A Trip South Would Be Appreciated

I’m pretty much ready to take a trip down south. I don’t really care where down south as long as the only white stuff around is sand.I don’t have a trip planned or anything, but I’m sure thinking about some way I could make that happen.

I know in February we have a weekend at a cottage with my wife Lily’s whole side of the family. The only problem is that cottage is not south; in fact, it is a little north of where we live.

This weekend sort of finished me off. The cold temperatures came back like they never left. Earlier in the week we had temperatures of + 7 C and + 10 C.

But then the mercury started to drop.

And it dropped fast. In matter of 5 or 6 hours, the temperature had dropped to -12 … a 22 degree fall in one afternoon! What could survive a fall like that? Not much.

The next day I had my early morning hockey game. I knew it would be cold but I didn’t think there would be anything else with that cold.

As soon as I hit the garage door button I saw snow, and as the door continued to slowly rise, I kept seeing a wall of snow that had pressed up against the outside of our garage door.

This wall of snow was over the bumper of my SUV.

Did you get that? I’m not talking about a Mini Copper. I mean, I have 17 inch wheels on my SUV and the snow was over the bumper. I really hadn’t accounted for the snow, so I madly tried to shovel it out of the way so I could get my vehicle out of the garage.

It took a while because there wasn’t a lot of places to put the snow. But that wasn’t my only problem getting to hockey.

Once I shovelled out one side of my driveway, I backed the car out and started forward … only to be hung up on snow in the middle of my street.

The plow had come through in the middle of the night but had only made one pass and left a berm in the middle of the road which I tried to go through.

At 6:30 am, there I was by myself, trying to rock my vehicle back and forth to get through the snow mountain. It wasn’t working so I went and got my shovel and started to dig the snow out from under the front of the car.

I was able to dig enough out that I could get free. I threw the shovel in the back seat and took off for hockey. I was late – I knew that – but I thought I would get in a little skate to make the effort worthwhile. No one was there. Apparently only three guys had made it to the rink and they called it off.

What do you do at 7 am on a Saturday morning when hockey gets cancelled? I shovelled the rest of the driveway. That’s why I’m ready to go south. I’ve had enough.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes you need a break or change of pace, but you know it’s not going to happen. You’re stuck where you’re at. That’s the perfect time to thank God for the good things He’s brought into your life. It’s so easy to just focus on the bad, but you can change your mood when you focus on thanksgiving.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What are you thankful for right now? Leave your comments below.

It Really Was A Bittersweet Night

Last night I experienced the bittersweet feeling of winning and losing at the same game.

My wife, Lily, and I have a weekly standing date of attending the OHL Kingston Frontenacs’ home games.

Friday, as usual, we shared some popcorn and watched the action on the ice.

But it was a little different because, while our boys were playing in Kingston, the Canadian Junior hockey team was playing in Buffalo for a gold medal in the annual World Juniors tournament.

We got to see some great hockey in front of us, but in the back of my mind I was wondering how our national team was doing.

Part way through the game it was announced over the PA system that Canada was up 1-0.

That was some comfort, but the battle on the ice in front of us was intense.

Our boys were really playing well and dominating in many respects, but it was just a one goal game at the end of the first period.

In the second period, our guys were flying and scored two goals to put our team ahead 3-1 by the end of the period.

Back in the gold medal game, there was no more news … but when your team is ahead, no news is also good news.

Team Sweden was considered the team to beat. They had run the table in the regular round; in fact, they hadn’t lost in the regular round in 11 years.

Team Canada had one shootout loss to the United States in a snowy, outdoor affair that left all the Canadian fans chilled.

Now we were battling for the gold medal and we were ahead in the scoring.

Lily and I took a stroll around the arena at the end of the second period of the Frontenacs’ game. There was a calm, happy, “we have this game in the bag” kind of feeling in the air.

There was no hint of any trouble ahead until the start of the third period. The Fronts seemed a little flat – no energy, not skating well … and in the span of about five minutes, the Spitfires scored three goals and were up 4-3.

It happened so quickly; it was a shocker.

The rest of the period our boys threw a lot of rubber towards the Windsor net, but we couldn’t buy a goal and lost the match.

Just a five minute let down was all it took.

After the bitter loss we witnessed on ice, the arena switched to the World Junior game on the big screen.

We watched until the end of the second period where, with five minutes left, Sweden scored to tie it up.

All I could think was, “not another let down!”

Since I’m the Fronts’ team chaplain, we then left the stands to go chat with our boys. By the time we were done, there was just ten minutes left in the gold medal game so we headed back into the stands to watch.

With just under two minutes to play, Team Canada scored.

There was a celebration, not on the ice but on the big screen. We pocketed an empty-netter to seal the deal, and Canada won the gold medal.

At the same arena we watched our hometown team lose and then our Canadian team win gold. It was truly a bittersweet night. But it ended with the sweet!

Here’s the thing: There is a verse in the Bible that says you can win the whole world but forfeit your soul. That’s life’s bittersweet reality. Make sure your soul is secure so that in the end, when life is all over, you experience the sweet of Heaven.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What would be bittersweet for you? Leave your comments below.

The Youth In My Family Now Have The Edge

The youth are taking over – at least it’s true in my family. Every year when my family gets together for Christmas we rent some ice and have a game of hockey.

We’ve been doing it for a long time now. When we started, I didn’t have to play very hard to show up the young guys.

It’s different now; each year my son and the nephews have gotten bigger, faster, stronger.

I still look forward to our little get-together but it takes a lot more out of me to keep up with them.

I guess that’s why there is so much focus on youth. They have all the potential; they are so agile; they have such great skill.

I see it in junior hockey, and especially in the annual world junior hockey tournament that’s about to start. It showcases the best young hockey talent in the world and everyone is playing for their country.

The speed at which these kids skate, and the moves they make – with and without the puck – is incredible.

That is why even the NHL is on a youth movement right now. To play in the NHL these days you have to be able to keep up with, or be better than, the 19 and 20 year olds.

Hockey highlight programs on TV show replay footage of teenagers in the NHL making incredible plays almost every night.

The youth really are taking over.

On the downside, the old guys like me are losing ground each year. We are not as fast as we once were; our hands are not what they once were.

Maybe more than all that is we don’t have the stamina or the energy we once had. I get winded quickly. I give a second thought to back-checking when the other team steals the puck.

In the friendly game we had this Christmas, I found it harder to keep the puck on my stick. Even the youngest of nephews was able to check the puck off me. I’d make a rush up the ice and that was about it for the next couple of minutes.

I remember when I was younger I could play all day and never tire. I hated having to go to the bench. I only went to give others a chance to play; I sure didn’t need the rest!

Now I take short shifts and actually enjoy my time when I’m on the bench, catching my breath. … Although with my past heart issues, I will often pace behind the bench to bring my heart rate down slowly.

Don’t get me wrong, I can still keep up, but they are starting to take over. There’s more of them and they are more dominant now.

I guess I should be sad to see the changing of the guard, knowing that it’s time to step aside for the youth movement in our family.

But you know, you also can’t help but see yourself in family. When I see my son or one of my nephews skate up the ice, I only have pride.

Here’s the thing: The more we start to age, the more we notice how the youth are taking over. But when it comes to spiritual things, we should allow the ancient one, the God of Abraham and Isaac to take over. That is the one area where youth don’t run the show. Let Christ take over your life. Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What needs to move over in your life? Leave your comments below.

When A Project Takes A Long Time To Develop

Sometimes you wait a long time for something to develop, then in a flash it’s done and it’s completion takes you by surprise.

It happened to me this morning. For what seemed like several weeks, the leaves on our maple tree were budding.

But we’ve had some pretty cool and rainy weather for the last while and it seemed that the leaves’ progress from bud to full grown was stunted.

I’d look out our living room window and see the little leaves still shrivelled up, not wanting to open. With every day of rain and coolness, it was like they just wanted to stay curled up to keep warm.

After a time I wondered if they would open up at all this year. Maybe they would stay in this dormant state all summer.

But this morning after an early hockey game, as I drove into my driveway, the sun was shining, creating highlights and shadows on and around our tree.

The leaves had opened up; they were big and full and dense.

Up until this morning, though all the leaves were on the tree, you could still see through it … not this morning.

The leaves have now created a beautiful rustling wall to the other side of the street.

It took so long for the leaves to get to this point, but when it happened, it took me by surprise.

You kind of forget about the incremental progress that was being made, now that the tree is in its full glory.

… I’ve been working on a project at work that is developing much like how our tree came alive this spring.

There have been many steps to the project, and many different people involved. It seemed that each step, however, was dependent on someone else do some little thing so that we could progress to the next step.

There also seemed to be one person who was in the middle of the progress or the hold up – just like the weather was the hold up for my tree.

We would get one thing done and then we would sit, not really knowing what to do next but having to follow up and nudge this person to move the project along.

After numerous phone calls over three days, I finally reached him in person. I explained our progress and asked him for his input. All he could say to me was, “I’m just the middle man.”

There were three parties that were involved in bring this project to completion. He worked for none of them. He was just the middle man.

We all needed him but the speed of the project was dictated by the speed of his response to each completed step.

I think this project right now is at the stage where the leaves are almost ready to unfold.

All I can hope is that by early next week this project will be fully complete and I can forget about the incremental progress that we’ve made along the way.

Here’s the thing: God’s plan for us, at times, may seem to be developing slower than we would like. That can be frustrating. We might want to try to get in there and hurry it along on our own. But there are many parties involved in a plan, and there may be a middle man who is slowing things down. Just be sure that you are not that middle man.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What project is God working on in you that you would like to speed up? Leave your comments below.

I Need An Alternate Routine

My routine has been working for me for a few months now, but all that is about to change.

Back in December I developed a new plan for eating (read here) and exercise (read here). It’s been working for me and I feel great. I have more energy, and physically I’m able to play my sports at an increased level.

I’ve really enjoyed this run; I don’t want to see it come to an end. But I need to make some changes and I have a week to figure it out.

I took a week of vacation and we opened up our cottage for the year. But in doing that, it took me away from some of the routines that I have made over the last few months – mainly my exercise routine.

I’ve been trying (successfully, I might add) to do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. I’ve been playing hockey two, sometimes three times a week and then on the days I don’t play hockey, I work out at home.

There I have a treadmill, a bike on a trainer, and a rowing machine.

On my week away, however, I’m not playing hockey and I don’t have access to equipment other than my bike.

For the summer I can ride my bike, but there will be some rainy days. Because I ride dirt trails, if the trails are too wet from the day before, biking is then also out of the question.

So what am I going to do at the cottage to keep up my exercise?

I can walk, which would make Lily happy because she would love to go on more (or some) walks with me. But for that to be exercise I will have to walk at a fast pace, certainly not the way I walk around a mall.

Some people run, but I have bad knees so that’s not an option for me. I’m at a bit of a loss.

I feel like I need to be a MacGyver in this situation. You remember the TV show, don’t you? He could make things happen even when he didn’t have the proper materials or equipment. MacGyver would rig something up to get the job done.

I need to figure out something I can rig up for those rainy days, and as an alternative to biking every day of my time away.

There is one other thing I need to consider. When Lily and I went shopping to get groceries for the week, I had my eye on the candy aisle the whole time.

For me, vacations or being away is synonymous with snacking. It’s what I do!

I had a very difficult time not throwing a few chocolate bars and bags of candy in the grocery cart.

I can see that the only way forward, the only way that I will succeed, is to have a plan before I go and then to stick to it.

Here’s the thing: Planning is important for accomplishing your goals, but you also need a plan for when your plan doesn’t work. That is exactly the same when it comes to temptation. You need a plan to live right, but you need an alternative plan in place for when temptation comes. Make a plan today.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What alternative plan do you have for temptation? Leave your comments below.

That Was A Real Close Call

I dodged a couple of bullets today – a few close calls on the ice.

I was playing hockey with my regular Saturday morning crowd and there was an incident or two that could have cost me.

The first was a blindside hit. It was supposed to be a stick check but he got a little body as well. I went down but I wasn’t hurt.

I was a little surprised because I didn’t see it coming; he came from behind my left shoulder.

I went down rather quickly and I was probably more shocked than hurt that he got more than my stick. We don’t play contact hockey, though in this sport you can’t avoid some contact … it’s just not supposed to be on purpose.

I’ve seen a few players in the NHL go down with hits like mine and suffer from concussions. I was really glad that I was okay.

It was a good thing the guy was young with not a lot of weight behind him to really cause a jolt.

Play continued and, even shortly after the incident, I didn’t think anything of it as I tried to wheel the puck up the ice.

Then later on in the game, I took a stick right across my visor. Again it was an accident – a guy following through on a clearing pass.

I know for sure that, if I had not had a visor on my helmet, I would have got a pretty good cut by my forehead nose area.

There is no question in my mind that I would have been going for stitches, because years ago I caught a stick to the head just like it and ended up with 5 stitches just above my eye, as well as two black eyes.

The only difference was the visor. In fact, the reason I wear a visor today is because of that cut I received about 30 years ago.

I was 31 years old then and I realized that hockey was a pass time and not my career. I needed my eyes for my career so I took precautions … thus the half visor that I still wear today.

I remember that injury well. It came the night before my first parents’ meeting of the teens that I worked with. I got ribbed a little about the black eyes. People joked that Lily took a frying pan to me.

This morning before I started playing I was actually more concerned about my knee. It hasn’t felt very strong and stable the last few days … but I wore a brace so my knee was good.

These two potential injuries on the ice today came completely unexpectedly. I guess you could say that I was fortunate or that Lady Luck was on my side. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to visit the emergency room or sit in the dark in the quiet room.

Here’s the thing: Everyday we have things happen around us that could cause us harm. It could be that we were a split second away from serious injury. We can’t plan for it or protect against these things most of the time. Some people think it is just luck. But I believe in a God who watches over us, where nothing escapes his oversight. Those inches, split seconds, and near misses are a result of His protective hand. No matter how many times you’re injured, think of how many more times you escaped unscathed, and thank God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What close call have you experienced lately? Leave your comments below.

Fickle Fans And Me Don’t Mix

In some cities fans are fickle; it doesn’t take much for them to give up.

I don’t get it – maybe because I grew up in Toronto, that hasn’t seen a Stanley Cup outside the Hockey Hall of Fame for 50 years.

I was 11 when the Leafs last won the Cup, but the thing is I still cheer for them like they’re going to win it this year.

… I figure I have at least a couple more years before I see that happen again.

But I know other cities – some that I’ve lived in – that are pretty quick to give up on their team if they aren’t doing well.

Those are fickle fans. A real fan is a fan through the good and the bad, the long and the short haul. The bottom line is you don’t turn on your team.

That’s what’s got me concerned about the city I live in right now. What kind of fans live here?

Some are whiners, some are only good time fans, some are complainers. Not many, apparently, are true fans.

The biggest hockey action in my town is OHL hockey – these are the kids that are feeding the pro ranks.

In my town, the Kingston Frontenacs are the top bill.

Last year the team made a run in the playoffs but fell short. This year was a building year. The team wasn’t supposed to do much, and were expected to finish near or at the bottom of the league.

Well, they surprised everyone – maybe even themselves. They ended up 4th in their division, giving them home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Not too shabby in my books.

They did all this, mind you, with 13 sixteen and seventeen year olds, 4 of them on defence. That’s on a roaster of 23 guys.

To say they overachieved is a bit of an understatement!

But that doesn’t seem good enough for Kingstonians. The first two games of the playoffs saw smaller attendance numbers than an average regular season game this year … which was a far cry from last year’s attendance.

People blame it on many things: past experiences, higher ticket prices, waiting to see if they make it to the next round, and they don’t like where the arena was built. These are all excuses of fickle fans.

It’s almost like the fans said, “You had your chance last year and you blew it. We’re not doing that again.”

There are some people who wish for the good old days. They liked watching hockey then; those were real teams.

I remember my dad, at about age 70, was asked by another senior if he was going to attend a seniors’ service at his church.

He said he didn’t think he would go. The man replied, “We are going to sing hymns like the good old days.”

My dad’s reply was, “The good old days were not that good.”

We build the past up to be bigger than it was. The present is where it is at. Be a fan, not some fickle version of it!

Here’s the thing: When you make a commitment to Jesus Christ, it’s not some half-hearted, in the good times only commitment. You are trusting your life now and forever to Him and you need to give Him your all – not some whiny, looking back at the past, fickle version of it. Live your commitment.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How would you describe a real commitment? Leave your comments below.

I Think I Might Be Losing My Touch

I may be losing my touch; on the other hand, I might just need a change in equipment.

I’m leaning towards it being the equipment’s fault, and not me because I don’t want to give into the idea that it’s really me.

Over the last month, I’ve noticed that I haven’t had the same touch with the puck when playing hockey.

I seem to be aiming right at the goalie when I shoot, or I’m missing the net. I just don’t seem to have the same authority when I fire the puck any more.

It could be that I’m in a slump right now … that happens even to the pros.

When I watch the pros on TV miss the net, I get frustrated with them. I figure, as professionals practicing or playing pretty much every day, they shouldn’t miss when they shoot, and they shouldn’t put their shots right into the goalie’s body. But they do sometimes.

I guess, based on that, I should give myself a break. But I don’t; I figure there is something wrong.

In some ways I’m hoping that it’s my stick. I’ve had the same one for a while now. It could be suffering from carbon fibre fatigue – that’s something like metal fatigue, only with the material the stick is made out of.

If it’s the stick, at least it wouldn’t be my fault. But purchasing a new stick that runs in the $300 range isn’t something I would like to have to afford right now.

If it’s me, I can’t fix that, but at least it wouldn’t cost me so much money.

I remember the days when I was in my 20’s and I would take my wooden sticks back to Canadian Tire for a refund when they broke.

All sticks would break, but if I could get mine to break within the first two weeks, I could get a new stick for free.

It was a good deal. I don’t think I paid for more than about four sticks per season … but in those days sticks only cost about thirteen dollars.

Now they are crazy expensive but are supposed to last a long time. I try to avoid taking slap shots to reduce the wear and tear on mine.

I do that for two reasons: first, economically, I want my stick to last a long time; second, I don’t have a great snapshot anyway.

I cut so much off my sticks that I ruin the flex point and technology of the shaft’s design.

Right now I don’t have any answers; I’m just a little frustrated.

Who knows? Maybe in a few weeks I’ll be able to work it out. Then I won’t have to blame my hockey stick for any of this.

But up until then, I’m putting all the blame on my stick … that way I don’t feel so old.

Here’s the thing:  Some people always look for someone else to blame. When something really bad happens, they blame God. It’s easier to blame God for something than to admit you are the problem or that it is a natural consequence. That way you don’t have to take any responsibility, or change, or admit to anything. But doing that only keeps you from owning up to the truth; it keeps you from getting back on track.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you blamed God or someone else for this week? Leave your comments below.

Christmas Tradition

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

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

We play hockey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was the old guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s Life!

Paul

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

Tough Experiences Become Fond Memories

It’s funny how you can look back on tough experiences with fond memories.

The other day I was sitting in the dressing room at an arena talking about playing hockey outdoors.

There was a young guy with us, probably about 14 years old. He had no clue what most of us experienced growing up playing pond hockey.

I’m sure he’s played some hockey outdoors, maybe even on a frozen lake or pond, but certainly not in the conditions most of us did.

When I was growing up, the only indoor hockey you got to play were league games, and then even some of them were on outdoor rinks.

On those cold winter nights you would layer up under your equipment and then somehow fit a toque under your helmet.

That pompom was always a sore spot – literally! It made your head sore in one spot.

Fortunately, in those days hockey helmets never fit all that exactly so there was a little wiggle room for that little wool ball on the end of your hat.

But that really was nothing compared to the after school hockey we played on the Humber River.

We lived pretty close to the ravine and it was a perfect spot to set up a hockey game. We would get our stuff together and carry our skates slung over our hockey stick, like a hobo leaving town.

We had to cross the high school football field and walk down the hill into the ravine, being careful not to fall as there was no real path; it was almost straight down.

Sometimes we had to bring shovels, or a net, but often we used our boots as goal posts.

We would play until it was too dark to see, or we got too cold to keep going.

The latter was most common. We would get so cold that we couldn’t or wouldn’t take off our skates. We just couldn’t bare the pain, so we would walk home in our skates.

That’s right! – we had to climb out of the ravine with our skates on, dulling them on the dirt and snow, gouging them on the rocks and stones.

Usually by the time we got up the hill, we were crying or on the verge of it. It was a long walk going from one end of the football field to the other.

… And we’re talking a Canadian football field – 10 yards longer plus the extra yardage of the end zones.

By that time our fingers didn’t work to hold on to our boots. We had to carry them like you would a baby in your arms.

Our toes were so cold, the pain was excruciating. But there was still one more hurdle to climb.

And yes, we had to climb. We climbed a 6 foot metal frost fence because the thought of walking around and taking the extra time was unthinkable.

Boots and sticks were flung over the fence, then skates and all we climbed up the fence and over.

From there it was a short distance to the warmth of our home, to mom, hot chocolate, and the utter pain of thawing toes and fingers.

We’d swear we’d never do that again. But the next night we’d be at it all over again.

Here’s the thing: Those tough times shaped us. We were stronger, more determined because of those times. When you battle spiritually, remember those wounds will bring a perseverance and character that you will look back on with fondness.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What has been a tough experience that made you stronger? Leave your comments below.