I Had To Do A Double Take Of The Hardware Store Ad

It’s becoming apparent that hardware stores need another season.

In athletics there are seasons for different sports, and sporting goods stores sell products related to the time of year a particular sport is in season.

Grocery stores sell food in season. With refrigeration it’s not as evident, but foods that are out of season in a region are more expensive, causing us to not buy them as often.

I eat grapefruit every morning but there is a time of year that one of my regular stores doesn’t sell them. And in other stores, the quality is often so poor that I tend not to purchase them.

You would think then it would be easy for hardware stores to find things to sell in season without running into other seasons. But this week I opened up some flyers and couldn’t believe what my local Lowes, Rona, and Home Depot were selling.

They were selling BBQs ahead of snowblowers!

They had big spreads of patio and deck furniture. They were featuring planters, shade umbrellas and artificial grass.

I can understand the grass because you could lay it down on top of the snow, and then place your new deck furniture on it.

It would be chilling out there but, if you had a gas fireplace on the deck, who knows? The wind might blow the flame and heat your way, keeping your core body temperature warm while your toes, hands and ears all broke off with frostbite!

You realize it’s February, and it’s Canada I’m living in – what in the world are these stores thinking of when they put out ads like this?

It’s clear they need another season of goods to sell.

There’s a Scotia Bank commercial here that talks about Canada having a 5th season, that season being hockey that runs all year long.

But really the hardware stores need a 5th season too. Even if the advertising got me ramped up to purchase some lawn furniture in February, do I really want to buy it only to have to find some place to store it for another two to three months?

I don’t think so.

What families are going to start parking their cars on the driveway instead of in the garage, scraping off the ice and snow, getting into freezing cold vehicles every day, just so they have somewhere to put their new deck loungers that they won’t be able to use until mid-May?

I’m all for having the stores change their focus leading into the next season, but this is ridiculous.

Maybe they should be selling little ice huts for BBQs. These huts could be like ice fishing huts, but instead of bringing out the auger, you place the BBQ in the center of it and sit around it, keeping warm while the steaks sear, telling stories of the big steer that got away.

I might get interested … but only when I can see some grass poking through the snow.

Here’s the thing: There are many things that want to take your attention away from the present, to sort of paint a preferred mini future for you. But there already is a preferred future that has been painted for us by God. It is life with Him through Christ, His Son. Don’t get sidetracked by the little things that glimmer for a while. Keep focussed on the future God promises.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What things distract you from your preferred future? Leave your comments below.

It Really Was A Bittersweet Night

Last night I experienced the bittersweet feeling of winning and losing at the same game.

My wife, Lily, and I have a weekly standing date of attending the OHL Kingston Frontenacs’ home games.

Friday, as usual, we shared some popcorn and watched the action on the ice.

But it was a little different because, while our boys were playing in Kingston, the Canadian Junior hockey team was playing in Buffalo for a gold medal in the annual World Juniors tournament.

We got to see some great hockey in front of us, but in the back of my mind I was wondering how our national team was doing.

Part way through the game it was announced over the PA system that Canada was up 1-0.

That was some comfort, but the battle on the ice in front of us was intense.

Our boys were really playing well and dominating in many respects, but it was just a one goal game at the end of the first period.

In the second period, our guys were flying and scored two goals to put our team ahead 3-1 by the end of the period.

Back in the gold medal game, there was no more news … but when your team is ahead, no news is also good news.

Team Sweden was considered the team to beat. They had run the table in the regular round; in fact, they hadn’t lost in the regular round in 11 years.

Team Canada had one shootout loss to the United States in a snowy, outdoor affair that left all the Canadian fans chilled.

Now we were battling for the gold medal and we were ahead in the scoring.

Lily and I took a stroll around the arena at the end of the second period of the Frontenacs’ game. There was a calm, happy, “we have this game in the bag” kind of feeling in the air.

There was no hint of any trouble ahead until the start of the third period. The Fronts seemed a little flat – no energy, not skating well … and in the span of about five minutes, the Spitfires scored three goals and were up 4-3.

It happened so quickly; it was a shocker.

The rest of the period our boys threw a lot of rubber towards the Windsor net, but we couldn’t buy a goal and lost the match.

Just a five minute let down was all it took.

After the bitter loss we witnessed on ice, the arena switched to the World Junior game on the big screen.

We watched until the end of the second period where, with five minutes left, Sweden scored to tie it up.

All I could think was, “not another let down!”

Since I’m the Fronts’ team chaplain, we then left the stands to go chat with our boys. By the time we were done, there was just ten minutes left in the gold medal game so we headed back into the stands to watch.

With just under two minutes to play, Team Canada scored.

There was a celebration, not on the ice but on the big screen. We pocketed an empty-netter to seal the deal, and Canada won the gold medal.

At the same arena we watched our hometown team lose and then our Canadian team win gold. It was truly a bittersweet night. But it ended with the sweet!

Here’s the thing: There is a verse in the Bible that says you can win the whole world but forfeit your soul. That’s life’s bittersweet reality. Make sure your soul is secure so that in the end, when life is all over, you experience the sweet of Heaven.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What would be bittersweet for you? Leave your comments below.

The Youth In My Family Now Have The Edge

The youth are taking over – at least it’s true in my family. Every year when my family gets together for Christmas we rent some ice and have a game of hockey.

We’ve been doing it for a long time now. When we started, I didn’t have to play very hard to show up the young guys.

It’s different now; each year my son and the nephews have gotten bigger, faster, stronger.

I still look forward to our little get-together but it takes a lot more out of me to keep up with them.

I guess that’s why there is so much focus on youth. They have all the potential; they are so agile; they have such great skill.

I see it in junior hockey, and especially in the annual world junior hockey tournament that’s about to start. It showcases the best young hockey talent in the world and everyone is playing for their country.

The speed at which these kids skate, and the moves they make – with and without the puck – is incredible.

That is why even the NHL is on a youth movement right now. To play in the NHL these days you have to be able to keep up with, or be better than, the 19 and 20 year olds.

Hockey highlight programs on TV show replay footage of teenagers in the NHL making incredible plays almost every night.

The youth really are taking over.

On the downside, the old guys like me are losing ground each year. We are not as fast as we once were; our hands are not what they once were.

Maybe more than all that is we don’t have the stamina or the energy we once had. I get winded quickly. I give a second thought to back-checking when the other team steals the puck.

In the friendly game we had this Christmas, I found it harder to keep the puck on my stick. Even the youngest of nephews was able to check the puck off me. I’d make a rush up the ice and that was about it for the next couple of minutes.

I remember when I was younger I could play all day and never tire. I hated having to go to the bench. I only went to give others a chance to play; I sure didn’t need the rest!

Now I take short shifts and actually enjoy my time when I’m on the bench, catching my breath. … Although with my past heart issues, I will often pace behind the bench to bring my heart rate down slowly.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still keep up, but they are starting to take over. There’s more of them and they are more dominant now.

I guess I should be sad to see the changing of the guard, knowing that it’s time to step aside for the youth movement in our family.

But you know, you also can’t help but see yourself in family. When I see my son or one of my nephews skate up the ice, I only have pride.

Here’s the thing: The more we start to age, the more we notice how the youth are taking over. But when it comes to spiritual things, we should allow the ancient one, the God of Abraham and Isaac to take over. That is the one area where youth don’t run the show. Let Christ take over your life. Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What needs to move over in your life? Leave your comments below.

My Family Christmas Is Filled With Anticipation and Expectation

Every trip we take is packed with anticipation and expectation.

It doesn’t matter how long the trip will be or what kind of trip it is, these two elements are stuffed into everywhere we go.

Let me explain …

As I write this piece, it’s 6:30 am – about an hour and a half before we leave for our annual trip to Toronto for my side of the family’s Christmas.

We’ve made this one-day, 3 hours there and 3 hours back trip for the last 21 years in a row.

And I am anticipating the trip. … I think my blood pressure was up a little today just knowing that we will be leaving soon.

I woke up this morning before my alarm – which doesn’t happen too often – which is another indicator of my anticipation.

I’ve been thinking of what I have to do, and the timing for getting everything ready to leave on time.

We have anticipation for every place we go, even if it is going to the corner store for milk.

The other element is the expectation. Here is where the trip gets interesting. This expectation is based on and feeds off of our history, experience and knowledge.

For instance, today when we leave I have 21 years of experience making this trip at this time of year. So when I see or hear of possible road conditions, I immediately think of several trips that had the same conditions.

Last night it was snowing and the roads were pretty greasy. That type of snow on the roads will make for a more stress-filled trip.

It brings to mind our trip in 2004 when there was only one lane of traffic and every car was in single file going 40 km’s per hour.

Well, that was until a bus blew by us going 100 and I realized that was our only chance to make it. I plowed over the ruts, got in the bus’s tracks and left the traffic in the dust … I guess I should technically say we left the traffic in the snow.

Last night the snow stopped at about 1 a.m.; the road crews should have cleared the highway of snow by now.

So my experience tells me today’s trip will be a little less stressful and a little quicker.

When the roads are clear, my expectations change and it impacts my anticipation.

I know when we have to leave, and what I need to gather together to be ready to leave, and at what time I need to do various things to be ready to leave on time.

I have my anticipation and expectation locked for this trip.

Wait! Stop the presses! My son just texted me; I have to pick him up right now.

Wow – everything has suddenly changed and my mind and emotions have to adjust to reset my expectation and my anticipation.

Here’s the thing: Every time we pray to God, it is like a trip we take with Him. We approach God with anticipation and expectation. But God is all-knowing and all-powerful; He may change your expectations and your anticipation in a flash. Don’t try to figure God out or put Him in a box; just go with the conditions and trust Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: In what ways have you put God in a box? Leave your comments below.

I’m Feeling The Christmas Pressure

It must be time to put up the Christmas lights; I’m feeling the pressure.

Today I’m watching Lily decorate our upstairs Christmas tree. That’s right, we have an upstairs and a downstairs Christmas tree.

The upstairs one is hers. She decides what goes on it, and she does all the work. The downstairs tree is sort of the family’s tree; it has home-made decorations that we have given each other over the years.

Lily pretty much … well, actually completely puts that one up, too.

My line is that she takes care of the inside and I do the outside.

Just watching her do her thing puts the pressure on me to get moving with the outside lights.

But that’s not the only place from which I’m being pressured to get my task done.

There are several neighbours who already have their lights up. And when I drive down the next street, the homes there seem very much into the Christmas spirit.

About seven years ago I started thinking that people were putting more effort into Halloween decorations than they were Christmas. Now I think people are putting the same effort into decorating for Christmas as they do for Halloween.

For generations Christmas lights have basically been the same. You figured out a pattern of lights that worked on your house and you put them up every year. The only thing that you changed was the bulbs when they burned out.

Now there’s way more stuff!

They have big blow-up Christmas characters – I’m not talking about the baby Jesus and wise men; I’m talking about Frosty and Santa. Some of these blow-ups are as tall as a house!

There are also elaborate laser light shows that change rapidly and cover the whole front of a house.

It’s a big deal! And it seems that every year it’s getting to be an even bigger deal.

Not for me though. I’m old school; I have my pattern of how the lights go up and I just repeat that every year. I’m not trying to add anything new. I just hope that I can find the same eavestrough hooks I used last year.

What’s got me feeling the pressure to get my lights up today is that so many of my neighbours have their lights up, but I’m the Christian guy.

I’m the one who is really supposed to be into Christmas and I feel like not having my lights up yet is saying to them all that I don’t care as much as I should.

There is one other pressure and that’s the weather. It’s a nice day out there today – a balmy 8° Celsius (46 Fahrenheit). The chances that it will stay this warm for much longer are slim.

So between my wife, the neighbourhood, my perceived neighbours’ expectations of me and the weather, today’s the day when the lights go up.

I’m feeling the pressure.

Here’s the thing:  We feel pressure to do outward things, but do we feel pressure to do inward things? It’s hard not to give in to what we see in the world around us or what others are doing. But are you compelled in the same way to respond to what God wants you to do? The pressure to do outward things like put up the lights comes from within; we pressure ourselves. We should put that kind of pressure on ourselves to respond in obedience to what God wants us to do. Faith without obedience is not much good at all.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What should you put pressure on yourself to be doing? Leave your comments below.

No Way Your Streets Are As Bumpy As Mine

The Beatles sang about the long and winding road; I’m singing about the long and bumpy roads … but my song is not a happy one, filled with cheer and merriment.

The song I sing is more of a dirge, like you might find being sung in a funeral procession down the streets of New Orleans.

At this time of year, I notice the conditions of the streets more. Now that fall has come, on a weekly basis I make my way down to the K-Rock Centre hockey arena. Getting there takes me down Queen Street, which arguably is the bumpiest road in Kingston.

But it’s not the only one.

I’m concerned as they put in new sewers and things to update the city’s infrastructure. They are digging up roads or portions of roads and then just patching them back up.

I don’t like the time and trouble it takes to pave these roads, especially when over the long-term, the only ones who seem to benefit are the mechanic shops in town.

When I drive down Queen Street I feel like I’m in downtown Toronto many years ago, with its cobblestone streets and trolley car rails.

You come away feeling much like a James Bond drink – shaken, not stirred.

I understand that you can’t repave all the roads at once, but this street has been a mess for as long as I can remember.

When we got our new vehicle last fall, I thought the ride down to the arena would be a lot smoother.

Our new car is bigger, the shocks are firmer, but it hasn’t seemed to matter at all. The road has us bouncing around like a carnival ride.

I now know what it’s like to live in a Hutterite community and take your vegetables to market. I don’t have to ride in one of their horse-drawn buggies; I just have to drive down Queen Street in Kingston and I get the full experience.

Maybe that’s what they should do … There are some turn-of-the-century historical homes and buildings along the route. The city could turn the street into a pioneer village tourist stop.

They could add big windows to the fronts of buildings and we could watch a woman in period costume stoke the fire in her kitchen, or watch as the children milk a cow by hand in the yard.

They could put a toll booth at the top of the street, and we could just throw change into big receptacles as we turn onto the street, as a charge to ride the bumpy road and see the village people do all their chores by hand.

It would give us all a fresh appreciation for the conveniences we have in 2017. It could be a real teaching moment for parents with their kids.

You wouldn’t even have to get out of your car. It would all be drive-by learning.

Oh, and what they could do with all the money they collect from this fabulous pioneer village ride is PAVE QUEEN STREET!

Here’s the thing: When we experience inconveniences in life, interruptions to the good life we live, we should remember the inconvenience God willingly took to come to earth as a man to rescue us from the path we are on – a path that would take us to a place we would never want to go if we knew what it was really like. Be thankful for what Christ has done, with a new appreciation for the inconvenience you are experiencing.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What inconvenience really has you exercised? Leave your comments below.

I Need Those Batteries Now

These days you can’t go very long without needing a bunch of batteries to replace ones that have worn out.

There is a clock in the sanctuary of my church that reads 5:05. That’s not the current time; it’s been showing that time for a week now.

It needs a new battery.

I wear a mic when I preach and every week I take out the batteries and charge them so they are ready to go for the next week.

I’ve been noticing that even rechargeable batteries can’t be recharged forever.

What would we do without being able to quickly pop in a new set of batteries to run our clocks, lights, mics, vacuums, you name it – even our drones?

Especially drones!

I have two drones and the batteries in them don’t last very long.

The battery in my little drone only lasts about seven minutes and the one in the bigger drone only lasts about ten.

I don’t get much flying time before I need to replace them.

The problem is they don’t take standard AA batteries. They have their own shape and connections so you can’t just go to the store and buy new ones.

You usually have to order them online and they generally come from China which takes a long time. … Replacement batteries for my little drone arrived the other day and I’d been waiting for them for two months!

I think it’s China’s secret way of crippling the west. If they just hold out on the batteries,  we in North America will be at their mercy.

Forget weapons and armies, they’ve got our batteries!

And the batteries for these drones are a step backward in technology. You don’t want to overcharge them; that will damage them.

You don’t want to recharge them if they still have some charge left in them either. They have a memory, so they will only remember to charge for the shorter amount of time.

And you don’t want to let the battery run down too low because, if it does, it won’t take a charge at all.

My brother found that out the hard way; that’s why he has two batteries on order right now.

We need batteries to be more reliable and to last longer. They can figure out how to get a car to run on batteries for an hour; we need someone with that kind of know-how to make our drone batteries last that long.

The keyboard I write this blog on needs a battery to power it. I’ve had it for over a year now and I still haven’t had to change the battery … That’s the kind of battery life I’m talking about.

And while they’re at it creating a better battery, they should make sure we can just leave it sitting around for a month or two without fear of it draining all on its own.

After all, it’s not like the energy produced by Niagara Falls, where we have to use it right after it’s produced.

Here’s the thing: This week I was reminded that a Christian has everything we need in us for life and godliness – that everything is the Holy Spirit. He never runs out, never has to be recharged. We just have to use Him and work with Him to produce in us the character qualities that God wants to see in us.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need recharged right now? Leave your comments below.

It Was A Second Thought That Got Results

My second thought produced success. You know, that’s when you had decided against something, then changed your mind, and it turned out to be the best decision you made.

Recently I bit the bullet and bought a new MacBook Pro. I was about due since my last one was eight years old.

Once my new computer was in my possession, the big task was to transfer all my files, applications and information from my old mac to my new one.

Luckily, Apple has an easy way to do that. Basically you hook up the two computers together and clone the old one on to the new one.

In the end, everything is there – passwords, logins … there’s virtually no other set up to do.

Sounds nice and easy … except my old mac is so old that hooking up the computers is a little more difficult. To make things worse, the new computer has a connection that is not common yet: USB-C.

So I went on a search for the connection I needed. I went right to the store I purchased my new laptop from. I searched the aisles and then had an employee search the aisles. The connection was nowhere to be found.

I tried a second store that was close by and, though the employee was very helpful, he was unable to locate the adaptor that I needed to connect my two computers together.

So I tried a third store. This time I was fairly confident I would find what I was looking for.

This store is not an official Apple Store but it’s the closest thing to it. It even looks like an Apple Store in its set up. And like the official retailer, this place only sells Apple, and Apple-related products.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the adaptor either. Not only that, but the employee didn’t even know what I wanted to do.

The one place I thought would understand my need offered no help or even knowledge.

I questioned the clerk, “You’ve never heard of Apple’s migration processes?”

He replied, “I’m a law enforcement student.” … interesting information about his future plans but his answer had nothing to do with the question I asked him!

I left the store discouraged and ready to give up my quest for the day.

There was one other store within walking distance, but I figured since they specialized in PC’s they weren’t going to have the adaptor I was looking for.

Besides, if a Mac store didn’t have it, what were the chances?

I started walking in the direction of my car.

But then I had a second thought: “I’m so close to this place, why not just go in and see?”

I walked the three blocks up the street, went in, and within about 30 seconds, spoke to an employee. I told him what I was looking for and he walked me directly to a shelf, reached up to the very top and then handed me my adaptor.

Amazing! … On second thought, I was super happy.

Here’s the thing: When is it the right time to give up on seeking something from God? You may have been asking Him for direction, or a solution, or even a miracle, but so far you’ve received nothing. Is it time when you’re feeling hopeless? … On second thought, your answer might be just around the corner.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you almost given up on? Leave your comment below.

I Was All Ready, But Not Really

I was ready; I had my things all set to go. I just needed to get there in time, or so I thought.

We were up at our cottage and the sun was finally going to come out at the end of the day. I thought this was my chance to finally film a sunset with my drone.

Not long ago, I wrote how I lost a drone in an attempt to get some video of a sunset over Lake Huron (read here).

Well, after that disaster, I got a replacement drone and this was the first time I was back at the cottage with it.

I wasn’t sure I would get a chance to capture a sunset; it had been cloudy most of the day. But I was going to be ready … just in case.

I had charged the battery and had my phone, which acts as the controller for the drone, charging as well.

I knew I was set, but as it got closer to the time that the sun would sink below the horizon, I got busy doing something else.

So though I was all ready to go, I suddenly had to fly into hurry mode, to gather my equipment and head down to the beach.

I walked as fast as I could, but my sore ribs from a mountain bike crash a week earlier (read here) kept me at a slower pace than I wanted to go.

The sun was still in the sky as we got onto the beach, but I knew it would drop fairly quickly out of sight.

I synced the drone with the controller and waited, not very patiently, as it acquired the necessary satellites to operate.

It seemed to take forever, but finally was able to take off. I cautiously wanted to keep it from flying out over the water like the last time I tried to film a sunset, so I didn’t take it up too high.

I thought I would snap a few pictures first, although when I went to do that I didn’t hear the usual shutter sound. That didn’t stop me from taking a few more.

Then I turned on the video camera and that’s when I realized I had all my stuff ready to go except one thing.

Nothing happened when I pressed “record”, but a little dialogue box came up on my screen. It read, “no SD card on board”.

“Whaaaaaat?!”, I muttered. And then I remembered the one thing I didn’t do was put the SD card into the drone. It was back at the cottage.

Unbelievable! I had been dying to take some sunset scenes at the beach; I even lost a drone doing it. Now, after anticipating it for so long, I had forgotten to bring the little card that would enable me to record the sight.

This picture is the scene I missed capturing with my drone.

Here’s the thing: You can think you are ready for what is coming next. You can have your relationships in order, your finances in order, even have your health right where you want it to be. But if you miss one thing – a relationship with God through Christ – you will miss capturing what will matter to you eternally. Don’t neglect those things that you think are secondary or down the road. Be ready now.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you missed that was really important? Leave your comments below.

It Was The Worst Or The Best – You Be The Judge

I crashed my bike the other day and it was either the worst or the best crash of the year.

I usually have a number of crashes to pick from in determining my most spectacular crash. This one rated up there. The bike was alright, but my body suffered a little more than usual.

On the trail I was riding, there is a section that goes right through a corn field. It’s pretty cool riding along a 4-foot wide trail with walls of corn about 6 1/2 feet high on either side of you. Your elbows slap the sheaves of corn as you ride through this gauntlet.

On one bend in the trail, I took it a little fast and maybe a bit wide. I got too close to the stocks and, before I knew it, I spilled all over the place.

I hit my head on the ground; I think I bounced at least once. I had the wind knocked out of me, so I gasped to get my breath back.

And, oh ya, I was sore.

The thing is all I could think about was the guy gearing up to go biking when I had set out. I figured he would be coming along at any moment. I was hidden by the corn and a curve in the trail so I could see an even bigger crash looming.

The only thing I could think of to do was what you do when you get hit in hockey: get up fast and try to make it look like you’re not hurt.

I was aching and still a little dazed but I kind of flopped on my bike and started riding.

By the time I got out of the corn I didn’t think of checking to see if I was okay. My head cleared and the pain had subsided.

I just rode on.

As I continued on the trail, I kept thinking, “I’m going to be sore tomorrow.”

I was right about being sore, but wrong about the timing! I started feeling really sore on the drive back, and by the time I got home I was not moving very well.

The ground where I had fallen was like cement and, in talking to a guy who farms, I learned that the corn sucks everything out of the soil.

I’ve felt sidewalks that have more give to them than the spot where I fell!

I figured I had bruised some ribs, and though my wife and daughter think I might have cracked a few, I’m holding to my diagnosis.

I talked to a friend who said cracked ribs can take 6-8 weeks to heal … I definitely don’t have that kind of time to give to the healing process.

Here’s the thing: Depending on how you look at something difficult, it can either be the worst or the best. My fall may have been my worst crash this year, but certainly not my worst crash ever. I could also look at it as the best crash this year, the most spectacular because it was a big crash but I walked away from it. In your life, God can give you the right perspective to have when going through difficult or troubled times. Look to Him – what you’re going through could be the worst, or maybe it’s the best.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How has God helped you see the positive in difficult times? Leave your comments below.