How To Pay Attention To The Alarms Of Life

From time to time I will publish old blog posts. This is a repost of an article I posted back in November 2013

Alarms go off around us all the time. Some are not that noticeable, others are unmistakable.

The other day, Lily bought a new alarm clock. She wanted something a little more modern, a little smaller, a little more stylish. My question is, do you want the alarm clock to wake you up? If so, what the alarm sounds like is the first concern.

Lil’s new alarm does a couple of things to wake you up. It glows in changing colours when the alarm goes off. And believe me, the glow is pretty bright. It cycles through several colours.

You may wonder how I know this. Well, the other day, rather than getting up out of bed to read the Bible and do my devotions, I decided to do them in bed.

There I was sitting up in bed with my iPad, hoping the glow from it would not wake Lily. I shouldn’t have worried. When her alarm went off, I waited for her to click it off but nothing happened. She didn’t move, and for two minutes I watched the light change colour to green then amber then blue … etc.

There was an audible alarm that went off as well, but it wasn’t a loud noise. This alarm has sounds, and the sound Lil picked was a babbling brook. Other than the fact that I felt like I needed to go to the washroom, it was a very nice sound.

… It didn’t wake Lily, but it was soothing. This two minute routine happened three times over the next 20 minutes until I gently woke her up by saying, “You need a new alarm clock.”

She immediately thought it had not gone off. But I assured her it had gone off three times with her face basking in the glow of the alarm’s changing light each time.

It doesn’t matter how nice an alarm clock looks, or what kind of features it has, an alarm clock – to be worth anything – has to wake you up!  If it doesn’t, it’s no good.

Personally, my alarm has to be loud enough and annoying enough to wake me up. Over the years that’s not always been enough for me. I’ve had to put the alarm far from my reach so I had to almost get out of bed to shut it off.

I could never use the snooze button either or I’d keep hitting it for hours. I have to get right up. No music for me; I would enjoy it too much in my half woken daze and just stay in bed.

No, for me an alarm has to startle me, rattle me, make me jump … like the security alarm we have at work. When I’ve mistakenly set it off, it blasts so loud your heart jumps out of your body, your heart dings a bell in your head, and your pacemaker restarts itself. It’s frightening.

Lily either needs to turn up the sound on the babbling brook alarm clock so that it’s a crashing wave sound, or look for an alarm that will do what it’s supposed to do … wake her up.

Here’s the thing: God often uses alarms to get our attention. Sometimes the alarm doesn’t start out to be very loud and we don’t hear it. Then, when it becomes a little annoying, we are tempted to hit the snooze button. But don’t hit snooze; rather, listen intently to God’s alarms.  React to the alarm by getting up and following what the Lord wants you to do.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What kind of an alarm do you need to wake up to? Leave your comment below.

Her Emotions Got The Best Of Her

Often it is our emotions that dictate our actions and reactions.

This morning I came back from early morning hockey to find the lights on in the living room.

Normally, on a Saturday morning after hockey, things are the same as when I left at 6:30 a.m. – dark and nothing stirring.

But this morning there was activity. There was a vacuum humming in the background and I wondered what was going on.

There were a couple of possibilities: Lily had a lot happening and she needed to get a good jump on the day, or we had a guy coming in to do the backsplash in our kitchen.

I knew that it was a guy who was going to be doing the work and his work would focus only in the kitchen, but that didn’t matter; the whole house needed to be clean before he arrived.

… Turns out that neither one of those reasons was correct.

Lily had the vacuum out because there was a trail of ants in our living room and there was no way they were going to survive on her watch.

She was so busy vacuuming the little critters up that she couldn’t tell where they were coming from or going to. But she didn’t stop talking to them … in a rather loud voice, I might add.

That Dyson vacuum really swirled those ants up. They either got a great ride out of the deal or it was like they were swooped up and taken from Kansas to the world of Oz … only there was no yellow brick road, just a garbage can at the end of their ride.

The ants kept coming though. Lily was so preoccupied with killing them that she wasn’t doing anything about dealing with the reason they were coming in or how to keep them out.

Finally I decided to remove a large poinsettia plant from the living room that may have been their destination. And Lily got some spray we had in the garage to attack them.

We wiped up around the plant and made sure that the area was clean. Then we sprayed the place where the ants were coming in, as well as the outside of the house.

You would think that after that we could get back to the regular activities of the day and let the spray do its thing, but no! Lily wanted to make sure the stuff was working so she stuck around and watched the ants curl up and die.

… It kind of amazes me that she is perfectly fine seeing that kind of a massacre but when I put on a shoot’em up, blow’em up movie, she can’t take it.

At least in my movies no one really dies; it’s all made up stunts.

When it comes to ants in her house, there is no way she’s taking prisoners alive!

As far as the ants were concerned it was a real-life horror and they were the main characters.

I think watching the hockey game tonight, no matter how rough it gets, will be tame compared to this morning’s events.

Here’s the thing:  When something grabs our emotions, we can’t let it go. I wonder if many Christians have an intellectual relationship with Christ but it has yet to get to their emotions. Faith in Christ is more than giving assent to a belief; it involves being emotionally engaged in what you believe.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What grabs you emotionally about Christ Jesus? Leave your comments below.

A Plan That’s Coming Together

My wife’s plan is slowly coming together, and so far it hasn’t cost me any blood, sweat or tears.

For the last couple of years Lily has wanted to redo our kitchen. All our appliances are over 20 years old and the counter top has a few nicks in it.

Those nicks, by the way, are all from Lily’s hand … although she only claims one of them to be hers for sure.

So the counter top seems to be the main item in this refurb, but along with it are some pretty expensive items that may be added a little later than sooner.

There was one item that she slipped in early and that was a new range. She said it made sense to have it in place when they came to measure for the new counter.

Now when I hear “range” I think of a farm, and cattle and grass and stubble. The range Lily had in mind was an induction top convection oven. I’m not sure what all that means other than you have to have the right kind of pots for the elements to work, and you can cook more than one sheet of cookies at the same time … which I’m all in favour of.

This reno may not have cost me blood, sweat and tears, but it is costing a few dollars.

I guess it’s time. This project has been on her list for ages and it seems that more than once we put it on hold because something else needed our attention and money.

At this point we are committed. A down payment has been made on the counter and they are coming to measure in a week or so. According to Lily they will install the counter about two weeks after that.

In the mean time, Lily has already painted the kitchen ceiling, and the range is in place. She still has to paint the walls, and arrange to have some tiling done above the counter.

But there is one other thing that needs to happen and it’s something I’m not too sure about … nor is Lily for that matter.

Rather than breaking the bank on new cupboards, Lily is going to paint our cupboards with some special cupboard paint.

That’s right, she found a paint that is specially designed for painting kitchen cabinets.

Personally, I’m afraid I will have to put on white gloves before I open any cupboard for fear of scratching the paint.

I can just see me putting on those white gloves just like the guy who carries the Stanley Cup.

We’ll probably have a little basket of them as you enter the kitchen. That way no one will be able to gouge Lily’s paint job.

It’s possible that this will work. My only fear is that in a year’s time, we will be looking to purchase new kitchen cabinetry … Cha Ching $$!

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to get in a rut, living with the same things, never changing or upgrading them. We can also live with things in our life, never dealing with or addressing them. We can do that for years, becoming very accustomed to those things – things that need to be replaced, things that need to go. There is no guarantee that making the changes will work out in the end, but give it a try. As uncomfortable as it might be, as inconvenient as it might seem while you are going through the change, in the end you will like the results.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to change in your life? Leave your comments below.

The Father Daughter Game

She took me! My daughter took me to the game!

Karlie took me to a Toronto Raptors’ game; it was her Christmas present to me. We just went, having planned it for a time I had some business in the area.

I haven’t been to a Raptor’s game in a long time, so I wanted to go to a really good game. You always want your team to win, but especially when you attend a game live.

The trouble with this game was that the Raps were on a 5 game losing skid and their big star, DeMar DeRozan, was injured and not in the lineup.

The good news was they were playing a team that was well below them in the standing.

But my focus was on how my daughter was going to take in this game.

… The last time I took Karlie to a basketball game was in Edmonton. Now Edmonton has never had an NBA basketball team, but a minor league team was operating out of the city for a few years when we lived there.

I took a group of students from our church to a game and had an extra ticket.

I can’t remember the reason why, but I brought Karlie along to the game … she was three.

I’m not sure what I was expecting – an instant love for the game? an ability to understand the intricacies of the play? a keen interest in the players’ skills?

But what Karlie zeroed in on was the team mascot. Though we were sitting way high up in the stands, this fuzzy, energetic animal captured her attention.

I don’t think Karlie watched the game; she just kept her eye on that mascot.

When the game was over, she didn’t want to leave. She wanted to stay. I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t want to get going – the game was not a big hit for her. Then she started pointing right at the mascot.

I realized that this event wouldn’t end well without us at least trying to see the mascot.

We headed down to the floor level, and I maneuvered us over to where the mascot was giving high fives to all the kids swarming around him.

We got close but then he turned and started walking away from us. I thought we had missed our chance for Karlie to  get up close with the star of the game.

Just then the mascot stopped. He turned around, looked right at Karlie, got down on one knee and put out his arms.

That was all the invitation Karlie needed; she ran to him and got engulfed in his fur.

That was the highlight; we could go home.

This time around for Karlie, it was all about the skill, the plays and the intricacies of the game – not the mascot … oh, how 24 years changes things.

Here’s the thing: We are supposed to grow in all areas of our life as we get older. To stay the same in an area doesn’t make sense and really only stunts us. Be sure you are still growing in your relationship with God. Don’t be stunted spiritually.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What area of your life have you seen growth in over the last five years? Leave your comments below.

Christmas Tradition

The Silcock Christmas wouldn’t be the same without our annual tradition.

It’s not a generations old tradition, passed on down from great grandparents. It’s a tradition started with my generation. We keep it every year when we get together for our Christmas gathering.

We play hockey.

My father passed away 11 years ago and, since that time, we decided to do something special when we got together for Christmas.

Hockey is a unifying thing in our family … though over the years there are less and less of the women involved.

When we started, the kids were still pretty young. We would pleasure skate for a bit and then start a game, during which the pleasure skaters were just more obstacles for us to deke around.

It got to the point where the pleasure skaters didn’t really like the pucks whizzing by their heads. They have slowly dropped off over the years.

This year my wife, Lily, was the only pleasure skater and my daughter, Karlie, played hockey with us guys.

In the early days, when the kids were younger, my brother and I kind of dominated the game. It was great having all the ages on the ice working together.

Between my brother, sister and I, we have 8 children. Their ages span 12 years.

Each year we invite a few friends along to round out the teams, and the calibre of hockey is pretty good.

The last two years, the games were really fast-paced.

However, not everything is getting faster. The kids are faster, and their friends they invite out are faster … but my brother and I are slower. We don’t dominate the ice any more.

In fact, my brother John hurt his knee the night before and he didn’t play in our Christmas tradition this year.

I was the old guy.

Now even the youngest of the kids can hold their own, make plays and pass well.

I was the one who was gasping for air and needing to come off for more than regular breaks.

It’s not like I didn’t contribute at all but by far the tables have turned and the young guys are taking over.

It reminded me of a time when my son’s hockey team had a father and son game. The sons were talking like they were going to take it to us and that we didn’t have a chance.

I thought they would be surprised that the old men still had it in them. I guess I was wrong. The other dads either hadn’t played in a very long time, had never really played before, or were really out of shape.

The long and the short of it was, us dads didn’t look good and we got creamed by our boys.

From now on every year I will measure my decline by our Christmas family tradition.

Here’s the thing: As time goes on, we take more of a backseat to those coming up. As the younger generation starts to shine, and we take more of a supportive role in life, don’t merely bow out of the scene. Our role is to instill values and character in the young ones so that as they shine, they shine with the light of Christ in them.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What Christmas tradition do you make sure you keep? Leave your comments below.

My Hockey Season is Finally Over

We just celebrated Canada’s birthday, and this morning I finally hung up my skates for the season.

DSC_4925

That’s Canada … hockey till July! No wonder some folks down south believe we live in igloos. Those same people probably think we are still skating outside in July.

This is actually the latest I’ve played hockey in several years. There are other things that get in the way, things like golf and mountain biking.

I only have time for so much; something had to give.

I will tell you though, it’s kind of nice showing up to the arena wearing sandals, shorts and a T-shirt … and I’d much rather come out of the arena to temperatures of +25 C with the sun high in a blue sky than -25 C with the wind howling and the snow flying.

It was time to stop; the numbers were getting low. I guess people have other things to do on a Saturday morning.

We only had three aside and two goalies yesterday. It was like playing overtime in the NHL, except we did it for an hour and 10 minutes!

We even made a trade part way through the game, and my team acquired my son in a one-for-one trade.

We made a killing on the trade, and improved our team and chances by a considerable amount.

For the last game of the season, it was nice to be on the same side as my son and set him up for a few goals.

Normally, we are on opposite teams because he refuses to put a white jersey in his hockey bag. … The teams are usually chosen by light and dark sweaters, so he’s on the other side most of the time.

Before I even had kids, I remember dreaming about being able to play hockey with my children when they became adults.

Since I was in my 30’s before we started, I wondered if I would still be able to skate by the time they reached an age where we could play on the same level.

Well, it’s kind of nice now. I just turned 60, my son is 25, and we were able to dangle some moves together that hypnotized the goalie.

Lily has mixed emotions about the end of the season.

On the one hand, I leave to play at 6:30 in the morning so it’s no hassle for her because she’s still sleeping. But on the other hand, now that the last game has been played, I just added all my hockey sweaters, socks and underwear to the pile of laundry … laundry just increased by a few loads this week.

Without hockey on Saturday, I’ll be able to get at things earlier on Saturday mornings – Lily should be happy. She’ll have more of my time to coerce me into projects and tasks around the house.

Then there is some vacation time up ahead and there’s not much room for hockey when the beach is taking up most days.

It’s a good time for a break, to focus on some other things, and do some dreaming of next season.

Here’s the thing: Different seasons or times of year bring different schedules and commitments. In the changes, your time with God can get put on the shelf. As one thing stops and something else starts, be sure that you keep your time with God – that season never ends.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What seasonal activity has impacted your devotional time? Leave your comments below.

I Just Got Some Insights On Baking

I’m not often in the kitchen when my wife is baking, but the other day I got a little insight into what goes into baking.

gingersnaps2

She was making cookies – ginger snaps to be exact. I’ve been eating her ginger snaps for years and I really never knew what went into making them.

I knew there had to be sugar because they’re pretty sweet. I also knew that there was molasses in ginger snaps.

But what I didn’t know is that it’s not just any kind of molasses that you put in ginger snap cookies. It’s fancy molasses.

To be honest with you, when I realized that it was fancy molasses in the cookies, I found it hard to believe.

First of all, I wouldn’t call ginger snaps fancy cookies. You wouldn’t find them at a fancy restaurant, or at a high class hotel. You wouldn’t even necessarily come across ginger cookies at any special occasion like Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving.

It’s your run-of-the-mill, every day, blue collar, working man’s kind of cookie.

So why do they use fancy molasses? And what’s the difference between regular molasses and the fancy kind?

I was really puzzled about this so I did a little research and found out that my wife, though she bakes a mean cookie, has been using the wrong molasses in her ginger snaps.

There are actually five types of molasses and it comes directly from sugar cane. I couldn’t find out why it’s called “fancy”, but another name for fancy molasses is “gold star”.

Whatever you call it, it sounds kind of special, certainly more special than the others: Lite, cooking, unsulphured, and Blackstrap.

Fancy molasses is very sweet and I now realize that’s why my wife’s cookies taste so sweet.

If she used cooking molasses, which is a combination of Fancy and Blackstrap molasses, her ginger snaps wouldn’t be quite as sweet and I would be able to eat 5 or 6 more at a time.

… It’s possible that she knows this and it’s on purpose that she makes them sweeter to cut down on my consumption per serving, but I’m not sure about that.

I think she uses a recipe that calls for fancy molasses because the person who came up with that recipe had a bit of a sweet tooth.

I’m just not sure how to break the news to Lily that she needs to change the molasses in her ginger snaps. Though she sees me as a cookie eating machine, verging on a Cookie Monster, she doesn’t respect my culinary skills or knowledge.

I think the best I can hope for is when she reads this post she will be swayed to try a different kind of molasses the next time she makes her ginger snaps.

By the way, why don’t they call these cookies “molasses cookies” instead of “ginger snaps”? There is way more molasses in them that there is ginger.

You know, if we called them “fancy molasses cookies” I bet they would start showing up in snobbier places and events … I’m just sayin’.

Here’s the thing: We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes. That’s why it’s important to create your time with God in a manner, method, and way that you relate best to Him. There are no cookie cutter relationships with God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How do you structure your devotional time? Leave your comments below.

I Was A Little Overfed This Father’s Day

I’m feeling pretty stuffed today. This year Father’s Day really took a toll on me.

pic-menu-west-coast-club

For years on Dad’s day I would be treated to a special meal of some kind. Either we would BBQ steak in the backyard or we would go to a restaurant for a meal that would be easy on the work but heavy on the pocketbook. The festivities would be over by mid afternoon and I would still be able to get in my Sunday afternoon nap.

Well, the years have come and gone. We’ve done different things for Father’s Day, but this year had a new twist.

Instead of the family gathering around Father, Dad went to the family.

The festivities started right after church when I was presented with a brownie by one of our teens. All I did was be a dad.

As I shoved the whole thing in my mouth in one shot (just in case someone tried to sneak a bite), I thought maybe we should do this every Sunday. We could have different groups in the church present dads with brownies – you know, one week it could be the little children, the next week it might be the seniors.

Another week could be the wives … well, on second thought, maybe that wouldn’t work so well.

Sticking to Father’s Day this year, I had my brownie and next up was lunch with our son, Mike.

We met at a restaurant because Lily and I were going to our cottage for a day, and it would be easier to pick up and leave town after lunch.

We had a nice meal; I was pretty full after my triple decker club sandwich and, of course, the brownie I had after church.

Now if I had have gone biking after that I might have been ready for an evening meal, but all we did was sit in a car and drive for a few hours to Toronto to meet with our daughter, Karlie.

Those days of having the family all come together where Dad resides has gone by the wayside. We’re too spread out for that.

We arrived right at dinner time, but I didn’t feel like I needed any dinner. I felt that my lunch meal was still in my stomach and, because I didn’t get my nap, my body had put a stoppage to the work of breaking down my meal.

I could have skipped dinner at that point, but my daughter, Karlie, had been waiting all day for a nice meal with her dad and she was starving.

So out we went for another restaurant meal and more food. This time I even got talked into having dessert. It was seeing the people eating at the table next to me that talked me into it.

Well, when we finally rolled out of the restaurant, we got back in the car and continued on our journey to the cottage.

It was quite a Father’s Day … it was a lot of food. It was great being with both my kids!

Here’s the thing: Your Heavenly Father wants to see you, to meet with you, so much so that He will show up whenever and wherever you will meet with Him. Just make sure you show up. Don’t just take it for granted that He’s around and close by. He’s looking forward to sharing a meal with you.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What did you do for Father’s Day this year? Leave your comment below.

Be Open To Something New

Yesterday my daughter got me to try something new, and that’s pretty amazing. What’s even more amazing is that it was food.

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When your kids are young, you are constantly coaxing, encouraging, coercing them to try new and different things. As they grow up, you do it so much that you never think there will be a time when the shoe is on the other foot.

I have to admit, I’ve had to take a few fashion tips from my son, and he’s gotten me to watch the odd movie he recommended.

But the other night was something else. It involved eating and I’m pretty set in my ways when it comes to that.

I think it goes back to the days when my mother tried to feed me squash for dinner. It seemed to be a staple in our house, like once a week at the very least.

I alway refused, but there was alway a tiny pile of it on my plate, with the understanding that there would not be dessert without the downing of the squash.

I tried to hide the flavour by mixing it into other foods like potato, but the taste always made me shiver as it went down.

As hard as my Mom tried, and as often as she persisted, to this day I don’t eat squash.

I don’t eat guacamole either. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty …

Lily and I were on our way to Toronto for me to catch a plane the next day. We were staying the night at our daughter Karlie’s home.

Normally when we get there, we go out to eat or order in. Karlie does cook but there never seems to be any food in the house when we arrive. I’m not positive, but maybe it’s just a ploy to get a free meal.

This trip, however, we left late so I thought we would just get fast food on the way. Not this time. Karlie apparently had food for us.

Still, we weren’t going to get there until nearly 8 pm, and since I was hungry when we left home, I thought about just passing on her offer this time.

But there was something about the offer that gave me the impression she would be disappointed if we didn’t eat there. So I said we’d be there for dinner, and hit the gas pedal.

Well, Karlie is into this clean eating thing. I don’t really know what that means … I’m pretty sure Lily washes the food we eat too.

When we got there, to my surprise, the bbq was on and the chicken was smelling pretty good. I’d been waiting so long to eat, I almost had to catch myself from salivating down my chin.

We were having chicken tacos which is not a stretch for me at all. I like hitting up Taco Bell for some grub sometimes. But this was a little different.

The tacos were basically chicken, red cabbage and that’s it. I thought maybe I needed some hot sauce or something, but there was none. The only thing to put on for flavour was guacamole.

But I don’t eat guac! However, since there was nothing else, and with a little coaxing from Lily, I tried it.

Crazy thing! – it was pretty good. … Look at that, me trying something new my daughter suggested.

Here’s the thing: Don’t get so stuck in your ways spiritually, that if God were to move you to try something new, you won’t do it. Always be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life.

That’s life!

Paul

Question: What’s something new you’ve recently tried? Leave your comment below.

I Took A Risk This Weekend

I took a bit of a risk this weekend that could have led to a big problem.

boarder crossing

For most people, they wouldn’t think anything of this, but for me, I had “worst-case scenario” in the back of my mind.

All I did was cross the border on Friday afternoon of the long weekend.

My wife, Lily, and I were heading to a cousins’ retreat at a cottage on Lake Ontario – that would be on Lake Ontario in New York State.

One of Lily’s cousins had rented a huge home on the lake and nineteen of us found our way to this place for a couple of days.

For us it was about a three hour trip, which is not that bad … it can sometimes take us three hours to get to Toronto.

But the added element of surprise was that we had to cross the border and I had to be back Sunday morning to preach in church at 10:30.

I had a choice: come back late Saturday night and get very little sleep, or risk a border crossing early Sunday morning and arrive at church by 9:00.

I had visions of having our car searched, pulling everything out and being delayed long enough to create a mini-panic at church.

I even told one of my elders that I was scheduled for praying mid-service and preaching, so if I didn’t make it, well … he was on!

On the way down we didn’t have any trouble at the border. In fact, I’ve never had any trouble getting across the border.

There was one time that I was driving a van with about six people in it, two of whom were born in Asia and Africa. I simply said we were going to a conference in Chicago, and the border guard said, “Have a good time.”

My internationally born friends couldn’t believe it. They had never crossed the border that easily before and said, “Paul, you’re definitely driving when we cross back over!”

The only time that I had a bit of a hassle was going to a conference in Ohio. The border guard asked me what was in my trunk.

I replied that there was a suitcase and my golf clubs. He told me to open the trunk. After looking, he came back to the window, asked me what my golf handicap was, and proceeded to give me some golf instructions!

Although these have been my border crossing highlights, you never know when they’ll just decide to rip your car apart.

I was feeling like the risk was worth the extra sleep so we decided to get up at 5:30 Sunday morning and make our way home.

The drive was pretty quiet; there wasn’t much traffic on the roads, and I was going over my sermon … Lily was driving.

The border crossing was no big deal; we were through in a matter of a minute and a half.

I think the key is don’t say much, and keep your words to a minimum (which might be hard for some people) so as not to give the border guard ideas to question you on.

Arrival time: 9:08 am.

Here’s the thing: It’s no big deal to take a calculated risk on something that might cost you some time. It’s another thing to take a calculated risk that might cost you your life. It’s an even greater deal to take a calculated risk on your eternity. Make sure you are right with God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How secure are you in your relationship with Christ? Leave your comments below.