A Phone Call Rearranged My Day

My afternoon got rearranged with a simple phone call, just a random call put through to me.

Fridays are sermon writing days for me. Don’t get me wrong here, I work on my sermon all week, but Friday is the day that I put all the research and study together and write it.

The morning is the best time for me to write. I’m focussed, energized and think better and faster at that time of day.

It seems that once I take a break for lunch, I don’t have the same focus or energy, and sermon writing slows down considerably.

This week I had a fairly productive morning but had a hard time getting back to writing after lunch. I had a few other things on my mind that distracted me.

Then I got a phone call. I get phone calls like this regularly – maybe once a week – from someone who needs some help.

The story she gave me was long and complicated, and I wasn’t sure I believed everything she was telling me. Still, I didn’t want to turn her away in case she really was in need and I could do something to help.

I told her that the only way I could assist her was to meet her at the bus station and purchase a ticket for her. I don’t give people cash.

Well, she said she needed to check a few things first and would call me back.

I was thinking there was a good chance I wouldn’t hear from her again, but about 15 minutes later the phone rang and it was her.

This was the second time I had to stop my writing process and change gears.

She had discovered that getting where she wanted to go was not going to be possible, so she had a Plan B.

She asked if I could pay for a night’s stay in a motel. I replied that I could do that, but first she needed to check if a room was available.

When she called back the third time, I had not really been able to write anything more on my sermon. However, just before the phone rang, I had a brainwave and was ready to write a bit more.

She told me that she reserved a room at a motel, could get a ride, and would be there in about 10 minutes.

I said it would take me a little longer but to just wait in the lobby and I would get there shortly.

I got off the phone and quickly tried to put down the thoughts I had had just before I picked up the receiver.

I was almost finished my sermon; I just needed an illustration and would try to think of something while I drove to the motel about 15 minutes away.

When I got there, she was nowhere to be found. The front desk clerk had no reservation and no knowledge of this person.

I hung around for a few minutes and then drove back to the church … all that for nothing.

The whole ordeal sidetracked me from my sermon and I didn’t even end up helping her … but it sure changed my day.

Here’s the thing: We like to know the end; we crave resolution. But with God there is mystery, and sometimes we have to be okay with the mystery. It’s in the mystery that faith and hope can grow.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What mystery do you have to live with? Leave your comment below.

I Have To Admit It: She Was Right

I like being right; I think most people do. So I hate it when Lily is right and I’m wrong.

It happened the other day and, don’t get me wrong here, she was wrong in so many ways, but right when it counted.

Lily wanted to see the Snowbirds – and I’m not talking about Canadians who go down to the southern States to ride out the winters. I’m talking about the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds,  the world famous pilots and planes that do acrobatics and synchronized flying at air shows.

Living in Kingston, we get to see more than our fair share of them and this past weekend they were here to put on a show.

I could tell Lil was very determined to see them so I didn’t put up a fuss or even comment on how many times she’s already seen them. I just asked, “When are we leaving?”

I wasn’t paying too much attention to her answer, but in the back of my mind I thought she was cutting it close.

I was right. The traffic was bumper to bumper all the way to Fort Henry, over which the Snowbirds would be performing.

Lily seemed upset with me that she had picked the same time to leave as thousands of others had. I think she wished I’d driven a different route or driven on the sidewalk to get around the streaming line of traffic in front of us.

Three times she told me what I should do after it was too late to do it. It was like the past and her present were all convoluted together.

Lily’s stress was mounting as it became more and more apparent that we would be in our car trying to find a parking spot when the air show was going on.

I couldn’t take much more so I parked the car, probably about 2 or 3 kilometres from the Fort.

We got out and started walking past a line of cars that were barely moving … mind you, we were walking at a good clip, but I could tell that Lily wanted to walk even faster.

When we arrived at Fort Henry we had to walk up a hill. All along that hill there were people sitting down waiting for the Snowbirds to arrive.

I thought we could just join them, sit on the side of the hill and count our blessing that we made it before the show began.

But no, that’s not what Lil wanted. She wanted to walk to the top of the hill and then go around the back of the Fort, overlooking Lake Ontario, because that was the best backdrop for the planes.

I thought, “She’s being greedy. We made it on time; now she’s pushing it.” But though my legs were tired, we got there just minutes before the planes came roaring overhead.

I have to admit, seeing the Snowbirds from that vantage point was truly spectacular. She was right.

Here’s the thing: I know this is true in my life, and I’m sure that it’s true for you: There are many times when I think I know what is right and best for me, or a family member, or for work, yet God doesn’t seem to bring what I think is needed. Unlike us, who are right some of the time, God is right all the time. Somehow we have to get our minds and emotions around that fact … even though it might go against our better judgement.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What was something you thought was right, but in the end it wasn’t? Leave your comments below.

The End Will Make Up For The Beginning

Sometimes the end can make up for all the disappointment that’s gone on before it.

That kind of sums up yesterday for me. I woke up to rainy drizzle which kind of set the tone for the day.

I checked the weather to see what I could expect and, though the rain was supposed to stop, it was to remain cloudy and cool for the rest of the day.

The outlook was not favourable to hit the beach, or really do anything outside; I wasn’t sure I would even be able to get my exercise in.

I have a radar app on my iPad which I also checked and noted that once the rain had ended there would be no more.

However, that proved to be a lie because there seemed to be a blowing mist in the air that made me feel like turning around and going back inside every time I attempted to go outside.

So what do you do when the weather is like that? … There were some who went golfing, but at 16° C with precipitation in the air, that’s not my kind of golfing weather.

In those conditions, if you hit a shot thin, your hands start to vibrate and, even if you don’t have arthritis, you’ll feel like you just got it for a few minutes. Sometimes your whole body feels like it’s vibrating – like a cartoon character that has just been electrocuted.

That’s not for me.

So the beach was out and golf was off my list. The only thing left to do was go shopping in town.

I went to a few big box stores but, though I didn’t have to focus on the weather while I was shopping, I wasn’t having any success finding the things I was looking for.

Another disappointment.

By late afternoon I was done with shopping and back at the cottage, a little more depressed and kind of tired from all the walking I’d done in the stores.

It didn’t help my mood that I had to have the windshield wipers on intermittent the whole way back.

I couldn’t bring myself to exercise so I just flopped on the couch for a while. Then out of sheer determination and fear that I would break my exercising streak of about half a year, I braved the outdoors again and exercised.

It provided little comfort, however, and didn’t put me in any better of a mood.

Well, that was until about 7:30 pm when the clouds rolled away, the wind stopped swirling and the sun came out and brightened things up.

And even that late in the day, with very few hours to enjoy it, somehow the day was redeemed. The sun made an appearance in the end and it changed everything about the day.

Here’s the thing: That is what it’s going to be like when Christ returns for those who follow Him. It won’t matter how bad the day, or life has been up until that time. All the disappointments, the discouragement, frustration and even harm that has taken place won’t be a consideration. When Christ comes it will be like the sun coming out at the end of a cloudy, rainy, cold day. And it will change our outlook and our disposition completely … forever.

It will be a great day.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: Are you prepared for Christ to change your day? Leave your comments below.

Dad’s Day – What A Memory

It’s Saturday and I just got a Canadian Tire ad on my phone for Dad’s day.

The ad said I only had one day left and they had gift ideas for every type of dad.

It got me reflecting on what type of dad I was. As my mind wandered around our local Canadian Tire store, I thought, “Am I an automotive type of dad, or a fishing and hunting type of dad?”

I could be a hardware, fix-it-yourself type of dad or maybe a gardening and outdoor living type of dad.

Out of all the sections in that store, I would have to say I’m more the sports type of dad.

But Canadian Tire is just selling products a dad might like; that is not really the type of dad I am.

When I look back on how I’ve interacted with my kids, that would be a better indicator of what type of dad I am. Now that my kids are adults, there’s a lot of time to look back on.

I spent time playing with them … even if some of that play time was them playing on and around my body while I napped.

I read stories to my kids at bedtime … so what if I changed the stories a bit and got them all hyped up instead of settled down to sleep?

I helped my kids with a whole variety of things from learning things, to figuring out things, to making things. … That “ab dolly” Mike and I made – though it didn’t turn out so well as a workout machine, it has come in handy over the years assisting in moving things from one spot to another.

As a dad, I showed up to games and tournaments to cheer on my kids. I even did some coaching in the early years. It was always great to watch my kids compete and play hard at whatever sport they were in.

My kids got to see me at work more than most kids get to see their dads, and they also spent time with me while I did my devotions early in the mornings.

I’ll never forget when my then 5 year old son sat next to me one morning while I was writing in my journal. When I’d written over a page he asked me, “Dad, why are you scribbling?”

I replied, “I’m not scribbling, I’m writing.” He shook his head and said, “You’re scribbling, Dad.”

… There are still adults who think the same thing about my writing.

When I look back though, what stands out to me is that the time went by too fast and I missed doing way more than I did.

And one more thing, I should have talked to my kids more. I answered a lot of their questions, responded to them and showed interest in what they were doing, but I didn’t share my heart with them as much as I should have.

They could have gotten a better understanding of my relationship with God than I let them in on.

You can’t go back, but I do have the future. I need to let them in on that side more.

Here’s the thing: We can’t go back and do things differently, but we have the future and we can start from here to do things with our kids, to help them and share our hearts with them so that they know what makes our faith tick.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to start doing from now on with your kids? Leave your comments below.

Wow, It’s Just Another Birthday

It’s my birthday today (Friday), and they say I’m one year older … but I don’t feel one bit different than I did yesterday.

I don’t really feel any different one day to the next, but I guess as you look at the past and then ahead to the future, that’s when you start to feel your age.

This year I joined a baseball group for those over 60 – I think I’m the young guy on the team. Playing ball again has got me looking back to years gone by.

In Monday’s game, I tracked down a few fly balls and, though I got to most of them in time to make a play, my quadriceps muscles have been killing me the rest of the week.

I never really thought about my muscles years ago. When I needed some speed, I just ran harder. Well, now it’s not so easy; now I pay the price for trying to get to a well-hit ball … couple that with three all-out sprints to first base and I wish I had a wheel chair to move around in this week!

I did manage, however, to play golf with a friend near the end of the week. He made a comment that he never thought walking 18 holes was exercise, but now he does. That’s crazy talk! … but I had to agree with him.

During my previous game I had carried my clubs around the course. I found out that I can do that for nine holes without a problem, but I’m not able to carry my clubs for 18 any more. Yet years ago I had though nothing of it – it was just walking.

When I look back on things, I definitely see how I’m a year older today.

Then when I look forward, I see what is to come … and it’s coming quicker than I really want it to!

I performed a funeral last week and visited a few elderly people in my church. All these people were very vibrant when I first took this position. I guess that’s what staying in one place for a long time does – you get to see people grow up and grow old.

I’ll admit I’m not really excited about life in a senior’s home or nursing home. Maybe I’ll change my tune when I get to that age … all I know is that I feel it closing in on me.

I also know that the longer you live, the less friends you have. But when your best friend is your doctor, simply because you see him more than anyone else, you know you’re really getting old!

Well I thought today I might take a day off of exercising, and even cheat a little on what I eat, but with all these thoughts of aging, I might have to re-think that.

Maybe I’ll have to double up on the exercise and ask for the senior’s meal at the restaurant tonight … which we all know is not a discount but just a smaller portion.

Here’s the thing: When you think about maturing in your relationship with God, it can be hard to tell one day from the next if you are progressing. At times it might seem like you’re moving forward, but other times going backwards. Well, look in the past and look ahead to the future to evaluate your maturity in Christ over a longer period of time. Then make sure you don’t stop where you are at, but keep moving ahead.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you noticed about your relationship with Christ over many years? Leave your comments below.

A New Take On “Take Your Kid To Work” Day

The other day was like “take your kid to work” day only flipped around.

I was visiting my son last week and one day I went in to see where he works. Mike’s told me a lot about his work, but I wanted to put a picture to what I was hearing. I wanted to see his working world and the people he works with.

It wasn’t just like “take your kid to work” day; I didn’t go into work with him. Mike starts at 5 am and there was no way I was going to go in that early!

I drove over later in the morning but, as I made my way, I couldn’t help but think about the times I took my kids to work.

Some time when they were each in junior high, I took Karlie and Mike to work with me. I set up my day to let them see a variety of things that I do.

I gave them some work to do while I studied, and we went out for lunch … which I remember was a big hit – one of the highlights of the day. I took them with me when I made some visits, and we did some work together on a project I had on the go.

I think both of my kids had a fun day coming to work with me. It certainly was different from their school work and they got to see firsthand some of what I do rather than just hear about it.

That’s what was nice about going into Mike’s workplace. I got to see firsthand what he does and where he does it.

I got a tour of the plant, met some of the people he supervises and some others he works with.

After I had seen the place and met pretty much everyone who was there at the time, it was almost lunch.

He took me to a lunch spot that he’d been to before and we had a nice meal together … although interrupted by a work call that I could tell was going to change his afternoon plans.

On the way back to his office, we made plans to meet up after work. I then left for a business appointment of my own that I needed to make in the area.

As I drove away, I was really glad I had gone in to see Mike at work, to see him in his environment and meet the people he works with. It gave me context for when he talks about his job.

I’m really proud of what he does and what he’s accomplished so far in his career.

There was just one thing that was exacting the same as when I took Mike to work back when he was in junior high … I still paid for lunch.

… Some things take longer to flip over than others. But I wouldn’t trade it.

Here’s the thing: If you have kids, at some point things are going to flip from you to them. You will eventually watch them do the things you once did … but it’s more than just what they do, or how they work. Are you setting a spiritual example for them to embrace and live out in their adult lives? What you do now will flip from you to them. Make sure the most important thing – your relationship with Christ – is flippable.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What good traits do you see in those you influence? Leave your comments below.

My Front Lawn Looks Amazing

I was looking at my front lawn this morning as I left my house.

Lawn

The tree in the front yard is a beautiful, brilliant yellow. There are still lots of leaves on the tree … but it’s kind of like someone who’s had a good head of hair but is getting older – that hair is starting to thin out. It was so thick that most people didn’t notice for years that there were some bare spots on that melon.

Well, that’s the stage our tree is in. It’s thinning out and all that hair loss is showing on the grass below.

That’s right, the leaves that have come off the tree are strewn all over our lawn.

I have to tell you, it’s a great fall scene … at least it was this morning with the sun shining and air still. It was a beautiful sight to see.

As I looked at this awesome, live picture, I thought to myself, “You know, those leaves aren’t going to pick themselves up and put themselves in the collection bag. And though the grass isn’t really growing much any more, it’s still green and could probably use one more cut for the year.”

Today would be a great day to get this all done … but I don’t want to ruin the picture, the scene.

I also know that when the tree does go completely bald, I will be picking up leaves again. So if I work on the front yard today, I will still need to work on it another day or two.

And way back – I mean way back in my brain – I have this thought …

If I just wait the wind will come and blow some, many – maybe not all, but close to all – of those leaves somewhere else.

I know I shouldn’t think like that; I should be responsible. They are from my tree and, therefore, they are my leaves.

My only rebuttal to that is when the fall leaf collection is done, yes I will have picked up a lot of my leaves, but there will also be a lot of leaves bagged and taken to the curb that are from other trees.

You see, I know that my neighbours’ leaves are going to leak off their lawns and end up on mine.

That’s the part that doesn’t make me too eager to get at the task.

It’s such a nice day out that I could spend my time mountain biking … and I’m running out of good days to do that too!

Maybe I should be thinking more of my neighbours instead of just focussing on me and my desires. I should really be thinking of them first.

How can I wreck for them that amazing fall scene that they see when they look out their front windows or when they drive into our court?

That would be wrong, even selfish of me to take all that beauty away from them.

Well, I guess that settles it … I’m going biking.

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to talk ourselves into things we want to do. It’s dangerous when we do that with God, like convincing ourselves that God is behind the very thing we’ve talked ourselves into. Get a second opinion, check it with scripture, and don’t just take your own thoughts as the truth.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What kind of things do you try to talk yourself into? Leave your comments below.

You Shouldn’t Have To Wonder Where The People Are

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The other day I wondered, “Where are all the people? Where have they gone?”

This question arose as I stood up to preach on Sunday morning. I gazed over the congregation; it was mostly empty seats that were staring back at me.

There have been times when our service was very poorly attended but that usually came the day after an ice storm.

But this was a sunny, warm, fall morning – one of those mornings where the sun peeks through the curtains and beckons you to get up and get moving.

And it was a great day. It was Thanksgiving Sunday (in Canada) … but there were not many in church.

That afternoon my son and I took in the Kingston Frontenacs OHL hockey game.

But there weren’t many at the game. Normally there would be 4000 plus in attendance, but that day there was just over 2000.

The arena looked empty; we could have sat anywhere we liked.

I wondered why there were so few people at the game when it was a holiday the next day. Much like church that morning, there were more empty seats than filled ones.

“Where is everyone?”, I thought.

Sure it was Thanksgiving weekend and people get together with family and friends for a big turkey dinner. I figured many people would have that big meal on Monday at some odd time like 2 in the afternoon.

… I’m not sure why we have special meals outside of regular meal times, but we do.

Maybe most people were having their big meal mid-afternoon.

That might be why no one came to the hockey game, but what about church? No one was going to have turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie for brunch mid-morning.

It seemed like it was going to be one of those unsolved mysteries.

We were having our family and friends for turkey dinner as well. Sunday late afternoon the house was smelling like there was going to be a royal feast.

Everyone gathered and we sat down to a phenomenal Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots cooked in a special sauce, fresh rolls, a marshmallow salad (which I consider a teaser for the dessert to follow) … and we had gravy – lots of gravy!

We finished off with pumpkin pie and whipping cream – lots of whipping cream!

The meal didn’t start until around 6:45 pm, but it was worth waiting for. We talked and laughed and ate until we were really full.

Then something broke the festivities.

I got a notice on my phone; there was a score. I stood up and announced we better get to the TV; it was already 1-0 for Texas over the Blue Jays.

We quickly made our way to the TV and, as we settling in, Toronto hit two home runs and went ahead 3-1. They later went on to win the game and sweep Texas from the playoffs.

I learned something watching the game. I learned where everyone was. They were in Toronto watching that baseball game. The stadium was jammed with 50,000 plus people and there were millions watching all over the country.

Mystery solved.

Here’s the thing: One day when Christ returns, there will be those who wonder where all the people went. It will seem like a mystery; they will just be gone. But in heaven there will be a celebration going on that will outdo any division sweeping championship game at the Rogers Centre. Be sure you’re at that one and not just watching on TV.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How do you imagine a celebration like that? Leave your comments below.

Don’t Take All Comments At Face Value

You really need to process comments that are made to you and not just take them at face value.

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Sometimes people can make comments that are well-intentioned, but they kind of sting when you hear them. People’s comments can also seem out in left field, but actually have some substance to them.

I just got back from vacation and my second day back in the office someone came in and, as soon as they saw me, said, “Hey, looks like you gained some weight.”

I immediately thought they had read my blog the day before where I wrote about eating too much candy and not exercising enough on my vacation (you can read that one here).

But when I referred to my blog, he had a blank look on his face. I quickly realized the comment was just something he was observing about me.

That stung! – I really did look like I had gained some weight. I had to process the fact that it wasn’t only me who noticed the few extra pounds; everyone else could see it too.

That off-the-cuff comment got me thinking about making plans to take those extra pounds off over the next few weeks. It gave me a little motivation.

The next day, someone else saw me for the first time since I’ve been back, took a very quick look at me and said, “Hey, are you growing your hair a little longer?”

Now this was a wild comment because I had literally just walked in the door after getting my hair cut.

My first thought was that this person was not very observant, but later I reflected on why he might have thought my hair was longer.

Lately I’ve been combing my hair slightly differently and I figured that’s what he noticed. He noticed something was different; he just didn’t know what it was so he assumed it was longer.

Two days after my vacation, people’s perceptions of me have changed: now I’m fat and I’ve got long hair.

They didn’t say that, but some people might think that if those comments had been said to them.

That’s why you need to process the comments you receive from others. You also need to understand the person making the comment.

I know that the person who made the comment about my weight would himself like to put on a little weight. His comment probably was the result of looking at the contrast between what he’s trying to do and what I had accomplished.

I was the fulfillment of his goal … I only wish that could be true.

Sometimes we get all bent out of shape because of what someone says to us. We hold onto it and stew over it and build it up into a huge judgement on us.

It’s better to take the comment and process it so you don’t find yourself in front of one of those carnival mirrors that make you look short and wide … or fat and with long hair!

Here’s the thing: Our own words to ourselves can hinder us. We need to process what we say and think about ourselves. The best resource for that processing is the Bible, because in there you will find what God really thinks of you: He loves you and has a plan for you … and that’s all that matters.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What recent comment do you need to process rather than just believe at face value? Leave your comments below.

A New Idea For Your Shopping Experience

I’ve come up with a new idea for grocery stores, something I’m sure could be used in other retail businesses as well.

The idea is a bit of a throwback to the “service is king” mentality of yesteryear. It should work well because it will market to people who remember yesteryear.

“Yesteryear” is a time in the past – not really sure when – but it was long ago. It’s also referred to fondly by many as “the good old days”.

This idea I have is for seniors, and I really think it could take off. It would cost the grocery stores some money in employing young teens who can handle a harsh comment and a light touch of a cane to the back of the leg.

Here’s where I got the idea from …

I was at a grocery store helping Lily do the shopping. Actually, I was adding to the shopping cart, her shopping list and to the price we would be paying.

I had found something about two aisles over from where Lily was with the cart. As I made my way to Lil, I saw a little old lady (not the one from Pasadina) at the end of the aisle where Lily was looking intently at the label on a package of paper towels.

The lady caught my eye because she was just standing there with her hand on a stack of pop cans, with a look on her face that I identified as “I think I might need some help here”.

I thought maybe she was not feeling well, like maybe she was dizzy, or weak, or confused. So I asked her, “Are you okay? Do you need some help?

She responded by saying “I can’t find my shopping cart; someone has taken it.”

Hearing that I was ready to jump into action and overpower the jerk who took the old lady’s cart. But just as I was about to start looking, a teenaged store employee came along with her cart and a cane.

I guess she had wondered off from them and didn’t remember where they were. The young man called her by name and said, “here you go” as he handed her her stuff.

She turned and commented, “It’s hard; I’m 91 years old.” As she shuffled away, I saw a cashier trying to wave her down, telling her she also had some groceries waiting at the cash.

You know that lady was going to get into a car and drive away after that?! … but that’s another blog post altogether.

When I saw all this happen I got inspired. I bet a lot of seniors – I mean the really senior kind of seniors – would love to have a young guy or girl push their cart and fill it, all on their command.

Seniors would flock to a grocery store that had that kind of service. The kids wouldn’t mind; they might even get a tip, and something monetary from the seniors they served.

Who knows? By the time I get to be a real senior, I might like a little of that yesteryear treatment too.

Here’s the thing: We all need a little help at times in life. One of the most important things a church provides is others to walk with you when you need that helping hand. Church should be a place where people assist each other and we all should be on the lookout for those we might be able to help.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How have you been helped by someone in your life? Leave a comment below.