Don’t Be Deceived By The Sun

Hey people, let’s not deceive ourselves – it’s brutally cold out there!

My wife, Lily, opened the blinds this morning and was very cheery. “Ah, the sun is shining”, she said, as if that made everything alright.

She made her comment like she was ready to take a magazine out to the deck and catch some rays as she relaxed in a lawn chair.

“It’s minus 22 Celsius out there”, I said.

Lily’s rebuttal was that it reminded her of Edmonton winters where the sun was the consolation for surviving weeks on end of needing a balaclava when you stepped outside the front door of your home.

She went as far as saying she would rather have -20 C and sunny than -4 C and dreary.

Give me the dreary! If we have to go another week with these temperatures, I’ll be done with winter big time!

I’m not sure why Lily has been so hypnotized by the sun’s power, or it could have nothing to do with the sun at all.

It may have more to do with the old coat she rediscovered last night.

We went out for dinner and Lily decided to wear a fur coat – that’s right, it’s fur, and it’s probably seal too.

But don’t get too upset at her owning a fur coat. It’s a hand-me-down from my grandmother. I figure that coat is probably between 70 and 90 years old.

When I was just a kid, I remember my grandmother wearing it to church when she came to visit us on weekends. My brother, John, and I made sure we sat on either side of her during church.

Besides the little purple candies she would give us, it was really sitting beside that coat of hers that was the treat. It was, and still is, the softest coat you will ever touch. It’s unbelievable. We would snuggle right up to her just to feel that fur.

You can’t stop touching it.

But I digress. Maybe the reason Lily doesn’t mind the cold is that this coat is the warmest coat she’s ever put on. She didn’t care how long it took us to walk from the car to the restaurant; she was toasty.

… I, on the other hand, was freezing and couldn’t wait to get inside.

Maybe she thinks she is impervious to the cold with this coat, I don’t know.

All I’m saying is let’s not be deceived or brainwashed by the sunny days, thinking that it’s okay that we are living in temperatures that would make a polar bear want to travel south for a vacation.

We weren’t planning on taking a winter vacation but now I’m entertaining the idea … and the longer this cold snap – sun and all – stays with us, the more the price of the trip doesn’t matter to me.

Let’s just all agree on one thing: it is crazy cold out there, and there is nothing good about it.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we can get fixated on one thing so that something else doesn’t seem to be that bad. Maybe you struggle with a certain sin but, instead of dealing with it, you look to something good you are doing as if that cancels out the sin. To God, sin is missing the mark and, no matter how close to the mark you are in another area, you’re still missing the mark. Deal with the sin in front of you. Don’t mask it, justify it, or ignore it; just confess it and turn from it.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you need to deal with? Leave your comments below.

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 Lacked Discipline This Vacation

I’m realizing that I let myself go this year on my vacation. What I mean is I wasn’t very disciplined in exercising or in what I ate.

Candy Store

There are reasons for what led me to this, but the bottom line was I ate way too much junk food and didn’t get out biking nearly as much as I should have.

I don’t know why I didn’t look back half way through my vacation and change my actions to find some discipline, but I didn’t.

That’s the whole thing, isn’t it? I wasn’t disciplined enough to want to do anything about how I was living.

So why now? I’ve come to the end of my vacation and now I start to reflect on how unruly I’ve been in the areas I needed to keep together.

I think it’s natural that when we come to the end of something we start to reflect. For example, at the end of each year, TV networks and sports stations have their year-in-review, broadcasting their top ten sports moments, and the biggest news events of the year.

So, it’s natural to look back on my vacation and think, “Wow, Paul, you really let yourself go!”

I think I ate more candy in the last few weeks than I have all year leading up to this point. When it comes to exercise, this vacation I’ve biked less and golfed less than I have in quite a few years.

I could blame it on the heat, that relentless, energy draining humidity that zaps the life right out of you, that sun the beats down on you to the point where all you can do is lie on a beach chair, or couch and ask for someone to pass you the bonbons.

I could blame it on the weather, but I’m not going to. This was the hottest, sunniest, best vacation weather we have had in about six years. I’m not about to start complaining.

It didn’t help that there was a candy store by the beach that sold imported exotic candy at ridiculously low prices.

And it didn’t help that I stayed up late at night so that I didn’t get up early each day to bike in the cooler temperatures.

As I look back, I could have done a few things differently.

I could have been stronger; I could have thought more of the consequences. … I could have left my money in the cottage when I went for my evening walks to see the sunset.

Now here I am, on the verge of leaving my vacation, and having some remorse for how I conducted myself during the time I’ve been away.

I feel like one of the Canadian Olympians who had a disappointing finish in his last swim race. He said he had trained well, and prepared the best he could for the games. He was simply disappointed that all his training and preparations didn’t produce better results.

That’s me. I came into the vacation thinking I was in good shape. Somehow the different setting – the sun, sand and surf – called out to me to let loose.

And that I did. I’ll be rolling back into town soon … literally rolling in. Then I will get back to my discipline.

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to get off track in your time with God, especially when you change your setting or routine, like on vacation. When that does happen, don’t beat yourself up. Simply make moves to get back to spending quality time with God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What gets you out-of-sync with your disciplines? Leave your comments below.

The Other Side Of The Clouds

From time to time I will republish a post I have written in the past. This is a repost of an article I wrote in May 2015

On a recent plane trip, I became fascinated by two very different realms that exist in our world. There is the realm below the clouds and the realm above the clouds.

other side of the clouds

On the plane ride home from Calgary we flew above the clouds with the sun shining brightly all around and into the cabin of the plane. I noticed how some people shut their blinds so that they could sleep or to cut the glare on their TV screen while they watched a movie.

Looking out my window the sun was unhindered and I found myself squinting to shade my eyes as I looked out.

Below the plane was this white base that seemed firm and as I focused on it, in my mind I could envision a vast landscape of mountains and valleys. It was pure white, clean and bright, inviting.

On our descent, the clouds looked softer and billowy and certainly not solid like before.  They morphed into a wispy cottony substance as we enter them.

This particular day, the cloud cover was thick and it seemed that we traveled a long way to get through the clouds.  Everything out my window was grey and it resembled thick smoke when it is whipped up by the wind.

At one point, I thought, “How long are we going to be in these clouds?” I was surprised how thick they were.

When we finally got through, the scene was vastly different from above the clouds. Though it was only 1 pm, it looked like it was late in the evening.  The realm below the clouds was dark and grey, rainy and dull.  It was a complete contrast to the realm above the clouds.  The realm below was sun starved and I felt an immediate dip in my spirit.

Though this was the realm I live in, there was something about the realm above the clouds I wished was present.  Despite my familiarity with the terrain and the landscape, I had a longing for the bright warm and inviting sun.

So here’s my thought: When life seems rotten, when we’re down and things are going all wrong, internally we are in a realm much like I found myself in below the clouds.

In reality though, the sun is still shining – shining as bright as ever, providing warmth and light and goodness.  It just seems as if the sun is absent.

I envision the sun as God’s goodness and blessing shining on us.  For me to experience that once again, I turn to prayer.  I can’t break through my realm (through the clouds) to the realm above, but my prayers can.

Some times the clouds are thick and it seems to take a long time for my prayer to make it through them.  But that doesn’t mean God’s love isn’t shining down.  In the book of Daniel, he once wondered why it took so long for God to answer his prayer.

Look up Daniel 10:1-14. The angel tells Daniel his prayers were received right away but that he was delayed in responding, like there was a battle going on in the clouds.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes we have to pray for a long time before we see a break in the clouds, and the sun shining again in our lives.  But what I need to remind myself of is that my prayers are received by God instantly, and regardless of how long it is before my prayers are answered, God’s love and grace is shining down on me as bright as ever – even when I can’t see it. And that’s good to know.

That’s Life!

Paul

What are your thoughts on delays in answered prayer?  Leave your comments below!

Trouble Comes Without Warning

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

stock-footage-dense-early-morning-fog-in-park-and-car-driving-on-small-road-between-green-trees-car-front-window

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.