it's because I'd love for someone to make me something, for someone to spend their money on me by buying a ticket to come see me, or to just give me their time or attention. I don't know.

People keep asking me what I want for Christmas. Aside from some fun baby items and maybe something to clean my bare floors easily each day, I have no idea. I don't really need anything. I'm not in danger of going naked, though I may not be in fashion. My toes are warm, though Zappos may be missing me. I don't need any new nail polish until I can begin seeing my toes again, and I can't remember the last time I was able to use body spray since there are all these "thank you for not wearing perfume" signs everywhere I go. Our pantry and freezer are well-stocked with the fruits of my labors this summer and fall, and we've loaded up on other non-perishable items so I don't have to worry about a major grocery store run in between contractions. I have a personal library of books I can read over and again, a good collection of music, a warm house, a working computer and telephone to keep me connected to you, a car that goes most days, and one package of diapers waiting to clad a little bottom in a few weeks. What more could a girl want?

So while I could come up with something to "want", I can't say that I "need" anything. Oh, I'd like to turn my wants into needs, but when I think about folks getting their drinking water from the same place animals and people use to bathe, suddenly all of my needs vanish. And I'm left with no reason to think of today as any other day than just a regular Friday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thoughts On Gratitude Of Course

I imagine one of the turkeys is already in the oven at my grandma's, and she's probably getting sweet potatoes peeled by now. People will be waking up in her guest rooms, and more people will be arriving in a few hours. Meanwhile, I sit here on the west coast before my corner of the earth decides to reach toward the sun, and I ponder the day.

We won't be having our Thanksgiving celebration today, because my husband has to go straight from work to help some good friends of ours move into their new house. Obviously, folks here don't think about what day it is. To them, it's just another Thursday. They had Thanksgiving last month, and Christmas is at the forefront of their minds already. So we'll have our dinner tomorrow. This time it will be just the two of us, since we're still moving in and getting settled. Maybe next year I'll get back to inviting Canadian friends to participate in an American memory making event.

But just because I haven't even begun to make the dressing or figured out how I'm going to roast the cornish hens (the $5.55 turkey is being saved for Christmas so we can share the leftovers on Boxing Day with some special folks), I can still make a list of all the things for which I'm grateful. I think that's a good thing to do, especially considering that I'll be heading to the doctor in about three hours to find out if they know anything yet. Being thankful no matter what is always a good thing. So here goes in stream of consciousness order...

* I'm thankful for my husband who loves Jesus and me with all of his being. He sacrifices his own needs consistently just to take care of mine, and his gentleness and strength are a beautiful and steadying combination.

* I'm thankful for the women I get to meet with on Wednesdays. We pray together and through that work we have become friends that feel like family. I'm the youngest by a long shot, and it's nice to have all these mom and grandma types to look to.

* I'm thankful for the mountains I get to see on sunny days when the clouds part long enough. Yesterday, in one drive, I saw over six different mountains, and thanks to my husband, I know them all by name. I like how it's possible to tell the seasons based upon how much snow is on top or how packed the glaciers on a couple of them look.

* I'm thankful for Eugene. He's the ancient Jetta I drive, and though he's not nearly as attractive or perfectly reliable as the new Rav4 I owned in pre-marriage days, he faithfully partners with my mechanically inclined husband to give me mobility.

* I'm thankful for the chance to tell a part of my story just about every time I cross the border. The American border guards love asking me why in the world I'd leave home to come to Canada, and I delight in telling them.

* I'm thankful for a post office box in Washington that keeps me connected to friends and family in the States. They send me good mail with some really fun treats and surprises.

* I'm thankful for The Shack and Paul Young. God used that combination in a big way in my life this past year. My prayer life is totally different now.

* I'm thankful for my two doctors here. They both love Jesus, look to Him as the Great Physician, and feel called to be His hands and feet in their respective offices. They combine the best of faith and science.

* I'm thankful for internet connections and phone plans that let me call my best friend and other folks I only get to see once a year. Because we get to talk so often, it doesn't seem quite like I'm missing them so much.

* I'm thankful for my grandparents who have always been prayer warriors, and I know that I can always call them and ask them to talk to Jesus about something in particular.

* I'm thankful for the adopted grandmas God put in my life here, women who can teach me to can, make bread, sew clothing, answer my cooking questions, and instruct me on rainforest gardening techniques. And they do this patiently just about every week.

* I'm thankful for all the times God provided. Sometimes He did it up big with anonymous gifts of money, and sometimes He worked in small ways with a free canner or free venison or free moving boxes.

* I'm thankful for the musicians in our church home here who have taught me to connect with Jesus through worship for the first time in my life. I used to be a theological tome reading girl, who couldn't connect unless it was on a brainiac level. Things have now changed, and I like it that way. My heart has grown bigger.

* I'm thankful for Grasshopper. No matter what his story may become in these future weeks, he is one precious creation. It is such a privilege and a treasure to feel him dance and move within me. He is teaching me how to love on a deeper level, and I know he will continue that as time goes on.

* I'm thankful that Canadians allow you to bring in meat and cheese (among other groceries from the States). That sounds crazy until you realize that even with the crazy exchange rate, we saved over $35 on our turkey and routinely save over $12 on cheese. Besides, the States knows how to make good sharp cheddar.

* I'm thankful for good BBQ, even though it's been eons since I've had it.

* I'm thankful for black beans and brown rice. What can I say? Even 34 year olds can learn to love new foods.

* I'm thankful for the new relatives we recently found on my husband's side. They are such blessings.

* I'm thankful to live in berry country where blackberries grow like weeds for free everywhere, and fields of blueberries paint the landscape fiery red in the autumn.

* I'm thankful to live amongst Mennonites and East Indians. Not only do I learn to cook some really amazing foods, but I get to live in a diverse culture that is always opening my eyes to something profound.

* I'm thankful that God gave me a husband who would teach me to love adventure, to love climbing, to love ocean kayaking, and to camp primitively and actually enjoy the entire experience. Who knew a redhead could forget the last time she used her curling iron or hairspray?

* Well, I could go on and on. But I'll close by saying that I'm thankful that God doesn't leave us to our own devices, that He rescues us sometimes from making terrible mistakes (even if that means breaking our hearts), and that He sometimes lets our fairytale dreams come true. That's true in my case, and I'm so very glad and grateful. The life I live now is more than I could have dreamed, and something my own impatience and willingness to settle could never have created. How glad I am that God told me no all those times before. He knew what an amazing yes was in store for me, even if I didn't.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Always A Girl

So I've finally been brave enough to stomach the pregnancy book sections that talk about the actual act of giving birth. In my first trimester, I couldn't even go there because it made my morning sickness worse. In my second trimester, I was having too much fun to think about throwing up during transition or pooping on the delivery table. Now that I'm in my third trimester, I figured it behooved me to study up a bit. Yeah, I finally caved and got the "What to Expect" book today at the thrift store. I don't like it, and am glad it was only $1.50, but I figured I might as well have multiple versions of the various stages of agony - er, I mean labor - that I'll be going through in seven weeks or so. We've now got a collection of books from the 70's to today, written by docs, midwives, and people who think they know everything I will go through. It's thrilling, on the edge of your seat reading. Well, not exactly.

Anyway, if I'm going to possibly lose my lunch or at least the electrolytes I will have been imbibing on all labor long, and if I'm going to poop for the first time in front of my husband, I'd at least like to do it while looking fashionable. Yes, even while I'm bleeding and experiencing strange and painful bodily sensations, I want to look smashing. Since the mascara will probably have faded by then, the docs probably won't let me come in wearing jewelry, and I can't vouch for how my hair will look, a fashionable gown seems just the solution. But of course, only if it's free. (Please tell me that my quirky sense of humor is coming through, and that you know I'm not really that shallow in real life.)

That's where this post comes in. Healthy Moms is partnering with Labor Looks to provide this giveaway of a maternity hospital gown.

It seems to have a bit more potential in the fashion department than the lovely over-sized blue one I got to wear for the ultrasound at the hospital. So I'm writing this post just because I might win, and because I'm procrastinating on making dinner. It is much more fun to enter giveaways when you have heartburn than to wonder what to feed your husband when you'd rather not think about food at all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Very Keen Giveaway

I'm about to write a post because I would really love, love, love to get my husband a pair of shoes for free. But, just so you won't forget, please, please scroll down and read the next post about my dad's friend, Bill Kennedy. Now, back to something I'm really keen on.

The Daring Young Mom is having a giveway over at her place for one person to win one item of their choosing over at Keen's website.

If you visit the site, figure out what you would love to win, and go leave her a comment on this post, she will give you one entry into the the contest. And if you write up a shameless plug like I'm doing and go back with the link to your post on her comment form, she will give you another one.

Personally, I'd like to win so I could shod my husband's feet in something really comfy and wonderful, even though that means I'd be passing up the Mary Jane's I've been wanting for a long time. But my hubby is wonderful, and I'd love to surprise him with something this cool, and I know he would never go for it if he knew I'd spent the last of my babysitting money on him for shoes.

So that's what I'm keen on today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Can Help With Justice For A Modern Day Joseph

So I have this new public blog with an unknown readership. And I've got a really big request for you.

In these lame duck days, President Bush's focus goes to doing last minute things while he still has the Oval Office as his headquarters. One of those last minute tasks happens to be pardons.

I just read a story about likely pardon candidates that made me kind of roll my eyes and wonder if we'll ever get a man of complete and total integrity in political office. What I mean by that is that the candidates listed need to serve their time; they don't need a pardon. Granted, they need God's forgiveness, but they also need to face the consequences for their greed, stupidity, and outright sin.

But there is one man my dad personally knows who does not fit that description. That man is in need of a pardon. He's had everyone from big name religious folks to big name lawyers championing his case, but nothing has worked.

So I'm asking you to do what I'm going to do this week. I want you to please visit Bill Kennedy's website and read through it. Then I'd like you to write President Bush a letter, and I'd also ask you to send a copy to your local senators. And I'd like to ask you to do it this week. (And if you aren't an American, why not write anyway? After all justice is justice wherever humanity resides.)

Bill Kennedy is a modern day Joseph, and it would be nice to see him set free. Please take time out of your busy schedule to do something that would indeed fit the category of "justice for all". Please.

Feel free to copy this post and pass it on to as many people as you like.

Thank you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Anyone Thirsty?

So this post isn't for a contest or anything, and I have no idea if anyone will read it or not. But I wanted to share something.

Yes, I'm going to share a link. And yes, it's clearly connected with church-going folks. BUT, the whole idea doesn't have to be pigeonholed in Christianity. I think
the whole world could take part. After all, doing the right thing isn't just for people who subscribe to a particular religion. So if church isn't your thing, don't
tune me out yet.

Think back to the gifts you got last year for Christmas, birthdays, etc. Can you list them all? Every single one? And which ones changed your life for the better, made you joyful all year, and succeeded in finally making you fall in love with your hips? Any of them? Just asking.

Okay. Now think about what it would be like if you had a little pool of water in your neighborhood. All your neighbors got to share it with you. You used it for washing clothes, since your Whirlpool front loader just disappeared. You used it for washing dishes, because your dishwasher quit on you. You used it for bathing your thousands of body parts. You used it for brushing your teeth. You used it for cooking. Oh yes, and you used it for drinking. So did all your neighbors. The same pool of water. Doesn't that sound like a recipe for giardia or cholera? Oh yes, and your neighborhood isn't close to any medical care. So you're stuck with the bacterial infestations racking your body. So are your children. So are your neighbors.

Now that we've used our imaginations, let's head back to reality. The reality is this.

Americans spend a disgusting amount of money on gifts. We rack up credit card debt to buy things we think others need or want. Some of what we buy really is needed or wanted. But a lot of it isn't. And then we moan and groan in January when the credit card bills come and we discover that we spent more than we earned. In this economy, that's even sicker than normal.

So what if we did something different?

What if, for a tiny portion of what we spend collectively every year on gifts, we spent less and used the money we saved to bring clean water to a neighborhood?

Whether you believe Jesus is God or you think he was just a really loving guy way back in history, I think that he would approve of this idea in place of celebrating the day known as his birth. Here are some links to check out if you're so inclined....

Advent Conspiracy
Blood Water Mission
Living Water International

Here's a cool video you can check out too. It's from one of the early groups who decided to collectively give less and give the money for a clean water project instead.

I hope your Christmas is filled with meaning and beauty and satisfaction. And I wish you peace and joy and love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Introductory Post

Since having to privatize my original blog, that has meant I cannot enter writing contests, participate in theme posts, or meet new folks. So this little blog is going to rectify that issue. I won't write on it very often unless it's for one of those purposes. But it will be nice to tiptoe back out into the world again, if only a little bit.

So welcome!