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Buy Nothing Day

By Tamara Petkau | Nov 28, 2014

Did you know that Thursday, November 27 was American Thanksgiving? You might not, since this holiday seems to have faded into the shadows of the sinister Black Friday—which is today.

I don’t really understand the history of Black Friday, and I’m too scared to google it, but as far as I know, it’s a day that celebrates excessive greed. Unfortunately, it’s made its way up to Canada, and everywhere I look I am bombarded with Black Friday blowout information. It makes me sad, especially since a part of me wants to partake in it so badly.

Listening to the right voices

By Tamara Petkau | Oct 30, 2014

I am a big fan of CBC Radio. In our house, it takes the place of the TV, and it plays almost non-stop in our small kitchen, providing me with comforting background noise. On desperate days, it connects me to the outside world.

Squash!

By Tamara Petkau | Oct 30, 2014

It’s full on fall and what a lovely season it is.  We spent last weekend browsing the stalls at our local farmer’s market, stealing samples and purchasing way too many baked goods.

I love farmer’s markets. They make me feel healthy, even if the only purchases I make are cinnamon buns and homemade donuts. However, this time we splurged on apples and squash. 

Mary's river

By Cassandra Bangay | Oct 08, 2014 | 2 comments

Mary Magdalene is one of the most controversial and mysterious biblical characters. She often gets a bad rap. She was pegged as a prostitute and temptress by Pope Gregory I, and her reputation remained tarnished for around seven centuries before biblical scholars redeemed her by untangling the three women whose stories Gregory had merged. It was not until 1280 that she was recognized as a leader and canonized by several different church denominations.

Mid-point reflections from Gaza

By Palmer Becker | Oct 06, 2014

This is midpoint in my five-week ministry here in Gaza and Bethlehem. Things are going well. While my students in Gaza are doing research, book reports and various kinds of homework, I have had the opportunity to teach classes at the college, lead workshops in the community, help to establish the peace studies center, and interact with the Muslim and Christian communities of Bethlehem. 

First report from Gaza

By Palmer Becker | Oct 06, 2014

I am writing this from prison. All 1.8 million of us who are living in Gaza are in prison. The walls around Gaza keep us (except us privileged foreigners) from leaving to work, to shop or to go to another church, town or country. We cannot sell our crops or manufactured goods. Some have meager food and very little money to buy it. We are trapped in a small space about 40 miles long and 10 miles wide."

#Brag-worthy

By Tamara Petkau | Sep 30, 2014

Jesus said, “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:2-4).

Losing and gaining

By Tamara Petkau | Sep 25, 2014

September has been a whirlwind of change. It always is. One day we’re enjoying the lazy days of summer, when our mornings are spent park-hopping, lunches are always picnics, and supper is usually topped off with bicycle rides and ice cream cones. Bedtime is flexible, shoes are optional, and everyone goes to bed with dirt and sand under their fingernails. 

And then September comes around and BAM! Everything changes. Preschool starts. Work resumes. Alarm clocks are set and bedtime is enforced. Sometimes if feels like life does a full 180 in September.

Marching for justice

By Cassandra Bangay | Sep 02, 2014

In his famous address at 1984 Mennonite World Conference, in Strasbourg, France, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.” Shalom, he said, “means not only the absence of war, but also a land flowing with milk and honey. It includes just economic relationships with the neighbor. It means the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.

Summer of my discontent

By Tamara Petkau | Aug 22, 2014 | 1 comment

I have been absent from this blog for a while. I wish I had a grand excuse, like gallivanting around Europe, or road tripping across the country, or building a treehouse for my daughters. But my only excuse is a lack of thoughts and words worthy of this blog. Also, a lack of motivation. But here goes. . . .

Free our kids

By Tamara Petkau | Jun 23, 2014 | 1 comment

The other day I was enjoying a night out sans children. However, even if children aren’t physically present, they are still always in our hearts, on our minds, and still dominating the conversation. Honestly, I don’t even know what I talked about before children. Perhaps world events. Probably not.

Me vs. Aunt J.

By Tamara Petkau | Jun 18, 2014

Life has been… hectic. I am reluctant to use the word “busy” because I hate how society has come to embrace the word like a badge of honour, or throw the term around as an excuse for everything. And I find that the more people use the term, the more empty their schedules, and lives, appear. With such a harsh interpretation of the word, you can see why I try to stay away from it. And yet, it still creeps up into my vocabulary, and into my life. But I digress.

Making meaning of the attack

By Cassandra Bangay | May 29, 2014 | 2 comments

When I shared the story of my attack, I got a wide variety of responses from my friends, family, and co-workers. It is difficult to know what to say to people after things like this happen, so I was grateful whenever someone attempted to talk about it with me or to give me advice.

Thoughts on someone else’s thoughts

By Tamara Petkau | May 27, 2014 | 1 comment

One of the best gifts my father has ever given me is an online subscription to The New York Times. He has always been an ardent fan of good news sources. The man has a ridiculously insatiable desire to learn. It was inevitable that such an appreciation would be passed on to his children as well. However, while my father devours every article on current events and sports, I tend to skip over the bleak headlines and head straight to the more superfluous articles and slide shows in the House and Garden and Style sections. Hardly academic, but enjoyable nonetheless.

The attack

By Cassandra Bangay | May 27, 2014 | 3 comments

As many of my friends already know, I flew directly from Bogotá to Canada in early May, rather than journeying to Barrancabermeja to complete the final month of my stint on team with CPT. I have been asked many questions about what happened to me, so I will describe the incident here. If reading about violence is a trigger for you, I recommend you stop reading here.

This Easter. . .

By Tamara Petkau | Apr 17, 2014

This Easter is going to be different.

I probably sound hypocritical stating how uncomfortable I am talking about death in one post and then writing about that very topic in another post. I didn’t plan on talking about it anymore, but lately, it’s all we’ve been talking about.

On Sunday, Boo came out of her Sunday school class proudly holding a colorful beaded cross. “It’s a cross,” she stated proudly. And then her whole face and demeanour changed. “Jesus died here. I am so sad. Jesus died. Why did Jesus have to die?”

Lost and looking

By Tamara Petkau | Apr 10, 2014 | 1 comment

“But we can't do this forever, and we face the much wider problem of poor air quality every day. The Saharan dust will pass, but we will continue to fail its citizens on air quality. Children's developing lungs are at particular risk, both long- and short-term.” –The Guardian

When Parallel Lives Collide in Bogotá

By Cassandra Bangay | Apr 08, 2014 | 1 comment

Before I left Canada, I met up for coffee with a friend of mine in Waterloo—a pastor named Steve Tullock. We talked about my upcoming work in Colombia with Christian Peacemakers Team, and he told me about Colombian friends of his who had gone to his church in Canada.

Life’s Big Questions and how to avoid them

By Tamara Petkau | Apr 01, 2014 | 1 comment

At this moment, I am sitting in the warmth of a sunbeam, sipping a cup of tea, and enjoying a quiet afternoon while both my girls nap. What a glorious moment. Or, at least it would be, except for the dead ladybug sitting in a jar on the windowsill next to me.

It’s springtime. Dead bugs are a common presence around here. But this bug is different. For starters, she has a name. Odette. And she is loved dearly by my eldest daughter, Boo.

Birthday wishes and other first-world problems

By Tamara Petkau | Mar 20, 2014

This past week we celebrated a pretty significant birthday in our family. Baby E, who will now be referred to just as E, turned one! I am experiencing every emotion possible.

Like every mother, I wanted to make E’s birthday special. I wanted her present to be thoughtful, useful, and oh-so-fun. I hand-painted her a card to show just how much I love her.  I invited her favorite people over to help us celebrate, and I thought long and hard about just what her first cake should be.

A bullet-proof illusion

By Cassandra Bangay | Mar 13, 2014 | 2 comments

I set out on my first accompaniment with Christian Peacemaker Teams early in the morning on Tuesday, February 18.

For shame

By Tamara Petkau | Mar 11, 2014

The other day, in celebration of the impending spring weather, I went for a run around the neighbourhood. I didn’t go far, but at the end, I was tired-tired of the scenery.

Hello!

By Tamara Petkau | Mar 11, 2014

Hello and welcome to my new blog. I’m excited to be here.

I have been an avid blog reader for many years now and, at any given time, I am following at least 20-some blogs. My preference tends to lean towards lifestyle/parenting blogs because, as a mother of two, they regale me with stories to which I can relate.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian Relationships

By Palmer Becker | Mar 11, 2014

Classes are going very well. Students are appreciating the role-plays, practical illustrations, and the newly published textbook, which was partially funded by Waterloo North Mennonite Church (Waterloo, Ont.).

Some people are of the opinion that Jews and Muslims have always been, and always will be, in conflict. This is not true. Ishmael and Isaac both received a blessing from their father Abraham (Gen. 17:20), and in the end they came together to jointly bury their father (Gen. 25:9).

Prime minister and taxi driver

By Palmer Becker | Mar 05, 2014

I got a warm welcome when I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, but, of course, nothing like the unprecedented welcome that Stephen Harper received!  He was here with about 145 parliament, news and support people. Some will worked on economic and trade matters that are important to the present government. I hope that they also sought to understand the political realities and that they will work towards peace in this land.

Recently I was talking to a taxi driver. The conversation went like this:

PB:  Were you born here in Bethlehem?