Empty the Pews

I don’t want to talk about this. But for too long, the silence has been deafening. The elephant is not only in the room, but friends, it has shat the bed. I’ve always been a clean-as-you-go kind of person, but … Continue reading

We Don’t Need Superheroes

I did not grow up with comic books or graphic novels – any pop culture, really. Those frivolities are of little notice when you’re sure the world is going to end by the time you’re 13. So, in the last … Continue reading

…maybe it’s PPD

Earlier today, I posted my very first Facebook Live video. For some reason, I decided to make it light and fluffy by asking people to tell me their stories of Post Partum Depression – or PPD.

The response I got was…immense. 

Sometimes I feel like God’s sole purpose of putting me on earth is to ask the hard, awkward questions – because out of 7 billion people planet wide, I cannot be the only person who thinks/feels/wonders about certain things? And maybe if I just sack up and take one for the team, then maybe others will feel like it’s okay for them to talk about it too? 

The thing is, I’m not sure if I have PPD. I wouldn’t blame or shame myself if I did. If you’ve followed me at all in the last couple of years, you’ll know that pregnancy and birth and motherhood has kind of done a number on me. 

But maybe it’s just the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in. So if I just list off all the pinballs that are bouncing around in my brain, maybe I’ll win the game instead of dropping like it’s hot. 

Winter.

It’s the middle of February and I have never done well in winter to start. I need sunshine and blue skies and lake days and smelling like campfire smoke to really thrive as a person. 

So why would I question my well-being when I’m basically trapped indoors with a helpless creature who would probably burst into flames if exposed to the sun longer than 5 minutes?

I’m talking about the baby, not my husband. *ba dump chh*

Sleep

I’ve never been a sleep-till-noon sort of person but I truly fire on all cylinders when I’ve had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. And being a mom is not like your teen years where you babysat for 6 hours, then spent your money at the 7-11 and video store (oh I am soooo dating myself right now) so you could stay up til 3am with your girlfriends, and then be *so tired* the next day but it was fine because you could settle the sleep score the next night. 

No.

This is sleeping two hours, being awake for an hour, sleeping maybe another 2 hours etc FOR MONTHS. There’s a reason why they use sleep deprivation as a torture device, friends. IT SHITS ON YOUR BRAIN. 

Stuff I’ve known my whole life is now living in that deep chasm from Inside Out, full of colored memory marbles that are slowly becoming dust. 

And all the new stuff I know, the stuff I do every day, starts to run like cookies in the oven that were put too close together. The thing I did 5 minutes ago was actually 5 days ago.

Last night, I forgot to medicate my son. He went a whole 16 hours without the medicine that literally helps his heart not beat too fast. Because I’ve done it approximately 360 times, right, so why would last night be any different? But there it was this morning, an already-full syringe that should have been coursing through Harrison’s blood stream for the last 8 hours. 

And also? *straps on a megaphone*

SLEEP TRAINING SUCKS BALLS (BALLS) (BALLS) (BALLS) 

My words echoed because I was standing on the edge of my Inside Out chasm. 

On that note…

Dreams

 In those precious hours where sleep does come, your thoughts might occasionally dance on your shit-for-brains and proceed to make a Jackson Pollack on the walls of your subconscious. 

I have had dreams where my baby is dead. SIDS, drowning, heart failure, I could go on. 

I have had dreams where the hospital doctors decided he wasn’t thriving with us, so they took him away to live with better parents. 

I have had dreams where he never gets here because I’m having another miscarriage. 

I’ve had dreams where he never talks or laughs or plays because he is destined to be a baby FOREVER and I think it’s our fault for calling ourselves The Buttons. 

I f*cking hate dreaming. 

The World Sitch

As an adult that was raised in a lot of end-of-days theologies I’ve had to toss out to maintain my sanity, I’m feeling pretty damn triggered lately. 

So much shit that I was taught to keep an eye out for is actually happening now. I don’t care what your worldview or political affiliations are, you have to admit that every morning brings a new shitshow to read about or watch on the news. 

So? You say. Just ignore all of that. It’s so negative and you can’t trust what you read/hear anyway. 

That’s part of the problem. I feel like I have two choices: feel shitty about bringing a child into the shitty world all the time, or be ignorant, uninformed, and ultimately unable to make the world a better place in my corner of it. I don’t want to block my senses, singing LALALA, IF I CAN’T SEE YOU, YOU CAN’T SEE ME. 

I want to care, and to me that means not letting my privilege make me selective in what I care about.
Being what kids these days call WOKE feels impossible when a mama just wants to sleep. 

The Future

Que sera sera, and all that. I have no control over any of it. I just know that it’s going to be different than what I thought. 

Right now, my husband is mostly unemployed and soul-searching. Maybe he’ll morph into a stay-at-home dad. Forever, my son has Noonan’s syndrome. Maybe he’ll grow up accepted for who he is, where he’s at, and maybe he won’t. A few years from now, we’d like to take our family to Disneyland, or maybe it’ll all be underwater. 

So? Am I suffering from PPD? I still don’t know. As someone brilliant once said, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes.” 

Or sleep deprivation, or World War 3. You know, those old nuggets. I guess time and sunshine will tell. 

A Canadian’s Guide To Understanding How Donald Trump Made It This Far

I know, I know. *already shaking my damn head*

After much deliberation, I’m adding my opinion of the 2016 US election to the growing pile. At this point, you’re probably even more sick of it than I am, and won’t want to keep reading.

I don’t blame you. But hang on for a moment longer.

I’m not here to make a list of everything wrong with Donald Trump – you’ve already been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt.

image

No, not this one

I’m here to set a few records straight, because as a former American living in Canada, I’ve been getting some inquiries:

“How is anything Trump even says sounding good to Americans??”

“Are evangelicals *really* the majority of his voters??”

“Just…why?????

They deserve some answers, and even though I’m just one woman with little to no understanding of how politics works, I’m here to share what I see.

1. Many American people suffer from a major spirit of poverty.

I’m not just talking about poor and homeless people, which it sadly has plenty of – I’m talking about people who have enough, but don’t know it. With some of the largest records in credit card debt, workaholic standards, food waste, welfare, obesity, environmental hazards and privilege in the world, Americans are drowning in the pool of Too Much & Not Enough. And the fear that one day everything they hold dear will be taken away from them is firmly in the driver’s seat.

2. Many American people have been blaming immigrants and citizens of different skin colours alike for the state the country is in, for years.

Most of us can admit, looking back, that the whole enslavement of black people leading up to the Civil War was pretty wrong. (In fact, the enslavement of any people group in any point of history is pretty wrong.) We’re thankful for people like Abraham Lincoln who helped abolish that law; we remember his assassination still.

So why are the KKK still in action? Why is the Confederate flag such a sacred cow that no one had better speak against? Why are people being shot down in the streets daily because of how they look?

Because you can abolish a law, but it doesn’t change a person’s heart. Your mom can *make* you apologize for punching your brother, and you can say it well enough to appease all parties involved, but maybe your fingers were crossed and you can’t wait to punch him again when no one’s looking – because only you know how much the little punk is really asking for it.

There’s a movie from the late 90’s called American History X. It’s focused in L.A., on the gang wars between multiple races and a white supremacist neo-Nazi group, and two brothers caught in between.

It’s disturbing, eye-opening, horrifying, violent – and I believe it should be required viewing for every university-age person on the planet.

It has challenged me multiple times, seeing how subtly deep the levels of racism go, mixed with a prominent attitude of “I’m a good, hardworking white American, so if anything bad happens to me, it’s definitely the fault of that guy over there! America was so much better before people like him came here.”

Sound familiar?

3. Many Americans identify as Evangelical or Christian in census and survey, without even realizing what those words imply.

I mean, you’re not an atheist or a pagan or *shudder* a Muslim, right? Your hardworking, white American ancestors that *ahem* emigrated over on the Mayflower raised you better than that. And you definitely were in church at least twice this year, so put a little ✔ next to that Evangelical box and you’re good til next time.

4. And sometimes, in a perfect clusterf*ck, all of these attitudes collide in the same people.

They are the ones voting for Donald Trump.

And why not? Finally, after EIGHT YEARS of having to deal with a president who’s black and probably secretly a Muslim, here comes a successful white guy who is promising you more money and less immigrants – all under the banner of your Evangelical flag. He gets you. He knows what you need, and he isn’t afraid to speak it out boldly, like a kid in a candy store who’s never heard the word “no.”

Except, PSYCH! He owns the candy store, and now you can never leave because he’s going to feed you sugar until you die.

Whether he completely believes everything he says or not, he knows you’re ripe for the picking.

All of it bums me out, but highest on the list is how the label of Evangelical has been dragged into it.

JESUS WOULDN’T VOTE FOR DONALD, MMKAY?!

Somewhere deep down, I’m sure Jesus loves Donald as much as he does the rest of us, but even he has to admit the man is batshit crazy.

Jesus wants a government of justice and peace for ALL, not just the hardworking, white American. His heart breaks every time one of his children is gunned down in the street again, no matter what color their skin is. He designed that skin. He knows every scar inside and out, and he says you are enough.

That’s what I believe with my whole heart; that’s the Jesus I know.

But if you don’t know that, then it makes sense that you would see the label Evangelical Christian and automatically brace yourselves to meet another asshole like Trump.

And sometimes, honestly, we are. But some of us are trying our hardest to show the difference.

I hope you see it, I hope it gives YOU hope, and I hope that the next 8 months will go by quickly and painlessly.

Goodness, can I have some fries and gravy with that cheese? Canadian OWT.

Build a Bigger Table

Since the beginning of time, we have been on the move.

For any number of reasons: water, food, shelter, dinosaurs, volcanos, family ties, earthquakes, adventure, danger, curiosity, beauty, divine calling, opportunity, safety, home.

Home; the thing we long for most, the reason for all the wandering – we want to go to there.

Look around you.

None of us originated where we are. Maybe you have to go back a few generations, but chances are, someone somewhere in your family took a chance – a leap from where they were to where you find yourself now.

The square root of all humanity is immigration.

Only in the last few hundred years (maybe longer, I wasn’t there) has the world begun to define its resources as “mine” instead of “ours.” Finders keepers, losers weepers.

We think we actually own stuff, just because we have it. Meanwhile, the bank, the credit card company, maybe even God himself, are all chuckling to themselves a bit because they know you’re almost nothing without them.

I was almost nothing, once.

I was 18, living on $5-an-hour in a $12-an-hour world. Somewhat educated, a whole lot unprepared for real life.

Why? Because I was an immigrant. Not from Syria or Africa or India – from the United Freaking States of America.

How did this happen?

My family situation was one of fear: the future, the US government, relationships, Harry Potter. Nothing was to be trusted except ourselves and God. But he’s kind of a wild card, so tread lightly.

I’m 28 years old and I’ve lived in Canada since I was 10. But only in the last 5 years have I been legally able to drive, work, travel, get married and have an education. The previous 13 were spent in fear, hopelessness, depression, guilt, worthlessness and secrecy.

Once I took the step and made myself known to the Canadian government through refugee status, I didn’t know what would happen. Jail? Deportation? I had not kept up connections with anyone in the US except for a couple of friends. No family. I’d barely graduated high school, and I had no resume except the occasional babysitting and housecleaning. #HollaAtMeMexicanStereotypes

I was scared. My mom (at the time) did not support my decision to officially emigrate. Are you *supposed* to do things your mom doesn’t want you to do?

But after 4 long years of waiting, surprises were in store. I was not deported, but my mom was.
Turns out working 40 hours a week is really hard, but minimum wage is really nice.
Europe was pretty amazing; I’ve heard other places are just as good, so I might go there too.
I can’t imagine my heart or my life without my husband.
My home, with my little cat and my big dog and the dishes I hate doing and the laundry machine that whirs peacefully, is a gift.
In the big scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and everything to be thankful for.

I want that for my Syrian humans. And my East Indian humans, my Asian humans. My native American, African, South American, Mexican, Russian, European, American & Canadian humans. All the humans.

And if they have to come to where I am to receive that, then my arms are open.

Because I’ve lived with nothing, and others have shared with me. If they hadn’t, I’d probably be dead, inside and out.
And now that I have some things, I want to share with others in need too.

What we have before us is an opportunity to love greatly with simple actions. Don’t miss it.

**On behalf of the town of Smithers, British Columbia, I say WELCOME to the Syrian families that will be joining us soon. I hope we can make things better.**

image

My Inner Child Is A Cool Teenager Now

I have an admission to make:

I’m turning 28 in a matter of weeks.

But I’m pretty sure I’m still 16 on the inside, and last weekend I discovered…I love it.

When I actually *was* 16, I constantly heard from strangers that they had taken me to be at least 25. Now, people are surprised to hear that 28 is approaching. That’s not a humble brag – that’s actually a sort of effed-up psychological facet that I’m starting to explore.

For starters, I didn’t have much of a childhood. As a homeschooled only child preparing for the Apocalypse to hit in Y2K, I took life (and what I thought was left of it) pretty seriously. Books were for learning survival skills in the woods, even in something like Little House on the Prairie. Movies were for becoming desensitized to blood and violence and end-times scenarios. Music was for prayer and thoughtful reflection. I “grew up” pretty quickly.

I learned a lot. I learned that you can’t predict anything the future holds. And because of that, I learned that you have to live a little, otherwise you might as well already be dead.

As you can imagine, my upbringing made me a little…awkward out in regular social circles. I was not cool, no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I found my self-deprecating charm that people enjoyed. I joined Facebook; I started blogging. My “voice” online feels like it could be important, but out in the real world, there’s no way that being 28, among all the other 28 year olds, is something I’m ready for.

So I hosted a sleepover. At my house. For 6 teenage girls, and one 7 year old little sister. Throughout my childhood, I had been the babysitter for almost all of them. #OkayIDOFeelOld

It wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas for our sleepover. Teenage girls? Cupcakes, dance competitions, pizza, face masks, nail polish, Bollywood musicals and Disney cartoons and selfies.

It’s so simple. *mic drop*

image

image

17 hours later, it was declared “the best sleepover ever”; we stayed up til 3am, talking about The Hunger Games, Divergent, as well as Shawn Mendes, Imagine Dragons & Taylor Swift. I knew all the songs on their iPods, to their genuine surprise. They all want to divide up my house into their own rooms to live there permanently. As long as they have access to an easy-bake oven.

Quotes of the Night

“My booty is unshakeable!” – Alys

“I’ve been interpretive dancing for approximately an hour and a half.” – Journey

“Um, esscuse me, is that fruit punch organic? If not, I’m leaving.” – Camryn

“Burn! That’s checkin’ your white privilege right there!” – Avery

I never thought I’d live to see these little girls become teenagers. They’re enchanting in their almost-woman-ness. And now, like some sort of weird Benjamin Button story, we have met in the middle. I finally belong.

I used to be ashamed of myself, my weird amalgamation of balancing my checkbook and watching The Vampire Diaries, not being late to work while eating leftover Kraft Dinner for breakfast. (Although I AM determined to finish Anna Karenina & Les Miserables, maybe even find someone to have an intelligent conversation about them.)

I’m sure I’ll grow up one day. Just, for now, let me have this. It’s the most myself I’ve ever been.

image

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Take Me To Church

I am what you might call a “church-goer”. I look back on my life and cannot remember a time that I was not connected to a church somewhere. I’ve attended chapel at school, chapel at camp, Presbyterian church, Alliance church, Foursquare church, home church, Pentecostal church, Evangelical Free church, Salvation Army church, Baptist church, and back to Pentecostal church. Morning worship, communion, Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, children’s church, youth group – sometimes attending, sometimes leading. I’ve done it all.

What can I say, sometimes they have snacks. And always really good juice. I know it wasn’t koolaid because I’m still alive. (Really, Carly? Too soon.)

It’s not hard to picture going to church like going to a family reunion. There are people you know, some you love, some that you’re just like “ehh.” And if you go to church alone like I have for most of my life, then sometimes you actually *do* get adopted by some parents or grandparents that take you home for lunch after the service since you are probably wasting away.

A church has always been my place of refuge, confession, re-confirmation of faith. Where I could find God the easiest.

And now, I find myself being called away. Maybe not from church completely, but from what I think I know and believe about church.

Like any family, church assemblies occasionally go through rough patches. Fighting, gossip, disagreement over how things should be done, taking sides, misunderstandings, financial stress; sometimes, people walk out and don’t come back. Bridges are burned, hearts smoldering in the ashes.

Unfortunately, in these situations, the rest of the world looks at people like us and points vigorously, “See! I knew they were hypocrites! That’s why *I* don’t go to church.”

And unfortunately, some of us are not humble enough to admit that it might be true. So, once again, the reputation of God gets dragged through the mud.

I have recently discovered that I am very passionate about the integrity of God’s reputation. And that because of this, I need to be equally as passionate about the possibility that I may not be right about everything.

“Anyone who gets to the end of their life with the exact same beliefs and opinions as they had in the beginning is doing it wrong.” – Sarah Bessey

Some people might call this instability; a flaky standpoint. I call it maturity.

When I first started out, no matter which of those many churches I attended, my core beliefs were always the same.

God is watching my every move angrily so I better toe the line. God hates gay people. God hates women who have had abortions. Poverty and homelessness is God’s way of saying they should have worked harder. People that aren’t white or Christian are kind of scary; I should avoid them. Women should be seen and not heard in church. Men are always right, especially pastors because God speaks directly to them always. I am a bastard child, but God might still have room for me somewhere, if I try hard enough.

I don’t remember actually hearing any of those words being spoken to me personally or from the pulpit. (Especially considering my 2 year experience at the Salvation Army church, where they are all about women serving equally in whatever capacity!)
They were just…there. Maybe they were the lies I was born with, and no one bothered to set me straight. These lies would tangle around my heart like poison ivy.

But as the years have passed, a garden scissor has slowly been cutting through – a painful act of being set free.
They aren’t done yet. For the truth to continue, for the pruning to yield more fruit, I need to step out of the comfort of the church building for awhile. It’s far too easy to arrive at a church every week, dressed in your Sunday best, to stand and sing a few songs, sit and listen to a few words, learn a few lessons, greet a few well-known strangers, and then run out the door to beat the brunch crowd.

I’m not saying that everyone does this. I’m just saying that unless I’m living in a country that forces me to sneak-read my Bible, or whisper Jesus’ name for threat of death, I am the laziest Christian ever.

Turns out I’m not alone. I have friends who suspect there is more to this Jesus person and his way of life, and they want in.

“So you moved me, out of myself and into the fire… I can’t go with you and stay where I am, so you moved me…” – Susan Ashton, You Move Me

And so we’re going on a journey together. We don’t know where it will go, or what it will look like yet. But we do know that there will be no politics. Separation of church and state is still a thing.
We do know that it won’t always be on a Sunday.
We do know that we won’t be meeting in a building, and that there won’t be any programs designed to draw people in to the latest spiritual attraction.
We do know that it will be hard as hell, like someone’s pulled the plug on our Matrix-induced slumber and now we can see things as they really are.

Because that’s what we’re asking for: the real, warm, hard truth. To meet anyone and everyone in that truth, in
their story, and walk it out together.

For example, next week, the town is offering a bike course to teach kids how to ride bikes if they don’t know how. The course needs volunteers. So, next week, we’re going to show up, and help out. Because we know that if we can teach even one child how to ride a bike, we’ve changed their world. We don’t have a building with a kids program to invite them to, but we have our hands and hearts, ready to meet a need in the here and now. We didn’t have a board meeting, we didn’t take a vote, we’re just going.

Last week, we hosted a party where an entire pig was roasted on a spit, and many people I’d never met before showed up. And I talked to some of them. And I tried goat meat for the first time. And I helped a friend through 5 contractions in her long labour. It was all terrifying and exhilarating.

Maybe sometime, we’ll collect some of our own money to help a single mom without any strings attached. Meals For Moms is still going strong, and I’m thankful for that open door.

Maybe the week after that, one of our D.J. friends will book a wedding reception, and he’ll take a few of us over to start a celebration without asking anyone what their religious affiliation is.

Because love and building relationship and challenging any hidden prejudices is the name of our non-game.

Who knows what could happen?

And when we do get together to study the word of God, we’re going to ask the scary questions. We’re going to wrestle the angels until we find a crown worth keeping.

Maybe a woman will preach without feeling like she has to ask permission. Maybe a child will hear God speak and share it for our knowledge and benefit. Maybe we’ll see a body or soul be healed in front of our eyes.
Maybe we’ll fall on our faces, failing miserably.
Maybe we’ll get back up again.
Maybe we’ll wash out the bitter taste of God’s name in others’ mouths with pure water, free of hypocrisy and hidden agendas.
Maybe I’ll finally learn who I’m meant to be, and cut the last tangle of poison ivy from the soil of my soul.

That’s what I’m asking for.

[To be continued…hopefully]

Next Time

At this time last year, I was four days late. My breasts were sore, my appetite had changed; something new was going on.

My husband and I welcomed our first pregnancy with shock and awe. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

6 weeks later, our baby was gone. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

I still can’t believe it’s been almost a year. A year of walking through a strange fog of grief that only someone else who’s experienced it can understand.

We haven’t tried again. We’re afraid. We want to be secure in finances and housing and knowledge about child-rearing – but really, can you ever be?

Ever the optimist, I have hope that one day soon, our life will hear the sounds of a newborn cry morphing into the pitter patter of little feet running down our floor.

And once it does, this is what I want to do.

1. Next time, I want to tell my husband the news a little more creatively.

As much as he loved the news, I’m sure he will appreciate being told in a way that doesn’t involve being woken at 6:30 on a weekend to have a pee-covered stick shaken in his bleary face.

2. Next time, I want to tell more people in person.

Technology is great for sharing news, but there’s just something extra special in seeing a loved one’s face explode with joy in #realtime.

3. Next time, I want to tell people early-ish.

We announced our pregnancy to our world just shy of 8 weeks in. A foolish thing, some might say, but I believe something unexpectedly bad can happen to a pregnancy at any time. I’m not jinxing anything if I share early. It was a life saver for me to be able to use my blog and Facebook as a platform to document every high and low of my 9-week pregnancy and the weeks that followed. Every time I made an update, I knew I had people waiting to support me with comments, prayers or even just silent heart emoticons. Friends appeared out of the woodwork with their own stories of loss, that I might have never known otherwise, and I value that more than keeping secrets for taboo’s sake.

4. Next time, I want to ignore my phone a little more.

“Hi! Welcome to the MyPregnancy App! Today, your precious baby is the size of a raspberry. Make sure you avoid soft cheese and raw fish. Watch this video of computer-generated genitals emerging from your cartoon baby’s abdomen!”

*An hour later*

“Sweetie, your baby is *still* the size of a raspberry, and probably will be tomorrow as well. You know how at sometimes you keep checking the fridge in hopes that new food has magically appeared? Same concept here. Go take a nap.” – what MyPregnancy App should have said.

5. Next time, I want to finally become a fashionista.

I am not fashion-conscious. At all. I am the reigning queen of hand-me-downs and thrift store bargains. There’s nothing wrong with that. But my queendom has been established for more than 10 years. I’ve been out of high school for only 8 years. Yes, if you do the math, that’s a problem. But not one that I can justify changing until I literally cannot fit into those clothes anymore. And there’s never been a cuter time to be pregnant, Pinterest will tell you that right now. Hang in there, holey wardrobe. Your time is coming.

6. Next time, I want all the photos.

One of my good friends took my wedding photos almost 3 years ago. I booked her that same day to take all my family’s photos for all time ever. But before that, I want baby shower photos, I want maternity photos, I want labour & birth (YES, birth) photos, and I want newborn photos.

This will be my “rainbow” baby, and I want to soak myself in their presence, just once, before I’m too tired to function and staring at a tiny stranger who’s changed my whole life.
I want to revel in every glorious inch of those days before and after because I’m making up for lost time.

I know that the world is already flooded with baby photos that everyone else is sick of, but you don’t understand. It’s my turn. You don’t have to look at the pictures, but don’t you dare deny me the joy of sharing them, just like I’ve shared every single other difficult step it took to get me here.

7. And finally, next time…

…even if I don’t accomplish everything on this list, my baby will still be here, and I will still be a good mom. Because Love conquers Lists and Fashion and Pregnancy Apps and Photography.

And I’ve got Love in spades.