28 June 2012

Bureaucracy Strikes Again: Autism Funding. Again.

My brain hurts. Just when I figure I have the ins and outs of autism funding bureaucracy figured out, they throw me a curve ball.

Snap is going for neurofeedback. Autism funding covers neurofeedback for children over 6. Snap is over six. Therefore, Snap is covered. Right? Wrong. I filled out the Request to Pay to have them pay for her treatments. They informed me they need a referral from someone else to do it. In particular, they need referral from a physiotherapist, occupational therapist (OT), GP, behaviour consultant (BC), or pediatrician. Snap had a BC, but she played the asshole card and refused to refer - after much runaround. So based on that final straw, we fired her. Our GP was on mat leave. We have no pediatrician or OT. So we went to her physiotherapist and got a referral. Nice guy. If you need a good PT in Victoria, get hold of me, I'll send you his way.

So, I sent in the referral. Done, right? Well, no. First, the autism funding unit needed to lose it and ask me to resend it, telling me that once it was in, we'd be good to go. So I resent it, by email. No one got around to it, and I found out today, from the neurofeedback clinic that they hadn't gotten a billing number. What? I sent that email back in April. What gives? So I phoned the Autism Funding Unit again, and guess what? "There's no indication that this was received." So I told him the date it was sent, and lo and behold, he found it. And then said he'd put a rush on it, and that I'd hear if it was approved sometime in the next few weeks. WHAT? I told him I was under the impression that if I had a referral, it was an automatic approval. "Oh no. That's not how it works." But but but! So I told him how the last person told me that yes, that is infact how it works, and he told me he'd look at the call log. And guess what, there it was. "Oh. Oh... well, I'll send this log along with the referral form."

OMG. We've already started. We can't afford this kind of treatment. And seriously, how do bureaucrats think they know better about what my kid needs than all the medical professionals they need to get a referral from? And WHY can't that office manage to process anything the first time? How do they keep losing faxes and forgetting email? I'd send it all by registered mail, but it's a PO box, so that they can avoid giving a signature. They even turned off their email receipts. They do not answer email, ever. And they get really assholish quickly if I call to check if they got it. They give me some crap about giving them 30 days to process it, but I swear, they lose stuff about 50% of the time, and if I wait 30 days to call, it'll take another 21 to process it!

Neurofeedback is so cool. I'm going to be learning lots about it. I could see today that Snap's frontal lobe is a screaming mess. Poor kid. No wonder she's so anxious and scattered. The doctor compared it to having 10 radio stations playing at once and trying to focus on just one of them. I'd go nuts, for sure.

So... here's hoping they approve it. Because I don't want to be on the hook for $2500!

27 June 2012

The Political Church

As a Christian and a socialist, I could hardly let this story go by! Conservative Senator Nicole Eaton said on CBC Radio's As It Happens, "I don’t think that churches should take political stands. I think they should be more about helping people and giving people succour."

 The twist in her knickers? That the United Church has a "boycott against Israel". Darlin' Nicole, you're full of crap. The United Church's working group on Israel and Palestine flat out advises against a comprehensive boycott of Israel and Israeli goods and products. AGAINST. From the United Church press release:
The working group also
  • calls for an end to the occupation, saying that it is the primary contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region
  • condemns actions and activities that seek to delegitimize or demonize Israel
  • affirms that non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified
  • calls on Israel to dismantle settlements within the occupied territories
  • calls on Israel to dismantle the separation barrier in all sections where it crosses over the Green Line
  • challenges Christian beliefs that theologically justify the occupation
  • advises against a comprehensive boycott of Israel and Israeli goods and products
  • calls for an economic boycott directed exclusively against settlement products that can be identified as produced in or related to the settlements or the occupied territories
  • advises against the use of “the language of apartheid” when applied to Israel
  • affirms Israel as a Jewish state, meaning a homeland for Jewish people that “ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender”
  • supports initiatives that work toward the creation of a viable Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinian people
  • supports a negotiated settlement to the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees that maintains the demographic integrity of Israel
  • calls for opportunities that will bring together Palestinian and Israeli/Jewish communities for growth in mutual understanding

Oh, the humanity! How dare the United Church! Uh... Except that this is all pretty reasonable. And non-partisan.

Actually, I think that churches help people precisely BY trying to shape public policy. I mean, no, I don't like how Charles McVety and his crew of psychopaths base their religion on their politics, and then use their religious views to try to oppress others, but I don't think trying to stop them via policy is a good idea either. Progressive churches just need to get louder and more political. Balance them out. See, we're trying to help all people, to use public policy to do so. We fought for equality of marriage most recently. We are also pro-choice. We are working to help bring abundance, equality, and freedom for all people, and we can't do that without being political. We run charities like Our Place and try to shape public policy in a way that make us obsolete. And as for sticking our noses into Israel? Well, those are people too. We don't pretend that only white people born in Canada matter. Jesus told us to love one another. Not just the people like us. And so we don't bury our heads in the sand on international matters. We find out what's going on, and try to get the government to do what we think is right. Just like everyone else who gives a crap about people. We just base our idea of right and wrong on the teachings of a man who was crucified for suggesting things would be awesome if we all just were nice to each other.

And all this doesn't mean the preacher gets up and says, "VOTE NDP!" It means the preacher stands up and says, "Jesus said to heal the sick and feed the poor. Let's do that. Vote. Vote for whomever you think best embodies the Christian values." The closest I ever heard a minister tell me who to vote for was when she said, "Vote with your conscience, not your wallet."

Senator Eaton owes the United Church an apology. I'm not holding my breath. 

25 June 2012

What I've been doing

ARGH! I posted this from Picasa, and my whole post disappeared! NOOOO! And I'd written about 300 words to go along with it. 

Short version: Life is keeping me busy. I'm spending most of my time with my kids, in my gardens, and sweeping my floor.

These little birds were having a drink of water off my cauliflower leaves. One of them was dazed and hurt, and the others stayed with her until she could fly again. It was lovely. I wish humans did that for each other more often. Not that we're beasts, but there are too many horror stories.

Snap's done school for the year. She got 49.18% in math. We're hoping they bump that up to 50% because damn it's frustrating trying to get her through math. She's got a boyfriend. I haven't met him yet, but I've checked out his FB. Hehe.

Crackle is doing well. He's saying "Mama" lots! And he's happy, smiley, and much more trusting. He's still rather shrieky though. I find that difficult.

Pop is learning a zillion new things a day. He's a lovely child. Very empathetic and very curious. He also figured out the mouse, and is spending lots of time learning stuff on www.pbskids.org He likes the Curious George flash games the best. This has added to my 'not online' time. :)

My Mom still needs a new kidney. I'm still waiting for one of the pro-life crew who thinks that women should give up the rights to their own body for the life of another to step up and offer her a kidney. Any time, now, right?

I'm reading a great book. Kaleidoscope by Gail Bowen. Very well written. She does a great job of her descriptions of Regina. Very true to life.

So.. that was the short version. Damn it. Lesson learned. :)

20 June 2012

Screw the poor!

So Jason Kenney says that the people who contact his office are happy about the cuts to refugee health care. Well, not all of them. I called today. The gist of our conversation - NOT verbatim:

Dude on the phone: BIG LONG SPIEL about whose office I was having the privilege of calling.
Me: Yeah hi. I was just hearing Jason Kenney [no titles] saying that the people who contact his office are pleased about health care cuts for refugees, and I thought that obviously people like me who feel differently aren't calling, so here I am, calling to tell you that I'm not happy with the cuts.
Dude on the phone: Well, let me clear up something. These cuts mean that refugees will be entitled to the same care that ordinary Canadian taxpayers have.
Me: Uh, I heard that they'll be getting far less and...
Dude on the phone, interrupting me: No, they'll be entitled to the same care as any Canadian taxpayer in their province instead of more. They were getting more benefits before this change than any Canadian taxpayer.
Me: But I was okay with that. I mean, these are people who've had nothing. They haven't had the opportunities to provide for themselves in the same way as I have. I mean, they come from horrible situations with nothing, nothing and I think as Canadians we should take care of them until they have the privilege of paying taxes too.
Dude on the phone, suddenly not nearly as pleasant: I see. Thanks for calling then.

That dude was all over "Canadian taxpayer" like I was going to think, "YEAH FUCKERS! Don't let those rape victims and genocide survivors get away with this shit! I pay taxes FOR ME, not those people who are trying to milk the system. Send 'em back to hell to be tortured!" But I'm not from Alberta, so I have a soul. (That was a dig at someone in particular, and no, I didn't mean it. Relax and have a Pilsner.)

Yes, some people are scamming the system. I don't care. I simply do not care.

And you know those benefits that they were extending to refugees? Unimportant things like insulin and penicillin and basic dental care. I think those should be covered for everyone.

Anyway, if you're inclined to disagree with these cuts too, make your voice heard. Call Jason Kenney's office or email him and let him know that! jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca 613-992-2235

18 June 2012

Heil Harper

So the government is in a tizzy that someone in the opposition may or may not have given them a Nazi salute. Two things.
1) If someone did that, AWESOME. I'd like to buy that person a drink.
2) Let's make this a thing. Every time one of those fuckers starts talking, someone holler "Heil Harper". Every time they walk by, salute them. Let 'em know that their behaviour is bordering on fascist. We already know it pisses them off. 

And you know what? I was once one who said, "Stop comparing them to Nazis. You're not doing our side any good". I was wrong. Flat out wrong. Their behaviour is fascist. They're shutting down democratic debate, for fuck's sake. They cut healthcare for refugees. REFUGEES. Are you fucking kidding me? The rewrite history with lies ("We also have no history of colonialism. So we have all of the things that many people admire about the great powers but none of the things that threaten or bother them." Stephen Harper, 2009). He canceled program after program to help aboriginal children. It's appalling.

According to Rense.comDr. Lawrence Britt examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each. Harper doesn't have all of these, but he has shades of all of them. I'm giving one or two examples of each. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of other examples.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Yup. Much more than Before Harper. And now it's the Harper Government (tm).

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Check. Cutting basic healthcare for refugees qualifies. Canada is also directly responsible for sending prisoners to be tortured. 

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Oh hell yes. Terrorists. Socialists. Refugees. Immigrants. Muslims...

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Not as much here, but $35 billion for fighter jets while refusing to build schools on reserves? That definitely qualifies. What I can't figure out is why they're cutting veterans' benefits and services.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

*snicker* They cut the budget from the Status of Women by 37%. They eliminated the gun registry. And only 22% of parliament is female. Read here: http://cupe.ca/updir/Women's_equality.pdf

Women in public sector unions kissed wage equity goodbye some years back.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Hell yes. Not just hell yes, but OYFG YES. From 2 questions only during the election, to cutting the fuck out of the CBC budget, to funding Fox News North with millions and millions of dollars. When I was in university, we learned to take media stories and examine them for bias, loaded language, and logical fallacies. Suffice it to say, I've yet to find any mainstream media that is biased against the cons. And who can blame them? It's too dangerous.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Did you know that if we don't allow the CATSA to look at us naked or x-ray our shoes that terrorists will take over? Totally true. And did you also know that we need to spend billions of dollars defending our northern border? Yup. 

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Office of Religious Freedom, anyone? They don't have an agenda now, but I highly suspect that this office will be used to allow pharmacists, doctors and nurses, "conscience rights" so that they don't have to dispense birth control pills, provide abortions, or tell the truth to women who are pregnant about any problems the fetus might be having.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

hahahahahah. Oh... bwahahahahaha. Cannot stop laughing. Or sobbing. Corporate interests, under the guise of "free market" are the most protected interests in Canada.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

The Harper Government has worked their asses off to undermine unions. They kept PIPSC, one of the big public sector unions, out of the budget meetings. They changed the rules so that women's rights under the union were severely undermined. And they vilify unions in the media as much as possible. It's sickening.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

In 2008, they cuts arts funding, and then scoffed at it as a "niche issue". They silence the academics who work in government and make sure that there is plenty of media spin against the ones who aren't.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

They are building jails to fill full of people who commit unreported crimes. The RCMP are given crazy rights, and are almost always found not guilty of the crimes they are charged with. They killed a guy in an airport for being upset and were found not guilty, even when it was on tape AND they were caught lying their asses off about the case. And that's just one example. 

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

They appointed to Senate men who lost the election. After promising to eliminate the Senate. Need I say more?

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Hahahahaha. Robo-call Fraud. If you're not familiar, the National Soc... I mean Conservative Party of Canada had a grand ol' time making robocalls telling people likely to vote for the opposition that their polling station had been moved. Of course, they hadn't. But plenty of people fell for it and didn't manage to vote.

09 June 2012

You mean the gender-queer are people too?

It's been quite a week. From CFAX-1070's site:
June 7, 2012

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca NDP MP, Randall Garrison is celebrating the second reading passage of his Private Member's Bill, C-279, which would add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code.
The bill passed in the House of Commons Wednesday night.
Garrison says he was delighted to have the support of 150 fellow Members of Parliament.
"It included members from all parties. The NDP caucus was unanimous, but we also had Liberals and Conservatives and since there is a Conservative majority, obviously it takes all-party cooperation to get a private member's bill through to committee."
Garrison says he expects the bill back from the committee for a final vote in the Commons sometime in the fall.
- Frank Stanford

YAY! This is fabulous. If it passes the final vote, and the cynical side of me says NOT A CHANCE, trans-gendered people will have the same rights as everyone else, and that would be lovely.

So some Conservative party members voted in favour of it? That's awesome. I hope they'll do so in the fall. And if they do, it will be because Harper lets them. That's how it is. We all know that. So the question is why? Why would Harper let them? My thought is that it's win win for him. He can say that he had to let them vote their conscience to his Con supporters. And it appeases the left who want it to pass.

Honestly, I don't care. As long as it passes.

02 June 2012

Preaching the Love

So they're letting me lead the service at church again tomorrow. YAY. I really do enjoy worship planning. I know. I'm weird. Anyway, since y'all are my loyal comrades, I'm letting you have a sneak peak at the sermon. Here it is (it quotes Bender from Futurama, so I assure you, it's not your usual sermon):

When I was looking at the readings in the lectionary this week to see just what I wanted to talk about, I found myself drawn to the Isaiah reading more than the others. I think because I like the imagery. I like the idea of him saying, "ME? But, I'm just a sinner among sinners!" I like the idea of angels purifying his lips and Isaiah turning around and saying, "Okay, God. Send me." I can almost picture him taking a deep breath and letting it out first.

But as I was looking at all the readings, I was kind of baffled at why these would be the readings for Trinity Sunday, and what in God's name (ha ha!) they all had in common. I don't think I came to any brilliant conclusions, but I found myself drawn to the idea of --God speaks to us-- and we'll hear God if we shut up and listen. Whether we do what God wants like Isaiah did is another issue. But God speaking to us, that's what I want to talk about today.

God's communication with us fascinates me. I'm drawn to language.

I am a geek. Seriously, a geek of epic proportions. I'm sure this brings to mind someone sitting at a computer, bending it to her will, but in this case, I am a language geek. I love language and languages. When I was little, I used to drive my Mom crazy by making up my own languages and insisting she try to learn them. She compromised by teaching me Pig Latin. I'd pour over dictionaries. I'd watch Sesame Street, primarily to learn the French! Now it's my favourite kids' show, because I can watch it for the Spanish. When I got into University, I studied linguistics. I went so far as to get a Master's Degree in it. I loved looking at the way that different languages put sentences together, the way they put words together, how languages changed over time, and how some words didn't have direct translations in other languages. Like how in English, there's no word for the look that two people pass between each other that means, "No, I'm not going to say it, you say it!" There is a word for that in some languages. That is, in my geeky opinion, the pinnacle of cool. So you'll understand that when I say, "God's communication with us fascinates me", I'm taking it to a whole new level. :)

Remember the story about the Tower of Babel? How all the people spoke the same language, and then for trying to build a tower high enough to get to Heaven, God confused them and made them speak new languages. I used to both love and hate that story. I hated it because I thought it was just plain mean of God to do that to the people. Especially considering how much pain and death has been caused simply by mistranslations and misunderstandings between languages. And I loved it because I totally loved the idea of a universal language. A language everyone could understand. A God-given, language innate to humanity.

Now, I'm pretty sure that that story is metaphorical, and that we are to learn from the lesson rather than take the story as literal truth, but at least one linguist of pretty high standing disagrees. His name is Mark Baker, and he has been working on the fundamentals of Universal Language for years and years, trying to get some insight into the nature of God's plan, much like Isaac Newton was trying to find God in science. And that's pretty impressive. I don't know how far he's gotten, and I'm pretty sure he's not talking to God in the ancient language, because God seems to use a lot of other ways to talk to us.

The Bible has all sorts of examples of God talking to people in all sorts of spectacular ways. In Exodus, God appears as a burning bush and speaks to Moses. A few weeks back we heard the story of Samuel hearing God's voice and not recognising it until Eli told him what to do. God spoke to Job through a storm. In the reading we just heard, God's voice is heard by Isaiah, presumably in his language, asking directly, "Whom shall I send?" as though God was asking for a volunteer, privately to Isaiah. I find that remarkably funny, actually. Is God being coy with him? Is it like when I say "I wonder if someone will shut the window for me" when it's only me and Josie in the room. God is gentle though. God doesn't say, "Yo. Isaiah. You're up. Do it or I'm going to bug you for the rest of your days!" Though frankly, that's kind of how God talks to me. Just subtly. For example, a few years ago I was very, very sick. I was walking with two canes, I was taking Percocet for pain, I was a mess. Some strange man stopped me in a health-food store and went on and on about how I was going to die before I was 30 if I kept eating gluten and dairy. I'd only ever heard of gluten once or twice. Didn't know what it was. I dismissed the guy as a nutjob and went home to laugh about it. I tell you. Within the next few weeks, at LEAST 10 people mentioned gluten to me in some way. I finally said, "OKAY! I GET IT! I'LL TRY A GLUTEN FREE DIET!" which startled the heck out of the guy on the bus who was telling me about his gluten free dog food. So I tried it. And what happened? I got better. I am utterly convinced that was God talking to me. Not in a loud voice, but pesky enough that I finally got the hint.

So I've sometimes wondered why God can't be more clear. A booming voice from above would be hard to miss. Light it up in neon. A big flashing sign saying, "People! I told you to be nice to each other, even the people you don't like. Do it, or else!" would be appreciated. I know I could use the reminder some days! So why doesn't God just light it up in letters, sky write it, spell it out in our soup?

Strangely enough, the best answer I've ever gotten for this was from a cartoon I like. It's called Futurama, and if you're not familiar with it, it's silly science fiction, set 1000 years in the future. Anyway, in one episode, Bender, a robot with a lot of vices, becomes a God to a tiny race of people. All the people kill each other off in nuclear war, and then meets the real God. Now, remember, this is animation and not particularly biblically accurate. However, what God tells Bender really resonates with me. Bender is upset that all his people died, and he's lamenting it all to God. God tells him:
God Entity: Bender, being God isn't easy. If you do too much, people get dependent on you. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safecracker or a pickpocket.
Bender: Or a guy who burns down a bar for the insurance money.
God Entity: Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.

Of course, this is silliness, but there's a grain of truth in it. If God told us what to do in no uncertain terms whenever we asked, we'd get utterly dependent on God in about 40 seconds. We'd fail to learn anything. It'd be like cheating in school. If God boomed commands out from above, how would we ever learn to become the people God dreams of?

So, we have to have faith. We have to listen. We have to do what we know is right even when it's easier to do what's wrong. And when it seems like God's forgotten us or isn't talking to us, we need to remember two things: God is ALWAYS talking to us. And there's a convenient book full of God's words. After the end of each scripture reading we say, "God still speaks to us through the scripture" and it's true. If we're listening, we can learn something new each time.

NONE of us has it all figured out, as much as we'd sometimes like to think we do, and as loudly as some proclaim they have. What I'm pretty confident that I do have figured out is LOVE. God is pretty clear that our job is to love God and to love each other, and that we can do that by taking God's love for us and sharing it with others.

I've always thought that the Good News we hear about is pretty good indeed. The news is that God loves us. We're sinners, sometimes of epic proportions, sometimes so much so that society locks us away in cages to protect themselves from us. And God still loves us. So much so that God sent us Jesus to tell us this and to tell us that all we have to do is love. Love everyone. Love God. Just love. How hard is that? Depends on who you talk to, I suppose.

One of my friends says she's so glad she's Christian, because it's easy. She says that just loving people is WAY easier than following strict rules about which foods you can eat with each other, when you can use electricity, having to give up all earthly cares, etc. She's a pretty awesome person to be around.

And sometimes it's not so easy. How do you love someone who has killed people? Or fed on greed so much that he destroyed the lives of everyone who trusted him? Or hurt children? And what does it even mean to love them?

That friend of mine says that the legal system should embrace these people, show them love and show them just what they've done. That when they come to see it, they can start to heal and start to be productive again. And those who can't, will just have to stay in jail. But we never stop trying to help them. She says we need to stop using the word "justice" to mean "revenge". Like I said, she's a pretty awesome person.

It all comes down to judge not, lest ye be judged. That doesn't mean we can't look at someone and say, "No. What you're doing is wrong." It means we can't say, "No. I don't love you because what you're doing or what you've done is wrong". We need to live with a love that isn't based on merit. Because really, none of us is perfect. None of us can walk on water - unless it's in Saskatchewan in January, and that's just cheating. We need to love unconditionally, and accept the love of others unconditionally. Just as God loves us.

And you know what? That's not just good news. That's great news. Because it's just not that hard. Look at the homeless guy on the street who you just know is an addict. Instead of walking by, smile. Maybe hand him a card for Our Place. Maybe offer to buy some groceries. Jesus didn't tell us to find out if the hungry guy is to blame for his hunger before feeding him. He said, "feed the hungry". He didn't say, "Heal the sick. But only if they have money to pay you. And only if their sickness isn't related to their own actions." And he sure didn't say, "Love your neighbour. But only if they sin the same way you do."

God's Word could not be more clear. LOVE. Just love. Spread God's love around by being instruments of God's love. We're God's instruments in this world. We're the vessels to spread the love. If we truly want to be God's people, we have to love like God does. And like my friend says, that's fabulous, because that's just not that hard.