My Family Christmas Is Filled With Anticipation and Expectation

Every trip we take is packed with anticipation and expectation.

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

Let me explain …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have my anticipation and expectation locked for this trip.

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

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

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

That’s Life!

Paul

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

I Was Stuck At This Red Light Forever

The other night I was stuck at a red light for an inordinate amount of time.

I was on my way to our cottage for my yearly planning retreat. On one stretch of highway, that is only one lane in each direction, there was work being done on a bridge.

I don’t know what it is with little bridges but they seem to be the hardest things in the world to fix. It takes months and months and, in some cases, years to repair them.

This bridge is no exception., I think they could build a huge suspension bridge over a vast canyon quicker than completing the repair work to this bridge.

With the work being done on the bridge, it is down to one lane … That’s it! – one lane for traffic going in both directions.

This bridge is maybe only 30 feet in length, but it completely controls the traffic flow.

When I got to the bridge, and saw about 10 vehicles ahead of me, I naturally thought we would get our chance to cross the bridge in no time.

At first I didn’t even put the car in park; I just kept my foot on the brake. I didn’t think this would take long at all.

Boy was I wrong! The cars coming the other way just kept coming. The worst part was there were breaks in the traffic.

Seven, eight or nine cars would pass by going south and then there would be nothing. Every time there was a break, I thought, “Okay, the light changed and now it’s our turn to go.”

No. Just when I thought it would be time for us to start moving, I would see headlights coming from the other direction and another 10, maybe 12 cars, would drive by.

Ten minutes we waited with no sign that we were going to get a green light in the next little while … or month!

But there was a sign of hope.

Just a few yards ahead of me was a gravel road. I quickly looked at the maps on my phone and made a real fast decision to cut out of the line and take a detour.

No one else was doing it but I thought, “Someone has to start it up.”

I cut out of the line and made a break for it. The detour took me about 10 minutes but I came out well beyond the traffic interruption.

When I got to the crossroads to join up with the original highway I had been on, there was a stop light and I had to make a left turn.

As I waited for the light to turn green – because, of course, there was no way I would get a green light when I approached the intersection – I noticed a truck pass by.

I had a suspicion that I’d seen that truck before.

After I got back on the highway, and caught up to the traffic, I was sure it was the same truck. … And I was in the exact same position behind the truck as I was when we had been stuck at the light.

I didn’t gain one inch.

Here’s the thing: Impatience gets us to act, but sometimes our actions don’t really do us any good. When we are impatient with God, our impatience can lead us to take action that just gets in the way of what God is doing. It might delay things further or worse, it could set us back. Wait on God and don’t let your impatience cause you to try to circumvent God’s plan.

That’s life!

Paul

Question: What delays have caused you to be impatient with God? Leave your comments below.

I’ve Been On The Road Too Much!

I think I just need to stay put for a little while. I feel like I’ve been on the road too much.

Driver's hands on steering wheel

Over the last month I’ve done a fair bit of traveling – not to any exotic or far away places … I’ve just been doing a lot of driving.

The good thing is I like driving, but I think it’s time to take a break and stay closer to home for a while.

Our cottage is almost 500 kilometres away from us (that’s 310 miles), and in the last month I’ve made that trip two and a half times – about 2,500 kilometres.

This last trip sort of finished me off. I had meetings just east of Toronto and then was going to take in a one-day seminar up north where our cottage is.

I spent a night at our daughter’s home, then two nights in a hotel, another night at our daughter’s and then one night at our cottage.

There was one more stop along the way, however. Our son is moving and we offered to help him do some apartment hunting in Burlington, which is southwest of Toronto.

That little adventure went very well and we found something for him by lunch time. We were pretty happy about our find and relieved that one more detail of his move was settled.

But I was already pretty tired and we had another 2 1/2 hours of driving to get to the cottage.

We were driving on different roads than we normally take and it seemed we were winding our way through the countryside and at the mercy of slow moving vehicles and road construction.

I’m not sure whether it was all the driving we were doing or the amount of time I was spending in the car, but I began to think that we needed a new car.

… a car that floated on air; one that was quiet on the inside, with no sound of the road or the wind; a car that had seats that formed to your body, and one you could put on auto-pilot and sit back and close your eyes in.

I guess I’m describing a limousine service. And I sure could have used it! By the time we got to our cottage I was done in.

I needed to just lie down and take a nap. But even that seemed to be short-lived. I was interrupted by dinner and then a walk along the beach.

Even waking up the next morning came an hour or so too early for my liking, but we had the seminar to attend and then pack up and head back home.

I felt a little like a rock star on tour. They say sometimes they don’t remember what town they’re in; it’s all a blur.

For me, I just want to stay inside the city limits for a week or so. Then I’ll probably be ready to make another trip.

Here’s the thing: One of the reasons traveling takes a toll on you is you get out of your routines and are away from everything familiar. You sleep in different places, eat out more, and don’t have the comfort and familiarity of home. One thing you can do to help steady yourself is to keep your time with God. Remember that no matter where you go, He is our constant; He never changes. Our home is with Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How does traveling unsettle you? 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.

Frustrated On The Road Again

Traveling the other day, I found myself a little frustrated. The conditions were good; the sun was shining, and the road was dry.

FrustratedDriver

The traffic, though heavy, was moving at a good pace.

I had some music on and really, what more could you ask for? … Not much, except I would have liked the guy in front of me to get out of the way!

I found him a little annoying. Well, to be honest, a little more than annoying.

For one thing, he didn’t drive at a steady pace. He would keep up with the traffic ahead of him for a few minutes, but then slow down by almost 10 km/hr. I found I was on the gas, off the gas the whole trip.

I would have passed him but it was only a two lane highway and there was steady traffic coming the other way.

I figured he wasn’t much of a skater – he had to have weak ankles not to be able to keep his foot on the gas at an even pressure for very long.

I found myself analyzing what he was probably like. I came up with his personality traits and the kinds of things he was thinking about.

If I had have had a police sketcher in the seat next to me I think I probably would have been able to come up with a fairly good picture of what he looked like.

My picture might not have looked anything like the guy in real life, but it was dark out and so we will never know for sure.

Let’s just say my description fit him to a T.

The other thing that bugged me about his driving was he used his brakes all the time. We were driving on a highway; there were no lights, just straight road!

There was no need to touch the brakes, but it was like he needed to hit them frequently just to make sure the pedal was still there or that someone hadn’t tampered with his brake line.

Like in most things, momentum is key. I’ve learned in mountain biking to try to use your brakes as little as possible, because any forward momentum you’ve built up will be lost as soon as you put on the brakes. Coasting is a better way to control your speed than stepping on and off the brakes.

However, on a bike when you loose momentum, you have to expend a lot of energy pedalling to get it back. In a car you just have to put your foot back on the gas pedal … unless you have weak ankles and can only sustain the pressure on the gas for a short amount of time, like the guy who was driving in front of me.

In the end we parted ways. He turned off the road, and someone else had to drive behind him and get all frustrated.

As for me, I’ll forget about him, but there’s plenty others out there who will take his place in front of me.

Here’s the thing: Life can frustrate you at times. You may even be a little frustrated with God, feeling like He is not clearing the way for you. Patience is required, and maybe that’s what you need God’s help for more than anything else.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has you frustrated lately? What will you do about it? Leave your comments below.

You Need A Good Navigator In Life

When you get married, one thing you should look for in your spouse is their aptitude for navigation. We all need good navigators in life and when you’re traveling, it’s especially important.

Navigation-car

It’s not easy to figure out if your spouse or spouse-to-be is a good navigator because usually navigating is done in collaboration.

If you’re traveling by car, you both read the signs, and talk about the route and advantages of traveling one way over another. You can actually go for years without really knowing if your spouse is a good navigator.

But when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t speak the language, and can’t read the signs, that’s when you find out what kind of navigating skills your spouse has.

We just got back from a trip to Quebec City and Lily navigated the way; she also can speak a little bit of French.

I have to say, there were times when she let me down. We had to make a few “back around agains” to correct a few navigational mistakes.

There were even a couple of times when she didn’t know what to do, so I just made a turn and miraculously got us going in the right direction.

One quality of a good navigator is their ability to be decisive. My navigator sounded decisive every time she said something. However, she would correct herself several times on every instruction, each time with great authority in her voice.

One time we were on a highway that was dividing. You had to choose: stay left or take the right ramp. It’s always best to be in the middle lane in these situations; that way you have the option of going left or right.

However, with the back and forth decision making, “stay left .  . . no, go right . . . wait, ya I think we should go left”, I felt like I was stick-handling up the ice, trying to deke the defenseman in front of me. … only the defenseman turned out to be several plastic barrels filled with sand or water that were in between the division of the highway.

I narrowly swerved around the lead barrel and took the left passageway, just like my navigator instructed, with mere seconds to spare.

I wiped the sweat from my brow, and only then did she look up from her google maps to see I was on the right road. She completely missed the move I put on those barrels.

There were other times that Lily’s navigating skills got us directly to the place we wanted to go. Every day was a new assignment for her, every trip into Quebec City from our Mont-Sainte-Anne headquarters was a fresh adventure.

All in all, Lily did a great job navigating us in and around Quebec City. If I had to do it all over again, I’d still pick her as my navigator.

Here’s the thing: We all need a good navigator in our lives – not just someone to help us get to a driving destination; we need a navigator for life. It’s best to choose a navigator who can speak the language and preferably has  already been where you want to go. We have that navigator in Jesus Christ, who is more than willing to help us negotiate the most difficult of turns and circumstances we will face along the way in life. Why don’t we consult Him more often? Why don’t we rely on Him all the time? Don’t keep going on your own; turn to Christ to help you navigate your way through this life.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What keeps you from seeking Christ’s help in navigating your life? Leave your comment below.

I Was Driving Myself Crazy

I came to realize about a month or so ago that my driving was leaving much to be desired. It’s not that I can’t negotiate a left hand turn, or parallel park my car. The handling of my automobile is just fine.

stop texing

It was my attitude behind the wheel that left much to be desired. I found I was getting too upset when I drove; other drivers did things that literally were driving me crazy.

But that wasn’t healthy for me, or for others on the road, and it wasn’t showing me to be under God’s control either. So over the last month or so, I’ve taken some measures.

I’ve slowed down, and consciously thought, “I don’t need to race to where I’m going”. I’ve started to allow more room between my car and the vehicle in front of me.

Life’s been good. Well . . . that is until the other day when I found myself behind a car with a bumper sticker in the shape of a stop sign that read, “STOP TEXTING”.

My wife will tell you that I’m not very good at texting and driving, though that’s just the back seat driver in her talking.

But seriously, I try not to text while I’m driving. I use a bluetooth speaker to make and receive calls, so when I read the bumper sticker, it didn’t dawn on me that the sticker was shouting out at me.

However, after following the car for only a few seconds, the sticker was actually shouting out at that car’s driver. I found myself reading the sticker and then looking in disbelief at the driver through her rear window.

She wasn’t paying attention to the road! When the way was clear to make a right hand turn, I could see her head bent down. She crossed the line a couple of times, again doing what looked like bending down to get something.

One car beside her had to move over for fear of getting sideswiped.

I read the sign again, “STOP TEXTING” and said (in a calm voice, because now my attitude was in check), “Ya, stop doing whatever you’re doing and drive”.

Eventually I pulled up in the other lane and passed her. I thought it might be better if she was behind me rather than directly in front of me … FAR behind me.

I took a look at her as I went by; she seemed oblivious to how she’d been driving. She didn’t look like a texter. She had grey hair – the majority of her hair was quite grey. Enough said.

I don’t think she was texting. I do think that she believes it’s very dangerous to text while driving and that it angers her to see someone doing it.

But after driving behind her for a few minutes, I wished she had a sticker on her car that read, “KEEP YOUR EYES ABOVE THE DASHBOARD”, maybe even a bobble head sign that sat on her dashboard.

As I glanced behind me, I realized my blood pressure hadn’t risen a bit. Now that’s progress!

Here’s the thing: We might get upset with those that text and drive because it’s distracting and dangerous. Whatever she was doing was also distracting and dangerous. … It’s easy to see the sin in other people. But if seeing their sin gets you angry, then evaluate yourself. There’s a good chance you are harbouring a similar sin. Deal with your sin, and you will find compassion to help others deal with theirs instead of judging them.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you learned about yourself by watching others? Leave your comment below.

Sleep Is Just Like Temptation

Have you ever been too tired to function? Sleep has you in its grips, and no matter what you do you just can’t seem to stay awake.

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It happens to young children …

One time we were driving home from church. The sun was shining with all its might through the car windows. Music was playing; Lily and I were talking.

I glanced in the rearview mirror and I saw our two year old slowly slipping into a sleep.

We were just two minutes out of the church parking lot.

Lily spun around and started making noise, waving, wiggling toes … she would’ve done jumping jacks if it wasn’t for the seat belt . . . well  . . . and the car roof.

From the vantage point of the mirror I could see Karlie sinking deeper and deeper into sleep and there was nothing that Lily could do to stop her. Sleep had overcome her. No power on earth was going to reverse the spell that was claiming our daughter.

I also remember watching my dad and grandfather get KO’d by reclining chairs they sat in on Sunday afternoons. My brother and I played as my dad and grandpa talked and then … silence.

We couldn’t figure out what happened. It was like a drug had been administered by my grandmother during our meal. They were gone . . . for hours!

Now Lily administers that same drug, because I can sit down to watch a perfectly riveting golf tourney on TV and in minutes find myself fast asleep.

Actually, I find myself a few hours later waking up to something other than the golf tourney!

Sometimes sleep can’t be stopped. It’s powerful; it’s controlling. It can be welcomed but also dreaded.

That was the case for me the other day. I had been away for two days and not slept very much. I had sat through an all-day meeting and then had a two hour drive home.

About half way into the drive I started feeling tired. I turned up the radio and tried to sing along, like I had my own personal Karaoke contest going on and I was winning (can you actually win at those contests?).

I ran my fingers through my hair, squeezed my arms, rubbed my neck … but my eyelids still got heavier and heavier. I’m sure I closed them once or twice for longer than a blink.

… Not too scary having that happen in a big old recliner. it IS scary when you’re in a tin box moving down the highway at 130 km’s per hour!

Did I write that? I’m sure I meant 119 km’s per hour.

I knew I was in trouble but was having a hard time thinking. I just knew I needed to pull over.

I prayed, “Lord help me get to a travel centre.” When I saw a sign for one, I fought sleep like crazy to get there. I pulled in, reclined my seat, and slept for 40 minutes. I then drove home refreshed.

Here’s the thing: Temptation can be powerful – just like sleep at times – so powerful that it’s hard to think of alternatives and exit points. It’s those times you need to have a plan in place and know what you should do. I knew I needed to get off the road. I didn’t have to think about it; I knew it. When you’re under extreme temptation, you have to already know what to do, so that all that’s left is to pray that God would help you do it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How have you learned to fight off temptation? Leave your comments below.

Trouble Comes Without Warning

The trouble with this summer has been the cool, wet temperatures.

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Well, that is until this past week. It’s September and we have finally got some hot, humid weather. If this keeps up, I’m going to really enjoy the fall – maybe it will last all winter! (I can dream.)

But the warm weather can have some side effects that are not expected or welcomed . . .

It was a warm, sunny morning, just before 7 am when I drove to work the other day. The temperature was already about 20 degrees Celsius and, as I drove to the church, the sun blinded me as I turned eastward. The light was so intense I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even open my eyes – which is not a good thing when you’re driving!

I quickly flipped down the sun visor so I could at least catch the outline of the road before me. I was able to get my bearings and adjust to the brightness by squinting.

At that point I was three quarters of the way in to work. I drove down a hill and then in the shade for a few minutes. As I started up another hill, that’s when the trouble started …

First, the sun was there to blind me again. And then without warning, in a split second, all the windows of the car fogged up. I mean, this was instant! My windows were clear one second and then completely fogged up the next!

I couldn’t see anything. It was foggy and sunny all at the same time. I slowed down immediately – I didn’t want to wander out of my lane or drive into someone ahead of me.

I tried my windshield wipers and since the fog was all on the outside, that cleared the front window. But even making a lane change was challenging since I couldn’t see if there was a car beside me or not.

I live in Canada; I’ve had fogged windows before. Usually it happens in the winter and that fog is on the inside caused by too much breathing from my passengers.

In those cases, you can see the fog slowly overtaking the windows and, at very least, you can ask your passengers to stop breathing for a few moments.

This particular fog, however, was so swift that it left me very vulnerable, traveling about 65 km/hr (or slightly quicker) along the road.

There was no warning, no hint of it coming, and it created a very dangerous situation in a flash.

Here’s the thing: Life can be like that fog. You’re living, breathing, functioning and, without warning, something very unexpected happens to you – you have a heart attack, you’re diagnosed with cancer, you have an injury, or a relationship issue blindsides you.

It all happens so fast. You’re left vulnerable and don’t know what to do. It’s a dangerous place to be. It’s important to know what you can do, what resources you have available to you right then. In those times, you need God. Be sure you’ve begun a relationship with Him and be in the habit of turning to Him. Then you can quickly access His help in those dangerous times.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has happened to you in an instant and put you in a dangerous place?  Leave your comment below.

The Answer To An Age-Old Automobile Controversy

I believe I’ve just uncovered an automobile mystery that has baffled mankind of a long time … at least since the passenger car was invented.

fender bender

In fact, I feel a little like Banting and Best when they discovered insulin, or when a scientist discovers some kind of breakthrough that will lead to possibly finding a partial cure for a certain strain of a multifaceted disease that continues to develop into different strains.

Whoa, I got a little dizzy just writing that.

Back to my discovery. I got in the car the other day and when I turned a corner the sun shining through the windshield almost blinded me. All I could see was a big red ball of light, so I quickly pulled down the sun visor to block it out.

When I did that, I stumbled onto something that could be a key to changing driving habits, all the way to changing insurance rates.

When I pulled down that visor, I almost scared myself into the next lane of traffic. The shield covering the visor mirror was gone. I went from looking into the centre of the sun to looking at two eyes staring at me and it freaked me out.

Fortunately, I controlled myself and stayed in my lane. But not everyone is as composed as I am when they drive. And here’s my discovery …

The mirror in the visor is a driving hazard and the ones who are guilty of using it are mostly women. Because of it, they are causing untold numbers of accidents.

Every time I look behind the visor, if my wife has been sitting in the seat before me, that mirror is visible. Imagine how many men have jerked the steering wheel to the left, when they’ve suddenly seen a pair eyes about six inches from their face.

Or how about the light that reflects off a woman’s bleached white teeth, hits the mirror and like a laser pointer temporarily blinds some poor unsuspecting driver behind her.  Another accident.

Or what about the women who’s putting on her makeup and drifts a little, causing the car beside her to swerve and careen into a light pole on the side of the road.

You see what I’m saying?

Statistics says that “80% of collisions and 65% of near crashes have some form of driver inattention as contributing factors” (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010).

I’m not saying women cause more fatal accidents. No, men are best at doing that. But statistics say that women are in more fender benders than men.

It’s that distraction factor, and a little piece of the solution could have something to do with the mirror that is on the back of sun visors.

This is still an early discovery. Now I just have to figure out how to get Lily to place the cover back over the mirror when she’s done.

Here’s the thing: God is trying to teach us all the time, but often we are distracted by other things. Being attentive to little things can lead you to discover something amazing about God that you haven’t noticed before. You can learn much about God from life around you. Don’t be so distracted by something that’s right in your face that you miss learning about God’s character and how that relates to you.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What discovery have you made recently about God? I’d love to hear from you; you can leave your comment below.