I Just Had A Date With Frustration

I’m a little frustrated right now – actually, I’ve been frustrated most of the day.

In the morning I was cutting it fine getting to work for an early meeting, only to find myself driving behind the slow guy who drove just fast enough to keep me from getting around him.

At noon I had a short turn-around to get my lunch and rush back to work for another meeting. I got stuck behind the lady who didn’t like moving into the intersection for a left-hand turn until there were no cars in sight.

We had to wait for a whole new light cycle until we got an advance green light. Only then did she finally feel she could get through the intersection, allowing me to go through as well.

Later in the afternoon I had a couple of drop-ins at the office that put me behind in a project I was working on.

… I was beginning to feel like I had a companion with me and its name was frustration.

On the way home from work, traffic was heavy and every time I changed lanes to get into the lane that was moving faster, it became the slow lane almost immediately.

More frustration.

It was almost like frustration was following me around, and sitting next to me with everything I did.

After I got home from an evening meeting, I watched the third period of the Leafs’ hockey game on TV.

It was the one part of the day where I felt that frustration had left my side; it had gone to interfere with someone else’s life – the Leafs were up 2-0.

However, shortly after the third period got underway, the Flyers scored. I quickly realized that, at best, frustration had only momentarily left me … like it went out to the kitchen to get a drink or snack of some kind.

I could feel my frustration build with each play or broken play the Leafs left on the ice.

Frustration – my new found best friend – was sitting so close I could feel it on my neck.  There was a cloud over us and, if it could have rained in the room, it would have.

I’m not sure if I was talking to frustration or to the TV, but I was getting more and more vocal about how my team was playing as the game progressed.

When Philly tied the game up, I kind of noticed a smile on frustration’s face and I didn’t like it very much.

I didn’t have a good feeling about the end of the game.

The game went into overtime, but not much – just 18 seconds in, the Philadelphia Flyers scored the winning goal.

I didn’t like frustration at that point, but it just wouldn’t leave me alone. I even found it putting words in my wife’s mouth, causing me to react negatively to her.

I saw it standing just over her shoulder with a big grin on its face. This was no friend; how could I let it hang around me all day?

I went to bed and hoped I wouldn’t see it in the morning.

Here’s the thing: Frustration can attach itself to us through the simplest, unsuspecting things. And it can stay with us and interrupt our day. That’s when you need to stop, take a breath, and focus on Jesus, being thankful for Him and what He’s provided for you. You will get a new perspective … and you won’t have to entertain an unwanted friend like frustration.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: During what recent frustration should you have stopped, breathed and refocused on Jesus? Leave your comments below.

I Just Didn’t Remember Doing It

I recently did something, but then moments later couldn’t remember doing it.

On a daily basis, when I leave the church, I set the alarm and lock the outside door. One day not long ago, after getting into my car, I thought, “I don’t remember setting the alarm or locking the door.”

It bothered me enough that I wheeled the car around to the front door, got out, tested the door, and looked to see if the armed light was red on the control pad.

Yup, I had set it, locked it and walked to my car … without really being conscious of doing it!

I remember my mother telling me that when I was young I would sometimes talk in my sleep. I apparently never made any sense; it was more like muttering to myself.

Doing something in your sleep is one thing; being fully awake and doing something you don’t remember doing takes it to a whole different level!

Maybe when I was locking up I was focussed on something else and wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. … I’ve been accused of that before.

Sometimes when I’m on the phone with my wife, Lily, she can tell if I’m also working on my computer.

While talking to me, she will throw in a question. When I don’t respond right away, her next statement will be, “You’re on your computer; you didn’t even hear my question.”

I will then pause to listen to the question she asked. But because I’ve been working on my computer and not listening, I don’t always get the background to the question. She usually has to repeat the whole thing again.

She gets frustrated. Me? Just amused.

But again that’s a little different than doing something and not knowing you did it.

I think I have been doing the same routine of setting the alarm and locking the door for so many years that it is ingrained in me.

It’s like it’s second nature; I don’t have to think about it to do it.

It’s like tying your shoes. You don’t consciously think about the movements your fingers make in tying your shoes laces; you just do it. Only if you had to describe the process to someone would you think about each step.

When I was leaving work the other day, and didn’t remember setting the alarm and locking the door, I was just deep in thought about something else and went through the motions like I was tying my shoes.

Now you have to wonder, “What in the world was I thinking about that was so captivating that I didn’t remember my lockup routine?”

Truth? I don’t even remember what so captivated my thoughts that I wiped a few seconds of my life from my memory banks.

But that’s a whole other story.

Here’s the thing: It’s not always easy asking God for help, wisdom or guidance when you are in the middle of something. You are focussed on the matter at hand and not necessarily thinking about God. If you can find a way to remind yourself to check in with God in the midst of your decision or action, the more you do that the more second nature it will become … until you automatically, without thinking, confer with Him on matters you need Him to weigh in on.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How would it help you to check in with God like it was second nature? Leave your comments below.

I Think I Can Squeeze A Car Wash In Today

I think I will wash my car today. It could really use one; it’s been a while.

I have this power washer that I don’t seem to use very much. When I look at it, I have a desire to use it, but I never seem to get around to it.

Today will be the day that I get it out and spray down my car. It’s a good day to do it because we are in between rain days … and, if I wash the car early enough, I will have a good portion of the day to enjoy it before we get back into some lousy weather.

When I was in college, I was a professional car washer. I had a job with UPS washing their vehicles each night when they would return from delivering packages.

In those days that was the only form of advertising the company did. They believed that clean trucks communicated care – if they took care of their vehicles, they would also care for their packages.

Every evening I would wash down a dozen or more vans. I became rather quick at washing them too, so you’d think washing my car each week would be a cinch!

Well, it doesn’t seem to be that way. Though I like the look of my power washer, and have a desire to use it, I never really feel like I have the time at the moment to use it.

It’s always something I would like to do, when I have a little time.

The thing is there is always something else I need to or should be doing.

Sometimes when I fill the gas tank I run the car through the car wash there. The one by my place is quick and, like using my power washer, it doesn’t touch the car with brushes.

Opinions vary though. Some people think it’s best that a car wash not have brushes because they can scratch your car and rip off your side mirrors and antenna. Others say that if there are no brushes the car wash won’t do a good job of getting the dirt off your car.

I remember being in a discussion on which system was better. When my brother-in-law, who worked for Petro Canada overseeing the car washes in the region, was brought into the discussion, he simply said, “Oh, we touch your car all over the place!”

My neighbour across the street washes his car regularly by hand, but I like the idea of using my power washer. You don’t have to get so up close and personal with the vehicle, and you get to use a tool.

For me, washing my car is about using the washer as much as it is about getting the car clean.

I hope the sun stays out today because I am really talking myself into power washing some dirt off my car.

Here’s the thing: There are things in life that we have access to but never get around to. We might even like the idea, but never find the right time. If God is calling you to something, wanting you to move in a direction, don’t keep putting it off. If Christ is calling you to give Him your life, find the time, make a decision and trust your life to Him. There is no sense in not doing what’s available to you. You never know when it won’t be available any more.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to act on today that you might be tempted to put off again?  Leave your comments below.

It’s Time To Get My Golf Clubs In My Car

The other day I put my golf clubs in my vehicle for the season … but I still haven’t used them.

We are now into June and I haven’t swung a golf club yet. … I know there are many people who will only play a couple of games this season, but that’s not me.

In fact, I can’t remember a year when I have not had my clubs out by now.

It usually happens like the hand off in a relay race. There is this zone where the two team mates are running and the one hands the baton off to the other.

For me that’s the time when the hockey sticks get taken out of the car and the golf clubs get put in the trunk.

But this year we’re getting past the transition zone and I’m about to be disqualified.

Well, not really disqualified, but I have a golf tournament I will be in this week and I need to get reacquainted with my driver before that date.

One of the biggest roadblocks is finding a little time between the rain drops that keep falling every other day!

All winter long you look forward to doing things outside and then a spring like this comes along and you’re still stuck inside because of the rain.

Golf and rain have never really gone well together, especially if there is thunder rumbling in the distance.

It’s never a good idea to be close to lightning with 13 lightning rods strapped to your back!

… I remember golfing many years ago with a friend and we were down in a valley when the thunder got loud and close.

We took cover for a while, but then decided we should make our way to the club house. As we were walking up the path out of the valley, I turned to say something to my friend.

At that moment the sky lit up behind him, making him a silhouette, followed immediately by a huge crack of thunder.

At that point we started running for the club house; we just wanted to get out of the target zone before we got hit.

But it’s not just the rain and potential lightning that has kept me off the course this year, it’s also the cool temperatures.

I’ve had that feeling of playing golf when it’s cool outside. If you hit the ball a little thin, you get this vibration that starts in your hands and moves up your arms.

You feel like the cartoon character, Wiley Coyote, who just missed the roadrunner with an iron pan and hit a rock instead, leaving his whole body vibrating in mid air.

Well, that’s what it feels like, and I hate that feeling.

But this week I will be playing, whether I’m ready or not. So I better brave the cold and rain and start hitting a few golf balls before that date.

Here’s the thing: There are things that will happen in life whether you are ready for them or not. So why wouldn’t you get ready for them if you can, even if getting ready is going to mean making some changes? Christ is coming back some day. The thing is we don’t know when. We need to be ready for His return, so why not prepare yourself now? Place your trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Yes, it will cost you, but you will be ready for His return and it will make the perfect transition to the next life.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What transition do you need to make right now? Leave your comments below.

I Need A Car Real Soon

Well, I’m in the market for a car but I do have some standards – mind you, they aren’t that high.

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I don’t have a certain make of car that I have to drive, though I remember growing up we always had GMs.

My dad went through the models. In the early sixties we had Pontiac Parisiennes; in the late sixties and early seventies it was Oldsmobile Delta 88s. Then in the mid to late seventies and on it was Buick LeSabres.

In fact, my Dad never drove anything but Buick LeSabres from then on.

For me, I’ve been all over the map: Buick, Renault, Chrysler, Ford, Lincoln, GMC, Honda, Hyundai.

I’ve never owned two of the same make of car in a row. You could say with this that I’m a blank slate. I’m open to any kind of car.

However, there is one thing that I would like and that is a little peace and quiet. In our last car we didn’t get much of that.

When driving on the highway, Lily and I would practically have to shout at each other to be heard over the sound of the wind outside the car.

It was almost like driving with our windows down all the time.

So quiet is a big deal, and then there is room. We would also like something that is a little bigger than our previous car.

It doesn’t have to be too much bigger, but a little would be nice.

The car doesn’t even have to be new. In fact, I have an aversion to making payments so on that account a new car is not that attractive.

I just don’t like to be paying for a car for years and, when I’m finished paying for it, find it’s time to get a new one and have to start the payment thing all over again.

To make it worse, I also have an aversion to paying interest. If I had to I could stomach a 0% interest payment for three years or so, but that’s about it.

… I think I have about a week to get that kind of deal before they disappear for a while.

A used car is probably what we will end up with – something that I don’t have to put too much money into but something that’s going to last us four to six years or so.

There are lots of cars out there and today we will start taking a look.

This is where our kids come in handy. One of our son Mike’s buddies is a car salesman. We’ll see what he can do for us.

Over the years we’ve fed him numerous meals and Lily has given him lots of advice. She even calls him our #2 son. It’s almost like he owes us a good deal.

The biggest thing is we can trust him. We can be sure he will do the best he can to get us into the right car that meets all our standards.

Here’s the thing: Often in life we find ourselves at a crossroads. We need to make decisions that require more insight than we have. We need people who can step in and help us in those times. When it’s a spiritual matter, a spiritual mentor or life group is invaluable. Be sure to surround yourself with people who can help you make the right spiritual moves.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How long does it take you to reach out for help on spiritual matters? Leave your comments below.

Is The Whole Greater Than All Its Parts?

You’ve heard the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. The quote goes back a long time; it’s from Aristotle. But let me spin it another way.

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More recently, we associate this phrase with synergy – the idea that when people work together what they produce is greater than what they could collectively do on their own.

In music when a group of jazz musicians jam together they feed off each other and create a sound that is greater than what they could produce on their own instruments.

This is why team work is so important when working on projects, in sports or pretty much anything.

However, this principle is opposite when it comes to fixing something.

The whole costs less than the sum of its parts … and that’s the phrase that’s more on my mind these days.

A week ago I wrote a post about the car accident I had with a deer (you can read it here). I kind of thought that my car won that fight. I mean, I think the deer probably lived but it was banged up more than my car … but perhaps I was a little hasty with that thought.

In the wisdom of the collision appraiser, he thinks the car has more damage than it’s worth. In other words, it will cost as much to fix the car as it would to buy one of the same vintage.

Basically what they are saying is that the sum of the parts needed to fix my car costs more than the whole car is worth … and really we are only talking about four parts on the car! It still runs as well as it did before.

So if I bought all the individual parts the car needs it would cost me more than it would to just buy the finished product.

There’s that synergy working. Normally it would be a good thing, but here’s how it’s a bad deal for me …

I have a diminishing deductible on my insurance. So if they fix my car, for whatever price, I don’t pay anything and I get my car back intact like it was before the accident – like the deer incident never happened.

Instead, however, because all those parts cost more than the whole car is worth, the insurance company will probably give me some money for the car and I will have to add to that total in order to get a replacement for my vehicle.

In the end it will cost me money out of my pocket to get a car on the road again.

And because I don’t want to go back to a 2009 vehicle in 2016, I will have to purchase something that is newer and more expensive.

This “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” works out great for the insurance company.

Somehow I have to figure out how to get some synergy working for me.

Here’s the thing: God never intended us to live the Christian life on our own. We were created to live as Christ followers in community. So when you think of your life in Christ, consider all the parts: personal time with God, worship, learning, growing, and serving. It’s when we do these together that we experience the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What parts to your Christian life are you lacking right now? Leave your comments below.

Live Life By The Codes

There used to be unwritten rules that you lived by. I’m not sure, but maybe some of those codes are changing – certainly some are disappearing.

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We all know some unwritten rules, things you just do or don’t do. No one has to say anything; it’s just the way things work.

When I was a kid one of those codes was that you didn’t tell on your brother. Nobody told me to do that; it was just what you did.

There are all kinds of these unwritten rules that we follow to help one another out, to be on the same side.

But some of these rules or codes that we live by aren’t being followed anymore.

In hockey there used to be an unwritten rule that you didn’t go after the superstar of the team. You didn’t try to hit him too hard; you didn’t cheap shot him.

But that code started to disappear so they had to put a tough guy on the same line as the superstar as a deterrent. It was like a warning: you lay a finger on Wayne Gretzky and you will pay the price of having Dave “Cement Head” Semenko come after you.

Now it’s a free-for-all on the superstars of the team. The game has changed and the enforcers are not there anymore.

And maybe that’s what it’s like everywhere … times have changed and it’s just different.

There used to be a code among drivers that a car coming the opposite way would flash their lights to warn you if there was a police radar up ahead. It was common practice.

It’s illegal now – maybe it always was – and people don’t do it anymore.

There is no code of the road for drivers to look out for each other. It’s no longer us against the speed trap.

But I got a break the other day.

I was going up a hill on a highway, maybe going a little fast … maybe. There was a line of cars coming down the hill the other way. In the middle of the pack I thought I noticed a car flash his lights. I almost missed it because it was so unusual.

I took my foot off the accelerator. As I got to the crest of the hill and started down the other side,  there he was – a black and white OPP waiting for me.

Well, thankfully he wasn’t waiting for me because someone on the other side of the hill remembered the code and warned me.

We were on the same team; it was us against them. I kind of doubt that many others caught the same warning I did. We just don’t live by that code anymore.

The unwritten code of the road is you look out for your fellow drivers. It’s a great code. Unfortunately, most of us drive in such a way that our fellow drivers are our competition or enemies on the road.

… Driving might be a whole lot more enjoyable if we followed the codes.

Here’s the thing: There are faith codes as well. When someone confides in us, the unwritten code is to pray for that person or issue – not just once, but to keep that person in your prayers. However, with our busy, more self-centred lives, we often fail to live by the code. Get back to praying for the needs of others who bring their concerns to you … and keep at it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What unwritten code would you like to bring back? Leave your comments below.

Get Things Done With The Right Tools

It is amazing how simple something seems with the right “know-how” and the right tools. It’s inspiring to see, to the point that you think you can do the same thing.

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Maybe that is why they have warning messages on some commercials, “Don’t try this at home”.

When you see someone with some skill using the right tools to do something or perform some task, it looks so effortless that it makes you think, “Just give me a try; I could do that too.”

Not so fast! I’ve been in this movie before and it’s not as easy as it looks.

Let me explain … Recently I was having trouble with my car. It was running rather rough, as if it was not firing on all cylinders.

I knew something wasn’t right, not only by the way the car was sounding and feeling but by the light on the dashboard that read, “check engine”.

I couldn’t get it to my mechanic because it was around Christmas, but I was a little concerned that the car could stop working at any time.

I mentioned my car woes to the guy who cuts my hair. … That may seem kind of odd when you read this, but my hairstylist knows cars, fixes cars, races cars, and can get anything for cars.

He’s a car guy.

I’ve been going to him to get my hair cut for about 17 years. Last year he got me a deal on winter tires.

When I mentioned my recent car problems, he said it was easy, that he had a scanner and could figure out what was wrong.

We arranged to meet; he brought his engine scanner and plugged it in. In about thirty seconds he told me one of my cylinders wasn’t firing. I needed a new coil.

He quickly called a guy and asked about the part. In the span of about two minutes we were off to the store to get the parts.

I then took my car to his place because he had everything we needed to fix it there. I watched as he went to work. There was no hesitation, no manuals, no computer YouTube video he was following.

He knew the right sized bolt head, and had the tool needed to get the spark plug out of the hole.

In about twenty short minutes he had replaced the coil and four spark plugs. I was on my way, the car sounded great again and the blasted engine light was off.

As I drove home my first thoughts were, “I think I could do that.” And what I meant was, “I think I could do that just like my hairstylist.”

And then I paused. I don’t have the tools he had; I don’t have the know-how to be sure of what I am doing. I would need the manual, or a YouTube video to follow. I know in the end, it would have taken me a couple of hours and several calls for help regarding various issues that I would have.

At least I saw how easy the job can be, with a little “know-how” and the right tools.

Here’s the thing: Your walk with Christ needs the right tools and a little “know-how”. Acquire the right tools, which includes people, books, the Bible, courses seminars, small groups, the list could go on.  Then gain the right “know how” from your experiences with God, trusting him for things, serving him, following his leading. That ensure that at the end of your life, the Lord will say well done.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What looks easy in your faith walk with the right tools and know-how? Leave your comment below.

Going The Extra Mile

This last week my daughter was in town. Well, her car was in town. She was on a road trip with her mom.

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It was mother and daughter to Montreal for work and sightseeing. What I got out of the deal was the house to myself for a couple of days and Karlie’s car.

It wasn’t a bad trade off, her car for mine. Though her car is about six years older than ours, it had all the necessities needed to get around town.

However, there were a couple of things that were lacking or at least a little inconvenient, like no roof rack for my bike, so biking was out of the question. The trunk was pretty small and I could barely get my golf clubs and cart in it.

Then there was this squealing sound that announced itself when you turned on the air conditioning, and every time you stepped on the gas after stopping at a light.

Other than that, it was enjoyable to drive. … I guess I should say it was enjoyable until I had to do a highway trip.

I noticed the car would lose power for several seconds as I drove. It was strange and I didn’t know why. The worst thing about it was I knew Karlie was going to be driving back to Toronto later that day.

Something that I might wait a day or two to check out if it was my car, became an emergency because it was my daughter’s car.

I didn’t like the thought that she would be driving alone at night, for two and a half hours to get back home.

My mind started to produce scenarios like, “What if the car died on the way?” I sure didn’t want her being stranded on the highway in the middle of nowhere!

So I gave up a golf game I had arranged earlier in the day to make sure her car was working.

I called up my mechanic in the middle of the afternoon and pled my case that my daughter had to drive back home that night.

I knew he had daughters around the same age as Karlie, and I knew he was a sucker to do anything for them when they needed help. So I hoped those emotions would kick in when he heard my case.

Sure enough, he said, “How fast can you get it in?”

I answered, “I’m on my way now.”

You know if it had have been my car that was acting up and I had a golf game to go to, I would’ve dragged that car to the course and hoped I could get home later.

And if I had to take the car in first, I’d have been very upset about missing my game with the guys.

But for some reason, I felt I needed to take care of this issue. I didn’t mind missing something of mine in order to ensure my daughter could drive safely home.

Here’s the thing: I would do anything for my daughter or my son when they need me. And I don’t consider it a hardship. God has chosen to use us to do His work on earth. So what lengths do you go to to help Him in the work He is doing? Have that same attitude toward serving God as you would helping out your children or loved ones. Consider serving as a privilege and responsibility; be in it all the way.

That”s Life!

Paul

Question: What work is God doing that you could join Him in? Leave your comment below.

My Car’s Been Talking To Me

Car maintenance has never been my strong suit. I have not always even been successful at making sure I had gas in the tank to keep my cars rolling – my dad used to call this practice “driving on fumes”.

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It takes discipline to keep an automobile in good shape and I’m not even that disciplined at getting regular oil changes … “regular” for me is between 5,000 – 12,000 kilometres, or every three to five months.

I have a neighbour who faithfully washes his cars in his driveway. If I can take my car through the carwash at the gas station a couple of times a year I’m doing good.

That’s what we have rain for, isn’t it? I figure rain is nature doing its thing, helping the grass grow, making the leaves shine, and bringing back the glimmer to the cars on the road.

I am also not good at getting the mechanical parts of the car taken care of. Since the fall I’ve had a little rattle in the front end. I know what it is; I’ve had it before.

I need a new link kit. Now, I can’t really tell you what a link kit looks like or exactly what it does, but it has something to do with stopping that sound my car makes when I drive over a pot hole, or an uneven surface.

This link kit may even be instrumental in maintaining connection between my front wheel and the car, because now that it is long past the fall, my wife is telling me that she fears the wheel is going to come off some time when she’s driving.

Though it’s true that any mechanical failure that could happen to the car will happen when she’s driving, I’m not positive but I don’t think the wheel is going to come off.

Still I need to “put a man on it”, and get this work done on the car.

It used to be easier to do this kind of thing. I would book an appointment and Lily would shuttle me in our other car. It was that simple.

That process is not as easy right now. Our son has our other car most of the time so I need to coordinate with his schedule which seems to be rather full and unpredictable.

I just haven’t made an attempt to figure out a time.

And while all this nothing has been going on, the roads in Kingston (that were once paved with gold but now need some gold plating work) are really making my car sound worse and worse.

Lily is amazed that I’ve been able to put up with the sound for so long, but I just turn up the radio a little louder.

OK!  . . .  I’m going to make an appointment today to take my car in.

Here’s the thing: There are things you know you should do. Maybe God revealed something to you in prayer, and then you read something in the Bible that challenged you in the same area.  You may have even had other people in your life speak to you about that very thing. But there’s that sound, it’s getting louder but you’re not doing anything about it. Don’t put it off any longer. Decide today, right now, and begin to address that something that God wants you to work on.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you been putting off that you need to do today? Leave your comment below.