Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Have you ever read about Bill Gates? About how he left Microsoft in 2006 to work full time with his wife at their foundation (a foundation is like a company that gives money to organizations that already exist). Their job is deciding how to give away their money. Makes sense that that would be a full time job, hmm? When you’re Bill Gates, at least.

Here’s a sermon series on How to Be Rich.

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Now are we being radically generous? Are we limiting spending on ourselves in order to give sacrificially, and do extraordinary things with our money? Are we living – day in, day out, month in, month out – in a way that shows in real dollars given, that we believe this life isn’t all there is and that being a Christian makes us different from the cultural norm of consumerism and selfishness.

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Aiight. So maybe you’ve given a goat to your grandmother for Christmas. Do that, if Grandma really cares about giving goats to the goatless. But if Grandma doesn’t? Give the goat anyway, and tell no one. Or do something that means something to you.

Here are charities I personally believe in:

CAMH

WorldVision

United Way

CNIB 

Whether it’s twenty dollars worth of food for the food bank, or a cheque for $200, or charging two-thousand (that you can afford to pay off!) – give. Often and freely and generously and without telling anyone (teach your kids though). Make your bank account a Christian – make it follow in the footsteps of Christ. Heal the sick, give sight to the blind, feed thousands. Because you have been given the power to do so.

Merry Christmas! Start a foundation with your spouse! After all, you’re rich!

Do you want to build a snowman?

No. I don’t. It’s too mainstream.

Seriously though, the snow is cold and icy, and I don’t want to go out alone.

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FRIENDSHIP: “The snow is cold and icy, but you are snug and warm.”

(The quote from the above illustration is from a children’s book, where a lion has a tiny bird-friend in its cap, and they are going tobogganing. I cut this out from a magazine and keep it next to my desk at work.)

I love this picture. I love the idea that the world can be cold, uncomfortable, unforgiving, barren, and ICY… brrr…cold shoulders everywhere. You aren’t wanted. Who wants to go out in that?

But a friend…a friend is snug and warm.

A friend protects you, goes with you.

My current Christmas Eve plan is to teach the kids that God is with us, all of us, even after Christmas day… in fact, he’s with us always. One of the last things Jesus ever said to his disciples was …

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (New International Version)
And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age
. (New Living Translation)
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (King James c. 1611)
behold, I am with you every day, even unto the end of time. Amen (Aramaic in Plain English)

Do you see? He is with us! For all time. In all seasons. No matter how we feel about it… he is there.

And it’s not as some mythologized Santa big brother, where he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake! He knows you in your darkness… he’s not giving up on you, he’s not holding out on you, he’s given over to holding on to you. Through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.

Elsa in Frozen has some mental health issues from a childhood trauma. Her fears are a prison for her. She can’t go out so she lives alone. Christ is like the one knocking on the door day after day asking her to go out and live life … with him.

He’s not some moral ethics teacher, saying, “Do you want to build a snowman? Because you really should go do that. I’ll be over here.” No, his teachings are, “This is what life is for, let’s go live life together.”

What I need in this cold, hard world is for my heart to be held… by the one who calls us his friends. That friendship isn’t fairweather, it’s there in the cold and ice, as a source of security and strength. And Christ demonstrated his friendship – it’s not just in title alone – by his very presence, God with us, Emmanuel. For Christmas, and for all time. God with us.

Peace

Do you see the problem here?

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Screenshot from an email from Christianbook.com

1) It’s not black friday again.

2) A book for women by a woman covered in pink faux leather talking about peace (because women have anxiety/hysteria). Oh the swirls. We like swirls and filigree because swirls rhymes with girls and we are delicate flowers and wear lace.

3) Juxtaposition of John Hagee’s fear-mongering doomsday book with a prediction about as specific as one can be when it comes to the end of days…, “SOMETHING…..is about to change.”

FFFFUUUUUU

Unfriending

It’s obvious, but needs me a good remindin’, that not everyone called “Friend” on Facebook is a friend. It’s why I don’t care about everything I see on my newsfeed and despite vigilant unfollowing nevertheless find myself overwhelmed by how much must be scrolled past (#firstworldproblems).

I went through my Friends list today and removed over a hundred people. It’s not much but it’s a small stab at the problem of information overload and I hope my newsfeed is better for it.

I doubt the cleansing is over (sinister laugh).

To be frank, though, I’m not concerned that I’m becoming a heartless sociopath, because I care about many hundreds of people in my life and on FB, in my circles of friends and acquaintances. Facebook, unfortunately, has become a place where there are so many people sharing intimate details of their life (family photos) it’s like a white noise of baby announcements and timed runs and OMYGOSHEVERYONEISPREGNANT.

*ahem* Anyway.

I drew this, with regards to how scrolling through my FB newsfeed can make me feel like everyone is pregnant or has babies, when in reality, it’s just Facebook: land of young moms:

FBboolean

There is a disproportionate amount of newborns and pregnancies on FB because of how effective it is at disseminating adorable baby photos to family & friends (the people that actually care). Some I’m able to ignore but sometimes it feels awkward…like I’m standing in a room full of strangers who are friends with each other but not me and I’m wondering why I’m even there. Or it’s like being forced to stare at an advertisement while waiting for a bus or subway to arrive – an ad for Coca-Cola or LifeMates – you might be able to ignore it if you hate coke or are happily mated, but if you’re lonely or thirsty that day the ads just make you feel it more acutely.

THUS, the cleansing.

Time to make Facebook a little FRIENDLIER and a little less STRANGE (because I’m unfriending the relative strangers on my friends list… in case that wasn’t clear).

Know thy audience

I find it hard to be motivated to write here when I don’t know who I’m writing for. Who is my audience? (WHO ARE YOU, READER?)

The Good News isn’t good news in a vacuum, it’s not news unless there’s an audience with a history. Newness implies there is oldness, some sort of context. Con text. With text. With words. What are your words, what’s your story that creates a landscape, that create a dialogue, to receive good news?

There is a place to preach gospel to myself. A personal blog is a good place for that.

But I want to preach gospel to you.

Who is in the congregation behind the glowing screen?

(and out in the ether the question hangs)

Awkward, Awkward Moments with Christine

All from today, Sunday. I work at a church.

Me: We’re getting into the Bible, and the Bible is getting into us!

Intelligent child not getting the subtleties of language making a scene and derailing the conversation with comments akin to: OW! That’s going to hurt! and enacting something akin to being gutted…

Me: Well, the Bible isn’t going to fly into us…like a … *tries not to use militaristic language but fails to come up with anything other than:* BULLET…HAHA…we don’t want the Bible FLYING into us like a …*tries to use an age appropriate word for children in grade 2 but only comes up with:* PROJECTILE… When we read things they go INTO our eyes, and when we hear things they go INTO our ears, and …*manages to avoid talking about eating the Word of God despite knowing that at some point that is good theology* SO WE WANT THE BIBLE TO GET INTO our HEARTS! AND MINDS! *thinks of the aliens from the Simpsons*

Man who makes balloon animals: Ok this thing is for girls! Girls like this. Can you guess what it is?

Me, going with the sexist answer: Shopping?

Visiting mom: Candy? Chocolate?

Me: Oh, I love chocolate!

Man working on balloon: Nope, girls and women like this…

Me: Control!

Man: … did you just say control?

(the balloon “animal” was a Cinderella)

 

(Earlier, with same balloon animal man, who has the ability to completely disarm you and make you open up because of his balloon animal-making hypnosis)

Man: So where are your kids?

Me: Mine? I don’t have any kids.  I’m the children’s minister.

Man: Well, you could still have kids… right? Unless, that’s impossible.

Me: *he’s probably not asking me if I’m fertile, no one asks that…what’s happening, is he asking if I’m single?* Oh no I’m married! I could have kids. 

Man: Ok I wasn’t sure if as a minister what the deal was with…*motions to church*

Me: Oh, yea! The Anglican church is fine with women priests…being married… we’re cool with … *trailing off as I realize my inclusivity list is getting awkward* ... divorce…d people…

 

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 A parishioner is giving green onions grown from her garden to one of her friends, who has now a whole bag full. I come over because I can smell them, and she offers me some which I eagerly take. I then proceed to walk around for twenty minutes with fresh cut green onions, chatting with people, smelling strongly of onions, and occasionally holding them at arms length away from the conversation hoping not to overwhelm folks with my onion smell. 

Joy is a habit.

I am a HUGE FAN of Ann Voskamp. Huge fan. 

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Today she posted this, and while normally I’m resistant to anything that hints at “just think positive” as though cognitive behaviour therapy isn’t really hard… I like the little play on words:

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When you think of joy as a robe, joy is an article of clothing you put on, you are acknowledging that joy isn’t your birthday suit, it isn’t that au naturel way of being. Joy is of the Lord. We are anxious, pessimistic, fearful beings at times, and as much as we want to be reprogrammed (love that song) we unfortunately can’t change ourselves with the flip of a switch. What we can do, however, is put something on that is new and uncomfortable at first and wear it so often we are moulded into it, it transforms us, we become trained in it until it becomes natural. We are organic beings that grow and wilt and need time to change. We need to work at new things, train ourselves to be different that what we are naturally. 

And I love the imagery of a habit. Humility marks the life of a monk. You put on that robe to remind you that to be something you are not naturally takes swallowing your pride. And being at risk of being a shiny happy person.

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Birth Control

A woman in victorian garb using her parisol to threaten the advancing stork-w-a-baby-hanging-around-its-neck.
No you have never seen anything better than this.

 

I love Buzzfeed.

This post is written by a member of the community and like all things on the internet, tended to get a bit…reductionist: We Asked 24 Women Why They Don’t Use Birth Control…

There are a few assumptions one could make about this topic:

  • It’s obvious from the content of their answers that they’re referring not to birth control at large (which includes anything used to prevent birth, such as condoms, spermicide, IUDs…), but “The Pill.”
  • They could be catholics.
  • They could be allowing for “Fertility Awareness” methods that mean you don’t have sex during that particularly fertile window. Still birth control, technically.
  • They could be like the Duggars, and hoping to have 19 children.
  • They could be against all forms of modern medicine and not vaccinate their children or accept blood transfusions.
  • They could be lesbians!

The point is, we just don’t know. These are women who have made deeply personal, and hopefully well-informed decisions based on a lot of factors. Their religious background, their moral compass, their understanding of medicine as well as their own bodies are all factors in making this decision.

But alas, when it’s presented on a piece of white cardboard, it just seems so simple, doesn’t it?

One assumption that many of the cards suggest is that The Pill is for women that can’t control themselves. This is unfortunate. We love to divide ourselves into these camps of people who are morally righteous and pit ourselves against those whom (we judge) aren’t.

Comparing ourselves against others just distances us from others… which seems to be the noble goal but it’s a temporary ego boost for long-term loneliness, anger and doesn’t get us any closer to God.

The only righteous one, the only good one (you know, fully, completely, ultimately good – the one who makes completely informed decisions because he’s all knowing and is a fair yet merciful judge) is God… surprise.

So quit throwing stones. Keep reading other’s stories. Keep practising compassion and if you’re really interested in informing young women about the potential risks of The Pill, then go into education, or medicine!

But for the love of God, put down those signs.

life is short and sweet

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