You don’t need to be Batman, Abraham Lincoln, or Jason Bourne…

You don’t.  You don’t need to be any of these epic heroes to rescue people.  More specifically, you don’t need to be one of these epic heroes to rescue slaves.

When I started blogging for The Exodus Road, back a few months ago now, I felt kind of overwhelmed.  I started reading the stories about rescue happening all over the world, and then the stories about people NOT being rescued, people that were still stuck, and I felt very small, and very insignificant.  I mean, sometimes I can picture myself with covert ops training, running into a building with my SWAT team uniform and a Kevlar vest and a sniper rifle (and I know I just combined several different occupations and you’re probably all cringing…), but then I remember that I’m the girl who tells her grade 4s to pay attention to how she cuts a hole through the centre of a circle without cutting herself…. and cuts herself in the process.  I know these are not skills that I possess.  For a deeper look into this idea, click HERE!  Make sure you watch the video that goes with it.  Exodus Road Executive Director Matt Parker talks about the work being done.

Also, if you’re feeling particularly keen on following all of the links that are stemming from this blog post… I know, there are a ton… Read this.  Personally, I can’t help but admire the Batman analogy from this writer who talks about wrestling the contrast between slavery and the suburbs.

Remember, too… that the life of one child plucked from the Hell of slavery is important, and that absolutely any contribution you’re making to that is phenomenal.  Check out this video on what The Exodus Road crew is doing on an ongoing basis to remind themselves of the importance of what they’re doing.  I’m writing for change.  I’m hoping that hundreds of people start reading my blog and all decide that they need to get involved somehow, too.  I’m using a gift I know I possess to the benefit of a cause I deeply care about.  What could you do?  Your possibilities are endless.

This dilemma isn’t new.  Slavery has been around for years and years.  And slavery is hard for us to talk about.  It’s almost politically incorrect, and I think a lot of that stems from the horrible injustices done to African slaves in the 18th and 19th Centuries.  At least, that’s what we know about, so that’s what we resonate with.  It’s hard to talk about for the same reason that when you read Romans 1:1, the word we now see as “servant” but should have been translated “slave” if you look back at the original Greek word, has been altered.  It’s uncomfortable because of where North American culture has seen slavery.  But it should be uncomfortable.  It should hurt.  It should make us squirm.  That feeling is telling you to act.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that Abraham Lincoln is my Earthly hero.  He certainly doesn’t trump Jesus, but he’s pretty high up there in my books.  He even trumps Batman.  Exodus Road shared this video with us in our April newsletter update.  It’s called I’m With Lincoln.  Fair warning:  It’s a bit graphic, and it wretched my heart a little bit.  But I like the idea behind it a lot.  150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves of his day.  It got him killed, but he did it anyway.  It didn’t immediately eliminate the issue, but look how far we’ve come.  We need to do it across the globe.  If Lincoln could do it in the US, then surely many many people united on one cause can make an impact around the world.

Also check out (if you’re not yet tired of my link frenzy) Made In A Free World, the producers of the I’m With Lincoln video.  I just learned about them today, but I like them.  Interested in knowing what your Slavery Footprint is?  That is, how many slaves were used to supply you with your lifestyle?  Take this survey.  I did, and I hate the answer.  I came out with 46, which, to be honest was better than I expected, and I know that the survey is subjective and imperfect, but still….. Time for some change.  You with me?

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!



Culinary Adventures with Laura

Two weeks ago today, I decided that since I’ve been feeling like garbage and not really sure of the reason… and since I’ve been really tired lately… and since I’ve been gaining weight no matter what I tried to do….. I would give up eating wheat.  Cold Turkey.  And see what that did.

Fourteen days later, with pretty much no wheat ingested (I had an Asian Sesame Salad at Kelsey’s and may have forgotten that chow mein noodles have wheat in them, so I didn’t think to ask to not have them on my salad until the last four bites… but oh well…), I feel so much better.  I’ve been sleeping better, I’ve been eating SO MUCH better, I’ve had more energy, and I just feel overall better.

Maybe they’re related, maybe they’re not, but another fringe benefit is that without much more added effort than I had normally been putting in, I’ve lost 5 pounds since I started.  And yesterday, two totally separate people who don’t even know each other both told me that I look like I’ve lost some weight.  Five pounds doesn’t do that, so I assume maybe there’s been some muscle built?  Who knows?  Or maybe because I felt confident about myself yesterday because I felt so good, I didn’t wear a mumu-style shirt like I have been…. (I love them, they’re these baggy chiffon shirts from Old Navy, and they look wicked with leggings and jeans and skirts and dress pants, and they’re so comfy and you feel like you’re wearing a big baggy sweatshirt, when in reality you still look classy…. but you definitely couldn’t find my waistline if I paid you when I’m wearing them).

Another result of this has been that I can’t really eat out.  My vice for years has been Subway.  Well, when you don’t eat wheat, what does one eat at Subway?  Salad?  I can make way better tasting ones at home, and not pay $9.00 for it, so no thank you.  McDonald’s breakfast has been a bit of a vice as well… but it’s not quite the same to order an Egg McMuffin with no McMuffin.  I did it once because I had nothing without wheat in it to eat for breakfast the first Monday, but I likely won’t do it again.  Why spend almost $7.00 on some hashbrowns and one egg fried and put in a box?  No thanks.  So I’ve been cooking.

Now if you know me, you know this is not something I really do.  It’s not that I’m incapable of it, I just don’t enjoy it.  And I really don’t enjoy doing it for one person.  For example, when you roast a chicken, like I did last Sunday afternoon (my house smelled amazing, by the way), you have chicken, sweet potatoes, and carrots to eat until Wednesday.  Great, if you don’t like variety.

But anyway, the reason for my post is this.  I’d like to start a tag in my blog here called Culinary Adventures, where, every time I try a recipe that works, I will post it for you.

I have one for you today, because I made these last weekend and they were unbelievable.  If you’re like me, you thought gluten free meant gross.  I assure you, there are ways around this.

Check out these Oatmeal Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip muffins with no wheat and no sugar.

I’ll link the full post here, so as to give credit where credit is due.  I found the recipe on Pinterest and was SO HAPPY that I did.

Modifications I made will be posted below.

2.5 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt

2 eggs

1/2 cup honey (I used an extra 1/8 cup of honey, because I like sweet things.)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 TBSP ground flax seed  (I couldn’t get the flax seed to grind up, I assume you probably have to buy it that way or have a more talented food processor than I do, so I used whole flax seed)

1 tsp vanilla

2 ripe bananas

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray tin with non-stick cooking spray or line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners. (I used foil liners, and sprayed them with cooking spray as well to be able to get the muffins out easily)
2. Place the oats in the food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds.  Add remaining ingredients to the food processor. (It took me longer than 10 seconds to get the oats ground up, but my food processor is wimpy… Also, it’s very small, so I blended the rest of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl with electric beaters)

3. Process until everything is mixed together and oats are smooth.

At this point in the process, I added milk chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.  Delish.  The chocolate chips sank to the bottom, and I don’t know why, but it was still really tasty.

4. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (I should have done 15 minutes and then checked, my bottoms came out black… but live and learn!)

When Their Hearts Break

Three years ago yesterday, a lady who was very important to a lot of my Grade 6s (and the kids older than them), passed away unexpectedly.  She was their teacher.  She was the one they saw from 9-3:30, 5 days a week.  She meant a lot to those Grade 2 and 3 kids.  Probably more than she realized she did.

I wonder if she ever went home consciously aware of how much they loved her.

I never met her.  From what I’ve been told by the staff and by the kids, that’s my loss.  She was a wonderful woman, and a fantastic teacher.  She died the spring before I started at my school.  But she will never be forgotten.  Not by our staff members who knew her, not by the kids she taught, and not by me… because I’ve seen the fruits of the love she poured out on those kids.

In our playground, we have a tree that was planted last year on the anniversary of her death.  There’s a plaque on the ground dedicating the tree to her, and I’ve noticed in the year that’s followed that the kids will sometimes take a moment by it.  But on Friday, something beautiful happened.  Something that made me realize just how grown up Grade 6 kids can be sometimes.  They’re only 11 and 12 years old, but the beauty that oozed from their souls yesterday just floored me.

I was fortunate enough to be outside on yard duty, or I would never even have known.  I saw a small crowd gather around the tree so I went to investigate.  At the centre of the crowd were two of my Grade 6 girls, reading poems that they’d written expressing their gratitude to her as their teacher and as someone who always cared for them.  Their poems reminded us of her love for life, and told us that she’ll never be forgotten, as long as they live.  Those girls put a lot of thought into the memorial they wanted to have for their dear teacher.  And as they read, they cried.  They cried real tears of real pain, and as they trickled down their faces, the girls concluded that it’s all OK, because even though everyone here misses her so much, she’s in a better place and they’ll see her again.  When the reading was over, they pulled out an iPod and played their teacher’s favourite song:  I Believe.  Remember the theme song of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics? 

As the song played, several of the kids gathered around for the small memorial started to cry as well, but one just broke.  She started to sob.  Her friends gathered around her and wrapped their arms around her while she cried.  Her face got puffy and splotchy, and her eyes were red-rimmed and blood shot… and she didn’t care.  She was sad.  She missed her teacher.

Normally, I have a no-hug policy at school, based mostly on what can happen with accusations and what not… and most of the kids don’t really get it, they just want hugs.  I have one of my Grade 6s on a “one-a-day” ration, and have told her to make it count, because she’d sneak attack me in the halls to try to hug me without me noticing.  But yesterday I let that rule go, and we had a big hug-fest in front of the memorial tree.  I pulled this broken girl to me and I gave her the best hug I’ve ever given at school, and she looked at me and said “you give really good hugs!”

“Don’t get used to it,” I hugged a little tighter and I let her go.  She smiled; she knew that day was special.

Twenty minutes later I was teaching (or attempting to teach) Grade 5/6 Science.  I looked into the face of this beautiful girl.  A face worn from the emotion she’d let spill out twenty minutes prior… still slightly splotchy, still slightly red-rimmed around the eyes.  I looked at her friends.  I saw beautiful young ladies (on the inside and out) who did a beautiful thing for a beautiful woman (on the inside and out).  What hit me at that moment has stuck with me since yesterday at noon.  It was powerful.

They talk about it being OK that their teacher is gone, because they know she’s in a better place and they know they’ll see her again… and I pray to God that that is true.  That they DO know that, in their hearts.  I pray that they’re right.  I pray that she IS in a better place, and I pray that those girls will get there, too.

But did they mean it?  Or did they say it because it’s a comfort passed lightly to people who’ve lost someone they love?  “You’ll see them again, they’re in a better place now.”  Were they empty words attempting to bring comfort?  Or were they an anthem of hope raised to their Creator?

It really convicted me.  For me, one of the several reasons I teach in public schools and not in private is because I very strongly believe that the kids in public schools need Christian influences in their lives, too.  I know I can’t be directly outspoken about it, but there’s nothing that says I can’t exude Christ.  What convicted me was this… Do I?  Do I exude Christ when I teach?  Is the love of Jesus pouring out on these kids through me?  Or am I plowing through my material because I have report cards to write in two and a half months?

If I died suddenly, would they know that I’m in a better place because I’m transparent and because they knew?  Or would they say it out of a hollow attempt to make each other feel better?  I hope for the first, but I’ve sure been challenged by the grief of 12 year old girls to make sure Christ can be seen in me.

So I know these girls will most likely never read this.  I know they may never know how deeply I was impacted by their beautiful act of remembrance yesterday, and I know they may never know how challenged I was by the memory of their beloved teacher to be a better one myself.  The only two words I can say to sum this post up are these:  Challenge Accepted.