Monday, September 07, 2015

We are ordinary people with extraordinary plans

There are so many reasons people sponsor refugees and support the acceptance of more refugees in Canada; previous refugees want their family members to live safely and freely, faith calls us to act justly for all people, our humanity inspires us to feel compassion for all humanity, the Canadian economy needs more people, if we were in their shoes we would want them to help as we should help, to reciprocate to others what our ancestors needed when they were refugees and from there the reasons are as numerous as the people we are.

In 1990 I went to Missionsfest Vancouver for the first time and that was how it started. I was 12 going on 16... you know how it is. Anyway I was sucked in right then and there. I went every year till I moved to Manitoba and then I went every year in Manitoba. I will also say from childhood I knew compassion, through the example my parents gave and God's direction on my life, either way it all came together and I planned to be a missionary. I wanted to save the world, especially the vulnerable and voiceless from injustice in the world. Under my grad photo in my year book the caption reads"some say that one day you might find her serving oatmeal to the hungry people in Ethiopia."  Long story made shorter, I married a pastor and had a family and end up in Altona MB instead of the jungles of the worlds injustice. Yes Altona - the most peaceful, problemless place on the face of the planet.(over simplified but mostly true) Mennonites, they're so pleasant.:) About a year after moving to Altona I heard about a man who was planning to help refugees come to Altona who was part of an organization called Build A Village. I said " I will meet this man, Ray Loewen, and join this effort." and so I did. It's been about 11 years now that Build A village has been doing the local work of sponsoring and walking with newly arrived refugees. Amazing how things work out, I get to be a voice for the voiceless and create a safe haven for those who have felt injustice and I don't have to live across the seas to do it.

We are ordinary people with extraordinary plans

Sometimes we think the 'great acts' of 'saving the world' sound awesome but we quickly reason that 'that' is really for someone else, someone with more influence, qualifications, resources and more power to change things, we look to the rich and especially passionate people, someone good with words or the young and energetic. And with these thoughts we make our excuse, we pass our opportunity by and we are wrong.

We are ordinary people who act on extraordinary plans

In the case of Build a Village God seems to always show us an extraordinary plan with no present evidence to back it up, what I am saying is 'it's crazy' but we have learned from experience that 'crazy', is not so crazy with God .... and a community of mennonites. Build a Village partners with MCC to sponsor refugees every year and in the face of this national movement to respond immediately we are working on a plan again to respond. Keep an eye on the BAV facebook page for the coming details.

If you have an interested community of people or you are an individual that would like to know more about how we have sponsored refugees over the years and how it is impacting a community 10 years in, don't be shy to ask us.

Ordinary but really extraordinary.

Last night I was at a rally in Winnipeg to demonstrate my support that Canada needs to increase the number of refugees it allows into Canada. We can do better and I pray that we will as a nation. Thanks for the welcome by Canada's first nations, it was especially moving. And thanks to those that organized, shared their stories and inspirations My friend and fellow blogger Elexis shares more about the rally in her blog post.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A beautiful gift

I got something given to me, a gift from a friend. This is a different kind of gift than you might expect, one that I am certain not many people 'round these parts have ever been given. It is a gift that took time and courage to give. It is an ancient gift with more history and culture wrapped up in it than my existence can even comprehend. It is a gift that after given is not able to be given back or re-gifted, yet I can in some ways re-gift it to you by telling you about it. It goes everywhere with me until it is warn out. This gift comes with a blessing that isn't spoken it's just felt. It says "You and I have been together. I am so proud to be your friend." And the blessing is reciprocated.

So what is it?
The gift --- My friend from Sudan dyed my toes with henna.

This is how it went  - Picture a beautiful park and large group of women from many cultures gathered around, with all eyes on my toes. Hawa took my foot up on her knee and started to apply the henna paste she had just mixed, she formed it onto the ends of my toes. It was a very precise working of the paste so that each cap had a good shape and clean edges. Then she put tiny wood chips between my toes to keep the toes separated. After the second foot was done I let them dry for 3 hours. My friend Elexis got her finger tips done. Hawa told us that this is a special thing done for women in parts of Africa for their wedding or when they are having a baby( Put the brakes on the rumor mill - neither of us are in these categories, all for fun). I felt humbled to be a part of this very rich and elegant tradition. On a whim I asked her about the henna, not thinking of anything that had come before it or would come after it.

So what did come after? Well. at first my toes were orange and I laughed. They made others laugh. People questioned why I did it. They turned brown. I got more mixed reactions from people and I learned some things about myself. They turned black.  Elexis and I started a support group to handle the negative reactions and I processed more lessons learned. I embraces them and I decorated them with some Cindy-style creativity and most of all I recognized what a gift I had received. Now three weeks later the colour has faded and all it back to normal but am I back to normal? ok ok some of you would never have considered me normal to start with and I can appreciate that but truly you know what I mean.

Here are some fresh thoughts/lessons born out of this gift and experience:

- Beauty is subjective for humanity. We are part of a very diverse world that has many ideas about beauty.
- No one but God can define perfect beauty and I am almost certain his definition has nothing to do with the outside skin-deep beauty.
- It caused me to think - When someone comes in the room looking 'different' how do I react? Inside thoughts or outward actions?
- What people think of me matters but maybe in someways it shouldn't matter so much.

I encourage you to see people and their styles of beauty as beautiful even if it's not your choice of beauty.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Because we Like it Fresh

Why write when it's all been written about already?
Why speak when it' all been spoken about?
Why create art when so much art has already been created?
Why sing a new song when the old songs already say it all?
Why read it again when you've read it all before?

I'm growing a garden again this year - vegetables and weeds. Gardens are awesome because they produce the freshest foods you will ever eat. When growing your own garden you can eat a carrot just seconds after it is removed from the ground, you don't even have to wash it, you just have to rub it on a relatively clean swatch of grass and it's good for consumption. And when you do consume that carrot you will taste and see that there is no carrot sold in a store that can rival it's freshness and flavor...ahh I can't wait.

Here's the connection to the above questions

Because just like we love it fresh when it comes to garden veggies we crave the fresh words and experiences in life too, we want to see something new and feel the vibe of the fresh tunes, we want to know what's the latest with family and friends, and I especially feel it today when I think of my experiences with Jesus, I crave fresh in my faith. Sadly it has become obvious to me  that I am scooting along on the coat tails of last seasons experiences with Jesus and I'm noticing I'm overdue for something fresh. Time to make some adjustments to my devotional time because I feel like the colour has faded, the gum has been chewed out, the bread got left out again and has become crusty, the glass of water has gotten those little bubbles in it ...... it's like the frozen beans I keep making my family eat because I refuse to waste "perfectly good food", they are limp and flavorless and we have a gazillion frozen from last season but for the sake of all starving children in the world we shall eat every last one! ok so that's a little dramatic but you get the picture.

I need my faith to be fresh again. I need to have new encounters with Jesus in action in me. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the past experiences, they are still worth talking about but they can't replace the need for the new ones.
I know this is in my court. It's not like Jesus has been holding out on me, I have to take the time with Jesus, nothing can replace true and authentic time with Jesus.
So that's where I am at today, maybe you're feeling it too? Has "that" story you keep telling been told one too many times? Then come on, join me in this.

 side note ---  I have a friend who's blogging and she is awesome so you should also read her stuff. She is the one who unintentionally and unknowingly motivates me to blog and to do a lot of other things good.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How not to be a cat's lunch

Colossians 2:17 says that reality is found in Christ.

I recently found myself dealing with a confusing needless kind of stress that just pounced on me like a wild hungry cat. 
I know that fear and anxiety are not from God and so using that knowledge I tried to convince myself to stop worrying but as hard as I tried to convince myself to just stop I could not do it, I could not just switch the feelings off by forcing myself to stop.

I was missing something important.

Then on Sunday morning I remembered, while studying the 2nd chapter of Colossians with my bible study group earlier that week a phrase stood-up and said 'Hello Cindy' - "But the reality, however, is found in Christ." At the time I used the little treasure of a phrase to encourage women in my study to not let the stress of their life overwhelm them because always no matter how it seems our reality is in Christ, in all things our reality is found in him and who he says we are. We have to centre on him and keep that perspective to overcome that which would like to destroy us.  At the time it was powerful and useful thinking to me.

But now I was faced with a choice, was all that I said to others real for me too? Did I just say stuff to other people and then not apply it to my life?

I walked with God and wrestled in prayer over it. I discussed my reality with him and he reminded me of the real things of my life, of answered prayers and how real he is, of true peace that comes from him, and that he really will never let me just wander off when I am abiding in him. So I abided and I was  delivered from the overwhelming feelings. Though the threat of stress lingered it was no longer my reality.

"I will not be a hungry cat's lunch!"

Forcing myself to think different was not working because I needed to re-centre my thinking on my reality, Jesus, not on stopping the stress.

Stress  and pressures will be there but we can regain peace when we centre ourselves on Jesus our reality. I now have experience with this.

Don't be a cat's lunch.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Life Manager2000 - a switchboard to balance your life

Sometimes I picture life like a giant switchboard, like the ones they used to have for telephones. The people I spend time with, the interests I have and roles I play each have their own cord plugged into the switchboard, but the switch board doesn't have an infinite number of outlets, it has a set number, so as seasons change, as I say 'yes' to more things and as the roles I play grow or shrink the switchboard operator has to pull the plug on some and plug in multiple cords for others that require more time but when things start to get busy in life the operator doesn't know which pugs to pull in order to plug in the new ones and when the operator doesn't make the choice things get unplugged on default.
What gets pulled when you're busy?
I know for me one of the first things to go is personal hygiene - I shower less :S , I skip flossing and brush for shorter, I let my eyebrows grow wild, ... too much information already so I'll leave that at that. Then goes the laundry, especially folding "where's my black tank top mom." "it's in the clean pile." The next thing to go is sleep, I pull the plug on the 10:30 bed time and any idea of sleeping past 6:30. And the saddest of all when life gets busy I start pulling the plug on time with the kids and Ben and time with God.
I think the switchboard image helps me see the root of the problem. I battle against thinking I am not limited and I can do/be everything I want but I can't, I can't do everything and life is full of choices. I choose what to plug in and what to plug out as the seasons change and as requests for my time come my way. In a way I wish I had a real switchboard to label with all that I am and do, one hole for every hour of the week,  plugs for every thing/person/role I'm invested in and then when I start something new or increase in a present commitment I would physically see what I have to plug out to insert the new. Maybe this could be a new idea for Dragon's Den.... "I'm here today to show you the The Life Manager2000  - a switchboard to balance your life. Are you too busy? need balance? ...." I can just picture it, one more thing to keep me busy.

So ya living in a busy season and taking inventory now.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Yes you can make doughnuts at midnight

"Can you do my homework for me?" "No."
"Want to sleep in this tent we made?" "No."
"Can I throw this dough at my sister?" "No."
"Can I skip my jobs today?" "No."
"Can you fill my water bottle for me? "No."

"Can we make doughnuts for midnight snack?" "Yes"

It was time to say "Yes" plus --Yummy

Saturday, March 29, 2014

What in the world! She blogged.

Yes this is random ...very random, not only because of the shear fact that I am blogging right now after a year off convinced I was done forever, I had even removed Cindy Street from being read by the public, this is random because it was all inspired by a blog about a new fashion line by PPP. ... I know surprising - fashion.

First off if you don't know PPP  - Poor Pitiful Pearl - check her out

I follow poor pitiful pearl  - reading her blog on occasional, loving the whole package of what PPP stands for and of course the fashion is way off the charts and that makes it cool in my opinion. So she blogged about her new PPP grounded clothing line and I was confused about why I had removed my blog from public view, I was inspired by the post to be bold an be myself. I felt I needed to instantly open the blog up and let you all know that I am saying thanks to God for the last year.

I guess I'm not done blogging.

I've been on Etsy for one year now with my festival tents. I just did it all spontaneous like(generally how I do things) on April 1 2013 in the early morning when I couldn't sleep. I didn't know what would happen, in fact I had no idea what I was doing... now a year  later I know a little more and God has shown me to trust him with my creativity and he has blessed me so much. I've just got to say thanks.

I love my sewing life, my creative, colourful, bohemian life.

I personally blur the lines between business and Jesus but I haven't been letting it show and you know what it's time to let you know - I pray as I sew and sometimes my prayers get sewn into the tents and I let them stay in there so that wherever it goes it will bless and let a little of his kingdom show.

I want you to know I thank God for the life I get to live and in all I do I want to live it for him.