Christian

Hello, I’m a Christian.
My mum’s was a Christian, my father is a Christian, both sets of my grandparents are Christians. I’ve always been one.

I go to church every Sunday, yes fall asleep sometimes but doesn’t everyone? Plus, at least I show up! I think I’m better that everyone. I mean, we preach the whole we’re all sinners thing, but I’m not all that bad. Like Hitler is obviously worse than me.  I’ve sinned a couple times, a white lie here or there at all that, but nothing bad.


I love judging people. I mean all you gay, pro choice democrats are all going to hell, and that’s the honest truth. I will take every opportunity to tell you that because I’m up here and you’re down there. I’m very religious. As I mentioned already, I’m always at church. I have this big, beautiful KJV (because you know Jesus talked in Thou and Thy) Bible that I carry there every Sunday. During the week, it sits on my mantle for all the world to see. Speaking of during the week, I spend most of my days acting normal. I don’t draw too much attention to myself, I would hate for people to think I’m weird. I just do my own thing. God helps those who help themselves you know, which is why I don’t waste my time with homeless people and stuff. They’re probably gonna buy drugs with the money anyway

. So there you have it. I’m such a great person who’s going to heaven, a place I don’t really believe in but you know, got to cover all my bases.


I’m a Christian.

I mess up all the time. I’m the furthest thing from a perfect person. The truth is, me being a Christian has nothing to do with, well, me. The word itself means “Follower of Christ.” So I really can’t tell you about myself, I should tell you about who I follow. He’s this guy who gave up everything He had to redeem me. How can I help but follow Him, learn about Him, love Him, be like Him? And being like Him means loving everyone. No matter who they are and what they’ve done. After all, who am I to judge, I’m no better than them. I know all this but I’m still prone to messing up. I mean, I am human. I can’t help myself, that’s the whole point of Faith in Jesus. Not the whole getting into heaven thing that people try to make it about.



That’s what being a Christian is about.



Happy Easter everyone!

Quote of the Post: “Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.” –Voltaire

Song of the Post: Church Clothes by LaCrae

Letter to my Middle School Bullies

Hello.

How are you.

I’m good, thank you for asking.

So, here we are. Four years later. Six, from when you started—decided—that it would be fun to tear down the spirits of a twelve year old. I wish six grade me could see me now. Happy. Relatively well liked. Accepted. She dreamed of this day. She hoped that it would happen but each day she walked into Ms. M classroom, she began to believe that it would never come.
She never understood why you treated her the way you did. Why you called her the names you called. What she did to make you… hate her so much. She started the first day in that school a happy-go-lucky child. A—dare I say—confident, chatty person. She was always a social person. She had to be, the constant moving forced her to. She never had trouble making friends. She never had enemies, until you decided to make one out of her.

When looking back at grade 6, all I can remember is sitting in the girl’s washroom, crying. Bearing my soul to the empty tiles of the bathroom floor in the form of sobs.

Staring at the cold mirror, trying to wash the redness out of my eyes so you wouldn’t know just how sad you made me. I think the worst thing was knowing that it wasn’t anything that I had done that made you treat me this way, it was simply who I was. Because I wasn’t pretty enough, cool enough, rich enough…THIN enough, I wasn’t deserving of your… kindness. I wanted to tell someone but I couldn’t because if I did, they would tell my parents and they would pull me out of the school. It was a private school and I knew how much they were struggling to give me the best possible education they could afford, I couldn’t break their hearts by telling them that it was hurting me. So instead, I let my own heart break instead. And crumble it did. Until there was nothing left in me. Until the will to live started to diminish. How bad would I be if I died really? My parents would be relieved the financial burden of raising me. You guys, you would be forced to say nice things about—as is what we do when speaking of the deceased. It would almost be poetic. Somehow, I carried on. I woke up every day and walked into Ms. M class, choked down my lunch in the washroom, rinsed my face and repeat.


Eventually it stopped—you stopped. I wish I could say it was because you matured, but the truth is, it was because you found a new target. I think the worst thing is slowly, I became like you. I was thirteen, scared of you turning back on me so I joined you, but that’s no excuse. It’s one of my biggest regrets. And to the girl we talked about—I’m sorry, I truly am. Even then when you all claimed to be my friend, I knew you weren’t being completely honest. I still heard the unkind nicknames, the mean rumours, snark giggles. The only difference now was that these were done in whispers.


 It hurt more.

It hurt more because this time you were supposed to be my friends, but every time I turned my back to walk away, I saw your knives in my peripheral vision.
Now years have passed and I have moved on. The memories still remain, they always will. They have become a part of who I am and my story. And as I sit this cold February evening, now “officially” and adult, vulnerable, I have just one thing to tell you all:

I forgive you.
Sincerely,
Natalie Stravens
Song of the post: Mean by Taylor Swift

Quote of the Post: Sometimes bullies are your friends and very rarely do bullying prevention tips acknowledge this fact or what to do about it. -Rosalind Wiseman

In Hindsight

Happy 2014 everyone!

Can I first express how disappointed I am with technology? Hello, where are the holographic video chats and the flying cars? I was really looking forward to a new hoverboard for Christmas. C’mon Science! You’re slacking.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to do a little recap on 2013 and what this new year means to me… all that sentimental mumbo jumbo. Everyone seems to be talking about how 2013 was such a bad year with all the deaths and natural disasters. I admit it wasn’t the roaring 20’s but 2013 was an ok year. Like every year it had its ups and downs, but what year doesn’t? Here’s what 2013 was for me, the good and bad:

This is small on the grand scale of thing but if I hear “Blurred Lines” again I think I’m gonna shoot myself. I think a little part of my soul dies a little every time it comes on. There were others that were abominations to the Arts but that one particularly irks me. 

On the more serious side of things, a lot of people died this year, and I don’t just mean the famous ones. It’s sad, but I think what’s more sad is the fact that some people’s lives were considered more valuable than others. Don’t get me wrong, my heart goes out to the families of all those celebrities that died, but it also goes out to the others. Where’s the mourning for the infants that die every day in a developing country because they didn’t get the right facilities to cure a disease as simple as the common cold. Or the newly orphaned family who’s mum died of HIV/AIDS. Then there’s the death of Nelson Mandela. He was a great man and an inspiration to us all. However, I don’t understand why everyone was so sad about his life. He lived a long and fulfilling life, we should be celebrating it, not mourning it. Nelson Mandela isn’t a man who died, He LIVED!

National Disasters were another wave tragedy in 2013. They were devastating, I’m not gonna argue that. However, the human race is faced with great tragedies every year. I think it says more of how we deal with it and the triumph of the human spirit. Even with all the horror, I say many band together to help those in need. Now let’s not argue the merits of charities and if all the money got to them, but the fact that people went out of the way to help and donate to the cause is what we should be discussing.

This year is honestly a blur to me. I know it’s not been the best because I remember being sad or mad or whatever but I can’t remember what I was mad or sad or whatever about (real intellectual sentence right there). I make me think how insignificant that was in the grand scale of things. Like the ice storm we had here in Toronto.  Sure it sucked and we lost power but at the same time it forced me—and others I bet—to actually spend time with their family this holidays. I know the whole “silver linings” explanation usually sounds so terribly cliché but I warned you this post will be filled with sentimental mumbo jumbo. The anwswer don’t always have to be grand and mind blowing, sometimes it’s something we already know but choose to ignore.

Now on the positive side of things, these are more personal than the above ones. 2013 was a good year for friendship in my life. Not only did I wake a lot of new friends but my friendship with current ones really blossomed. I have a lot of friends who were just people I didn’t really know but hanged out with but I think on a more emotional level, I got to know many of them this year. I guess it’s because it’s going on my third year in one place which is an achievement for me. I’ve only stayed 3 years in one school once before and this will be the last time because of me graduating and all. It was also a great year for new friends. You know how you have these connections with people where you click and become amazing friends in such a short period of time, well that happened to me a lot this year. It must be because of all the camps and the mission trip I went on and being forced to spend time with the same people around the clock. What’s even more amazing is the fact that I still kept in contact with a lot of them which usually doesn’t happen. I’m tired of regretting cultivating friendships that could have been so I decided to change that. This year was also one of life changing experiences. True, I had to travel to another side of the world to experience it, but it happened none the less. So yeah, I guess 2013 was a good year for me. I dunno how it was for you, but what I do know is that no matter how bad things get, there truly is a silver lining.
Sorry for the cheesiness with extra cheese.

Quote of the Post: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”- Nelson Mandela

The Value of life

So the hashtag “pray to end abortion” was trending on Twitter today. I’ve always been very passionate about the subject, so naturally, I checked out people’s tweets to see the varying opinions. Reading people tweets made me angry, and then frustrated and then plain sad… disappointed. Now, to clarify my personal stance on the subject, I’m pro-life. 

Now let’s cue the so called feminist beliefs about how I’m not respecting a woman’s choice, it’s her body, yada yada yada. I’m sorry if that sounds insensitive but that’s just a load of bull. However, will defend myself against this point because otherwise, you’ll just right me off as another brainwashed conservative (which, honestly, I don’t think I’m conservative in most of my beliefs, but that’s another story). Back time feminism. The reason people give to why a woman should have control over her own body is because if she’s having this unplanned baby, she’s ruining her life. I heard many pro choice people say how we reduce women to baby bearing vessels when we’re all like they must have that baby! I’m response, “what?” Isn’t the fact that a woman’s life could be destroyed because she had a baby just a reflection of how anti feminist our society is. Why can’t someone be a mother and a career woman? Why must our culture shun single women instead of help them? And, why should someone who had sex-knowing that there is a possibility of getting pregnant-be allowed to erase that mistake so easily. Again, I’m sorry if that sound insensitive, but you kind of made your bed, now you have to sleep in it-no pun intended. If I slacked around in school and ended up never going to post secondary or getting a good job and all that, it’s my own fault. There’s no way to erase it, no get out of jail free card, and quite frankly, this part of the argument just annoys me because there is no real substance to it.

Now I know what you’re going to say next, what if she was raped? It’s funny how that’s always the argument even though you know that not all abortionists are rape victims. Nevertheless, it’s a valid point. My response is simple: why should an innocent infant have to suffer the consequences of his/her father’s actions. People are protesting against North Korea’s 3 generation punishment law and here are we practicing a variation of it. 


Now, here comes the part I’m most passionate about, defending the rights of the unborn itself. The thing that angers me the most is when people say it’s not a baby. As if it’s not human. As if its DNA is that of a -Irk-a fish and it randomly becomes a human after it’s born (or 3rd trimester, depending on the people). It’s human! granted it’s at a different stage of development, but it’s still human! How it’s age or where it currently occupying changing that. How is the value of life determined by a detail as meaningless as that. Is my life more valuable than my sister’s because I’m at a higher stage of development? After all, I’ve gone through puberty, she hasn’t. That’s absurd, right?! Exactly! So how is that any different? And don’t give me that crap of it being part of a woman’s body. Yes, the mother is holding the body and they are connected physically but the baby is not part of it. I’m all for a woman being allowed to do what she wants with her life but it’s not HER life she’s affecting, it’s her unborn child!
Ok, I lied. It is hers to. My last, point I guess, that I want  To leave you with is the lie that people give women about abortion. That it’s easy and that it’s not That  big of a deal. First of all, that’s a sick ideology. Secondly, uh… no. Abortion affects the mother emotionally forever. Every woman I’ve met who’s had one(and I’ve volunteered at help centers for pregnant single women) regrets it. Their conscience is forever plagued.
Now, surprisingly, I’m not saying we should revoke the law. I’d rather girls get it at a hospital or clinic with the right facilities instead of a dingy basement so they don’t die as well. If someone wants an abortion, they’re going to find a way. What I am saying is we need to educate people on the true implications of it. So I ask you, “How much do you value life?

Well, ok, I’m done with my rant. Sorry, about that.
Song of the post: “Lucy” by Skillet
Quote of the post: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” –Dr. Seuss. (I know he was’t specifically talking about this but it applies non the less)


“How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate.” –Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (before you say it was his niece that said that, I did the research, she said it was something HE told her)

Survival of Fittest-er- all of us

First of all, I extend my utter most apologies for not updating in God knows how long. What’s worse is, I’m writing at the moment, not with a current theme or topic in mind but out of obligation. 
Ah, obligation… that word that reminds us that we have responsibilities. That other people depends on us or something we have to offer. Oh, what’s that? You have no responsibilities? No one really depends on you?
Lets take a second to analyse that concept. A lot of us live very selfish lives. “It’s all about me” right? It’s a “Dog eat dog” world, and you’re just looking out for yourselves and your loved ones. After all, it’s the way nature works..  survival of the fittest and all that.
Well, I disagree with that philosophy. I believe that the fact we can-if we choose to be- totally selfless and self sacrificing is what separates us from all the other animals.
Now back to the subject of obligations, as a human being, a universal duty you share with the rest of the species is your duty to the other. An ethicist, Immanuel Kant wrote about the concept of duty and it’s applications to a person’s search for a purpose. Another philosopher, Emmanuel (yes, I noticed the share a first name) Levinas went on to talk about a person’s responsibility to the other and the “face”-how simply seeing a person’s face can make a huge impact on ones conscience. Now I just threw at you two watered down major views on ethics; what I simply want you to get out of that Mambo jambo is that it’s our job to Take care of the less fortunate. It’s sad we don’t think like that. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when celebrities are applauded for their “charity work” while they live in an arbitrarily grandiose home and all the bells and whistles that come with It. Don’t talk to me about the 1 million dollars you gave to charity-which, lets be honest, was probably due to the tax breaks you’ll get and the good publicity- when you spend millions on a wedding for a marriage that only lasts 72 days-yes I’m looking at you Kim Kardashian. It’s actually disgusting to watch. 
Now, I’ll stop myself before this ranty  part gets out of hand. So, I bet some of  you are thinking something along the lines of “Natalie, you’re being unreasonable. They worked for their money-we all do- we should be able to spend it, achieved the American dream and all that.” 
Well, this brings me back to my original point, we all live selfish existences. Why is our life goals directly on getting a good job for ME. Finding MY true love. Getting MYSELF a good home, etc. Not to say that those are bad things, they’re great… if that’s what we truly want. But it’s not. Don’t lie, you want more. You don’t want a comfortable home, you want a mansion. A good economy care, no, a sports one or whatever. We are so consumed with us, we forget-or try to- the other. Why is it such a big deal to bring 2 cans of food to school for the poor families in your community. Or to pay $2-two Freaking bucks- for dress down day. Or why do we do Just the bare minimum. We need to move away from this culture of self and to us-or as Mark Kielburger would say, ME to WE. This is where our humanity lies. Not in a fat bank account or in the empty rooms of a house to big for your family, but in the face of your neighbour-even if that neighbour is In a hut in Namibia.
So let’s quit with this survival of the fittest nonsense, and move to the survival of all of us. 🙂

Song of the Post: We are the World by Michael Jackson (Cliche, I know)
 Quote of the Post:  “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” and “When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time” 
― Rick Warren

Re-evaluating Imagination

I don’t think I’m going to do the whole Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy—well, maybe her—with my kids… if I have any. You must be flabbergasted at that statement. Why would I deprive my future kids of their childhood? Well, why would I encourage some fantasy to my kids that I’m just going destroy and devastate them later on in life? I know that sounds weird—like I’m talking in terms of an adult not a kid, but I never believed in Santa or the Easter Bunny. Nobody told me they weren’t real, I just was a logical child about stuff like that. The only one that got me was the tooth fairy because ‘she’ visited me at a friend’s house and it baffled me how even when I wasn’t home, I still got money.
However, I still had a great childhood. In a way, knowing that it was my parents who put those presents under the tree or hid the chocolate eggs at Easter was better. I mean, even when times were hard and I knew my parents were struggling financially, there would still be gifts on the best day of the year. You can’t help but feel loved. I mean if I wanted say—an iPad—for Christmas, but my parents couldn’t afford it but they get me a bunch of clothes and smaller gifts instead, you know how much they care and the gifts mean so much more. If I believed in Santa, I would feel terrible because…c’mon, it’s SANTA, he’s loaded, where’s my iPad? Being a child, I would be so broken hearted, maybe even throw a tantrum. It’s just not worth the supposed ‘magic’ of believing.
Why should I believe in a mythical creature anyway? What is this magic you speak of? So I believe in a fat old man and his little helpers, or a bunny that somehow has loads of eggs to give—where does he even get the eggs from? He’s like some master thief or something—I digress. Is the magic of the holidays what they represent? Christmas and the gift God gave us, Easter and the Sacrifice He made? Why don’t we encourage this part of the holidays? Why isn’t generosity—‘tis better to give than to receive—, love, joy, thankfulness, etc promoted instead?
Anyway, back to my childhood. I was a happy child. I grew up normally. I know I said I was logical and all, but I also had an imagination. Remember pretending the ground was lava—I still do that—or building a fort/cave thingy-ma-bob out of pillows and couch cushions? That was my thing! I remember pretending to be a spy, a princess, a mum, an animal with my friends. I loved the game of make-believe. I need to be LIED to by my parents in order to have a great childhood.
The long and short of it is, I’m pretend Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, etc are real. I’ll tell them about it, I mean, they still have to watch great movies like The Santa Claus; Elf; Rise of the Guardians, etc, but just for fun, for enjoyment.
Or maybe I’m being overly logical.
Quote of the Post: Imagination is more important than knowledge… Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.—Albert Einstein

Happiness for Sale

What does it mean to be happy?
Is it smiling and laughing all the time?
Is it having dozens of friends?
Is it owning hundreds of things?
Everyone’s always saying, “money can’t buy happiness,” so why do all the pictures of rich people have smiles and the ones of poor kids in Africa have tears?
I don’t want to be happy.
That’s a weird statement, probably one you wouldn’t expect me to say, but here it is –I don’t want to be happy. Why? Well, let me just clarify what I mean by being happy:
Happiness is an emotion –temporary
Happiness is a series of chemical reactions in your brain –temporary
Happiness can be changed easily by circumstances –temporary
Happiness is temporary
Do you see where I’m going with this? Every day, we are bombarded with images of happiness and products that can give us that so called euphoria –but they don’t work. Sure, getting a new pair of shoes can make me happy for a while, then I have an argument with my dad and then suddenly –it’s gone.
What do things have to be with being happy anyways? I live in a place where we’re all supposed to be happy because we have everything, as far as food and things go; yet in North America, the third leading cause of death in teens is suicide. That’s a crazy statistic. If we have so much, then why are we all so sad?
I, personally, have had the opportunity to see the ‘other side of the world’ many times, and the picture I get there is completely different. Yes, there’s poverty and all that. People have next to nothing –but they are some of the happiest people I have ever met. I would meet a kid who doesn’t even own a pair of pants yet still shows off his toothy grin in a smile every time I saw him. How is that contrast even possible? It doesn’t make any sense.
Going back to my original statement, “I don’t want to be happy.” I neglected to say the second part, “I want to find joy.” Now you may be thinking, “What’s the difference? It’s simple really:
Happiness is temporary, joy is permanent.
Happiness is an emotion, joy is a lifestyle
How do you even achieve joy? Well, I’ve found that the first way is by choosing to be happy, despite the bad days, sad days and mad days –that came out way cheesier than I intended. Joy is choosing to be content. Now I must clarify, contentment is not complacency. Being complacent is choosing to be a doormat and not doing anything to change that, just accepting your fate in an almost bitter nature. Being content is knowing your circumstance and accepting it, while still allowing a possibility to grow.
The next step on the ‘road to joy’ is the elimination of self on the brain. When one is depressed, sad, etc, it’s often due to them concentrating on themselves and their problems and flaws. Have you ever done that thing where you sit by yourself, alone in your room and contemplate your existence?  Next thing you know, you’re rocking on the floor in fetal position, crying in despair. I feel that when we get out of that habit on thing of ourselves and focus more on others, that feeling despair goes. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually happiest when I’m helping others. Volunteering could possibly be the best form of therapy. This is not to say that it’s easy. I would be lying if I told you that you could switch on a button and be content and generous and happy. It’s a process, but it’s one you have to force yourself to start.
Anyway, this went on a lot longer than I wanted it to go –again. I should probably apologize for taking long to update as well, life’s been getting in the way. I’ll just leave you with my new found philosophy:

I don’t want to be happy, I want to find joy.
Natz
Song of the Post:  All Star By Smash Mouth

Quote of the Post: “Be content because that makes you automatically awesome.” –Quote developed by my friend, Miriam R., and I