On Love

by Laura Rinas

I will be completely honest and say that I am one of Those Mothers… that gleefully skip down the sidewalk on the first day of school, high-fiving other parents on the way.  I love my babies, I really do. But by the end of summer, when our to-do lists have been crossed off and forgotten, and we are surviving on embarrassing amounts of screen time and frozen pizza, we are ALL READY. The image of my babies riding off into the sunrise on their school bus does not often stir a whole lot of emotion, other than that ball of joy that forms when you realize you can do the grocery shopping on your own now.

But every once in a while, I catch a glimpse of the NOW, of the HERE, and it takes my breath away.

Yesterday morning started like any other. We did the first round of Walk To The School Bus for my big two, then came home and readied for our next round, where my four year old would be the one I load for his half day at school.  We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and while I still just want to squeeze him every time I see him make the just too big step up onto the bus because SO CUTE, the newness of it has worn off. It’s routine at this point.

So imagine my surprise when, after watching him toddle up the steps into the bus, I was struck by such a wave of emotions that it felt as if my heart stopped.  He had plopped down on his seat, turned, looked out the window and gave me a huge grin. As the bus pulled away, he waved, mouthed either I love you or I have to poo, and off he went.  Suddenly, without warning, he became my baby again. The love I felt for him in that moment felt like it would crush me, it was so great. Suddenly it was my own heart that was riding away from me on that bus, and I knew with a fierce sincerity that I would do literally anything to protect him.  As I walked the block back to my house, I tasted this protective, jealous love in my mouth.  It’s not as if I walk around not loving my children and this was uncommon, because that is decidedly false.  But mostly my love for them plays in the background, it’s a given, something that is assumed and does not cause a stir of emotion to this level.  To have it broiling on the surface like this, captivating all of my thoughts… that was uncommon.  

When I got home, I started getting dressed for the day. I pulled out my black leggings, and the only dress I own.  I pulled my hair up and twisted it into a bun.  My husband met me downstairs, and we walked hand in hand to a church a few blocks away.  We took our seats amidst others clothed in black, and I spent the next hour absorbing a different kind of love, a kind that is mixed with grief and longing, rich with memories and sadness and a gentle understanding of something that we cannot see.  I held my husband’s hand as the hundred or so people sung, prayed and reminisced about our late neighbor, who passed suddenly last week.  I cried softly, even though we probably knew her the least of these people gathered here. It wasn’t her passing that drew tears from my eyes, but the grief that was apparent on the faces of her family.  I cried for the hole that they would have to fill, for the habits that would have to be abruptly ended, for the small, mundane memories they would forget over time.  I sat in the pew and tasted this salty kind of love, one that is thankful on the inhale and grieving on the exhale. One that is brought on by death, but also overcomes it. One that loses its point of focus, so instead bears one another up as we struggle to find a new normal.  

Fast forward to that evening, the kids in bed after the normal push and pull of THIRST, HUNGER, SPOOKY THINGS that usually command the rhythms of our bedtime rituals.  We locked up and walked together upstairs. We stepped over the train tracks, the books, the cars, the dirty socks that never quite make it to the Very Official Pile of laundry that forms quite naturally outside of our bathroom.  We did our ritualistic search for any of the more adventurous cars that may have made it into our bed, pushing aside sippy cups and lovies that were left there during the earlier melee.  And then, with a quiet breath and a small smile, we made love, right there in the middle of life. We stepped out of our day, out of our schedule, and allowed ourselves to just feel, just move.  It was nothing spectacular, but it didn’t have to be. It didn’t arise from a place of sexiness or passion, but a place of security and unabashed and steady love, one that tasted like kissing and trust.  One that felt as comfortable and easy as breathing, albeit a bit faster.  

Three kinds of love, an unfinished myriad of togetherness, just a small piece of the huge mosaic that is that unfathomable feeling.

In each of these moments, you can find a greater love, a more full and significant movement of the heart.  I see God’s own parental love for us in my fierce love for my son, I see his jealous pursuit of me and my affection.  I see God’s own sacrifice for us in the church hall, whispering amidst us that death is not the end, that a greater life, a greater togetherness is awaiting us just beyond that thin veil.  And I see God’s own tenderness for us in the arms of my husband, promising an openness that can only come when you are with someone who knows every detail of you and still yearns for you.  

These are mere shadows of God’s multifaceted love for us. His is a love that we could never hope to understand, and yet, when we catch glimpse in it in his creation, it should take our breath away. 

When you are tempted to feel far away from God’s love, look into your own life. Look to the people who love you, the people you love. And understand that though we are broken, and our love for each other can often times leave someone wanting, we are in the very act of giving and receiving love mimicking our Savior, our community-steeped triune God.  We are, sometimes without knowing or understanding it, expressing our likeness with the very creator of the universe.  Remember that even the best exchange of love that we can have with another soul on this earth falls so short of the complete and all-encompassing love that God offers us every day.  

So seek these out, the moments where you can inhale and exhale love.  Any kind of love.  There are so many to choose from. Don’t believe the lies that love is conditional, something that must be portioned lest we run out.  It’s simply not true.  Invite your neighbor over for dinner. Put down your work and play a silly game with your child. Choose to seek joy with your spouse. Smile at the people you pass in the grocery store. Let someone sneak ahead of you in the line of traffic.  Love without holding your hand out, rejoice when that love is returned ten-fold, and move on unharmed when it’s not.  

This is how we love. We love because He loved us first. Amen and thank God for this radical kind of love.


 

 

Introductions

All of Us Matter is all about giving people practical ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. Sometimes we think that only grand, big gestured actions will change the world but it is actually our everyday actions that will create a ripple effect for a better tomorrow. Some practical ways that we can start today are as simple as smiling at the person you ride on an elevator with… saying hello and greeting the person by name who is bagging your groceries… leaving a box of cookies in your mailbox for your mailman. All these little things add up and we all can do them right where we are. The same is true for fighting injustice in our world. As Theodore Rosevelt so wisely said… each of us can do what we can, where we are, with what we have.

Today I have the great pleasure of introducing my friend, Laura Rinas, who does this very thing so naturally in her storytelling. Laura has this uncanny ability to weave together stories and moments from seemingly mundane everyday life and with a touch of humor and vulnerability, turn those experiences into powerful lessons that move us all to appreciate our everyday.

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Laura will be joining the All of Us Matter blog writing team and will now be contributing her words of encouragement and love every now and again. So make sure you check back in, I promise you won’t be disappointed. She will move you to lean in and move past your comfort zone to serve your neighbor.

We want to form a community of believers for a better tomorrow where we can share and engage with one another. What are some of the actions you've taken? We would love to hear from you, on Facebook, Instagram, or straight to crystal@allofusmatter.org.

Start conversations that matter, let's be a voice to the voiceless. 

Crystal, Founder, and Visionary at All of Us Matter


Headquarters Moving

Turn The Page
Photo Credit: Vanna Dutch

Photo Credit: Vanna Dutch

All of Us Matter is on the move, from Cambridge, England to Tampa, FL. The business will be moving headquarters permanently this summer 2017. I have loved England and I will forever treasure her for offering so much inspiration for All of Us Matter. 

The store will be closing down until further notice on June 9th, 2017. Please grab your India Line cups, once stock is gone they will be gone forever. The store will re-open in the new year and will be bigger and better as we will release our NEW 2018 collection. We have a few projects in development and will release "sneak-peaks" so stay tuned I promise we won't disappoint. 

Check back in on our social media accounts and the blog, these places will still be active. 

Start conversations that matter, let's be a voice to the voiceless. 

Crystal, Founder, and Visionary at All of Us Matter


 

 

Refugee Crisis

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
— -Edmund Burke

All of Us Matter is joining in the response to help out in the refugee crisis of millions of displaced men, women and children. Stateless and homeless people are suffering in refugee and detention camps. Men, women, and children are leaving their homes in, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Ukraine over wars, famines, and the pursuit of religious freedom. To add insult to injury these refugees are in the line of fire for traffickers. This crisis is a breeding ground for human trafficking.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated in their 2015 report “We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.

An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.
— UNHCR
http://www.unhcr.org/uk/

http://www.unhcr.org/uk/

In our world, there are nearly 34,000 people who are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution. I know that it feels like the world is hemorrhaging and it's heart-wrenching when we read about all the suffering in the world. Sometimes we can feel compassion fatigue and with so much suffering around us, “Where does one begin?”. This week I found out how easy it was to make the decision to just go and give my weekend away. I volunteered with the good people of Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action group that serves as a middle man to get people organized from Cambridge, England to Calais, France, volunteering alongside L’Auberge Des Migrant Warehouse to feed and clothe refugees. I am in awe of these volunteers! After just two days on kitchen duty, I am tired and completely covered in lentils. Yet, the full-time volunteers make hot ethnic meals for lunch and dinner for over 2,400 people 7 days a week! I only gave a weekend, but after being there in the midst of the most vulnerable, I realized what that weekend meant to those who are in need. We all can do something to care for our neighbor. We simply have to start where we are and take action, no matter how big or small.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/LAuberge-des-Migrants-358496450338/photos/?ref=page_internal

https://www.facebook.com/pg/LAuberge-des-Migrants-358496450338/photos/?ref=page_internal

http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com

http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com

Refugees and migrants are exponentially more likely to be preyed upon by traffickers because they are extremely vulnerable. I was told that cars drive around the edge of the camp to kidnap and traffic people. If they are kidnapped, few people will go looking for them because they have little-to-no ties to the country or community they reside in. People are fleeing the conflict-ridden and war-torn societies of Ukraine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and many other countries for Europe in hope of a better life. I have never lived in a war zone but I can understand that these people have lost everything and need our help as they try to put the pieces of their lives back together. Please find a way to help, below are some of the ways to plug in, especially if you are in Europe. Please click through the links and find out how. 

http://refugeecommunitykitchen.com

http://www.refugeesathome.org/#about

https://camcrag.org.uk

http://www.greecevol.info/task.list.php

http://www.helprefugees.org.uk

http://www.refugeesupport.eu

http://calaid.co.uk

A message from Cambridge Convoy Refugee Action Group:

The current needs on the ground in Calais, Paris, and Dunkirk are below. All aid preferably needs to be size and item sorted and labeled

Our friends at the Daily Bread Cooperative in Kings Hedges are continuing to take donations of food and clothes off for us. If you want to make a donation of food or other essential items please see the list below. If you have a large amount please email cam4calaisdonations@gmail.com to arrange a drop-off.

REQUIRED ITEMS FOOD DONATIONS – tinned fish (with a ring pull lid), biscuits, white sugar, nuts, dates, dried fruit, energy bars, olive oil, vegetable oil, tea bags, garlic, chili flakes, large bags of spices, sea salt, lentils

OTHER ITEMS NEEDED sleeping bags, roll mats, wind up torches, men’s hats, gloves and scarfs, blankets, mobile phones with the charger, new men’s socks size 39-43

We try to hold drop off days once every 6 weeks around the Cambridge area for people to drop off these and other item.  We have previously used church halls, village halls, office spaces and a dance studio. We need a large room with at least two parking spaces for two to three hours. If you have a venue that you think might be suitable and we could use for free, please contact us at Cam4calaisdonations@gmail.com

Start conversations that matter, let's be a voice to the voiceless. 

Crystal, Founder, and Visionary at All of Us Matter

I Accept

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
Photography: Vanna Dutch 

Photography: Vanna Dutch 

I am writing this because I have been asked by a local Moms Next (Mops) group to sit on a panel and talk about what it's like to integrate our dreams/goals/passions with our families.

Passion?

For me, it's something that runs through my veins. It is as much a part of me as my wild curly hair, need for physical touch, and love for dance. My passion lies deep within who I am. My passion is my broken heart for humanity and caring for the least, the lost, and the last in our broken world. God has placed a mandate on my life for social justice. 

 The one thing that got me through University no matter how much I disliked it, was knowing how it would equip me with tools and skills to help others in our world. Now that I have my degree in International Relations, it is easy to see how it has helped and enriched my life, but when I was going through the struggle of staying up late to write papers or prep for tests, it wasn't always easy to keep my eye on the prize. I had to continually remind myself why I was pursuing this goal and how it would help me pursue my passion.

After graduating, my amazing husband and I had just moved to a foreign country and already had two children. I was excited and ready to get started working outside the home to make a difference in the lives of others. But no jobs came, no volunteer work, nobody who I could collaborate with me on issues, nothing. Then, we decided to have a baby! (another long story for another day). I was desperate to pour myself into my passion (outside the home) but had no way of pursuing it.

This place made my feel unhappy and desperate. I started to become bitter and resentful over my inability to work to give and to pour out. In this place of resentment, I started to blame the people I love most in this world, my husband and my children. Then, one day I realized in a moment of clarity that my passion, which was given to me by God, will be carried out by God! I didn't need to strive in my own ability or vain conceit to clench my passion. Instead, I started to ask God to help my natural mind understand his supernatural power. I serve a God who made a donkey talk (Numbers 22:28), a God who gave his one and only Son to save us from ourselves (John 3:16). He is able to overcome the obstacles I face and work everything out according to his plan and purpose in my life. I needed to change my focus from striving to overcome the obstacles in front of me, to preparing my heart to be a steward of what God had given me. It was my responsibility to be faithful with what God had given me and let God produce the increase.

It was after this shift in my heart that God birthed All of Us Matter. Over the past year, like a baby growing in the womb, All of Us Matter has begun to form. Just as pregnancy and labor is not easy, neither was this past year with All Of Us Matter. There have been moments of extreme joy and moments where it all just made me nauseous. But, as I learned in school, the process is not always easy but if I keep my eye on the prize, the why I am doing this, it is worth it. It is worth it for the least, the last, and the lost, that will be set free because I was willing to be faithful with what God had given me.

Yet, being a mom of three young kids, a teacher of homeschool, keeper of my house, member of my church, and the founder of All of Us Matter, I was stressed! I needed some practical ways to manage everything on my plate. Then, I was listening to one of my favorite podcast, The Art of Simple, one day and Tsh Oxenreider, the host, recommend a youtube yoga teacher called Yoga with Adriene. The last time I had done yoga was when I was pregnant with Ava and had sciatica and was desperate for relief but quickly decided it wasn't my thing. So six years later I decided to pick it up again. Knowing I needed some form of exercise to keep my body healthy and manage stress, I tried online workout videos and even P90X, but they didn't make me feel good, and only stressed me out more and made me feel tense. 

I am a high energy person and my mind bounces from one thing to the next like a ping pong ball, but after the first Yoga with Adriene video, I understood how badly I needed stillness and intentionality. In this first video, I attempted to complete this yoga practice in the middle of the day with my baby in the pack n' play crying, one child on the sofa watching me and talking to me and the other child using me as a bridge when in downward dog! 

Yoga is not about touching your toes, It is what you learn on the way down.
— Jigar Gor

Adriene asked that we pick a mantra for the day and she suggested maybe it's I Accept. This simple phrase meant everything to me in that moment. I prayed and declared my acceptance of my stage in life, I accepted that life was hard in the trenches with littles, I accepted that in order to have quiet time, I needed to wake up early, I accepted that I needed to meet with God on a daily, hourly, and minutely basis. I accepted that as a family we have chosen to homeschool and my kids are my highest priority, I accepted that housework would have to give for a while until I figured out a new rhythm or even hired someone and so forth, I accepted that I needed to respect my husband and ask for forgiveness over my resentment.  At this point, All of Us Matter had been birthed but I was only working on it when I had time. After that Matthew supported me and we hired a nanny and I started having 15 hours a week to dedicate to working and building All of Us Matter. Living out my passion has been no simple process, I have had to take a few twirls around the desert learning to trust God and be faithful in walking in the right direction because my road-mapping has, lead me off the path more than a few times. Believe me this readjusting will never end and I know God will never leave me nor forsake me.

What do you need to accept, in order to move forward?

Start conversations that matter, let's be a voice to the voiceless. 

Crystal, Founder, and Visionary at All of Us Matter