Tag Archives: acceptance

George, My Friendly Icon for 2018

My friend George

The Christmas season is over. We’ve said good-bye to wishing strangers Merry Christmas. Spontaneous generosity is tucked away with the decorations for another year. For some of us, we’ve made our yearly pilgrimage to church for the Christmas Eve service. No need to go again ’til next Christmas.

Does it have to be over? Do we have to let go of that Christmas Spirit? That’s a familiar lament. As I wrote these words, I looked up to see the quizzical face of George the Giraffe peering back at me.

George the giraffe came, as a special gift of love last summer. Every time I look at him, I think of my son, Dave, our daughter-in-law, Joanne and our granddaughter, Jenna. I hear their words to me as they handed me the package.” When you came to visit us in South Africa, we went on safari. You wanted to see the giraffes. When we returned, you were fascinated with the beaded giraffes made by the African people. Instead of getting one for yourself, you bought one for Vanessa. We decided you needed a giraffe, too.” They handed me George. He’s adorable. With his face full of curiosity, George is my precious reminder of the love of this part of our family living far away in South Africa.

Christians over the centuries have used icons – images, things and even people, sometimes – that help us remember God is the source of everything and that God loves and accepts us just as we are. That’s what the Christmas tree, the songs, the decorations, do for us. They remind us of our Christian story, and Jesus’ lessons of love and forgiveness. This year, I’ve decided that George the giraffe, with his rainbow coloured beads, his big ears that stick straight out, and his long neck and legs, will be my icon to help me remember to live God’s Christmas Spirit all year long. I see George every time I sit down with my computer on my knees. Every time I walk past the living room and see George, peering at me with his quizzical expression I will think of God’s call to love and forgive others as God loves and forgives me.

As you start another year, I suggest you identify something in your home that is connected to love, something that you see every day. It could be a family heirloom (Mom’s china cabinet, Grandpa’s favorite chair), a gift you’ve received (a painting, a bowl, a knick knack). Choose something to remind you daily of the many blessings you have received, something to trigger words of thanks for your abundance, something that brings to your heart a response of love. That icon can help you keep God’s loving Spirit that thrives at Christmas time, with you all year long. You see, we don’t intend to pack away our love and acceptance, our joy in living with the Christmas decorations. We lose our Christmas Spirit in the busyness, the sadness, the craziness of everyday living. Let your icon be the reminder you need for 2018.

What does it mean to call yourself a “Christian”?

This morning, I read we are called to be Christs in the world, not Christian. (Madeline L’Engle). Today Madeline’s words spoke to me like thunder and lightning in the darkness of the night. Too often, I hear about “Christians” speaking words of hate and taking actions that are violent, disrespectful, harmful, destructive of other human beings. Over my lifetime, I have learned to love, respect, accept and forgive others, regardless of faith, race, ethnicity, wealth or lack of it. For me, that is the calling of a Christian.

I hear “Christians” quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” and smugly say, “I’m in; you’re out.” I hear those same Christians quote John 14: 6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” and say, “You don’t believe exactly as I do, therefore God doesn’t love you or care about you. You are a sinner.” From this self-righteous judgment, it is a very short step to fearing those sinners, condemning those sinners and trying to eradicate those sinners from God’s world.

If that is how “Christianity” works, count me out. My faith and those scripture passages have taught me some very important lessons:

  1. God loves God’s world, the whole world, not just the people that I judge worthy.
  1. God loved every person God created so much that God came in Jesus and endured the hatred, the violence that we seem to love so much, and laid down his human life in love, to teach us what love is. God did this, not because I’ve said some special words, or experienced God’s Spirit in one particular way. God did this because I am God’s child and always will be.
  1. I am humbled to think that Jesus loved me enough to come to this world to teach me how to be his “hands, and feet and heart,” and love the world as he did.
  1. When I hear Jesus words, “I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I hear Jesus’ call to love, value, respect all of God’s children. I hear Jesus’ call to love God and love others as he has loved me.
  1. Neither of these scripture passages call me to hatred, fear, violence. Jesus’ Way, Truth, Life was to heal, love, forgive not to destroy.
  1. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ.

I feel as if the word “Christian” has been desecrated. I need a new name, a new identity. Let’s find a new word, a new way to identify ourselves as followers of Jesus.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  (John 13:34 NIV)

Being Canadian – a Privilege or a Responsibility?


Every year on Canada Day, we gather family and friends to celebrate the birthday of our oldest grandchild, Vanessa. We laugh and talk, swim in their pool, eat too much, and enjoy the fireworks in the evening. It’s a peaceful time. We know we’re blessed with a wonderful family and in my mind, with being citizens of the best country in the world.

Always the horror, violence, war that comes through the news media seeps into my mind and reminds me that the peace of our Canadian nation is fragile. On June 19, our neighbours to the south were once again struck with the brutality that comes with festering hatred. A young man, just 21, is accused of sitting for an hour in that historic church in Charleston while the people prayed, then opening fire on the innocent people around him,. The story brings tears to my heart. Peace is built on love and acceptance, not hatred and violence.

We would like to think that such horror could not happen in our precious Canada, yet we know that racial prejudice lurks beneath the surface of our calm Canadian veneer. Stories of racial profiling by police, the disappearance of First Nations women, fear of Muslims and more fill our newspapers. More and more people seem to have access to guns, even here in Canada.

Canada Day is a time to make a renewed commitment to the love and acceptance of all people. To follow the “Way of Christ” is to love God and love one another. It is our calling to live and to teach that all people, regardless of race, gender, whatever differences, all people are God’s beloved children. If we fail to live and teach this basic value, the peace and joy of our great land will disintegrate. Living in love and peace is a privilege that entails responsibility.

A friend sent me the following link to an article written by Rev. Christy Thomas of Denton, Texas, in response to the African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting. The article discusses five factors that create hate. It’s worth taking the time to read it.



“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

(I John 3:11)

Can We Ever Be Perfect?

Can We Ever Be Perfect?

Seeking perfection is Paralyzing.
Seeking perfection is Paralyzing.

I finished the first draft of my novel Fireweed five years ago. Since then, I have read and rewritten parts of it many times. I have paid for two professional edits as well. Two weeks ago, I sat up until 4:00 a.m. giving Fireweed its last read through. I still found simple mistakes and spots to improve. It wasn’t perfect, I’m sure, but the time had come to abandon the task and send Fireweed to the publisher.

Our lives are like that manuscript. We do our best and we make mistakes. We ask forgiveness. We learn a better way. We live some more and find that transformation is not complete. We’re not yet perfect. I’m sure on the day I die, I will look at my life and find places that need to be rewritten. I will still need forgiveness.

Our Christian faith encourages me never to abandon my efforts at improvement. Even though I cannot attain perfection on my own, God’s love will bring perfection into my life. God came in Jesus to show us God’s unconditional love. From the agony of the cross, Jesus continued to love and forgive, continued to offer yet another opportunity for transformation.

Once printed, Fireweed’s remaining errors will be frozen in time for all to see. The blessing of our Christian faith is that God never abandons us. Yes, death will come to all of us, but the victory of resurrection means God’s love transforms us, washes us clean, prepares us with perfection for the life to come. I’m grateful for that assurance. It gives me courage to try again tomorrow, never to stop rewriting my life.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)