25 November 2013

Peace Anniversary

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This past Saturday, our team - In His Shoes - participated in an annual 5K that we've been involved in called HomeWalk.  I want to tell you all about it, but first I wanted to share with you a little bit about a journey that I've been on - because it's time! And then,  I promise, we'll get back to the Homewalk, and then of course my new list of the little things I'm thankful for.  Deal?

I wanted to share that this weekend was my anniversary!  No, not my wedding anniversary. It's my peace anniversary! Peaceaverary?  Now what, you may ask, is a peace anniversary?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  I haven't wanted to talk about this prior to this weekend to avoid sounding preachy, but this week marks one year to I can share now that's it's official.  This Saturday marked one year  that I have been a vegetarian. And what do you ask does that have to do with peace?  Well, I'm so glad you asked.  Because all of this came about through a prayer.  A prayer   for peace. Here's how it happened.  I always pray for peace.  So last year, sometime around June, during my prayer for peace I received an answer.  And it came through with such clarity.  The message was this:  If you want peace, be peace.  Live peace.  Breathe peace.  Work for peace.  I actually heard God (with my voice) tell me this message.  And I remember then, just being still with it, and trying to digest what had just been sent to me.  I remember one of the first thoughts that came to me after that was about vegetarianism.  I told myself that God had told me something profound. And  how can I live peace and be peace if something has to die in order for me to live?  But then, the little Armenian devil on my shoulder tried to chime in.  "You can't be Armenian and be a vegetarian!  What about kebab?"  Ooo...now there was something I didn't think of.  That's right,  there's kebab involved. 

Around that time we were training for the Avon walk.  I remember the prayer staying with me.  And so when Linda Z and I were walking one afternoon around the Rosebowl, I shared the peace message with her, and I my thoughts about vegetarianism and the kebab struggle.  Now this is what's funny: in all reality, we hardly ever eat kebab, so I don't understand why it was such a big deal to me, but it was.  The whole thing about inconveniencing people who's home you were going to for dinner also played into the equation.  Or beingout on a business lunch, having to explain, y'know?  So I remember Linda telling me that maybe I was interjecting that message into it.  Sure, you have to be peace, breathe peace, work for peace, etc.,  but there are other ways to do that that doesn't involve giving up meat.  It made me think about it at least.  And continue on as is for a few months at least.  But I couldn't.  The message was a strong one and it kept revisiting me always there in the back of my mind.

And then one afternoon, when I was researching something on the net, I came across a movie on YouTube called Earthlings.  Have you heard of it?  Let me tell you right now, that if you have no intention of giving up animals, then do NOT watch this movie.  The idea is that we are on this planet Earth and we think of ourselves as the only Earthlings.  But we're not.  The animals that share this planet with us are also Earthlings. And then the movie goes on to talk about the animals that we consume, how they are penned, fed and treated, and what they go through during the slaughter.  The pain and suffering.  That movie was a 9-part series, and when it was over, I was a vegetarian.  I mean, how many of us even think about what we're eating.  It's all packaged up for us at the market - clean and neat.  My intention here is not to convince you to convert or tell how you should eat because this is my journey and it works for me.  But I ask that you just consciously think about what it is that you're eating. Okay? So anyways... It's been a year now, and no regrets!  I haven't eaten anything with a face or a mother.  It's been a good year.  And the whole Armenian part hasn't been as big a deal as I thought it would be. And there are so many great vegetarian and vegan recipes that are part of our Armenian cuisine that I don't miss the meat at all.  So that's it.  It's been a year of peace.  And I am going to continue on this peaceful journey for years to come.

Okay, so now I wanted to share with you about this weekend's Homewalk.  Every November for the past 7
Team In His Shoes
years, the United Way organization puts on the Homewalk.  This is a walk that helps the homeless, raising money for housing and programs.  This year, Team In His Shoes was 9  walkers strong.  And I posted some of the photos on our In His Shoes facebook page so please check them out.  But what I specifically wanted to write about today was not just the details about the walk, but about walking with our younger generation....and about teaching them, at a young age, to align with a cause that speaks to them...and then to work toward the betterment of that cause by fundraising for it.  Or giving  time and energy toward it.

Last year I asked my niece Madi to walk in the Homewalk with Neddy and I.  She did it, and we had a great time.  But more importantly, she saw all the other kids that were out there, just like her. She saw what a difference a bank of like-minded people can make.   And she also got the chance to get educated about the homelessness problem in Los Angeles.  There are families out there, mom's pushing strollers, homeless people that are walking and sharing their stories, young and old.  We're all out there walking to end homelessness. There are organzations and schools that bring groups in to walk. So anyways...the registration for minors is free.  So it's easy to sign up to walk.  You don't have to fundraise, although that's what is hoped that you'll do.   But last year we registered, adults paid their fees, kids were free, we got our tshirts, and we walked in solidarity.

So this year, when it was time to register, I asked Madi if she'd like to walk again.  She told me she was looking forward to it.  Again, we signed up except this year I told madi she needed to fundraise. "What? Who am I going to ask?"  Now think about that.  Valid point, right?  At 14 you don't have friends that have money and/or jobs.  So the idea of fundraising was a scary one.  Still, I set a goal for her.  $50.   That was doable.  And then nothing happened.

A couple weeks ago, I bugged her.  "Madi, you need to fundraise.  I see that your website is not even up yet."  "I will."  And another week went by, still nothing.  Okay, now we're just 5 days from the walk, and it was time to start getting serious. I called, FB messaged and finally, the Monday prior to the walk, the webpage was personalized and she was ready to go.  And to make a long story short, she raised the $50 and actually surpassed it.  Who did she ask?  Family, parents of her friends, but she made it happen.

My adorable niece (and God-daughter), Madi
Okay, big deal, you say.  But it IS a big deal.  Along the routeMadi and I got a chance to talk.  We took photos along the way.  There were areas along the route with questions to ask yourself.  "If you were suddenly homeless and could only carry with you three things,"  said one sign, "what three things would you take in your shopping cart?"  Madi's answer, cellphone/charger, guitar and laptop.  My three? photo album, flute, and Madi (since she can play her guitar and sing to create some revenue for her dear sweet aunt.  right?) But seriously, we did have a good conversation about the importance of commiting to a cause.  And then discussing it with others.  Being prepared to work for the outcome of that cause.  Even if it meant asking people for money.  Because remember, I told her, you're not asking for it for yourself but for the cause.

So that's the jist of it.  Back when I was a kid, the norm was protest.  We would picket, and walk, and align ourselves with issues and causes.  But I don't see it like that today.  So that's why by registering for these type of walks, or getting our children involved in volunterring, we teach them important lessons about giving and seflessness.  It's important that we teach by example too.  When our children grow up seeing us do these things, they will learn by example.  But they also need to learn by dialogue and goal setting as well.  They need to be pushed.  And they need to know that all these things come with a price.  Yes, signing up as a minor is free, but there is the cost of the tshirt, the advertising, etc.  If we can all do our part to help, more of the money raised will help the cause.  After walking the 5K HomeWalk and having raised $80, my niece felt accomplished and proud of herself.  And you know what?  I am very proud of her too.

I just want to say though that it's up to us to guide our children in these area.  To push them toward the things that matter, because the outside influences are too great.  If you believe in a cause, then you should support it.  And the same goes for our church and our ministry.  If you believe in the message and the good works that are coming out of it, then show your support!  Enough said?

And now, here's this week's list of the little things that make my life more beautiful:

Little Things I'm Thankful For: 
1.  Think about the smell of Palmolive soap and onions when your grandma first opens the door of her house and you walk in.  Think about smelling the roses blooming in the garden, or your favorite perfume.  My first item to be thankful for is my sense of smell.  Imagine going through life with a cold in your nose and not being able to smell the delicious smell of a newborn, the spicy smell of a carnation, or the incense in church.  We're blessed with this sense of smell that makes our lives so full.

2.  Scented candles.  Yep.  They're so good.  Especially arount the holidays when they come out with their winter fragrances - especially the pine, cranberry, apple spice.  I love lighting candles and having my house smell great during the holidays.

3.  A garden.  I'm thankful that I have a small patch of garden that I can grow - or at least attempt to grow - vegetables, flowers and plants.  Gardens reassure us in the hope for tomorrow and new surprises.  I'm grateful for my garden.

4.  Social Media.   I'm thankful for being connected, and for the wonderful frends I've met through Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.  There are good and bad aspects of it, but in general, I like being able to keep in touch with friends and family.   Think about it.  If it weren't for social media, I probably would never have met you!

5.  Flowers.  Whether they are sent to me at work, or it's the wild geranium that's growing in my front yard, I am thankful for the beauty and fragrance of flowers.  The colors, shapes and sizes...varieties are unlimited, and like I always say, God is the best artist!

6.  Fridays!  I'm always thankful for Fridays. It's been said that the first five days after the weekend are the hardest.  And I always find that my work week gets better and better the closer we get to Friday.  It's really my favorite day of the week, even though half of it is spent on being at work.  Saturday is always filled with all the chores.  Sunday there's church, and then by the time you have lunch and clean up, it's time to finish up projects and start planning for Monday again.  But Fridays when work is finished....that's the day that's filled with fun and hope for a great weekend.

and finally 7.  YOU!  Not that you're a little thing, you know...but I am thank you for each of you .  Thank you for reading, listening, commenting and praying for me.

Finally, I want to take this time to wish all of you a very happy and blesssed Thanksgiving.  I hope our little exercise in the little things has helped you appreciate all that you have, large and small, and help you to understand how truly blessed we all are.  God bless your families this Thanksgivig and always.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

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