My Neighbours Are Dropping Like Flies

I feel abandoned by my neighbours; it seems like we are the only ones remaining strong.

… What I’m referring to is the number of neighbours who are leaving our street … not in a permanent way, just for a vacation.

We live on a small street of only ten houses – it’s actually a cul-de-sac – but three of our neighbours are going to warmer climates just as the cold and snow have hit us.

Christmas Day saw the most snowfall I can remember in this area. Though we were not going anywhere, I knew it was going to mean me having to leave lounging with my family to go and shovel the driveway and the back deck.

We had company coming for dinner and there was no way they could plow through all the snow that got dumped on us during the night.

… I’m even surprised Santa came through with the gifts. It must have been a tough night even with Rudolph leading the team.

Just before I got to stirring myself from my one-day hibernation, I heard a noise outside our door.

It was my neighbour with his snowblower. He plowed the driveway and our walk.

What a Christmas gift!

I shot him a thank you email a little later and his response was, “You’re welcome and we are leaving for southern climates for a couple of months.”

I went out to shovel our deck and clear more drifts from the driveway, and saw another neighbour doing the same. He yelled over Christmas greetings and promptly told me he was going to leave us with the cold and snow for some tropical weather the next day.

We’d already said goodbye to one family who are visiting their native land, where they don’t know what a fall jacket looks like, let alone a full-blown winter coat.

And I’m pretty sure there is yet one more snowbird who is flexing her wings to leave our white winter wonderland.

It’s not usually that bad when people go south. But when they gang up on you and leave when the temperature drops and the snow piles are as tall as your wife, it can be a little discouraging.

It’s not that I interact with my neighbours a lot during the dark part of the year, but even seeing those tail lights going into their garage, or giving a wave while we wipe the snow from our cars, is comforting, like we’re in this together.

I don’t feel that way right now. I feel a little abandoned, like I’ve been left to hold down the fort while others get to enjoy all the perks that come with sun, warmth and beach.

I know they will be back, and I know the present conditions will ease up a little. Some of this snow will melt and we will have some warmish days (that’s Canadian speak right there).

But for right now, looking out my window at all that snow, and the bags being loaded into vehicles, I think it would be nice to trade in a couple of presents for a temporary relocation.

Here’s the thing: There are times in life that we can feel abandoned, alone, like everyone else has taken off and we are by ourselves. At times like that, we need to connect with the Lord because He never leaves us. He is with us, strengthens us and upholds us. There is no need to fear or be dismayed (Isaiah 41:10).

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: Where would you like to be right now and with whom? Leave your comments below.

I Just Finished Three Weeks Of Ribs

I thought it would take a week, but it’s taken three weeks for my ribs to feel better.

Usually when I get hurt, a week will do it and I’m back to normal – but not this time.

Three weeks ago I had a nasty fall off my bike and bruised some ribs (read here). I naturally thought I would be back on my bike in a week.

It’s taken a lot longer!

In that time I’ve slept mostly in another bed; in that time, I also had a short bout with a cold. But all the while I still managed to get a half hour of exercise in each day.

A couple of years ago we got a new mattress. Lily preferred an extra firm one, whereas I liked one that had some cushion to it. … It turns out that a firm bed isn’t so great when your ribs are sore.

I ended up spending a few nights on the couch because it was so much softer. Then I moved to our spare bedroom. That bed has a memory foam topper, which used to reside on our old mattress.

Wow, I’d forgotten how nice it was to sleep on that thing! Even with wrecked ribs, it was so nice to sink into it again.

… I think I stayed there an extra night before I moved back to our bed.

The cold I got was unappreciated, and it came courteous of Lily. She had picked up a cold about a week into my rib ordeal and hacked all the way home from our cottage – that’s five hours of recirculating germs flying around the car while I was trapped inside.

How could I not catch something?

But man, did I ever pay for it! With every cough I needed to hold onto my ribs for stability.

And sneezing – that was the worst. It felt like my heart was on fire, and the burning in my chest resonated for about ten seconds after each sneeze.

It was a good thing that cold was short-lived.

The only setback I had – other than sleeping in my own bed the first couple of nights – was one exercise session.

I found that riding my stationary bike didn’t really hurt my sore ribs. It’s mostly a leg workout and I could always bike hands-free when I felt some pain from stretching out to hold on to the handlebars.

It was the treadmill that was the killer. I got back on it way too soon. I started slowly and at first it wasn’t too bad. But by the end, I was holding my ribs because they felt like they were bouncing around inside me – not good.

… That’s all in the past now. It’s been three weeks to the day and I’m not only pain free walking on the treadmill (even jogging), but I just pulled off ten minutes on the rowing machine.

Today, I’m going back to the trails and hopefully I’ll stay on my bike this time.

Here’s the thing:  For many of us, staying consistent at something is not easy. There are all kinds of things that can disrupt even the best routine. When our routine of spending time with God is interrupted, we can get discouraged, frustrated to the point of giving up. Don’t give in to defeat; don’t dwell on the interruption, whatever the cause. Get back to your time with God; with Him you can pick up again like it was yesterday.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What unexpected thing has interrupted a routine you need to get back to? Leave your comments below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, oh ya, I was sore.

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

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

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

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

I just rode on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s Life!

Paul

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

Interruptions Don’t Have To Interrupt

Have you noticed how interruptions can come along so unexpectedly?

You can be in the middle of a conversation and your child comes up to you, grabbing at your pant leg, seeming to need your immediate attention … and you didn’t even see him coming.

People interrupt us all the time. They step into a conversation as they pass by; they pop their head in your office while you are on the phone.

You can even be telling a story, and when you take a breath, someone interrupts and begins to tell their related story … interrupted again!

Life can get interrupted too … like last fall when I was driving in the dark and out of nowhere a deer crossed my path and crumpled the front corner of my car.

That little interruption cost us a week without a car and the expense of having to buy a new one. (You can read about that here.)

The other day a grapefruit interrupted my life.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing great physically. I’ve lost some weight; I’m feeling good; I have more energy.

Playing sports has never been more enjoyable. I couldn’t be happier in that department.

But the other day, I bent down to get a grapefruit out of the fridge and, BAM – I put my back out.

No, the grapefruit wasn’t 250 pounds, and it wasn’t a fake one made out of cement either.

It was just a grapefruit; I eat one every day.

I must have twisted a little when I bent down and aggravated an old injury.

Several years ago I pulled something in my lower back and since then, every once in a while, I injure it by doing something very simple … like an ordinary daily action.

I’d been mountain biking, building trails, and no problem. I played hockey all winter and nothing. It was a grapefruit this time that tripped me up.

And for the last three days, I’ve had to be very careful how I sit, what I sit on, and how I stand.

It’s been a real interruption.

Other times this has happened, I’ve ended up flat on my back on the floor for a day or two. This time it wasn’t that bad.

The worse part was I thought the back injury would interrupt my exercising streak. … I have exercised for 198 days in a row and I was afraid my streak was over.

It was really disappointing. I kind of moped around most of the day.

It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I got a phone call from my son. We chatted about a bunch of things, and then I told him about my back and my exercising streak.

Then he interrupted my interruption.

He said, “Why don’t you just ride your bike on the streets, and go for an easy ride? Or take a slow walk?”

With that inspiration, I decided to see if I could get on my bike. And what do you know, one of the most comfortable positions for me is bent forward a little on my bike.

What was going to be a major interruption to my exercising, ended up being a little interruption to my comfort, but not to my life.

Here’s the thing: When you get interrupted in life, don’t take the interruption at face value. You have a God who can turn an interruption in life into a change of direction, into a better circumstance, or into something that has way less impact than you thought it would.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has caused an interruption in your life? Leave your comments below.

I Got Caught Dancing In the Rain

Have you ever just wanted to go outside in the rain, just to feel it and enjoy it?

When I was a kid, there were the odd times during the hot summer months that we wanted to go outside in the rain. I even remember begging my mom to let us go out.

… That seems like a long time ago, and a silly, childish desire now.

I don’t know too many people, especially my age, who purposely try to get caught in the rain.

We protect ourselves from getting wet. We will take a water repellent jacket with us if we think it might rain, or carry an umbrella just in case.

We don’t want to get soaked.

I kind of tossed all that advice and thinking out the window the other day when I went for a mountain bike ride.

I’ve gone before when it looked cloudy and have just made it back in time. But the other day was a different matter.

I got caught – big time!

I’d been looking at the weather app on my phone and it was supposed to rain at 3 pm.

That should have given me enough time to eat lunch and get my ride in before the wet stuff came.

Those weather apps are pretty good at telling you when it’s going to rain. I even have one that shows where the rain clouds are currently positioned, and the direction they’re travelling so you can estimate how long it will be before they get to you.

All this seems great but it didn’t do me one speck of good the other day.

What those apps are not that awesome at is informing you of the volume of rain that will be hitting the earth.

I thought I had a good window of time for my ride, but less than three minutes after I hopped on my bike I felt the first few drops of the liquid sunshine.

I decided to keep going, thinking once I hit the trees it wouldn’t be too bad. Before I made it to the woods, however, the rain came down in buckets.

I got completely soaked, but I thought it would be better under the cover of the trees. … Well, not that much.

The thing about trees is they only have leaves. They do a great job of blocking out sunlight, but rain just blows right by them.

The amount of water hitting me in the woods was a little less intense, but I was not getting wind blown dry by any means.

When I got off my bike, everything was a mess. I hosed all the dirt and forest debris off my bike.

But me? – I had enough tiny twigs and woodsy, leafy material stuck on me to provide the kindling for our next fire.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad ride for getting caught in the rain.

Here’s the thing: How many times have you been caught in something you didn’t want to be caught in? You never planned for it, and you didn’t think you were at risk, but there you are – caught. Do you turn back, give up, complain about it, or see it through with all that it brings? God may be showing you something new; He may be preparing you for something special. It’s best to see it through and grow. It just might turn out to be something good.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you been caught in and how did you respond? Leave your comments below.

I Finally Found A Solution To Flossing

For a long time, I’ve been searching for a permanent solution to a small supply issue. I think I might have finally found the right product.

I like my dentist – in fact he’s a friend of mine and we golf together. However, I don’t like going to see my friend when he is working in his office … especially when I’m sitting in one of his chairs.

I’m, therefore, a big fan of flossing my teeth to help cut down on things he might find wrong with my teeth when I visit him.

The problem with flossing is that I can never get the floss to those back teeth of mine.

My fingers are too big to get that little, white string to my wisdom teeth way at the back. It’s possible that I don’t have a big mouth, but I’ve never been accused of that.

For me, a flossing solution has always been to use an apparatus to reach those hard-to-get-to teeth. Over the years I’ve used several different kinds.

I started with a big “Y” shaped instrument that worked for many years until I couldn’t find them in stores any more.

Then I found a version of that apparatus that came with dental floss built into it. I actually came to like this one better and had no issues for years … until again they didn’t sell them in stores any more.

Right around that time, a family member found a gazillion of the first type I used at a dollar store and bought them for me.

Not too long after that I happened to come across a quantity of the second type … I bought the store out.

For several years I kept using these products until recently I broke the last one.

Trying to find something similar and suitable has been difficult.

I think the manufacturers felt they needed something that would break more easily – the old types lasted too long. They want to make more money.

Well, everything I’ve tried is horrible! … until a week ago when Lily brought home a pack of single-use flossers that are the same shape and style as my old ones. They aren’t perfect, are a little flimsy, but they work.

Many of the other types are shaped in a way that you pretty much have to put your fist in your mouth to reach your back teeth.

With some, the floss is so weak that it breaks after using it between a few teeth. Sometimes the floss isn’t tight enough to get in between some teeth.

This new style, however, keeps most of my hand out of my mouth and the floss stays tight, even getting between those molars.

In the long run, the manufacturers win by getting me to spend more money on flossing … but having an option that works for me is worth it.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we like things the way they are. We are satisfied with our life, or our relationship with God, and we don’t see the need for it to change. However, God wants to stretch us and go deeper with us and that does require change on our part. It might not be comfortable at first, but don’t resist. Move towards where God is stretching you or how He wants to go deeper with you. In the end, it will be worth it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you been holding on to that you should let go of? Leave your comments below.

I Never Thought I’d Like This

This is a repost of a blog post I published in June 2013

I find it interesting that you can trick yourself into liking something you don’t really like – in this case, something you don’t usually like doing. Recently, I bought a new weed trimmer.

This garden tool goes by several names, “weed-whacker”, “weed-eater”, “whipper-snipper”, and I’m sure there are a few more.

Regardless of the name, they don’t really have anything to do with weeds. They are designed to trim the long strands of grass that grow along the edge of your lawn that your lawn mower can’t get.

Now, I don’t really like yard work. I cut the grass when it needs it, but while I’m cutting the front lawn, I keep looking at the basketball hoop in my driveway thinking, “It’d be nice to take some shots right now.” Funny thing is, it’s the only time I have that urge. When I’m done cutting the lawn I no longer have the desire to make a few hoops.

I can think of a million things I could be doing when I have to do yard work, and none of them include taking care of or maintaining anything growing around my property.

So it really surprised me the other day when I got my new cordless … we’ll call it “grass trimmer”, and was anxious to get out there and start using it. The really amazing thing was that not once did I have the urge to put it down and pick up a basketball.

My new trimmer is fantastic! I can push two buttons in and turn the bottom part so it can be used as a edger. I have never edged anything in my life so it came as a real revelation that edging really makes your lawn look good.

When I was all finished I went in the house and looked out the window at how stunning my walkway looked leading up to our front door.

I used my knew toy . . . err . . . a . . . I mean, tool to trim both front and back yards and the battery didn’t die before I was done. It normally takes me about 25 to 30 minutes to cut my lawn, front and back. And usually I can’t wait to get back to doing pretty much anything else.

I even got out my leaf blower afterwards to blow away the grass that blew onto the cement walk and the driveway just so that it looked neat and showed off my trim work.

The only thing that I am concerned about is how long my new found infatuation will last.  This baby is new but how will I feel about using it when it’s another week old or in three months?

By the end of the summer will I be wishing the battery isn’t charged so I don’t have to get out there and trim? Will I be looking longingly over at my basketball hoop and accidentally cut the tops off my wife’s flowers?  I don’t know.

But I do know that my wife, Lily is happy right now and I’m liking the look of my lawn.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes a fresh look at something can give us new inspiration or cause us to find new meaning. Whether it’s a familiar Bible passage, or an old problem, or whether it is God Himself, take a fresh approach and you might be surprised to find something you really like.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you found a new enjoyment or appreciation for? Leave your question below.

I Had To Wonder If I Was Still Alive

The other day I had to pinch myself to see if I was still alive. That’s right, it was a scary moment for me.

A few weeks ago I had to renew my driver’s license. I filled out the paper work, got my picture taken and then waited for my new license to arrive in the mail.

Well, it arrived alright and when I looked at the picture on my new license, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that the picture of the guy on the license wasn’t dead!

That’s when I pinched myself.

My eyes were open in the picture but that was the only thing that made the picture look like there was possible life there.

I understand the aging process, but how do you go from looking like you were alive five years ago to dead now?

There were some other factors that came into play with the picture, the main factor being the quality of the photo.

I’ve stepped into one of those shopping mall photo booths before, and for a couple of bucks you get a string of pictures that are pretty poor in quality.

The thing is you are usually making funny faces so, first of all, you look like you are alive, and second, your face is lit up by the flash so that you can tell the blood is still flowing through your veins.

When I got my driver’s license, there was a flash that nearly blinded me but it didn’t brighten anything up. The fact that the license is grey in colour only accentuates the lifeless look of the picture.

The next time I have to get a new driver’s license I’m going to put on makeup. I don’t have bags under my eyes but apparently under certain conditions I do!

The worker who was serving me wasn’t a photographer – I realize that. She did warn me not to smile, but come on! When she looked at the picture on the screen, why didn’t she gasp and say, “We better take that one again, sir. You look like you’re dead.”

I think if I worked at it I could look a little cheery even without smiling. I just needed a second chance.

I’m the one who’s carrying around the picture of the dead guy in my wallet for the next five years. You would think they could turn the screen around and ask me if I was okay with that picture before it was printed and laminated on my card.

I hope I don’t get pulled over by the police because I might get arrested for driving with no vital signs!

I’m thinking maybe I should try to photoshop my driver’s license. Then I could add a smile and cover up the bags under my eyes.

Maybe all I need to do is add a twinkle in my eyes to show I’m still kicking.

Don’t give up on me.

Here’s the thing: There are many people who are walking around like they are alive but a picture of their souls would prove that they were really dead spiritually. When you physically die, it’s too late to change the condition of your soul. The great thing is that while you are still physically alive, trusting your life to Christ will change the condition of your soul and give it life – life that you will keep right through eternity.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What is the condition of your soul? Leave your comments below.

The Day Never Seems To Come

Have you ever been looking forward to something, but that day never seems to come?

This spring I though I would try something new. Well, “new” might not be the right word, more like try something I have done in the past.

Back in March, Lily saw an ad in the paper for senior’s slow pitch softball. Wow, I just realized how old that sounds, and how that makes me feel.

Anyway, I can’t tell you what it’s like because it hasn’t happened yet.

After seeing the ad, I thought about it, remembering the days I used to play in a slow pitch league. It was a fun time so I responded to the ad.

I was told they play on Mondays, which is good because that’s my day off. During the winter I play hockey on Mondays at noon so this would be a great summer replacement.

I got my glove out in anticipation that we would start in a week or so. I noticed that some of the lacing had given way, so I took the time to replace a portion of the leather lace. That got me a little more exited to start playing.

I left my glove on my desk in the family room. When I go by it, I sometimes pick it up and throw a ball into it for a few minutes, just to get the feel of the glove on my hand and the ball getting squeezed between the webbing.

However, it seems that when each Monday rolls around, either the weather is bad or the previous few days have been so rotten that the field is in no condition to play ball on.

It’s now getting near the end of May, the Blue Jays are trying to climb out of the worst start in the club’s history, and all I’ve done is throw a ball into my glove a few times.

It’s Monday as I’m writing this post, and I will still have to wait at least one more week until I get to play!

… Lily and I had been looking at our schedule and figured that the long weekend was the only time in May we’d be able to get to our cottage. We decided to go after church on Sunday and come back on Tuesday.

It wasn’t until two days later that I realized I was going to miss the first day on the diamond … and it would be my fault, not the weather’s.

Well, right now sitting on the couch at my cottage, I understand that it is raining in Kingston … they won’t be playing today anyway.

It’s not looking good for me and baseball this year.

I remember when I was a kid and we would save the box tops of our Alpha-bits cereal to send in and get some prize.

We always had to wait 46 weeks for the thing to arrive. It was actually 4-6 weeks but it felt like 46!

Well, baseball this year, it feels like I’m waiting 46 weeks.

Here’s the thing: When you ask God for something, it’s easy to act like you’ve put in your order and are waiting on God. God is not an order desk, however, and you will receive your answer when He decides it’s best. When that time comes, it’s instantaneous, not 46 weeks.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How long have you been waiting for something? Leave your comments below.

I’m Wondering If Winter Is Coming Soon

I think we are reverting back to winter in this part of the country.

We came through a very mild winter this year, with not much snow, and temperatures that made it easy on the joints.

After a winter like that, the expectation is that summer will come early and be really hot and dry.

Well, all my expectations have been blown apart by what we’ve recently been experiencing. There have been some promising days, but not enough strung together in a row.

At the end of April, we were at our cottage for a week and had a real mix of weather.

One day the temperature got up to 26 Celsius with a good dose of humidity. It really felt like a mid-summer day.

That evening, however, it cooled off and by the next day we were wearing coats and shivering at the sudden 20 degree drop in temperature.

Since then it has been cool and rainy almost every day.

Last Saturday morning after hockey, it was still raining. As we left the arena and walked to our cars, no one could believe the rain was still coming down.

I turned to one of the guys and said, “Take it easy; see you on the ark.”

I haven’t seen the sun for so long that I’m beginning to forget what it looks like. I think it used to be this big orange ball in the sky, but I could be wrong.

Someone reported that it snowed really early one morning this week.

I realize that, at any given time, it is snowing somewhere in the world. But that somewhere is not supposed to be Kingston, Ontario – especially in May!

The weather has been so bad this spring that I haven’t been on the mountain biking trails yet.

I got an email from my biking club this morning that read, “All trails closed until further notice, due to rain and erosion.”

This is killing me!

About a month ago I saw an ad for a competitive baseball league for those over 60. I haven’t played ball in a long time but I thought maybe I would give it a shot this year.

Well, the last three weeks they have cancelled the games because the field is too wet. I still haven’t met the other guys I’ll be playing with.

It seems like somehow we might have skipped through spring and summer and are heading directly into late fall.

The only evidence against that notion is that the leaves on the trees are starting to come out … but they are all curled up – I think they are in protest, refusing to open up until they see a little sun!

All I’m saying is we need a change in the weather. If something doesn’t change soon people from Vancouver will be moving back to Ontario because they can get the same amount of rain and overcast skies right here.

Here’s the thing: When things aren’t going well, or as you expected, it’s easy to get down, discouraged and question what might be wrong. That is exactly what the devil wants and promotes. He wants you focused on the negative and distracted from the truth of who God is and what He has done for you through Christ. To weather the storm, stand firm on your faith in spite of your feelings.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How have you been weathering the storm? Leave your comments below.