Real and True Religion

3 Apr

My parents are incredible.

Truly. Incredible.

They left on Tuesday for a three week trip into the heart of Africa for a safari. I’m jealous to say the least. Now, I completely understand that I have been blessed with what I would call an extremely blessed life. Some might call it charmed. I’m not saying that I live in a multi-million dollar house with a recognizable last name or anything like that. BUT, I do live in a country where I can go outside and not worry about dodging bullets. I live in a country where, as a woman, I can be confident in my role as a member of a democratic society. I live in a country where the opportunities are endless and really, the world is

at. my. fingertips.

Even though I’ve been blessed with so MUCH, it is so easy to look at what I don’t have. What is that about? How can I possibly look past the incredible gifts I’ve been given to the things I lack? What, in light of the majority of the world, could I possibly lack?

That said, my parents are in Africa. An absolute dream for my mom, who, since early on in life has dreamed of travelling to Africa to work in an orphanage. To get her hands dirty and live out some real life love on people she has never met but who are dying for it. And so, the opportunity arose when my mom’s parents’ 50th anniversary came onto the horizon. They decided to take my mom and her siblings (and all the spouses) to Kenya and Tanzania on a 5 star, 3 week safari in Kenya.

Amazing.

So, as you can imagine, they all got so incredibly excited to travel half way around the world to seek out and look at scenery and wildlife that most people only ever dream about. I think that, if put in this situation, most would just look forward to this opportunity to see the dream-like scenery and spend time with family.

My parents, friends, are not in the category of “most”.

In the weeks leading up to their departure, they set to work rallying groups in our community to donate something- ANYTHING- that they could take with them to this far-away land. And our community took the challenge beautifully. My sister and I have played soccer in our community for years as well as for the community college.

They donated a large duffle bag full of deflated soccer balls and a hand pump.

We know quite a few dentists in the city and a few as family friends. They donated 250 tooth brushes.

My heart began to swell with pride as I watched them gather items, even spending their own money at local dollar stores to take small knick knacks that might bring a smile to the faces of children so far away. But as they gathered, they began to realize that they were going on a 5-star vacation where, usually, the tourists eyes are kept far away from the less-appealing aspects of the country. Did this worry them? Did they think that it would maybe be ridiculous to take 2 suitcases each when they were only allowed to take one each on the safari and would only have one short day in Nairobi before embarking on their journey? Of course not. They forged on and actually made contact with a local friend’s contact in Nairobi. The wheels began turning as they readied themselves for the trip of a lifetime.

Yesterday they arrived in Nairobi. One suitcase too many EACH, filled with gifts, toys and tools for the people of Kenya. They met up with their contact in Nairobi who took them on a grand tour of the real Nairobi that most tourists care little about and rarely see. Authentic meals, Kenya style. Markets for a little bit of shopping. Seeing the sights and smelling the smells, experiencing a culture.

But what to do with this stuff?

Without knowing, they were taken to an orphanage that is overseen by their Kenyan tour guide/contact. It was there that they were able to spend time with Kenyan orphans and where my mom got to live out a lifelong dream. Of course, they were only there for a couple of hours. Of course, on the surface, no lasting connections were made.

But can a couple of hours make a difference in a life?

I know that if you were to ask my mom that question, she would say absolutely.

So what does this speak to me? How can I echo this in my everyday, normal life? What do I have that I can give or use to make someone else’s life better?

My time.

My talent.

My love.

My life.

I want to be like these incredible people in my life who have shown that it doesn’t matter what other people say or what the situation, you can use what you have and have been given to

make. a. difference.

We all, in some way, change the world everyday.

good or bad

What kind of change are you making?

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Nothing to say

2 Apr

Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say. Do you ever feel like that? I mean, of course there are a lot of things to talk about all the time but do you ever feel like you don’t have anything real to say? Nothing of consequence to talk about? So then its easy to talk about nothing at all but really…what’s the point of that? Who wants to be a person who talks about nothing? To be known not for what you say but what you don’t.

You are told all the time as a kid (At least, I was!) that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. But what about when you have nothing real to say? What then?

I want to be someone who has a voice. A real voice. Someone who, when they speak, people listen to because what I have to say is important. I’m not talking about necessarily changing the entire face of the world but I do believe that we all, in small ways, change the world everyday. I think its small things that make the most difference. So, then, I think the time’s come for me to stop talking about nothing and to start talking about something. Things that are real and things that mean something. I want each day to count. Each time I open my mouth.

So, if I have nothing to say, I’ve realized that it’s ok. Sometimes its ok to think instead of talking. To find something that means something and save my words for those things.

Music

16 Mar

I’ve said it before but, seriously folks. My husband, Josh, is incredible. He is an up and coming photographer in Medicine Hat (the city we live in). Each week, he and a friend of his have a little photo competition that you can vote in. There is a new theme each week and I am constantly amazed by my Joshua especially. Well, this week I was his model and inspiration for his “Music” Themed photo. This is it.

 

If you want to see more of Josh’s work, click here. Leave him a note and let him know what you think!

Now I’ve heard everything

7 Mar

I’m subbing in a grade 2 classroom today and usually, that conjures images of sweet little seven and eight year olds giving hugs and all sorts of love to me, their beloved “guest teacher”. Not so today. They were working on their spelling and had a little word search to complete…one of the pretty little girls comes up to me and says, “Mrs. Swan…we found a bad word in this word search…F-U-C-K”….and then she just said it. She said it! Brazenly. I was just like, Ahem. Well, let’s have a class discussion about this…..

When did 7 year olds learn this kind of language? I certainly am not running around speaking like this so, seriously people! What the heck?? I am left reeling from this one. What’s next??

Always in a Teacher frame of mind…

19 Feb

So, I’m babysitting today for some dear friends of mine who are parents to two of the most precious children I’ve ever met. They are beautiful with olive skin and white-blonde hair and seriously have these flawless little faces. They are sweet, as well…Anyways, I was playing with Thomas (almost 4) earlier while Emma (2) slept. We were playing with his hot wheels cars and this little plastic mat that has different buildings and roads all over it. It basically looks like a city. Thomas was deep in concentration when I joined him and after studying the little city mat, I realized that he was sorting all of his cars into categories of his choice. Now, this might seem like a pretty routine thing for a kid to do. I mean, he was taking the ones with flames painted on them and putting them at the fire station and the ones with Police written on them were being put at the police station. Those ones were pretty obvious. But then, he was looking at actual physical attributes and sorting them into various sections of the city. For example, the big ones, or ones that looked like they had a big trunk were put at the grocery store. Or the bright colored ones- he put them at the “race track” because they looked fast. I sat there and was pretty amazed. This is a topic/objective in the Alberta math curriculum all the way through grade 12 math and yet here was this three year old kid just going to town on his own without any prompting. It made me stop and think…is there a way that school can feel more like play beyond pre-school and kindergarten? How can I, as a teacher, make my classroom and place where kids naturally learn because they are interested in what they are doing? My brain is working overtime….man, I need my own classroom! PRAY FOR THIS!! Anyways…food for thought for all you teachers and parents out there….how can we “trick” our kids into learning? No, that sounds wrong…how can we create an environment where kids are curious and want to learn…and in playing, do learn?? Thoughts? Suggestions?

It’s Ok to Gush when you’re SUPER Proud…

4 Feb

My husband is amazing. Literally, he is wonderful. I am in awe of the man that he is. He pushes me to be a better person everyday and he is constantly stretching the way I look at the world and approach my days. He is my man and I’m so proud of him.

That aside, he is also extremely creative and so talented. He’s started his own photography business and is working towards being a Wildlife/Adventure photographer. He has big dreams and I stand behind him 100%. I’m excited for where 2011 is going to take us!!

His blog is at www.perspectiveimage.wordpress.com.

Check it out and CONTACT HIM for all your photo needs!

5:30 am

4 Feb

Well, yes, 5:30 am is the time that I woke up this morning. And yes, I did choose it. Really, though…why does getting “fit” have to be such a sacrifice? Shouldn’t it just be a matter of deciding to be fit…like, I know that I really want to be fit buuuut then my body doesn’t exactly follow suit. Annoying. Anyway, I woke up at 5:30 this morning to make the trek across town to my cousin’s house where we proceeded to Turbo Fire it up between the hour of 6 and 7am. I’m tellin ya….its a tough workout and I’m sure it’ll pay off but, surely it has to get easier, riiiight?

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